On a weekend when the Joeys won a sensational AFF U-16 final, another Aussie teenager stole the headlines with an astonishing display.
Sebastian Pasquali. Get used to reading that name.
There’d been a bit of talk about the 16-year-old in the lead up to Melbourne Victory’s ICC clash with Serie A powerhouse Juventus at the MCG.
But who knew the teenager from country Victory would or could put in a display of such class and authority against such opponents as La Vecchia Signora?
As a second half substitute, the Wangaratta Wonderkid bossed the midfield with his technique and astonishing confidence on the ball.
He literally lit up the game from the moment he touched the ball.
Far from looking out of place, he actually looked like a rising star of Serie A such was this performance (watched on from the stands by national coach Ange Postecoglou).
Pasquali also played his part in Victory’s excellent equaliser with a deft touch that ended with Jai Ingham angling home the leveller.
And to put the cherry on an immense debut, Pasquali stroked home one of the goals that eventually saw the Hyundai A-League outfit win 4-3 on penalties (1-1 after full-time).
As debuts go, to outshine the reigning Serie A champions at the iconic MCG will go down as one of the great bows.
What will be even more fascinating is how far the lad can go? His father is a respected coach back in Wangaratta and at Victory he’s at the most professionally run club you’ll find in the A-League.
Though wisely his Victory coach Kevin Muscat was keen to play down the hype post match.
“He’s a young boy, I don’t think we can get too excited. He came on and showed, he wouldn’t be training with us and involved with the squad if he didn’t have some ability,’’ Muscat said.
“He’s a young man learning his trade and he’s shown some good signs at this point in time.”
Next chance to see Pasquali is this Saturday when Victory play a friendly with Atletico Madrid in Geelong.
The Big V then head to Newcastle to kick off their Wesfield FFA Cup defence on Wednesday August 3.
Then there were the Joeys.
Fresh from an incredible semi final win over Thailand (equalising in time added on before winning on penalties), the boys were at it again in the final in Cambodia.
In the AFF U-16 Championships final against a very good Vietnam side that topped their group ahead of Australia (beating the Joeys 3-0), the fighting spirit of Tony Vidmar’s boys shone through.
A late John Roberts goal dragged the contest back to 3-3 and with the momentum Australia went on to win the final in the shootout.
Roberts has been a standout up front for the Joeys in this tournament, scoring goals for fun and leading the team as skipper.
He’s big, strong and direct. An old fashioned central striker with technique who knows where the goal is.
In fact, Roberts has been on the radar since the African-born former Mt Druitt Town junior was 13.
At the time he was dubbed the hottest prospect in the state of NSW, as this report notes.
John Roberts and Sebastian Pasquali are two names we don’t know a lot about – but that may change in the future.
What a weekend for the youth of Australia.