Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Australia v Uzbekistan: 60,000 fans on the edge

The Uzbeks 4-0 win over Qatar stamped oil money from the former soviet skills base over the current petrol dollars. Will they steal our smiles?

What a shame more won't be watching this piece of history unfold.

Monday, March 30, 2009


The Australian has caught up with the Adelaide United story, with Ray Gatt noting that Bianco Construction Supplies is likely to hand back its license.

On Friday, the Australian Financial Review ran a story on page 3, 'Footy fans defy corporate woes' by John Kehoe which noted that crowds to AFL games had been strong but that corporate clients had been harder to entice. Kehoe also noted that Port Adelaide has asked the AFL for assistance but 'denied suggestions Bianco Construction Supplies will not meet its sponsorship obligations.' Any company investing in Australian sport and the development of our youth, at all skill levels, should be applauded, praised and recognised for the investment they make.

Kehoe also noted that the AFL expects to improve on its gross revenue of $302m. One day the FFA will have that type of problem - a few more World Cups down the track and a free-to-air deal.

Kehoe also noted the Australian Rugby Union posted a surplus of $712,000 for 2008, up from a loss of $8.5m in 2007.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Talent in the Queensland State League

Former Roar Seo has made Brisbane Olympic the unbackable favourite in the Queensland State League. Some of his team mates are also raising eyebrows. Nigerian Nzube Okafor scored 1 on debut and 3 yesterday. And Andrew Oar (Tommy's brother?) is also causing havoc.

Socceroos - the biggest game in Australian football history?

No. But if the Socceroos win it could go into the top 10 or so. The FFA are absolutely counting on 2010 qualification and the free-to-air exposure and audience to set up the negotiations for the next Socceroos/A-League TV rights deal.

To build the football audience the FFA needs a bigger pool than Australians with free to air. In 2005 the FFA needed the up-front financial commitment. Now it needs the eyeballs.

In 2009, the extra spice will be Gold Coast United and NQ Fury and Robbie Fowler (sorry Jason surely Robbie will be the face of the A-League). In 2010 it must be the mandated free-to-air world cup games.

The only question is will Channel 9, with its rugby league interests slipping, now bid SBS (once the soccer broadcasting service and now the anti-A-League brigade) out of its free line into mainstream households?

Will SBS pay the long run price for its vindictive attack on Frank Farina while he was Socceroo coach?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Games we would have liked to see...

11 March Champions League Last 16 2nd Leg:

Bayem Munich 7 v Sporting Lisbon 1 (12-1 on aggregate).

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tianjin Teda 2 v Central Coast 2

The timing of this game, in the middle of Wednesday night, meant that it missed the attention it deserved. Including from me. I watched it later as an Foxtel IQ recording.

The stadium was full. The handful of fans in CCM or Socceroo colours (very similar now) were massively outnumbered. CCM hadn't won a game since New Year.

And yet CCM were the better team. Hit by an against the run of play goal in the first half. Matt Simon terrorised Tianjin Teda's local and French defenders. The ref was fooled by a dive from a Teda defender into giving Simon his 2nd yellow card of the competition and he will miss the next game. However, the Chinese fear of Simon opened the game up Simon. Great goals to CCM, two minutes after coming on Caceres back healed a wayward strike, and 15 minutes later Simon took on a defender, kicked the ball ahead a metre and got himself in a one-on-one with the keeper.

CCM need work on corners, conceding both goals from headers.

Considering Newcastle came last and CCM 4th, the A-League is demonstrating that it is - just behind Japan but up there with Korea and China.

By the way, Sydney FC's Mark Bridge played more than half a game for Teda. He appears to be displacing one of their stars. More evidence of A-League quality.

Ognenovski ignored

Poor old Sasa. Complained bitterly about being praised by fans but ignored by Frank, Guus and, finally, Pim. And that he was becoming a Macedonian citizen so he could test himself against the Dutch greats. Only to be left out of the Macedonian squad...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Changchung Matty

thanks to Bill for the heads up on this story.

'The midfield workhorse said he was intent on returning home to help Queensland claim the 2009-10 A-League championship, but didn’t completely rule out a longer term move to China.

“If you do well and they like you enough, they can buy you,” he said. “I’m sure the club would listen to offers.

“At the moment it is for four months and I’m desperate to come back and be involved in the revamped A-League competition.' Goal.com has the interview

Could there be a hole openning in the Roar midfield?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Newcastle 2 v Ulson Hyundia 0: K-League under estimates A-League

In the middle of a busy season Hyundia sent their reserve team. And paid the price. Two great goals from veteran and Newcastle new by Sasha Petrovski. The Korean team dominated the second half but Newcastle's new defensive line up held firm. The Korean team has now lost 2 from 2. Maybe the ACl is, despite the revamp, not their priority. Newcastle will now go for broke.

Is Covic throwing a spanner in the works by heading to Europe? Remember when Ben Kennedy was a new boy and Newcastle's only keeper (season two when Ready went to the Roar)? They could be back to that.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Memo to FFA: Opening match 09/10 - utilise Robbie Fowler

Well done to NQ fury for signing Robbie Fowler. Now, after a very hard year for A-League clubs to get cut through, the FFA must make the most use of Fowler as a crowd attractor.

The FFA need to emulate NRL's Broncos v NQ 45,000 strong opener, by having the first game of the season Roar v Fury at Lang Park. 

Clearly the penciled in Gold Coast United v Roar @ Skilled Park is a mistake. Gold Coast need to pull their weight. But not in the 1st match.

Robbie Fowler has the potential to pull in the crowds at Australia's best football stadium. Particularly dads showing their kids the guy they used to follow at Liverpool. This is the start that football needs in Queensland. Even the EPL doubters could come along. 

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lessons from other sports: The economy again

The National Rugby Union would be happy if their only problem was $250,000 per year players being offered $400,000 per year to play union in Japan (see 'Japanese Raid' Josh Massoud The Courier-Mail 28 Feb 2009 page 88). As it turned out the offer seems to have been a hoax. Unfortunately, the dire financial position of the NRL is not. Seven Sydney clubs had their poker machine funding reduced by a combined $56 million but a change in NSW Government policy. Their season started this week but the lead up was ruined by daily stories about player attacks on young women and even sponsors. The NRL even had to change its promo video to remove one of the players involved in scandal. Then there is the wait to see the economic situation hits crowd income. Lesson: made sure your players behave.

The NRL will be happy with the Brisbane v North Queensland first up game that attracted 45,000 dispite threatening weather. Clearly, the is the reason the FFA have brought in the Fury and the Gold Coast. Although over at Four Four Two Ante Milicic told us he was sceptical about the Gold Coast's crowd potential.

AFL is fairing little better. Like NRL it dominates the sports headlines but behind the scenes player behaviour is still a concern. And requiring up to $40 million to keep each club going it is being buffered at least a little by the economy. For example, Vodafone has given the Brisbane Lions notice that this is the last year of their $2m per annum sponsorship. This adds to the clubs investment losses. Lesson: keep your sport cost effective enough so it doesn't rely on corporates.

Rugby Union is continually challenged by argy bargy between power brokers. At the moment there is plenty of it about who is going to buy whose players next year. Add to this, the South Africans have started talking about leaving the super 14s and joining an expanded European competition. Lesson: don't let a tri-nation competition destroy interest in the game at the local level.

Basketball is still struggling to find a sustainable model. One maybe two clubs didn't make it through the season financially. And the new club on the Gold Coast came last ( a lesson indeed). Next year will be another go with 8 or 10 teams. Will there be one in Brisbane?

The Australia cricket team still dominates the sports pages - even when there is little to say. The South Africans gave interest here a body blow by winning. And now Australia are returning the favour by winning the series - with dominant displays - and retaining the world leadership position, over in South Africa. The home administrators must be wishing the location of these results could be reversed. I watched a bit of the tests in South Africa - hardly anyone was at the grounds. Lesson - win at home.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Central Coast 0 v Steelers 0: Matts off

I am surprised at the press write-ups of this game. The score was right. The teams were level in quality. This says a lot about the quality of the A-League. Particularly as CCM came 4th this season and this was basically the same team (unlike Newcastle). I think CCM played better than did the newly formed Newcastle in their game the night before.

I am also surprised by Ray Gatt from The Australian's comment that the A-League's finest had failed in 3 games (Socceroos v Kuwait, and the 2 ACL games) to score against Asian teams and that this was some from of condemnation. Not sure whose side Gatt is on now. CCM and Newcastle for all of their performance are not the A-League's finest. And while the Socceroos included some of the finest, some of the finest are foreign players and others were not picked by Pim V.

I understand that Matt Simon has indicated he is off to Europe after the ACL. Funny how these things develop. First time I saw him play I thought he was a bit thuggish. Then the first half of this year he was brilliant. If he had kept going he would have been golden boot. Then he got injured. He came back, perhaps too early as CCM struggled without Jedinak, and again looked more thuggish than stylish. In his Socceroo performances, particularly the brief Indonesian episode, he was all arms. Yet clubs from Asian and Europe have heard of his earlier performances and he is away. Perhaps too early? He needed to calm down and impress. Last night he made opportunities for himself but couldn't finish. Ended up looking frustrated.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wither Adelaide and other stories - Beijing 2 v Newcastle Jets 0

My skepticism about Adelaide's owner holding out for $5m seems to have been on the money. Or no money. Fox Sports, who should be getting the exclusives from FFA, are reporting that FFA are ready to take over Adelaide United with 48 hours. The predictions are that it is likely to happen next week.

"Taking back the licence has been discussed," an FFA source said. "Time frame? These decisions might happen very quickly maybe within 24 or 48 hours, we're not too sure." Val Migliaccio March 09, 2009

Speculation continues that Vidmar will coach overseas and - much stronger speculation - that Cristiano wants out and that Adelaide have agreed. Well so much for their words to get their team through the preliminary final. The A-League seems to pay a high price for its overly long wait between a team qualifying for the ACL and their first game.

Newcastle had its first game last night right after coming last. What a difference a few short weeks makes. They were hardly recognisable as they same squad as either their 2008 qualifying team or even the team that came last. The amazing thing about this game was presence of 3 Griffith brothers - are there others? I doubt Newcastle will see Joel again as he is on loan until December - mid A-League then what? Wasn't he supposed to be Newcastle's marquee for next year? Stuff must really have happened down there. Adam is going to Gold Coast next year. Ryan thought about going to the Jets, but now he is happy with Beijing.

Still, the Jets went behind after just 7 minutes due to some really poor passing then defending from former Glory defender Nic Toper-Stanley. He had a bad match, he missed the tackle for the 2nd goal which was the last kick of the game, maybe it was the cold weather.

In between the Beijing goals, Newcastle played quite well, particularly in the 2nd half where they dominated. Much better were the games from the other new kids striker Doony De Groot (Holland), Sasho Petrovski (Central Coast), Ljubo Milicevic (sometime with Victory) and former Serie A striker Fabio Vignaroli. Didn't notice Angelo Costanzo but Newcastle are going to need him.

Oh and the new strip, quite nice. Same gold with one red arm and one black. Very medieval.

The FFA has acted to tie up the Grand Final loose ends by fining both teams for the melee's that came with the send offs - ie the ref being unduly influenced to send off Cristiano and Allsopp. Cristiano also got a fine for talking to the media about it after the match. Anyone for a fine for Pim saying our Archie is hopeless?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

A view on the Socceroos from our man in Japan

The last month as left me a bit flat. But our man in Japan is only getting started. Here he is with some of my comments added later.

'I could be wrong on their part timer status, but they (Kuwait) came to play, didn`t they? (John: yes they were here for a while. They couldn't believe how friendly Australia and New Zealand was to them. This wouldn't happen to the Socceroos in the middle east.)

Iraq also love playing us. Bahrain, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Oman ... pretty much anyone in west asia loves a chance to play against asia. I`m loving it. This is not oceania. (John: actually the officials in Kuwait have said some very nasty things about Australia being accepted in Asia. They want us out. I think Kuwait see the Socceroos as stealing their World Cup and Asia Cup spots. That is why, after Kuwait lost their first game at home against Oman, they knew they had to beat Australia.)

To be honest I`d prefer a bit less drama pre and post game. I can't quite shake the feeling that the A-Leaguers are being hung out to dry. First by their coach, then by the media. (John: the other codes are in deep financial trouble - and NRL a new player behaviour story every day).

No plan b eh? Lack of preparation is a choice, not a fact of life. If the club's have won a secret club vs nation battle, then the FFA has a lot to answer for. If Pim just couldn't be arsed bringing these guys together to prepare beforehand, then ditto. These games didn't come up a week ago; we knew they were coming, and we didn't prepare. (John: we should have brought the Europeans in for the cool climate games. I am not convinced they can beat Asian teams in 100% humidity and 50 degree heat).

Slagging his starting strikers beforehand, and all the smug talk about the A-League ... I used to think he was a straight talker, but now I see a politician. Getting his excuses out before the team he doesn't believe in goes out and loses. (John: I agree this is Pim's career too. He wasn't that successful in Korea. Archie said something like: 'I am going to train hard Monday. By Wednesday I should be hopeless. By Thursday, really hopeless.'). Handing someone a #107 jersey is also a great motivational tool.

Hell, even after the match, when he tried to talk nice (I`m thinking on instruction from his bosses), it sounded plastic and he still got a backhander or two in on the A-League (something like "we have players who should be in bigger and better leagues in this group"). (John: I think that Pim is making the job Frank Farina did - with no money and no help - for 6 years look like a great success).

And while I'm on such a great ranting roll, one of his A-League complaints is the openness of the game. May this never go away. Aussies don't go for the draw. We go for the win, and we accept the risks that come with that. OK the environment doesn't allow for promotion/relegation (and the pressures that come with that), but I think going for the win and taking risks is part of the aussie mindset. Does he "get" us Aussies? (John: I agree football can't afford a 'boring' tag here in Australia. But read this month's Soccer World - they are calling for rule changes to get the interest back in the game. Draw tactics are mature. Just about anyone can do it. And if you go for a draw, you could frustrate the opposition into losing ie Socceroos v Kuwait.)

I'm gonna stop before i get started on the talent he won't use. Nick Carle can't make a 40 player camp? Travis Dodd isn't in a 20 player a-leaguer squad? He doesn't trust anybody with x-factor? Barbiero for Zullo when you`re chasing a game? Heff in midfield ... he loves grafters.

Well, for better or for worse, he`s our coach. But he needs to buck up. (John: He has one job: qualify for the World Cup. FFA are reporting to be getting cheesed at the prospect of not qualifying for the Asia Cup given that they want to host it in 2015.)


ps. I wanted Troussier

pss. Could another game like this one at home lead to the dreaded 'you don't know what you are doing?' chant? Coaches love that one. (John: fortunately or unfortunately, as the game was on Foxtel very few people even knew it was happening. FFA has got that message and they are looking for a TV rights chance, at least for some games, post 2012).

Friday, March 06, 2009

Socceroos 0 v Kuwait 1

I'm disappointed. This was like watching the Roar play the semi final. Open goals missed then one goal finishes it off.

Some players played like they had already started the end of year celebrations. Kuwait didn't. For part-timers they were all over us. For most of the game they were the better team, closing down the Socceroos all over the park.

Kuwaits back line was very solid. Australia's was shakey. The goal came from poor defending from a free kick. A number of Australians had stage fright and didn't play their game well. Poor passing and missed tackles were evident. Realistically we were lucky not to concede more goals - the post saved us.

Archie Thompson. We think you are great. But what were you doing?

Matt Simon - I thought was the best player in the first half of the A-League this year - at this level looks out of his depth.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

FourFourTwo gives us the rewards we deserved...

Player of the season: Craig Moore (runners up Shane Smeltz and Eugene Galekovic)
Coach of the season: Aurelio Vidmar (runners up Ernie Merrick and Ricki Herbert)
Team of the Season: Melbourne (runners up Adelaide and Roar)
Goal of the season: Charlie Miller (runners up Shane Smeltz and Adriano Pellegrino)
Young Player of the season: Nikita Rukavytsya (runners up Scott Jamieson and Matt Simon)
Impact player of the Season: Mark Bosnich (runners up Shannon Cole and Charlie Miller)
Import of the season: Sergio Van Dijk (runners up Eugene Dadi and Charlie Miller)
Goalkeeper: Eugene Galekovic (Michael Theoklitos and Liam Reddy)

Much better than the players choice. Although I think that was the voting system - voting every 7 games rather than overall.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Shame FFA Shame

The match panel for the final has reversed both red cards from the final. Apparently this was done in record time.

Where is the support for Matthew Breeze, the Ref that the FFA chose?

They have sold him down the river. This is just wrong. Refs decisions should be protected. Otherwise everyone at all levels of the game will think they can openly question them.

And get angry and get away with it.

This is crap. I think FIFA is going to be cheesed with FFA.

So if Danny Allsopp did not head butt Cornthwait, where is the sanction for lying by Cornthwait? Where is the Vukovic suspension for Eugene Galekovic's physical handling of Breeze to persuade him to send Allsopp off. Isn't that worse if Allsopp had no case to answer? ie The review panel is implying that Cornthwait and Galekovic conspired to have Allsopp sent off.

This is rubbish. The FFA needs to explain itself. The final now does look like it was a farce. And the FFA does not back its own decisions and decision makers.

Plus it has now come out that Breeze warned Cristiano earlier in the season that if he raised his elbow in jumping for the ball he would get a red card. Fair warning.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Once more into the breach...

Has Vidmar breached his suspended sentence conditions?

I find it interesting that Frank Farina and Dave Mitchell both got fined this year for making straight forward criticisms of ref decisions. Yet, so far, Aurelio Vidmar has been allowed to bring the whole game into dispute by writing off his club and city, only to get a suspended fine.

Farina got fined, with no suspension, $500 for saying that it was poor refereeing that Cristiano was allowed to come back into play from offside to contribute to Adelaide's 3 points at Lang Park. These two extra points to Adelaide and minus 1 to the Roar proved decisive. The Roar finished 2 points behind Adelaide.

Now Vidmar has critised a referee's decision. He said the decison was wrong. Again his comments made national news (ABC at least). Does that mean the FFA will now exercise his $2,000 fine. Or are they going to sell their choice of Grand Final ref down the river?

Grand Final: Victory 1 v Adelaide 0

The Roar will feel that if Matthew Breeze had refed the preliminary final, they may have won. He was standing for no thuggery. And good on him. A recon that the Cristiano send off was spot on.

Sooner or later your bad behaviour gets noted and the line ball decisions go against you. He got away with a few earlier in the season. Now he pays. Probably the same with Danny Allsopp.

Great crowd. That showed em. Lucky the final wasn't in Adelaide.

Poor old Adelaide United. Where next for them?