Friday, 16 May 2008

Five Canberran Footballers

Canberrans making football pay

The Weekender: This week I review the FIVE Canberrans playing in season three of the A-League. Which Canberran will be next?
Matthew Kemp, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Adam Casey, Shaun Ontong and Kaz Patafta.

This week I take a look at the five Canberra players in the A-League. Their clubs, their performances in the season just gone and what lies ahead.

*Robbie Cattanach had a short-term contract with Sydney FC and made his one and only appearance against Perth Glory

Matthew Kemp, Melbourne Victory.

Matty Kemp is the eldest of the five Canberrans earning their living from football in the A-League. Having transferred from Adelaide United at the end of Season Two, he was expecting big things from the Champions, his new club, Melbourne Victory.

Like his team, Kemp struggled to make a quick impression in the new season. And his versatility may not have helped. Right back, then midfield and centre-back before finally settling in at left back.

The Victory fans, perhaps stunned by the team’s performances seemed to take a big dislike to Kemp. Occasionally the booing of their player, Kemp, was embarrassing.

To Kemp’s credit he has turned the support around. He finished as the left back. Showing determination and composure in defence, and adding much to the Victory attack. Only a goal was missing.

Kemp goes into the new season with strong home support, a guaranteed place in the side, and increased confidence on the back of a strong Asian Champions League campaign.

Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Perth Glory, Olyroo, Socceroo

Hold on to your hats, Topor-Stanley has had an outstanding season. Is there no end to this former Tuggeranong United juniors’ potential? He’s clearly the mover and shaker in the group.

His club form suffered last year, like most Olyroos, from his overseas travel, but the experience gained will assist him in the coming years.

Looking forward to the Olympics, he can expect to be in the squad, and is starting to pop up in Socceroos squads. He should get game time against Ghana on Friday, even if only as a sub.

Two years ago Nikolai was at Manly United in the New South Wales Premier League. Now, a Socceroos left back, although many still think he is best at centre back, Nikolai brings composure and skill to any team he plays for.

Has another year on his Perth contract, but clearly has the ability to head overseas already.

Unlike many Australian footballers Nikolai has strength and physique on his side. Would go well in England or Germany.

If Australia qualifies for the 2010 World Cup, Nikolai will be in the squad. That’s my prediction!

Adam Casey, Sydney FC.

Despite his injury just nine games in, Casey made a big impression on me. His strong running, powerful energy, meant he was able to force his way into Branko Culina’s Sydney side.

He even scored his first A-League goal. For a young player things were starting to happen. He’d been included in every Olyroos squad when fit, then disaster struck in Round 9. A broken leg and the season gone.

But he’s back, fully fit and training hard.

He’ll be better, more confident, for his games last season, and will be fighting hard for a place in Kosmina’s Sydney side. His pace could see him getting starts early in the season.

He knows his recovery has come too late for Olympic selection but he needs to remain injury free and continue to make his mark in the A-League. A big season for Casey coming up.

Shaun Ontong, Newcastle Jets.

Ontong had a good season. He might not think so and he won’t be happy with the amount of game time he got, but given his horrific time trialling overseas, his early season injuries, Ontong is now a part of professional football.

He’s signed a two year deal with Newcastle Jets, and has a chance to establish himself as a first eleven player over the coming season.

A player with terrific energy, he always impresses the Fox Sports commentators when he comes on, Ontong has a great opportunity now to build on his first professional season.

If he can stay injury free, get time on the park, with his pace and desire, he could make a big impact.

Don’t be surprised to see him switched to full-back in coming seasons. His natural aggression, pace and stamina would give another dimension to many sides.

Kaz Patafta, Melbourne Victory, on loan from Benfica.

On his return from Benfica, Patafta was built as the next big thing. He startled and excited the Victory fans in his pre-season performance against Sydney FC.
But it all turned sour. Little game time, and a struggling team he was given little chance to make a mark.

But he will. He has an abundance of skill and will come good. But who will give him a real chance?

Like many Aussie footballers, Patafta is a late developer, physically. And with Victory struggling Coach Ernie Merrick clearly wasn’t going to give him time to play himself in.

His loan period ends June 30th. He needs to move, to get more game time. He had some moments and he scored a wonderful goal in front of his adoring Melbourne faithful at the Telstra Dome.

He’ll be better for the experience. Newcastle Jets would be a great move. Or maybe he’ll go back to Benfica. He could stay at Melbourne, I suspect not.

Wherever he goes Patafta, like Nicky Carle, will become a fine player in his late twenties. He just needs game time and plenty of it.

In the competitive world of football, who will take the chance?

And indeed who will be the next Canberran to make football pay?


Anonymous said...

Patafta contract with Melbourne ends after the ACL and will return to being a loser in Spain.

Eamonn said...

First Benifca are from Portugal.

Kaz has represented and captained Australia at Under 17 Level. He's already played A-League and scored.

Have you?

And despite what you think Kaz is a decent very decent bloke. He is and will be an achiever in life, football or whatever he chooses later.

He's 19, football wise he's young. Why not support our young players, or indeed are you the loser hiding behind the "anonymous" tag.

And next time you write "anonymous" remember I know who you are.

Anonymous said...

The old "Have you ever played top flight? NO STFU YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO CRITICIZE" defence. You been spending too much time on the Melbourne Victory forums if you honestly believe Kaz will do anything with his life.

PS - If you do know me, what NSWPL club do I play for then?

Eamonn said...

Football is a game of opinions. But calling Kaz a loser is hardly fair criticism

Mourinho never played in Champs League as a player, but he can spot players who are capable of such feats.

ps I don't know who you are mate, don't worry. But Manly United rings a bell:)