China 1985: Nigeria rule
Strength, skill and a willingness to attack were the three main ingredients in Nigeria's first world title at U-16 level. The Africans proved themselves superior in just about all facets of the game. The Golden Eaglets coasted through the first round with a 1-0 victory over Italy, a 3-0 win against Costa Rica and a draw with Saudi Arabia, then stepped up a gear to brush aside Hungary (3-1) in the quarter-finals. They came back down to earth against Guinea, but scraped through on penalties (4-2), before triumphing over West Germany in the Final. With Lucky Agbonsevafe imperial in goal, Sani Adamu equally commanding in the middle of the park and Joseph Babatunde on hand to put away half chances up front, Nigeria were unstoppable. Their superior physique and natural attacking enterprise made the Golden Eaglets an irresistible powerhouse.
This was a very well-balanced tournament, with the Africans just edging it in terms of the quality of football. Two African sides, Nigeria and Guinea, reached the semis, alongside a South American representative in Brazil, and one team from Europe, West Germany.
The team that caused the biggest stir was probably Australia. Handed a seemingly killer draw alongside top sides Argentina, West Germany and Congo in Group B, the Aussies made their intentions clear right from the outset. A shock 1-0 win over the Argentinians was achieved via a Craig Naven strike. West Germany soon went the same way, a Paul Trimbole goal proving enough for them to pull off a second upset. The Aussies then disposed of Congo 2-1 to qualify in style, only to fall to Guinea on penalties in the quarter-finals. They had exceeded expectations though, and returned home with their heads held high.
Player of the Tournament:
Brazilian William Cesar de Oliveira took the honours in a tournament that had more than its fair share of raw talent. The Auriverde playmaker was more than just a great passer. He was nimble, clever, and hard to knock off the ball. His inch-perfect through balls to strikers Faria Barreto and Natalino Antunes regularly created panic in opposing defences, and he got on the score-sheet himself too - often at vital moments. His goals against Qatar and Mexico turned things Brazil's way in the group stage, while his double against Saudi Arabia in the knockout matches proved equally decisive. He hit two more in the third place play-off against Guinea to end a wonderful tournament.
Fernando Cáceres (ARG), Fernando Redondo (ARG), William Cesar de Oliveira (BRA), Craig Naven (AUS), Marco Echeverry (BOL), Erwin Sánchez (BOL), Hernán Medford (CRC), Javier Wanchope (CRC), Salifou Koita (GUI), Maurizio Ganz (ITA), Joseph Babatunde (NGA).
China 1985 stats:
- West Germany
91 (2.8 per game)
Germany and Brazil, 13 goals
Marcel Witeczek (GER), 8 goals
Peking, Tianjin, Dalian and Shanghai.