Saturday, 30 July 2011

SBS catches up with the Aussie football fan - and comes full circle.

Having denigrated the A-League in its early years, SBS, the home of FTA Football has finally come full circle.

Many football fans were sick and tired of SBS in its coverage of the A-League in those eary season. They not only failed to promote and cover the game in a meaningful way but they stuck the boot in, again and again, to a new professional league with all it's teething problems.

Times have changed and in the last couple of seasons it's noticeable SBS has now caught up with the Aussie football fan.

Must have been an email from Sir Les!

And the proof of the change, if it were needed:

Sir Les Murray stated on his blog this week:

The A-League is now of a high technical quality and the vast majority of its players are Australians.

Great to see SBS on board again with the local game - although we've been seeing it for a while now.

For the rest of us - we've appreciated the A-League for what it was in the beginning, is now and can continue to aspire to.

SBS - looking ahead to TV contracts perhaps!


Thursday, 28 July 2011

Young Socceroos: Individual v Team Performance. We need stars.

Some say Youth tournaments are all about team systems, style of play, and of course they are. They set a tone for the nation's coaches and players - something we are working towards in Australia.

But for fans and for future Coaches they are also about individuals.

Barcelona without Lionel Messi compared to Spain without Messi. I know which team scores more, is more dynamic.

And, of course Australia in 2006, great system, good style. Take away Mark Viduka - what system would we have been able to employ.

And as a Coach you always want that x-factor no matter what level of football you are playing - and internationally it is no different.

So when the young men of Australia are criticised for their style of play - well they won't win the tournament so they should expect flack in this nation - I'll be focusing on the stars.

These 23 players will never all play for Australia but wouldn't it be great if we saw a couple burst through in the next twelve months. It's been along time since a young Harry Kewell or Mark Viduka were so good they had to play for the Socceroos at a young age.

We need it.

The Beijing Olympics was perhaps the most dire showing by one of our young teams - certainly lacked any inspiring players pushing hard for Socceroos spots, although a young Nikita Rukavystya did enough to scare Argentina and give me some hope we had a forward (He's at Hertha Berlin now and still progressing) - but now, finally at the Young Socceroo level we have hope - heaps of it.

Mustafa Amini and Terry Antonis - so much potential and so young they could go to another U20 World Cup.

Kerem Bulet our Asia Cup top scorer. Has the mongrel on and off the field to succeed. There's a lot to like about his performances but this could be his last chance to get back on track - really back on track.

Tommy Oar - well if you haven't read about his prospects where have you been. We are expecting a lot from Tommy in this tournament - or else he'll be the next left back after Michael Zullo!

And two bolters - Bernie Ibini-Isi and Sydney's Dimi Petratos - both have the x-factor and are developing nicely in the A-League. With Matthew Leckie unavailable surely a great opportunity for these prospects.

Throw in Brendan Hamill, Ben Kantarovski and Marc Warren and there's heaps of potential.

With Brent McGrath, already capped at Socceroo level, Matthew Leckie and Steven Lustica not making the trip - this side has real potential to deliver a number of future quality Socceroos - real quality.

There is potential for strong individual performances and potential for a couple for players to really develop into Champions League players in coming years. Last year we had none beyond the Group Stage where the best footballers in the world play.

We need them.

Of course Ecuador, Costa Rica and Spain might put us in our place as a team - and that's the worry - but surely there are a couple in this mob who can give us hope?

We need some stars!


Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Celtic Fans celebrate a goal! It's called the Huddle.


Time for Canberra United to divorce Capital Football - Mariners show the way.

It could happen.

Take Canberra United women's team - and divorce it from Capital Football - and now would be a great time.

Capital Football do what they are best at - grassroots and local competitions.

The Canberra United professional set-up would gain further expertise and focus in their elite area and Canberra United would expand to run and promote the elite game in town.

The game is more connected across Canberra now than ever. Canberra United has built a sizeable presence in the community and need to be looking to take further steps.

The Mariners as a men's franchise are - so why not our W-League franchise or do men have to run everything in football, at the elite level?

Are Capital Football best placed to grow Canberra United, the brand, with their resources, talents and focus?

I think their spread of mission is too wide too big to really take Canberra United to the next step without taking further funds from the grassroots, who currently fund United, thru Cap Football.

If Canberra United became it's own organisation we could further grow our elite brand and create better more increased pathways - a massive area of current Canberra football weakness.

We could:

1. Set the Canberra United Academy up a la the Mariners for Girls and Boys.

2. Then fund a Youth boys team and we're on our way.

3. Fund the " Canberra United" Boomerangs as part of the mix.

4. Capital Football Board to add in their own ideas here.

We'd need a five year plan - a staged development. Of course an A-League team to boot - but can you really see us having an A-League team within 5 years?

No, but in Canberra United and the Boomerangs we have two brands - combine to one - and a TV presence already in United. Also a small, but not insignificant fanbase, one I believe could be tripled over the three years with a targeted focus from a Canberra United franchise.

ie This franchise would not be run out of Capital Football, albeit a franchise that has been run fantastically to date considering it's only one part of Cap Football staff duties over the year. Surely the best W-League franchise going around.

So if we are not to get an A-League team in the next 5 years and we're not, then we need to see the game at the elite level further advanced than the continued hotch-potch of growth - is there any - that we have now at the elite level.

Also; building on what we have makes sense so we can provide investors and/or supporters and the FFA a real sense of what we would have to offer once an A-League place is up for grabs.

We've got $340,000 in the A-League4Canberra account - time to ask the members to use it effectively - once and only once we have a real plan. And I mean a real plan - a football, business plan.

Add in a bloody hard-sell for the Canberra Pollies to MATCH the Raiders/Brumbies ANNUAL $800,000 for high-level football - based on participation and future proofing Canberra and we're on our way. Only politics and planning could stop us - surely.

Or ask for a dollar for dollar commitment - if they won't come to the party!

(Let's face it, the ACT Government would have spent this and more supporting elite A-League football over the last and coming years if we'd have got a team in the A-League - so why not give this money to elite football and let the game for once build from a base rather than have a team plonked in. The ACT Government may actually get some real value for their sporting dollar for once!)

Then we could see:

1. Canberra United take on Asian Club sides

2. A Youth team for boys. Boys play in the A-League youth set-up to showcase our players and coaches.

3. A Youth team for girls. And the girls to play top Sydney club sides as they prepare for their Canberra United chance.

Imagine the focus of our U12-U16 players in Div 1 across town!

4. Of course a Mariners style Academy set-up that immediately means something for eveyone involved with a real focus. No need for Capital Football eventually, and no need for ACTAS - but an assist in funding would help to get us moving - ACTAS would save some costs.

5. Futsal - Boomerangs to host Australia's first Asian Champions Invitation tournament - televised into the top six Asian Futsal nations. Maybe ACTAS could fund a Futsal component - you could even play it at the end of the Nationals each day!

6. Place your own idea here!

Random ideas?

Something to sit down and talk about and build on?

Alternatively tell me there is a better plan - more focused, more developed, one that gets us further forward, guaranteed in the next five years and I'll shut up.

And if there isn't one - then that tells you the state of football in this region in 2011.

I've been around Canberra football for 20 years and I've heard nothing as co-ordinated from any group.

If elite football means:

Bring an A-League game to Canberra as a one-off
Bring 3 Asian Cup 2015 games to Canberra as a three-off.
A re-birth of the Futsal slab by the lake for a Kate Carnell international,

Frankly I'd rather see the game continue to grow, sustainably, for Canberrans and our many players with a little Canberra intelligence, branding and pride built in.


Why Canberra needs to plan!

Are Gold Coast junior soccer players better than, and more in number than the thousands in Canberra and the surrounding region.

Well, no and no, is the answer.

But the current Gold Coast United A-League franchise, despite only pulling a couple of thousand people per game, and losing almost half their squad this year, still have a pathway and youth model any young player or parent of a young player in Canberra, would die for.

Read the post on the A-League site also posted here below and see how it would change the focus of player development of our young Canberra players overnight.

We need to plan - who is the we? That's the first problem in Canberra! Local youngsters to get a shot at the big time
Tuesday, 26 July 2011

United Youth Team Head Coach, Mike Mulvey TWO-TIME title-winning coach, Mike Mulvey, will open the door to local youngsters as he begins compiling his squad for what he plans to be a third National Youth League (NYL) championship in three seasons.

Gold Coast United’s youth mentor will offer trials to two recommended under-20 players from every club in the region as he looks to unearth a hidden gem in the local ranks.

After nurturing United’s young brigade over the last two seasons and breeding a winning culture among his troops, Mulvey claimed two successive NYL crowns. But perhaps more importantly, many of the youngsters were primed for senior football.

Foundation youth players, Josh Brillante, Ben Halloran, Chris Harold and Zac Anderson, were all rewarded with senior contracts, leaving both vacancies and opportunities in Mulvey’s new-look squad for the 2011/12 NYL season.

“We will be asking the coaching staff at each local club to recommend their two best young prospects who qualify by age for our youth team and giving them a chance train with us,” Mulvey said.

“It’s a great opportunity for the local football community to strengthen their connection with our youth team who have done the Gold Coast proud over the last two years and represent the career pathways that our club wants to provide.

“Obviously, we will only be able to actually sign the very best of them and spots on our roster will be limited, so for the players who get invited there are two ways of looking at the opportunity.

“Either it will be a chance for them to come into a professional environment and see exactly what is required to make it to the top levels of the game then go away and improve. Or, if they are good enough and we see the right qualities, they could be offered a National Youth League contract with us for next season.

“Aside from the 16 players we are permitted to sign to the NYL roster, we also like to have a handful of others who train with the squad as often as possible and are held in the wings should we need to draft them in for injury cover. These ‘shadow squad’ players build up their skills over the course of the season and could be front runners for youth contracts the following year.”

Mulvey says Gold Coast United’s success in the NYL was not down to a chance meeting of fate and good fortune, but rather the result of shrewd player selection and meticulous planning with a clear outcome in mind.

Every United youth squad is segmented into three development levels to ensure a constant conveyor belt of talent is fed into the senior playing group. After only two seasons in the competition, Gold Coast are arguably leading the way in terms of nurturing home-grown talent for their Hyundai A-League side.

Mulvey explains: “We like to construct the youth squad in a particular way so that we are continually producing players. Out of the 16 we can sign, we want six of those players to be ready to play first team football now if required.

“Then, we want another six who will continue to develop this year and be ready for the first team in 12 months time. The other four remaining spots, plus two to four ‘shadow’ players, are the ones who will be competing for senior football in 24 months.

“If you look at how we’ve done these things historically then it really does highlight what an opportunity this could be for those who have what it takes to make the grade. Josh Brillante, who has been with us from the beginning, now has a senior contract. Zac Anderson, Ben Halloran and Chris Harold all have senior contracts and next in line will be the likes of young Mitch Cooper and others who are entering their second year with us.

“We’ve been watching local games and we’ve already identified a few who may be what we’re looking for, but we will consult with the local coaches and clubs because there may be one or two, or even several, who we are not aware of and we want to give every top young player a chance.

“Helping and developing local young players has always been one of our aims and this is yet another step towards that. The local coaches will also be very welcome to come along to any of the sessions and see how we do things here.”

With the letters going out to local clubs this week, it is expected that the first group will be invited to training in early August.


Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Majura FC newsletter: Games start on Saturday


Sunday, 24 July 2011

Are you watching Miron Bleiberg? Lustica makes impact against Barcelona!

Australian midfielder Steven Lustica made his debut in the second half and Balakov said he made the biggest impact of the substitutes.

Canberra's Steven Lustica came on for Hadjuk Split against the Messi-less Barcelona in front of 35,000 in Split.

Lustica could hardly get a game under Miron Bleiberg - too small and physically lacking or some such label from the Gold Coast manager.

Well Lustica is having the last laugh it seems - a 4 year deal - how many Gold Coast players have that and in the mix for a Champion Croatian team as they prepare to start their season.

As another Canberran making his way in the football world we'll follow Steven Lustica's career with interest - even if you didn't Miron!


Saturday, 23 July 2011

Lionel Messi - only 60 games to go mate!

Mercurial Messi has been criticised by Argentinean fans yet again it seems - maybe Murdoch hacked them - but really what is it with football.

The guy has hardly put his European medals and cups down and he's just completed along with his Brazilian and Argeninean mates in a pretty competitive South America competition.

And now 60 games of Champions League and Spanish football awaits - with a few Internationals lobbed in, in between.

He'll be knackered....oh and you'd better perform or else we'll all say you're not as good as Pele, Maradona, Best, Dalglish, Macari, Connelly, McNeill, McGrain, Larsson etc etc


Rugger building slower than Football?

Union and Football are the two codes trying/needing to increase their foothold in Australia.

Both have seen their domestic games take a fall in recent years - first Union with the short-lived ARC and then football with the demise of a number of A-League clubs.

Union fell first - but may have picked itself up quickest - not least with the support of the international S15.

Melbourne Rebels followed Western Force into the S15 - suddenly Union has Five domestic teams in an expanding competition spread across the country. Something to build on you'd think. Although still a short season and one that couldn't provide enough opportunity for our footballers it's interesting to see Union emerging from it's dark days - albeit on the field the recent loss to Samoa shows we're still a basket case and a long way away from World Cup domination.

Maybe climate change can see an influx of Islanders into Australia!

For football we now have an extended off-season. We've taken a few hits and are regrouping. With Murdoch hindsight we clearly went too hard too early thinking the notion of the World Game would mean we could play all year in Australia and roll in the fans - NRL or no AFL!

This year is crucial - but if you listen to the AFL and NRL expansions plans maybe we have further hits and a shorter season still to come!

We need to build a strong product, slowly. It won't be easy, we're a fickle lot and when you see fans in the NRL and AFL clubs dropping in their tens of thousands when their club plummets what chance fans will hang around at say, Perth Glory, once the you fat bastards come out to play!

Having won the first round, the AFL and NRL are not short of funds and will be well aware of the need to push football further into October if they can - whilst at the same time providing further TV exposure for their own codes.

Each code will want more clubs - an extended season if possible.

Long-term, Football needs to fill August and September?

The off-season is way way too long - the runarounds against local clubs is quaint but over two weeks not two months.

We've failed to fill August and September with the A-League quickly running back into our piggy banks - and there's lots of space.

So what can we do?

The FFA Cup is the obvious idea - games played throughout August/September at local/regional grounds.....with quarters onwards thru October - December maybe.

Given the crowds at the likes of Brisbane Roar friendlies this could be a strong opportunity to put some real zest into these games. A place in Asia wouldn't hurt for the winners either. Maybe they could wing it so the team could start in Asia in the follwing March as well - not twelve months later!

Perhaps we need to get the Socceroos into some serious competition, (not the Euroboys of course but the home based ones) - certainly they could play in July in any or many of the competitions across the World in non-World Cup years you would think. A guest entry in the Gold Cup would be nice. Could we develop our own Cup - a la the Gold Cup, the Bledisloe, or East Asian, South Asian whatever. It has to be sustainable, perhaps bi-annual, but something we can build.

It's not an easy problem to solve but our players and fans need something through July or August, something competitive, if we are going to have this massive break each year. Of course a run in the Asian Champions League would help, it restarts in August/September - bring on the second tier for the first round Aussie losers! Shades of the Europa Cup in time maybe.

What it will be that can extend our domestic season and interest?

I'll get back to you but we're short on ideas and cash at this stage it seems.

If we fail we can expect the A-League not just to be a feeder league for Europe and China/Korea but for every other league in Asia and the World as well. Footballers might not want 11 months football but the market demands it.

Ask Lionel Messi, currently back from his Champions League high in May - he's been running his little legs out for Argentina already.

Add in Celtic who start their league this weekend and you get the picture across the World.

We don't want that much football but somehow we need a little more. We just need to find a way to fund the Socceroos increased number of games - or A-League club alternatives!


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Canberra players march out in front of 52,000 fans

Aussie kids at the Gothia opening ceremony. Apparently it was amazing. Sounds it!

The girls and the boys team from Woden Valley got to walk out with their Aussie flags and kangaroo to a crowd of 52,000 - yes that's 52,000.

It was like the Olympics, and here comes Australia!!


Two things we need from Aussie U20 World Cup - star style and star players!

Looking forward to watching our much-hyped Aussie Under20s at the World Cup.

These guys are professionals and all at clubs playing football so we should expect a lot more from the players in terms of game understanding and individual performance - unless of course they have played with Fergie and Perth Glory in the last couple of years.

So a style of play somewhat more effective than the U17s -some of these guys have played under Jan Versleijen since he arrived in the country.

Also we're looking for two players who really shine on the World Stage - two who could burst into the Socceroos next week and not be embarrassed.

And of course Musti Amini and Terry Antonis are young enough to go to this comp again so should be viewed a little more gently than the rest.

Will Kerem Bulut fire?
Has Matthew Leckie got the touch to really make an impact?
Is Tommy Oar the real deal?
Marc Warren at Sheffield United? Can he take the next step to the Socceroos.

With Ecuador, Costa Rica and Spain in our group - this is not about qualifying - it's all about the star style of play and the star INDIVIDUAL.

After all we really want some Socceroo stars to watch in the future who can make a difference don't we?

And lets not forget Brent McGrath - Socceroo already, he hasn't made the trip this time - surely one to watch.


Central Coast an example to all regions - boys and girls?

Should football associations and federations call for tenders and financially support the one or two clubs in a region who can provide the best development model.

Gets the Federation out of Rep and player development - something they have struggled to really develop over the years - consistently. Allows the Feds to set the standard before they hand over any monies - and allows clubs to really progress and develop.

Clubs seem to have the facilities, potential for facilities and who knows what they could do if they were given support to develop players rather than having them all whipped away to some nebulous Federation with little or no community/corporate spirit.

In Canberra, Belco, Canberra FC, and Woden would be the most likely to tender - could you imagine what Woden could do if they were actually working towards a plan of player development - where it could lead for our football in coming years. Building a club, a heap of support as one or two clubs powered forward beyond Canberra.

Lots of problems but we've had the current model for more years than we can remember and got nothing much to show for it. After all how much support goes to Rep teams - bar the parents of the players chosen in any one year -doesn't build much community compared to what a club could do. Food for thought!

The primary aim of the Central Coast Mariners FC Academy is to provide a clear and structured pathway towards our National Youth League and Westfield Women’s League programs. Whether or not the ‘dream’ is fulfilled, every player needs to look back fondly on life at the Academy, and feel that the experience was a positive one.

And remember these guys don't even have a W-League team!
So the old issue of we don't have an A-League team or W-League doesn't have to guide your development - or lack of.


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Perth disappointing us all - in the East

We all saw the Brisbane Roar flying around the field last year, the Mariners were not far behind and of course Melbourne and Adelaide always set a standard, often exciting.

Perth failed, failed to excite and this after being top of the boxing league after a few games.

Had a review - kept Iain Ferguson - and done the same. How much money can one club waste?

Paid over the odds for all players going West - why else have they all gone - and of course all are old, getting older.

How long will Travis Dodd stay in Perth, or jouneyman Shane Smeltz?
How many years will they get from him and Liam Miller?

How often have we seen players from overseas come here and knuckle down - most 30 year olds will give it a go - but really put in, really improve your brand.

Did Grant Brebner - no although he got to play but do we really think he has added any value - Paul Ifill - yes, in his first year only, Chris Greenacre - nothing.

Perth, under Ferguson look ready to muscle their way over a few of the younger more flamboyant teams but I can't see them making the top four.

What a shame - for a club pumping in so much money to pre-season games, buying big within Australia, bringing in names from overseas and yet what have they got to show for the:

Steve McMahons, snr and jhr
Stan Lazaridis
Robbie Fowler

and many others.

Too much money, too much money wasted and no legacy, no real use of Youth in the West.


Quiz: Name 3 Aussie born men who went on to play in the World Cup for other countries...and now stop crying

And for the answer simply read on Tony Dorigo England, Josip Simunic Croatia, George Samaras, Greece and Christian Vieri, Itayl


Nearpost: Matildas, Twitter, Mariners Magic, Jets, Celtic and Young Socceroos

Eamonn Flanagan, Nick Amies and Paddy Bordier talk Aussie Football.

Quiz: Name 3 Aussie born men who went on to play in the World Cup for other countries...and now stop crying

We've got Aussie football covered. All the news. Matildas, Harry, Celtic and all the footy news and talk. How many football poddies only cover Aussie football?

We are clearly Australia's number one football poddie, apart from all the others, We discuss all the news from Australian football. What more could you wish for from the Australian media?

or play right from your computer....


Mariners setting the standard for Federation Rep teams - Great model

Mariners leading the way in Community/Professional Football.

Can't see Canberra ever get it's stuff together in this area - basically no A-League team - no franchise willing to move things forward.

Capital Football should not run Rep teams in a real football world - but for now they are the best we have and do the best they can. Great news however for footballers on the Central Coast.

Pity they booted their W-League team innit

Under the Central Coast Mariners brand the program will be the sole elite football Academy in the region, providing high-level training and playing opportunities to both male and female footballers.

Indeed, in its initial stages the Academy will consist of U-11 to U-18 male teams, and U-12 to senior female sides competing at the highest level permitted by Football New South Wales.
Mariners pen landmark agreement

Central Coast Mariners together with Central Coast Football (CCF) have today penned an historic agreement that will help bolster the Yellow and Navy’s Hyundai A-League playing stocks for generations to come.

In an Australian football first, the Heads of Agreement signed this morning ensure that from October 1 this year, CCF’s representative Youth League programs will be integrated into and form a key component of the Mariners ambitious Academy initiatives.

Under the Central Coast Mariners brand the program will be the sole elite football Academy in the region, providing high-level training and playing opportunities to both male and female footballers.

Indeed, in its initial stages the Academy will consist of U-11 to U-18 male teams, and U-12 to senior female sides competing at the highest level permitted by Football New South Wales.

Central Coast Mariners Chairman, Mr Peter Turnbull, today hailed the partnership as yet another significant milestone in the clubs progression.

“I congratulate the CCF Board on their vision and foresight in developing this initiative with us,” Turnbull said.

“This is another commitment by the Mariners in fostering and developing youth talent to provide youngsters with a clear pathway to develop their skills and hopefully achieve a career in the sport.

“With four players in the Qantas Young Socceroos squad for the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup, and the captain of the Qantas U-23s in our Hyundai A-League ranks, we are ideally placed to undertake this next era of youth development.

“In fact, we will be the only Hyundai A-League club that has its own representative Youth League teams for both males and females, and I believe this is further testament to our commitment to community involvement which we have made a conscious effort in further enhancing this year.”

Under the terms of the agreement, CCF will provide the budding Mariners with access to Pluim Park, Lisarow for all representative games. Additionally, access to Jubilee Oval, Long Jetty and Leagues Club Park, Gosford for all of the Academy’s training and playing requirements will be supplied.

In return, the agreement is underpinned by the Mariners guarantee that 80 per cent of all players in the representative programs will be Central Coast residents, ensuring that a transparent development pathway from the junior to the elite level of football in the region is created.

According to CCF Chairman, Mr Darren Sprod, the agreement is a mutually beneficial one.

“This agreement provides a clear pathway for the development of elite youth players on the Coast, which follows the national curriculum sponsored by both Football New South Wales and FFA,” Sprod said. “Elite players of the region will no longer be confused over which path to take.

“The agreement allows CCF to concentrate its resources on community football and our 23 member clubs, while ensuring we support the Mariners in developing the elite footballers of the future. CCF wants to ensure we give the youth of the Central Coast every opportunity to develop, and this agreement with the Mariners ensures we remain strategically aligned with the development of the regions elite footballers.”

Former Central Coast Mariners Hyundai A-League player and current Youth Development Co-ordinator, Damien Brown, said that as a local, he feels “privileged to be involved” in this agreement.

“I am excited for all the football families across the Central Coast that CCF and the Mariners have created a clear and recognisable pathway to the top,” Brown said.

“With the Central Coast Mariners Sporting Campus underway and now an elite football training and playing Academy in place, the future of Central Coast football is in its brightest state ever.”

Finally, Mariners NYL Head Coach, Tony Walmsley, said he welcomed the opportunity to directly influence the development of local players.

“In the true partnership that now exists, the Mariners and CCF will benefit from the dedicated focus and resources given to elite programs and club football respectively.”

The agreement is subject to relevant approvals from Football Federation Australia and Football New South Wales.



Sunday, 17 July 2011

Perth Glory - the club for all men.

Seems odd to me that a club would promote the game with current and former players - maybe even a fan or two but I don't know all of these faces - guess most people won't - but no females insight.

Great idea, great use of video - just misses half the potential fanbase!


Saturday, 16 July 2011

In 2006 the Socceroos blew a World cup Semi possibly, in 2011 did the Matildas?

Now the dust has settled and the brief coverage of the Matildas in our national media has disappeared I thought someone should review the campaign.

While it was no doubt, with two wins, the best ever performance by a Matildas team, qualifying for the Quarter Finals and picking up the best Young Player in the World Cup in Caitlin Foord, one shouldn't be too harsh in review, perhaps!

But I can't help feeling a sense of deja vu.

I never expect I'll see an Australian men's team in my life time get an opportunity like we had in 2006 in Germany. To play against 10 men Italy to get a quarter final against a lifeless Ukraine in 2006 for a Semi Final spot - yoyoyoyo did Big Brett Emerton handle against Croatia thus leaving Marco Bresciano to defend Grosso in the right back area late in the game - And while the sales pitch on the Matildas has been "we have a very young team," which we do - but when you look at the strength of the squad maybe a World Cup semi final berth should have been ours.

Kate Gill never made it. Sally Shipard and Tameka Butt hardly made it. And many that did seem to have sooo many bandages that perhaps they wished they didn't make it.

In Sally Shipard, Tameka Butt, Claire Polkinghorne, and Lauren Colthorpe we had class players, class defenders who hardly played - at least not when it mattered.

Were more players injured than we realised?

It seemed strange that Tom Sermanni persisted with the shocking defensive performances of the whole back four. Indeed he did change, bringing in Colthorpe and Ellyse Perry at times but even they seemed to have caught the lack of confidence from the rest of the unit.

Maybe we just couldn't balance the various talents and we have many - perhaps the forwards De Vanna aside, are all very good players, but no-one really that exceptional to take us to the next level or take a load of De Vanna.

Similarly in the defence. No Cheryl Salisbury and while Kim Carroll was a rock throughout, her tragic pass against Sweden ended our potential fightback - and it was on - and a Semi Final.

We'll keep improving they tell us - don't count on it.

Sure more players will head overseas which should help but all those European players playing in club and European Championship club games may see the Aussies slip behind in their rate of improvement.

Sermanni may have a different view - he'll certainly be able to keep the side improving but I wonder from here on in if he's going to be in a fair fight.

Yes the pool of Aussie women has massively improved since the start of the W-League but how far can they go with the rest of football mad Europe on the march. Not to mention Africa, and South America starting to focus.

We've done well, very well, but increasing our W-League may not be practicable, so maybe an Asian Club tournament is needed next.

We need to take the next step in preparation. With the current FFA you can't see that happening - we could hardly organise a few friendlies for the team prior to the World Cup.

Did that cost us our Semi spot?

Two thoughts:

Why did Claire Polkinghorne a standout in the last World Cup not get a chance to improve our defensive performances in any games in the World Cup? Was she injured?

And secondly we did well, very well, but we may have missed given our talented pool of players, our best chance to get to a World Cup semi final. Ouch!


Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Nearpost Poddie: Matildas and Celtic - perfect combination

Aaron Walker, Nick Cumpston, and Paddy Bordier talk Aussie Football

We've got Aussie football covered. All the news. Matildas, Harry, Celtic and all the footy news and talk. How many football poddies only cover Aussie football?

We are clearly Australia's number one football poddie, apart from all the others, We discuss all the news from Australian football. What more could you wish for from the Australian media?

or play right from your computer....


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Young Socceroos - Will they go? Do they need to?

With the Young Socceroos squad announcement seemingly delayed one wonders if the European based players will follow Brent McGrath, Brondby based - and decide not to go.

Ned Zelic had just moved to Auxerre when he decided he had to turn down the Atlanta Olympic team to ensure his place in the French side.

So one wonders if Matthew Leckie, Brent McGrath, Tommy Oar, Kerem Bulet and others may feel the pressure of club v country.

For young men with contracts in Europe - I think they would be wiser to choose club over country on this one!

If your wage was been paid by the club, and it was the start of the season and your place wasn't secured what would you do?

Gotta feel for the kids - but the team could be ripped apart later today or whenever the team is announced.


Monday, 11 July 2011

Matildas: East Asian Champions League, the next step?

With the European sides playing in European Club Championships you can see the "professionalism" or cheating of the players beginning to rise. And of course their football nous, skills and fitness.

W-League is great - for ten games - but surely it's time for Japan, China, Korea to join with our top two W-League side in an East Asian Champions League.

Cost? I'm sure the other countries could afford it - Aussies? We'll have to get the biscuit tin out.

But we need to maintain the improvement.


Cheats across Women's football

Don't tell me the men and womens game is different.

I've watched the Aussies take on Guinea, Norway and Sweden.

The result is the same - hack De Vanna, hack anything that moves - and not a professional referee to stamp anything out.

The Women's game has sadly come of age!


Matildas - One waltz too far

It's always painful to see your team lose a crucial game, but it hurts more when you concede the game to the opposition rather than being simply outplayed.

Australia gave so many poor goals away in this tournament - they'll be remembered for that - but last nights final goal that smashed the World Cup dreams of us all was the worst yet.

We'd started poorly, conceded not one but two very soft goals with not one but many players either beaten, caught out of position or simply not marking. But we'd come back and a goal from Ellyse Perry and a ton of possession, a positive start to the second half and the Aussies were back in this game.

Kim Carroll's pass to the Swedish centre forward will go down in history - and Carroll had been our most assured defender to date.

The Matildas were so strapped for last nights game, Sally Shipard, Tameka Butt injured it seems throughout the tournament - the physical side of the tourney played its part and with little referee protection for any team - we were perhaps lucky to be able to pick Garriock, De Vanna, Uzunlar and others even for last nights game.

Fantastic passages of play throughout the tournament - a team robbed of Kate Gill and Sarah Walsh before the start meant Lisa De Vanna and Kyah Simon were always going to have more than they perhaps could cope with in every game.

Caitlin Foord, Emily Van Emond and Sam Kerr showed they are young player of tremendous ability but in a World Cup it's hard for a 17 year old to star every time. Van Egmond was largely absent last night.

But we've been left with some fantastic moments.

Passages of play the like few Aussie teams have ever produced - young players with electric and dazzling talents, and two wins for the first time in a World Cup.

And yet a sense of disappointment pervades. With a fit squad, more protection and punishment of cheats from the referees, and a positive defensive performance - just one - we could so easily have challenged for a World Cup Semi Final.

Not to be!

Time will tell if this team can improve - remember the standard and "professionalism" of European teams is on the rise - with their club sides playing more and more competitive games - they will become fitter, faster - their countries football culture will demand it.

Australia can't stand still - we need something more than the W-League - perhaps a small four country Asian Champions League to start.


Thursday, 7 July 2011

Matildas Quarter Final: 9pm Sunday live on SBS - you beauty!

World Cup Quarter Final - How good is that! School hols and all the girls and boys can watch!


Matildas team to beat Sweden - from the Canberra bootroom

Based on our vast knowledge of football, and having watched many many W-League games, and all of the Matildas World Cup games me and my mates (they are known as the Canberra bootroom and shall remain anonymous at this point) have come up with the team to beat Sweden.

Let's not worry about the shape, too much, just get players who can defend and play through midfield, link up and make some runs in attacking areas. Front 3 can take any shape, drop off, in the hole, come inside, mix it up.

That's what the bootroom thinks - over to you Tommy!


Garriock Da Vanna

Van Egmond Shipard


K-K Carroll Colthorpe Polkinghorne (or switch Polkinghorne and Colthorpe)



Matildas more defensive wobble than waltz - but we win

If we play like that we'll never beat USA conquerors Sweden.

Wily fox Tom Sermanni ditched Emily Van Egmond, left Sally Shipard on the bench and went for a three pronged attack against previous World Cup winners Norway this morning - a team we'd never beaten.

The results said it worked.

Anyone who say the game will think otherwise.

We kept the ball for ten minutes but under fierce pressure on the ball from the Norwegians and with our three forwards stranded up front we were unable to continue to control the ball or the game.

Our defence has wobbled in both previous games, despite the team playing well, but Norway clearly learning from that attacked with a bit more venom than Brazil or Guinea. They certainly pressed much higher up - and we didn't look so flash anymore.

And despite our commentators, David Basheer and Sarah Walsh continuing to talk about the ugly Norwegians and their route one football - I saw a different game. Besides with Lisa De Vanna upfront we can play it as long, as direct as anyone - so less of the unfair criticism SBS!

Norway had some wonderful players rarely booted it down the middle - isn't that route one - played the ball wide from midfield and got balls into the box. The end product often provided challenges beyond our defensive capabilities. Although again Kim Carroll and Elise Kellond- Knight were superb.

Criticism of the national team and individual players is slow to rise it seems, must be a girl thing - but if Lucas Neill played like Servet Uzunlar in just one game, never mind three, they'd be hanging him from the Harbour Bridge. Servet is having a World Cup hell - each game gets worse, more indecisive and can she really take another performance like this? With her leg heavily strapped perhaps she's carrying a burden.

More importantly can the team take another defensive performance like that?

Caitlin Foord although very young - is not immune either. Once again her decision making and defending makes you wonder if she's really ready for the defensive duties required at a World Cup. Would Claire Polkingthorne not provide more steely defence and assist Servet alongside. Polkingthorne is proven.

Melissa Barbieri - experienced though she is - still makes errors that gives hope to opposing teams. Last night she didn't just give hope, she gave a goal. At this level that could be your World Cup.

Tommy it's time to make a change or two in the defence if we are to have any hope of progressing.

Norway scored first. They scored a goal that should never have been conceded. In fact the Matildas were having their best spell in the second half when a boot forward landed safely in the middle of our defence. We turned it into a goal.

Oh my god we could go out! But before I'd resettled under the doona De Vanna had done some magic and Kyah Simon scored. Why was I worried!

And then the Norwegians won a free late on and the kick crashed against the bar! Phew - and within minutes Kyah Simon leapt like Andy Harper's Salmon and we'd won.

The front three didn't work in my view, meaning our mid-three had to be stronger to keep the ball - they couldn't and we suffered.

Against Brazil we played just two upfront, from an attacking sense we didn't really pose too many threats to Brazil but our midfield and Collette McCallum had much more support to keep and play the ball. Should we revert for the tougher games?

We are in the next round. Matching, and with two wins, I'd say beating the achievements of the 2007 team. We are better.

Sweden will be a massive test - and we're the underdogs.

But if two goal hero Kyah Simon and the mercurial and match winner turned provider Lisa De Vanna can fire this team has goals. Both were excellent last night along with Heather Garriock who despite not being back to her 2007 best continues to make a big impact.

Can we keep a cleansheet, surely the biggest question now?

Time for Tom Sermanni to do his thing.

and we "never say die."


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Pim: Playing in the A-League better than training in!

I was sad when Mr Flores left for China, he has so much skill - and then Bernie said Harry wasn't coming. Harry has a fair bit of skill too - although he may yet turn up.

I'm a Celtic fan and although Liam Miller (not so much skill) signed for former Rangers player Fergusons' Perth Glory I wasn't that happy about the stars of the new A-League season - albeit a long long way off.

Then Musti Amini says he's allowed to stay for one more year - you see Pim playing in the A-League is better than training in Germany - and now Dario Vidosic a stylish and energetic Socceroo is to play for Adelaide.

And Sydney has Karol Kisel - no I'm joking I'm not excited by that - let's hope they get Harry or else it'll be gloom time again on the terraces at the SFS.

The smile is back, young players, exciting Aussies lighting up the league - bring on the football - and if Harry signs I'll be really ready for a new season - but hurry up!


Matildas: Oh why we are so good?

For most people the Matildas crashed onto the scene with "that nude calender" way back when; but for the football community it was 2007 when they really made their mark.

Reaching the second stage of the World Cup in China in 2007 on the back of some exhilarating displays made even those "football is a man's game" take a sideways glance.

Now four years on no matter what happens tonight against Norway - and we will win and beat Norway for the first time in four attempts - the question has to be asked

Why is Australian football so good in 2011?

After the team burst into our psyche in 2007 they were an older team some had been around for a long time - Di Alagich, Jo Peters, Jo Burgess, and of course Cheryl Salisbury just four who had played many many times for their country and not a 16 or 17 year old in the squad.

Now we have Emily Van Egmond, Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord, Teagan Allan all 16 or 17.

When the Matildas turned up in our lounge rooms in 2007 these girls were just 12 or 13.

No-one could have imagined one or four of this age group could make the squad, never mind the starting line-up by 2011.

Prior to 2007 there was no W-League - no ABC televised pathway pushing an increasing number of younger players onto a new stage. And with an increasing number of girls playing the game suddenly more and more were wanting that opportunity.

Every W-League club has a number of young players who have made an entrance (and many an exit) in the last three years, playing with and against their World Cup 2007 heroes.

And whilst few of these have made the final squad, it's the increasing numbers pushing from below that has seen a number burst through.

Are we surprised at the age of those players who have found a way into Sermanni's squad.

Yes if we compare them to the men, but of course girls and women develop much earlier, or so it seems and for many staying in the game beyond 20 or so, and putting in the level of exercise required sees players dropping off the elite level at an alarming rate.

The Women's game has never been more impressive than at this World Cup - less keeper daliances, more technical and tactical football by more teams. Hardly a poor game, or team on view.

The European Champions League has and will continue to improve the European teams - even England beat Asian stars Japan. Australia take note!

The W-League has been great - but we can't stand still. Is Asia ready for some form of Asian Club Champions League. If the Asian teams, often powerhouses in Women's football, want to stay up with the Western teams and emerging African and South American teams simple in-country leagues will not be enough.

And all our players can't go to Europe or USA - or maybe after this World Cup they can!

Our style and skill has stunned and delighted every Aussie football fan who has watched the men for 20 years or more. The advance of Youth into the Matildas is perhaps due to Sermanni's wise coaching although in reality it's merely a case of picking the best talent on display. If you are good enough then, of course, you're old enough.

Ball playing Australian's will take to the field again tonight. It will be fun.

Lisa De Vanna made the World Eleven last time, if this team continues to go forward in the tournament who would bet against Australia getting more players into the World Stars Eleven this time.

Enjoy the ball tonight - it's ours!


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Nearpost Poddie talks Matildas, Harry and The Joeys - Matildas best Aussie team ever?

Eamonn Flanagan, Nick Cumpston, and Nick Amies talk Aussie Football

We've got Aussie football covered. All the news. Matildas, Harry, Joeys and all the footy news and talk. How many football poddies only cover Aussie football?

We are clearly Australia's number one football poddie, apart from all the others, We discuss all the news from Australian football. What more could you wish for from the Australian media?

or play right from your computer....


Harry Kewell: The time to come home is now.

Don't get Twitter? Do yourself a favour and have some fun - check out the fantastic tweets on Our Harry from the funny Aussies.!/search/realtime/%23kewellaleaguedemands

And check out Bernie Mandic - the interview that started this whole thing on Monday - hear what Harry's agent actually said.

Why do people keep throwing money at us
- Bernie Mandic

so they keep throwing money - but you are still not happy - and when you ask for 70% of all away gates - that ain't good enough.

We don't want any financial guarantees
- just to stuff the League you are coming to promote. No room for negotiation, nice try, and nice to try and blame Kyle Patterson - piss weak actually Bernie.

So hard ball we play - and guess who looks like an idiot in his own country - reputation shattered - by his Agent.

One can only imagine Harry has had a better more interesting financial guaranteed offer from somewhere that suits.

Time to come home Harry, do the deal, for the good of your name and your family.


Monday, 4 July 2011

Emily van Egmond: Welcome to my world!

Sometimes things in football surprise and delight you.

The performances of Canberra United star Emily Van Egmond, just 17, at the World Cup are doing just that.

Anyone who watched Van Egmond for Canberra United saw a strong young player time and time again unable to vary her game from a long, long passing game to something more creative. Her engine seemed suspect too as Sally Shipard and others had to cover for Van Egmond's seemingly lack of defensive nous.

She was 17. She was only going to get better - but how long would it take and could she learn?

Well blow me down.

I've never seen a player improve so much, so soon. Her long passes are now varied, her defensive roles now clearly defined has seen her play two different roles on the World stage. Both performances were wonderful. And both against Brazil -( see earlier post)

Her touch to Heather Garriock for the first goal shows she can play deft, and her decisions to hold and play wide on many occasions shows the brain is working well when younger players would simly charge forward.

And her goal was something else. All power, all skill, fantastic raw energy.

Emily Van Egmond - welcome to my world!


Matildas: We don't care if we win lose or daw!

Celtic fan Collette McCallum introduced the Celtic anthem to the Matildas side in 2007 and when the team plays like this Australians can finally say as the song says - we don't care if we win lose or draw.

Because the Matildas are playing the best football ever seen by a women's Australian side. Only the Brisbane Roar of last year in the A-League and Gus Hiddinks boys of 2006 can claim to match their style and swagger.

It's great great stuff.

Controlled passing, fast moving ball and feet, pushing forward, supporting players and excitement from left back to right wing - and that was with five changes to the team.

Emily Van Egmond has gone from Canberra United prospect to World Star - and she's just 17.

Collette McCallum, Heather Garriock, Sally Shipard, Kim Carroll, Leena Kharmis and Ellyse Kellond-Knight shone for me. And of course Lisa De Vanna

We poured forward, we passed so crisply, we had attacking options and outlets all over the park.

When has an Australian side delighted us so much with their style and Aussie skill!

Skill I tell yer.

We nearly blew it a few unbelievable Junior moments - remember him from the blokes World Cup in 1982 - playing like Brazil of the stereotype the team lead by Junior simply passed the ball to the Italian centre forward Paolo Caesar and the greatest team never to win the World Cup went home.

This could be Australia!

Defensive blunders again cost the team badly - almost undoing all their amazing work.

Guinea were horribly aggressive, kicking, tripping and snarling their way into the game. But it was great to see the Aussies give it back as the ref was adding to the sense of injustice with her woeful performance. Kim Carroll and Heather Garriock were just two who showed they've watched a few NRL games down the years. Nice one!

Don't miss this Matildas team - it really rocks. And they are improving all the time.

And while I'm sure we'll dominate and beat Norway I've seen enough slack defensive work to see us sent home at the group stage.


Australia 3 Brazil 2 - hands of god as well!

We did it!

We finally beat Brazil or at least an Equitorial Guinea side filled with FIVE Brazilians who played like the Brazil men's side of 1974.

If it moves - hack it!

And the Referee had to be one of the worst displays of reffing ever seen. The decision by the EQ Brazilian defender to hold the ball in both hands in the area for FOUR seconds has to be seen to be believed. Not even a question of a penalty!

Only Thierry Henry in a world of 7 billion people would say, there was no handball....and maybe Diego!