ANNUAL ALL-STARS NAMED
Each year www.footballwa.net honours those players who have consistently captured our attention over the winter months with inclusion in the unofficial All-Stars squad. This year's squad includes a number of familiar faces - including one player making his fourth successive All-Stars appearance - alongside ten debutants. With another year about to tick over the time is ripe to pay tribute to the twenty-two players selected in the 2005 Premier League All-Stars team and Shadow Squad.
GLORY STEAL CRUCIAL POINT
Perth Glory return from the east coast with a valuable point after snatching a 2-2 draw from Melbourne Victory at Olympic Park last night. Despite being outplayed for long periods Glory managed to level the game midway through the second half via young midfielder Nick Ward. The visitors then rode their luck as Victory squandered three golden chances to secure victory and leave the big home crowd of 14,754 frustrated. "It was a magnificent point in the end and they must be desperately disappointed," said new coach Alan Vest shortly after the final whistle. But the result came at a heavy price for Glory who lost central defenders David Tarka and Ante Kovacevic to injury.
It took Glory just 4 minutes to open their account courtesy of Jamie Harnwell's long ball into attack that allowed Damian Mori to out-muscle Adrian Leijer before stroking it past goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos with his left boot. The visitors looked to capitalise as Adrian Caceres forced a sharp response from Theoklitos in the 13th minute and not long after Bobby Despotovski had the ball in the net but the referee disallowed the effort for handball. Victory hit back in the 23rd minute through Socceroo striker Archie Thompson who, having received possession from Kristian Sarkies, cleverly beat David Tarka before expertly volleying it under Jason Petkovic. From here on the hosts dominated and piled on the pressure before going ahead through Danny Allsopp who coolly slotted past Petkovic in a one-on-one right on the stroke of half-time.
Tarka was replaced at half-time by Kovacevic but his comeback from a knee injury last less than twenty minutes before succumbing to a calf problem. Although very much on the back foot Glory grabbed a vital equaliser in the 68th minute. Jamie Coyne made his way down the right and sent in an inviting cross for Despotovski who's diving header was blocked by Theoklitos and Ward was on hand to scoop the loose ball past the 'keeper and into the net via the underside of the bar. The final twenty minutes produced more than a few nervous moments for the visiting team as Victory pushed forward in search of the deciding goal. Allsopp scooped a sitter over the bar and Thompson blasted high from close-range. Harnwell came to Glory's rescue with a superbly timed challenge that thwarted Michael Ferrante who had a clear shot at goal from 2-metres.
MACDONALD LEAVES MOTHERWELL
Steven MacDonald has parted company with Scottish Premier League outfit Motherwell. The towering 26-year old became the first player to benefit from Sorrento's relationship with Motherwell when he signed a six-month contract in July. "This has been the first link up with Sorrento and has been a good experience for both sides," said Motherwell manager Terry Butcher. "We wish Steve well and hope what he has learned here will stand him in good stead." While he featured regularly for the reserves MacDonald was restricted to just a single first team appearance, that as a late substitute in September's home defeat of Hibernians. MacDonald's next stop will be Singapore where he's rumoured to be linking up with former Sorrento coach Trevor Morgan who'll be in charge of Sengkang/Punggol this coming season.
VEST LAYS DOWN THE LAW
Caretaker coach Alan Vest has laid down the ground rules for life under his stewardship as Perth Glory strive to end the inaugural A-League season in the top-four. Vest, who took over from Steve McMahon three weeks ago, will be in charge for the first time this evening as Glory take on Melbourne Victory at Olympic Park. The new boss, who was assistant to Mich d'Avray for three seasons before assuming the same role alongside McMahon, might not have the no-nonsense reputation of his predecessor but he can be just as assertive. "I've told them what I want from them and what I won't have," Vest said. "If I've got to be hard, then I will be. I've got no problems with that."
Long-serving defender Scott Miller said almost every Glory player would have felt the brunt of a Vest verbal blast at some point in the past. Miller added that Vest, who's coaching credentials include spells in England, Singapore and Malaysia along with the State Leagues of Western Australia, New South Wales, South Australia, commanded respect. "I think a lot of times when an assistant takes over and it doesn't work it's because they haven't been the (head) coach before," Miller said. "But before Vesty came here he had always been the coach. He's got the runs on the board."
McMahon left Glory in fourth spot and Vest hopes the team will continue to build on that position with six regular season games to play. Vest said he had an excellent response from the players in training and felt under no added strain going into his crucial first match as boss. "I don't feel under any pressure really," he said. "Assistant coach is a relatively easy job and obviously I've got to make the decisions now. But I'm no more nervous than any other time. The situation is that we've got six games to go and we've got to make the most of it."
MICEVSKI ON BOARD FOR GLORY
David Micevski, one of the state's brightest young prosects, will wear Perth Glory colours for the remainder of the A-League season. The talented 19-year old, who developed his game in the local competition with Premier League champion Perth S.C., comes into the squad as a replacement for recently retired Matt Horsley. Although Micevski has been signed on a short-term loan deal from Perth he could take up one of Glory's three under-20 places next season.
Glory are hoping to further increase their local contingent for next season by signing Australian youth international Aleksander Vrteski. The highly rated goalkeeper has accepted a scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport and will move to Canberra early next month. Glory will continue to monitor his progress with the intention of offering 17-year old Vrteski a contract for season 2005/06. Glory have informed former Australian youth international Daniel Vasilevski that his contract will not be extended beyond the current season.
SEVEN SHORT-LISTED FOR SPORT STAR AWARD
Seven footballers are in the running to be named Western Australian's Sports Star of the Year. The septet - Bobby Despotovski, Simon Colosimo, Matt Horsley, Mark Lee, Damian Mori, Jason Petkovic and Nick Ward - are amongst 238 nominees drawn from 51 sports vying for the prestigious award. The selection committee, which includes representatives of the "West Australian" newspaper and the WA Sports Federation, will evaluate all nominees before naming twelve finalists. The 2005 Sports Star of the Year will be announced at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on 10th January. Other awards being given on the night are the Team of the Year, the Junior Sports Star Award, the Service to Sport award, Coach of the Year and the Special Achievement Award.
WARD SEEKING SHOT AT WORLD CUP
Perth Glory are facing a fight to retain rising star Nick Ward following the appearance of an article on fifaworldcup.com touting him as a contender for the Best Young Player Award at next year's World Cup finals. Ward, who is yet to make his senior debut for Australia, was short-listed for the award alongside Lionel Messi, Lukas Podolski, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney on the FIFA website. While the 20-year old midfielder has been in sparkling form for Glory the reality is he is a long-shot to be included in the squad which travels to Germany.
Ward, part of the national Under-20 squad which competed at the World Youth Championships in the Netherlands in June, said the attention of the FIFA website was pleasing and to make the Socceroos squad would be a dream come true. "One of the boys mentioned it to me and I had a look at it," he commented. "It's nice the article was written about me. But whether I get into that team is a big step for me and the under-23's would be a more realistic goal at the moment. If it came up and I got involved with the squad, it would be a great honour."
Glory's technical manager Mich d'Avray said talk of Ward being a Socceroo in 2006 was premature. "If you were talking about him being a possibility for the 2010 World Cup then I would go along with that," he said. "Germany is not an impossibility, I just think it's highly improbable." D'Avray said Ward had the makings of a good player but had only recently established himself as a regular in Glory's line-up. "We signed him because we believe he has got a lot of potential and the ability to go on and have a good career in the game."
The publicity generated by fifaworldcup.com will not escape the attention of clubs from far and wide. D'Avray says there is no increased pressure to re-sign Ward who is one of thirteen Glory players coming out of contract. "I don't think it puts any more pressure on us. We know Nicky Ward and deal with him every day," he commented. "Yes, we would be keen to sign him for next season - we would be fools not to. A local boy with all the potential, why not? But as far as contracts go there are still six games to go and 18 points to play for."
HAY EYES GLORY RETURN
Dumped New Zealand Knights captain Danny Hay would like to return to Perth Glory, the club at which he began his national league career. Hay, recently released by the Knights, feels he still has plenty to offer the game at national league level and is aiming to continue playing next season with Glory his preferred option. The 30-year old had been at loggerheads with Knights management over the team's direction since late November before his contract was terminated three days ago. Hay plans to spend a couple of weeks considering his options over the festive season before making up his mind on a club. During a two-season spell with Glory in the late 1990's Hay made 48 appearances and won back-to-back Most Glorious Player trophies before heading to England where he turned out for Leeds United and Walsall.
FUTURES ON LINE AT GLORY
Thirteen members of the Perth Glory squad are playing for their immediate futures ahead of the resumption of A-League fixtures this week. The players - including captain Jamie Harnwell, A-League leading scorer Bobby Despotovski and young gun Nick Ward - come out of contract at season's end. At the current time Glory have only five players contracted for next season - Jason Petkovic, Simon Colosimo, Ante Kovacevic, Stuart Young and Hiroyuki Ishida.
Glory have stalled on offering players new deals while coaching and club ownership issues remain. Technical director Mich d'Avray said ownership, salary cap and club budget issues had to be resolved before contract talks were entered in to. "I don't see it as a matter of urgency," commented d'Avray. "The players coming out of contract shouldn't worry about next season. They have six games to go plus finals and it's up to them to knuckle down and show that they're worthy of a contract."
The thirteen players coming out of contract are local products Harnwell, Despotovski, Ward, Jamie Coyne, Adrian Caceras and Scott Miller along with 'imports' Damian Mori, Billy Celeski, Naum Sekulovski, Daniel Vasilevski, Henry Fa'Arodo, Stephen McMahon junior and Milan Jovanic. Miller has indicated this will be his final season of national league football while McMahon and Jovanic have already been told their contracts won't be renewed.
The 'staff' of www.footballwa.net would like to wish all our readers a very merry Christmas, a joyous New Year and most importantly a safe holiday period. In next week's update - our final one for the year - we'll honour those players that impressed us the most with the announcement of the 2005 Premier League All-Stars team and Shadow Squad.
FARAONE TO LEAD BAYSWATER IN 2006
There's been a changing of the guard at Bayswater City where Frank Faraone has been installed as first team coach. Faraone, a former Australian youth international, and his assistant Eric Bambaci were appointed to lead the club into the coming season a couple of weeks back. They replace the long-serving partnership of Salv Todaro and Willie Herd who guided Bayswater to their only trophy success in close to two decades, the 2003 First Division title.
Faraone enjoyed a successful - if short - playing career. He burst on to the scene in 1980 with Azzurri, spent a year at the Australian Institute of Sport and was part of the Australian team that competed in the 1982 Under-19 Joao Havelange Tournament. State representative honours came his way the following year before a serious knee injury brought his playing days to a sudden halt. Since hanging up his boots Faraone has coached at youth level for Bayswater City, Perth S.C. and Future Glory.
GLORY TICKET OFFER
The West Australian football family are being given the chance to experience national league football at a cut-price rate. By presenting the accompanying voucher (pdf, 166kb) when you purchase a ticket to Perth Glory's home clash with Adelaide United on Thursday 12th January you'll be entitled to a second ticket absolutely free! The evenings entertainment commences at 5.00pm with an exhibition match between the youth teams of Perth S.C. and Armadale. Then, at 7.00pm, watch the best the A-League has to offer as hometown heroes take on the competition pacesetters from across the Nullarbor. The offer is a joint initiative of Perth Glory and Football West.
GAME TIME HIGH ON CHRISTMAS WISH LIST
An injury free run and more game time will be high on the list of Christmas wants for three West Australians based on the eastern seaboard. Central Coast Mariners striker Nick Mrdja and Newcastle United Jets pair Andy Petterson and Craig Deans have found the opening months of A-League competition tough going. Between them the trio has accumulated a measly two appearances in the new national competition and each will be hoping to strap on the boots more often upon the re-commencement of national league fixtures next weekend.
Mrdja was on course for a stellar season after finding the back of the net regularly in the Club World Championship qualifiers and pre-season Cup. The 26-year old striker was expected to be the Mariners primary attacking outlet but that plan was terminated by a knee injury suffered on the eve of the season proper. Mrdja is hoping to hoping overcome the injury - a bruising of the bone in his right knee - and make his first A-League appearance in the New Year.
With sixteen seasons of English football behind him 36-year old Petterson returned to Australia to see out his playing days with the Jets. However, the veteran shot-stopper has so far found playing opportunities hard to come by behind first choice goalkeeper Liam Reddy. Petterson, who played for Portsmouth, Charlton Athletic and Luton Town amongst others while abroad, is only one of two A-League 'keepers who has not yet featured in match action.
Long-term injury has limited Deans to just two A-League appearances. The season started positively for the 31-year old who featured regularly in the Jets pre-season and played in the first two rounds of the new national competition. Unfortunately that's when it all came unstuck for Deans who was diagnosed with a shin injury and last month required a knee operation which resulted in nerve damage in his foot that could rule the defender out for up to six months.
SOCCEROO TICKET STAMPEDE
Football fans face an anxious few days awaiting the allocation of 8,500 tickets to Australia's games at next year's World Cup in Germany. Tickets to the Socceroos three group games were made available yesterday morning by Football Federation of Australia on a first-come, first-served basis. Around 10,000 applications had been received by FFA in the first half hour, while by 5.00pm a staggering 22,000 applications had been emailed and faxed through to the governing body. The FFA plans to begin notifying successful applicants from this Friday.
FORMER SOCCEROO JOINS FOOTBALL WEST
Alistair Edwards has signed on with Football West in the capacity of Stakeholder and Business Manager. Edwards, who made nineteen 'A' appearances for Australia in the 1990's, brings to the role an impressive CV which includes time with the Department of Sport and Recreation and local government along with a Master of Business Administration amongst other formal qualifications. His knowledge of local government and sports administration will be of great benefit to Edwards who'll develop Football West's stakeholder management plans and working closely with chief executive officer Michelle Phillips on strategic and business plans.
"Having Alistair on board at this time is a great plus for football and I see him as being a valuable addition to our team," said Phillips. "His knowledge of the game, experience with the DSR and as a former councillor his understanding of local council procedures will benefit us immensely. We see stakeholder management as crucial to taking Football forward in the State and having a former Socceroo on board at this time is very exciting." Edwards has built up an extensive list of football and business contacts in Australia, Singapore and Malaysia.
BASSENDEAN APPOINT CASTRILLI
John Castrilli has accepted the position of senior coach at Bassendean Caledonian. Castrilli, assistant to Allan Weir last season, will set his sights on bringing stability to the playing stocks and improve on the mid-table finish gained in 2005. "John is a very committed person with a lot of compassion and it seems he will be able to swing in quite a few players for the 2006 season," said club secretary Linda Lockyear. As a player Castrilli wore the colours of Morley Windmills, his many years of loyal service gaining him Life Membership. He rejoined Morley in 1999 as senior coach and helped re-establish the club's place in the semi-professional ranks. Castrilli becomes Bassendean's seventh coaching appointment since 2001.
WARD PICKS UP PLAYER OF THE MONTH AWARD
Nick Ward's determination to assert himself on the national stage has resulted in him being named the Player of the Month for November by "Soccer International" magazine. The Perth Glory midfielder gained six votes for eye-catching performances over the past month to share the honour with Adelaide United's Chinese international Qu Shengqing. The award was a fitting reward for Ward who showed great patience when limited to appearances off the bench during the opening months of the season. Ward joined the first eleven in mid-October and was a key figure in Glory's five games undefeated run which catapulted the side into the top half of the A-League table. With six games to be played Newcastle United Jets attacker Nick Carle tops the leaderboard with 17 votes, two more than Andre Gumprecht (Central Coast Mariners) and six ahead of Ross Aloisis (Adelaide).
TITLE NOT OUT OF QUESTION FOR GLORY'S VEST
Caretaker coach Alan Vest believes Perth Glory have it in them to challenge Adelaide United and Sydney F.C. for the inaugural A-League title. Vest officially took up the coaching reigns two days ago when he put the players through their paces for the first time since replacing Steve McMahon. "If we can get a clear run with injuries we're a chance, but we're a couple of players down with Matt Horsley gone," the new Glory boss said. Vest was left frustrated recently when Football Federation Australia knocked back Glory's bid to sign Perth S.C. midfielder David Micevski because it's outside the transfer window. Glory's first game under Vest is away to Melbourne Victory on 29th December.
BLUES GO BACK TO BASICS
Stan Lazaridis is confident Birmingham City's 'back to basics' approach will help the club pull away from the foot of the English Premier League table. The Blues dismal run of results - they've won just three times from sixteens starts - has triggered numerous meetings between team management and the playing squad. "Everyone has been so frustrated this season and we feel the hurt as much as our fans do in many ways," said Lazaridis. "You come home after a defeat and your whole week is miserable until the next game.
Despite Birmingham's poor form, Lazaridis remains up beat about their chances of top flight survival. "The manager (Steve Bruce) has asked for us to go back to basics for the next couple of months, to play like we used to when we first came into the Premier League," he added. "I think it will help us and with the amount of games we've got coming up. He's stressed to us that he will be calling on twenty-odd players, that everyone will be involved in some way. We all know that we are in a serious situation. We're in this together and determined to push our way up that table."
GLORY URGED TO PURSUE PUBLIC OWNERSHIP MODEL
Perth Glory could take a leaf out of the West Coast Eagles book by adopting a model of public, rather than private, ownership. That's the opinion of Trevor Sprigg, opposition sport and recreation spokesman, who sees strong parallels between the two clubs. The Eagles, Western Australia's first AFL side, were privately-owned in their formative years before a buy back scheme handed ownership to the WA Football Commission.
"The privately-owned thing in football didn't work with Indian Pacific owning West Coast and I'm not sure it works in soccer either," Sprigg told Russell Reid of the "West Australian" newspaper. "In the late 1980's the government commenced the 'bailout' of the West Coast Eagles when it gave the WAFC somewhere between $4 million and $8 million. It just seems that should happen in soccer now because soccer in WA has just had a re-structure of its organisation."
Sprigg believes the obvious buyer for Nick Tana's 75% majority share in Glory was the game itself. "Soccer at last might have its house in order but the millstone around its neck is the fact that Perth Glory is privately owned," he said. "To me, the obvious buyer is the game itself so that soccer owns the team as happens in football now with - the WA Football Commission owning both West Coast and Fremantle (Dockers)."
The A-League in Perth will only improve under the public ownership model according to Sprigg. "The crowds are down a bit but it's only the first year and it will ride on the back of Australia being in the World Cup and I think it can only go from strength to strength," he said. "Down the track Perth Glory will make money and make money for soccer. As long at it is owned by the game and not a private individual."
Football West's Michelle Phillips said public ownership had been suggested by the local clubs. "This has been on the table and our clubs have asked us," Phillips commented. "As an organisation, we wouldn't be able to bankroll that. We don't have the funds we would need, but we would certainly welcome any discussion with the government to make it happen." Sprigg speculated funding for the buy out of Glory could come from the State government, or Football Federation Australia, who could also assist Football West with the clubs initial running.
ALL GO FOR NIGHT SERIES
Football West have scheduled a mouth-watering double header to kick-off the new season. All twelve Premier League clubs will participate in the 2006 Night Series that gets under way on the evening of Friday 27th January. The opening match of the traditional season opener pits Premier League champion Perth S.C. against south of the river giant Cockburn City. Later that evening E.C.U. Joondalup and recently promoted Wanneroo City meet in the years' first northern suburbs derby. The series will be played in it entirety at Litis Stadium and is sponsored by McInerny Ford.
The group phase, in which teams meet each other once, will be contested over an eight-week period. Group A is made up of Armadale, Bayswater City, Cockburn, trophy holder Inglewood United, Perth and Sorrento. Group B consists of Floreat Athena, Joondalup, Stirling Lions, Swan I.C., Wanneroo and Western Knights. The top two ranked teams from each group will progress to the semi-finals. The Night Series Final, along with the minor place play-off, will be staged under lights at Litis Stadium on the weekend of Sunday 2nd April. The draw, including kick-off times, can be found on the 2006 Night Series page.
Running alongside this tournament is the First Division Night Series which commences on Tuesday 24th January. The competition will be played under lights every Tuesday and Thursday evening at Coker Park, Queens Park, and features semi-professional and amateur clubs. Group A is made up of Balcatta, Dianella White Eagles, Gosnells City (semi-professional First Division), Queens Park, South Perth United (amateur Premier League) and Floreat Athena (amateur Second Division). Making up Group B are Canning City, Forrestfield United, Morley Windmills, Rockingham City (semi-professional First Division), Fremantle United and Stirling Panthers (amateur Premier League).
WORLD CUP TICKETS GO SALE TUESDAY
Football Federation Australia have announced that their ticket allocation for the Socceroos 2006 World Cup games will go on sale from 9.00am AEDST Tuesday 20th December. The FFA have been appointed as the only official Australian source of World Cup tickets and tours, and have warned people risk being disappointed if they purchase tickets or packages elsewhere. Full information on the official ticket packages is available on the Football Federation Australia website.
ASHFIELD GO WITH TODARO
First Division outfit Ashfield have named Salv Todaro as first team coach for season 2006. Todaro, coach of Bayswater City when they won the 2003 First Division title, takes over from Tom Kilkelly following his appointment to Cockburn City's coaching team. "I'm very excited at being given this opportunity by Ashfield," said Todaro this week. "The club and myself will be sitting down in the next month to plan for the future. Our goal for 2006 is to develop a very competitive unit and look to finish in the top half of ladder, and in the longer term our aim is to be promoted back into the Premier League." As well as tasting success with Bayswater Todaro, a former Perth Azzurri and Balcatta Etna player, has coached various State women's youth teams over the past few years.
MORI RUMOURED FOR TOP GLORY JOB
Former Socceroo Damian Mori is being touted as the man most likely to lead Perth Glory into next season just days after joining their coaching staff. Mori was installed as Glory's playing assistant to caretaker coach Alan Vest following last weeks departure of Steve McMahon. Newspaper reports in Adelaide, Mori's hometown, have indicated the veteran of over 400 national league games will be put in charge of Glory for the 2006/07 season. Earlier this year Mori coached South Australian State League side Adelaide City to second on the Premier League table and victory in the top five series Grand Final.
SPORTS FIRST AID COURSES
Sports Medicine Australia are conducting a series of sports first aid courses commencing early in the new year. The tailor made, sixteen-hour course is designed to teach participants the basic skills and knowledge required to manage sports injuries. Amongst the topics covered are injury prevention, immediate injury management, transporting an injured player, skin injuries and blood rules, basic life support, and crisis management. The course is ideal for coaches, club officials, players, parents and anyone involved in sport in general. Further information including courses dates, venues and how to register are available from the Football West website.
KETTELL'S GAIN LONG OVERDUE RECOGNITION
More than thirty years loyal service to West Australian football earned Frank and Marilyn Kettell the honour of being the first couple inducted into the Hall of Fame. The husband and wife team were welcomed into the Hall of Recognition for their contributions to the game at junior level which lead to the establishment of Morley Windmills. Along with a group of like-minded enthusiasts, the Kettell's transformed the Metropolitan Transport Trust bus sheds into a football club back in 1971. "Soccer was pretty new to the area and when a group of bus drivers and conductors decided to play we asked for a ground from the shire," explained Marilyn Kettell.
That same year Frank Kettell started two junior teams under the Morley banner. Such was the explosion of interest in the area that within a year the number of teams fielded by Morley had become an even dozen. "We didn't always have enough coaches to keep up with the initial boom but we always found someone in the end," he said. The following year a casual conversation between Frank Kettell and Harry Dols, a committee member of semi-professional outfit Windmills, lead to the merger of their respective clubs into Morley Windmills. After lobbying the local council the new club was granted the then vacant parcel of land at Wotton Reserve and by mid-1975 Morley Windmills had officially opened what remains today as their home ground.
The Kettell's involvement continued well beyond Morley Windmills. Frank Kettell was secretary of the Junior Soccer Association of WA for fourteen years and on various occasions filled in as registrar and treasurer. In 1974 he set up the first Country Week carnival, was actively involved in the organisation of junior national championships that attracted teams from across the nation, and in 1979 initiated an under-15 international tournament between WA and Malaysia. Frank Kettell was awarded Life Membership of the JSA for his tireless efforts in the junior game, while Marilyn Kettell's thirteen years as junior secretary for Morley Windmills earned her Life Membership of that club.
HIDDINK UNPHASED BY WORLD CUP DRAW
Australia have been handed the "toughest draw possible" according to coach Guus Hiddink who attended yesterday's draw for the World Cup finals tournament in Germany. The Socceroos must get past reigning world champion Brazil, Japan and Croatia to qualify for the knockout phase of the 32-nation event. Australia will make it's first appearance at a World Cup in 32 years when it takes the field against Japan on 12th June, six days later they meet the might of Brazil in Munich before completing the group stage against Croatia in Stuttgart on 22nd June.
Despite the tough draw Hiddink remains up beat about the Socceroos chances. "Perhaps Japan and Croatia have other ideas but realistically we are looking for the spot behind Brazil - they are the favourites and the toughest draw we could have had. You can have a strategy against Brazil but they have the quality to open you up at any moment. I think it will go down to the final game against Croatia which should be interesting as some of our players have Croatian heritage. Japan have changed a lot since 2002 and like us they will want to pull something out of the hat. We are happy to have qualified but we are not here to make up the numbers and want to spring a surprise."
VEST AND MORI TO TAKE GLORY FORWARD
Perth Glory are excited to announce that Alan Vest has been installed as caretaker coach until the end of the present A-League season. Vest has enjoyed success with Glory since 2001 as assistant coach, helping the club to two national league Championships in the past two seasons. The club feels that the respect commanded by Vest amongst the player group and his intimate knowledge of the squad will ensure stability within the club going into the latter stages of the season. Former Socceroo Damian Mori will work alongside Vest as the teams' playing assistant coach.
"Alan Vest is the obvious choice as the club's new coach. He already has the respect of not only the players but everyone involved with the club," said the club's technical manager Mich d'Avray. "Alan has a lot of experience behind him and we believe that he will do a very good job. We know that Alan is committed in this role because he has been part of club for the last four years. He knows what needs to be done and that is why the club did not feel it was necessary to look elsewhere."
Vest didn't need to think for long before accepting the job. "It has come so quickly but as soon as the club asked me to take on the head coach's role on a caretaker basis I was willing to take the job on," he said. "We are in the top four now and have to try and maintain what we are doing to secure finals football this season. I have enjoyed my job at Glory in recent years but this role will prove to be a more difficult challenge but one that I am excited about. I have a lot of respect for Damian and he loves the game so I look forward to working with him in a different capacity."
Mori, who won the Coach of the Year award after taking Adelaide city to the South Australian state league title, is delighted to be given the opportunity to further his coaching career. "Alan is a wonderful coach and I have learned heaps from him already so this is a great opportunity for me," he said. "I love coaching and it this is a path that I want to follow so I am very happy that the club has given me this excellent chance. All of the players have a lot of respect for Alan so I think it is a great decision by the club."
VEST POISED TO STEP UP
Alan Vest is expected to be named caretaker coach of Perth Glory following the sudden departure of Steve McMahon. It is understood the club are keen to move on from the turmoil of the past week and will appoint Vest as coach until the end of the season when the situation will be reassessed. Vest's record speaks volumes for his coaching ability. Between 1974 and 1976 he guided the State team on twenty-one occasions for sixteen wins, including the 1975 defeat of Glasgow Rangers and successive Indonesian Marah Halim tournaments (1975, 1976). He enjoyed similar success at club level in England, Western Australia, New South Wales, South Australia, Singapore and Malaysia before taking on the assistants role with Glory in mid-2001.
Glory are almost certain to look for a coach with knowledge of the Australian game next season. Nick Theodorakopoulos, who coached Wollongong Wolves and Parramatta Power in the National Soccer League, has put his hand up for the job. "There's no doubt I'd like to coach Perth Glory," he said. "But I don't expect a phone call, to be honest." Other names which have already been forward include former Socceroo coach Frank Farina, Australian youth team boss Ange Postecoglou, Soccer New South Wales football director Branko Culina and Gary Phillips who took Sydney Olympic to Grand Final victory in 2001/02. It's been suggested Stan Lazaridis, the state's most capped Socceroo, may to return to Perth to accept an assistant coaching position with Glory.
PROMOTION IN MANDURAH'S SIGHTS
Mandurah City's push towards a place in the top flight is gaining momentum following the appointment of Malcolm Rhodes as senior coach for 2006. "This is a major coup for football in Mandurah," said club president Tom Duxbury. "Malcolm recently arrived from Derby, England, and has already been snapped up by Football West as a development officer. He will be able to deliver the necessary guidance that our young team requires to reach the Premier League. We have been too close, too often - 2006 will be Mandurah City's year." Rhodes will be assisted in his new role by longstanding Mandurah coach Paul O'Brien.
The coming year will see a major overhaul of facilities at Mandurah. "Peelwood Parade will resemble something of a construction site for much of the year," commented Duxbury. "We are starting a $2 million upgrade of facilities which has been made possible by the City of Mandurah and the fantastic work of local and federal politicians. The new facility includes a clubhouse with undercover grandstand, player and referee change rooms and medical rooms, along with the installation of a second pitch, fencing and floodlights. And while this work is a priority for our club as well as the football community in Mandurah , I want to assure all visiting teams that we will do everything we can to host them in the best possible spirit."
GLORY BOMBSHELL AS MCMAHON LEAVES
Steve McMahon's troubled and brief reign as coach of Perth Glory came to an abrupt end yesterday when he agreed to part ways with the club. McMahon walked out of the club for the final time following lengthy settlement negotiations with chairman Nick Tana. Glory officials had long been concerned about McMahon's abrasive management style, which had caused discontent among some players, and his lack of rapport with fans and some sections of the media. McMahon described his position as untenable after recent media reports regarding his future exposed internal tensions at the club.
McMahon says he is mystified by the circumstances that left him out of a job. "I still don't know myself what has led to this situation and feel hurt and upset by articles published recently which are unfounded," he said. "The situation has come as a complete shock to me and my family. We are not aware of any problems at the club, which I leave in a good position. I hope that all this nonsense will not have an adverse effect on the players and supporters of Perth Glory. I would also like to categorically state that I leave the club on good terms with the board, players and staff."
Tana, who worked with McMahon on the financial terms of the split, said the decision was best for all involved. "It is in the interests of both parties that we bring the speculation to an end," said Tana. "We part amicably and are sad that it has come to this but it is in the wider interest of Perth Glory that we part company. I would like to thank Steve for his professionalism throughout the past few days and to recognise the experience and competitive spirit he has brought to the club which was very much in evidence in the second half of the game last week."
It's been a turbulent ten months for Glory under McMahon. In May he publicly lambasted his players after losing a Club World Championship qualifier to Sydney FC. Two months later the club quashed rumours of a player revolt with a two-hour meeting between McMahon, technical manager Mich d'Avray and the player group. McMahon has been criticised for recruiting Brian Deane and Neil Teggart, who've both left the club, as well as his son Stephen McMahon junior. And on the weekend McMahon revealed a rift between himself and Jeff Dennis, the club's chief executive officer, during a radio interview.
NEVILLE TO LEAD GULLS IN 2006
Steve Neville has taken over first team coaching duties at Sorrento. It's the second time in three years Neville has taken up the reigns from Trevor Morgan who'll depart for Singapore next month to coach Sengkang/Punggol. Neville, who played professionally in England for Bournemouth, Exeter City and Bristol Rovers, will be assisted in first team duties by Willie Grubb. Iain Deans has been named coach of the Gulls Reserves with Andrew Chapman his assistant, while former State representative Paul Middleton has been retained as Youth team coach.
CONSTITUTION ON FOOTBALL WEST AGENDA
The constitutional reformation of West Australian football will be spearheaded by Garry Chandler. With a background in achieving improvements in operational efficiency and organizational structure, design and effectiveness, Chandler's focus will be on matters relating to zone representation and standing committees. "My role is to project manage the constitutional reform process," Chandler said this week. "Football West has secured resources from the Department for Sport and Recreation to progress at a faster pace the constitution reform. The DSR know how important this is to our game and have provided additional funding specifically earmarked for this project."
The establishment of clear and open communication mechanisms between zone and standing committee representatives and Football West, as well as between local clubs and their zone and standing committee representatives, have been identified as the key objective in relation to zone structures. "Obviously there are many layers and complexities involved in this, particularly taking into account the size and scope of our State," Chandler added. "It is essential all areas of the game within WA are engaged and informed throughout the process in order to make it a success." More information on the work being undertaken by Chandler can be found on the Football West website.
DARK CLOUDS GATHER OVER MCMAHON'S FUTURE
Speculation is rife that Perth Glory will part ways with coach Steve McMahon before the week is out. Fuelled by weekend reports suggesting he would be sacked at season's end regardless of how well Glory performed, McMahon has met twice in as many days with chairman Nick Tana regarding his future. McMahon, who has had a rocky relationship with some players, told Channel Seven today his position with Glory had become untenable. Although Tana said coach and club had not parted ways the chairman was unwilling to comment when asked if a separation was imminent.
MADASCHI HEADS HOME
Adrian Madaschi is likely to head back to Perth after parting company with Scottish outfit Dundee. An Australian international, Madaschi agreed to end his time with the club after suffering an Achilles injury that is likely to keep him sidelined for as long as six months. With an operation a possibility, Madaschi expressed his desire to head home to Perth in order to have the support of his family during his recovery. Madaschi joined Dundee in June and made thirteen appearances for the club before being struck down by injury during a home fixture with Stranraer in mid-October.
PETKOVIC PLAYS DOWN HEROICS
Goalkeeper Jason Petkovic has played down his role in Perth Glory's stirring 2-2 draw with Central Coast Mariners yesterday. Two down at half-time, Glory pulled level midway through the second period courtesy of goals from Nick Ward and Hiroyuki Ishida. The Mariners looked certain to snatch a late winner when John Hutchinson was presented with only Petkovic to beat at close-range. However, the Glory shot-stopper pulled off a stunning double save to preserve the 2-2 score line and guarantee his side a spot in the top four going into the mid-season break.
"I was pleased to make the first save and although the ball went straight back to him (Hutchinson) it took a little while to control it so that gave me time to get up again and make the second save," Petkovic said. "I had to make a few saves in the first half as well so I was glad to play my part." The former Socceroo admitted Glory had started the game disappointingly and struggled in difficult weather conditions. "Maybe it was a combination of things but we didn't start well and it was important that we fought back and got the two goals. We didn't want to lose and we wanted to make sure we finished ahead of this break in the top four."
TANA STANDS BY EMBATTLED COACH
Nick Tana has confirmed coach Steve McMahon will not be dumped should Perth Glory gain a top four finish. Weekend reports claimed McMahon, whose one-year contract has a second year option, would not be retained beyond the current season. But club chairman Tana has acted quickly to reiterate his desire to honour the original deal made with McMahon. "I've spoken to Steve and nothing's changed. He's got a performance-based contract - end of story," Tana said. "We have given him a contract and that contract stands. If the team is in the top four at the end of the season, he's achieved what he was brought out to do." Tana, who is trying to sell his 75% share of the club, said he would recommend to a new owner that McMahon be retained if he took Glory to this season's finals.
GLORY POISED TO RELEASE TWO MORE
Perth Glory appears likely to part company with Steve McMahon junior and Henry Fa'Arodo come the end of the season. It's understood Glory chairman Nick Tana will recommend to the clubs board that the pair, who have failed to make an impact this year, are not re-signed at the expiration of their current contracts. McMahon has played twelve times since linking up with Glory while Fa'Arodo's tallied up just six A-League appearances. Just last month Glory released English striker Brian Deane and informed goalkeeper Milan Jovanic that his services would not be required beyond the current campaign.
JEKYLL AND HYDE GLORY SNATCH VALUABLE POINT
Perth Glory rebounded from conceding two early goals to draw 2-2 with Central Coast Mariners this afternoon at Members Equity Stadium. In wet and blustery conditions the Mariners were quickly into stride as Alex Wilkinson volley fizzled narrowly over the crossbar. It was warning Glory failed to heed and on eight minutes Matt Horsley coughed the ball up to Stewart Petrie who laid it off for John Hutchinson to slam past a diving Jason Petkovic. Glory went close levelling two minutes later when Nick Ward's deflected shot looped over goalkeeper Danny Vukovic but ended just wide of the target. The margin became two goals on 12 minutes as Wayne O'Sullivan delivered a low cross into the area where Petkovic blocked Hutchinson's effort but could do little as Petrie rammed the rebound home from close-range.
A lack of urgency on Glory's behalf, combined with passes that continually failed to find their intended target, made life for difficult for the home team. Billy Celeski should have done much better than shoot straight at Vukovic midway through the half. By contrast the Mariner's looked dangerous when in possession and carved out the better goalscoring opportunities through a dominant midfield. Andre Gumprecht, playing against his former club, very nearly added the visitors' third goal with a terrific strike that whistled just the wrong side of the far post. Moments from the half-time whistle Vukovic was at full-length to push a blistering drive from Damian Mori around the post following a Glory free-kick from 17-metres.
There was more purpose to Glory's game plan after the break as Mori headed just wide from a Jamie Coyne cross, and Celeski's ball to the top of the 6-yard box narrowly evaded the outstretched leg of Bobby Despotovski. Petkovic was called upon shortly after to deny Gumprecht after he forced his way between two defenders and curled the ball towards the target. In the 53rd minute Nick Ward turned goalward after receiving a short pass from Hiroyuki Ishida and from the top corner of the box stroked the ball into the far bottom corner of the net to bring Glory back into the game. Ishida's persistence in chasing down a long ball from Horsley paid handsome dividends eleven minutes later, the Japanese import forcing an error from Andrew Clark then nipping in ahead of Vukovic to bring the teams level.
The home side rode their luck over the closing stages as the Mariner's pulled out all the stops in an effort to grab the deciding goal. With eleven minutes to go Petkovic kept Glory alive by blocking a close-range shot from Hutchinson, then recovering in time to push away the striker's goalbound follow-up. Five minutes later it was Celeski who was Glory's saviour with a remarkable goal line clearance from Hutchinson's header at a corner. Horsley was full of praise for his teammates following his final appearance in the national competition. "It was a tremendous effort from the boys in the second half," Horsley said. "They showed tremendous spirit, scored two good classy goals, and I'm happy to leave with at least a point because it could have been a whole lot worse - these boys are fantastic and watch out for them in the finals."
TARKA HARBOURS WORLD CUP DREAM
David Tarka has not given up hope of representing Australia at next years World Cup finals in Germany. The Perth Glory defender, who's recently recovered from a hamstring injury, is keen to catch the eye of national selectors during the closing stages of the A-League season. "The World Cup is a goal of mine, I need to start playing with Perth, I'm so eager to play well and impress and take off from where I fell down," said 22-year old Tarka. "It was very frustrating (watching the World Cup qua1ifiers) thinking what could've been, but you don't dwell too much on the past and just keep moving forward. The hamstring's the best it's felt in a couple of years so there's a three-week break where I can keep strengthening it, I'm still young and hopefully that's the end of the injury."
SOCCEROOS IN PERTH?
Football West will next week begin building a case to bring the Socceroos to Perth. Michelle Phillips, chief executive officer of the local association, will raise the prospect of the senior Australian national team playing a game in Perth at a meeting of national chiefs in Sydney. As of 1st January Australia will officially join the Asian Football Confederation, guaranteeing the Socceroos regular and competitive matches. "We know there are some games coming up next year and we will be putting up our hand to host one of them," Phillips told Jonathon Cook of the "West Australian". The Socceroos are scheduled to play an Asia Cup qualifier in Australia on 1st March with a friendly against Greece pencilled in for May. The Greece fixture is likely to be played in either Melbourne or Sydney, but Perth and Adelaide are understood to be in the running for the Asia Cup match.
MATILDAS STAND UP TO CHINA
The Australian women's team has continued their recent good form with a trio of impressive performances against a powerful Chinese side. The Matildas showed they aren't that far off the pace of the world's ninth ranked side by holding China to scoreless draws in both 'A' internationals while triumphing 3-1 in a practice game between the two nations. The encouraging results come hot on the heels of the Matildas unbeaten three-game tour of the United States last month. "The series showed that we are developing good depth in the squad with players that have come on making valuable contributions," said national women's coach Tom Sermanni.
The friendly series opened with a scoreless draw at Central Coast Stadium, Gosford, last Friday (25th November). Although China started brightly it was Australia who dominated for much of the match. With twenty minutes to go Kate Gill looked to have broken the deadlock by volleying a Collette McCallum cross past the goalkeeper, only to be denied by the offside flag. Sally Shipard tested the 'keeper on several occasions while Lisa De Vanna and McCallum also made inroads as the visitors ran out of legs in the closing stages. McCallum and De Vanna, who both hail from Perth, came on in the 63rd and 64th minutes respectively.
Punctuating the two 'A' internationals was a practice match between the nations which was won 3-1 by Australia at the Mingara Recreation Club, on the New South Wales central coast, on Tuesday (29th November). Jo Peters opened the scoring midway through the first half by pouncing on a loose ball and rounding the 'keeper, but shortly before the break China were level courtesy of a goal from Xiaoxu Ma. Australia grew in stature as the match progressed and regained the advantage via Kate Gill before caitlin Munoz sealed victory with a powerful shot from 25-metres. De Vanna was introduced with ten minutes remaining while McCallum took no part in the game.
The series concluded with a scoreless draw at Aussie Stadium, Sydney, on Saturday (3rd December) evening. Following a largely uneventful first half, Australia peppered the Chinese goal without reward after the break. Joanne Burgess fired high from close-range and a looping header from Kate Gill landed on the crossbar. Matilda's custodian Melissa Barbieri made a superb save to deny Duan Han, while down the other end Cheryl Salisbury hit the frame of the goal while McCallum and Jo Peters forced sharp responses from the 'keeper. McCallum came off the bench after 61 minutes with De Vanna added four minutes later.
WORLD CUP WILL HAVE MAJOR IMPACT ON DOMESTIC GAME
Australia is about to be swamped by football fever. Interest in the world game has been growing by the day since the Socceroos defeated Uruguay two weeks ago to book their spot as one of thirty-two teams at next years World Cup. And as the finals' tournament in Germany draws nearer that interest is only going to intensify. Across the nation the football community is doing everything possible to ensure it capitalises on what promises to be an unprecedented explosion in the game's popularity in this country.
Eddie Lennie, who refereed at the 1998 World Cup finals, is under no illusions as to how great an impact qualification will have for Australia, on all fronts. "It's an enormous achievement for the code," he said. "One of the biggest positives from qualification is that Australia, and the FFA, is now accepted in the bigger scheme of things at FIFA - we have now gained respect of the big boys and have to be taken seriously. Participation at all levels will skyrocket and this will encourage sponsors to put money into the game. We are entering a football revolution in this country."
Michelle Phillips, chief executive of Football West, feels the greatest impact will be felt at junior level. "The knock on effect for the game in WA will be huge," she commented. "Reaching the World Cup will no doubt drive up participation, not just from the kids but also their parents. We anticipate mums and dads will be keen to support their children by becoming volunteers for clubs and take part in coaching and club administration. Our main priority is to make sure that every child who wants to play the game can play, and those who want to have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the Socceroos and Matildas get that opportunity."
Wanneroo City junior co-ordinator Steve Hallam also expects a massive jump in junior participation levels. "It's going to be absolutely huge," he said. Hallum, whose involvement in junior football stretches back fourteen years, said clubs would look at extending Sunday morning sessions into the afternoon. "It's going to be hard - a lot of clubs will be struggling for space. Most clubs are in talks with their local councils trying to get more space - but every man and his dog wants space at the moment, not just soccer. But it's an absolutely brilliant problem to have."
Assisting clubs cope with increased participation is something the Department of Sport and Recreation are already investigating. Ron Alexander, the Department's director-general, said converting Australian Rules grounds for the round ball code wasn't out of the question. "There are a range of strategies we'll use, including provision for more (public open) space. Part of the answer is about scheduling and also the use of school facilities," he said. "We're pretty excited about it because we think soccer is well-placed to take advantage of their success."
Perth Glory chief executive officer Jeff Dennis expects there to be enormous financial rewards that will flow through the game, and benefit all aspects of the sport, as a result of Australia's qualification. "The World Cup gives the sport instant credibility," he said. "I think the share of the (sponsorship) pie will be redistributed from other professional sports so that football gets a greater share. I think rival sports, not just AFL, have been monitoring the potential of Australian football. Now, with qualification, I wouldn't be surprised if they are genuinely concerned."
COCKBURN NAME NEW COACHING TEAM
Billy Russell and assistant Tom Kilkelly have been confirmed as Cockburn City's new coaching team for the coming season. The pair will immediately begin work on re-energising the clubs playing stocks in an effort to add some shine to Cockburn's mantle. The new coaching team brings to Cockburn a wealth of experience. Russell was in charge of Rockingham City when they won promotion to the top flight in 1999, and last year coached Armadale to the First Division championship. After time with Sorrento and Kingsway Olympic, Kilkelly took over at Ashfield whom he guided to the First Division title in 2001.
Sue Potter, president of Cockburn, is confident Russell and Kilkelly can get the best of the clubs players. "We are hoping to start and finish 2006 in a much better position that we did this year," she commented. "I think we needed a change. Kevin Elliott did a fantastic job in 2004 but, unfortunately, didn't do as well for us this year. The players' attitudes were reflected in their performances, and that left the coaches scratching their heads as to what to do next. I feel Billy and Tom will bring some discipline and confidence back into the side and from that some positive results will flow."
YOUNG MATILDA'S DRAW WITH CHINA
The Young Matildas have drawn nil-all with the senior national team of China in a friendly match played today at the Mingara Recreation Club on the New South Wales Central Coast. There were few genuine opening created by either side in the warm condition with the best coming the way of Australian striker Sasha McDonnell who was unable to beat the goalkeeper. "I was very happy with the performance today given it was our first serious match and against world renowned opposition such as China," said Young Matildas coach Alistair Edwards. West Australian Collette McCallum, currently attending the Australian Capital Territory Academy of Sport, played a full game. It was the first competitive outing for the Australian women's youth team who are preparing for the next year's Asian qualifying tournament for the 2006 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Championship.
HORSLEY BOWS OUT
Matt Horsley will captain Perth Glory in his final game of professional football. The 33-year old heads north to join wife Deborah in Kununurra following his last national league appearance this Sunday against Central Coast Mariners at Members Equity Stadium. "It is a great honour to lead the team out for my last game," Horsley said today. " I had the privilege of doing the same thing back in Wollongong but to be captain here for my last game ever in football I am really looking forward to it."
Glory's supporters are planning a big send off for one of their favourites, and Horsley is determined to repay them with a farewell victory. "Hopefully we can come away with a win to make it all worthwhile," he said. "I am too busy packing at the moment to really concentrate on the game but I am sure when it comes down to the final whistle going there will be some emotion because it has taken up a good fifteen years of my life. It will be hard to say goodbye to all the supporters, all my team mates and the people who make it such a special thing to come to training every week."
Horsley, who'll make his 356th national league appearance against the Mariners, has enjoyed a successful career which includes four championships - two as captain of Wollongong Wolves and another two with Glory - and Australian representative honours. He rates the Wolves dramatic 1999/2000 Grand Final victory over his current club as his most memorable moment in the game and puts his single appearance for Australia amongst his career highlights. Horsley's teammates were confused by his 'Cheshire cat' grin following that narrow loss to Bulgaria, "I just grabbed hold of my shirt and said, 'This is what you dream about wearing'," he proudly explained.
REFUGEES BENEFIT FROM LEIGH'S EXPERIENCE
Former State coach Mike Leigh is giving refugees from Africa and the Middle East the opportunity to express themselves through football. Leigh is teaching Year 11 and 12 students at Ballajura Community College a range of ball skills as part of two, three-week Swan TAFE programs that commenced this week as the school year winds down. "The ten day blocks dedicated to these courses will be a very productive use of their time during the last two weeks of term," said course co-ordinator Alex Robins. A former West Ham United player, Leigh's coaching experience stretches back over twenty years and includes leading Gosnells City to Cup final glory in 1983 and being in charge of the State side for friendlies against Queens Park Rangers and Australia.
HISTORIC SPOT TO BE PRESERVED
A square of turf, the green canvas for a white-painted dot, will become Australia's newest sporting artefact. The grassy piece of history is the penalty spot from which John Aloisi scored the winning penalty in Australia's 4-2 shoot-out win over Uruguay that propelled the Socceroos to the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany. The historic spot will be cut from the Telstra Stadium pitch this morning before being dry-frozen over a period of weeks to preserve both soil and turf for prosperity.
DESPOTOVSKI TO PLAY ON
Bobby Despotovski has put retirement plans on hold after deciding he still has plenty to offer the national league. The Perth Glory striker, and current A-League leading scorer, had been expected to wait until January to make up his mind but is already sure he'll pull on the boots for another season. "I will definitely be looking to play on," Despotovski said yesterday. "I've spoken to a lot of people who've retired, people like Robbie Slater and Alan Hunter, and they've said don't retire unless you have to."
With his contract due to expire at seasons' end Despotovski is keen to stay with Glory, however, should an extension not be forthcoming he may be tempted to head east. The striker has also indicated he'd like to take on a specialist coaching role, perhaps working specifically with young strikers. Glory will start talks with out of contract players next month as it begins building for next season. The only players contracted for the 2006/07 season are Jason Petkovic, Simon Colosimo and Hiroyuki Ishida who each have two season left, and Ante Kovacevic, David Tarka, and Stuart Young who have a single year to run.
CCOACHES SOUGHT TO DEVELOP LOCAL TALENT
Football West are keen to hear from coaches interested in assisting in the development of the state's youth. Over the early months of next year the association will be conducting a series of courses designed to enhance the skills, abilities and techniques of local youngsters. There are six courses planned - Footworx clinics and holiday programs, school programs, club education services, coach education services, State Development programs and specialist goalkeeper programs. All coaches must hold appropriate accreditation and police clearances, need to demonstrate a commitment to the ideals and policies of Football West, and be prepared to work as a team member under the guidance of the state education and development manager. Further details of the courses, including pre-requisites, can be found on the Football West website.
COLOSIMO TARGETS WORLD CUP SQUAD
It is impossible to overstate Simon Colosimo's determination to be part of the Socceroos squad at next year's World Cup in Germany. "I got to bed every night and the last thing I think about, just before I fall asleep, is counting World Cups - everyone else is counting sheep," Colosimo told Scott Coghlan of the 'Weekend Australian'. "At international level I have pretty much done everything. Now there is a World Cup. I could be one of 45 to 50 Australians to represent their country at a World Cup - in such a big sporting nation it would be unbelievable. It is the most important thing so far in my career - I've been to an Olympic Games, I've captained the Young Socceroos at a World Cup, but this is huge and I don't think there is anything bigger."
The 26-year old Perth Glory midfielder narrowly missed out on selection for the Australian squad that defeated Uruguay earlier this month. This disappointment of that omission has Colosimo fired up to earn a post in Guus Hiddick's squad for Germany. "I've been in and around the Socceroos squad since 1999, for six or seven years, but I haven't really cemented myself in the fourteen or fifteen," he commented. "Now is the time to step up and try to cement myself in that. I think I am a huge chance (of being selected), to be honest I think there are positions up for grabs and the boss has said that in the last few days. There are going to be lots of training squads and a lot of games and I have to get in and get in his face, I'll have to show him how an Aussie gets in someone's face."
While in contention for the World Cup squad, Colosimo must address the issue of finding an overseas club to play for at the end of the A-League season in February. He believes his selection hopes hinge on maintaining his touch and match fitness by playing up until the final squad is announced in May. "Come the first week of January, a decision has got to be made," he said. "There are so many possibilities - can I go on a loan, can I transfer for three months? I will definitely be playing somewhere." Perth Glory, Football Federation Australia and Colosimo's agent are all now trying to find a way for the midfielder to join an overseas club on a short-term deal with contravening FIFA rules.
JONES STANDS TALL FOR 'BORO
Perth-born Brad Jones has highlighted Australia's goalkeeping riches with a stand-out performance to help Middlesbrough into the knock-out rounds of the UEFA Cup. Standing in for injured countryman Mark Schwarzer, Jones pulled off a string of fine saves as Boro drew 0-0 with AZ Alkmaar on Thursday to ensure a spot in the last thirty-two. Manager Steve McClaren's side was in debt to the 23-year old for his excellent handling of first-half shots from Kenneth Perez, Shota Arvaladze and Danny Koevermans in the Group D clash.
Assistant Australian coach Graham Arnold rates Jones as potential Socceroo material. "He's definitely a goalkeeper for the future," Arnold commented. "Quite a number of the others in Australian contention are in their early 30's and their mid-30's and Brad's definitely one for the future. He's got age on his side - goalkeepers don't really hit their peak till the age of thirty anyway so as long he keeps on improving he's always going to be in the picture."
"Whenever he steps into Schwarzer's shoes he does a good job. It's good that we'quite a few good goalkeepers and that we're quite strong in that position and he's one of the contenders," Arnold added. "At the moment he's at a very good club behind Mark who is probably one of the best going around. With Brad keeping a bit of pressure on Mark, it is good for Australian football as well." But for the time being Jones has to be content with his place down the Socceroos pecking order behind Schwarzer, Zeljko Kalac (AC Milan), Ante Covic (Hammarby), Michael Petkovic (Sivasspor), John Filan (Wigan) and Clint Bolton (Sydney FC).
VALE GEORGE BEST
George Best, one of the world game's all-time greats, has died in London aged 59. The former Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend had been in failing health for several weeks passed away from complications related to treatment for liver problems associated with years of drinking. Best, whose incredible skills dazzled a generation, played 466 games and scored 178 goals in an eleven season career for Manchester United which commenced in 1963. During that time the club won two English League championships along with the 1968 European Cup, while Best was named England's Footballer of the Year and European Player of the Year.
At international level, Best debuted for Northern Ireland while still a teenager and would go on to play 37 times for the nation, scoring 9 goals. After leaving the Red Devils in 1974 his career continued with Stockport County, Cork Celtic, Fulham, Hibernian, Los Angeles Aztecs, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, San Jose Earthquakes and Bournemouth before bringing to an end his professional playing days. Best headed to Australia two months after his final appearance for Bournemouth for a four game spell in the national league with Brisbane Lions after which he made a one-off appearance in the West Australian State League for Osborne Park Galeb.
It's hardly surprising that the star performer in Galeb's 2-1 victory over Melville Alemannia on the afternoon of Sunday 24th July, 1983, was Best. Although past his prime, to his teammates and the thousands who turned out to watch the 37-year old there was no doubting his class or ability. "George was still a wonderful player, even at that age," said Johnny Fiamengo who played along side Best at Galeb. "He came to one training session and he danced around four or five blokes like they weren't even there. You could still see why he was regarded as one of the best ever - he had great skills and was explosive. It was a wonderful experience to play alongside one of the greatest players of all time."
A minute after kick-off Best out-witted two defenders and goalkeeper Malcolm Vickery to put Galeb ahead. Alemannia equalised late in the first half through Greg Kazmer. But Best wasn't done yet and with 68 minutes played he started the move which ended with John Saunders netting the deciding goal. Although the official crowd figure was about 2,000 Fiamengo believes up to three times that many were at the game. Fiamengo said there was little to dislike about Best. "He was actually a really nice guy, and he and I got along well straight away," he said. "He had a great game, and we had a great rapport on the field in that game. He got on well with all the lads and didn't act like a superstar."
NEWCASTLE JET HOME WITH ALL THREE POINTS (by Peter Simcox)
Perth Glory's six game unbeaten run came to an end last night when beaten 0-1 by a well-organised Newcastle United Jets at Members Equity Stadium. Vaughan Coveny's second half goal may have been all that separated the sides but it was the defensive efforts of Allan Picken and Ned Zelic that laid the groundwork for the Jets success. The games first genuine opening arrived on 12 minutes when Bobby Depotovski's explosive shot cannoned back off the post with Liam Reddy beaten, and Naum Sekulovski fired straight at the Jets custodian with the follow-up. The visitors almost claimed the lead midway through the half as Jamie Harnwell skied a clearance and Matt Horsley's header back to Jason Petkovic was wide of the 'keeper who was at full stretch to scramble the ball away from the goal line. Minutes later Petkovic was again Glory's saviour by being quick off his line to smother at the feet of Coveny in a counter attack lead by Paul Kohler. With Picken and Zelic getting the better of Despotovski and Damien Mori, there wasn't a great deal for the small crowd of 7,921 to get excited about in Glory's attacking third.
The home crowd were silenced just two minutes into the second half crowd as Jade North sent a pinpoint cross to the far post where an unmarked Coveny lept high and slammed his header past Petkovic. The introduction of Adrian Caceres and Hiroyuki Ishida on 58 minutes breathed a bit of life a Glory side which was continually being caught in possession and lacked quality delivery into the area. But still it was the Jets who were running the show with Glory limited only to shots from distance that Redy had little difficulty dealing with. Nick Ward threaded a nice pass to Caceres whose curling effort was wide of the far post, while in the closing stages Ward and Jamie Coyne floated shots high. In the 89th minute Newcastle went agonisingly close to putting the game beyond their hosts reach through Ante Milicic whose shot was beyond the target. Glory were denied stoppage time penalty for a handball by Richard Johnson which referee Simon Przydacz deemed to have taken place outside the area, and Colosimo's resultant free-kick hardly caused concern for the Jets. A long ball from Horsley provided Caceres with one last chance but having shrugged off his marker the attacker could only find the side netting.
GAMBLERS TAKE FIFTH AT NATIONAL FINALS (by Peter Simcox)
Western Australia's representative in the 2005 Vodafone Five-a-side Shield, Johnny Casino and the Gamblers, claimed fifth place at the national finals in Sydney earlier this month. The Gamblers did themselves a credit at the tournament in which they met quality oppositions from Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney, Newcastle and Adelaide. "It was great trip and an awesome experience," said Michael Di Fulvio. "We didn't play as well as we'd have liked, however, we learnt a lot in a short period of time." Joining Di Fulvio in the Gamblers squad was Damian Catalano, Tony Cumace, Michael Icanovski, Rob Icanovski, Perry Ielati and goalkeeper Robert Scarparolo.
The sides who qualified for the finals series were very evenly match according to Ielati. "The standard of competition was excellent, and the eventual top four teams were extremely professional outfits. Brisbane and Sydney had coaches with them and from the start it was clear that we would have to be at our best to compete against these sides. As each game went by it became clear that as individual players we were on equal footings, but as a team we didn't have the same coherent structure as the top sides. I think we were all disappointed that we didn't put on a better showing."
The boys from the west coast began their campaign by defeating Newcastle 1-0 courtesy of a Rob Icanovski goal. Game two pitted the Gamblers against hosts Sydney who emerged victorious by a 4-2 scoreline, Michael Icanovski and Catalano finding the target. Brisbane were triumphant in the third round clash with WA by 1-0. "All the teams had coaches, whiteboards and tactics and were better prepared than us", added Catalano. "They were a lot fitter and played to a system. Most of the teams featured State futsal players whilst a couple were mainly of Australian futsal representatives. Adelaide and ourselves were the only teams without futsal players."
"We were very unlucky not to make the semi's," said Michael Icanovski. "We needed to beat Adelaide or Melbourne but just couldn't score the vital goal that was needed. There wasn't a lot of difference between first and sixth places. If you scored first it became extremely hard for the opposing team to get one back." A nail-biting 3-3 draw was the outcome of the Gamblers clash with Adelaide, while their play-off hopes were ended by a narrow 0-1 loss to Melbourne. Their final game was against the Australian Capital Territory who claimed a 1-0 victory.
Although results didn't generally go their way the Gamblers agreed the tournament was a terrific experience. "We were unlucky in a couple of the games," said Cumace. "We hit the post and missed some good opportunities whilst teams got us on the counterattack. Fitness was a big issue in the end as all the games were played within fifteen minutes of each other. We didn't perform to our abilities but still put in a good showing." For the record, the 2005 Vodafone Five-a-side Shield was won by Brisbane who downed Canberra 2-1 in the final.
TARKA CLOSES IN ON A-LEAGUE DEBUT
Australian international David Tarka is set to make his first A-league appearance after being named in Perth Glory's squad for tomorrow night's home game with Newcastle United Jets. The impressive young defender has not featured since suffering a serious tear to his hamstring during a pre-season match at Armadale in April. The 22-year old underwent an operation on the hamstring and has since been working closely with specialists to ensure that he makes the best possible comeback.
Tarka's return adds to the options of coach Steve McMahon. Jason Petkovic is expected to resume his role between the posts after being absent last week due to illness meaning Milan Jovanic, who kept a clean sheet against Sydney FC, drops back to the bench. Defender Ante Kovacevic will remain on the sidelines for another week with knee ligament damage and Scott Miller's calf injury continues to keep him out. McMahon may be reluctant to make too many changes though with Glory unbeaten in their past five games.
McMahon is tipping a much stronger Newcastle side than that which lost 1-5 to Glory in early October. "Last time we faced Newcastle they were missing a number of players and they will come over here as a much stronger side than our last encounter," he said. "Newcastle have not been beaten in six matches and they will want to continue that form but we have been playing very well too and there is a feeling of confidence amongst our players. It is important that we capitalise on our next two home games and we will certainly do well if we continue playing the way we have been recently."
JONES STEPS IN FOR 'BORO
Australia's World Cup success last week has provided Brad Jones with an unexpected bonus. Jones was promoted to Middlesbrough's first eleven after their regular number one, Mark Schwarzer, suffered a shoulder injury in the Socceroo's play-off defeat of Uruguay. Donning the gloves against Fulham on the weekend, the 23-year old turned in a solid performance as 'Boro recorded a stirring 3-2 win on home soil. Jones is expected to continue his stint between the posts when Middlesbrough play Dutch outfit AZ 67 Alkmaar in the UEFA Cup this evening.
HORSLEY CONFIRMS RETIREMENT
One of Perth Glory's most popular players, Matt Horsley, has confirmed he will retire from national league football for family reasons early next month. Horsley will hang up his playing boots to join his wife Deborah, a police officer, in the state's north. "About seven or eight weeks ago my wife got posted up to Kununurra and there was talk that I might play out the year but it has just been too hard on my family being apart," Horsley explained. A veteran of 354 (and counting) national league games for Wollongong Wolves and Glory, Horsley recently asked the club to terminate his contract by mutual consent.
"I wanted to prove a couple of things before I went away and that was to play in the A-League and to play in the Glory eleven. I have achieved all those things now in the old NSL and the new league and I am happy to be going out on my terms," he explained. "I have been involved in the sport for fifteen years now and when I came back from a knee reconstruction I had to prove to myself that I could do it. I have done that now and there is not really much left for me to do playing football. It is time for me to support my wife who has supported me through thirteen or fourteen years of my football career."
Although he break into Glory's first eleven until late October 23, Horsley has been a key figure in the teams five game unbeaten stretch. Glory's next two home games - against Newcastle United Jets on Friday, and Central Coast Mariners on 4th December - will be Horsley's last in the national competition. A veteran of 354 (and counting) national league games for Wollongong Wolves and Glory, Horsley was part of four victorious Grand Final sides, two with each Glory and the Wolves, gained numerous club trophies and honours, and played for Australia once.
COACHES COMMITTEE CONSIDERS THE ISSUES
The Interim Coaches' Standing Committee was formed earlier this year to assist Football West with matters related to all aspects coaching in West Australia. "The Coaches' Standing Committee has been put in place to ensure the football family has the opportunity to provide feedback, concerns and suggestions to it, so these issues can be passed onto Football West and dealt with quickly and effectively," said committee chairman Tony Carvajal. "It is a conduit for effective communication between all stakeholders."
There have been several meetings between the committee and Football West over the past six months. Amongst the topics of discussion have been methods of improving talent identification and development and development pathways for State players; the appointment of the State representative coaches; conduct of age and schools championships for the State; the delivery of programs for improving the teaching of Football; the delivery of coach accreditation courses and levels; coaching standards and coach behaviour; and player behaviour and safety matters.
The committee draws upon the wide range of skills, knowledge and experience of its members. Sitting alongside Carvajal on the committee are John Ward, Graham Normanton, Peter Rickers, Steve Zagami, former Australian international Alistair Edwards and Jessine Bonzas. "We, as a committee believe it is crucial that there are clear, open and transparent lines of communication between all stakeholders, for the good of the game," said the Interim Coaches' Standing Committee chairman. Anyone with an issue to be taken up by the committee is invited to contact Carvajal on 0414 475 312 or via Tony.Carvajal@det.wa.edu.au
GLORY CONFIRM TESTIMONIAL PLANS FOR CLUB LEGENDS
The greatest players to have pulled on Perth Glory colours will reunite early next year to honour the club's two longest serving players, Bobby Despotovski and Scott Miller. The pair will be rewarded for ten years service to the club with a testimonial match at Members Equity Stadium on Sunday 12th March, 2006. Both players have started the process of selecting the players and coaches they wish to participate in testimonial game between the teams 'Bobby 10' and 'Scotty 7'.
"Perth Glory is pleased to announce that the club will be holding a ten-year Testimonial Match to salute two of the club's legends Scott Miller and Bobby Despotovski," said Jeff Dennis, the club's chief executive officer. "Both players have been loyal servants of Perth Glory since the club's inception ten years ago. Scott and Bobby were also key figures in the club winning two Championships and three Premierships in the last five years."
A veteran of 223 Glory games, Miller welcomed the testimonial concept. "The club has taken a step forward in making sure there is a bit of tradition," he said. "I think the club is realising now that as well as a business it is really a club and I think they have taken great steps in getting former players like Gareth Naven, Gary Faria and Tommy Maras back into the game. It is an opportunity to get a lot of our mates back and, hopefully, a lot of people will turn out to see the old faces."
Despotovski, who's 225 games and 119 goals are both club records, was pleased his contributions and loyalty over the years were being recognised by the club. "It is nice that the club have acknowledged that we have actually been here since day one and it is not just that we have been here for ten years but it is ten years that the club has been running so we are thrilled that the club is putting everything forward for us."
PETKOVIC HAPPY TO BE BACK ON HOME SOIL
One-time Australian international Jason Petkovic was thrilled to learn his services were required by Perth Glory for the inaugural A-League season. The goalkeeper was playing in Turkey's top flight for Konyaspor when he heard of Glory's interest and, although negotiations took time to complete, there was never any doubt in Petkovic's mind that he'd be heading home to Perth. When the old national league was wound up Petkovic looked at his off-shore options and landed a contract in Turkey. But life with Konyaspor turned out to be much more complicated than he had imagined.
It was in July 2004 that Petkovic headed abroad - not long after e helped Glory win back-to-back national league Grand Finals. He initially flew to Istanbul to complete the contract formalities before flying on to Konya, Konyaspor's home city, where things weren't quite what he was expecting. "I got off in Istanbul and that was fine - it was when I got to Konya that it was a bit of a culture shock," he admits. "Istanbul is very westernised and very modern. There's twelve million people there, so it's a large city. But Konya is very (Islamic) religious and extremely conservative. It was an interesting cultural experience, to say the least."
In unfamiliar surroundings Petkovic drew heavily on the support of his brother, Michael, goalkeeper at Sivasspor, as well as that of his wife, Tanja. "The fact that my brother was there and we could meet up every three or four weeks helped a lot, and I think it helped him as well," Petkovic says. "It eased the pressure a bit and obviously my wife was there, which was a big help. Not many people spoke English where I was. She was a bit shocked at first, but she sees the positives in everything, so it made it easy for both of us. If you think negatively you're never going to enjoy the experience."
Petkovic made his debut against Galatasaray, one of Turkey's biggest clubs and later kept goal against Besiktas in the ghostly surrounds of an empty stadium due to crowd trouble earlier in the season. But these highlights were interspersed with frustrating periods of inactivity as Petkovic. "It was tougher than I thought it would be because I believed I should've been playing," he says. "It was hard because of the language barrier, but they also tend to look after their mates. It's not always the coach who's in charge, there are a lot of influences. (But) they are passionate about their football and it's a very good standard."
As the Turkish season came to an end it became apparent to Petkovic that he would be returning to Australia and lining up in the A-League. "Towards the end, the options I had just didn't add up and the sacrifices I would have to make I didn't think it was worth it," says Petkovic who made fifteen appearances for Konyaspor. "To some extent I feel a little bit disappointed that I didn't do more. I thought I still could've achieved something personally and team-wise. But that's how it goes. It was still a good experience."
On his return to Perth Petkovic had to contend with delays from Konyaspor in his release as well as a nagging back injury which is only now coming good. "It was a big concern and I've still got it now. I'm only just sort of getting on top of it now," he says of the injury. "I started off slowly and didn't play as well as I would've liked. It was frustrating because you want to do well for the club. One or two other players also had a couple of (injury) problems. Frustration is not a good ingredient for success."
The success of the A-League and Australia's entry into the Asian Football Confederation have given Petkovic reason to believe the game in this country is finally is on the right path. "With the Asian Champions League coming up it will be huge. It's another source of income and it will be even more competitive," he says. And Petkovic has been impressed by what he's seen in the first few months of the new domestic league. "Generally the league has been a good standard and the crowd response has been good. Finally the rest of the country has caught up with Perth Glory."
LOCAL TRIO HOPEFUL OF A-LEAGUE CONTRACT
Perth Glory is likely to go local should fans favourite Matt Horsley decide to end his career next month. The versatile 33-year old appears almost certain to announce his retirement due to family reasons within the next few days, and chances are good that coach Steve McMahon will seek a local player as his replacement. Ryan Townsend, David Micevski and Robbie Gaspar have been training with the club and are the most likely contenders to fill the vacated position in Glory's squad. Townsend, an Australian youth international, has been training with the A-League club since his return in August from a three-year stint with English side Burnley. He was joined couple of months back by highly rated 19-year old Micevski who's spent the past two season as a regular in the middle of the park for Perth S.C. Gaspar commenced training with Glory last week having completed his one-year contract with Indonesian club Persita.
SOCCEROO'S WILL SURPRISE SAYS LAZARIDIS
Confidence will be sky-high when Australia take their place at the World Cup finals in Germany next year according to Stan Lazaridis, probably the finest player Western Australia has ever produced. Lazaridis, who spent the World Cup qualifier on the bench, said the Socceroos' were ready to deliver more surprises after disposing of Uruguay on Wednesday evening. "We've already been talking about how we're not going over there to make up the numbers," said the veteran of four World Cup campaigns. "Obviously (coach) Guus Hiddink is going to have the next six to eight months to work even more with us, and with the discipline and organisation and if we get a decent draw, we could surprise a few people."
Lazaridis, who plays for English Premier League side Birmingham City, said the Socceroos would not fear the world's biggest football nations. "All the teams there have merited their spots, so it won't be easy," he commented. "But on the day, there's no reason why we can't perform against a Brazil, an England, an Argentina or whatever." Despite the agony of watching from the touchline, Lazaridis was ecstatic the hard work had finally paid off. "It was great. It's just so fitting," he said. "The way it was organised from start to finish was superb and obviously we've clinched the ultimate in making the World Cup. Now I've got to work hard in the next six months at Birmingham and work towards getting in the team for Germany."
POINTS SHARED AS GLORY HELD IN SYDNEY (by Peter Simcox)
Perth Glory remains third on the A-League table after a scoreless draw with Sydney F.C. at Aussie Stadium this evening. The visitors were thrown into disarray shortly before kick-off with young goalkeeper Milan Jovanic coming into the side as a late replacement for an ill Jason Petkovic. It looked as though Japanese import Kazuyoshi Miura had made the best possible debut for Sydney when he found the net only to have his effort disallowed for offside. In the 12th minute Bobby Despotovski thumped the ball past Bolton from 6-metres only to have it cannon back off the crossbar, and later Billy Celeski fired wide from the top of the 18-yard box. Sydney's best chance of the half came the way of Saso Petkovic whose shot on the run was kept out at the near post by Jovanic. Andrew Packer was lucky not to be dismissed for a two-footed lunge on Jamie Coyne after 28 minutes. The half ended with Nick Ward curling the ball around Bolton but also the post much to the relief of the crowd of 16,242.
The second half began with the home supporters in full voice, and they and the Sydney players appealed loudly for a penalty after Miura's flick appeared to hit the arm of Jamie Harnwell but referee Matthew Breeze signalled for play to continue. Jovanic was put to the test in the 57th minute and came out on top in denying Petrovski's shot from 15-metres, and David Carney should have done much better than rifle high from close-range following a long throw-in by Alvin Ceccoli. Glory were looking very ddangerouson the counter attack with substitutes Adrian Caceres and Hiroyuki Ishida making the most of their pace to pressure the home backline. Glory upped the pace in the search for a late winner that produced good chances for Despotovski and Caceres who each failed to hit the target. Close to the final whistle Caceres surged forward before unleashing a fierce shot that was superbly tipped around the post by Bolton.
MATILDA'S TO HOST CHINA
The Matildas will make their first appearance on home soil in eight months when they play a series of games against China later this month. China will play four games, including two full internationals as double-headers with A-League fixtures, during a whirlwind visit to Australia. Matilda's coach Tom Sermanni has named a largely unchanged squad from that which undertook an undefeated tour of the United States last month. Western Waves striker Lisa De Vanna is one of three players coming into the squad which includes Perth-born midfielder Collette McCallum.
The Matildas squad for the China series is Collette McCallum, Caitlin Munoz (Australian Capital Territory Academy of Sport), Jo Burgess, Rhian Davies, Heather Garriock, Kylie Ledbrook, Sally Shipard, Thea Slatyer, Sarah Walsh (New South Wales Institute of Sport), Lauren Colthorpe, Kate Gill, Joanne Peters, Cheryl Salisbury (Northern New South Wales Institute of Sport), Alicia Ferguson, Lana Harch, Kate McShea, Karla Reuter (Queensland Academy of Sport), Emma Wirkus (South Australia Sports Institute), Melissa Barbieri (Victorian Institute of Sport) and Lisa De Vanna (West Australian Institute of Sport).
ISHIDA TIMES RETURN PERFECTLY
The return of Hiroyuki Ishida could not have been timed better. The Japanese winger will come back into Perth Glory's squad this weekend for the trip to Sydney, the city Ishida spent three seasons playing for Olympic Sharks. 26-year old Ishida has been unavailable for Glory duty for the past four weeks due to his weeding in Japan and a subsequent ankle injury. His return comes just days after left back Scott Miller was forced out of action by a calf injury. Coach Steve McMahon will once again juggle his makeshift defence with Steve McMahon junior likely to slot in at right back and Jamie Coyne to take up Miller's role on the opposite side.
Although the Glory squad has been buoyed by Australia's World Cup qualification, McMahon maintains the side is motivated by their own good form of late. "It makes everyone's life a bit better when you wake up in the morning and Australia have qualified for the World Cup finals, there is a bit of a buzz about the place and there is a buzz about the players," he said. "We have been winning games so there has been a smile on their faces anyway. There's not much motivation at training - winning games is a good thing and you don't need much motivation for that." Glory's clash with Sydney F.C. will be shown live on the big screen at the Inglewood Hotel (Beaufort Street, Inglewood) from 5.00pm (Perth time).
THE SKY’S THE LIMIT FOR SOCCEROOS
Australia’s qualification for next years FIFA World Cup will go down in history as the sporting story of 2005 and, for some, the moment of a lifetime. Mark Schwarzer was the hero, saving two Uruguayan penalties and setting the scene for John Aloisi to take the deciding kick. His success from the spot sparked scenes of unbridled jubilation among the 82,000-plus crowd jammed into the stadium, the crowds of people who had gathered to watch the game on big screens in Australia's cities and in living rooms around the country.
Aloisi said he had asked to take the final kick. “I was either going to be the hero or the villain because if you miss your team’s out or if you score you team might go through,” the striker explained. After his heroics, Aloisi paid tribute to former Australian captain Johnny Warren who passed away of cancer last year. “I had a tear in my eye because you know - I know how much he would have loved to have been here to see us get to the World Cup. I’m sure he is here watching us and I couldn’t be happier for him and for everyone involved in Australian soccer.”
Goalkeeper Schwarzer looked each Uruguayan penalty taker in the eye before squaring off with them. “It was a bit of a psychological game, trying to put them off as much as possible,” he recalled. “Once you make that first save, especially the first kick of the penalty shootout, it puts them under immense pressure, and I was in the zone. (Rodriguez) tried to make me move early, on two occasions on his run-up, and I held my ground and in the end I suppose I had more patience than he did.”
Mark Viduka is determined for Australia to make their mark in Germany. “We’re not going to go there just to make us the numbers. I think we’ve got this inner confidence now. We’ve had thirty years of bad luck or whatever you want to call it, not being able to qualify - now we have qualified, the sky is the limit. I’ll tell you if we get four weeks together we’re going to be flying. Just to be a part of the team that’s going to roll up to Germany to wear the green and gold and mix it with the best, and not just mix it but I think compete, is amazing.”
Tim Cahill echoed the sentiments of his captain. “We’ve got no one to fear, why should we fear anyone. I think we’ve earned a lot of respect tonight. (The play-off) was the biggest question to answer, and as for the World Cup I think it’s in anyone’s hands now, because everyone’s equal. We’ve definitely got a great squad of players who play all over Europe, a great manager, great staff, we’ve just got to take advantage of it and mix it with the best.”
Four years ago Tony Vidmar’s teary exit from Montevideo summed up Australia’s heartache, but last night the veteran defenders were tears of another kind. “I’m so shocked right now,” said Vidmar, one of Australia’s best players over the two-legged series. “We battered them. We dominated the whole 120 minutes. Our composure in the penalties was fantastic. A few of the boys, we’re going to go to the kitchen and make some humble pie - there’s a few people who might want to eat it.”
Man of the match Lucas Neill said the Socceroos success was a dream come true. “Not just for us but everybody associated with football, soccer, and as a nation we’ve realised a dream. It’s not going to sink in for a while but I hope everybody toasts tonight, and we look forward to what could be a fantastic summer. We’re used to picking our favourite team in the World Cup and hoping they’ll do well and now it’s going to be Australia. It’s something that you dream all your life to do and now we’re there.”
Over the years Harry Kewell has had his fair share of critics but tonight no one could doubt his commitment to the Socceroos cause. Kewell, who won the Champions League with Liverpool six months ago, rates World Cup qualification as the pinnacle of his career. “It’s up there, it’s probably the highest. You can’t explain what the feeling is like when you’re out there. We’ve made a big step forward now, and now we’ve just got to look forward to the World Cup.”
Italy-based midfielder Vince Grella was over the moon. “It’s unbelievable,” he said. “We worked so hard for this. The team in the last few weeks has really bonded together. We were a little tense in the first twenty minutes but as soon as we calmed down we played good football. It’s an unbelievable feeling - this is the maximum for a player. It was my first dream when I was young to play in the World Cup. I’m a very lucky person and I’ll make sure I honour the shirt every time I play.”
Brett Emerton acknowledged the role the home fans played in the win. “It’s a special night for everybody and I think we got the result that we deserved. I am just glad that we went out there performed well and gave them something to cheer about.” The midfielder added the Socceroos are confident of their chances in Germany. “Obviously you are going to come up against some very good teams but I’ve got every confidence that we can go and there and be very competitive. I think we’ve got some great players and our last two performances suggest that we can compete with the best.”
AUSTRALIAN DREAM BECOMES REALITY
Australia have wiped away over thirty years of hurt by qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. The Socceroos have been trying to earn their place at the world's biggest single sport event since 1974, and tonight all their bad luck was condemned to history as they defeated Uruguay 4-2 in a heart-stopping penalty shoot-out at Sydney's Telstra Stadium. Substitute John Aloisi netted the winning spot-kick after a night of high drama but the real hero was goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer who saved two penalties. A 34th minute strike from Marco Bresciano wiped out Uruguay's advantage gained from a 1-0 win in the first leg, and with neither side able to get the decisive goal the qualifier was sent to penalties.
The opening period was littered with a lot of stop-start play as Uruguay slowed the game down as much as possible to upset the Socceroos rhythm. The visitors twice went close to killing off the tie early on. In the 4th minute a long range free-kick by Alvaro Recoba tested Schwarzer, and nine minutes later a Recoba corner was headed narrowly wide by Diego Lugano. Australia's first opening came shortly after through Tony Vidmar whose drive from 25-metres was palmed away by Fabian Carini. Five minutes later, Mark Viduka cut the ball back into the path of Jason Culina whose fierce shot was well saved by the goalkeeper. Recoba outwitted Tony Vidmar but squandered a gilt-edged chance by slicing wide of the left post with only Schwarzer to beat in the 20th minute.
On the half hour Brett Emerton blazed his shot over the bar from just outside the box after some hard work by Viduka. The game's turning point was the introduction of attack minded Harry Kewell after 32 minutes as replacement for defender Tony Popovic who, four minutes earlier, was booked for an elbow on Recoba which out-raged the Uruguay bench. The change proved a masterstroke and within minutes Australia had the lead. After winning possession just outside the penalty box Tim Cahill put the ball at the feet of Viduka, he back-heeled it into the path of Kewell whose mis-kick was pounced upon by Bresciano who swept it into the top corner from 10-metres while holding off Guillermo Rodriguez.
Uruguay started the second half dangerously and really should have levelled in the 50th minute when Recoba's corner found Richard Morales unmarked on top of the 6-yard box, but the big striker's downward header bounced over the crossbar without troubling Schwarzer. After that Australia began to stamp their authority over procedings. Kewell threaded a pass to Cahill whose shot on the turn flew wide, and just a few minutes later Bresciano's sweetly struck volley rose just over the bar from a neat Viduka header. The momentum was with Australia who were being cheered on by a boisterous home crowd of 82,698.
The replacement of Recoba by Marcelo Zalayeta did little to stem Australia's dominance. Bresciano found space wide on the left to cross for Cahill but his weak header failed to trouble Carini. A near post strike from Kewell was parried away by Carini after the lively attacker latched onto a loose ball inside the penalty area. Uruguay then suffered the loss of captain Paolo Montero to a hamstring injury as Australia kept pushing for the decisive second goal. A half-cleared corner fell to Scott Chipperfield who, with a clear sight of goal, delayed too long and his shot was blocked by the legs of a defender. At the other end Lucas Neill and Vidmar were rock solid and effectively snuffed out any forward movement by the South American.
Extra-time brought a whole new layer of tension to the night, and Uruguay suddenly found a second wind. In the 98th minute Gustavo Varela shot wide after a quickly taken free-kick. A minute later Guillermo Rodriguez headed over from a dangerous corner, then Chipperfield slid in to block a Marcelo Sosa shot after a swift counterattack. As the minutes ticked down and Australia found it increasingly more difficult to find a way through, coach Guus Hiddink sured up the midfield and prepared for penalties. With three minutes to play Uruguay amost snuck a winner as Morales' slipped the ball past Schwarzer and narrowly wide of the far post.
A place in the Germany was then decided by the heartbreak of a penlaty shoot-out. Kewell converted Australia's first much to the delight of the home crowd who let out an equally loud cheer when Dario Rodriguez's effort was saved by Schwarzer. Man-of-the-match Lucas Neill, Uruguay's Gustavo Varela, Tony Vidmar and Fabian Estoyanoff each scored before Mark Viduka stroked his shot wide of the right post. Schwarzer came to the rescue by stopping Marcelo Zalayeta's spot kick, and up stepped John Aloisi who sealed Australia a once-elusive World Cup place and send the crowd berserk.
MORI SIGNS ON UNTIL END OF SEASON
The playing future of Damian Mori has been finalised with the Adelaide-based striker's today extending his Perth Glory contract until the end of the season. The prolific goalscorer initially joined Glory on a one month deal in September as cover for injured defender David Tarka. With Tarka's recovery taking longer than expected Mori extended his time with the club by another four weeks which allowed him to take his goal tally to five in seven games. The temporary deal expired last weekend but Mori's state league club in South Australia, Adelaide City, have agreed to allow the veteran striker to see out the 2005/06 season with Glory.
Mori spent four highly successful seasons with Glory in the old national league in which he played alongside current striker partner Bobby Despotovski. Despite interest from a number of other A-league clubs Mori says Perth was always his preferred option. "It has been a great experience to play with the Glory again this season and I didn't want to play for any other club in the competition," he commented. "Hopefully, now I can concentrate on playing in the A-League until the end of this season and score some more goals for Perth Glory along the way."
Coach Steve McMahon praised Mori's on and off-field contributions this season. "Damian is a very bubbly character to have around the place and, along with the obvious contribution he has made on the pitch, his vocal energy around the dressing room has given everyone in the squad a lift," he said. "All through this process of contract negotiations, Damian has always insisted that he wanted nothing more than to play for this football club. At one point he even suggested that he would be happy to play for Perth Glory without being paid so that just shows how dedicated he is to the cause."
COACH URGES PATIENCE
Guus Hiddink has been involved in international football for long enough to know patience will be as important as any other commodity when Australia meet Uruguay this evening. The Socceroos could be tempted to attack Uruguay recklessly in a bid to overturn the one-goal deficit, but not if the experienced Hiddink has his way. Hiddink, a veteran of two World Cups, is well aware it could be to Australia's detriment to commit players forward against a Uruguay side featuring Alvaro Recoba. The coach's message is clear - Australia shouldn't gamble and try to win the tie in the opening half an hour.
"They have very dangerous players of course," Hiddink said on the eve of the second leg. "We can start from the first minute to attack, attack, attack. But I think we have to consider this as a high-level game also in controlling the game. If you go and neglect one of the things you must control, then you can be out of the game in a very short time. So you can have a plan how a game can develop itself, but one of the things you must avoid is to think you must score in the first minute and in the seventh minute, et cetera. It's a high-level game, above all in the tactics."
GLORY’S HIT AND MISS FOREIGN LEGION
Perth Glory’s decision to recruit from foreign shores for their inaugural A-League campaign has been far from a roaring success. Three months into the new competition the club have already parted ways with imports Neil Teggart and Brian Deane and informed Milan Jovanic he won’t be offered a new contract, while the jury is still very much out on coaches’ son Steve McMahon junior. Next month will be Glory’s tenth birthday and in that time players from as varied nations as Brazil, Italy, Germany, New Zealand and Nigeria, amongst others, have pulled on the clubs colours. History shows that while there have been some tremendous successes along the way there has also been just as many spectacular failures ...
Gavin Wilkinson was the only import on Glory's books when they made their
national league debut in Octonber 1996. The strongly built New Zealander
was a regular in the centre of defence under coach Gary Marocchi, winning
the clubs inaugural Most Glorious Player award and two time recipient of
the Supporters' Player of the Year. Wilkinson had an indifferent third
season and after 68 games and four goals left the club in search of greener
pastures. After time in Hong Kong and Singapore he joined Portland
Timbers (United States) where he's played the past five seasons and
recently accepted an assistant coaching role.
Grade - B
Danny Hay knocked back other offers to strengthen his partnership with
fellow Kiwi international Gavin Wilkinson by signing for Glory in
mid-1997. The towering defender enjoyed a couple of superb seasons with
the club, bringing stability and flexibility to a defence that also
featured Wilkinson and Vinko Buljubasic. During his two-year stint Hay
wore Glory colours on 48 occasions, scored two goals and won back-to-back
Most Glorious Player trophies. The lure of professional football took him
to England where he turned out for Leeds United and Wallsall before
returning home to captain the New Zealand Knights in the A-League.
Grade - B
Samson Siasia, captain of Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup finals, was Glory's
first 'big name' signing. His arrival in mid-1997 attracted a huge amount
of media attention which matched his considerable wages. Siasia scored
eight minutes into his Glory debut and his tally quickly rose to three
goals from five starts. The goals then dried up for Siasia who became
less and less interested as the season progressed and yet still managed to
retain his place in the starting line-up. In total he made 22 appearances
and scored three goals for Glory. Siasia retired shortly after and was
recently coach of Nigeria's Under-20 national team.
Grade - D
The recruitment of Peter Anosike, a Nigerian youth and Olympic
international, can only be described as a disaster. A regular goalscorer
in Belgium for Ghent and FC Deimze, the 20-year old attacker was signed
"sight unseen" by Glory in November 1997. A goal on his home debut was
the perfect start but after that all went south very quickly as Anosike
struggled to break into the matchday squad. Having made just five
appearances, and scored one goal, in three months Glory decided enough was
enough and cut their losses. Anosike would play a couple of years in
Singapore for Marine Castle United before disappearing completely off the
Grade - F
Gianfranco Circati may have worn Glory colours only 15 times but he'll be
long remembered as one of the classiest player to do so. The elegant
defender joined the club in January 1999 after several seasons in Italy's
Serie B, and through a string of impressive performances cemented his spot
in the first eleven. He scored a couple of spectacular goals - the best
being an absolute stunner from 30-metres at home against Brisbane Strikers
- and was a key player in the Glory's first ever finals appearance. After
spending just three months in Perth Circati returned to Italy where his
career continued with Cagliari and Varese. He recently returned to Perth
to accept a junior development role at Perth S.C.
Grade - B
Striker Aurelio Schwertz gave coach Bernd Stange an extra option in attack
on arrival in January 2000. However, he didn't really click with Bobby
Despotovski and while he scored four times in 18 appearances there is no
doubt that Aurelio's goal tally should have been much greater. A player
who looked most dangerous when running at defences, the Brazilian spent the
tail end of his time with Glory coming off the bench so it was no surprise
he was deemed surplus to requirements and released. Aurelio returned to
Brazil where he's played for Gremio Esportivo Brasil and Bento Goncalves.
Grade - C
For four seasons Edgar Alrighi Junior brilliantly played the anchoring role
in Glory's midfield. Comfortable on the ball and blessed with great
skill, Edgar joined Glory in mid-1999 and his quiet, no-nonsense approach
earned the Brazilian the Coaches Award on debut. He'd go on to make 116
appearances for Glory, being a key member of the 1999/2000 and 2001/2002
table topping squads along with the 2002/03 Grand Final winning
side. Having left an indelible mark at the club Edgar returned to his
homeland where he's currently playing for Gremio Esportivo Juventus.
Grade - A
A former Dutch youth international, Mouhammed Mouhouti failed to make an
impact during the summer of 2002/03. Glory signed the defender after
Craig Deans was ruled out for the season by a knee injury, but he only came
into the line-up after Jamie Harnwell and David Tarka were also forced on
to the sidelines by injury. The arrival of Mark Byrnes sent Mouhouti
further down the pecking order and at seasons' end he was released having
played just 8 times for Glory. He returned to the Netherlands where he's
currently playing for amatuer side OBW.
Grade - F
Andre Gumprecht is unquestionably one of the finest players ever to strut
their stuff in the national league. The hard-working German was the
perfect compliment to Edgar, and later Simon Colosimo, in the centre of the
park as Glory stormed their way to Grand Final success in 2002/03. His
tough tackling and incisive passing earned Gumprecht the respect of
teammates and opponents alike, as well as the Coaches and Media Awards at
seasons' end. After 34 games - and four goals - Gumprecht left the club
but continued his career in Australia with successive seasons at Parramatta
Power and Central Coast Mariners.
Grade - A
INJURY BLOW FOR MILLER
Perth Glory suffered another injury blow yesterday when Scott Miller was carried off the training pitch with a suspected torn calf. Miller, who has played all twelve of Glory’s A-league games this season, will be out of action for three weeks although his next outing is likely to be twice that length. Glory have three games left before the A-League goes into a three week recess to allow Sydney F.C.’s participation in the Club World Championship. “I’m trying to look at the positives,” said the left back. “Hopefully it will be only three weeks. It’s just one of those things.” Miller, one of the club longest serving players, has featured prominently in Glory’s climb up the table over the past month.
SAFETY BAY NUMBER ONE IN SCHOOLS FOOTBALL
Safety Bay have emerged as the dominant force in local schools football after winning three of the four titles on offer in the 2005 Champion Schools Soccer Competition. Success in the finals of the Senior Boys, Senior Girls and Junior Boys tournaments earned the Senior High School their hat-trick of trophies. “Congratulations to the players who have shown that hard work, discipline and fun can take you a long way and help you achieve your goals,” said Fadi Ma’ayah, head coach of the program at Safety Bay.
This years’ schools tournament commenced in April and attracted in excess of two hundred entrants. Safety Bay’s dominance started in the round robin stage with their Senior Boys, Senior Girls, Junior Boys and Junior Girls each finishing top of their respective groups. The first three of those - the Senior Boys, Senior Girls and Junior Boys - progressed to the state final after downing traditional rival John Curtin SHS in the southern region play-offs.
Safety Bay outplayed a physical Morley side to claim the Senior Boys tournament 2-1 in mid-September's decider. The Senior Girls made it back-to-back Grand Final wins by downing Woodvale 3-2 at Litis Stadium with Jaimie Carley playing a starring role by bagging all three goals for Safety Bay. In a very close Junior Boys final it was Safety Bay who emerged triumphant courtesy of a 2-1 scoreline over a determined Woodvale.
The Safety Bay Soccer Academy, which operates as part of the school’s curriculum, is a fully accredited specialist program that caters to male and female players. The elite level program provides an opportunity for each student to develop his or her individual skills, team play and knowledge to the highest possible level with the guidance of highly accredited and experienced coaching staff. The program will is offered to all eligible students in the South of the River area.
AROUND THE CLUBS ...
The season is well and truly over for another year. In the weeks the since the Premier League and First Division seasons came to a close each of the local clubs have honoured the achievements and best players of season 2005. The last of the club awards nights was held over the weekend so it’s now time we take a comprehensive look at who won what at club level in the local game in 2005 …
Celebrations went well into the night as Perth S.C. celebrated their ‘double’ winning season at the West Australian Italian Club on Saturday. Robbie Puca was a deserved recipient of the club’s Fairest and Best award with fellow midfielder Antonio Naglieri runner-up. The reserves top award went to Christian DeBarro who edged out Trent Kay. Ralph Italiano collected the trophy as the touth teams’ Fairest and Best player ahead of Alexander Bakreski. The club’s Youth Development Player of the Year was State Schoolboys representative Brendan Ross, while the Robert Giorgi Memorial Trophy went home with Trent Kay. The leading goalscorer honours went to David Onoforo (first team), Ben Rogers (reserves) and Goran Babac (youth).
Simon Harland went home from Sorrento's awards night with the trophy as their Best Player for 2005. Versatile midfielder Danny Hill was runner-up, while the Most Improved Young Player went to 19-year old Daniel Cain. The reserves’ Best Player was taken out by State Schoolboys representative Lewis Flatt with Brodie Martin as runner-up. Cameron Yorke was named the youth teams’ Best Player, the runner-up spot going to Michael Johnson. Todd Harnwell (first team), Farrell Hedges (reserves) and Michael Johnson (youth) had the honour of Sorrento’s leading goalscorers.
For the second time in three years Claus Nielsen has taken out Western Knights top award. The Danish midfielder pipped David Annall by just two points to claim the trophy as the clubs’ Fairest and Best player. Annall was named the Players Player of the Year with Stuart Montgomery the Knights’ Leading Goalscorer. The reserves Fairest and Best went to Andrew Jennings ahead of goalkeeper Ante Ramic, and Cyrus Ardeshirian collected the Coaches Award. Joseph D’Ortona accepted the youth teams’ Fairest and Best award, Daniel Silva was runner-up and the Coaches Award went home with Anthony Fearon.
Inglewood United captain Shaun Kilkelly went one better than his runner-up spot last year by taking out the clubs’ Player of the Year. Andre Sarpe was presented with the trophies as the Player of the Year runner-up, the Players’ Player of the Year and Top Goalscorer. Player of the Year for the reserve team was Demir Arslanoski with Morgan Dendle runner-up, and Steve Worthy their Top Goalscorer. The youth sides’ Player of the Year trophy went home with Joe Davies, while 13 goals earned James Warner the Top Goalscorer award.
A place in history is assured for Adrian Sutton who won Floreat Athena’s Fairest and Best trophy for the fifth time in six years. The ever-reliable defender ended polling four votes ahead of runner-up Bajo Savic. Recipient of the Troy Bernard Memorial Trophy for the young player of the year was Craig Simpson, while Branimir Mikulic won the Golden Boot. Stephen Guest was recognised as the reserves Fairest and Best, Chris Socratous collected the Golden Boot and the Most Improved went home with Phil Clarke. State Schoolboys goalkeeper Jason O’Byrne was named the Fairest and Best for the touth team. The Golden Boot went to Nik Slaveski and Damien Chapeleau received the Most Improved.
It was a night to remember for 19-year old Daniel Palermo who scooped Cockburn City’s Fairest and Best award ahead of joint runners-up Anthony Pereira and Liam Lilly. For the second time in as many years Lilly was voted the Players Player of the Year, and the Top Goalscorer award was shared by Periera and Johny Mirco. The reserves Fairest and Best was presented to Paul Underwood with Aaron Morrison and Andrew Keary joint runners-up. Goalkeeper Jeff Cargill collected the Players Player of the Year, and Joseph Brunetto the Top Goalscorer. Top honours for the youth side went to Luke Woodard with State Under-18 goalkeeper Tom Langley runner-up. Langley was also named the Players Player of the Year, and the Top Goalscorer award went to Daniele D’Ulisse.
Lively attacker Andy O’Neill won Bayswater City’s top individual award for the second time in three years. The lively attacker collected the Player of the Year trophy ahead of versatile 20-year old Damir Kuduzovic. Bobby Klenkoski picked up the Coaches Award. The Player of the Year for the reserves was Peter Martinovic with Liam Moorhouse as runner-up. The Coaches Award went home with Joe Capone. The youth teams’ Player of the Year was Milan Bogunovic, Geoff Mason was runner-up and Omar Khirzad received the Coaches Award. The honour of Bayswater’s highest goalscorers went to Bobby Klenkoski (first team), Sal Marrapodi (reserves) and Robert Gaspar (youth).
Jonathon Mathers capped a superb debut season at Swan I.C. by being named the clubs Best and Fairest player. Mathers, a former State Schoolboy representative, edged Swan captain Damian Scali out of top honours by just three votes. The trophy as the Reserve team’s Best and Fairest went to David Paone with David Perich in second place. John Mansaray was recipient of the Youth sides top award with Michael Tronchin as runner-up. Committee member Tony Scali was awarded the Club Man of the Year. Damian Scali (first team), Damien Todorovic (reserves) and Sebastian De Cotter (youth) gained the honour of Swan’s highest goalscorers in 2005.
Darko Ilanonski won both the Fairest and Best and Players Player of the Year awards at Stirling Lions. Irish import Paul Dickson received the Fairest and Best runner-up, and Robert Milevski collected the Coaches and Presidents’ Awards. Glynn Busson and Mark Donnelly tied for the Erin Debarro Courage Award, and Jake Harman and Steve Bozinovski were joint Top Goalscorer. The other trophies were taken out by Leo Harman (Best Clubman) and Aleksander Vrteski (Rookie of the Year). The reserves trophies went to Steve Hicks (Fairest and Best), Carmelo Genovese (runner-up and Courage Award), Craig Aldridge (Coaches Award), Mark Bentley (Presidents’ Award), Jake Harman (Top Goalscorer), David Murphy (Goal of the Year), Luke Pavlos and Elliott Leonard who shared the Best Clubman award. The youth awards were won by Ludovic Boi (Fairest and Best), Dean Evans (runner-up and Most Outstanding Junior Talent), Matthew Italiano (Courage Award), Ramon Amorganda (Coaches Award), Michael Pugliese (Presidents’ Award), Jordan Simpson (Most Improved), Damien Houston (Best Clubman) and Dannie Richman (Top Goalscorer).
Goalkeeper Nick Stone and hard-working midfielder Christian Alvarez shared the Armadale’s Fairest and Best award. 19-year old defender Darryl Platten was runner-up, while Stone completed a memorable debut season for the club when voted the Players’ Player of the Year. The reserves Fairest and Best was Troy Clarke with goalkeeper Michael Kelly named the Players’ Player of the Year. It was a three way tie for the youth teams’ top award between Kodi Madeley, Steven Hanley and Robert Campos. Jareth Tottman was recipient of the Coaches Award. The honour of Armadale’s highest goalscorers went to Darren Kingston and Ben Rogers (first team), Greg Newcombe (reserves) and Kodi Madeley (youth).
There was glory for one-time Liverpool trainee Steve Porter at E.C.U. Joondalup. Porter’s tireless contributions in the centre of the park earned him the club Fairest and Best trophy with goalkeeper Peter Stewart runner-up. The roles were reversed in the Players Player of the Year which was taken out by Stewart while Porter came in second place. Sam Cooligan was the reserves Players Player of the Year ahead of goalkeeper Michael Lawson. The youth teams’ Players Player of the Year went home with Jason Trpeski with promising attacker Tom Amphlett in second place. Tom Jones (first team), Sean Napier (reserves) and Amplett (youth) have the honour of being Joondalup’s highest goalscorers.
Former Perth Glory player Dale Wingell left Fremantle City’s awards ceremony with the trophy as the clubs Fairest and Best players. Club legend Craig Surtees and mid-season recruit Peter Vukmirovic were joint runners-up while Jason Barrera was the Coaches Choice as well as the Rookie of the Year. Garth Lecky was recipient of the reserve teams’ Fairest and Best, Marlon Ramirez was runner-up and the Coaches Choice went to Kim Campos. The youth sides’ Fairest and Best was Callum Roberts, Mark Rotondella was runner-up and Alex Claxton received the Coaches Choice. The honour of Fremantle’s highest goalscorers went to Kevin Corriea (first team), Dragan Milankovic (reserves) and Roberts (youth).
20-year old defender Chris Currie scooped the pool at First Division champion Wannerooo City. Currie took out the clubs Fairest and Best, Players’ Player of the Year and Website Player of the Year awards. The Leading Goalscorer trophy went to Scott Bulloch and 39-year old goalkeeper Darren Williams won the Sponsors Player of the Year. The reserve teams’ Fairest and Best award went to Gary Kent, Jason Hope was recipient of the Players’ Player of the Year and Christian Merry the Leading Goalscorer. Mark Sheehan was the Fairest and Best for the youth side with Ryan McDarby the Players’ Player of the Year. The Sponsors Player of the Year went to Andrew Mortimer and the Leading Goalscorer was Ollie Pattison. Wanneroo’s Most Improved Young Player trophy was taken out by Rowdy Yates.
Mandurah City’s Club Champion for 2005 is popular striker Christian Paschewitz. Rising star Gary Attrill was named the Under-21 Player of the Year and the Encouragement Award went to Mark Townsley. Paschkewitz also received the first teams’ Fairest and Best trophy, Attrill the Players’ Player of the Year while the Coaches Award went to Damian Condo. The reserve teams’ Fairest and Best was Mark Brabazon, David Dawson received the Players’ Player of the Year and the Coaches Award went home with Ed Pley. Nick Quinn was named the youth side’s Fairest and Best, Sam Jacques collected the Players’ Player of the Year and Nathan West the Coaches Award.
Few were surprised when hard working midfielder Adam Rains picked up the Fairest and Best, and Players’ Player of the Year trophies at Balcatta earlier this month. Veteran Joe Cinquina was runner-up Fairest and Best while David Moischilla was the club’s Top Goalscorer for the second successive years. Goce Vrteski and Shane Mitchell were joint Fairest and Best for the reserve team with Chris Grosetti the runner-up. The Players’ Player of the Year went to Steve Corica. The youth teams’ Fairest and Best player was Ivan Arapovic ahead of Anthony Mirabile. Dave Korda was voted Players’ Player of the Year and the Most Improved award went to David Rosetti.
23-year old striker Steve Suttie went close to a clean sweep at South West Phoenix by winning the Fairest and Best, Players’ Player of the Year and Top Goalscorer awards. Andy Cowley was runner-up Fairest and Best and David Murphy received the Coaches Award. The reserve teams’ Fairest and Best went home with Cody Bradshaw, and A.McGlashen picked up the Coaches Award. James Monks and Robbie Milligan tied for the youth teams’ Fairest and Best with striker Drasko Jankovic runner-up. Recipient of the Coaches Award was Jarred Lockhart.
Talented goalscorer Glen Hallums was named Rockingham City’s Player of the Year with Jason Peacock in second place. The Players Player of the Year was awarded to Paul Colkin, while the Coaches Award went home with Luke Rennie for the second time in as many years. Recipient of the reserves Player of the Year trophy was Luka Ivanic who finished ahead of second place getter Fraser Marr. Chris Smith was voted the Players Player of the Year and Brad Parfitt collected the Coaches Award. The youth teams’ Player of the Year was presented to Jack McCabe. Stuart McCabe was runner-up and the Players’ Player of the Year, with the Coaches Award going to Andrew Nice.
The shot-stopping abilities of Scott Radford earned him the Fairest and Best and Players’ Player of the Year trophies at Forrestfield United. Carlo Di Toro was runner-up in the Fairest and Best count, and the Quiet Achiever was Steve Roberts. Midfielder Peter Barley was recipient of the reserves Fairest and Best ahead of Matthew Perkins, while goalkeeper Matthew Zappacosta collected the Players’ Player of the Year. The Fairest and Best trophy for the youth team went home with Stefan Basich with Wes Bigger in second place. Luke Wood was voted the Players’ Player of the Year. The honour of Forrestfield’s highest goalscorers went to Roger Miron (first team), Matt Alcock (reserves) and Jordan Hart (youth).
The trophies were shared around at Gosnells City where defender Tony Lang was voted the Players’ Player of the Year. Darren Ingham was named the Most Valuable Player, the Coaches Award went to Sam Maguire, and Ian Magure collected the award as the Most Improved. The reserves Players’ Player of the Year went home with Oscar Dono Burgos, and Jon Spill was the sides’ Most Valuable Player. The Coaches Award was taken bit by James Winrow, and Richard Carter picked up the Most Improved. The youth team awards went to Jordan Naylor (Players’ Player of the Year), Darren Francis (Most Valuable Player), Francis O’Dong (Coaches Award), and Jim Capewell (Most Improved).
Club legend Theo Paap was amongst the guests of honour when Morley Windmills handed out their annual awards. Striker Ray Rose was named the Fairest and Best player with rising star Adrian McBride runner-up. The Players Player of the Year went to veteran Simon Messenger, and Jamie Latapatte received the Coaches Award. Jamie McGuire took out top honours in the reserves ahead of Natapong Narraonphunt. The youth teams’ Fairest and Best went to Adam Kulavac with Daniel Bloom in second place. Rose (first team), Carlos Mazloomi (reserves) and Kulavac (youth) gained the honour of Morley’s leading goalscorers.
Solidly built midfielder Paul Oliver took out Canning City’s Player of the Year trophy. For the second time in three years Paul Van Dongen was nominated the Players’ Player of the Year. Hard working Stephen Johnson collected the reserves Player of the Year, while the Players’ Player of the Year went to Ryan Allomes. Player of the Year for the youth team was Alex Packer with the Players’ Player of the Year going to Luke Doyle. Steve Walker was honoured with the Presidents’ Trophy, and the Miitchell Allomes Memorial Trophy went to youth team goalkeeper Craig Hutchinson. Ten years dedication to Canning was recognised by Sally Allomes who received Life Membership.
Ashfield’s Player of Year was won by Dave Gordan with Will Kirkpatrick the runner-up. Patrick O’Boyle was nominated as the Players’ Player of the Year. The top award for the reserves went home with Shane Hashim and pipped Jeff Harris, while Chris Williams was named the Players’ Player of the Year. Michael Banting took out the youth teams’ Player of the Year with Jake Watson runner-up. The Players’ Player of the Year was Steven Pearse. The honour of Ashfield’s highest goalscorers went to Ciaran Allen (first team), Peter Noiszewski (reserves) and Zac Jones and Jake Watson (youth).
Former State Schoolboys representative Derek Cooke will long remember his debut season for Kingsway Olympic after picking up the trophies as Fairest and Best and Players’ Player of the Year. Runner-up in both awards was Steve Beasley. Luke Armstrong also had twice the reason to celebrate when named the reserves Fairest and Best, and Players’ Player of the Year. The youth teams’ Fairest and Best went to Robert Garside. Cooke (first team), Hill Regan (reserves) and S.Jacobie gained the honours of Kingsway’s highest goalscorers.
Four clubs - Bassendean Caledonian, Dianella White Eagles, Queens Park and Stirling Suns - failed to provide details of who won their trophies in 2005.
CONTRACT EXTENTION NOT FORTHCOMING FOR JOVANIC
Goalkeeper Milan Jovanic and Perth Glory will go their separate ways at seasons’ end. The A-League club informed Jovanic, a Serbia and Montenegro youth international, of their decision not to extend his one-year contract late last week. The 20-year old shot-stopper linked up with Glory in mid-March and five weeks later was between the posts for the Club World Championship qualifier against Sydney F.C. Although he’s been in the matchday squad for all of Glory’s subsequent games Jovanic has had to play second fiddle to one-time Australia goalkeeper Jason Petkovic. It is understood Glory will look local to replace Jovanic next season with Goalkeeper of the Year Gareth Deeg and Australian Under-17 representative Aleksander Vrteski the front-runners.
WORLD CUP DREAM STILL ALIVE DESPITE LOSS
Australia must beat Uruguay by two goals or more if they are to make the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals. That's the equation after Uruguay claimed the first leg of their play-off series with the Socceroos 1-0 at the Estadio Centenario today. Despite the loss, Australia had their chances in the match they dominated for lengthy periods and will go back to Sydney confident of getting a positive result on Wednesday in front of a big home crowd. Post-match, coach Guus Hiddink lamented the Socceroos inability not to make the most of their opportunities when on top. "I am not that satisfied," said Hiddink immediately after the game. "We dominated the first half but we weren't determined enough to finish it off and we got beaten at a sloppy moment on a free-kick. We played a very good game, but we had to finish it off. "
A desire to get forward at every opportunity and take the game up to the home team made for a bright start by the Socceroos. Mark Viduka had the first chance when he wriggled free of three defenders to chip goalkeeper Fabian Carini but drifted the wrong side of the far post. In the 12th minute Australia gained a free-kick 25-metres from goal which Viduka smashed toward the top corner only to have Carini tip it wide at full stretch. Uruguay was chiefly limited to chances from distance and deadball situations during the opening spell. A 16th minute free-kick by Alvaro Recoba beat the defensive wall but was safely held by Mark Schwarzer, and Carlos Diogo should have done much better than send a free header straight at the Australian 'keeper from a corner. Uruguay slowly began to get more involved and pressed an Australian defence which looked comfortable. The turning point came in the 36th minute when Scott Chipperfield was harshly ruled to have fouled Carlos Diogo wide on the right, Recoba whipped the free-kick to the far post where an unmarked Dario Rodriguez headed home from three-metres.
Australia were almost level within two minutes of the restart as Chipperfield's low cross from the by-line found Viduka whose shot on the turn was narrowly wide with the 'keeper beaten. Play then opened up as Recoba broke clear but was forced into shooting wide by Brett Emerton, and six minutes later Marco Bresciano's quick snap from the edge of the box was narrowly over the crossbar. Uruguay appealed loudly for a penalty in the 61st minute when Schwarzer raced off his line to confront Recoba who fell to the ground in the challenge, but referee Claus Bo Larsen correctly ruled that no contact was made and play continued. Harry Kewell sent a dangerous cross into the area that was missed by the defence and was just out of reach for Viduka. Schwarzer kept Australia alive with a close-range save to deny Richard Morales in the 76th minute, and shortly after Jason Culina's long-range shot shaved the outside of the post. Australia's defence found themselves under increasing pressure in the closing stages but, other than rare error which allowed in Recoba whose chip was swatted out for a corner by Schwarzer, the Socceroos kept their shape and held firm.
GLORY TOO HOT FOR KNIGHTS (by Peter Simcox)
Perth Glory moved to equal first place on the A-League table following last night's 3-0 victory over the New Zealand Knights at Members Equity Stadium. In an entertaining start to the game both sides strung together some promising moves and showed a clear desire to attack with the best chance being a Nick Ward header that flashed narrowly over the crossbar. With 12 minutes gone Glory launched a speedy counter-attack which ended with Bobby Despotovski threading the opening goal past Danny Milosevic following a superb through ball from Simon Colosimo. The crowd of 9,667 were on their feet again five minutes later when Damain Mori tapped in at the back post only for an upraised flag to disallow his effort for offside.
With the lively Zenon Caravella figuring prominently the Knights went in search of an equaliser as teenager Kris Bright fired wide. But Glory doubled their advantage on 25 minutes when Jamie Coyne surged down the right before slotting to Billy Celeski who's cross was touched on by Despotovski and Sekulovski fired low past Milosevic. The visitors continued to plug away and twice went close to pegging a goal back as Danny Hay headed just high from a corner, and shortly after Simon Yeo shot wide from Hay's nod down. You got the feeling it just wasn't going to be the Knights day when, in the 40th minute, Hay again rose highest at a corner only to have a full stretch Jason Petkovic keep the ball out of his net.
Glory were full of running after the interval as Damian Mori first straight at Milosevic, and within minutes of coming on substitute Adrian Caceres was denied by a fine save from the Knights custodian. Poor defending in the 69th minute cost the Knights dearly as Despotovski found Mori who laid a terrific pass off to Ward which allowed the talented midfielder to burst past one defender before knocking in the sides third goal. Milosevic prevented the scoreline from really blowing out by saving well from Caceres, and later was quick off his line to force Sekulovski wide from where he shot into the side netting. Close to the end a fine run by Caceres saw him fire narrowly wide, and in the final minute Mori replaced the ball wide of the target.
AUSTRALIA ATTEMPT TO WRITE HISTORY
The World Cup dreams of Australia and Uruguay go on the line over the next few days as the two nations square off for a berth at next year's finals tournament in Germany. The South Americans will be hoping for a repeat of 2001 when they pipped Australia for the final place at Korea/Japan, and the memory of that occasion alone will have the Socceroos fired up to exact revenge. The first leg match takes place in Montevideo on Saturday (Sunday 13th November, 3.30am Perth time) with the return fixture scheduled for four days later in Sydney (Wednesday 16th November, 4.00pm Perth time).
Uruguay will be riding high after beating old foes Argentina for the first time in sixteen years to set up the qualifying series with Australia. This hugely significant win may have stiffened the resolve of the South Americans but coach Jorge Fossati is only too aware how difficult the job will be for a repeat of events four years ago. "Anyone expecting this game to be a walkover is badly mistaken," he said. "Australia have come on in leaps and bounds and are a formidable opponent."
There are plenty of reasons for Uruguay to be confident of gaining a second successive appearance at world football's showpiece competition. Alvaro Recoba, Marcelo Zalayeta, Carlos Diogo, Diego Lopez and Pablo Garcia are all quality individuals playing in the finest leagues in the world, and the enormous support they'll receive from a nation of football fanatics will have a huge bearing on the home leg. However, they will miss greatly the influence of Gustavo Varela and Diego Lugano who are out through suspension.
Since the arrival of Dutchman Guus Hiddink Australia are unbeaten in three outings with fourteen goals scored and only two conceded. However, the master tactician will have his work cut out if he is to end a run of failure and disappointment stretching back thirty plus years. "They (Uruguay) are a powerful side, fast, great striking ability from their forwards and they have a bunch of great thinkers," he conceded. "When you look at the latest FIFA rankings, Uruguay is in a much better position than Australia, but you never know what will happen - the last word is said on the pitch."
The Socceroos too have reason to be optimistic. Australia will be hunger to erase memories of past failed attempts to make the finals tournament, and the experience gained at last years Confederations Cup where they test themselves against some of the finest teams in world football will be a significant boost. Amongst what promises to be a mobile and robust team are the likes of Mark Viduka, Brett Emerton, Lucas Neill and Marco Bresicano. Although carrying minor injuries Vince Grella and Archie Thompson are likely to put their hands up for selection in both games.
Going on the head-to-head record it's going to be a very tight contest. Australia and Uruguay have played each other four times in the past thirteen years with each scoring two victories. They first met in 1992 when Uruguay won 2-0 in Montevideo. Australia then exacted a measure of revenge in 1997 with a 1-0 extra-time win to knock the South Americans out of that year's Confederations Cup. Then came their two play-off meetings four years ago, when Australia triumphed 1-0 on home soil only to go down 0-3 in the return leg.
The Australian squad for the two-match qualifying series consists of John Aloisi, Marco Bresciano, Tim Cahill, Scott Chipperfield, Ante Covic, Jason Culina, Ahmad Elrich, Brett Emerton, Vince Grella, Joel Griffiths, Zeljko Kalac, Harry Kewell, Stan Lazaridis, Ljubo Milicevic, Lucas Neill, Tony Popovic, Archie Thompson, Mark Schwarzer, Josip Skoko, Michael Thwaite, Tony Vidmar, Mark Viduka and Luke Wilkshire.
Uruguay's squad for the series is Fabian Carini, Gonzalo De Los Santos, Carlos Diogo, Fabian Estoyanoff, Diego Forlan, Pablo Garcia, Alejandro Lago, Diego Lopez, Diego Lugano, Paolo Montero, Oscar Javier Morales, Richard Morales, Sergio Navarro, Richard Nunez, Martin Parodi, Diego Perez, Omar Pouso, Guillermo Rodriguez, Alvaro Recoba, Mario Regueiro, Dario Rodriguez, Vicente Sanchez, Dario Silva, Marcelo Sosa, Gustavo Varela, Sebastian Viera and Marcelo Zalayeta.
CAPTAINS READY TO DO BATTLE
Jamie Harnwell and Danny Hay, captains of Perth Glory and New Zealand Knights respectively, are confident their sides will rise above recent difficulties and claim the points when they meet on Friday evening. The pair partnered each other in Glory's defence during the 1998/99 season before Hay departed for English club Leeds United, but neither player will be doing the other any favours once kick-off time arrives at Members Equity Stadium. Both teams have had to overcome injuries and the loss of players recently, Glory parting company with Brian Deane while Knights defender Ronnie Bull has decided to go home to England.
In spite of the difficulties Steve McMahon's side have encountered Glory have carved out some good results in recent weeks. "We have been working really hard in games and we have had a few injuries so certain players have had to step up and try and stake a claim for positions for the future," Harnwell said. "We are professionals and when you step on the park no outside distractions should matter any more. We have got a good team spirit going at the moment and we'll take everything in our stride. It has been tough, we have only had thirteen or fourteen players on the field at training and boys have got little niggles that they are having to play through but that is just one of those things,"
The Knights flew into Perth on Tuesday and will be looking to put an end to their long run of defeats. "We have our own problems, one of our own English boys packed up this week and went home and there is a little bit of unrest amongst our boys similar to the Perth camp. It is going to be one of those games where you just have to put all that behind you and hopefully we can try and pick something up here," Hay explained. "We are a little bit isolated on the table because I think it is twelve points to the next team. We have got no excuses, our performances this season have not been up to it, they have been up and down and we would just like to work as hard as we can and try to graft out a few results."
Although the Knights have lost ten of their eleven A-League matches Harnwell is not taking anything for granted ahead of Friday's fixture and warned against complacency. "They have been very competitive and we were lucky to get away with a 1-0 win over there. If we can do the same and get another three points that is what we will be concentrating on," the big defender said. "I think you are always vulnerable when you come up against the last placed team. There is always that expectation to win, hopefully the fact that we still have a lot of injuries is going to pay in our favour and mean that we won't go into the game overconfident."
Hay would be delighted to get a win against the odds on his old stomping ground and says the pressure will be off his side. "It has been six and a bit years since I went away but it is really fantastic to be back. I am looking forward to getting out there on what used to be known as Perth Oval and getting into it," he said. "On a personal note I am quite happy to be away from New Zealand media and the New Zealand crowd, they're a little bit unforgiving so it is nice to be here in Perth. We're a pretty good bunch of lads, the team spirit has never been in question, we all get along pretty well together so it is just a case of dragging that out onto the pitch and really wanting to work hard for each other."
GLORY LINE UP LOCAL PAIR
Perth Glory has two of the local scenes brightest young prospects in their sights. David Micevski and Aleksander Vrteski are being lined up as likely recruits by the A-League club for season 2006/07. Glory kept close tabs on both players over the winter months and have invited Micevski, 19, and Vrteski, 17, to join them for training. Micevski has already accepted the offer and turned out in the recent friendly with the Malaysian Under-23 squad while Vrteski, who's shot-stopping abilities have attracted the attention of English club Wolverhampton Wanderers, is expected to link up with Glory shortly.
Micevski hasn't looked out of place with Glory since joining them close to two months ago. "It's been an eye-opener," he commented. "With all the players being full-time, training has been quite intense but I think I've fitted in quite well. Playing for Perth S.C. - who are arguably the best side in the State - has helped me immensely and put me in a good position, and by training with professional players and under an experienced coach I can only take my game forward. In the end I hope I've proven myself enough to earn a contract."
A product of Perth's successful youth system, Micevski stepped up to senior ranks at the start of last year and has been a regular in the centre of midfield over the past two seasons. His debut season could not have been better with the creative midfielder gaining State Under-19 honours and named his clubs Fairest and Best player. Vrteski first caught the eye while playing for Future Glory in 2002, and which preceded State Youth honours while wearing Sorrento colours. The solidly built goalkeeper spent the 2005 winter with Stirling Lions and was a key member of the Australian Under-17 squad that competed at the FIFA Under-17 World Championship in September.
SECURITY LOCK DOWN FOR SOCCEROOS
Security was tight for the Soccerooos first training run at San Lorenzo Stadium, in the seedy Argentine district of Bajo Flores, yesterday. Police were on standby while the Australian team bus was escorted into and out of the ground by motorcycle outriders, their sirens blaring. The stadium may be fringed by mean streets and shanty dwellings but the security men weren't needed as Guus Hiddink and his players went through their paces with a light training session.
The police presence and beefed-up security was just a sample of what lies ahead for Australia as the finishing touches are put in place for the team's arrival in Montevideo on Friday. Carrasco International airport was the scene of disgraceful scenes four years ago when the Socceroos were jostled, manhandled and spat upon as they came through customs and into the airport entrance hall by a gang of Uruguay 'supporters' while police turned a blind eye.
Elaborate measures have been put in place at the highest diplomatic levels to ensure the Socceroos are not put at risk of unsavoury elements again. It's believed the players will be shepherded through customs, immigration and quarantine before travelling to their hotel with a police convoy for company. They have a security adviser travelling with them and world governing body FIFA is sending a delegation to make it all goes smoothly.
Australian coach Hiddink is relaxed about the arrangements nutted out between Australian and Uruguayan authorities. "I'm confident everything is in place and security has been well organised," he said. "Maybe in the past, and I'm not singling out Uruguay, there was some bad organisation but in modern football that is not done. Football Federation Australia have taken care of all possible eventualities and so far everything planned has been well executed."
DEANE HEADS HOME
Perth Glory have agreed to part company with English import Brian Deane by mutual consent. The 37-year old arrived in Perth with an excellent resume but struggled to reproduce the form that had kept him at the pinnacle of the English league's for two decades. Deane arrived in Perth little over three months ago after an English career in excess of 700 League and Cup games for the likes of Sheffield United, Leeds United and Middlesbrough. However, form and injury woes limited the big striker to just seven A-League appearances for Glory and a single goal.
Deane, who's been sidelined by injury, says his decision to return to England will assist Glory going forward. "The hamstring injury has already kept me out for three weeks and there is a mid-season break three weeks from now. After that there will only be around six weeks of the season left," commented the 37-year old. "Part of me has also been thinking that, from the club's point of view, it would be better to leave a space open to bring someone in to strengthen the squad for the future. By leaving the club now it gives Perth Glory a chance to regroup during what is an important phase of development for the club."
SOCCEROOS ARRIVE FOR DATE WITH DESTINY
The Australian national team arrived in South America yesterday to begin final preparations for Saturday's FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off first leg against Uruguay. The Socceroos only previous appearance at the finals tournament was in 1974 when Germany were the host nation - as they'll be again next year. "The people in Australia will love to go to the World Cup after thirty years," Australian coach Guus Hiddink said.
Uruguay and Australia will meet in Montevideo on Saturday and, then against four days later in Sydney with the winner advancing to the finals. Recovering from the long flight from Europe to South America will be Australia's initial priority according to Hiddink. "We are coming in from Europe and there are still guys coming in so the first two days are meant to be to recover a little bit from the tough weekend for the players who had games," he said. "The first two days will be for recovering and from then on the team will focus on the Saturday game."
Hiddink, who guided host nation Korea Republic to the last four at the 2002 World Cup, will not be under-estimating their South American opponent. "We know the circumstances. We know the quality of the opposition and we know our quality, what we have done in the recent weeks in the training camp to prepare," he said. "We're facing a very tough opponent and that's why we have to work well and be organised. If you are not organised in this game, you are finished."
"We hope to get a good result here, so we have still a lot of chances in the second leg," Hiddink added. "The record of Uruguay at home against big teams is very difficult ... It is important for us to score." The Socceroos came through the weekend pretty much unscathed. Tim Cahill, Brett Emerton, Harry Kewell, Stan Lazaridis, Mark Schwarzer, Mark Viduka and Luke Wilkshire all featured in England while it was a similar story in mainland Europe for John Aloisi, Marco Bresciano, Scott Chipperfield, Jason Culina, Vince Grella, Joel Griffiths, Ljubo Milicevic and Tony Vidmar.
LAZARIDIS FLAGS EARLY RETURN TO A-LEAGUE
An Australian win over Uruguay could bring Stan Lazaridis back to the national league as early as next season. Out of contract with Birmingham City at the end of the English season Lazaridis will decide by January whether to return to Australia or stay in England for another year. However, if the Socceroos qualify for Germany 2006 Lazaridis says he'd be tempted to return for 2006/07. "There's a very good chance of returning (to the A-League) next season," he said. "It would be good timing. The game would be in a state of euphoria. A lot of the fans would've been watching and the A-League has started successfully. If the FFA play a role in getting certain players back, which has been mentioned, I could fit in that category."
Although Lazaridis is considering a return to Australia Perth Glory are by no means guaranteed his services with Adelaide United also in contention. The 33-year old played for West Adelaide in the old national competitions and he retains business interests in the city. But the Socceroo is believed to be leaning towards a return to Perth. "Obviously, I've got ties in both Perth and Adelaide, but Perth is my home town," he said. "It just depends on who the managers are at Perth and Adelaide and whether they want me to come back for a start. I spoke to Nick Tana and Alan Vest, but at the time Steve McMahon had just been appointed and I don't know what he's going to do next season."
With 367 games experience in England's professional ranks with Birmingham and West Ham United, and 68 appearances for Australia, Lazaridis has a lot to offer the game. And while he feels he's not quite ready yet for management he has expressed interest in a playing-assistant role. "Basically, I'd like to give my experience back to players who are there and I know some of them," he said. "I could be a middle man between the players and coach and help players along, or even those looking to develop their game and possibly wanting to go overseas. For me to be a manager would be a big step [and] I'm not looking to take over anyone's job."
GLORY MOVE UP TABLE WITH MORI HAT-TRICK (by Peter Simcox)
Perth Glory left Hindmarsh Stadium with all three points courtesy of a superb 4-2 victory over A-League leader Adelaide United this afternoon. The star of the show was Glory striker Damian Mori who bagged three goals against his hometown club. Going on the opening exchanges alone it looked as though a big home wain was on the cards, United winning and succession of corners and Kristian Rees hit the base of the post at close-range. But Glory had other ideas and on 8 minutes Billy Celeski spread the ball to Bobby Despotovski whose cross from the left was volleyed in at the back post by Damian Mori. Conceding against the run of play fired up the hosts and some great approach work sent Fernando into the box where he was brought down by Stephen McMahon for a penalty which Veart converted to level the score.
With the crowd of 10,868 behind them, United continued to apply the pressure with Ross Aloisi firing high following a partially cleared corner from Qu Shengqing. A 33rd minute counterattack from Glory resulted in their second goal as Daniel Beltrame made a complete hash of clearance which the quick thinking Mori poked past the stranded 'keeper and into an empty net from 18-metres. Glory's ability to find holes in their opponents defence saw an increase to the margin in the 40th minute when Aloisi pulled Billy Celeski down in the box and Despotovski sent Beltrame the wrong way from the spot. The home crowd were left shell-shocked as Glory added a fourth goal right on the stroke of half-time through Mori who volleyed in from 7-metres following a terrific exchange on the left between Nick Ward and Naum Sekulovski who delivered the cross.
The rain began to fall at the start of the second half which commenced with United gaining five successive corners before being rewarded in the 53rd minute. A long throw by Richie Alagich was flicked on by Travis Dodd, and Qu helped the ball on too Rees at the back post to fire home. The goal lifted both the crowd and United, but Glory a well-organised defence under-pinned by Matt Horsley and Jamie Harnwell kept clear-cut chances to a minimum. Petkovic tipped Dodd's shot on the turn around the post, Qu curled a free-kick narrowly high, and Veart's long-range strike cannoned of the post as United searched for a way back into the game. But Glory dug deep to secure a deserved away win which sends them into the upper reaches of the competition table.
PATIENCE PAYS OFF FOR WARD
Nick Ward sat patiently on the sidelines for two months before being given the opportunity to strut his stuff against Melbourne Victory, and the young midfielder didn't disappoint. A fortnight after making his first start in the A-League Ward faces the competitions most efficient midfield as Glory take on Adelaide United this afternoon. Adelaide may be one of the A-League's lowest scoring sides - only New Zealand Knights and Queensland Roar have scored fewer - the uncompromising South Australian's work hard at keeping the pressure off their defence.
Ward is confident of an upset if Glory can utilise Hindmarsh Stadium's flanks, with Naum Sekulovski dominating there the last time Glory visited. "The key is to get some width in this game. We lacked it against Queensland, but when we played Adelaide away, we killed them down the flanks," Ward said. "Adelaide's been able to grind out results, where we could've got a draw. We've let it slide and got a loss; maybe it's a bit of luck. I thought we outplayed them in that (pre-season) game and the last time we played them they scored two pretty good goals, but we didn't play too badly."
Glory's 2-2 pre-season Cup draw with Adelaide, where it dominated yet squandered a 2-0 lead, was a reflection of both teams' seasons. Simon Colosimo will play the anchoring role in the Glory midfield today, freeing up Ward who will attempt to shake Angelo Costanzo and provide invaluable support for strike partners Bobby Despotovski and Damian Mori. Adelaide's experienced pair of Costanzo and Ross Aloisi never fail to give their all until the final whistle and just how much influence they'll have over the game will decide its' outcome.
Ward, who has appeared in all ten A-League games but started just twice, has been happy with his form which improving as he spends more time on the park. "It was very frustrating sitting on the bench," he said. "I've just been sitting and waiting for my chance, and it's completely different than coming off the bench and I'm enjoying starting. I was really happy with my game against Melbourne [and] against Queensland I thought I did pretty well. I'm still lacking a bit of match fitness, but that will come." Coach Steve McMahon is expected to go with the same squad that drew 2-2 with the Queensland Roar last weekend.
TESTIMONIAL PLANNED FOR GLORY LEGENDS
Plans are afoot for Perth Glory to pay tribute to Scott Miller and Bobby Despotovski, their two longest serving players, with a testimonial game next game. It's understood the club are planning to honour the pair in a match that will draw some of the club's former greats back to Members Equity Stadium at the end of the A-League season. Miller and Despotovski are believed to have been asked to compile a list of players they want to take part in the match that will recognise the ten years service they've given Glory, and which should draw a bumper crowd to Members Equity Stadium.
Neither Miller nor Despotovski would comment on the prospect of a testimonial game being held in their honour when spoken to by Jonathon Cook of the "West Australian" yesterday. However, it is believed former captain Gareth Naven, dead-ball specialist Con Boutsianis, big striker John Markovski, defenders Vinko Buljubasic and Rob Trajkovski and Brazilian midfielder Edgar could be invited to take part in the match. Naven, Glory's inaugural captain, has had a function room at Members Equity Stadium named in his honour, but this will be the first time the club has held a testimonial.
Between them Miller and Despotovski have made close to 450 appearances for Glory. At 33, Miller has indicated that this is likely to be his last season with the club. In total he's played 271 games at national league level - 222 of those in Glory colours and 49 with Morwell Falcons - and turned out twice for Australia. Despotovski, 34, will decide early next year whether to carry on in the A-League. His national league tally stands at 247 games - 223 with Glory, 18 for Heidelberg United and 6 at Morwell - and made four appearances for the Socceroos.
ROSS LOOKS FORWARD TO BRITISH SOJOURN (by Peter Simcox)
Any player will tell you its an honour to represent your state, so you can only imagine the pride Brendan Ross will feel when he heads to the United Kingdom early next year to play for Australia. The talented 18-year old has been included in the Australian Schoolboys squad which will tour Britain in January. "I'm definitely looking forward to the tour, this will probably be some of the best competition I'll ever come up against," said the Perth S.C. youngster. "The squad both on and off the park seems very comfortable around each other and seems to work quiet well, for such little time that we were together in Sydney. I felt we did very well in our two wins against New Zealand, the boys are good blokes and I'll enjoy playing with them in the U.K. and Eire."
Ross won't be short of company on the trip with no less than six other West Australians in the travelling party. "It's great for WA football to have seven players recognized in the side," he commented. "But when we get on the park we are playing for our country and, at the end of the day, we're all fighting for the spot in the starting eleven." Ross has worked hard for his success which resulted in his first team debut towards the end of the recent season. The teenager says he has been fortunate to have the full support and backing of his family, particularly his parents, and acknowledges the influence of coach john Coyne on his career. "John told me one time, 'Use the Jedi', outsmart your opponent with your head and you'll do it with your feet. I've used that when I play in all games since."
The Helena Valley youngster hopes to impress on the up-coming tour and has ambitions to take his game to the next level. "I'd like to play professional football in the U.K. at the highest level I can," Ross said. "It will take hard work but I'm prepared to put that in to live my dream. It's a great thrill for me to train and play with players like Antonio Naglieri and Robert Puca at Perth week in, week out. These players work hard on the game, and I have to admit their attitude and approach to playing continues to be an inspiration to me." The Schoolboys tour includes games against similar teams representing England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Wales along with several club academies between 13th January and 5th February 2006.
INJURY WON'T STOP MILLER
Defender Scott Miller is confident he will be fit for Perth Glory's A-League clash with Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium on Sunday. Miller injured his thigh at training on Wednesday and was unable to take part in the following days' session. The club's medical staff believe his injury, the latest in a string to hit Glory, is back related. "It's a thigh injury but they said it stemmed from the back," explained Miller. "Obviously so many away trips [and] a lot of time on the plane ... a few boys' backs are sore. They've said it has transferred to the quad, so I think I'll be all right though."
ADAIR HUMBLED BY LEGEND STATUS
Former Australian captain Ron Adair was given double reason to celebrate following the third Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Novotel Langley Hotel in Perth on Saturday evening. Adair was one of four players - the others being Robbie Dunn, John McInroy and Gary Marocchi - promoted to the Hall of Legends, and was also presented with a specially commissioned medal to mark the 50th anniversary of his captaining Australia. Adair wore national team colours on thirteen occasions and became the first West Australian to captain the side when he lead the side out against Austrian club Rapid Vienna in Adelaide in 1955.
Arguably the state's greatest ever player, Adair was stunned when named as one of the inaugural Hall of Legends inductees. "I'm overwhelmed," said the gently spoken 74-year old. "This was totally unexpected. I didn't come here tonight expecting to receive anything - I thought this would be a reunion and a chance to catch up with old friends. It's such a privilege to even have been considered for this." Adair played throughout the 1950's at North Perth, Maccabeans, Azzurri and Swan Athletic, winning two league championships and three successive Ledger Medals as the games best and fairest player.
Marocchi was also surprised by his upgrade to the Hall of Legends. "I was under the impression only new players and officials were being inducted into the existing halls," he said. "I'm honoured to be nominated alongside Ron Adair, Robbie Dunn and Johnny McInroy. I wish to thank the committee for their nomination, and for all the hard work that they are contributing to ensure tradition is maintained in our game." Marocchi started out with Azzurri, played in the national league with Adelaide City and made fourteen appearances for Australia whom he captained in the 1978 against Greece.
The inaugural Hall of Legends is completed by two players that hail from Scotland - Dunn and McInroy. Dunn's forty-four appearances for Australia during the 1980's makes him the state's second most capped player. He stepped up the national stage as a 17-year old and in a 168 game career played for West Adelaide, Preston Makedonia and Melbourne Croatia. McInroy is one of the state's legendary goalscorers. He won only 19 when he won the first of nine leading goalscorer awards - eight of which came in succession - with his best tally coming in 1963 when he bagged 48 goals. McInroy wore the club colours of East Fremantle Tricolore who he helped to ten major trophies and represented the State.
Nine former players were inducted into the Hall of Champions. Eric Edmonds won six championships with East Fremantle Tricolore during the 1960's and represented the State on twenty-four occasions. Roy Jones was a member of the Australian squad that competed at the inaugural World Youth Championship and played in the national league with Canberra Arrows. German-born Richard Kuzimski played twenty-six times for the State and won numerous awards with Cracovia during the mid-to-late 1960's. Nick McCallum holds one of the best post-war goalscoring records for the State team with sixteen goals in seventeen games.
Gary Mateljan played seventeen times for Western Australia and represented Australia at youth level. Nino Segon spent fourteen seasons with Azzurri winning six championships and representing the State on seventeen occasions. John Spanos won three national league titles with Sydney City and wore Australian colours at youth and senior levels. John Van Oosten is one of the state's most prolific goalscorers with 213 goals for Azzurri and Windmills, and 16 goals in twenty-eight appearances for Western Australia. Chris Wissink kept goal for the State twenty-five times and turned out locally for Windmills, Swan Athletic and Ascot.
Former World Cup referee Eddie Lennie was one of fourteen inductions into the Hall of Recognition. Lennie was also presented with a special award by Australian referees' coach Doug Rennie for his services to the game. Marilyn Learmont, the first female to officiate in the national league and a referee at the 1991 women's World Cup finals, was also added to the Hall of recognition. David Mortimer was a national league referee for over fifteen years and had the whistle for many local and State team games. Eddie Evans was one of the most respected referees of the 1970's and held the position of State Director of Coaching for fifteen years.
The coaching achievements of Alex Mansfield, John Ward and Eric Williams earned each their place in the Hall of Recognition along with administrators John Venn and Roger Lefort. John Bleach had a major impact on the development of the round ball game in Geraldton, while Ron Moss and Ivan Garic played similar roles in the South West. Frank and Marilyn Kettell became the first husband and wife team inducted into the Hall of Fame for their contributions to junior football. Copies of the lavish collector's item programme are available at the cost of $10 each by contacting Louis Prospero on 0413 041 942.
MCMAHON FRUSTRATED BY ABSENTEES
An injury-plagued Perth Glory will have just fifteen fit players for Sunday's clash with league leader Adelaide United. Coach Steve McMahon admits his patience is being tested by the number of injuries but is hoping his makeshift defence that kept Queensland Roar scoreless last weekend will again prove up to the task. "It's testing the squad to the limit," McMahon said. "We've got to use everybody that's available to us. We coped last week under severe pressure and we got a good result. Hopefully in the face of adversity come good things." Despite having players lining up in unfamiliar positions McMahon says Glory are still a serious threat in front of goal and will test Adelaide's defence. "We've certainly got enough firepower within the team, even with the players we have out," he added. "Defensively we are weaker than we should be, but on the attacking side were still as strong so we can always score goals." The club's chances of extending Damien Mori's contract have taken a turn for the better with out of favour striker Stuart Young set to trial with in Queensland next week.
KILKELLY INJURED IN YOUTH TEAM WIN
The State Youth squad extended their unbeaten run with a 4-2 defeat of the Indonesian Under-23's under lights at Arena Joondalup last night. However, the gloss was taken off the result with confirmation team captain Shaun Kilkelly sustained a broken leg in the match. The win comes hot on the heels of a successful three-game series against Malaysia's Under-23 side which produced two wins and a draw for the State under-20 team.
The desire for both teams to be the first on the scoreboard was evident from the opening minutes through some great movement of the ball and use of the flanks. Jon Higgins and Scott Bulloch were proving particularly effective on the left in providing the ammunition for Tom Jones who was unlucky not to put the State ahead. However, it was Indonesia who gained the upper hand midway through the period when sloppy marking on the right resulted in a visiting forward rifling past the goalkeeper from just inside the 18-yard box.
Things then got worse for the State team as Kilkelly was carried from the field after attempting to force an equaliser. This forced coach Mike Tetlow into re-shuffling his deck and within minutes it had paid dividends with Shane Nunes scoring at the far post. The State side were by this stage nearing top gear and an excellent exchange through midfield put the ball at the feet of Peter Lord who blasted past the 'keeper to make it two-one at the break.
The State side increased their lead eight minutes into the second half through Bulloch who was the beneficiary of another fine series of passes. With Indonesia well and truly on the ropes the hosts went for the kill as Brodie Martin, Antonio Naglieri and Lord combined for Jones to sweep in goal number four. As the game entered the final ten minutes the visiting nation snared a consolation goal through a long pass and a rare defensive lapse.
DEEG'S SEASON OF SUCCESS (by Peter Simcox)
Winning the Goalkeeper of the Year was the perfect way to end a memorable season for Gareth Deeg. Nine regular season clean sheets earned the Perth S.C. shot-stopper a half share in the award with Corey Hugo of Swan I.C. "It was great to be recognized for the season I had as a member of the best team in the league," said Deeg. "Perth are the most professional team in the state and I'm sure most players would jump at the chances to be part of the set-up at Dorrien Gardens. I was lucky to get the opportunity after a season at Stirling Lions and stints in New South Wales with Newcastle Highfields Azzuri and Sydney Olympic."
The talented 27-year old believes a club's success is a team effort and attributes a large slice of Perth's 'double' winning season on a watertight backline. "They have been superb," he commented. "Aaron Cole was solid as a rock on the left and in Dino Dubilic we have a very committed 21-year old that has a lot potential at the next level. Michael Icanovski is also rock solid and doesn't get the credit he deserves, while the addition of Gianfranco Cicatti gave us depth at the heart of the defence. In addition to those players our two wingbacks - Jeff Bright and Matt Danskin - also did a great job with us only playing three at the back."
Deeg, a one-time Australian Schoolboys international, spent several months training with Perth Glory earlier this year and remains hopeful of getting another opportunity to play for the club. "The Glory was good and charged my batteries to push to get a contract full-time," he said. "Jason (Petkovic) has two years left after this season and I'd be lying if I didn't say I was aiming to be the one taking over from him. I hope to sign for Glory full-time, if not I'll be back between the posts for Perth this season trying my best to win trophies for a club who've been great to me over the past season."
HINDMARSH RECORD-BREAKERS RETURN
Damian Mori and Jason Petkovic will be seeking to extend their superb individual records at Hindmarsh Stadium when Perth Glory square off with Adelaide United this weekend. Mori returns to the familiar surrounds of Hindmarsh Stadium where he's scored an impressive 87 goals in national league competition since 1990. That tally is by far the best by a player at a single venue in Australia and is well ahead of the Mori's current partner in crime Bobby Despotovski who has bagged 54 goals at Members Equity Stadium.
At the other end of the park Petkovic will be attempting to better another all-time record. The popular goalkeeper, who played his first national league game for Adelaide city at Hindmarsh Stadium as a 21-year old, has achieved 43 clean sheets at the venue. Petkovic's tally at Hindmarsh Stadium is the highest recorded by a goalkeeper at an Australian venue in national league competition. Not surprisingly, Petkovic also holds the national league record for the most clean sheets having kept the opposition scoreless on 118 occasions in 311 games.
2006 TAKES SHAPE
Football West met last week with local clubs to outline details of next seasons competitions. The state's peak body convened a series of meetings which were attended by representatives of all semi-professional and amateur clubs to discuss the format of the 2006 league and cup competitions, and go over plans to take the game forward. Former sixteen months ago, Football West have performed admirably in creating a single organisation that administers the game across all levels including semi-professional, women's, amateurs, juniors, Futsal, referees, and coaches.
The Premier League will consist of twelve teams who'll meet each other twice over a twenty-two week home-and-away season. Taking their places in the 2006 top flight will be Armadale, Bayswater City, Cockburn City, Floreat Athena, Inglewood United, E.C.U. Joondalup, Perth S.C., Sorrento, Stirling Lions, Swan I.C., First Division champion Wanneroo City and Western Knights. Football West will run Reserve (under-23's) and Youth (under-18's) leagues alongside the senior (open-aged) competition.
As outlined by Football West at the start of this year the format of the 2006 First Division will mirror that of the Premier League. Based on the 2005 end of season tables Fremantle City will line-up in the second tier along with Ashfield, Balcatta, Bassendean Caledonian, Canning City, Dianella White Eagles, Forrestfield United, Gosnells City, Mandurah City, Morley Windmills, Rockingham City and South West Phoenix. The First Division will be played at senior (open-aged), Reserve (open-aged) and Youth (under-18's) levels.
The traditional season opener, the Night Series, will kick-off in late January with the final pencilled in for late March. Entry into the pre-season competition, which is to be played at an as yet undecided venue, is compulsory for the twelve Premier League clubs and optional for First Division and amateur Premier League sides. Following a successful debut season Football West have been able to increase prize monies across the board. It's already been confirmed the Premier League champion will receive $15,000 (up from $4,000) and the First Division champion $2,500.
There are two options under consideration for the top flight of amateur competition due to the relegation of three semi-professional clubs. One proposal is the creation of a new amateur Champions League featuring the three relegated sides and the top five placed amateur clubs. The alternative is a sixteen team Premier League split into two groups of eight. This would feature the three relegated clubs, the top ten amateur Premier League sides, the top two amateur First Division teams and one other club to be determined by Football West. Clubs will be asked which option they prefer prior to the new season.
The competition review conducted this year provided Football West with relevant feedback as to how the league's should be structured in 2006 and beyond. Increased levels of competition, funding, facilities and a raising of the games' profile were just some of the issues raised with Football West during 2005. However, this review did not address the long-term vision of the semi-professional game. Next year the organising body aims to review all potential options and determine the long-term vision, objectives and the infrastructure required to take the local game to the next level.
SURPRISE MOVE BY CURRIE
Stuart Currie has ended a lengthy association with Wanneroo City to take up the coaching reigns at northern suburbs rival E.C.U. Joondalup. Currie and his assistant Mike Brazil replace caretaker coach Eric Williams who stepped into the job late in August following the sacking of Paul Simmons. "I left Wanneroo because I felt I had come to the end of my time with the club," the outgoing coach commented. Currie has been part of the set-up at Wanneroo since 1996 when they competed under the Perth City banner.
In recent years Currie experienced success with an enthusiastic young squad took Wanneroo into the top flight for the first time since 1971. "In the past three seasons we went from second bottom to runner-up last season and then champions this year," he said. "The day we won the league will stick in my mind forever but I honestly felt from that day on that I'd achieved what I set out to achieve with Wanneroo. I wish Wanneroo well in the future, and most of all would like to say 'thank you' to the players who gave me great pleasure over the past two seasons and I appreciate the honesty and commitment they all showed."
When the offer to coach at Joondalup initially came along Currie says he wasn't that keen on it. "They're next door to Wanneroo and there'd be some ill feelings between certain people," he explained. "However, when I spoke with the club again I got thinking that Joondalup is a good club with good facilities and a lot of good young players. This gave me a little bit of fire back inside, I can now honestly say that given time we will get Joondalup back up to where they belong. There is a lot of work to do but as a club we're up for it, and I'm sure that come the start of the season the players will be to."
SYDNEY BECKONS AFTER GAMBERS FIVE-A-SIDE VICTORY
Johnny Casino and the Gamblers, a all-star team drawn from the ranks of Perth S.C. and Swan I.C., have taken out the West Australian leg of the 2005 Vodafone Five-a-side Shield. The five-a-side team booked their place in the national finals by emerging from a tough qualifying series undefeated at Dorrien Gardens yesterday. A last gasp goal from Damien Catalano allowed the side, which also featured Tony Cumace, Michael Di Fulvio, Michael Icanovski, Rob Icanovski, Perry Ielati and Robert Scarparolo, to claim a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in the final. Next up for Johnny Casino and the Gamblers are the national finals in Sydney on Sunday 12th November.
"We were surprised to make the final as we didn't really take the day too seriously," explained Di Fulvio. "There were probably about ten stand-out teams and we were lucky not to get any of the top teams in the early rounds which we progressed through comfortably, albeit with a few nervy moments. We had someone different play well in each of our games with Rob Scarparolo proving the difference in the semi's and final by showing he is still one of the best 'keeper's in the state."
Such was the tournaments' popularity that eighty teams entered what was originally proposed to be a sixty-four team event. "Vodafone ran the day smoothly and it was a breath of fresh air to finally see a football tournament in Perth being run professionally," commented Di Fulvio. "Each game lasted fourteen minutes so it was crucial that you didn't concede the first goal. In tournaments like this you need an element of luck and it just so happened to be our day on Saturday."
Catalano was on the scoresheet twice along with Rob Icanovski as the Gamblers kicked off their campaign by brushing aside Futbol M8's 3-0 early on Saturday morning. A 2-0 defeat of Freewheelers came about through goals from Cumace and Catalano, while Cumace was the scorer of the only goal in the defeat of FC Top Ups. Di Fulvio bagged all three goals in the quarterfinal showdown with That Lej Team which produced a 3-0 scoreline. Cumace bagged the first and Rob Icanovski the sealer in the 2-1 round of four victory over Lynwood.
Played in glorious sunshine and watched by a big crowd, the state final pitted the Gamblers against Arsenal. The game had been underway just 5 minutes when Di Fulvio gave his side the lead by heading in a corner from Catalano. Arsenal piled on the pressure and went close on several occasions before equalising with five minutes remaining to ensure the game went down to the wire. With extra-time looming Catalano fired past the 'keeper to give the Gamblers the upper hand. In the closing moments Scarparolo produced a fine save to thwart Arsenal and send Gamblers through to the national finals in a fortnight.
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This page was last updated on the 31st December, 2005