Failure at the last hurdle for Australia in the intercontinental playoff for Mexico ’86, as they couldn’t overcome Scotland in their encounter over two legs (aggregate 0-2). More recently, the Australians had been in the footballing world’s spotlight for their own Bicentenary Gold cup, held in July 1988, in which they had thrashed world champions Argentina 4-1 and ended second only after Brazil.
Adding to that, Australia had also progressed to the knock-out phase of the 1988 Summer Olympics, only bowing out to eventual winners Soviet Union. With the team fresh from international success, coach Frank Arok (1983– ) embarked on the qualification campaign in order to take Australia to the stage which they had not reached since 1974, the FIFA World Cup.
Assisting Yugoslav born Arok was John Margaritis, a 49 year old who was also manager at Melbourne club Footscray JUST. Coaches were former international Gary Cole, aged 32 for the start of their qualification campaign, an up and coming coach who had just joined from AIS (Australian Institute of Sports), and Berti Mariani. The latter had taken Marconi Fairfield to the domestic championship title in the recently finished season (1988), and would go on to claim successive ‘Manager of the Year’ titles (1989 and 1989/90, as the Australian season turned into a spring/autumn affair at that point).
World Cup appearances:
Gold Cup: Australia 0-1 Brazil
07.07.1988, Olympic Park (Melbourne)
Line-up (4-3-3): Olver – Šavor, Yankos, Dunn, Jennings – Wade, Crino, Davidson (Slater 73) – Farina, Arnold, Kosmina (Bozinoski 73)
Gold Cup: Australia 3-0 Saudi Arabia
09.07.1988, Parramatta Stadium (Sydney)
Goals: Ollerenshaw, Farina 2
Line-up (4-3-3): Olver – Šavor, Yankos, Dunn, Jennings – Wade, Crino, Davidson – Farina (Bozinoski 82), Arnold (Slater 71), Ollerenshaw
Gold Cup: Australia 4-1 Argentina
14.07.1988, Sydney Football Stadium (Sydney)
Goals: Wade, Yankos 2 (1 pen.), Bozinoski
Line-up (4-3-3): Olver – Šavor, Yankos (c), Dunn, Jennings – Wade, Bozinoski, Davidson – Ollerenshaw, Arnold, Farina
This game went down in Australian football folklore as something quite special pretty quickly, as Argentina were reigning world champions. Little should be taken away from a comprehensive win like this for the Australians, but it should also be pointed out that this was a fairly mediocre Argentinian side which had travelled to participate in the Bicentennial Cup. An early Paul Wade goal set the hosts on their way, and despite having the set-back of a half-hour equalizer, skipper Charlie Yankos struck a 30 yard free-kick to restore the Socceroos’ advantage before half-time. Australia appeared to be in a 4-3-3 formation, and had 24 year old Bozinoski start for the first time in central midfield, with Oscar Crino out injured. Two further second half goals, a penalty from Yankos and a deflected header from said Bozinoski, completed the impressive rout to see the Australians progress through to the competition final at the Argentinians’ expense.
Gold Cup (final): Australia 0-2 Brazil
17.07.1988, Sydney Football Stadium (Sydney)
Line-up (4-3-3): Olver – Šavor (Bozinoski 72), Yankos, Dunn, Jennings – Wade, Crino, Davidson – Farina (Slater 72), Arnold, Ollerenshaw
Trans Tasman Cup: New Zealand 1-2 Australia
12.10.1988, Caledonian Ground (Dunedin)
Goals: Crina, Ollerenshaw
Line-up: Olver – van Egmond, Koczka, Jennings – Wade, Davidson, McDowall, Crino, Ollerenshaw – Spink (Postecoglou 71), Arnold
Trans Tasman Cup: Australia 2-0 New Zealand
16.10.1988, Queen Elizabeth Oval (Bendigo)
Goals: Lund (own goal), Spink
Line-up: Olver – van Egmond, Yankos, Postecoglou (Jennings 75) – Wade (Petersen 86), Davidson, McDowall, Crino, Ollerenshaw – Spink, Arnold