Australia
© AFP

The past
Australia has a strong record at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, notably in the early days of the tournament, which were highlighted by consecutive semi-final appearances in 1991 and 1993. The Young Socceroos have long been considered an important component of the Australian development system and the age group has produced a catalogue of senior national team players, including the majority of squad members at both the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups™. Since 1989, Australia have missed only the 2007 edition of the tournament.

The present
Under coach Paul Okon, a notable Young Socceroo alumni having skippered the side to the semi-finals in 1991, the team are playing a modern brand of football based on movement and possession. With only modest preparation, Australia did it tough in the group stage, though managing to finish top on the back of draws against Syria and Saudi Arabia, and a win over Qatar. Australia saved their best until the quarter-final encounter with Jordan, where an impressive 3-0 victory secured passage to Turkey 2013. A tilt at a maiden Asian U-19 crown ended at the semi-final stage with a 2-0 defeat against Iraq.

The future
Australia will be hoping the Class of 2013 will end a decade-long drought from the knockout stage of the FIFA U-20 World Cup. The current crop have a good mixture of solid defenders and wily ball-players. A significant number of squad members, most of whom are graduates of the Australian Institute of Sport, are based in Europe, while the remainder ply their trade in the A-League.