Monday, June 29, 2009

Rules of the A-League

I would like to see the FFA be clearer about its unique rules for the A-League. I mean the rules that are in addition to FIFAs regulations. They should clearly set-out:

- the salary cap
- squad size limits
- foreign player limits
- guest player limits
- salary cap exemptions (like Kevin Muscat being excluded from Victory's cap last year because he had passed some coaching courses).
- instructions to referees on acceptable styles of play - tackles and backchat

Further, when there is a planned change to to these rules the FFA should outline the changes, in an easily accessible place in the public domain, provide clear reasons, demonstrate fairness across clubs and facilitate comments from the general public. This is counter any perception that a rule has been developed to favour any club. It would also give the FFA a mechanism to explain how rule changes promote the gain.

For example, it appears that for 2009/10 the foreign player restriction has been changed from 4 players plus a guest to five players plus a guest. This changed was flagged in the media at the end of the 2008/9 season for Fury and Gold Coast but not for other teams. However, now Adelaide have signed their 5th foreign player, a rule change appears to have been made. This is significant because up to this point I had assumed that Brisbane RFC's signing for Bob Malcolm would mean an exit for one of their other foreign players.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Van Egmiond quits Newcastle for AIS

Van Egmond has had great success with Newcastle despite the loss to Pohang last week. It could be argued that he took the poor player selections of others and molded a highly successful club.

However, last season his frustration was clear. And quite a different team was fielded for the ACL after poor results in the A-League.

On the one hand perhaps this paves the way for Van Egmond to go onto Socceroo coaching staff (he will be U17 coach). But realistically it again draws question marks over the way Newcastle is run.

Dutchy we will miss you. You brought some great young players to the A-League.

Branco Culina gets another shot?


Brisbane RFC 4 v Brisbane Wolves 1 - Very wet pitch (most games were canceled this weekend). Sounded even for most of the first half, Wolves went ahead before Craig Moore equalised. Van Dijk scored 4 including a late penalty scored by sub Charlie Miller. See Roar website for details.

Adelaide 1 v Perth 0 - even game with both sides perhaps lacking match fitness.

Gold Coast UFC 5 v New Caledonia 0 - GCUFC play in Singapore and Hong Kong next up.

Sydney FC 4 v Fury 0 - Fury have a long way to go. However, they will get a massive advantage in the summer as the top end warms up.
'The Sky Blues now have eight-straight friendly wins under their belts and are yet to concede a goal, but coach Vitezslav Lavicka is not losing focus.' Sportal.
Adelaide play Fury mid week in Darwin - great move.

Massimo out for up to 4 months but the question is...

who kicked him?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pohang Steelers 6 v Newcastlle Jets 0: chic chic boom

Newcastle were blown away.

Pohang's Brazilian Denilson was the best player on the park by a factor of two. Going for and winning everything including an early penalty. His running step overs were the best and most dangerous we have seen by or against A-League teams. Could Brisbane Roar get this guy for a guest stint?

Newcastle were just too slow. The five weeks without a professional game were obvious. The change to the ACL structure has worked against the A-League (Adelaide played its stage 2 games mid-season). The FFA need to work on a package to help Melbourne and Adelaide retain their edge in the off-season. Although it is likely the 2010 World Cup will force further scheduling changes.

Egmond's inability to get his best team on the park also told. If you want to play the physical game you need the master Ljubo Milicevic (I am not sure he even plays for them any more). And Jobe Wheelhouse was just a weeks back from an appendix operation, and he paid for it clumsily losing a safe ball near the half way line for the second goal.

Sasho Petrovsksi had a great game and could have scored twice. Jason Hoffman missed two great opportunities. Jin-Hyung Song tried to match Denilson's step overs. Fabio Vignaroli had his worst performance and tried some thuggish tackles and was lucky to stay on the park - ripping a stock in missing breaking a leg. Angelo Costanzo was too slow.

All 6 goals had elements of brilliance and demonstrated the limits of the A-League salary cap when up against teams prepared to buy honours.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gold Coast FC up anti

Miron complained bitterly that his hands were tied behind his back by a penny pinching board at the Roar. Forced into a young uncompetitive side.

Miron has excelled at start-up two.

And today he upped the anti, maximising the 9 game guest window by announcing Gold Coast Utd FC are close to signing a world class player, former Celtic, Barcelona and Manchester United striker, 37 year old, Henrik Larsson. Even at this age, he seems to have plenty of goals in him.

Miron has built a team that should fill his home stadium and can win the A-League tittle. No small feat. Through Larsson, Miron can cash in on the Roar's game against Celtic - Larsson played 225 times for Celtic for 174 goals.

Miron has been true to his word signing attacking crowd pleasers across his squad. He is right that the professional game is about entertainment first and winning second. And that it is better to gamble and spend, than try to play financially safe and risk an empty stadium.

Even as a Roar fan it is hard not to see the contrast.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Brisbane RFC: Bomber puts 'em back on track

I was concerned about Brisbane RFC announcing that it didn't need FFA money and was going it alone. To be honest, I liked the idea of a new major investor and new dollars and the prospect of a new direction. Perhaps a guest player.

However, more than the announcement that former Channel 9 sports commentor Chris Bombolas is to be the new Roar Chair was the photo. He got a Roar shirt. And which one? Last years. Could it be that the Roar will ditch their proposed new orange strip?

“It’s a chance for us to head in new directions, attract new fans and to increase the fan-base.

“We want people to feel they are part of a club which is going places.”

While more commonly known for his passion for rugby league, the son of German and Greek immigrants said playing the game as a youngster gave him plenty of passion for the sport." Daniel Lato Roar website.


For a none story this has had quite a life. Tim didn't help himself by ignoring the questions of the Socceroos major sponsor - FoxTel - after the Japan game. Then Mark Bosnich made matters worse by claiming solidarity with Tim for being betrayed by someone close to him. Then there was a supposed email from a Socceroo of 10 years - yeah right, just had to send it to loser NRL journo HQ eh?

Then today, Ray Gatt in The Australian - where did your common sense go? With your predictions of a split in the Socceroo's camp right up to the World Cup. Do you really believe that?

My summation, in the next few weeks this will be forgotten. The after-taste will be the continuing decay of rugby league and its journalism.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Socceroos 2 v Japan 1 - Carle the magnificent

OK so Tim Cahill popped up and scored 2 brilliant goals. But it was Carle who was magnificent and clearly wasted in the biff of the English championship (although he also showed he has learnt a bit of that).

And the game was it slow? No way. We need to get over this idea than anything less than end-to-end is dull. It just is not going to happen. These games are about seeing your idols, superstars and larger than life characters. And the up-and-comers. What more could you want? The lows of going behind. The highs of equalising with a great header. The adrenalin rush of going ahead. And then clawing the seat as your team hangs on to win. And go top of the group by 5 points with no losses and only 2 draws. One goal against. No this is as good as it gets for any sport.

And the dead bed throws of rugby league and the quaint local customer of AFL needs to be reminded of that. Oh and when did Australian union teams last look competitive.

And lastly. Further Roar and Brisbane boy Dario Vidousic got his first 7 minutes. A few straight passes and no mistakes. All good.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Expect gold and gorly from the Socceroos...

Nicky Carle to show his stuff - a rare sight.

Expansion mode

Melbourne Heart is in for 2010-11.

Then the FFA could go with 11 teams. Or one more from:

- Canberra - active campaign for some years. Canberra Arrows is Frank Farina's former team.

- western Sydney - possibly one of the heartlands of football in Australia. Stretching from Blacktown to the Blue Mountains, and stretching from 7 hills to Richmond - a massive potential fan base. One that is not turned on by Sydney FC. Nepean FC? With the back of Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill and Lucas Neill?

- southern Sydney. Read Wollongong Wolves.

- Tasmania - taking sponsorship from under the nose of the AFL. 500,000 population - really a AFL heartland.

Then if someone puts real money on the table, 2 more teams to move to 14 could still happen in 2011-12.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

NQF FC 0 v Brisbane RFC 4

According to the Brisbane RFC account, a one sided affair. Sounds like a great performance by Sergio Van Dijk who scored from a free kick and forced two more great saves.

Just how much this tells about NQ's preparation and squad is not clear. Robbie Fowler is out with a hamstring strain - which can be viewed as a significant concern for the club.

I would like to see the team sheets. Bob Malcolm came on late for Brisbane and made so hard tackles.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Gold Coast's new strip

Perhaps it is my taste. I was disappointed by the Gold Coast United strip.

Any views? It is here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who is king of Asian football? Australia or Japan?

Socceroos 2 v Bahrain 0 - showboat

Again it was Kewell who stood out as the player of the match. This time he created a goal for Mile S.

Holman had his chance with Kennedy injured. But neither he nor McDonald looked like scoring. It was the midfield that excelled. Puncuated by Mile and David Carney's - both from the lower English division - and by Jason Culina's bicycle kick into the side post (to set-up Carney's poach).

Where was Sydney - only 42,000 - Brisbane is Australia's No 2 football city - FFA time to move to Melbourne.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Press Coverage

Ange Postecoglou was a guest commentator for Foxtel's coverage of the Socceroo's qualification game against Qatar on Sunday and backed this up with the starring role in the ABC Offsiders sports program. Ange has earned his place in Australian football, a top class player and coach in the NSL and in Greece. He played for the Socceroos 4 times.

Australia's qualification for only the 3rd time is reason for celebration. Yet deep in the off season with State of Origin raging around few seem to be. And Ange pointed this out on Offsiders, saying that the qualification news was 3rd in the sports headlines on the radio he was listening to. But he did get the opening of Offsiders. And what he said came off, for me, as - we should celebrate this because this may be our last qualification for some time and that the game was 'dour'. He also seemed to be having a go at Pim as a coach and that we should expect boring games at the World Cup. Future qualifications may or may not be, but this impression just when we have actually qualified seemed to justify not celebrating.

It was another example of FFA not focusing on the right message at the right time to ensure a solid future for the sport. FFA should have prepared its 'main person', maybe Fox's Andy Harper - coming in by satellite if necessary, hitting all the FFA's key messages that could resonate from qualification:

- Australia proves that it is internationally competitive
- World Class stars shine
- Australian kids should keep playing or sign up (indirect message to combat the poaching from AFL) because there is a career in football

On Saturday there was a great example of what can be done to promote football. ABC radio 612 is a great supporter and Andy Harper is often on on the weekend as a guest talking all sports and promoting football and the A-League. Off on Socceroo commentating duty for Fox, his place was taken by 2 Newcastle Jets players (sorry guys I was in the car and missed your names). And what a great job they did. Talking about their team and its fantastic achievement to get to Asia's second round, team mates going overseas (James Holland) and why they will stay local - at least a while longer - helping kids and womens' teams. This was in contrast to the work of others.

(Thanks to Mike at TFT for link to the above story).

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Qatar 0 v Socceroos 0: Harry Kewell at his best but no goals

We have qualified for our 3rd world cup!

This game was outstanding for a number of reasons.

1. Harry Kewell was superb and only the man-of-the- match (official award) by the new Qatar keeper stopped him scoring. He now has superman's body. And he is back to making dashing runs on the left, and the right. He forced at least 3 great saves.

2. Tim Cahill hit the post with a bicycle kick that could have been the goal of the tournament.

3. Qatar were a different and better team and they had up to 40 degree on their side. But remember Tim Cahill played in the FA Final in 42 degree pitch side heat last week, and this game was played at night (they have air conditioning and a roof but I don't think the air was used).

4. Qatar played rough and didn't mind the swinging arm. How about some consistency?

5. Australia dominated possession but couldn't score.

6. Japan beat us to qualification because their game against the Uzbeks was on first. They won 0-1 (should have been 2 but a strange off-side from the rebound of a free kick stopped that).

And a question 'if a tree falls in the forest, does anybody hear?' We have a long way to go to get Australia on its seat about World Cup qualification.

Socceroos qualify 0-0 in Qatar

Friday, June 05, 2009

2am Sunday Morning

2am Sunday morning the Socceroos start the game, against Qatar, that could, should, would lead to Australia being the first team to qualify for the 2010 World Cup South Africa.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Tim Cahill

Tim Cahill lives in an amazing football world. Everton masters of the long ball game, by-pass the middle. And the Socceroos, learning total football. Guus wanted him, but didn't need him, loved his passion but had to settle for clinical. And designed Tim out of the game.