The domestic soccer scene in Australia was at an ebb in the late eighties. The national team was a ray of light in an otherwise cloudy period. Frank Arok was entering his fifth year as Socceroos coach and added young players to the squad in Alex Tobin, Robbie Slater and Frank Farina.
Arok and his beloved Socceroos qualified for the 1988 Olympic Games to be held in Seoul, South Korea, by March with victories over Taiwan, Israel and New Zealand. The whole year was special as Australia celebrated its bicentenary. Soccer's governing body hosted the Bicentennial Gold Cup in July. The highlight being the Socceroos' comprehensive victory over reigning world champions, Argentina, 4-1. Captain, Charlie Yankos, scored a free-kick for the ages.
The Socceroos departed for South Korea with the nation's Olympic selection in September. The team won their first game against Yugoslavia in Gwangju, 1-0. A treat for Arok, the Socceroos' Yugoslav-born coach. The following game against Brazil ended in a 3-0 drubbing - Romário de Souza Faria scored a hat-trick.
The last game in Group D would turn out well for the Socceroos, defeating Nigeria 1-0, and securing qualification to the quarter-finals. However, the Aussies would face the Soviet Union (USSR) and a team full of highly disciplined players. The Socceroos conceded two penalties in the second-half to go down 2-0. The USSR added a third and the 'Roos were on the first plane home.
The master, John Kosmina, at 32 scored one of the two Socceroos goals and his apprentice, Frank Farina, scored the other. Group D winners, Brazil, would make the Final as would the USSR. The teams that walloped the Socceroos 3-0 had it out at the Olympic Stadium in Seoul. Romário put Brazil up after 30 minutes, but a penalty conceded and scored, cost them and the game went into extra-time. Yuri Savichev netted the winner on 103 minutes to cause an upset.
USSR coach, Anatoliy Byshovets, was lofted in the air by his players as they rejoiced in Olympic gold. West Germany would take out bronze, defeating Italy 3-0. The Germans would lift the FIFA World Cup two years later.
Every Australian player involved in the Seoul Olympics is immortalised in this design. Twenty men who share an unbreakable bond.
Australia at the 1988 Seoul Olympics T-shirt
- Unisex, regular fit
- Crew neck
- Mid-weight, 180 GSM
- 100% combed cotton
- Neck ribbing, side seamed, shoulder to shoulder tape, double needle hems, preshrunk to minimise shrinkage
Size S M L XL 2XL 3XL W 47 52 56.5 61 64 68 L 71 75 78.5 82 83.5 85
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