Socceroos training ground bust-up ahead of crucial FIFA World Cup 1994 play-off
Several Socceroos were involved a training ground bust-up ahead of Australia's crucial FIFA World Cup 1994 play-off second leg against Canada.
After a 2-1 defeat in the first leg in Edmonton, tensions between Socceroos teammates came to the fore during a training on the St George stadium carpark, with Frank Farina and Robbie Slater involved in a bust-up.
“We were playing a small sided game and it was pretty aggressive," former Socceroos captain Paul Wade explained to Socceroos.com.au.
"You’d wind each other up, and I think Robbie Slater wound Frank Farina up so much, that one of them threw the first punch.
“I had never seen better punches in my life other than in a boxing ring. Must have been a dozen punches.”
Slater explained to the Fox Football Podcast that a disagreement between himself and Paul Okon led to the incident.
Slater said, “I had a go at Paulo, and probably said something inappropriate. Frankie (Farina) took exception to it. And I took exception to Frankie (saying something)."
“Frankie was a competitor as I was. The trouble with Frankie was when his eyes go, it’s all over.
“His eyes went. It’s like watching a dryer – they go round and round and I thought ‘here we go’.
“I walked towards him and we started throwing punches. I don’t think they were technically perfect. Before you knew it, everyone jumped in. There were more words and so on and we went back our own ways.”
Coach Eddie Thomson was not impressed with the bust-up, but did his part to ensure the squad moved past the incident.
“We got called into Thommo’s room before dinner," said Slater.
"We were already sort of giggling about it, but Thommo (coach Eddie Thompson) wasn’t happy.
“We both apologised, shook hands and that was the end of it. Then everyone took the piss out of us at dinner.”
Wade added: "We’re at dinner, and obviously everyone is quiet and a bit embarrassed. I don’t know who it was, but someone went 'ding ding', like a bell for the next punch up. It relieved all the pressure.”
Despite Thomson's call to keep the bust-up under wraps, a photo and story appeared in the media the following day.
“Eddie Thompson goes right, nobody says anything," said Wade.
"Nobody says a word about this incident. We thought it’s probably better kept under wraps.
“The next morning, on the back-page of the Sydney Morning Herald - the biggest headline."
Despite the bust-up, which occurred several days before the second leg against Canada, the Socceroos squad was focused on crucial match to keep their FIFA World Cup dream alive.
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