Things are beginning to feel very real for Australia’s U17 side.
Though they are currently in Britain for preparatory fixtures against England, South Korea and Brazil; that they will soon be running out at the U17 World Cup in Brazil cannot be far from the thoughts of the Joeys.
Representing the biggest stage that they will have ever graced during their young careers, one would forgive the youngsters for feeling nervous ahead of their first fixture against Ecuador on 26 October.
The coming World Cup represents not only a chance for the youngsters to bring a World Championship to Australian football but also the largest shop window that they will have ever found themselves in.
However, according to Joeys’ captain Ryan Teague, it’s excitement that is the dominant mood in the Australian playing group.
“I think everyone here is very excited in the potential of the team we have at the moment,” Teague told dailyfootballshow.com from London.
“With the players that we’ve got, we’re very excited to showcase our talent on the field.
“It’s an opportunity to show everyone around the world that we can compete at the highest level. I think people have fixed perceptions of us, but we know the quality and the ability we have.
“They think we’re coming in as the underdogs, as we’re not really known for our football, but I think that’s something that seems to be changing every day.
“Honestly? We’ll shock them.
“We’re going to go out there and we’re not going to fear anyone.
“We’re going in with the mindset that we can win this World Cup. We’re not just going there to fill in the numbers, we’re going there to shock the world and ultimately win the World Cup.”
Teague arrived in Britain hot on the heels of signing a professional deal that will him elevated to the senior squad of defending A-League champions Sydney FC for the 2019/20 season.
Teague, alongside fellow new Sydney signings Marco Tilio and Harry Van Der Saag, has been with the Harboursiders since their academy opened back in 2015 and said that getting the chance to immerse himself in the senior environment was already paying dividends.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity that’s come up,” said Teague.
“Being in a first-team environment has helped my game out immensely. Getting amongst the older boys and learning off them will hopefully take my game to the next level.
“All these things – the World Cup and contracts– it all just makes me hungrier. I keep on wanting to play and keep on improving my game so I can keep advancing in my career.
“Hopefully I get an opportunity to play in the A-League. Honestly, the goal for me was to start in one of the games coming up, but I know that requires work, so I’ve just got to keep doing my thing.”
Teague and his Joeys’ teammates will meet England – who despite being defending U17 World Champions failed to qualify for the 2019 tournament – at De Montfort Park on 6 September before then clashing with South Korea at St. George’s Park on 8 September and Brazil at St. George’s Park on 10 September.
At the World Cup, their meeting with Ecuador at the Estadio Olimpico in Goiania on 26 October will be followed with a clash with Hungary on 29 October before their group phase ends in a fixture against junior football powerhouses Nigeria on 1 November.