Thursday, 31 January 2008

Belconnen United's Danny Macor to play in front of 310 million people!

So you thought football in Belconnen was unimportant! Training out on the ovals under Steve Forshaw on a Tuesday in July with the sleet coming down. Not worth it?

Or maybe hitting the net in the local Futsal comp in Tuggers or the Netball Centre doesn't grab you.

Well local lads Danny Macor and fellow Canberran Trent Flanigan are playing for the Futsalroos in the KL World 5's in front of an expected TV audience of 320 million..yeah Australia multiplied by 16.

It's big. It's live on STAR sports read the blurb from the KL website below.

The KL World 5's takes place between 29th January and 3rd February 2008 at Stadium Negara, Malaysia's first indoor stadium and a national heritage building. The event will be telecasted to over 310 million viewers across Asia on STAR Sports with over 100 hours of coverage, comprising 30 telecast hours, including 20 hours of live programming - translating into extensive media exposure for Malaysia.

The KL World 5's will have a total purse of US$150,000, and feature 10 teams in this prestigious tournament. The event is expected to draw futsal fans from Malaysia and the region with the pedigree of the international teams such as Brazil, Argentina, Holland and England will join the likes of Asian champion Iran, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia and hosts Malaysia in action.

ESPN STAR Sports and the Ministry of Youth and Sports have a rich tradition of partnerships stemming from a multi-year strategic alliance signed in October 2005 to raise participation and interest in sport in Malaysia.


Battle of the Codes: Union takes a hit or two.

Can O'Neill save Rugby?
When I see Union Chief John O'Neill. revealing the astonishing decline of Union I took it, of course, as another win for the short-term.

The battle of the codes in Australia, has always intrigued me, and for the moment football is in the ascendancy, while Rugby Union seems to have taken a king hit...or two!

And is now by any measure the fourth code, but in John O'Neill, Union has a fair chance of recovery....but with a new player, football in the game, it may be too late even for the mercurial O'Neill.

Clearly as football boomed post-World Cup, participation rates, A-League viewer and attendance figures are all up, the other codes would have been worried.

Football's rise is in direct contrast to Union's decline it would seem. But in the extraordinarily talented businessman John O'Neill, Union may have it's last hurrah before the code is set back permanently.
Our TV ratings are falling, while broadcasting revenue has declined substantially.

When the fans start booing at half-time in a Test match it is worrying. And it was certainly happening during Super 14 games as well

it was hard to find any of the ARU's key performance indicators over the last four years that was heading in the right direction.

"Participation.... went down by 1.8 per is declining."

And let me state, I have no problem with other codes growing or succeeding,(as they say some of my best friends are Brumbies, St Kilda or Raiders fans), but of course in the old days football, or soccer, wasn't always given the Aussie "fair go" was it? And, of course, you don't write a football blog hoping for your code to come in last, do you?

So now the playing field has become a little fairer it's always interesting to see how the four codes react to the changes that are occurring particularly now that football or Tim Cahill has nicked the Wallabies and George Gregan's Weetbix deal:)

And of course, in Union, our beloved John O'Neill, having now recovered from his operation (welcome back John) has started to stir.

Firstly state how the game is in such poor shape. The only way is up. Then O'Neill a master of the media (how football misses him) will slowly but surely produce little gems for the Rugby fans to renew their hope.

The Rugby season is too short. Football has filled the airwaves in between the short (thirteen) game Union Super 14 season. O'Neill knows his code/clubs lose any momentum from year to year to other codes like AFL or League which have a longer club season, and a National competition Grand Final, and can fill the airwaves any day of any year.

What can Union offer. Thirteen games for the passionate Waratahs fan, only maybe six or even five at home! And let's face it, the Wallabies Internationals are dull and repetitive. Tri-nations, Bledisloe or a second team from Europe to play a friendly, sorry test, which has nothing at stake bar a little national pride. Year after year, same old same old.

And if the All Blacks fans didn't turn up, how many Australians would really be in attendance? A sell-out? Hmmmn don't think so.

O'Neill will have many strategies. Bring in a Pacific team to the Super 14, but this risks losing future Wallabies and All Black players.

The ARU chief suggested the Super competition could be expanded to one and a
half or even two full rounds.

But players will complain, clubs will complain, and as injuries mount up The Wallabies will inevitably suffer. The travel for club sides to NZ and South Africa is already a constant complaint. And don't expect South Africa or NZ to agree to this overnight.

Reinvent the Test matches with Argentina coming in, or even Japan. But most Argentinians play in Europe so this is not really feasible.

And of course don't be surprised to see the Wallabies heading off to England earlier in their careers, like the football players, as player wages in England start to entice them.

Aussie Rules has massive amounts of revenue from TV and the least associated costs. No international teams, or international camps to prepare for. So AFL can pour millions into the Union heartlands to further grow its game. And it has. Can anyone see AFL getting smaller in Sydney, Union's heartland, over the next ten years?

And League can nibble away at Union, it's players, and it's sponsors. It offers a game to TV viewers, and there are millions, on Free To Air and in key economic markets. Union offers sponsors, very wealthy fans I'm told, and the rather boutique Foxtel viewer. But even these viewers, according to O'Neill, are disappearing!

Keeping young players in the game is perhaps the long term key.

O'Neill will reinvigorate the code don't worry about that. But keeping young players in the game is perhaps the long term key.

When AFL and Football are making such huge inroads to player participation in the Private Schools Rugby traditional heartland (1), O'Neill and Rugby clearly has a long-term problem.

Of course Union can steal the odd League player but long-term you can jazz up the Super 14 or Internationals but if you don't have enough young players your teams aren't going to succeed.

And all codes/teams need to succeed to attract the fans. That is the one thing common across all codes.

Good luck John O'Neill, this time, I think you're going to need it.

(1)note: There are now more football teams at Kings School Sydney than there are Rugby teams

Type rest of the post here


Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Canberra boys starring in Malaysia

Belconnen United goalscorer extraordinaire Danny Macor and ACT Cobras star Trent Flannigan have made significant contributions to the Futsalroos 5-1 win over Indonesia in the KL World 5's.

In other results Argentina beat England 12-1!

Full report from FFA below.

The Qantas Futsalroos kicked off their inaugural KL World 5’s Futsal tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with a resounding 5-1 over Indonesia.

After a slow start, which saw them go a goal down after 18 minutes, Australia recovered to lead 2-1 at half time, before adding a further three goals in a dominate second half display.

Italian-based Greg Gionvalli, making his debut for the team, scored a double, with Danny Ngaluafe, Fernando de Moraes and Trent Flanigan each getting a single goal.

Australia had the better of the early exchanges, but struggled in the final third to put and scoreboard pressure on the Indonesians and were made to pay.

Two minutes before half time, Indonesia grabbed the opening goal of the tournament, but this only exploded Australia into action, as the Indonesians relaxed.

Less than a minute later, Australia was on level terms when Daniel Macor’s shot was spilled by the Indonesia keeper and Ngaluafe was on the spot to tuck home. Almost immediately, Australia scored again, with Macor again the provider, setting up Flanigan for an excellent finish.

With momentum on their side, Australia continued their assault and Gionvalli scored his first a minute after the re-start, pouncing on an Indonesian error after excellent pressing on their defence.

Midway through the half, Fernando made it 4-1, breaking through the centre and hitting a rasping shot that was too good for the Indonesia keeper. Gionvalli rounded off the scoring in the final minute, when he easily placed home a cross from Ngaluafe.

After the match, Australian coach Scott Gilligan said, “I was a little concerned after the first 15 minutes when it was scoreless but Indonesia dropped their guard after taking the lead and it was a good thing that we could score twice before half time.”

Australia now has a day’s break, before playing twice on Thursday, firstly against host nation Malaysia and then the final game of the day against England. The final match is against group favourite Argentina on Friday.

Other results in Australia’s group, saw Argentina, the last winner of the KL World 5’s in 2003, smash England 12-1, while Indonesia was again beaten later in the night, by host nation Malaysia 3-2.

The KL World 5’s is the richest Futsal tournament in the world, with the winner to earn USD$50,000.

The tournament is vital preparation for the ASEAN Futsal Championships that will be held in Bangkok in early March.

Match Details

Australia 5 (Danny Ngaluafe 19’, Trent Flanigan 20’, Greg Gionvalli 21’/39’, Fernando de Moraes 29’)
Indonesia 1 (18’)


Newcastle Jets v Newcastle Knights (Rugby League)

Once upon a time in Australia it was hard to talk football at work, it was hard to watch a game on TV, read about it in the newspapers or even find a blogsite about Australian football.

How times have changed.

And in Newcastle, how many times have my friends turned their eyes skyward over the years when I said I think the game could take off.

"Not in Melbourne it's so AFL, not in Newcastle it's so Rugby League," came the various, repeated responses time and time again. (We're talking a twenty year debate here:)

Well the Rugby League Knights only pulled one bigger crowd than the Jets sunday crowd of 23,000 last season. And that was the farewell to Andrew Johns, the biggest player in Rugby League for years.

And in the local stores Jets gear is outselling Knights gear.

No surprises maybe. A sign of the times and a sign that football is here to stay, just in case you weren't sure!

Full article is here at FoxSports, here's a bit of it

NEWCASTLE Knights will kick off a major advertising campaign on Sunday to attract season ticket sales as the city's love affair with football code rivals Newcastle Jets continues to soar.

Only seven weeks out from the start of the NRL season, the Knights' pre-season build-up has been shunted into the background for most fans by the Jets' surge towards their first A-League grand final appearance.

As unthinkable as it may once have been, the Knights now have a legitimate rival for the hearts and minds of the Newcastle sporting public.

A crowd of almost 23,000 witnessed the Jets' pulsating 2-0 semi-final first-leg win over Central Coast on Sunday, bettered only once last season by the Knights when the club farewelled champion halfback Andrew Johns.

Sales of Jets merchandise is at an all-time high with major retail outlet Rebel, the official suppliers for the A-League, claiming Jets gear easily out-sold Knights merchandise in its Charlestown store.

"It is not easy to break it down but we would probably sell between 30 and 40 per cent more Jets gear than Knights gear," Rebel assistant manager Matt Dunn said.

"But you have to remember the Knights have their own merchandise store at the stadium and it is also available at other outlets so it is hard to make a comparison."

But far from viewing the Jets as a rival, Knights boss Steve Burraston insists their success is a positive for the town and his club.

Burraston claimed fans will never be forced to choose between the two because their seasons don't overlap.


Another Japanese player off to Celtic!

Another small but growing sign that Japanese and Asian football is on the rise.

And will make Australia's World Cup qualification that little bit harder in years to come.

Celtic have completed the signing of highly-rated Japanese midfielder Koki Mizuno on a three-and-a-half-year contract.

With the number of Chinese, Koreans, Japanese and other Asian players playing in Europe on the increase, Australia can expect to meet increasingly difficult opponents across Asia in years to come. As if it wasn't hard enough already, Asia Cup 2007:)


Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Nearpost : Pim Verbeek Sarah Walsh and A-League news

Nearpost Part One goes across Australia on the Australia Community Radio Network.
Arif says Pim Verbeek is doing okay! Take that Robbie Slater!
Interview with Pim Verbeek
Sarah Walsh Matildas star
And all the Newcastle Jets talk and A-League chat.

Part Two: Goes across Canberra
We chat Katrina Neuss ACT Under 15 Coach
An interview with former England Captain David Buckham.(joke or supposed to be)
All the Capital Football news.

powered by ODEO

Download here


Anti-football media awards..another 2008 entry...yawn!

Courier Mail's Mike Coleman: Talks rubbish!

Poor Mike Coleman. A journalist, a sports journalist with the Courier Mail.

Guess with all the footall stories from the Socceroos, to the A-League, and the Roar in the finals, he's been told to write something about football.

And it's crass it really is.

So Mike you are another entry in the 2008 Anti-football media awards.

You can read his full post below and my ten cents worth. Will have to put you on the radio show in January's entries. Sorry mate you give me no choice.,23739,23112566-10389,00.html

I RECEIVED some news this week that I must admit was a little worrying.

Not content with a good showing at the last World Cup, 30,000-plus crowds at A-League matches and blanket media coverage, the geniuses who run soccer in this country have had to reinvent the wheel.

I am reliably informed that from next season junior matches will no longer be played on a cut-down version of full-length fields so that kids can emulate their heroes.

Starting with matches up to under-8s and then extending to under-12s in coming seasons, they will be played five-a-side on tiny grounds with portable pop-up goals. And no goalies.

Now apart from the fact that youngsters like to feel they are playing the same game they see on TV, I believe the "no goalie" edict could lead to huge problems later in life when the kids leave the junior ranks and even make it to the A-League.

They will think they can score goals.

Anyone who watched Friday night's semi-final between the Queensland Roar and Sydney FC will know that simply isn't the case.

Seems to me anyone who went through the A-League this season betting solely on 0-0 draws could retire to the Bahamas.

Not that this means the games were dull, sleep-inducing bores – well not all of them anyway. Friday night's game was very entertaining, if for no other reason than to see if Reinaldo could finally put a sitter into the back of the net.

Now I don't want to pick on the guy because he obviously has completion problems, but if I read one more time how he's going to play for the Socceroos or how clubs from Botswana to Brazil are lining up for his signature, I'll take up the game myself. It's obviously an easy way to make a buck.

Still, for once, the Brazilian Bomber wasn't the worst offender. How about Alex Brosque? Three times the goal yawned at him like the gate at Luna Park and three times he came up short.

That's not to downplay the effort of young Queensland keeper Griffin McMaster, who had a blinder, but if Brosque is the best finisher in the A-League, no wonder Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek is looking offshore for talent.

I couldn't believe the outcry when Verbeek said a training run in Europe was worth more than a game in the A-League. Anyone who was insulted should invest in Fox Sports and open their eyes.

For what it is, in its third year of existence, the A-League is sensational. It provides fans with local teams to follow and gives up-and- comers like Michael Zullo, Robbie Kruse and Tahj Minniecon the chance to showcase their skills and hopefully earn a ticket to Europe.

But as a direct route to the World Cup, forget it.

Verbeek was spot-on with what he said, and it didn't come lightly. He has spent weeks looking at A-League matches through the eyes of experience, leaving the rose-coloured glasses to the fans.

He is certainly not going to gamble Australia's World Cup chances – and his job and reputation – on the boot of a Brosque or Reinaldo. Or at least a Brosque or Reinaldo who hasn't been hardened by top-level football.

Imagine what the score would have been on Friday night if Harry Kewell or Mark Viduka had been playing for either side. Imagine how many of those chances John Aloisi would have put in the net.

Even closer to home, imagine where the Roar would have finished if Craig Moore hadn't brought his talent and experience back home to Queensland.

Hard as it is for some to admit, some of our most over-hyped A-League players still have a lot of work to do. Either that or they should find a five-a-side league with pop-up goals. And no goalies.

What a load of dross Mike. No-one expects Alex Brosque to be the same as Viduka or Kewell.

Money talks in all sport, and for a salary cap of $1.8 mill could you afford one Viduka never mind a whole team.

As for kids playing with no goalies, and small sided games. You're article is an embarrassment to parents, kids and football players everywhere. Do you have any idea what you are talking about.

And sure Alex Brosque may not be the next Kewell or Viduka, but what price a Bruce Djite, or James Holland.

Methinks you have spoken too soon, and besides that stick to what you do know. It's clearly not football.


Australian Under 17's are in New Zealand, but not a Victorian in sight.

Gary Van Egmond's daughter Emily is in the under 17 women's side currently in New Zealand.

And good to se Cheryl Salisbury as Assistant Coach on the tour.

Apart from Ruth Wallace from Adelaide, Ella Mastrantonio and Marianna Tabain (Perth) all the rest of the players are from NSw's and Queensland.

Where are the Victorians?

Full press release below

Australian Under 17 Women's national team to compete at 'Future Stars' tournament in Auckland

Former Australian championship winning coach Gary Phillips and current Australian captain Cheryl Salisbury will lead the next generation of Matildas when the Australian Under 17 Women's national team compete over the coming week at the 'Future Stars' tournament in Auckland.

It is the first Australian national team appointment for both, with head coach Phillips, who won National League titles with Sydney Olympic in 2002 and Brisbane Strikers in 1997 currently in charge of the women's program at the New South Wales Institute based in Newcastle. Australia's most capped player (male or female), Salisbury, will be the team's assistant coach.

The Australian team will face the top two ranked nations in the women's game, Germany and the USA, plus host nation New Zealand in the four-nation tournament, to be held from 29 January to 2 February.

Australia will meet the USA on Tuesday, world champions Germany on Thursday with the final match against New Zealand on Saturday.
Australia's 18-strong squad features three players who have already played for the Matildas, with midfielder Tameka Butt and attacking duo, Jenna Kingsley and Kyah Simon.
Australian Under 17 Women's National team squad:
Goalkeepers – Casey Dumont (Gold Coast), Rachel Cooper (Sydney)
Defenders – Vedrana Popovic (Brisbane), Nicola Bolger (Sydney), Ruth Wallace (Adelaide)
Midfielders – Sophie Hogben (Brisbane), Linda O'Neill (Sydney), Samantha Kerr (Perth), Tameka Butt (Gold Coast), Ella Mastrantonio (Perth), Marianna Tabain (Perth), Rachel Wynne (Newcastle), Emily van Egmond (Newcastle), Teigan Allen (Sydney), Alesha Clifford (Sydney)
Forwards – Tara Andrews (Sydney), Jenna Kingsley (Sydney), Kyah Simon (Sydney)
(current home city)
The Australian Under 17 Women's national team will commence their 2010 World Cup campaigns next year.


Nearpost this week: Pim Verbeek, A-League and Sarah Walsh

This weeks show on Canberra 2XX 98.3fm Tuesday 6:30pm and across Australia on the Australia Community Radio Network on your local station:

First half: Interview with Socceroos Coach Pim Verbeek.
Sarah Walsh talks Matildas.
Arif with the Big Issue and all the A-League finals news and tips.
In the second half (Canberra listeners only), Katrina Neuss Canberra's Under 15 Girls coach talks about her football journey.
Around the local clubs we have all the news.

Whole show is available on podcast tomorrow on this blog.


Sunday, 27 January 2008

James Holland creates havoc in the major semi-final

James Holland created two goals tonight in the major semi-final between Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners. A 2-0 home win for the Jets should be enough to take the first spot in the Grand Final.

John Aloisi missed a penalty, yes John Aloisi, he hit the post with a screamer from a free kick and scored a wonderful poachers goal only to see it ruled offside.

TV showed the decision by Matthew Breeze, or at least his assistant, was wrong and it could prove the worst and most crucial decision of the whole season.

Good game, particularly the first half. Passionate crowd.

Three years ago a finals game between these two sides in Newcastle pulled 10,000. Today sold out at 23,000.

A good day for football and a home team won in front of a big crowd. Ain't that a first this season:)

Funny moment

Weren't many. Game was passionately contested, a little too passionate at times. Every time a Mariners player went in front of the Squadron a smile was raised in response to the taunts.

Crucial moments

Dodgy penalty for the Central Coast. Aloisi missing that penalty.

The two goals created by James Holland. In the Jets first real attack after wave upon wave of Mariners attacks Adam Griffiths heads one home.

When every player and I mean every player was shattered only 60 minutes into the game, (no wonder Pim has gone for the overseas boys) James Holland exchanged passes to create enough space for Andre Gumprecht to pull him down. Joel Griffiths slotted the penalty.

Best Coach.

Well tonight it was Gary Van Egmond. He won. He played it strong defensively when the Mariners threatened. And he kept James Holland on when he was clearly tired midway through the second half. It paid off.

Lawrie McKinna left Matt Simon off when the Mariners needed a little more pace than a slowing Sasho Petrovski could offer.

Key player

James Holland, just 18. His eigth game. He creates two goal in front of 23,000 in a frenetic semi final.

We are watching a new Australian football star rise. It's great.

The future

2-0 should be enough for the Jets, but of course an early Mariners goal could change everything. And they are capable of that.

Overall an exciting game, one that petered out due to the frenetic pace and heat in the first half.

Are the Jets in the Grand Final? I think so.


Saturday, 26 January 2008

Australian football fans can be proud of the Mariners

The smallest football club in Australia are off to Asia and Australian football fans from all clubs will support them.

The Central Coast Mariners won the first spot in Asia, also the Minor Premiership last weekend.

Despite limping over the line, from behind, after leading the competition for most of the season by miles, don't be fooled, this win was hard-earned, deserved and planned for...three years ago.

When The Mariners went to Adelaide in the semi-final in the first A-League season few expected them to win. They did. 1-0. And marched into Sydney for the final with the support of over 8,000 fans dressed in yellow.

It was a marvellous sight for football in Australia. A true final played before two sets of opposing fans.

And Steve Corica scored the goal, but few neutrals could understand how the Mariners weren't four or five up by half-time. It really was one way traffic.

The Mariners have built a supporter base in an area that many Australians hadn't even heard of. Central Coast, NSW's.

And this season 19,0000 turned up to watch football in Gosford.

How did this happen?

Well Lawrie McKinna walks his dog along the local beach, he invites fans for bar-be-cues at his house, the players are expected to do the community development stuff, the schools, the local teams etc. They are spreading their wings into North Sydney and even Canberra. Truth or legend it matters not.

The Central Coast are now known as the club who has done the most and best work to link with their community.

Planning has been done to raise the supporter base from zero three years ago to it's current level with average crowds over 13,000.

But planning has also taken part with the team.

The Mariners never spent their salary cap in the first year or even the second year. They've kept many, many of the players from season 1. They've built slowly and wisely.

Compared to Sydney FC who have had to rebuild since beating the Mariners in that historic Grand Final win in season 1 Why? Because they overspent to gain success in season 1, massively. And Sydney started top down with expensive signings(Dwight Yorke) when the Mariners went from the grassroots up and have grown each season.

The Mariners management is restrained, realistic and flexible.

They proved that you don't have to buy a big star to get to a final (season 1) but maybe now the squads are bigger (23) and the standard higher you do. Enter John Aloisi half-way through season 3. And his goals have pushed them over the line. No doubt.

Season 2 the Coast struggled as injuries decimated them. Goalscorers in Dean Heffernan and Nik Mrdja had left or were injured. Damien Mori came and went. And a finals berth was missed. Mckinna knew the problem. And he fixed it for season three.

Enter fit again Mrdja, goalscorers Dean Heffernan returned, Sasho Petrovski, Greg Owen, John Alosi. In season three goals would not be the problem.

And so it proved.

This season the Central Coast thrashed Sydney FC 3-0 in Canberra in a pre-season game. While Sydney FC Coach Branko Culina complained of too many games The Mariners were fit and destroyed Sydney physically across the park. Canberran neutrals were stunned in the difference between the two sides.

It looked like men against boys.

And they came out of the blocks, winning game after game.

When Mrdja got injured, financial backer John Singleton, a Rugby League man who owns a stadium without a Rugby League team, enabled John Aloisi to sign. More goals flowed.

The table topping Mariners eventually got thrashed a few times at home in front of record crowds. As players had tired, got injured, maybe even the ealy fitness program was hurting them now.

They went into the final round in third place. Their lowest spot in the season. It was hard to see. A team with record crowds, a huge lead early, now stuggling to get a place in the top two.

Against Wellington injured Aloisi struggled on for sixty minutes, and he got his goal.

And Adam Kwasnik the guy who has missed more chances than any other forward in the A-League scored a beauty in the last, very last minute.

This was important as Sydney FC leading 2-1 against Melbourne now needed a third goal to top the Mariners. Tony Popovic charged upfield. Alex Brosque failed to find him. And Archie Thompson and co played the ball into Poppa's space. Melbourne scored.

Adelaide beat Queensland and off the title went to the Mariners.

Key Lessons
Player recruitment was well targeted. Player loyalty and club loyalty have been rewarded. A fitness regime second to none under player physio Andrew Clark ensured a title building lead was gained early. In a short season you must start fast, just look at Melbourne for proof.

And connection with the community and fans is important. Not just in non-traditional football areas but to all clubs in a fledgling league.

They are helped by a lack of competition from other codes, and local tv and newspapers desperate for local sport at a national level to cover.

Where can the Mariners go?

Well Singleton may have to add another stand in years to come. I'm joking? Only half.

In a growing area, if this team continues to punch above it's weight in five years or so who knows how many people will be watching?

A true team. On and off the field. A model club raised from nothing.

They can pull 19,000 plus on a good day. They've already been to Asia to play the likes of Aston Villa and Celtic in the Hong Kong Five's. Next time they are off for real in the Asian Champions League.

Can they win the Grand Final?

I think they have their prize. And it maybe a relief to the whole club to get that prize. Tired and injured they were struggling to get over the line, but they did it...just.

Danny Vukovic hasn't he grown in three seasons. Nigel Boogard the find of the season? Matthew Simon a hassle for any defender, Mile Jedinak, the guy no other club wanted, added to Aloisi, Tony Vidmar, Tom Podeljak, Andre Gumprecht, Dean Heffernan, Alvin Ceccoli, Sasho Petrovski, Greg Owens and John Hutchison. No shortage of quality and experience there.

Mckinna has done a fantastic job. Mariners fans and all football fans can be proud of the club from the Coast.


Friday, 25 January 2008

Finals start with a tactical draw

Sydney blew a chance to take a lead to Brisbane next week. 0-0. No surprises there.

But Juninho created some wonderful wonderful chances for Alex Brosque and he missed the lot.

He was subbed!

The game was fast and furious.

The Roar flew around the park, and Sydney were cautious playing very deep with only half a forward line.

For a team playing at home it was disappointing but given the teams ageing legs, and away record, a 0-0 draw is not bad for Sydney.

And of course Queensland Roar rarely win a pressure filled game at home do they.

Funny moment

The Cove went ballistic for Patrick to come on. He got a standing ovation before he came on. He was crap. Often has been. Why he got a massive cheer I'll never know.

What has he shown for Sydney FC. Not much.

Best on park

Roar keeper Griffin McMaster had some scary moments but he saved the Roar defence time and time again. He's a keeper and he's crazy.

Juninho: Gave us all some real moments of class even when playing like everyone else at headless chuck speed.

Coaches award

Think Frank Farina edged it in the beginning but in fairness Kossie did a good job with limited resources. He has so little forward firepower.

Farina had his troops well marshaled, they are super fit and chased the old men of Sydney all over the park.

Kossie made more changes, tried to tweak things here and there, and probably saw his team improve, as a result, as the game went on.

Kossie will hope to win 1-0 away. Can Farina bring a Roar side home with all the pressure of the home crowd on them?

Well it will be a cracker. Don't be surprised to see one or even two sent from the field.

The Young Roar

Well Robbie Kruse has looked tired for weeks and as a result the Roar lack a spark. One point from nine, no wins in four, despite what the commentators say, this Roar team is no sure thing.

Did they create a real chance? Marcinho's shot's into the crowd are not chances. Has any professional footballer ever produced such poor shots.

Oh I forgot Rainaldo.

So next week, Sydney will attempt to hold the Roar out and hit them on the break. An early Sydney goal could kill the game.

But this time, I think with a huge home crowd, and youthful legs the Roar may just do it.

I'm sure they will....but you never know do you.

They'll have to lift to a higher level than tonight and surely Alex Brosque won't miss so many Juninho fed passes again.

Should give us another night of exciting, if mistake ridden football like tonight's game.


Lies, dam lies and statistics.....Football crowds across Australia

Collingwood AFL had a 54,000 crowd average. AFL held 16 of the top 20 crowd averages.

Only the Brisbane Broncos from Rugby League came in the top ten, number ten to be exact.

Western Force topped the Union entry with 27,000 and Melbourne Victory was best for the A-League in 19th place with over 26,000 turning out each week.

THREE A-League sides beat Twelve of the NRL crowd averages, this after just three years.

In Canberra the Brumbies walloped the Raiders. And surely a football team could average more than the Raiders 11,000 after a few years. Surely!

Interesting to compare the Rugby APC tournament to the A-League averages. Further proof that football is way ahead of Union in terms of supporter base across the country. The Super 14 is most similar to the Asian Champions League, an international competition.

And in New Zealand the World's top Rugby club side, well in the Southern Hemisphere brings in 16,000 each home game. Food for thought. They'd be kicked out of the AFL I guess.

Stats below.

Team Code Games Crowd Average

1. Collingwood Magpies AFL 11 603,881 Average 54,898

2. Essendon Bombers AFL 11 575,232 Average 52,294

3. Adelaide Crows AFL 11 461,910 Average 41,992

4. Carlton Blues AFL 11 457,418 Average 41,583

5. West Coast Eagles AFL 11 448,703 Average 40,791

6. Richmond Tigers AFL 11 421,207 Average 38,292

7. St Kilda Saints AFL 11 417,135 Average 37,921

8. Fremantle Dockers AFL 11 412,213 Average 37,474

9. Sydney Swans AFL 11 391,953 Average 35,632

10.Brisbane Broncos NRL 13 442,101 Average 34,008

11.Hawthorn Hawks AFL 11 369,052 Average 33,550

12.Geelong Cats AFL 11 347,016 Average 31,547

13. Melbourne Demons AFL 11 324,903 Average 29,537

14. Brisbane Lions AFL 11 317,325 Average 28,848

15. Western Bulldogs AFL 11 316,551 Average 28,777

16. Kangaroos AFL 11 311,210 Average 28,292

17. Port Adelaide Power AFL 11 306,572 Average 27,870

18. Western Force S14 5 137,775 Average 27,555

19. Melbourne Victory A-L 10 260,682 Average 26,068

20. Gold Coast Titans NRL 9 204,971 Average 22,775

21. NSW Waratahs S14 6 136,450 Average22,742

22. North Qld Cowboys NRL 11 217,212 Average19,747

23. Queensland Reds S14 6 108,608 Average18,101

24. Brumbies S14 6 106,883 Average17,814

25. Wests Tigers NRL 10 170,978 Average17,098

26. Queensland Roar A-L 11 186,622 Average16,966

27. Canterbury Bulldogs NRL 12 197,852 Average16,488

28. Sydney FC A-L 11 180,127 Average16,375

29. Newcastle Knights NRL 12 190,563 Average15,880

30.South Syd Rabbitohs NRL 12 188,448 Average15,704

31. Sydney FC Asia A-L 3 45,871 Average15,290

32. Manly Sea Eagles NRL 10 145,265 Average14,527

33. Parramatta Eels NRL 11 152,594 Average13,872

34. Newcastle Jets A-L 11 145,298 Average13,209

35. CC Mariners A-L 10 127,383 Average12,738

36. Adelaide United A-L 10 126,966 Average12,697

37. N Z Warriors NRL 12 149,314 Average12,443

38. St George Dragons NRL 12 145,908 Average12,159

39. Sydney Roosters NRL 11 132,157 Average12,014

40. Penrith Panthers NRL 11 129,946 Average11,813

41. Melbourne Storm NRL 11 128,757 Average11,705

42. Wellington nix A-L 10 116,831 Average11,683

43. Canberra Raiders NRL 11 126,704 Average11,519

44. Cronulla Sharks NRL 12 137,657 Average11,471

45. Perth Glory A-L 11 83,577 Average7,598

46. Perth Spirit ARC 4 15,583 Average3,896

47. Canberra Vikings ARC 4 14,768 Average3,692

48. Melbourne Rebels ARC 3 9,914 Average3,305

49. Sydney Fleet ARC 4 10,630 Average2,658

Ballymore Tornadoes ARC 2 4,867 Average2,434

Central Coast Rays ARC 4 9,293 Average2,323

Western Syd Rams ARC 4 7,368 Average1,842

East Coast Aces ARC 3 4,284 Average1,428

Summary Games Total Average

AFL 176 6,482,281 36,831 Awesome, totally

S14 23 489,716 21,292 Interesting, but very wealthy patrons!

NRL 170 2,689,449 15,820 Worryingly miles away from AFL

A-L 84 1,227,486 14,613 Amazing. Expect to top League after the Finals in the Third year.

ARC 28 76,707 2,740 Shows the depth of support for Rugby in Australia. A boutique sport.


We're all off to Sydney for BIG DAY OUT.

Ben Buckley reckons the Mariners and Newcastle Jets would bring 20,000 fans down for the Grand Final. So the Big Day Out will be held in Sydney this year.

Apparently we're ready for a neutral venue for the end of season Grand Final.

Sounds good. Must get my tickets, how about you.

What's the biggest Grand Final you've ever been to?

Celtic v Porto 2003 UEFA Cup Final in Seville is mine.

Press Release below

Football Federation Australia (FFA) confirmed today that the Hyundai A-League 2008 Grand Final will be held in Sydney, at either ANZ Stadium or Sydney Football Stadium.

“Our priority is to ensure that those who want to see the Grand Final do not miss out due to the stadium being too small,” said CEO of FFA, Ben Buckley.

“We had sell-out crowds in Sydney and Melbourne at the Grand Finals in the first two years of the Hyundai A-League and I do not want the situation where people are locked-out of the game.”

The two teams vying for a springboard into the Hyundai A-League 2008 Grand Final on Sunday 24 February, Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets, only have stadium capacity of 20,000 and 26,000 respectively.

“We anticipate that each of these clubs will provide 20,000 supporters for the Grand Final.

“If we were to keep the Grand Final at either of their home grounds, it would leave little or no capacity for supporters of the opposing team, or the many thousands of Hyundai A-League fans who just want to be part of the biggest game of the year.”

Buckley also said it is not unusual for sport to have neutral venues for marquee games.

“The FA Cup, the NFL Superbowl, the NRL Grand Final and the AFL Grand Final are notable examples.

“We believe the Hyundai A-League Grand Final, as the most important game of the year in the competition, should be given the status it deserves – and that’s what we’re doing.”


Fox Ratings on the rise

A-League ratings up 23% on Fox, Sydney FC v Melbourne attracts 370,000 viewers a record for a normal league fixture.

All this positive football news is getting me down. I'm much better when I have something to criticise:)

Full release below.

January 25, 2008


Hyundai A-League ratings have increased by 23 per cent on FOX SPORTS this season. With competition for Premiership fierce, significant growth was driven by strong interest in the final rounds of the season.

Round 21’s Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory match ranked as FOX SPORTS most watched regular season game in the history of the competition, reaching a total audience of more than 370,000 and with average audiences of 136,000.

This year more than 2.8 million viewers have enjoyed FOX SPORTS regular season coverage of the Hyundai A-League, with total audiences growing year on year.

CEO of FOX SPORTS David Malone says “the success of the A-League on FOX SPORTS and the closeness of the Premiership is indicative of a very healthy competition. We’re confident this level interest will continue in the coming weeks and look forward to some more fantastic ratings results throughout the Finals Series”.

FOX SPORTS Live and Exclusive coverage of the Hyundai A-League 2008 Finals series commences this weekend and will culminate in coverage of the Grand Final on February 24.


Thursday, 24 January 2008

Aussie media lay into Verbeek: It's pathetic!

It's story time in the Aussie media. Robbie Slater, John Kosmina are just two of the pundits, writers and general know-alls who've had a go at Aussie Pim.

It's a beat-up. Here's what he had to say.

Verbeek said this in the Herald Sun today:

Two German-based players - Josh Kennedy and Michael Beauchamp - have not played for their Bundesliga teams for weeks because of the winter break.

But Verbeek said three weeks' training with Karlsruhe (Kennedy's club) and Nuremberg (Beauchamp) would have the duo better prepared for Qatar than if they were in the A-League.

"If you train for there weeks with Nuremberg or with Karlsruhe, I have to be very honest, I still think that's better than playing A-League games," Verbeek said.

"I saw the important (A-League) games last weekend and you can see players under pressure that they didn't bring the same performance that I have seen before, so they are still not very consistent at the moment.

Big deal. If Harry Kewell was on a mid-season break in the EPL and had been training for three weeks ready to play this weekend, would anyone suggest he would not be at a better standard training with Liverpool than ANY A-League side currently playing.

It's a no-brainer, the media are just looking for a story from Verbeek's comment. And haven't they ALL beat it up on every website, every paper going. Pathetic!


Wednesday, 23 January 2008

"A-League team in Canberra is an absolute must"

“An A-League team in Canberra is an absolute must," says Belconnen United Coach Steve Forshaw.

Behind the microphone at 2XX Nearpost radio show this week Forshaw was in great form. Socceroos, A-League and Belconnen United, Forshaw covered it all.

“An A-League team in Canberra is an absolute must, “says Belconnen United Coach Steve Forshaw.

Behind the microphone at 2XX Nearpost radio show Forshaw was in great form. Socceroos, A-League and Belconnen United, Forshaw covered it all.

He’s back at the helm with Belconnen United. Rumours abounded about his retirement after last years Grand final 5-4 defeat to Canberra FC, but it isn’t true.

“I couldn’t leave on that note. I’ve unfinished business, “said Forshaw.

“I started Coaching in 1989 with Belconnen United. In 1991 we won the lot, three trophies. I’ve had breaks since then but I love being involved. And this season we’ve lost a few players, but we’ve strengthened with the likes of Dustin Wells back in town. He will play with Belconnen this year.

"Ben Cheyne is back from his spell in Scotland. He played in the Scottish Cup and Danny Macor, who is playing this week in the KL 5’s in Malaysia with the Futsalroos, will again lead the line.

“We went close last year, and anyone who saw the Grand Final will have seen a great game of football. But I think we can go one better, I really do.”
Forshaw was born in Bolton, England.

“I came to Australia as young boy. I was a Bolton fan and a Leeds United fan. I’ve been involved in football all my life. I played in Brisbane and was transferred to Belconnen for $50 when I came to Canberra. The club still want their money back!

“I’ve been to many many games. I watched Bolton Wanderers play at the old Burnden Park ground in an FA Cup tie, against Manchester City, when they were in the Third division. I saw a Zinedane Zidane led France play Turkey in Turkey, but the best game I ever saw is an easy one.
I went with my father and my son, the three generations. We saw Australia beat Uruguay and qualify for the World Cup. It was a very special night.”

And Forshaw smiles as he claims that Belconnen United assisted the Central Coast Mariners to win this years A-League Minor Premiership.

“We set the A-League Champions the Mariners on the road to success. They came down to Belconnen as they will do every pre-season and gave us a touch up, 4-0. I’m sure it set them on the road. We’ll play them in June again this year, depending on how the fixtures fall.

“I think there is no comparison between the A-League and the old NSL (National Soccer League) on a number of levels. The crowds are obviously much better, the stadiums they are playing in are better. The fact that it is now representative on a broader level is better. The A-League doesn’t represent a particular ethnic group, an ethnic community; it’s a broader based community sport now. The quality of the football is far higher than the old NSL could ever aspire to.

Joel Griffiths (Newcastle Jets) has had a great season, and Tommy Pondeljak (Central Coast Mariners) is an exciting player. But if you look at all the clubs you’ll find exciting players at every club.

“But if I have one criticism of the league it probably lacks a little bit of quality overall. There are some good things happening on the park, and off the park. There are good youngsters particularly in Queensland with Michael Zullo and Robbie Kruse. The pleasing thing though is that the league is still going in the right direction.
Forshaw would love to see an A-League team in Canberra.

“It’s an absolute must for us. In terms of priorities it’s the sort of thing Capital Football need to look at, and look at very strongly, to lift the profile of the game. A national league, an A-League without a team from Canberra, it isn’t the full picture.”


Flanagan and Hill named in Socceroos Squad

42 players in the Squad. Take that Qatar:) but still no place for you. If you can't get named in a Socceroos squad of 42.....give it up!

There's guys who we've heard play overseas, (Jacob Burns) guys who don't train (Craig Moore) guys who've only played 4 or 5 games of professional football in their life (Jame Holland) guys who the Coach think is someone else (he calls John Hutchison Tom at training, is that why Tom Pondeljak is in?) guys who aren't coming (Harry Kewell) and reserve team players (James Troisi) and Flanagan (reads the game) and Hill (talks a good game).

He could have added my name or even yours just to say we got named in a squad. As we aren't going to pay either are we.

Verbeek said today: "I've deliberately kept the squad large."

The full list is: 3 to be omitted

Aloisi, Beauchamp, Bresciano, Bridge, Brosque, Jacob Burns, Cahill, Carle, Carney, Colosimo, Covic, Culina, Djite, Dodd, Emerton, Flanagan, Grella, A & J Griffiths, Hill, Holland, Holman, Kennedy, Kewell, McDonald, Milligan, Moore, Muscat, Musialik, Neill, North, Pondeljak, Schwarzer, Archie Thompson, Thwaite, Topor-Stanley, Troisi, Valeri, Vargas, Vukovic, Wilkshire, and You.

Categories for inclusion could have included...

Eamonn Flanagan (reads the game..sometimes)
Simon Hill ( talks a good game)
Yourself (scored in Futsal this year...recovered from injury so worth a look, don't play in the EPL, more experienced than James Holland etc etc..fill in your own category I have.)


Ben Buckley: Why the Grand Final must be in Sydney

FFA CEO Benny the Buck Stops With Me, wants to see the Grand Final at a stadium which has a capacity to reflect our sport and games finest hour.

Disagree? Heaps do, especially those Newcastle Jets fans. And of course I feel for them, if and it's a big if, they get to the Grand Final.

Anyway below is the transcript from the FFA of what the Buck Stops With Me had to say...make up your own mind, and don't worry if you can't...I'll tell you what to think:)

I support the FFA's call for a Grand Final at a Stadium befitting the occasion. So Sydney it is.

Which ground? That's a tad more risky. Could we fill out Telstra. You bet, let's give it a go.

What do you think? and none of that cautious NSL thinking...puhleease:)

Transcript of Ben Buckley interview in relation to the Hyundai A-League 2008 Grand Final Venue
Please find below a transcript of an interview that Football Federation Australia (FFA) Chief Executive Officer, Ben Buckley, conducted today in relation to the current debate surrounding the selection of the Hyundai A-League 2008 Grand Final venue.

Q: Is the FFA being heavy-handed in wanting the Hyundai A-League 2008 Grand Final to be in Sydney?

We are not being heavy handed; the FFA has the right to schedule Finals matches where it sees fit. We spoke about this with the CEOs at our last CEO’s meeting prior to Christmas and gave an indication that it would be likely that we would move this particular match to Sydney.

Q: What are the factors in determining where it will be held?

There are a number of critical factors and the most important is making sure that we have a venue that can get the maximum amount of fans into the ground. We would hate to have a situation where, because of the limited capacity of a stadium, that we could only get 25,000 people to the Grand Final.

It is the most important match of the year. There’s an Asian Champions League spot up for grabs as well as the Championship Trophy. So, we’d like to make sure that as many fans as possible, from both competing teams, can come along and enjoy the match.

Q: Why is the FFA considering holding it at a venue other than in Newcastle or the Central Coast?

We want to make sure that fans who have come along and supported their team all year have the opportunity to do that. If we were to play in Newcastle or on the Central Coast their home stadia would not allow away fans to come and support their team, and we think that that would be a real disadvantage to people who have come out and shown support for their team for the whole year.

Q: Does this disadvantage those teams?

We don’t believe it’s a major disadvantage for them to play on a neutral venue. Clearly our key decision making criteria is to get the maximum amount of fans into the game. It’s our marquee game of the year and it should be played in the stadium that has the capacity to host more than just the home team fans.

Q: Is it unusual to hold a marquee match in a neutral venue?

It’s not unusual to have a major marquee match at a neutral venue in football. I think you see that the FA Cup Final is not played at Stamford Bridge or Emirates Stadium or White Hart Lane or Old Trafford. It’s played at Wembley.

Q: When do the Hyundai A-League finals start?

The Hyundai A-League 2008 Finals Series kicks off on Friday night when Sydney FC host Queensland Roar at Sydney Football Stadium. We’re hopeful of another big crowd and I’d encourage all Sydney FC fans and football fans to come along and support their team. On Sunday night we have Newcastle Jets hosting the Central Coast Mariners at EnergyAustralia Stadium. So, two wonderful games to kick the finals series off.


Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Nearpost Podcast this week

powered by ODEO


Why the Grand Final should be played in Newcastle.
Matildas Star Cheryl Salisbury on her plans for the coming season and beyond
Who will win this weekend in the A-League Finals.
Our tribute to the Mariners, Champions and off to Asia.
Belconnen United's Steve Forshaw talks Belconnen United, A-League and his football passion


Monday, 21 January 2008

Archie Thompson: A-League's best ever?

Do you remember the young Archie Thompson at Gippsland Falcons in the old National Soccer League.

He was young then, played in front of a few hundred, but took your eye with his pace and skill.

That was in 1996.

In 2008 Archie plays in front of 30,000, and has been the superstar of the A-League in my book.

Sure we have John Aloisi, I loved your penalty John, and Joel Griffiths is playing some wonderful football this season. Kevin Muscat had a great year last year, Nicky Carle and others have made me get to the edge of my seat. Dwight Yorke was poetry in motion and could control a game. Who else can?

But Archie never lets you down.

His team has been abysmal at times this year. But Archie has worked his socks off. And you know with Archie he's always going to give you something.

His pace, and trickery, produce opportunities for himself and others at will. Or so it seems. And true if he'd converted a few, just a few, of the chances he had this season Victory may have still won the league.

But I'm a neutral, and when I watch a game, any game, it's the forward players who I love.

And Archie can drift in and out. Beat players with pace. Delightful, and best of all with pure skill.

He can lift a fan out of his seat with his audacious and humorous attitude to the game and the supporters.

And of course he can set a player up. Why else has Danny Allsopp resurfaced as a goalscorer.

And yesterday in Sydney in front of a record crowd Sydney fans knew there was one team, but more importantly one man, Archie, who you don't want to be facing when you need to win, to win the league.

And he let no-one down. He got time and space all day. Who could catch him?

Danny Allsopp outpaced Iain Fyfe, again, and latched on to a wonderful, precise cross from the elusive Thompson.

And of course he should have won the game, finishing or more probably passing to Carlos Hernandez to score the winner. Bolton saved, but Thompson smiled as his team had defied Sydney. And the Mariners didn't care, did they?

Archie, good enough to lead the line against Qatar. Not sure about that. International football is very different to the A-League.

But in the A-League, Archie lights a ground up. Any kid, any fan would have loved to watch him yesterday. Sydney fans held went tense, silent when he got the ball. Melbourne fans lifted and roared. It was wonderful wonderful theatre. And Archie knew it.

He scored and outshone Dwight Yorke on the opening day of the A-League three years ago with a joyous dashing performance

He scored five in a Grand Final last year and had 50,000 salute him as he took an early mark with a few minutes to go.

And yesterday he was in Melbourne speak "best on ground" by someway.

Enjoy him while he is at his peak. He's an Australian with skill and wizardry to burn. A sense of humour. Archie is great for the game.

Has he been the best over the three seasons? I think so.


Football on Free-To-Air? No thanks

Football on the rise? A-League booming, Socceroos in town, watch the Free-To-Air Channels start to sniff around.

Hate to say it, but Football on Free-To-Air in Australia. No thanks!

The A-League is booming, even if it's only on Fox Sport. Australia's favourite national team the Socceroos are about to start their World Cup Qualification campaign, a campaign which can only be seen on Fox.

Of course for the game to grow we need Free-To-Air coverage, but I for one hope we never get it, ever!

Australian Sports fans are, so they say, some of the most passionate in the world. And you just have to look at the crowd averages for AFL for proof.

Record crowds this season in Queensland, Adelaide, Gosford and even Sydney. Yes Sydney FC pulled in over 33,000 yesterday.

All this after just three years of the new league.

The Socceroos have sold 44,000 to see the World Cup Qualifier against Qatar on Feb 6th. But of course any national team in any code from Qatar always pulls a crowd in Australia!

And slowly you can feel the free-to-air channels like 7, 9 and 10 looking enviously at their friends from Fox Sports.

Why wouldn't they?

The Socceroos campaigns for World Cup Qualification are about to start. Midweek games to fill up the TV Channels. What could be better?

The A-League continues to gain more viewers at the grounds (Crowd averages for League and Football are around about the same, 16,000 v 15,000 per game) and on TV, (The A-League ratings have already surpassed the Super 14 Union tournament which is over ten years old).

And so FTA will come knocking.

But, with the exception of Fox Sports, why do the fans have to put up with such shocking TV coverage from Channel 7,9 and 10 the major FTA sports broadcasters?

For years codes in League, AFL and even cricket are stumped with adverts all over the ground and screen. Cut to the news early? Never mind that. What about the games that go for over three hours on TV due to delayed coverage and an increasing number of adverts. Adverts after a try in League or a goal in AFL are tedious and ruin the TV fans experience. And of course the commentary , generally, is biased, jingoistic and lacks scrutiny. (Commonwealth and Olympic games fans can attest.). And the commitment to sport is weak. Oh yes we all love Tennis...this week, but pity the poor tennis fans for the other 50 weeks!

Australian Sports fans have been cheated for years by some of the worst sports coverage in the world.

Channel 9, Sports Leader? Don't make me laugh.

So if a successful A-League means football coverage moves to Free-To-Air, let's hope we don't grow any further!


Sunday, 20 January 2008

Mariners Asian Bound, Sydney and Queensland flop

Central Coast Mariners will play in the Asian Champions League next season after winning the Minor Premiership on the weekend.

Sydney drew 2-2 in one of the games of the season with Melbourne Victory in front 33,000+ fans. Another A-League record.

The Roar crashed at Adelaide 2-0, but were not helped by having....Danny Tiatto sent off in the first half for a short jab.

A great game in Sydney. Storms, sun, goals, and fans heaps of them. Will they be back?

Slowly but surely the Sydney supporter base maybe building. It's going to take time, but clearly 33,000 rocking up today shows Sydney do have a football public and that will be very encouraging to everyone connected with football.

The game:

Victory were always going to spoilt the party. Archie Thompson caused havoc all day.

Sydney FC lacked a forward presence. Alex Brosque despite his goal is not a forward presence, not really. And the Stevie Corica's and Juninho's really couldn't sustain the pace.

Indeed it was Tony Popovic noted for his experience who drifted forward, pushing for a goal when the side were leading 2-1.

A misplaced pass from Brosque, and Melbourne raced away through Thompson and Danny Allsopp slid it home.

Steve Corica had escaped Kevin Muscat's lunge to open the scoring in the 4th minute, things looked good for the big crowd.

But when Mark Milligan scored an own goal straight after half-time Sydney looked doomed.

Alex Brosque got a goal out of nothing. Danny Allsopp countered. Brendan Santalab missed a tap in. Archie did the same.

It was great stuff. Passionate, open football. Great for the fans if not the purists.

Bugger the purists.

Sydney go into the finals with some problems. Can they create, or score enough to win a game. Maybe if they don't have to face Melbourne the form team of the competition.

The Roar v Adelaide

Poor Queensland poor Adelaide.

The Roar blew a fantastic chance to win the minor premiership. Danny Tiatto was sent-off in the first half and a fired up Queensland team lost the plot.

Adelaide with Nathan Burns and Bruce Djite were back and pulling the strings. Djite scored one and then Lucas Pantelis sealed the win.

The Roar were tamed so easily. Very disappointing and now face Sydney FC on Friday without Danny Tiatto.

Adelaide: Well they are pretty, great to watch, when in full flow but you wonder what would have happened if they'd been able to keep Michael Valkanis, Djite, Burns and Bobby Petta injury free.

Adelaide head to the Asian Champions League in March, The Roar play their old friends Sydney next week.


Belconnen United's Steve Forshaw goes Nearpost this week

Nearpost Radio Tuesday. On your community radio station across Australia and in Canberra every Tuesday 6.30pm-7.30pm 98.3FM 2XX.

This week Nearpost National Show:
A-League reviews and previews.
Matildas Star Cheryl Salisbury, all the women's transfer talk and there's heaps.
Arif's Big Issue.

Local Show (part 2)
Belconnen United's Steve Forshaw is our special guest.
Women's football, Futsal news and more
All the local football news form around the clubs.

Does your Canberra team need a Coach, a volunteer, got a story to tell, let us know.


Saturday, 19 January 2008

Mariners: Off to Asia?

Central Coast Mariners 2 Wellington Phoenix 0.

Have The Mariners done enough? With Sydney and Queensland facing difficult games, the Mariners may just be off to Asia.

A nervous Mariners had to wait until 90+3 for the second goal, until then it was tense.


A great header by John Aloisi early in the second half.
Tom Pondlejak supplied both goals. Adam Kwasnik finished late on, and didn't Coach Lawrie McKinna celebrate.

The celebration told it's own story.

Wellington Phoenix

Lively, played well in parts but really benefited from a tired Central Coast side.

Exciting Phoenix players

Not much on show. No Brazilians. Ahmed Elrich benched. Shane Smeltz showed a little but there were few signs for the future.

A great season and a great benefit to the A-League but they really need to rebuild if they are to get into the four next year.

Despite the Aussie commentator talking them up they ain't exciting to watch. Not really. Ross Aloisi, Michael Ferrante, Tim Brown and Richard Johnson driving a midfield.

No thanks!

The Coaches

Ricky Herbert is a great coach. Everyone tells us all the time, and yet he has one of the worst defences in the league. And are pretty miserable away from home.

Herbert needs to recruit well, and on the salary cap it won't be easy.

Lawrie McKinna: Saw the problems of last season. No goals and so came up with some quality recruits who can score. Aloisi, Sasho Petrovski to name two.

And tonight when his team needed a goal Aloisi scored his seventh of the season.

McKinna has guided his team to the four, and maybe into Asia.

Talking Point

Sasho Petrovski. Was pulled down not once but twice, no penalty. Referee Kevin Docherty got it wrong, horribly wrong.

Chucked it down, but 10,000 still rocked up and got soaked. Times have changed in Australian football.

Finals form

The Mariners dug out a result, but they look tired, injured and don't look like they can go any further. They'll need that second chance.

All eyes turn to Sydney and then Adelaide for the Grand Finale tomorrow.


Henwood Park Club makes the switch

Henwood Park Football Club used to be known as Henwood Park Soccer Club. The Wagga Wagga (NSW) club has decided like so many other clubs that it is time to change its' name to football.

Well done Henwood Park.

A minor name change. But symbolic of our changing place in Australian society. And part of the growing number of junior and senior clubs across Australia who feel they want to change their name.

Has your club made the switch yet? Why not?


Newcastle in Asia?

Newcastle Jets 2 Perth Glory 1

Who scored, the turning point(s), why Simon Hill and Robbie Slater got it wrong last night, what the Glory need now and so much more:)


Joel Griffiths now has 12 and is the top scorer in an A-League season ever!
Jamie Harnwell..has more goals than Socceroo Alex Brosque!
Mark Bridge, tucked a lovely winner away past a quickly ageing Michael Petkovic.

Turning point
Possibly two. Was Joel Griffiths goal off-side? Could well have been. Seen worse linesman decisions in crucial positions this year. Oh and great marking Perth:)

Nicky Rizzo

Got the red mist for some innocuous decision going against him. Flew into Tarek Elrich. Later than a Sydney train, chopped him to boot, handbags flew and Rizzo was sent.

Simon Hill and Robbie Slater reckoned no need to send him. Rizzo made the ref make a decision. In fairness he was so late it was almost like he just tackled Elrich in open play with no ball in sight.

What was Nicky Rizzo doing? And hasn't he been a massive disappointment since returning to Australia from the hallowed leagues of England.

Of interest

Nikita Rukavystya. Had some wonderful chances. Took up great positions. Could be the top scorer next year. Let's hope he stays injury free and David Mitchell knows how to harness the young flyer. What a prospect. With increasing confidence and pace to burn watch him go.

James Holland

Called up for the Socceroos training squad. Like his touches, has ability to get into the box a la dare I say it Tim Cahill. Struggled at times last night. Will be great to see him developing next season.

Newcastle's chances of winning the minor premiership

Well got stronger once Mark Bridge finished a wonderful move. Reduced when they were unable to find another goal, even create a chance.

Can't seeing them benefiting from the three teams above drawing or losing....but you just never know do you:)

Perth Glory

Would like to see Jamie Harnwell move on. Attract a better more skillful striker. This could change the pointy end of the team. Easier said than done.

You just always feel with Jamie upfront this team is in hold mode, despite his goals and work-rate.

James Downey, Nikita, are ones for next season and beyond. But defensive errors persist. Two shocking goals conceded last night.

At times this Glory side are sound. Looked good again with ten men last night. Need to replace Simon Colosimo. Get rid of Stan Lazaridis (sorry Stan) Jamie Harnwell (at least replace him up front).

So basically they need a centre mid, a striker and maybe even a centre back, and a goalkeeper. Young Tando Velaphi hasn't convinced me yet.

Mitchell needs to recruit a spine, so that tells you the real strength of the existing team.

Getting such players to Perth on the salary cap is not an easy job. So don't be surprised to see Jamie, Stan and even Hayden Foxe back in the starting line-up next year.


Friday, 18 January 2008

Australian Finals Football never felt so different.

West Coast win the AFL Minor Premiership, Melbourne Storm win the League Minor Premiership and should the Waratahs ever win the Super 14, what next?

Geelong won the AFL Premiership. Well done. And the memories remain for fans and players maybe forever, but where next?

By Sunday at 9pm one of Newcastle, Central Coast, Sydney or Queensland Roar will be the third minor premiers of Australian football.

The winners and runners-up will get the famous Aussie double chance in the finals.

The winners also get to play in the Asian Champions League. What better reward for winning the Minor Premiership.

Last years ACL final was won by Japan's Urawa Reds in front of 60,000 fanatical fans. Urawa are the Champions of Asia.

Whoever gets the double prize this weekend can dare to dream, dream beyond grand final day. TV Revenues and Sponsorship will start to flow as teams from Iran, Japan, China, Australia and elsewhere start to reap the rewards.

The future of football in Australia has never looked so good, for Australian clubs, Australian women, Australian national teams...for kids.

No wonder there is a slightly different feel to Australia finals football this weekend, and it's great.


Thursday, 17 January 2008

Close Finish?

I was thinking about close finishes as the A-League comes to a close this weekend.

Most Anglophiles will think of Arsenal beating Liverpool 2-0 at Anfield. With Michael Thomas scoring in the last few minutes to secure the title. That was close.

For me close finishes are that bit better when they involve your team, and they win.

In 1979, my team was Celtic, it still is....

Last game of the season, all other games were finished, but Celtic had to play one more game to win the league.

They had to win.

A draw wouldn't do, and we we were at home, to our old mates Rangers.

Who if they secured a draw took the title. It would be a great night.

And I had a ticket, but being 15 at the time I had some exams and I didn't get to go. Dad said.

Bastard!...oops I'm 45 now and still haven't really forgiven the old fella, not really....and I failed my exam, woodwork I think.

Celtic were a goal down at half-time. And then just before the break Celtic's Johnny Doyle a flying winger was sent-off.

That was that then, Rangers were sure to be champions now, and at Parkhead of all places.

But the game swung as Murdo McCleod inspired a Celtic comeback.

4-2 to Celtic.

The title was ours. And Celtic fans still talk about the game, alongside the 7-1 Hampden demolition of Rangers in May 1957, Scottish Cup Final. I wasn't born.

So close finishes are great. And your club's are always the best.

No matter what the Arsenal fans tell you. Good luck to all teams this weekend!


Mariners win the A-League

Here's my predictions for the closest football finish ever, in any code, in any country.

Newcastle 3 Glory 2
Central Coast 2 Phoenix 1
Sydney 2 Victory 3
Adelaide 3 Roar 2

I think there will be goals as teams go for broke at various stages of the games...should be fun.

With my scores the Mariners are champs..from third place...hmmnn that can't work can it? Got a better idea?


Women's game on the rise and rise.

An Asia Women's Club competition will kick-off this year.
And an Under 13 National team competition for girls will start this year.

As usual with Asia, always a few details to sort out, but things are looking good for Australian football.

Full release below;

AFC Women’s Committee meeting

KUALA LUMPUR 16.01.2008: The AFC Women’s Committee, chaired by Dato’ Worawi Makudi of Thailand, met today at AFC House for the first time this year.

All nine female members attended the committee meeting in which it was decided to start two new events – the AFC Women’s Club Championship and the Girls U-13 Festival of Football - to boost the women’s game in Asia.

AFC President Mohamed Bin Hammam said: “The club competition for women will encourage all Member Associations to organise proper domestic leagues for women, while the Girls U-13 Festival of Football will provide an excellent platform for budding teenage players besides being a good training ground for new coaches, referees and administrators.”

“Both the events will help in the development of women’s football in Asia,” added the AFC chief.

The Girls U-13 Festival of Football will be held after the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2008 (May 28-June 8) with teams from the 12 Member Associations who are competing in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup (qualifiers and finals).

The committee also discussed the dates and venue for the second qualification round for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2008 and an announcement will be made in this regard shortly.


Sally Shipard on Matildas Camp

Sally Shipard updates us on the Matildas plans for the year, which Matildas are heading overseas and to which clubs, and the role of Anthony LaPaglia in the Matildas players heading to LA.

Read all the news from Sally here....

Hi guys,

Over the weekend we had our first National Camp of the year.

35 girls were called into the squad, about a third of the group are injury stricken, so boxing, swimming and gym mostly took up their weekend.

However, for those who were capable of training at least once a day we would be out on the pitch. Tommy (Sermanni) focused on small sided stuff and skill/technique made sense, it gave our mind and body just an idea of what will be in store this year....

Matildas Schedule

Over the next few months we have a pretty busy time-table leading up to our Asia Cup in June. We have games against New Zealand in February. A trip to America, Peace Cup in Korea, then the Asian Cup in Kuala Lumper, Malaysia.

Considering we all thought it was not going to be a busy year, this is going to be a fairly hectic schedule.

Matildas sign for overseas clubs

About half a dozen of the girls are actually going overseas to play.

Lisa DeVanna and Katie Gill have their sights on Sweden, they have both signed with a club for their 2008 season. Caitlin Munoz, Collette McCallum, and Sarah Walsh are heading to LA to play alongside David Beckham:-) well not quite but for the same club but obviously the female version!

Anthony LaPaglia has sorted that out for them, they will run soccer clinics for extra cash, I can't imagine them having to spend too much money if they have contacts such as Anthony LaPaglia:-)

Anyway the sun is finally out in Brisbane, its only taken almost three weeks. so im off to bask in the glory:-)




Next Canberran Socceroo imminent?

Nikolai Topor-Stanley signing autographs: Expect the requests to increase Nikolai if you make the Socceroos squad.

Well Canberra's Nikolai Topor-Stanley is within touching distance of the Socceroos squad I reckon.

He could join Carl Valeri as Canberra's second Socceroo. Not bad for a City, a Capital City, without an A-League side.

He was one of a few Olyroos called up for this weeks A-League Socceroos squad. He's improving leaps and bounds, playing for the Olyroos and off to the Olympics.Pity his team Perth Glory has had such a poor season. His performances have held up.

Can he make the Qatar squad?

I reckon he's an outside chance. A left-back, cover for David Carney or even Scott Chipperfield. But he won't start, no way.

Surely he's the best left-back in the league. Matt Thompson at Newcastle? Dean Heffernan at Central Coast? People rave about the Heff, but he can't defend, not really. Ask Adam Biddle from Sydney FC, or Sydney FC Coach John Kosmina. He knows a weakness when he sees one and threw on Biddle in the recent A-League game against the Coast. "Attack Heffernan every chance you get," were the instructions to young Biddle.

Biddle did, and scored a wonderful goal.

Thompson. Well, he's older and playing well. A late convert to full-back, he lacks big game, international experience.

Expect the Overseas guys to be called in, but not all of them.

Expect Topor-Stanley to get the call. Am I right?


Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Newcastle, Sydney tracking for big crowds again.

With Newcastle hoping to crack 20,000 for the first time this season and Sydney on track for their biggest crowd of the year.

This football thing in Australia is proving a pull, week-in week-out, year in year out.

The men and women in the media, the businessmen and women of Australia and cashed up sports fans must be starting to eye the future...

Millissa Fisher-Massa Melbourne business women and Altona Magic VPL President is about to pour her cash into the Northern Thunder team in Townsville.

Developers are funding the new Gold Coast team.

Newspaper coverage is coming but it's still slow. Free-To-Air coverage is at best dismal. And that is being kind.

With great crowds in all A-League cities, genuine interest exists for the game and the League, but still the media breakthrough isn't happening. Not really.

How many more seasons do we have to see large crowds to get the FTA, Channel 9, 10 and 7, the ABC and most national newspapers on board.

It's a slow build.

But with the Socceroos about to play, again and again in 2008 crucial World Cup Qualifiers, maybe just maybe this is the year the game finally gets through to the mainstream media.

Either way, the crowds have come, are coming, and the game continues to thrive beyond most of our wildest dreams.


Nearpost: A-League, Tom Sermanni, Futsal wrap and more.

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Nearpost this week. Download here:

National Show:
Big Issue: Arif Hossein and Tom Crossley look at "Who will win the A-League"
Tom Sermanni interview
Futsal wrap and interview with Steve McIntyre, Organiser of Futsal National Championships.
Review/Preview of the A-League

Canberra Show:
ACT Women's Futsal Coach Vanh Manthongsy, Maria Tarantifilou discuss the team's performance and the Futsal tournament.
Tom Crossley on junior football.


Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Four key players this week:

Many, many players are crucial to their teams success this week. Here are just four.

John Hutchison (Mariners) Steve Corica (Sydney FC) Robbie Kruse (Queensland Roar) and Mark Bridge (Newcastle Jets)

Here's why.

John Hutchison (Mariners)

I've been watching the Mariners and Hutchison in recent weeks and it's clear Hutch is struggling.

He scores goals, see season one, and a couple of note this season against Sydney. He links well and keeps the ball short. He can dig in, and provide a creative outlet to his forwards. Matt Simon would benefit more from Hutch than Sasho Petrovski. At this stage of the season Simon's energy may just be what the Mariners forward line needs.

Petrovski is slow, and so is Hutchison. Last week he looked off the pace when he was caught in wide positions.

He's not the quickest, but he needs to fire through the midfield linking with John Aloisi and Tom Pondeljak.

An under achiever, to slow to be a Socceroo. International football is a fast man's game. But Hutchison is crucial to the Mariners success this weekend.

Play up John.

Steve Corica

Sydney FC's star man. An ageing creator. A goal scorer who may be able to lift for a few more games.

He keeps Juninho out. A World Cup winner who can still run. That is no mean feat.

Sydney FC are in the finals. They dug out results, particularly away from home, but they haven't really impressed. Coach John Kosmina, unlike the hero worshipping Branko Culina, won't play Juninho and Steve Corica together.

He knows his team is weak in midfield and in the forward line. But he can still get results and has.

A lack of firepower, and creativity and that's why Steve Corica is crucial to this weekend's chances.

Melbourne haven't been the quickest team this year, but with Kevin Muscat and Grant Brebner out of the midfield, the team has picked up pace and results.

Can Sydney win? If they do, surely Steve Corica will be involved in scoring or creating. If he's not how many can Sydney score. One at best? Enough to win?

Stevie, now is the time.

Mark Bridge.

Bridge is an Olyroo. A strong performer with a unique style. He slows the play, brings in the others, particularly Joel Griffiths and James Holland.

But he's struggled to score this season. He's struggled to influence games like his potential demands.

But he did last week. Against the Mariners, Bridge had perhaps his best game of the season. And with Griffiths always firing, an extra bit of help will be needed to get the Jets over the line.

Bridge needs to perform. He probably needs to score, as goals will be vital. But he could make a name for himself over the coming weeks.

It's the chance of a lifetime for Mark Bridge.

A Bridge too far? I think not. He's strong on the ball, great control and great vision.

Mark Bridge could sneak the title the Jets way if other results go their way.

Robbie Kruse

Can The Roar win the title? If they win the game, Asia is theirs.

Robbie Kruse, has created and scored numerous goals this season. And missing the Sydney game last week, the Roar lacked threat.

Kruse is injured, he may be back.

Kruse has looked tired in recent weeks, very tired. Maybe like many Aussie players one key difference is their ability to keep going, every game, every year.

When players play 60 plus games overseas, seeing A-League players getting tired in a 21 game season. Makes you think doesn't it.

Kruse could win the game, any game for the Roar. His skill, imagination, is a rare gift in this league.

Can he make a big impact in the finals. If fit, he can win the Minor Premiership for the Roar.

Without Kruse, Queensland may well miss out.

Robbie show us your stuff.


Nearpost tonight:

All the A-League talk, Arif, and Tom lead the big issue.
Interview with Matildas Coach Tom Sermanni
Wrap of the Futsal titles.

In Part Two:
We talk to Vanh Manthongsy, ACT Women's Futsal Coach and Captain Maria Tarantifilou.
All the local football news plus interviews with some of the stars of ACT Futsal.

Catch the podcast here tomorrow...or catch the show on your local community radio station across Australia. Contact your community station to get Nearpost (First Half) on your local station.

Email me if you need details of which stations are in your area


Joeys off to Uzbekistan for Asian Cup.

Australian Under 16 team will play in the AFC U-16 Championships in Uzbekistan, October 2008.

Top four go to the FIFA Under 17 World Cup in 2009

KUALA LUMPUR 14.01.2008: Uzbekistan will host the AFC U-16 Championship 2008 finals after a successful bid by the central Asian nation, the AFC announced here on Monday.

Sixteen (16) teams will be taking part in the competition where they will be divided by a draw to four groups of four each. The draw for the finals will be held in Tashkent on April 1, 2008 while the finals will be held at Army and Jar Stadiums in the Uzbek capital from October 4-19, 2008.

The last edition of AFC U-16 Championship 2006 (formal known as AFC U-17 Championship) was held in Singapore with Japan emerged champion defeating DPR Korea in the final while Tajikistan took third place ahead of Syria.

This is the second time ever Uzbekistan will host an AFC competition after successfully hosting AFC Futsal Championship 2006.

Twelve (12) teams have qualified so far to the AFC Under-16 Championship. They are as follows:

India (Group C), Syria, Yemen (Group A), Iran, Bahrain (Group B), Uzbekistan (Group D), China, Singapore (Group E), Japan, Indonesia (Group F), Australia (Group G) and Korea Republic (Group H).

Top four teams in AFC U-16 Championship Uzbekistan 2008 will qualify for FIFA U-17 World Cup 2009.


Monday, 14 January 2008

Everton or Arsenal? Who would you sign for?

Pali Blues, who? Pali Blues, from California.

Matildas Star Collette McCallum is expecting to head off to the Wild West having knocked back offers from the likes of Everton and Arsenal.

With a great World Cup behind her, and the Womens' National League to start in Australia and a Professional League to start in America in 2009 it should be a great couple of years ahead for the midfield star.


What a Pell of a man: And he's a Bishop:)

2008 First nomination for the Channel Seven anti-football award: National Section.

And it's a Bishop, yer man Pell.

Full article here

The Bishop, I'm no fan let's get that bias out straight away, goes on about the behaviour of cricket and the gentleman's game as he calls it. Don't make me laugh. Like this stuff never happened years ago under Steve Waugh or even Allan Border's teams.

Many, many much bigger fans of cricket than me, have been criticising the behaviour of the Australian cricket team for years. And that's just the Aussie fans.

But yer man Pell, a hell of a guy:), starts discussing cricket, the game, it's ethics and the like. Fair enough. He wouldn't want to talk about the ethics of the priesthood in his weekly article would he?

And at the end of the 500 word article, he nicely diverts to soccer and gets a nice dig in there. No mention of Rugby League, Union or AFL and the problems those codes and their super heroes have.

No mention of Australian football, where until now the Socceroos, Matildas and A-League Clubs have hardly done anything to enable the likes of Ben Cousins, Ricky Ponting, Wendell Sailor and others opportunities to say, "but what about the footballers."

No Pell the Bishop, has a noice wee dig at Soccer in the midst of his beloved cricket.

Our crowds are up, our games are making headlines in the cricket season, cricket is introducing mickey mouse twenty twenty stuff, cricket is grabbing the headlines for all the wrong reason, but Pell has to have a dig.

On yer Bish. How about you say something positive about the growing acceptance in the country and positive influence of the game of football on men and women in our community.

His sentiment about soccer doesn't go unsupported here. It's just why say something about soccer at all.

Here's what our man of the cloth had to say towards the end of his article:

It is inevitable that cricket changes with the times, but Test teams should not make things worse among the youngsters who admire them.

Modesty in victory, dignity in defeat, traditional courtesies are lessons worth learning.

Racing around the field doing high jinks would not be tolerated in children, even if rich, spoilt soccer stars perform like that for the T.V.

Ponting and Kumble need to lead their teams away from the brink. Too much off and on the field in Sydney wasn't cricket.


Four teams 31 who will win.

It's early in the week but Sydney FC will not win the Minor Premiership. No way.

Coach John Kosmina knows his team has the most difficult game of the four teams. Home to Melbourne, a resurgent Victory with Archie Thompson, Nicky Ward and Carlos Hernandez clearly able to create chances and destroy Sydney's dream.

So who will win?

I'm not always right, not about football, or anything else come to think of it.

But I did hope for four teams on 31 points. I got it, but I don't think I predicted it. Did you?

Central Coast will wallop Wellington at home. They have everything to play for and although the once fittest team in the league are looking flat, almost unfit. Maybe as Mariners Coach Lawrie McKinna says they have peaked too early.

It was interesting to look back on the pre-season game in Canberra against Sydney.

Sydney were a shambles. Destroyed more than beaten. 3-0. By a powerful fit Central Coast outfit.

Which team would you rather be supporting this weekend?

The Coast will win, they must win, but they won't win the Asian place.

Newcastle play Perth.

This will be close. Perth have a team to worry anyone and in Nikita Rukavystya a player to destroy the nerves of any home crowd, especially one desperately needing a win.

Newcastle may win. I expect they will but only by the odd goal, and not enough to win the title.

And I should mention James Holland. Three goals already and he's only played a few games. Straight in from the AIS. Signed for two years. He should have been signed for four, with a chance of a transfer fee along the way.

Sydney Melbourne

Can Sydney stop Archie Thompson. I think not. Archie and his mates will be so up for this, with nothing to worry about.

Kosmina played it safe on the weekend against The Roar, he had to, he knew his side are weak across the midfield, and threatened by a strong running Roar midfield.

He played for a draw and he got it. No place for Juninho in a Kossie side. No place for attacking flair, no place for risk.

He's done well, got them into a great position. Within touching space of the title. But can they win at home. When they have to attack.

I think not. I don't think they have the power, or flair to create and overcome a resurgent Melbourne, do you?

And even if they do score the odd goal, will they be able to keep out Archie?

And will Ruben Zadkovich keep his head. This is a game in which he needs to.

So Sydney to miss out on a top two, but I expect them to get to the final, and a place in Asia, by default maybe, but not by winning the Minor Premiership of Championship.

And so to the Roar.

The Roar are going to march into Asia with a thumping one goal win over Adelaide.

Would you bet against them.

Youth and pace. A strong defensive unit and one goal should bring the Minor Premiership to Queensland, and to me more importantly a place in Asia.

Have I got it right?

Will Melbourne and Queensland fans be the happiest fans in the land next week. I suspect so.

What do you think?