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Friday, 31 August 2007

Nik Mrdja is back!

Central Coast Mariners 3 v 0 Wellington Phoenix

I sat down to watch this game at 8pm on a Friday night. It still feels great to watch live Aussie football in the evening in Australia.

Even a New Zealand side, although how long that will last I don't know.

I was expecting the Mariners to thump the Phoenix, and after 35 minutes the Mariners were 3-0 up!

People speak highly of New Zealand Coach Ricky Herbert, like they do about Ron Smith at Perth Glory, both had chances to build their own teams. I expected both to get thumped this weekend and the Phoenix didn't let me down.

Ricky Herbert has bought poorly. Too many New Zealanders? I don't think so. It's the Brazilians and Australians that are letting the side down.

Ross Aloisi, and Michael Ferrante in midfield were poor. Stephen O'Dor at right back was exposed, badly exposed by the pace of Dean Heffernan, and Adam Kwasnik. And the Brazilians, Daniel, and Cleberson were both disappointing.

Herbert has got them playing, like well, how we've come to expect New Zealand teams to play. And let's face it they should have been thumped by Melbourne last week.

Was this the worse performance by a New Zealand side in the A-League? Pretty close.

It wasn't so much that they were bad that concerned me, it was their lack of ability to spot where the danger was coming from time and time again.

The table topping Mariners were different class.

Nik Mrdja scored two, Adam Kwasnik one, and Sasho Petrovski, and Mile Jedinak were all impressive going forward.

Mrdja has started the season on fire. Looking strong and fit, he unleashed a tremendous drive to beat Glen Moss from close range. Heffernan and Kwasnik had exposed the suspect Kiwi defence.

Mrdja showed he was more than just a finisher when he dragged a few men deep and swung a great ball to last season's top scorer Adam Kwasnik.

As if to show the pressure of leading the line last season has disappeared, Kwasnik superbly curved his first chance with the outside of his foot past keeper Moss.

2-0 after 15 minutes and it was getting embarrassing. Mrdja scored another and Simon Hill and Robbie Slater from Fox Sports talked kindly of this New Zealand being different, somehow better, than previous NZ sides.

But five goals conceded in two games tell's a different story.

The Mariners look strong up front and they have an all new strike force in Mrdja and Petrovski. The goals are flowing and teams which score consistently in this league will do well. Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory have scored at will in previous seasons and they have surely being the best sides.

Could the Mariners be about to set the pace this season? I think so.

They may not always be the prettiest but they are strong powerful running side, well organized with skill in key areas.

If they stay fit it will take a strong performance to beat them.

Mariners are five points ahead of the chasing pack.

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A busy day on the blog.

Life on the blog today:

Andrew Young writing on life at Fulham FC

Carl Valeri gives an update on life in Tuscany

and the NearPost weekly pod is out for all to hear. (Click top write of the blog)

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Andrew Young writes from Fulham FC in the EPL.



Canberra's Andrew Young is on the management team at Fulham FC. Andrew is well known in Canberra and Australia for his playing abilities and later his physio and conditioning work. (He was the fitness and conditioning coach for the Socceroos at the Asia Cup.) Andrew ran a private practice in Canberra for many years; from here he moved to Fulham where he sits on the bench each week at some of the biggest grounds in England. This week Fulham play Tottenham Hotspur in a London derby.

Andrew has kindly agreed to send an occasional report from life in the English Premiership. Here's his first sent from Craven Cottage, home of Fulham FC.

Andrew Young writes:

"Well, it's that time of year again. As you may have noticed, after a short summer break, the English Premier League is underway again. On a personal point, I am entering my third season working with Fulham Football Club as a Physiotherapist/Performance Coach. It has been an enriching professional experience and a wonderful opportunity to work with some of the best footballers in the world.

As it turned out, I didn't actually get much of a summer break as I was away working with the Socceroo's in their Asia Cup campaign during July. Although, the team's results were not optimal, it turned out to be a great learning experience for players and staff alike. It was also really enjoyable working with the likes of Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka ..... although they assure me that they will definitely not take it easy when their respective teams next play Fulham this season!

Fulham's new manager, Lawrie Sanchez was very busy in the off season bringing no fewer than 9 new players to the club at a cost of over 70 million (Aust) dollars. And that's not including their weekly wages! The new boys have settled in really well and we are confident of a good season.

We have not had the greatest start to the new season having only won 1 of our first 4 games including a last minute 1-2 loss away at Arsenal on opening day. However, a home win against Bolton and a workman like 1-0 win away at Shrewsbury in the Carling Cup on Tuesday night has restored some confidence.

A big game awaits us this Saturday when we face Tottenham Hotspur at home. London derby games are always passion filled for both sets of fans and both sets of players will be desperate to get all 3 points leading into the International break next weekend. Spurs coach Martin Jol's tenure is already under threat and a loss could, according to the London tabloid newspapers, make him the first coaching casualty of the season.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish the Socceroo's good luck in their friendly international game against Argentina on September 11. Unfortunately, my Fulham club committments will prevent me from coming back for what should be a great night at the MCG. The opportunity for young kids to watch the likes of Carlos Tevez, Lionel Messi & Mark Bresciano live should not be missed!

Good luck also to all the local Canberra teams as they head into their respective finals series next month. And finally it is great to see that my old team mates at Monaro Panthers remain undefeated in State League 3 ..... keep it up boys!

Cheers for now from London,

Andrew

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Carl Valeri writes from Tuscany




Carl Valeri writes every week for Football in the Capital. The Socceroos and Grosseto star has had a few internet problems but the Italians have finally sorted it. This week Carl discusses Socceroos, Tuscan life and Grosseto’s first game in Serie B.
Socceroo Carl Valeri being interviewed during the Asia Cup in Bangkok by SBS Radio Reporter, Massi Civili.

Carl Valeri writes:

Hey guys,



After the Asia Cup, I returned to life in Tuscany and started working towards our (Grosseto’s) Serie B debut.



Apart from moving into my new apartment and getting everything set up again, including the net (apologies again eamonn) it is great to be back inTuscany.


It has been so unbelievably hot! 36 and 37 degrees the last week.So training has been pretty tough.I recently discussed a new 3 year deal with Grosseto which I am happywith. I still have to sign it so let’s hope all goes well.



I decided to stay with Grosseto because I am happy and the club knows me well and know what type ofperson and player I am. I know they will push me and I believe when and ifthe time is right the President will be more then happy to let me move on tobigger and better things, assuming all goes well. There is a lot of hardwork to do.


Our first game against Modena went well until 15min into the second half when our left backgot sent off for his second yellow.



We defended well in 10 but they ended up breaking us down. We still pushed for the equalizer allowing them toscore a second and then eventually the third. It was tough and we did notdeserve to lose but that is how football goes.



We play Brescia on Friday and they are meant to be one of the best teams in the Serie B.It has been great catching up with my team mates from last season andtalking about how great things were last season.



Unfortunately only five of us from last season are still here!



The other players were told to move on. This is this tough side of football becauseeveryone was more then happy to stay.



I am coming back for the Socceroos/Argentina game soI’m looking forward to that. I hope I get more of a chance to play then inthe Asian Cup, ha ha. Jokes aside I’m glad to be a part of the national.



It’s a long trip all the way back to Australia and Grosseto are not happy as I miss an important game. But for me it always a pleasure.



It’s an important game as it’s in Australia and I know how much my family and friendsmiss watching me play so it gives them a chance to see me as well.


Carl.



Ps. I heard there is going to be an A-League team in Canberra!? Is this true Eamonn, who is going to fund it?

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Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Podcast Pt 1: Rd 1 Review and Sarah, Sydney FC fan.


Poddie number 1: Part one: A-League Round one wrap,and Sarah our Sydney FC correspondent


Poddie no.2: Part Two: Caitlin Munoz, Round Two predictions


The Poddie is split into two parts this week for ease of download. If you are still having problems let us know.

This is our fourth poddie, so we are slowly getting better...we hope....and building our team as we wait for our Football show to expand to an hourly format in a local Radio station...we're very excited!

Part 1: Review of Round 1 plus Roy Ward interviews Sarah for a Sydney perspective on her team.

Part 2: Matildas star Caitlin Munoz interview and Terry Henry shows why he is number 25 in 442's tipping game.


Hope you enjoy it, and any feedback good bad or indifferent always welcome.

Next week:
Round one wrap
Interview with a Matilda
Meet The knowledge from Melbourne
Round three predictions and soooo much more!




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ACT girls named in National Schoolgirls Squads.

At the recent National Secondary Schools Football Comp in Darwin the ACT School girls performed exceptionally well.

The ACT team came a highly credible third. An outstanding achievement given the size of our population.

Most of the team was made up of ACTAS players coached by former Socceroo Robbie Hooker.

The team produced some excellent performance including two draws against powerhouse states Qld and NSW who came first and second respectively.

Our girls only lost to Victoria in a game that I'm told we should have easily won.

And in another great boost for the local game, three of our girls made the Australian schoolgirls.

They are the tournaments topscorer Stephanie Tokich (golden boots: 6 goals),
Jenny Bissett and Rebecca Kiting.

Four other ACT girls also made the shadow squad. The four players are
Chrissy Walters, Ellie Raymond, Sarah Crittenden & Sophie Kochinos.

Well done to all the team. Here's hoping we have some more Young Matildas coming through, and more importantly the girls all had a great time.

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What crowd for A-League in Canberra?

How many people would watch A-League football in Canberra?

Imagine a Canberra A-League side with a marquee player.

Christian Vieri or Mark Viduka playing for Canberra with a couple of young Canberrans in the side v a Sydney FC side with World Cup winner Juninho.

How many would that game pull in the Capital?

And is next season to soon?

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Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Canberra United like never before.

Don't tell anyone but the Canberra A-League is


alive.

It's a secret so be sure not to let anyone know.

There is a Canberra A-League Bid Committee and it's out and about doing the ground work.

Imagine a Canberra team with a marquee player. Who would you choose?

Imagine a young Canberran playing for his A-League home town side against a team containing Juninho

Imagine 1500 Urawa Reds fans coming to Canberra for an Asian Champions League game.

Why not? A-League for Canberra

It's going to take the city into Asia.

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You'll never beat the Aussies....but look at the names!!

ARGENTINA SQUAD TO PLAY AUSTRALIA, MCG, 11 SEPTEMBER 2007

Roberto Abbondanzieri (Getafe), Oscar Ustari (Getafe), Sergio Romero (AZ Alkmaar); Gabriel Heinze (Real Madrid), Daniel Diaz (Getafe), Gabriel Milito (Barcelona), Fabricio Coloccini (Deportivo La Coruna), Nicolas Burdisso (Inter Milan), Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan); Fernando Gago (Real Madrid), Martin Demichelis (Bayern Munich), Jonas Gutierrez (Mallorca), Javier Mascherano (Liverpool), Federico Insua (America, Mexico), Cristian Ledesma (Olympiakos), Maxi Rodriguez (Althletico Madrid), Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid); Javier Saviola (Real Madrid), Hernan Crespo (Inter Milan), Carlos Tevez (Manchester United), Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

What a team! Look at where these guys play their football.

We'll have a full report from the game here at Football in the Capital

In the meantime..you'll never beat the Aussies...no matter who's in your team.

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Monday, 27 August 2007

Matildas World Cup song.



Matildas Striker listens to Tom Lou's song for the MatildasWorld Cup campaign at the Nearpost studios.

Have a listen, let us know what you think

http://www.myspace.com/matildassoccer

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Canberra players weekend wrap

This article first appeared in The Canberra Times

Perth Glory fans have quickly taken to the all action style of former Tuggeranong United junior Nikolai Topor-Stanley. Topor-Stanley has had a busy start to his season but hasn’t seen many goals.

In Qatar in midweek, Topor-Stanley was in the Olyroos side which drew 0-0 with Iraq in a crucial Olympic qualifier. The 0-0 result between the Glory and Newcastle Jets yesterday won’t have given him much joy despite his strong performance.

18 year old Canberran Kaz Patafta made his A-League debut for Melbourne Victory against new team Wellington Phoenix. In front of a record New Zealand soccer crowd of over 14,000, Patafta entered the fray in the 58th minute with his team 1-0 ahead.
When Victory increased its lead in the 60th minute, through a Danny Allsopp goal, Patafta seemed destined for a winning start.

But 2-0 is the most dangerous lead in football and when Brazilian Daniel headed home from a corner for the Nix, it was game on. Shortly after, a Shane Smeltz header deflected in off Canberra’s other Victory debutant Matthew Kemp. It ended 2-2.

Elsewhere, Sydney FC’s Adam Casey and Adelaide United’s former Australian Under 20s Captain Shaun Ontong are recovering from injuries. Both are pushing for selection for next week’s cracker between Sydney FC and Adelaide United at Aussie Stadium.
Casey is keen to start training with newly arrived Brazilian World Cup winner Juninho.

“I can’t wait to train with him, and learn from him, “said Casey.

Local Referee Ben Williams also returned to A-League duty. In a competitive game in Brisbane, the Queensland Roar drew 2-2 with Adelaide United. Williams sent, returning Socceroo and Roar Captain, Craig Moore off on his debut for a second bookable offence midway through the second half.

The Matildas fly out on Saturday for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China. Belnorth junior and Matilda striker Caitlin Munoz scored in front of 52,000 fans last week in Tianjin, China.

On their recent tour, the Matildas beat World ranked number 10 China, 3-2 and 3-1. Munoz’s Canberra mate Sally Shipard was delighted to get another game under her belt as she returns to full fitness after an eleven month injury lay-off.

Indigenous Matilda’s keeper Lydia Williams played the first half in the first of the two game China tour. Williams has a broken wrist. “I’m going to play, I’d play with a broken arm if I had to. It’s the World Cup!”

Williams will have an operation when she returns.

In Germany, former Canberra Deakin player Joe Simunic returned after suspension for Hertha Berlin in the German Bundesliga. His side lost 2-0 to Arminia Bielefeld. Simunic played for Croatia in a passionate friendly with neighbours Bosnia in midweek in Sarajevo. Croatia won 5-3.

Canberra’s Socceroo Carl Valeri started his new season in Italy’s Serie B on Saturday. His Tuscan side Grosseto was thumped 3-0 by Modena in their first ever match in Serie B in what could be a tough season.

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Matildas head to the World Cup on Saturday.

"We're in the bruisers group!"

Matildas keeper Lydia Williams at the Nearpost studio.


The Matildas head off to the 5th FIFA Women’s World Cup in China on Saturday.

Coach Tom Sermanni believes it’s the best ever Matildas side and hopes are high that they can become the first Australian side to win a game at a World Cup and progress beyond the group stage.

Capital Football is well represented. Former Belnorth junior Caitlin Munoz, Tuggeranong United and Woden Valley junior Lydia Williams and Wagga junior Sally Shipard will all be on the plane. All have had problems with injuries in recent months but they are coming good at the right time.

The Matildas are in a tough group. Lydia Williams calls it, “The bruisers group.”
Norway, Canada and Ghana are all physical sides and all have done well at previous World Cups.

Norway won the World Cup in 1993 and was runners-up in 1997. Canada came 4th in 2003. Ghana is one of only two teams Australia has drawn with in the finals. The other is old foe China.

The Matildas have played a lot of Asia opposition recently, mainly due to Football Federation Australia’s move into Asia. Olympic qualifiers and games against China have been the major warm-ups.

A lack of games against European sides may be a concern for Sermanni and the team, but until recently the focus was on Olympic qualifiers.

The Matildas have just completed a two match tour of China, beating the world ranked number 10 side 3-1 and 3-2. Caitlin Munoz scored in the 3-2 victory in front of 52,000 fans in Tianjin.

The Matildas are a mix of experience and youth. Captain Cheryl Salisbury is the most capped Australian footballer ever. She currently has 113 caps. Salisbury will marshal the defence with keeper Melissa Barbieri and Di Alagich close by.

In midfield expect to see Collette McCallum and Sally Shipard bringing youth and energy to the side. Both played in last years Under 20 World Cup in Russia for the Young Matildas.

Up front Caitlin Munoz and Kate Gill will have the pacy Sarah Walsh, Lisa De Vanna and Jo Peters and Jo Burgess in support.

Coach Sermanni has plenty of options in the squad and it is perhaps this strength that will give the team its best chance of progressing from the group stage.
And great news for football fans as all Australian games will be shown live on SBS in prime time.

SBS TV will broadcast a selection of matches from the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup including LIVE coverage of ALL Matildas matches, both semi-finals and the final.

Broadcast Schedule:-
Wednesday 12 September
Ghana v Australia
LIVE @ 6.50pm (AEST)

Saturday 15 September
Australia v Norway
LIVE @ 9.50pm (AEST)

Wednesday 19 September
Australia v Canada
LIVE @ 6.50pm (AEST)

Wednesday 26 September
1st Semi-Final
LIVE @ 9.50pm (AEST)

Thursday 27 September
2nd Semi-Final
LIVE @ 9.50pm (AEST)

Sunday 30 September
Final
LIVE @ 9.30pm (AEST)

Eamonn’s football blog and weekly Aussie football podcast (out each Thursday) can be found at www.nearpost.blogspot.com

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Sunday, 26 August 2007

Queensland Roar 2 Adelaide United 2.

A fast paced game. Adelaide looked composed and played most of the football. Nathan Burns scored a tremendous goal from distance. Burns looked sharp all night despite flying back from Olyroo duty in Qatar this week.

But did Adelaide Coach Aurelio Vidmar err?

With Adelaide leading 2-1 and Roar's returning Socceroo sent-off for his second bookable offence Roar Coach Frank Farina pushed three up front in an effort to save the game.

Amazingly Vidmar took central defender Ange Costanzo off. Was he injured? He didn't appear to be. Two minutes later Sasa Ognenovski headed home a free header from six yards.

Adelaide somehow drew this game, but they were a joy to watch.

Nathan Burns was superb controlling forward play. Olyroo Bruce Djite skinned Moore in one magical moment and later stooped low to score a well worked goal.

The Roar weren't pretty. Ante Milicivic looked off the pace. Has the ageing striker really got a goal threat left in him?

Danny Tiatto did well on his return but looks wasted at left-back.

Adelaide will entertain all year. The Roar well, they are lacking fluidity up front, but if you can draw when you play badly all is not yet lost.


 

Sydney FC 0 Central Coast Mariners 1

Sasho Petrovski came back to score against his old club. Wouldn't you know it!

The Mariners looked strong and fit. They really took the game to Sydney and if Nik Mrdja had scored instead of hitting the post in the first half we could have all turned off at half-time.

The Mariners have a real goal threat this year and a strong squad. Petrovski did what he was bought to do. And later Coach Lawrie McKinna was able to bring Tom Pondlejak, Matt Simon and Greg Owens on.

What did Sydney Coach Branko Culina think?

An ineffectual strike force with Alex Brosque and new boy Adam Biddle looking lost.

With Nikolai Topor-Stanley gone, Iain Fyfe and Terry McFlynn are asked to play out wide. Sydney lack creativity from full-back, they lack any real strike threat. They lack a pattern.

But somehow Sydney created a few chances. Juninho was causing problems around the box, but unlike Dwight Yorke, Juninho won't control a game.

Sydney can improve. David Zdrillic may impose himself on opposing teams, allowing Steve Corica and Juninho to link around him.

Ruben Zadkovich and Robbie Middleby will add width and pace, but the question remains where will the goals come from?

Culina's Asian Champions League honeymoon is long over.

Next week they play Burns and Djite! Lose that and Culina could be under pressure.


 

Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory.

A great noisy record crowd of over 14,000 in New Zealand for football. Hallelujah.

"The referee's an Aussie," sang the crowd when Referee Mark Shield gave a free kick to Victory.

The Phoenix kicked the ball as high as possible in the first twenty. Kevin Muscat kicked a penalty, Danny Allsopp kept missing, and Ross Aloisi kicked Kevin Muscat and came off worse. Déjà vu?

The Kiwi commentators were upset that Australia had claimed the Kiwi born Archie Thompson as his own. Russell Crowe also got a mention. Then the Phoenix got a penalty, they missed. But they started to put the Victory under the pump, when really Allsopp should have put Victory 3-0 up early on.

Ljubo Milicevic went off early injured. Daniel tried to score from a penalty he took. Can you do that in Brazil?

But Daniel is probably the most exciting footballer in New Zealand for years.

And just when the New Zealand crowd produced the loudest chant every heard in NZ football, Victory's Joe Keenan produced a strong skilful run from left back. He found Allsopp and as the commentator said, "Allsopp doesn't miss from there." He didn't this time.

And of course 2-0 is the most dangerous lead in football.

Sure enough Ricky Herbert's side showed the salary cap equalizes everything and it was somehow 2-2 as the fitter Kiwi side clawed back.

Two points lost for Victory. But what a lift for the Phoenix in front of a record crowd. Great stuff.

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Friday, 24 August 2007

Podcast this week. Details here.

More from the Podders!



This weeks poddie has the following:


Matildas, Interview Shaun Ontong, Preview of Melbourne Victory


1. Eamonn and Terry talk Melbourne Victory

2. Matildas wrap about 4:20 secs

3. Interview Shaun Ontong Adelaide United 8;42 sec

4. Eamonn and Terry preview A-League.15 mins



Approx times.



Sorry about sound in places..we're working on it!!



Will be in studio soon, very soon so quality will improve.

Any thoughts feedback suggestions welcome.

Either on football, production or podcasting gear and stuff.



Thanks



Eamonn



Next week:

We welcome Sarah to our team, our Sydney FC football correspondent,

Matildas star Caitlin Munoz

Review and prevew of the A-League.

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Prize for you: You get to talk football on the radio.




Prize Time:

Three minutes interview with the winner on a football topic of their choice on our 2xx 98.3 Community Radio football show starting soon


Which other blog gives such a prize:)


The third season of the A-League starts tonight.

Sydney FC v Central Coast, it should be great.

Predictions:

Grand Final Winner: Adelaide United





Final eight positions:





1. Adelaide United


2. Sydney FC


3. Melbourne Victory


4. Central Coast Mariners.





5. Queensland Roar


6. Newcastle Jets


7, Perth Glory


8. Wellington Phoenix





Whoever you support I hope your team exceed expectations. Have a great season. Don't forget your A-League/Matildas podcast every Thursday.




Send your predictions here.




Prize:




Three minutes interview with the winner on a football topic of their choice on our 2xx 98.3 Community Radio football show coming soon

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Matildas Star Lydia Williams playing with a broken wrist!



Spare an ouch for Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams.

Canberra's Lydia Williams, the nineteen year old Indigenous back-up Matildas keeper to Melissa Barbieri, has a broken wrist, but she is still going to the World Cup in China!

"I broke my wrist three months ago, and the cast came off two months ago. I'll go to the World Cup with a splint on."

Doesn't it hurt?

"A bit but I want to play in a World Cup."

"And after the World Cup I'll stay in China for the Under 20 Asia Cup. Hopefully we can do well there and go to the Under 20 World Cup in Chile next year."

Williams played many sports when she was younger.

"I grew up in Kalgoorlie, WA. Out there AFL is popular, so I played that and any sport where you had to run.

"When I moved to Canberra Mum got me into a soccer team and I went from there really."

"I want to play in more World Cups, Asia Cups and Olympics over the next ten years."

"We are well prepared. We've been to China many times. We know the culture and move around freely.

"Hopefully the Chinese people know us a bit more now as well."


The Matildas are in a group with Norway, Canada and Ghana. All games will be shown on SBS live in prime time starting 12 September.

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Thursday, 23 August 2007

Sally Shipard on those wins in China


Matildas Star, Sally Shipard writes for Football in the Capital every week. This week she reports on playing for Australia in front of 52,000 fans in China...and she won!

Hi Guys,

We have just arrived back from China and what a very successful tour it turned out to be. We played 2 internationals in 7 days. Both of the matches were played at the new Olympic Stadium which was very impressive.

Our games against China were the first sporting event the stadium had experienced.

The conditions in Tianjin were hot and the humidity was very high. As a result our games did not start till 8pm.

The first game on Thursday night was a ‘closed match’. So no spectators were present, this didn’t bother the girls though, we were up 2 nil by half time. China came back in the second half to make the game 2-2. We managed to score in the dying minutes and secure our first winJ

In our second game on the Sunday we also won 3-1. The playing surface was great, so we really had nothing to complain about. (Probably the only negative about the matches was the bias referring, but I won’t get into thatJ).

Before the game had kicked-off, 40 000 tickets had already been sold. Considering the stadium only accommodated 60 000, we all knew that the stadiums maximum capacity may be reached.

The atmosphere was incredible, although we didn’t hear much from the crowd as we were leading for the majority of the game.

The preparation we have had over the past week and a half will only benefit our World Cup Campaign. We experienced playing in front of a crowd of 52,000 which consisted of about 20 Australians.

We know what to expect in terms of food, accommodation, weather and most importantly the lifestyle we will lead for the month during competition.

The other nations, especially the European nations are not familiar with Asia. I think America is even taking over their own chef and resources.

We will certainly be using this ‘familiarisation’ to our advantage.

We are at home till the 1st of September. Long enough to complete a couple of uni exams, work and most importantly keep up with my training regime. We are in Sydney till the 5th of September for one last camp before we fly out to take on the world...

Stay tuned...

Sal.

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Wednesday, 22 August 2007

FFA: Where will the money come from Ben?


Graham Arnold is still The Socceroos Coach. Whatever you feel about Arnie's coaching, any other national team having seen their side under-perform in the Continents major tournament, would have pushed Arnie aside, sacked him or indeed Arnie would have stood down.

It is clear where the difficulty lies.

The FFA have desperate desperate financial problems.

$15 million given by the Federal Government to get the new Board going, has long gone. And despite this money there is still no national league for women or Youth League for men.

The Technical Report completed and set to be released in June is now locked down for another few weeks or is that months.

Arnie has a three year contract, so paying him out would have been a massive cost to an FFA with limited funds.

And of course if rumours are true the FFA have gone back to the Government for another $4 million a year.

With an election coming up this may take time.

So why despite our World Cup success are we still struggling financially?

Well in a word it's Asia.

When plans were laid, when the Federal Government handed over their dosh to support the Board and the new A-League, there was no Asia.

At least not for Australia. That came later.

And of course the costs are perhaps to big to bear at the moment.

The Olyroos play their ninth Olympic qualifier in Qatar tonight with another five games to come.

The Matildas have also been on the Olympic path.

The cost of these two teams Olympic qualification games is over $2 million dollars.

How much would five weeks of hotels and flights and staff have cost The Socceroos at the Asia Cup?

All of these costs could not have been budgeted for in the original plan because we weren't in Asia in the original plan.

Is this why John O'Neill left?

So no wonder we are hamstrung with our National Coach. It's so bad that Arnie will take the Olyroos and then slip back into the National team post for Argentina and China games and then back to the Olyroos, because remember he has a three year post.

And what organisation would keep a guy in charge who they have wanted to replace since day one?

And what guy would stay? But that's another issue.

With the World Cup games coming wouldn't it be great to see a manager in place who could prepare the side.

But we have no money remember.

So hold the Technical Report. Why? Because we have no money to implement anything within it.

Oh and slip Rob Baan back into the Olyroos position while Arnie is away. Because that will help our qualification chances.

If we don't want to qualify that is what you'd do isn't it? Paly around with coaches mid-qualification. But given we've spent a truckload lets do it right and keep one coach in the job, and one only.

You couldn't make it up, could you?

Time to come clean FFA. The football public deserve to know the plan, the problems with our finances and the solutions.

What about the AIS team, the Under 17 and 20's teams. Are they being prepared well enough? Is there any money for them?

If the Federal Govt give us the money, and it's a big if what will it go on? Will it be enough?

Where are the other revenue streams?

Mr Lowy?

Sponsorship?

All the players across Australia. One million multiplied by $10?

Lottery?

Sell our AIS players?

And so on and so on.

Asia has drained the FFA. It's fantastic to be there but the FFA have no real chance of funding a National Coach now or maybe ever at this rate.

Will there be a Dick Advocaat really? In November or as other rumours suggest a year out from the World Cup.

Makes sense? We get through the first set of qualifiers with, you've guessed it Arnie, and then bring in the real Mccoy for the final tougher qualification games.

Because we're a shoe-in to beat teams like Iraq and Oman in our first set of qualifiers aren't we?

Where will the money come from to Fund Advocaat? If we don't have it now, how is the millions to fund his position just going to appear?

I think the Football public need some answers, real answers.

Where is the Technical Report?

Why doesn't the National Team permanent manager since the World Cup?

And perhaps most importantly how are we going to progress the code in Asia, locally when the money is not their to meet our growing travel needs.

Imagine if we don't qualify for the World Cup? Imagine if we don't make the final round of qualifiers?

It couldn't happen could it? We have too many EPL players don't we?

What's the story Ben (Buckley)?

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Can the Champions do it all again? No!

Okay, all the Melbourne fans are going to give it to me..but...



Victory to miss out on a Grand Final spot this time....unless... read on.


Preview number 8. Melbourne Victory



Feel free to make your final four predictions with your Grand Final winner as well. Tomorrow I’ll list mine.


Today the final preview is on Melbourne Victory: The Champions last year, this year...hmmm don’t think so!


Ernie Merrick produced a terrific team last year. And they won the Grand Final 6-0 on that historic day in February when top scorer Archie Thompson scored 5!



Who could ever do that for Sydney FC in their current line-up?


But Merrick now has to back up. He has lost Fred, key defender Adrian Leijer and other peripheral players.


He has recruited superbly. Ljubo Milicevic returns to Australian football at the age of 26. Former Australian under 17 Captain Kaz Patafta comes on loan from Benfica. Carlos Hernandez, the Costa Rican international is here, and Joe Keenan and Matty Kemp add professionalism and quality to this new side. Not to mention the unknown Mr Love from Brazil via Japan.


Interestingly when you look at all the recruits for the various teams, it’s Victory’s which stand out for me. Experience, and good playing pedigree, with good clubs across the World. Even their young guy, Kaz Patafta, comes from Benfica!


It sounds good. But pre-season has been awful and rumours persist of a rift between Milicevic and main man Kevin Muscat.


Can Melbourne win again?


Unlikely. Everything went right for them last year.


But their home performances were surprisingly poor for a Champion team. Losses and draws were perhaps hidden behind the away form of Fred and his mates.


Fred is gone, and the style may suffer. Maybe Patafta will light the league, but surely he is too young to have a crucial impact, or is he?



Certainly Victory will be slower and that will help every team bar Melbourne.


I expect them to make the top four but no Grand Final repeat this time unless Archie and Allsopp keep up their goal scoring partnership.


Their forward line is the most dynamic in the league.


If they get the service, and that is not guaranteed without four goal assist in the Grand Final Fred, then perhaps a second Grand Final position awaits.


Whatever happens, the Victory fans will be in for an exciting time once again?



Or maybe it us who will be excited once again by the colour and passion of the beating heart of Australian football in side the Telstra Dome.


50,000 for Melbourne v Sydney? I’ve got my tickets already!


Prediction: Final four, but no Grand Final this time.


Players to watch: Archie Thompson, Kaz Patafta, Ljubo Milicevic, Kevin Muscat, Daniel Allsopp, Joe Keenan, Carlos Hernandez and Leandro Love because he’s Brazilian!

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Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Who does the Foreign Minister support?

It's Chelsea of course!


When you live in Canberra you can't help but pick up all the gossip from the local pollies.



They are everywhere, on every corner, and every one just willing to talk to the locals.



Anyway the Foreign Minister was lunching in the Capital this week, and the talk turned to football.



Apparently not only is he interested in it, he is well passionate about one of the richest teams in the Premiership, The Blues.



Alexander is a Chelsea fan!

To be fair his passion seem to come from an era long long before the current loadsamoney era.

Hmmmn great but what about Adelaide United. Dunno, the verdict is unclear. My sources wanted to talk about the possibilities of increasing trade to China when the talk stumbled between two blokes about football.



Anyway I suppose the English Premiership is the league for Foreign Ministers,



After all Iceland own West Ham, Thailand Man City, Russia Chelsea, USA Man Utd, Egypt Fulham, and I'm sure Portsmouth, Liverpool and a few others can be added to the list.



The A-League for now is blissfully Australian and New Zealand owned but that will surely change in the coming years.

No who would John Howard support? Any answers?

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A-League in FIFA 08 Video Game


HYUNDAI A-LEAGUE TO FEATURE IN FIFA 08 VIDEO GAME



Football Federation Australia (FFA) CEO Ben Buckley today announced a new licensing partnership between FFA and Electronic Arts (EA), the world's leading independent developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software, through the “FIFA 08” football video game.



“This is the first time that the Hyundai A-League will feature in an official EA Sports videogame and as a result more than 20 million people globally will be directly exposed to Hyundai A-League clubs and players during the next 12 months through the FIFA 08 product,” said Mr Buckley.



“It also gives me great pleasure to announce that Qantas Socceroo and Melbourne Victory striker Archie Thompson will be the face of FIFA O8 in the region, featuring heavily in the promotional campaign for the game.



“This partnership with EA is another example of the level of corporate interest in the Hyundai A-League and Football in Australia at present and we look forward to working with EA in the future,” concluded Buckley.



Speaking at Today’s announcement, Archie Thompson was ecstatic about named the FIFA 08 ambassador for Australia and New Zealand.



“I know that plenty of the boys at Melbourne Victory, and when we are in camp with the Qantas Socceroos, enjoy playing video games so it’s fantastic that we can now play as our favourite Hyundai A-League club either in a league or against other international Clubs,” said Thompson.



“As I’m a big kid at heart, it’s great to feature in the game that I enjoy playing myself.



The Hyundai A-League will join a group of around 30 football leagues from around the globe to feature in this game.



EA Sports have undertaken strong research to accurately capture the skills/abilities and traits of Hyundai A-League players to place them into this global videogame.



FIFA 08 will be available for purchase from the 27th September 2007 to coincide with the world-wide release of the game.

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A-League Preview 7: Sydney FC

Are Sydney FC on the way back? I think so!



Today Football in the Capital has preview number 7: Sydney FC. Tomorrow the last preview is Melbourne Victory.

Click here for All the A-League previews?

Send in your top four predictions and Grand Final winner if you dare!

Preview: Sydney FC.

Branko Culina made a terrific start to his coaching career with Sydney FC in the Asian Champions League.

The side played composed and attractive football against some of the top sides in Asia. Branko was a man on the rise, but it didn’t last long. The stress began to show on Branko during the pre-season defeats.

And not surprising really as Sydney were shipping goals every week.

And with the David Carney-Mark Milligan transfer fiasco things did not look good, until now.
Nikolai Topor-Stanley, David Carney and top scorer Sasho Petrovski have all gone.

But with World Cup winner Juninho, former Socceroos defender Tony Popovic, a number of young players and an unknown Brazilian forward Patrick Da Silva arriving..albeit late, The mood in The Cove is lifting.

Sydney lack goals. Juninho is 34 and will need to change his running game if he is to have a lasting impact, despite the hype.

His threaded passes in the pre-season game at Penrith showed a glimpse of his quality.
With Milligan and Popovic around, Sydney should be strong defensively. Ruben Zadkovich, Robbie Middleby and Brendan Santalab will be expected to provide pace going forward.

Alex Brosque? Big question marks surround his ability and consistency. Brosque and the under-pressure striker David Zdrillic are the guys expected to score. Da Silva may add to the options.
Zdrillic will have his best chance yet to perform under Culina, but don’t expect the fans to be patient with the big number nine if the goals aren’t flying in.

If Branko can find a way of getting a regular supply of goals Sydney can again reach the Grand Final.

They may start slow, but I expect Sydney to comfortably make the four.

A champion team generally has a couple of players scoring near to double figures. Who can do that for Sydney FC?

Hope the crowds double and the football is enticing. It’s a fantastic stadium, would be great to see Sydney pulling 30,000. Imagine the sound from The Cove if that happened, and I have a feeling it might this season.

Players I’ll enjoy watching: Stevie Corica, Mark Milligan, Jacob Timpano, Tony Popovic, Ruben Zadovich, Juninho and maybe the new Brazilian Patrick Da Silva...and of course the 12th man The Cove.

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Monday, 20 August 2007

Matildas beat China in front of 52,000 people

What a fantastic result for The Matildas and what a fantastic crowd for women's football.



The Matildas are on track for a strong World Cup after two wins against the number ten side in the World, China.

Read the FFA report below.

MATILDAS DEFEAT CHINA AGAIN IN FINAL INTERNATIONAL PRIOR TO WORLD CUP

The Matildas have shocked World Cup hosts China for the second time in three days comfortably winning 3-1 overnight before 52,000 spectators at Tianjin’s Olympic Center Stadium.

The result ensured a clean sweep of the two-match series for the Matildas after the world number 11 was defeated 3-2 on Thursday in what is Australia’s final international matches prior to next month’s 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup.The Matildas held a 3-0 lead until the dying minutes of an action-packed match following first half strikes from Heather Garriock and Caitlin Munoz and a third from Collette McCallum soon after half time.

The result could have been even more emphatic with Australia having two goals controversially disallowed while Munoz was inches away from making the scoreline 4-0 when her powerful strike hit the frame of the goal mid-way through the second half.

“It is a great result and I am absolutely delighted with the performance of the team especially considering the difficult circumstances,” said coach Tom Sermanni.

“The players were backing up after three days, while some injuries to key players meant some adjustments to the line-up and also positional changes but the team responded admirably.”

“The matches have been superb preparation on a number of levels and once again the depth amongst the squad has been proven to be significant.”

Australia stunned the locals who turned up in numbers to mark the public opening of the 60,000 capacity stadium to be used at the World Cup and also next year’s Beijing Olympic Games.

The Matildas though were not overawed despite many playing in front of the biggest crowd of their careers with Australia racing to a two-goal lead ten minutes prior to the interval.

Firstly Garriock scored after 12 minutes when she fired a low angled shot inside the goalkeepers near post after Joanne Burgess had been the provider. Munoz then doubled the advantage when she tucked away a rebound after McCallum’s shot was parried by the oalkeeper.

McCallum then increased the advantage once again with a solid finish at the back post after Cheryl Salisbury’s free kick had eluded the defense. The result once again achieved despite Australia being shorn of a number of experienced players with Thea Slatyer, Rhian Davies, Dianne Alagich and Joanne Peters all unavailable.on September 19 in Chengdu.

The top two teams in Australia’s group will progress to the quarter finals and meet the top two teams of Group D which features China, Denmark, Brazil and New Zealand.

Match Details:-Australia 3 (Heather Garriock 12’, Caitlin Munoz 34’, Collette McCallum 51’) China 1 (Pu Wei 90’)

Australian line-up: Melissa Barbieri (gk); Lauren Colthorpe, Cheryl Salisbury, Kate McShea, Clare Polkinghorne, Sally Shipard, Collette McCallum, Heather Garriock (Alicia Ferguson 66’), Joanne Burgess (Danielle Small h/t), Caitlin Munoz (Kate Gill 84’), Sarah Walsh (Lisa De Vanna 74’)

Cautions: McCallum 23’, Polkinghorne 79’, McShea 88’, Colthorpe 91’Unavailable: Thea Slatyer, Rhian Davies, Dianne Alagich, Joanne Peters

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Preview Number Six: The Queensland Roar

Can The Roar make the four? I say yes!

Three more previews to go. One each day this week. Let us know you're predictions for the season, final four and grand final winners.

Today it's I'm looking at The Roar....and they just might for the first time if former Socceroos Coach Frank Farina gets his forwards scoring goals.


Queensland Roar Preview:

Well this season is going to be the best yet for Roar fans

A side and club with such potential have added Danny Tiatto and Craig Moore into the mix.

Experience is no longer a problem. And maybe it could fire the likes of Simon Lynch and Reinaldo.

The Roar lacked confidence across the park in their first two years, but the older guys should now give them that.

If they can last the pace!

The new A-League is fast. And Moore, Tiatto, and Milicivic are not.

How long will Tiatto last when the going gets tough, as it will? His temperament has always been suspect. Has he matured with age? We're about to find out.

Goals may still be a problem, unless John Aloisi makes a late late arrival. Preferring The Roar to playing in Scandinavia or where ever.

They've lost a bit of youth and pace in Spase Dilevski and Dario Vidosic. And while they have replaced them with the returning Robbie Kruse and other local players, I'm not sure they've improved that much.

But they only missed out by a whisker last time. And crowds have been excellent given the poor home form over the last two years.

Is the Brazilian Marcinho any good? Will Simon Lynch last a season?

I expect Matt Mackay to have a great season alongside Tiatto. Hopefully Massimo Murdocca can keep improving. If Hyuk-Su Seo can regain his best form?

A lot of ifs but at this point the manager comes into the equation.

Frank Farina has his chance to stamp his style on the team. Previous Coach Miron Bleiberg entertained on and off the field but he clearly lack consistent structures when results started to go wrong and players quickly lost confidence.

The Roar will make the four if they can stick a few goals away, and that's a big if.

If the Roar has a good season don't be surprised to see attendances of 25,000 regularly reached.

Player to enjoy: Craig Moore, Danny Tiatto, Matt McKay, Massimo Murdocha, Marcinho, Tahj Minniecon and Reinaldo

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Sunday, 19 August 2007

Football Number One in Canberra

Football has more junior players than Union, League and AFL put together in Canberra.

Getting this player base behind an A-League team will be a challenge.

But imagine the challenge of trying to get a team going without such playing numbers in the town.

The official figures for Junior Football is 11,709 boys and girls.

Football further cements its spot as the national capital’s highest participated sport.

In 2006, the 10,000 mark was broken, this season has seen a 7.65% increase in registered juniors which equates to a further 832 players taking to ACT football fields with 8605 boys and 3104 girls making up the numbers to surpass the 11,000 hurdle for the first time in Canberra’s junior football history.

Over the past 10 years junior football registrations has a growth of 69%, in 1997 there were 6918 registered players took part compared to today’s 11,709.

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Saturday, 18 August 2007

Australian Joey: Chris Bush clocks up the miles.

Australian Under 17 Joey Chris Bush talks to his Capital Football Coach John Mitchell after arriving back from the recent Youth International tournament in Japan.


Chris follows in the tradition of many ACT Joey stars. He plays in a centre midfield role not unlike predecessors Ned Zelic, Carl Valeri, and Kaz Patafta.


Chris is committed to his football. And he needs to be.


He travels from Goulburn to Canberra at least 4 times each week for training and games.


Chris scored a penalty in the penalty shoot in the first game against a Japanese College side.


Chris started all three games for the Joeys in the tournament proper.


Are you aware of the guys who have gone before?


"Yes, I know of them, but don't know them personally. I love to play professionally and play in Europe," said Chris.


"The international level is faster, players think quicker play faster. At first it was daunting, a bit scary, but you got to learn how to play more, use your body more physically and it got better as we played more games."


What do you feel you need to work on to play at that level?


"I suppose I need to physically use my body better. The players were bigger and strong. You have no time on the ball. It's all one touch, so I need to keep working on that."


Chris goes to Trinity Catholic College in Goulburn and travels straight after school three nights a week for training in Canberra.


"It makes it worth it when stuff like this happens."


"I want to stay in the Joeys, go to the Qualifiers (in October, in Singapore) and then to the World Cup, hopefully.


"It was an eye opener playing in a huge stadium in Japan, We had a few thousand at some games, that was the biggest crowd I've ever played in front of."


"We got to hold the kids hands when we walked out like they do on TV. We sang the National Anthem, it felt good really professional.


"I felt proud to be playing for my country."


The players were well supported.


"We had five or six support staff. They warmed us up properly, monitored our fluids and body weights each session. They made us drink, kept us hydrated and looked after us really well.


Who are your role models in Australian football.


"Harry Kewell, I really like him."


"I like to head overseas and make a lot of money."


After ten years in Australia please Chris so we can watch you in the A-League.


"Sure!"


Interestingly all the boys this week are focused on getting overseas. Fair enough. It may take another ten years of the A-League before young guys look to Australia as their first destination.


Still fantastic to see the young guys aiming high and at this rate the number of Aussies in the English Premiership this year(14), may well continue to rise as the ACT talent pool starts to emerge.


Good luck Chris, hopefully the journey to Canberra this week will be a little easier as you dream of your next Joey's adventure.

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Friday, 17 August 2007

Podcast: Sydney FC. How we rate them this year

We always talk A-League and Aussies on our poddies!


We're discussing Sydney. Our Terry reckons they'll finish higher than Melbourne Victory.

Don't agree with us? Well tell us!

Don't like the format....tell us!

Want more, more often, go on encourage us!

Either way if you are an Aussie football fan the web is bringing the voice of the people out. Blogs, podcasts, youtube, forums, websites the fans are getting the word out.
Passing through Canberra, got something to say on the A-League, your club, then contact us and we'll pod you for sure.

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Kaz Patafta enjoying life in Melbourne.

Kaz Patafta: A young player to watch this season.


Kaz Patafta spoke to Football in the Capital today from his Melbourne home. Kaz is looking forward to the big kick-off next week away to Wellington Phoenix.

"It will be a busy week for sure. We've got a lot of training but I can't wait," said Kaz

"I'm really settled in Melbourne, it's been a great time."

Kaz, some Victory fans have been oozing over your quick feet, the response from the Victory fans seems very positive.

"Well, it's certainly great to hear people giving their support. It's very encouraging and makes you want to try even harder. I'll be pushing as hard as I can to get as much game time as I can."

"I'm realistic I'm young but I want to work as hard as I can to test myself."

Any differences from Benfica?

"Not really, I've been really impressed with the Sports Science side of things at Melbourne. Victory really look after us in that way. Obviously that is really important for athletes.

"People always expect European clubs to be much better but it's not always the case."

The Olyroos are away this week. Any thoughts?

"Well it's a goal of mine to play for the National team. But I've been hidden away a bit in Portugal. Non of my games were shown on TV. I'll be trying as hard as I can to get in the side."

How is life in Melbourne?

"Flat out with training and promotional work, it's been really busy. But I'm looking forward to the first game, we're really focused on that."

Good luck Kaz, Football in the Capital will be keeping a close on eye on all the Canberra lads in the A-League. We wish them well.

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Matildas beat World Cup hosts China

WORLD CUP PREPARATIONS ON TRACK AS MATILDAS KNOCK OVER WORLD CUP HOSTS

The Matildas scored a dramatic 3-2 win overnight against World Cup hosts China in the team’s penultimate match prior to next month’s 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Prolific striker Sarah Walsh scored seven minutes from full-time to secure a famous win for the Matildas; just the fourth victory for Australia in 28 matches against one of the traditional superpowers of women’s football.

The result all the more noteworthy with Australia starting the match minus several experienced players including goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri, midfielder Joanne Peters and captain Cheryl Salisbury.

The Matildas stunned the home side racing to a 2-0 lead after just 28 minutes in what was the first match ever to be played at the new Tianjin Olympics Center Stadium. Firstly, long serving defender Kate McShea scored just her second goal for Australia when she rifled in a low shot from 10 metres after a corner caused havoc in the penalty area.

Lisa De Vanna then scored the goal of the match, with the Perth-based striker picking up the ball in her own half and weaving past several defenders in the process before lifting the ball over the advancing goalkeeper.

The home side rallied with Han Duan scoring a double within the space of ten minutes soon after the interval to level the scores before Walsh’s late strike.

The winner coming with a deep corner from the left headed back across the goal by Kate Gill for Walsh to sweep the ball home from close range. Australia will now face China for a second time on Sunday again in Tianjin, with the team to complete their preparations with a five-day camp in Sydney immediately prior to the team’s\ndeparture to the World Cup on September 5.


Australia will open their campaign against Ghana on September 12 in Hangzhou, followed by the match against Norway on September 15 in the same city before the final group match against Canada on September 19 in Chengdu.

The top two teams in Australia’s group will progress to the quarter finals and meet the top two teams of Group D which features China, Denmark, Brazil and New Zealand.

Match Details:-Australia 3 (Kate McShea 22’, Lisa DeVanna 28’, Sarah Walsh 83’)China 2 (Han Duan 54’, 64’)

Australian line-up: Lydia Williams (Emma Wirkus h/t), Dianne Alagich (c) (Rhian Davies (h/t), Kate McShea, Thea Slatyer (Joanne Burgess 80’), Clare Polkinghorne, Lauren Colthorpe, Alicia Ferguson, Danielle Small (Cheryl Salisbury 70’), Heather Garriock, Lisa DeVanna (Sarah Walsh (h/t), Kate Gill (Caitlin Munoz 93’).

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Central Coast Mariners looking strong up front.

This is the fifth preview for the new season. If you missed the others just go to the link in the archives headed, A-League Previews.

And feel free to send in your final four and Grand Final winner tips before next Friday and the big kick-off. Football's back and I can't wait!

PREVIEW 5: Central Coast Mariners


The Mariners are always fit. Very fit.


They still think they should have won the very first Grand Final in Sydney. And they are right, they missed so many chances.


This year Dean Heffernan is back. Sasho Petrovski has signed from Sydney FC. Nik Mrdja is fit. And Greg Owens has come across from Adelaide United. And they all score goals, something the Mariners badly needed last year.


I expect them to score more goals this year, and Adam Kwasnik to finish in the top three top scorers in the country! He's fit, gets in all the right positions and with more support this year he may find goals easier to come by.


The Mariners play a simple game. Have few real stars, but they are always fit under Andrew Clark's conditioning regime. They look well-prepared again in pre-season and if they get off to a good start they should make the top four.


It's all about goals for the Mariners, but with Perth, Adelaide, Queensland, The Phoenix and Melbourne all improving in player depth then a few more goals may not be so easy to find.


A lack of spark from midfield may prove their stumbling block. Can Tom Pondeljak find some of the form of the first season? Who else can create for the Mariners? Andre Gumprecht?


They won't go down without a fight. And if they can sneak the odd early goal teams will have to match their fitness to win the game.


For the sake of the club and its outstanding development I hope they prove me wrong and cruise into the Grand Final.


A scrap for fourth place I reckon, but they may just make the finals.


Players to watch: Adam Kwasnik, Dean Heffernan, Danny Vukovic, Brad Porter, Andre Gumprecht, Alex Wilkinson and Tom Pondeljak.



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Meet Australian Joey Danai Gapare

Danai Gapare on the left, with his Joey team mates, Ben Harrington, Chris Bush, Steven Domenici and Capital Football Coach John Mitchell



Australian Joey Danai Gapare talks to Football in the Capital.




Danai is a winger with pace and skill. He has travelled to many countries including Scotland and Zimbabwe, but he found Japan very different.




"It was really hot, very different culture and different language. It was good to see how the country was," said Danai.




Danai played against Japan, USA (full game) and against Korea.




Did you score?




"No, I set up Stevie (Domenici) twice." smiled Danai.




Did you tell him after?




"Yeah,"




Often?




"Yeah often," he laughed.




Danai admires Thierry Henry and would love to play professionally.




Danai attends Deakin High, in Canberra. And his goals are clear.




"I want to stay in the squad and go to the (World Cup) qualifiers in Singapore in October."




He found the attention of being a Joey interesting to say the least.




"We were asked to sign stuff. A lot of stuff."




Like what?




"Shirts, scarves, books"




How did that feel?




"It felt sick, really sick," laughed Danai.




Here's hoping it's the start of many autograph moments for Danai and his Joey mates.




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Thursday, 16 August 2007

Matildas in China: Sally Shipard writes from Tianjin

Matildas Star Sally Shipard writes every week for Football in the Capital.




With the World Cup just a few weeks away Sally gives us all the news on the Matildas preparations.


Hi Guys,


It's now Thursday and we have been in camp for 1 week. We spent the first 4 days in Coffs Harbour at the usual resort preparing for our final Olympic Qualifying match against Chinese Taipei.


This was the first time we had all been together as the 'official' World Cup squad. It felt great to know exactly who your team-mates were going to be for the next month and a half during our WC campaign.


It was an exciting weekend in Coffs Harbour considering we would be leaving for China on the Monday afternoon. It was topped off by our comfortable win, 7-0 over Taipei.


We flew to Sydney, Melbourne, and Hong Kong then to Tianjin. All up, we travelled for 24 hours.


The hotel we are staying at in China is pretty flash, plus the foods fantastic (it's always a bonus).


We all have the same room-mate for the duration of this tour. I am fortunate enough to have a great gal to share with, Matildas striker, Katie Gill.


We are both studying at Uni so that works out well. Most of the free time we have we complete some kind of uni work. The majority of the time Katie is reading over her lecture notes, which in turn makes me feel guilty, so I do the sameJ


The pollution is so thick here in Tianjin and the temperature is very warm with very high humidity. We arrived on Tuesday afternoon at 3:30pm and it was still 34 degrees. We had our first training session yesterday morning. We experienced what the Socceroos must have gone through at the Asian Cup.


We play China tonight and then again this Sunday, before heading home to Australia for a short break. We then fly back to China for the World Cup in September. These two games will be beneficial for our WC preparation and will help our bodies acclimatise to the warmer weather conditions.


Stay tuned for the results.


See ya


Sal


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Meet Australian Joey Stephen Domenici

Stephen Domenici is far right. From the left Danai Gapare, Ben Harrington, Chris Bush and Capital Football Coach John Mitchell.



Stephen Domenici talks to Football in the Capital.




Stephen enjoyed staying in two hotels in two different cities in Japan.




"We didn't have much free time. It was packed in. We went for breakfast in the morning, a bit of recovery, training, video analysis, and training in the afternoon." said Stephen.




First time for video analysis?




"No, we usually do it with the ACT."




What about the playing training schedule.




"It was pretty hard, took a lot of energy out of us especially as it was so hot."




So you weren't there for a holiday?




"No," replied Stephen, "It was training training and more training. It was really good, I love it."




"I'd love to play professionally for Arsenal."




Stephen attends Daramalan College in Canberra. He played in an all ACTAS, Joey's wing attack with his ACT mate Danai Gapare on the right wing.




How did it feel to play with four Capital Football boys in the Australian national team?




"Fantastic, got your friends. Met lots of other guys. Hopefully we can all stay in the squad, make the World Cup.




"First game I played half a game against a school team. I played against Japan, Korea and Japan."




Anything else to report.




"The girls in Japan were really good! Especially the American girls which came to our hoel one time!"




At this point the parents standing nearby started to listen a little more attentively.




But Steve like most young lads quickly let the interview with a nod and a smile!




Good luck Steve.

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Jets have backfired, or have they?


Oh dear!


With over 24,000 fans backing them. And a 2-0 victory over Sydney FC in the semi-final last year, Newcastle had the chance to build a long and large supporter base. Just what the A-League need.


A team with a passionate supporter base in regional Australia.


But the wonderful Nicky Carle has gone. Charismatic Milton Rodriguez has gone. And the classy if ageing Paul Okon has gone.


Jorge Drovandi an Argentinean has arrived. Scott Tunbridge is back from Scotland, and an exciting but risky venture has seen Brazilian International Mario Jardel arrive.


Is he Brazil's answer to Stan Collymore? The FFA clearly don't think so as they've allowed this transfer to go through.


Joel Griffiths and Olyroo Mark Bridge will trouble all defences but will they get the ball?


Last season everyone loved to watch the Jets, but they will struggle to keep their large supporter base happy if the expected Nicky Carle replacement doesn't measure up. And he hasn't arrived yet!


Coach Gary Van Egmond may look enviously at the planning and community development projects of his near neighbours the Mariners.


No, the Jets are in big, big trouble. A lack of planning has hit the club and the progress of the Jets as a consistent quality club may be set back some years.


No excuses! Everyone knew Carle could go. Everyone knew Rodriguez would not accept the lowly A-League salary and of course Okon had discussed his retirement many times.


So how had Newcastle prepared?


A media stunt with the arrival of high profile player Jardel? Time will tell.


The Jets may struggle to create that special Novacastrian atmosphere this season, which would be a great shame.


The league needs a vibrant Newcastle.


Happy to be proved wrong but there is no finals place for the Jets this year, unless Jardel performs like a younger man, and the mysterious play maker turns out to be a play maker.


Players of interest:


Mark Bridge, Joel and Adam Griffiths, Big Mario Jardel, Stuart Musialik, Troy Hearfield, Jade North, Jorge Drovandi(?), Scott Tunbridge

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Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Australian Joey Ben Harrington is aiming high

Ben greeted by his family at Canberra Airport after playing for Australia in Japan

Ben spoke to Football in the Capital after a long flight back from Japan.

Ben plays left or right midfield and was called into the squad as a late replacement for an injured team-mate.

"I was delighted to get the call. I felt bad for the guy who missed out but I was delighted to get the chance," said Ben.

Ben has been overseas to play football before, with his club Belwest to Fiji, but this was as step up.

"The fields were better, the quality of team-mates was better, it was much quicker."

Ben came on against Japan, USA and started against Korea.

"It felt really good to start. Japan was really hot, but we got used to it."

Ben is a Liverpool fan, who admires Harry Kewell.

"I'd like to play in England, and represent Australia at a World Cup."

A Kaleen High student Ben hasn't had chance to talk to his school mates since he got called up.

Where next Ben?

"Hopefully get to go to the U16 tournament in Singapore in October."

More time off school?

"Not sure, hopefully!"

Ben took some time out from the game recently. Like many young people sometimes you just need a break. Fortunately his Coach John Mitchell welcomed him back with open arms when he decided to return.

We look forward to following Ben's football journey wherever it takes him.

Whatever happens Ben like his team-mates can say they played for Australia.

How many of us ever get to say that?

Well done Ben.

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There’s only one Perth Glory



The Glory is on the rise.



New owners. New money and a squad assembled before a ball is kicked. Times are a changing in the West.



Ron Smith, the Coach, has recruited well. But it really hurts, no it really hurts, to see Jamie Harnwell as a striker.



I know he's scored a few goals. But he's big, and an ugly player. It makes me weep.



How can Ronnie do this? Why would Ronnie do this? And him an ex-AIS Coach. Interestingly Smith is one of the few guys in Australian football Harry Kewell listens to!



But the Glory has improved across the park.



New signings Hayden Foxe (now injured), Nikolai Topor-Stanley added to David Tarka should improve the defence. But there are four goalkeepers and few defenders. The squad seems a little short of defenders. Especially with Topor-Stanley away for the Olyroos, Tarka Foxe injured and Stan the man left in limbo.



Tricky Nicky Rizzo is back from England.



Up front they also look light, but Leo Bertos is still there to create and weave his magic.



But can they score? Not sure unless the new signing from Croatia Mate Dragicevic is the business.



Young gun Nikita Rukavytsva caught my eye late on last year. He'll need time to improve his consistency but he may cause a few problems with his pace and skill. And he's tall for a wideman.



Encouragingly, for everyone who has a warm spot for a club who had 45,000 fans rock up to Glory finals games in the old NSL, the Glory made the Pre-season final.



Stan the Man, Lazaridis may not be banned for his illegal drug use or aledged use, but if the FFA don't make a decision soon, Stan will miss most of the season anyway.



Get on with it FFA. Charge him or release him!



Perth need a good season. I think they will improve, but with their strike force I can't see them making the four.



Can you?



Players to enjoy? Tricky Nicky Rizzo, Leo Bertos, Nikita Rukavysta, Stan Lazaridis,Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Anthony Danze, but not Jamie HarnwellJ

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Tuesday, 14 August 2007

FFA want $4 million dollars a year!


Football Federation Australia require money. Everyone knows that.

Put the pieces together.

Why else has Graham Arnold been allowed to stay in the main job despite a disappointing Asia Cup?

Why did Arnold even take the team to the Asia Cup?

Why else is there no National Women's League?

Why else is there no National Youth League?

Why else has the Technical Report not been released?

Football has a cash flow problem at best and a long-term funding/revenue problem at worst.

The Argentina game was delayed. That's three million waiting to arrive.

But where has the 15 million plus 4 million loan from Government gone?

Well costs have soared. Under the original request for $15 million plus $4mill (now unpaid) loan there was no Asia in that plan.

We hadn't been accepted, nor applied to be accepted.

Now we are and nine, yes nine National teams head off to Asia.

Under 17's Under 20's, Matilda's and Under 23's are all in or back from an Asian game or tournament this week alone.

The cost is blowing out by the week.

So $4 million a year is required for four years.

Is it enough? Have the FFA got a plan for the four years? Will they need further funding four years on? What will they spend the money on?

Rumours suggest the FFA case is not strong. It's up to the Prime Minister and he's not keen.

Not keen! Make sure the plan is strong. Make sure the cultural, social, economics and football benefits are loud.

Let's hope they get it.

If they don't? Forget a new coach, a women's league, a Youth league, more marketing, an AIS team playing in the Victorian League.

Maybe even forget training camps, and god forbid, teams competing in some international tournaments.

It's a crises, but no-one is saying it just yet.

What do you think? Do we have a problem?

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The return of the forgotten Australian U20's Captain

Canberra's Shaun Ontong can't wait to get going again.


If you think footballers have it easy spare a thought for Canberra’s Shaun Ontong.

Product of the AIS and Australia’s Under 20 Captain, Ontong headed off overseas on the same plane with a certain Matthew Spiranovic to German side FC Nurnberg after the last World Cup.

Hopes were high for both players. Spiranovic signed, played against Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, and ended up winning a German Cup winners medal. Oh and he was then called in to the Socceroos squad for the Uruguay game in June.

How did Ontong go? Ontong pulled a groin muscle in the trial and ended up coming home to Australia. He captained the under 20 side in Korea in the Asian Championships in November last year. He then was without a club. He trained with Melbourne Victory for a month before heading to Switzerland for a week’s trial with FC Sion.

“The week, became a month and no offer was forthcoming,” said Ontong

“What do you do? Do you come home? The A-League is over for another year. Or do you stay and hope to pick up a club, and at this stage of the year it could be any club.”

“It was always a dream to play overseas. I felt to go home was to fail. I was determined to stay. I rang anyone I knew in football to try and get a club, a chance,” said Ontong.

“I ended up in Slovenia, with Maribor. You are only allowed three foreigners and they had five. I made six so I was never going to get a chance. From there I went to Bela Krajina.”

“It was crazy. I was living in a backpackers. I was trying to train. But I was having to guard my gear, to protect if from being stolen. At one point I got the girl behind the bar to guard my gear so I could go for a run.”

“I had a trial but hadn’t played for a month so wasn’t fit. I’m the sort of player that goes 120% and I pulled my groin again.”

“The club provided no treatment for foriegners, so I was looking on the internet trying to figure out how to treat myself. Things were pretty bad.”

“So I came back to Australia. South Melbourne invited me down to train, and I was off for a trial with Wellington, when Adelaide stepped in.”

So what is the injury status now.

“Well, I pulled my groin 3 times in twelve months, but I expect to be fully fit for the start of the A-League season. I’ve reassessed where I’m at. I’m delighted to get an opportunity with Adelaide.”

“I got great mates here. (Kristaian) Sarkies, Nathan Burns and Bruce Djite are all here.”

“Football is a funny game. Things can change so quickly. I saw Burnsy playing for the Socceroos recently. I felt emotional for him. It was great.”

“I’m just hoping to get playing again with Adelaide.”

When you play Kaz Patafta at Melbourne Victory will it be like the junior football days in Canberra?

He laughs, “You mean Belwest v Belnorth. Yes it will. They were great days. There were no football worries then.”

“I’ve learnt a lot by going overseas. And it’s made me stronger. I’ve got my love of the game back and I’m getting ready to play again. I’m with a professional club, they are protecting me, not rushing me back before my injury heals. I’ve just started jogging. Things feel good.

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