Thursday, July 31, 2008

Brain explosions all round... he's back Hey-Nal-Doe (Reinaldo)... HA HA HA (CCM v Roar Perry Park this Sunday 3pm)

Well Frank is saying Sergio (or Sergiho as the Australian calls him) plus Tim plus Reinaldo equals trouble. I certainly hope so. Maybe this is why the Charlie Miller thing was wavering? Can the Roar buy Charlie as well - the fabled 'playmaker'? (Could it be that we get Charlie too?)

In a way I am not surprised to see the big guy back. Over two and half seasons Roar fans had great expectations, got cheezed off and then loved him. Plus I have been to Korea. They sat him on the bench or in the stands all season. They can afford that over there, I think they bought a reserve. Reinaldo always needed game time. The Roar give him that (except for when Frank left him in the stands when he first arrrived and I begged he be played... ).

Couldn't see him going to America or another A-League team. Besides we need another draw card. Anyway, all A-League teams need a Brazilian. Where did I put my Portuguese phase book?

Monday, July 28, 2008

A week in football

The Roar are playing Central Coast at Perry Park next Sunday at 3pm. It is a while since this small ground, the home of the Brisbane Strikers, has seen a national competition game.

The first two rounds of the pre-season indicate that no team has, as yet, landed the killer blow from the transfer arms race. Perth got to launch the aging Trinidad without much impact. But it is probably too early to see the game changers emerge. And we aren’t getting to see much of these games.

Jon McKain. When Frank Farina took over at the Roar a mate listed the players he thought Frank would try to tempt back to the A-League. Jon McKain was prominent on that list. And the Roar were first on the list when McKain decided to head home this season. Unfortunately, they did not reach terms. The Roar have issues at the back. Sasa Ogenovski had numerous fights with team mates and clearly that is not sustainable. However, an A-League team is built from the back and it took a good season for Sasa to reach his potential. I think DeVere will be a great full back. McKain is already reported as saying that he wants to play for the Roar. The Roar’s loss is Wellington’s gain. And we are still waiting for the killer performance from, the yet to be signed, Charlie Miller.

Stuart McLaren. Stuart was used as a utility player by the Roar last year, mainly defence and mid-field. I think he played a game as Captain. However, injury and some unlucky expulsions reduced his season. He waited for another opportunity but had to return to the Strikers as Captain – Coach and the new Queensland league to pay the bills. He has been injured and that may rule him out of the A-League. I think Stuart made a fantastic contribution to the Roar as a player - particularly on dark days - and to the A-League as a leader and spokesperson. He once said to me ‘these are the glory days.’ P.S. the injuries and suspensions have continued in the Queensland State League - and redemption see here.

Some rhyming slang, ‘diving in the box, Alex Brosque’. But instead of proving the difference as he did last week against the Roar, this week he provided Bosnich the opportunity to start his A-League career as a hero by saving the resulting penalty. And the reports assessed Sydney’s attack as lacking ideas. Music to the ears of injured John Aloisi.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Newcastle 0 v Adelaide 0 (full time) and Melbourne ahead 1-0 after 36 mins against Perth

At last found some live scores.

A little test: Newcastle v Adelaide

Each year people right off Newcastle and get surprised. Tonight's pre-season game is perhaps, on paper (and games are played on grass), the weakest v the strongest. Adelaide have bought well and are preparing to take their Asian aspirations further. Newcastle will have their first Asian experience at the end of the season.

Last week Perth were under strength against Newcastle and we saw a 1-1 draw.

Be interesting could we see a blow out?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Socceroos: Brisbane gets the opener

Wednesday 15 October.

There has been a lot of argy bargy about the final game against Japan in June 2009 - who will get it Sydney or Melbourne. But this opener against Qatar is actually the critical game of the series. The Socceroos must win. Nothing else will do.

Their wins in the last round against Qatar allowed them to progress. Don't underestimate Qatar. They have the money to buy and win and they are prepared to - Iraq appealed against their nationalisation process for Brazilians and Uruguayans and got knocked back.

If the Socceroos can't win against Qatar at home, the odds are that they will not qualify. Simple as that.

Then going to see them play Japan 8 months later could be the same as the China game the other month. And that is why Melbourne got the gig, because the people of Melbourne love sport and they will fill the G no matter what. On the other hand, all we heard from the Sydney press for the China was wingeing. Sad but true.

So Sydney gets an earlier game that is still likely to have something riding on it. And the FFA gets the much needed money from full stadiums to fund the next leg of development for football in Australia.

So it is up to us. The Socceroos must win at Lang Park October against Qatar. And they need us to get them in the net.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Braziliant: A-League winning in foreign player arms (and legs) race

The Australian's A-League writer Ray Gatt is insisting on referring to the Roar's new striker Sergio van Dijk as Serginho. Ray is perhaps Australia's foremost football writer so perhaps he knows something I don't. In fact, doing a google search I see they are all at it Four Four Two, bloggers, everyone. So is Serginho a real name or just one of these Brazilian ones that help this Dutchman (I think he has one Indonesian parent too) to go faster on the field?

Anyway, the A-League seems to be punching up a class this year and attracting - overall - a better class of foreign player. This has come with its success, improved selection skills, lessons learnt from past mistakes and greater focus on the specific skills that will improve a team.

Most teams have learnt not to mix too many nationalities, or at least languages (poor Miron fell into this one). So Melbourne have signed Costa Rican defensive midfielder Jose Luis Lopez to parter their positive experience from last year - Carlos Hernandez. But for me their big signing is Brazilian Ney Fabiano De Oliveira who was tested by Victory in their champions league games against Thai team Chonburi FC. (Funny Melbourne seem to have picked up a few U20s from under Sydney FC's noses).

The star import so far has been Brazilian Cristiano for Adelaide. Also new is 25 year old left back Alemao from the Brazilian first division - imagine that I didn't realise that Brazilians had defenders. Interesting to see how he goes. Adelaide now have 4 Brazilians.

The biggest surprises could come from a Perth team desperate to give their fans something to cheer about. New Argentine Adrian Trinidad won and scored a penalty against Newcastle on the weekend. His new team mates are Eugene Dadi and Amaral. Both are 35. Amaral a central mid-fielder from Brazil has played with Parma and Fiorentina in Italy and Benfica in Portugual. Striker Dadi from Ivory Coast (he is now French) seems to have been around a bit without playing too much in recent years. Unfortunately, Dadi has strained his hamstring.

I am a little concerned about Newcastle. To me they look like they have only half a team. They have 17 players but some seem a little too young expect too much from. I wonder what owner Con Constantine is planning? Anyway, they still have very exciting 21 year old South Korean Song Jin-Hyung (who probably did as much as any to get them through the finals to the championship last year with only 3 games). But gee, this team is going to Asia this year, surely they are buying more players? Their named strikers are 19 and 20.

Sticking to their usual practice, Central Coast haven't gone for any fancy foreigners. Just Bosnich in goal. Sydney too have gambled on locals Aloisi, Bridge and Colosimo.

Wellington have focused on bring home more Kiwis. Plus Adam Kwasnik (Australian) from CCM. And Chinese Leilei Gao formerly of NZ Knights. Brisbane born John McKain is perhaps their best buy - a defender I hoped to see for the Roar.

(This is not meant t be definitive foreign player listing. Turned out to be more of a team review than I intended).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Alex Brosque - the player we ...

Hmmm. Just watched the highlights of the Sydney v Roar match (SBS TV Sunday afternoon - free TV). I know people don't put much stake in this cup, but it is important for clubs selling their season tickets.

The Roar outplayed Sydney. As Ed said, we are used to smash and grab after dominating. However, Sergio really looks the goods and had 3 or 4 chances (didn't see Miller in the highlights although Massimo seemed to miss a sitter although we aren't used to so many shots on goal from him).

Unfortunately, Alex Brosque appears to have been up to his old ticks. Around the 57th minute he ran onto a long ball. Seo covering the far right of the Roar's defence. Inside the circle and outside the penalty area, Brosque pushed the ball forward - alas too far - his final touch has never been good (oh how Roar fans know) right into Reddy's path, another opportunity gone. But no, as Brosque slowed he felt Seo on his shoulder and executed a perfect sallow dive. And last man foul, red card and Seo's pre-season is cut. Plus the Roar's defence further exposed. The free kick goes in Sydney get ahead (2-1) and 11 man Sydney valiantly hold out 10 dominant Roars for 30 minutes to win.

Ref Matthew Breeze has a history of yellow carding strikers for this type of foul (ask Joel Griffiths). So we probably can't blame him...

Given Bridge and Aloisi's prospective return, just how many games Brosque will get this year is a question. Hope he comes to Lang Park, Roar fans love to hate him...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sydney 2 v Roar 1: Sydney's teenager answers..

17 year old Chris Payne proved the difference between two sides weakened by injury and suspension. Tiattto and Kruse both missed the trip.

If Payne continues in this vain, scoring one and forcing saves with several other shots - including an over-head kick - Sydney will not need John Aloisi.

That said, reports indicate that the Roar dominated the game. New striker Sergio van Dijk showing class with a great goal.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pre-match, pre-season cup: Sydney v Roar

I read Jesse Fink's piece about John Aloisi on the world game site and laughed, it's an in joke for long term bloggers - 'Where is Mike'. Anyone get it. Without losing my subtlety it involves one of the longest A-League blob exchanges ever and dates from the Terry Butcher days.

Anyway, Jesse thinks this is a do or die year for Sydney and, given his foot injury, our John doesn't look like a good investment. Plus they have loads of players unavailable or injured. Which was the risk of keeping under the salary cap by playing up for individuals and running a small squad. The thing that really gets me is that, growing up in Sydney, I know that NSW has immense youth talent. So why hasn't Sydney FC cultivated 4 or 5 Biddles?

This is where Frank Farina is great. Almost all his coaching experience, including the Socceroos, was under a regime of not spending any money. He knows how to find these players. And guess who the crowd come to see at the Roar - Zullo, Kruse and Tahj Minniecon and soon it will be Thomas Oar too (as well as DeVere and Cernak). Sydney don't need Aloisi for a crowd.

Good football can be played at any age. It is about mentoring, game time, rising to the occasion, learning hard lessons - just like all the other big things in life. So if Frank can find a bunch of young Queenslanders ready to embarrass the journeymen, why can't John Kosmina. Why does Kosmina need Foxtel to do his job for him? Don't get me wrong Fox 8's Football Superstar is fantastic but those players have always been there.

Then the old hands are the backbone and the icing on the cake.

Yes we are going Dutch

KNVB Basic Level Coaching Course

FFA has organised a 7 day residential coaching course through Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) which is open to all Youth Coaches.

Applications close Friday 25 July.

Venue: Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra
Dates: 21 – 27 August 2008
Arrival: 20 August
Departure: 28 August
Cost: $2,090 (This includes instructor costs, course materials, accommodation and meals)
Travel: You will be responsible for your own travel to and from the AIS
How to apply: Complete the application form

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mark Bosnich back as a football star

Mark Bosnich is now trialing with Central Coast Mariners. Danny Vukavic's suspension has created the openning for Bosnich.

Today he was a guest on Fox 8's Football Superstar. Where he saved a few cracking penalties.

He looks good but he also looks 36. Apparently he has a desire to return to the top level in Europe - Peter Shilton played at the top until he was 47.

It will be interesting to watch...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Roar 3 v Palmeira 1 - dig the new breed

The Roar came out at full speed for the first 20 minutes and could have had 3 or 4 goals early. As we know, the Roar are at their best this way. Very entertaining for the crowd of 14,000. (Photos are 'the game stops for Thomas Oar' and 'Charlie Miller about to surprise and delight').

The first half was a showcase for new strikers Sergio van Dijk (very strong in the air and with the ball to his feet - put a left footed swivel turn just over the bar from outside the box) and Tim Smits (good in the air, scored a looping header and looked fast enough to cause an A-League defence havoc - but slowed into the 2nd half) and full back Luke DeVere (great in the air but with clearly a lot to learn about controlling strikers and their runs).

Late in the second we had our first look at Thomas Oar (some great running with the ball, but not quite there for strength yet).

But the game was stolen by the 35 minute cameo of Charlie Miller. Something was happening every time he got the ball, plus he executed the most powerful pile drive I have seen - outside the box and hit the cross bar and bounced straight up 30 or 40 metres. He regularly weaved through defenders that eventually took to kicking his heels. On the downside, he scored one of only 2 yellow cards for a tackle from behind (Kruse the other after a pushing match with a Brazilian) and he set up Murdocca's injury time volleyed goal by juggling the ball through two defenders before laying off for Massimo.

The Miller equation is not straight forward and questions remain before he is selected. While he gave a 100% and was the best on the pitch by miles, he isn't trim and as he strode out with his shirt out looked a lot like Newcastle's Super Mario disaster. But on the pitch he is all class. Will he, like Tiatto and Moore, be able to curb his British tackling style? Will he meet the challenges of training and playing in 30 degrees and 70-80% humidity? Should the Roar risk him?

Yes. They must. They need to. As Moore has said he could be the difference for a title this year.

Overall, Danny Tiatto was man-of-the-match (officially it was McKay) - regularly switching positions - full back, mid-field, striker - and regularly out Brazilian-ing the Brazilians with tricks (look this way - pass that way) and nutmegs. Tiatto was the playmaker, looking for and creating the openings. And as he said to SBS, a changed man - fouled rather than fouling.

The Roar's quasi total football system - two wide running wingers and players inter-changing positions had a clear edge over Palmeira's 3 up front and through the middle approach. So Four Four Two - Dutch football isn't dead - in Brisbane at least.

The Roar still need to work on their defence as Palmeiras' goal - a slow bouncing ball past some statutes - showed.

Goals: Roar: Smits 35’, McKay 43’, Murdocca 90+2’ Palmeiras: Portela 57’

Friday, July 11, 2008

Roar v Palmeira - 7pm Saturday

Maybe we'll end up with one or 2 Brazilians after all:

“We think that all the players involved should be observed by the fans, because if Queensland Roar has this intention (to observe the players), Palmeiras will do everything that is possible to send those players to Brisbane.”

“We are working to build a strong relationship between Palmeiras and Queensland Roar,” he said. “I think that we can not only see (Brazilians) playing in Australia but also see some Australians players in Brazil, training and playing in Palmeiras.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Arnold snubs Kruse and Zullo, Kewell goes to Turkey?

After the hammering Bruce Djite got for his move to Turkey, Harry Kewell has followed by signing with Galatasaray for 3 years. This must mean that the various Italian and Spansih talent scouts gave him a big thumbs down.

It is a very curious move and it will be interesting to see what the financial inducement was. Kewell has lived in England for around half his life and it would be a major move to come back to Australia and the smaller-time A-League. But really, how big is his brand in Turkey?

And Harry isn't going to the Olympics. The 3 over age players will be Jade North, David Carney and Archie Thompson. So no place for Robbie Kruse - for mine the best young player in the A-League last season. Certainly he had a better season than Celeski, Bridge and Rukavytsya. How Ruben Zadkovich seems to have impressed is a mystery, certainly wouldn't have been Kosmina's choice.

Olyroos: Adam Federici (GK), Tando Velaphi(GK), Adrian Leijer, Ruben Zadkovich, Jade North, Trent McClenahan, Matthew Spiranovic, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Mark Milligan, Stuart Musialik, Billy Celeski, Neil KilKenny, Kristian Sarkies, James Troisi, David Carney, Mark Bridge, Nikita Rukavytsya, Archie Thompson.

Source for this story: ABC

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Thanks Juninho, it's a good story anyway...

This week, according to the Courier Mail, Juninho withdrew from the Roar v Palmeiras game on 12 July. Why? because the Roar decided not to sign 19 year old Bruno Mezenga? The Roar are not a charity.

Juninho played for Palmeiras and Mezenga's club Flamengo (he was fired in 2005). However, Mezenga has struggled to retain a place at Flamengo and has been unable to regularly score goals while on loan for lower placed clubs. After a few runs for the Roar his move was starting to look like a hospital pass. The Roar, already the victim of duds like Chinese former international Zhang, wisely declined the offer to give Mezenga another chance. After reportedly scoring 52 goals in two seasons as a junior for Flemengo he has scored only 4 in 42 games since 2005.

As for Juninho. He was a bit of a disappointment. Sydney FC coach John Kosmina inherited Juninho when he took over as coach. And made it clear that he was disappointed at the Brazilians fitness and regular injuries. While a World Cup winner, Jininho was also a disappointment as a crowd draw compared to ex ManU star Dwight Yorke or the equally fragile Benito Carbone.

My view is that at the time he signed on for the Roar v Palmeiras match he had an eye to potential contracts with Perth, Adelaide or Gold Coast. But now? without regular training or match practice perhaps he sees little point in a trip to Oz.

Maybe Juninho found his reason in the little know Mezenga.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Lessons from the MLS

The A-League structure is very close to the 13 year old American MLS. Built from the ashes of false starts, a small number of teams, backed by millionaires with a tight salary cap.

Perhaps false starts are the way of football outside Europe, each generation has a crescendo of interest generated by the appearance of international stars, an influx of investor money from the field of dreams (build it and they will come), the coming of age of a new generation of football mad migrants, or a world cup qualification. Perhaps this time is different - a sustainable business built as the world matures into a global sports business where only the paytv backed sports can grow.

In achieving sustainability, the Major League has lessons for Australia. While we are unlikely to adopt the stilted commentary, the eastern and western conference (7 teams in each) system, 'all star' games, and 't' for tied instead of 'd' for draw - all borrowing from gridiron's success - there is still much to learn about winning market share in an industry dominated by other codes.

Like the A-League's inclusion of a team from NZ, the MLS has included Canada's Toronto FC. The MLS has sought to keep the teams even through a salary cap and marquee arrangements. We haven't seen the drafting and player bidding arrangements (that have been adopted by AFL). Also the MLS draws on local expertise from outside football to ensure relevance to the local market. The adaption to local interests is a painful lesson learned in Australia, the A-League has now drawn on governance talent from rugby union and Australian Rules, a well advertising specialists (John Singleton) and even owners from other sports (AFL's Geoff Lord).

Starting 1995, over its first 10 years the MLS became two conferences of 5 teams each. Expanding for the 2005 season, Eastern has added Toronto, and Kansas has switched from Western. While Western has added Salt Lake, Houston and the LA based but Mexican owned Chivas USA (sister club to Mexican club Deportivo Guadalajara). Clearly the MLS has an advantage in producing Spanish language content. Chivas is Deportivo Guadalajara's nickname - meaning the Goats - and appears to have no connection to the Scottish drink Chivas Regal.