Australia will kick off its pursuit of U17 World Cup glory this Sunday when Head Coach Trevor Morgan’s side walk onto Goiânia's Estádio Olímpico Pedro Ludovico to take on Ecuador.
Australia’s U17 side – nicknamed the Joeys – are the most successful of all of Australia’s representative sides; their crowning moment coming in 1999 when a side led by Head Coach Les Scheinflug and featuring the likes of Jade North, Scott McDonald and Josh Kennedy suffered a penalty shootout defeat in the final to Brazil.
Get set for the tournament with 10 more little-known facts on the U17 showcase that FTBL has dug up for you to become the official office authority on all things junior football.
1 – Ange Postecoglou is one of only 10 men to have coached at both the U17 and Senior Men’s World Cup
Standing on the precipice of making history with J-League side Yokohama F. Marinos, Postecoglou will have a lot on his plate over the coming five weeks. Yet, the 54-year-old’s eye may find itself wandering occasionally to keep track of the progress of a Joeys side he led to three World Cups.
Departing South Melbourne in 2000 after guiding Hellas to 1997/98 and 1998/99 NSL titles, Postecoglou was in charge of the Joeys at the 2001, 2003 and 2005 editions of the U17 World Cup; his best result coming in 2001 when he led a side featuring Alex Wilkinson, Carl Valeri and Brett Holman to the quarter-finals.
Postecoglou then went on to lead the Socceroos into the 2014 World Cup in Brazil – winning plaudits for his fearless approach to games against Chile, the Netherlands and Spain – as well as securing qualification for the 2018 World Cup.
2 – The highest attendance for a U17 World Cup match is 98,943
As should come as no surprise, the fixture that attracted the largest crowd in U17 World Cup history was both a final and a contest featuring a football-mad, host nation.
On July 10, 2011, 98,943 fans packing into the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City to watch Mexico face Uruguay in the final of the 2011 tournament.
Taking the field after Germany defeated Brazil 4-3 – a contest which has the second-highest official attendance in World Cup history with 94, 379 – goals to Antonio Briseño and Giovani Casillas sent the fans home happy that day as El Tri became two-time U17 World Champions.
3 – The first goal in U17 World Cup history was scored by Bismarck
No, not Otto.
Brazilian midfielder Bismarck Barreto Faria – better known as Bismarck – became the first player to find the back of the net at an U17 World Cup in Seleção’s opening game of the 1985 tournament in China when he scored in the ninth minute of Brazil’s opening match against Qatar – pipping Costa Rica’s Hernán Medford by three minutes.
Brazil ended up finishing as third-placed finishers in China, losing 4-3 to Marcel Witeczek-inspired West Germany in the semi-finals before defeating Guinea 4-1 in the third-place play-off.
4 – Australia’s first goal at the U17 World Cup was scored by Gareth Naven
Currently serving as Melbourne Victory’s NPL and Y-League Head Coach, Naven started alongside Craig Foster and Paul Trimboli in Australia’s first match at that same 1985 tournament in China, lining up against an Argentinian side featuring Fernando Cáceres and Fernando Redondo.
With Head Coach Vic Dalgleish watching from the sidelines, Naven found the back of the net in the 28th minute to propel the Joeys to a 1-0 win over Albicelestes that day - a win that was then followed by triumphs over Congo and West Germany.
That undefeated run, though, came to an end in the quarter-finals when the Joeys were eliminated in a penalty shootout loss to Guinea.
5 – Australia’s most recent goal at the U17 World Cup was scored by Nicholas Panetta
Featuring James Delianov, Panos Armenakas, Pierce Waring, Josh Hope and Daniel Arzani, Australia’s last appearance at the U17 World Cup came in 2015.
Losing 4-1 to Germany in their opening fixture - Werder Bremen’s Johannes Eggestein firing in a brace for the Germans – Head Coach Tony Vidmar’s side ground out a 0-0 draw with Mexico in their second group game to set up all-important clash Argentina.
Then on the books with the AIS, Panetta – who most recently won NPL QLD with Gold Coast Knights – fired in goals in the 25th and 52nd minutes to steer Australia past the Argentines and into the knockout stages as one of the four best third-placed teams.
Unfortunately for the Joeys, eventual champions Nigeria were then waiting for them in the Round of 16, the Golden Eaglets proceeding to run out 6-0 winners at Chile’s Estadio Sausalito.
6 – The most goals scored in a U17 World Cup game is 13
Content warning for Kiwis.
New Zealand’s U17 side earned an unwanted place in the history books at the 1997 edition of the tournament in Egypt when, having lost 4-0 to Mali in their opening game and 5-0 to Mexico on matchday two, they went down 13-0 to Spain in their final group game.
Featuring just one player - Ben Sigmund – who would go on to earn a senior cap for the All Whites, New Zealand were somehow able to keep the Spanish out for 23 minutes at the Ismailia Stadium... only to then ship six first-half and seven second-half goals.
With Iker Casillas and Xavi on the pitch – neither of whom played against the Kiwis – Spain ended up taking third at that tournament, downing Germany 2-1 in the third-place game.
7 – The defending champions are not present in Brazil
England won their first-ever U17 World Cup in 2017, defeating Spain 5-2 in the final with a squad featuring the likes of Phil Foden, Rhian Brewster and Jadon Sancho.
However, England finished third in their group at the 2019 U17 European Championships in Poland behind France and The Netherlands, meaning that they will not be present to defend their crown in 2019.
It’s the second tournament in a row that the holder has failed to qualify; Nigeria failing to make it through to the 2017 tournament after winning in 2015.
8 – Brazil and Nigeria are the only nations to defend the U17 World Cup
England’s absence from Brazil 2019 means that Brazil and Nigeria will remain the only two sides in U17 World Cup history to defend their crowns – Brazil doing so in 1997 and 1999 and Nigeria in 2013 and 2015.
Featuring the irrepressible Ronaldinho, Brazil defeated Ghana to win their first U17 World Cup title in 1997 before breaking the hearts of Australia in an 8-7 penalty shootout win in the final of the 1999 tournament in New Zealand.
Fielding Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho, Nigeria downed Mexico 3-0 in the final of the 2013 tournament and, with Lille’s Victor Osimhen and Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze among their ranks, triumphed 2-0 over Mali at Chile 2015.
9 – Brazil are the number one ranked side in U17 World Cup History – although Nigeria have won the most titles
With 53 wins from their 82 games compared to 11 draws and 18 losses, FIFA ranks Brazil as the most successful side in U17 World Cup history, their success built on the back of their incredible consistency in sending sides to the tournament.
Seleção have maintained some sort of presence at every tournament bar Japan 1993 – a feat only matched by the United States.
The Golden Eaglets, in contrast, have only been to 11 of the 17 tournaments that have been staged since the tournament began in 1985. Nonetheless, when they are there, Nigeria tend to make it count: appearing in eight finals and winning five of them (1985, 1993, 2007, 2013, and 2015).
10 – Australia are the ninth ranked side in U17 World Cup history
You read that right.
According to FIFA’s rankings heading into Brazil 2019, the Joeys are the ninth most successful side in U17 World Cup history, coming in just behind the United States and ahead of European powers France.
Present at 12 iterations of the tournament, Australia qualified for the final of New Zealand 1999 and have reached at least the knockout stages on nine different occasions – maintain a record of 17 wins, eight draws and 22 losses from 47 games.