Saturday 24 June 2017, 19:25

Bosnich’s Confed Cup tales of ‘97

  • Mark Bosnich helped Australia reach the 1997 Confederations Cup semi-finals

  • The 45-year-old played in England for Manchester United, Aston Villa and Chelsea

  • He is at Russia 2017 with an Australian supporters' tour group

By Pete Smith with Australia

Currently in Russia leading a supporters’ tour group, former Australia goalkeeper Mark Bosnich chatted with about his recollections from the Socceroos’ memorable charge to the final of the 1997 FIFA Confederations Cup in Saudi Arabia.

The former Manchester United, Aston Villa and Chelsea goalkeeper, who played in two FIFA World Cup™ campaigns, is now a football pundit on Australian TV. Ever the entertainer, this is what ‘Bozza’ had to say about that ground-breaking tournament for the Socceroos 20 years ago.

What memories stick out from Saudi Arabia 1997? It was only a few months after the disaster of not qualifying [for the 1998 FIFA World Cup] against Iran, so we were pretty down. But we beat Mexico for starters, then we had Brazil and got a draw, but lost to Saudi Arabia. We got to the semi-finals and we got Uruguay, and I thought ‘this is going to be very difficult’, but we beat them. But then the final against Brazil was one of the most disastrous things I can remember [6-0 defeat].

I only got beaten six times in a match on two occasions in professional football. The other time was the semi-final of the '92 Olympic Games in Barcelona when we lost 6-1 to Poland. Both times were with a player sent off. It was the only time in my career when I considered saying at half-time, ‘I think my hamstring has gone!'.

Was the 1997 Confederations Cup a healing experience after narrowly missing out on a ticket to France 1998 a few weeks earlier? Well, the first four games were! Brazil can do that against anyone on their day. I saw Roberto Carlos recently and he said ‘you annoyed us in the first game drawing 0-0, so we wanted to put you in your place’. I said ‘cheers, you definitely did that!'.

Was the tournament a stepping stone for Australian football? I think every tournament is a stepping stone for Australian football. Back to our first tournament in '74, and then 32 years later in Germany was a massive step. As long as you learn from them each time, and I’m sure we do. All these tournaments are a stepping stone in trying to make Australia a top-20 side and that should be the aim.