BABALJ SHOWS HE HAS HEART
Australia youth international Eli Babalj has signed on the dotted line with A-League newcomer Melbourne Heart. Babalj, the National Youth League’s top marksman with nine goals, had his efforts in front of goal rewarded with a professional contract for the summer of 2010/11. “He’s difficult player to mark. Eli is pretty tall - he’s about 1.87m - but he’s also good with his feet. He has good awareness in the box and positioning to know where he needs to be,” said Jan Versleijen coach of the Australian Institute of Sport team.
Versleijen says Babalj, 17, has all the attributes of a potential future Socceroo. “Babalj is quickly learning that he must add other strings to his bow if he wants to make the giant leap from Australian under-17 representative to fully-fledged professional,” added Versleijen. “I’ve told Eli that to play at a higher level he needs to do more than score goals. He needs to hold up the ball and help out defensively, which he has improved on.” Babalj played locally with Perth SC and National Training Centre prior to making a handful of appearance for Perth Glory Youth last summer.
DJULBIC POISED FOR HOMECOMING
Former Perth Glory defender Dino Djulbic is understood to be closing in on an A-League return with Gold Coast United. Coach Miron Bleiberg is determined to strengthen his defensive stocks in the lead-up to the finals and considers 26-year old Djulbic as the answer. "I've been looking for a defender for a while now and I'm hopeful we'll have something done very soon indeed," said Bleiberg, who refused to confirm the imminent arrival of Djulbic to 'the World Game' website. "It's important we give ourselves every chance of being successful in the remainder of the season, having got ourselves into third place and in with a good chance of the title." Djulbic rose to prominence with Perth SC before moving to Victoria in 2006 where he played with Frankston Pines and South Melbourne. He joined Glory in mid-2007, playing 27 times in two seasons, before departing last January for German second tier outfit Rot Weiss Ahlen, where he's managed just a single appearance.
CACERES KEEN ON FIRST ELEVEN ROLE
Wellington Phoenix midfielder Adrian Caceres is determined to make the most of his chance in tomorrow night's A-League encounter with Central Coast Mariners. With Brazilian import Daniel out with groin injury, Caceres, whose career began at Perth SC, is expected to be promoted to the first eleven on the back of a string of sparkling performances off the bench. "Definitely, I'm really excited," 27-year old Caceres said. "It was hard for me when I first joined the Phoenix because I came to Wellington with a bit of an injury. But my aim was always to prove what I could do off the bench and to offer something to the team if I was called on to make an impact."
Caceres would relish the chance to start against the Mariners if coach Ricki Herbert called on him, however, the midfielder is the first to admit Phoenix's lack of a youth team had made his return to full fitness difficult. "It's meant that I haven't had the regular and longer gametime that I might have when I was coming back from injury," he said. "If Ricki (Herbert) calls on me to start I'll give it everything but it's possible that 90 minutes might be beyond me at this stage. What I will do is give my all and run my backside off for as long as Ricki needs me to."
Caceres was dynamite against Adelaide United last time out, his jinking runs at the Reds' defence ultimately leading to Phoenix grabbing a share of the points. While his ability to make an impact late in games is clear, Caceres' focus against the Mariners would be at causing havoc from the opening whistle if he starts. "We need to get the win on Thursday night, that's the key. My role is to stay busy while I'm on the field and be influential by creating goals or scoring them," he added. "On a personal note, I'm focusing on turning in a good personal performance. Given the quality we have in this squad, if I can do all the things I need to do then the rest will take care of itself."
Although the Phoenix are ninth on the ladder, three points in Gosford will keep them well and truly in the hunt for a playoffs spot. "We've got nothing but the win on our minds," said Caceres. "I don't think we deserve to be where we are on the table given that we've outplayed almost every team in the competition. But we have failed to put teams away when they've been on the ropes and we need to make sure that we’re turning dominance into wins. If we win and I play a part, then great. But it's about the team and getting three points – that's what'll make me happy."
SWAN’S HUGHES A LATE STARTER
Teenage striker Niall Hughes will make a late start to season 2010 as he works to overcome a broken foot sustained late last season. Hughes played through the pain barrier to help Swan United lift the Youth Cup before having the injury diagnosed as a broken foot. “It’s a fracture through the middle of the cuboid bone, which is the tarsal bone on the outside of the foot,” Hughes, 18, explained. “If I knew the extent of the injury (at the time) then I would have sat out the rest of the season but it was a great experience to play in the Cup Final win for the club.”
Swan coach Paul Lincoln hopes Hughes, who made a handful of first team appearances late in 2009, can quickly put the foot injury behind and commence the pre-season with Swan. “It was unfortunate for Niall to get the injury but he has indicated that he will be back at training mid to late January 2010,” said Lincoln. “He had a mixed season in 2009, but we know Niall is a talented player. He needs to work hard on his fitness, I have no doubt he can play first team but that will be up to Niall.”
Hughes, currently holidaying in England, is looking to hit the training track sometime next month. “I’ve got a protective boot on at the moment to keep it in position, although it’s not protected from the cold English weather,” he joked. “The doctor has said I can remove the protective boot the first week of January, so I will be behind the rest of the squad as they have begun the pre-season early. I know I will have to work hard on my fitness and get back into shape, and I hope to get a run in a few pre-season games and show Linc’s what I’ve got and cement a first team spot and push on with my football.”
SINGAPORE THE NEXT PORT OF CALL FOR CUNNINGHAM
Sorrento player of the year Paul Cunningham has landed a one-year deal with S-League outfit Balestier Khalsa. Cunningham, who starred for the Gulls following his arrival from English non-League side Fisher Athletic last May, was lucky enough to be offered a one-year contract following a series of trials in Singapore. “We played five trial matches and we had representatives of all the S-League clubs watching the games,” explained Cunningham, who was in his home town of Oakura on the north island of New Zealand when word came through of Balestier’s offer.
Cunningham, 23, recently headed back to Singapore to start pre-season with Balestier, who finished the 2009 S-League on the bottom of the pile. “They finished last, which means now they are trying to build a team and set a few goals to try and improve,” explained the 23-year old defender. Cunningham is unfazed at joining a team that won just four of 30 games last season, instead he’s looking forward to taking his game up to the next level. “It’s going to be a good experience and learning curve for me as well as a stepping stone to other Asian leagues … It’s exciting times.”
NEW GLORY CEO WANTS WORLD CUP PIGGYBACK
Perth Glory's new chief executive Paul Kelly says the club must capitalise on an anticipated boost in football's profile before, during and after next year's World Cup. Kelly, who commences his new role on Monday but has been on Glory's board of management since February, said the A-League club must be prepared to ride the wave of enthusiasm for the game that will inevitably stir as the 2010 World Cup in South Africa draws close. "We've got to piggyback on the World Cup. It's the greatest sporting event in the world and we need to leverage off it," he told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian'.
Australia's appearance at the 2006 World Cup in Germany generated unprecedented fervour for the game but it failed to translate to increased interest in Glory. "The interest will be huge, especially if Australia do well," said Kelly. "I think we were caught by surprise with the last World Cup because we didn't realise the knock-on effect it would have." Kelly has flagged the prospect of high-profile Socceroos making public appearances in Perth in the lead-up to the World Cup. "I reckon Perth is crying out for that, for a Tim Cahill or a Harry Kewell stopping in here," he added.
It has been far from smooth sailing for Glory since the start of the A-League in 2005 but Kelly, who has been involved with the club in various roles since their National Soccer League debut season in 1996/97, was enthusiastic about the task he faced. "It doesn't feel like a big transition for me because I've always been involved in the club in one way or another," he said. "I've helped out with the volunteers on match day, I've been a sponsor and I've even been goalkeeping coach."
He said owner Tony Sage, who is losing around $2 million a season on the club, was already steering the club in the right direction. "It's a challenge and I'm really looking forward to it," he said. "There's a lot of passion around the club and it's a matter of pulling that all together. They've got to be the most passionate supporters in the league and Tony is very passionate about the club. He believes in this club and if we can harness that, the potential is huge. Tony's vision is fantastic and we've got to get it right."
MOMENTUM CAN TAKE GLORY TO FINALS: MITCHELL
Saturday’s 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle Jets was the perfect way for Perth Glory to end their recent dry spell. Knowing his players were always capable of such a performance, David Mitchell was delighted to see his team finally gel, the coach hopeful of carrying the momentum into the rest of the regular season and into a maiden A-League finals campaign. “Hopefully this nails us in the top-six and we can build on it,” Mitchell said. “Our home games are important for us because we don’t seem to pick up too many points away, so we have to keep home strong. It was a convincing win and we played for 90 minutes, which was good.”
Mitchell said the result was a deserved reward for those that remained loyal during a tough couple of months in which Glory won only once from nine starts. “Over the last few weeks we have lost a little bit of confidence and that was due to some of the results. We scored at the right time and got the confidence from that,” he said. “There was a good crowd and as a whole you talk about pressure, but Tony Sage has been a rock solid supporter of myself, Lui Giuliani has said that the club will back me and know that I have the best interests of the club at heart. When you talk about Jamie Harnwell it’s true what they say about him, when you cut him and purple comes out in his blood.”
Naum Sekulovski, Jamie Harnwell (2) and Mile Sterjovski may have got the goals but for Mitchell it was an overall team effort which downed the Jets. “It was a great performance and there were a lot of great players. Andy Todd, Jacob Burns and Chris Coyne were outstanding, Sterjovski stepped up and of course there’s Mr Harnwell. It was a great team performance and it was very satisfying,” said the coach. “We’ve analysed the problems we’ve had in the past, looked over them and worked through them at training. It all clicked, but if Newcastle scored first we might have been nervous and not got back in the game. It was important we scored first to get that confidence.”
HARNWELL STAKES CLAIM TO NEW DEAL
Hot-shot striker Jamie Harnwell is poised to extend his stay with Perth Glory but fellow forward Eugene Dadi's days at the A-League club look to be numbered. Coach David Mitchell is keen for Hrnwell, scorer of three goals in four games since returning from injury, to continue in a Glory shirt beyond this season. “He has a nous for scoring up front. I think highly of him and he knows that. I’ve had a few heart to hearts with him over the past couple of years and the character of the guy always stands up,” coach David Mitchell said. “He is Mr Dependable and sometimes we throw him in when he’s not quite ready, but you know what you’re going to get. He is a threat and we know what we will get if we get good balls to him. If I’m going to be here then for sure (he will be part of the team).”
Harnwell has never made any secret that he wants to continue on with Glory for as long as possible and is confident he’s done enough to earn at least another one-year contract with the club. “Hopefully we will start talking soon now. I’ve made a case now to be playing next year and deep down I’ve always wanted to. My dad’s always said that you are a long-time retired and I want to keep going as long as I can,” Harnwell commented. “Hopefully that’s at Perth Glory, so I want to sit down and sort something out for a long time to come and I want to be part of this club for a long future because it’s been a massive part of my life. I couldn’t imagine going back to an office job or something like that, so I want to stay in the game as long as I can.”
But the end appears nigh for Ivory Coast marksman Eugene Dadi, who could leave the club during the January transfer window. Dadi, scorer of ten goals last season, has played just six times this campaign and in recent months has struggled to make the substitutes’ bench. The 36-year old was set to make his return to the squad against Newcastle but was forced to withdraw through illness. “Eugene was going to be part of the team, but phoned up sick in the morning. That was unfortunate because he was going to play. He will be away from recovery as well because the doctor didn’t want him coming in,” Mitchell added. “I haven’t discussed it (his future) with him, but I know there is a club that is quite interested in him so if he can’t break into the side and wants to leave, that might be beneficial.”
LOWRY HOPES FOR SOCCEROOS START
Rookie Shane Lowry is hoping it will be third time lucky when he links up with Pim Verbeek’s Socceroo’s in Dubai prior to the 7 January Asian Cup date with Kuwait. Selected twice for Australian squads without stepping onto the park, the 20-year old Aston Villa defender is pushing strongly for some match time in Kuwait City. “I’ll just have to see how well I do in camp in Dubai leading into the game and hopefully it will be enough to get me a start or maybe some action off the bench,” said the youngster. “I’ve picked up a lot from being involved in the camps in Australia back in June and also for November’s game against Oman and I’m starting to feel quite at home in the set up. But training is one thing, playing is another and that’s what I’m there for, so hopefully an opportunity will arise for me to show what I can do for my country.”
Fresh from an eye-catching 13-game loan to Championship strugglers Plymouth Argyle, Lowry is poised to for another loan in the New Year to either Sheffield United or Middlesbrough. “Villa are flying right now in the Premier League and I know my chances there are going to be limited at the minute,” added Lowry. “I’ll go in and have some talks soon with the boss on my future and if he wants me to I’ll be happy to go out again on loan. It’s a great way to learn and toughen up and I loved my time at Plymouth even though they were struggling. I’m one of those players who likes to play out from the back but I also know when to smash the ball into Row Z in the stands also and I don’t mind putting in a tackle either.”
Lowry is dismissive of suggestions Australia face a talent void post-2010 with many of the golden generation which have taken the Socceroos to two successive World Cups stepping aside. “I don’t see that as being the case,” he said. “It’s certainly going to be a transitional time if some of the older boys do retire from international football after South Africa. But it’s not doom and gloom looking ahead. There’s players like Rhys (Williams) coming through, he’s already been capped and can play in midfield or at the back and is a very good talent. I’ve also trained in the squads with Dario Vidosic and he looks very lively, energetic and a real handful. Then there’s people like Mark Milligan, he’s somebody that has really impressed me, and I’m also a fan of Patrick Kisborbo.”
JAMIE HARNWELL HOLIDAY CLINIC
Jamie Harnwell proudly presents the January 2010 School Holiday Football Clinics. These clinics give boys and girls the opportunity to improve their football skills and have fun at the same time. The program, personally designed by Perth Glory star Jamie Harnwell, is aimed at improving both individual and team skills while encouraging sportsmanship and fair play. Attendees can meet and quiz Jamie and other professional players, and have the opportunity to win two tickets to a Glory home game as well as club merchandise. Download the Jamie Harnwell Holiday Football Clinic (pdf, 1888kb) enrolment form for further details, or contact Jamie via email@example.com.
GLORY BRINGS DOWN HIGH-FLYING NEWCASTLE
A Jamie Harnwell inspired Perth Glory revived their A-League finals hopes by thumping Newcastle Jets 4-0 on a warm afternoon at ME Bank Stadium. Harnwell scored twice with Mile Sterjovski and Naum Sekulovski also on the scoresheet to lift Glory back into fifth place. “It’s fantastic in front of a big crowd and in a massive game for the club to stand up and score a couple of goals,” Harnwell said. “From the first minute, we were in for the tackles, we were getting balls forward early, we were getting balls in the box. On those sort of days you just know that something is going to break your way and I was lucky enough to get on the end of two of them and could’ve had one or two more.”
Newcastle goalkeeper Neil Young made a strong start to his evening with a tremendous save in the 12th minute, tipping away a Sterjovski shot. Glory kept attacking, though, and on 19 minutes Sekulovski drilled a low 22-metre free-kick past the defensive wall with Young watching as the ball hit his net. Five minutes later Sterjovski skipped down the flank before delivering into the 18-yard box where Harnwell’s flick was too good for Young. The home fans were then served up a third goal in the 36th minute when Ljubo Milicevic was adjudged to have fouled Sterjovski in the box, the striker picking himself up to score his fifth goal of the season from the penalty spot. It could have been worse for the visitors just two minutes later but Sterjovski’s hurried shot was scrambled away by Young.
Newcastle did their best to work back into the contest in the second half but never seriously threatened to score. Glory custodian Tando Velaphi was called into action for the first time on 51 minutes when he dealt comfortably with Adam D’Apuzzo’s piledriver, tipping the shot over the bar. Glory put the game beyond any doubt with their fourth goal on 69 minutes when Jacob Burns played through to Scott Neville, whose cross was headed in by Harnwell, much to the delight of the 9,418 fans. Jin-Hyung Song had been Newcastle’s liveliest player all afternoon and nine minute later unleashing a terrific free-kick that was matched by a superb diving save by Velaphi. A late long-range effort by Matt Thompson was collected by Velaphi before Ali Abbas’ curled a free-kick past the post.
The win - Glory’s second in ten games - is sure to ease the pressure on coach David Mitchell as he attempts to lead the club into their first ever A-League finals series. “It was a convincing win and I think we played for 90 minutes, which was good. We kept a clean sheet and we were resolute and strong,” said Mitchell of his teams biggest win of the season. “It was an important game for us today and a lot of the boys were hurting from some past results and some comments that have been made. They are a good bunch and I'm happy for the players, the club and supporters. It’s been a good day … hopefully that will settle a lot of people down outside the club who’ve been throwing some darts.”
SIX OF THE BEST FROM GLORY KIDS
Perth Glory Youth picked up maximum points for the sixth-straight game with a 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle Jets at ME Bank Stadium. Glen Trifiro scoring a brace with Ludovic Boi and Reece Vittiglia grabbing a goal each on a hot day in Perth to keep Glory in second place on the National Youth League table. Newcastle created a slew of early openings with William Angel, Jason Naidovski and Scott Balderson on the end of good chances inside the quarter hour. Glory were by no means outdone and just before half-time a terrific cross from Tommy Amphlett was parried away by goalkeeper Ben Kennedy, the ball falling into the path of Boi who coolly put it in the net.
The margin was increased seven minutes into the second half with Trifiro getting his first of the afternoon. Glory wanted more and only a few minutes later Dion Shaw pushed over the crossbar a shot from Ryan Pearson. The substitute ‘keeper came to Newcastle’s rescue again by saving on the line a header from Amphlett. But there wasn’t a lot he could do on 63 minutes when Vittiglia put away Glory’s third goal to effectively end the game as a contest. Five minutes later Trifiro netted his second to put the result well and truly beyond the visiting team. The final twenty minutes were played out without incident with the warm conditions taking their toll on both sets of players.
HARNWELL, THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING (courtesy the ‘West Australian’)
When Jamie Harnwell came off the bench to score the equalising goal against Brisbane Roar early this month, he celebrated like a teenager on debut. It was hardly a classic but after the 32-year old steered a left-foot shot through a crowd of players he set off on a chaotic charge towards The Shed. He was ecstatic, triumphant and defiant all at once on his return from an injury that had threatened his career. Passion spilled from the pores of a player who admitted having considered the prospect of never again returning to the heights of the A-League. A pre-season hamstring tear followed by a serious knee injury hit hard, but not so hard as to quell the competitive juices that have flowed through Harnwell's veins since he was a junior player overlooked for successive State teams.
It seems remarkable that a player now just thirteen games short of Bobby Despotovski's appearance record of 241 Glory matches was not considered to be among the State's best young players. Harnwell was told at one stage that he was too small to be considered for an underage State side. "It's always been a battle but I'm pretty proud of the way I stuck to things and had a career a lot of people never thought I was capable of," he Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian'. "I never made a State team when I was a kid and most of the time (at trials) I got knocked out at the first go. One year I was too slow, the next year I was too small, if you can believe it. I got to 15 or 16 and I'd go down to State trials but I knew I wasn't a chance to get in, but it never really bothered me."
Harnwell, whose brother Todd has also played for Glory, is indebted to his dad, Derek, and mum, Kaye, who provided the guidance to ensure he was not deterred by the setbacks and continued the hard slog towards a professional career. And just after his 20th birthday, his perseverance paid off when after outstanding form for WA Premier League club Sorrento, he made the State senior team for a tour of Malaysia in 1997. "I always wanted to be a professional footballer but you get that many knock backs you start doubting yourself," Harnwell said. "I have to credit my mum and dad and close family and friends for seeing something in me and not pushing me but encouraging me to still believe in that dream."
He made his Sorrento debut under local coach Tom Kilkelly before the arrival in Perth of former Bolton Wanderers striker Trevor Morgan proved to be significant. Morgan, who had a long playing career in England, took on the Sorrento job and was later joined in Perth by former Exeter City forward Steve Neville, the father of Glory defender Scott Neville. The duo had quite an impact on Harnwell's development, encouraging him to reach for higher goals. "I think with Jamie, the thing that's always got him through is his attitude," said Morgan, reserve team manager of English Premier League side Hull City last season. "There are players who are more gifted, but it's about attitude as well and that's what's taken Jamie to where he is now. You can't give attitude to players."
Morgan returned to Perth this year expecting that his English Premier League experience would be of interest to A-League clubs, although he is yet to squeeze on to Australian soccer's coaching merry-go-round. But just as the recycling of familiar coaching faces has been of little surprise, Morgan, who will again coach Sorrento in the local competition next season, said Harnwell's return from injury to again menace A-League defences was expected. "You know what you're going to get from Jamie week in, week out," Morgan said. "He's going to give everything he's got and he's not going to let you down. That's what he's done all his career. If you know what you're going to get from a player, you can rely on them."
After junior disappointment, Harnwell progressed from Sorrento to Glory and quickly established himself as a player to be reckoned with after a brief debut as a substitute in a 2-2 draw away to Brisbane Strikers in October 1998. He headed home Glory's first National Soccer League finals goal in a 2-1 win over Adelaide City at the WACA Ground in a memorable debut season and was soon a regular fixture in the teams of Bernd Stange and Mich d'Avray. In between helping Glory clinch NSL titles in 2003 and 2004 he had a spell in England with Leyton Orient before returning to Perth to play in every game of the inaugural A-League season in 2005-06 during Steve McMahon's reign as coach.
But the hard times descended again under Ron Smith when he faced a constant battle to convince the coach of his value to the team. By then, Harnwell, who is married to Karen and has two daughters Jenna, 4, and Amber, 10 months, at least had a young family to keep him occupied. "When Ron was coaching and I wasn't playing as much as I'd hoped I could go home from training and switch off and play with my daughter and that would be fine," Harnwell said. "If I was younger and that had happened to me I don't like to think how I would've coped with it. I'm sure the coping mechanism would've been a bit different. Family (life) provides a good foil to being a professional footballer."
Glory's current coach, David Mitchell, who was assistant to Smith at the time, convinced the coach of Harnwell's potential as a striker and he began the transformation from defender to attacker. The former Glory captain would admit he is not the league's most gifted player and pace has never been his greatest attribute. But his determination to win every ball, his desire to succeed and his passion for the club have endeared him to large sections of the Glory following. "If you make life hard for the defender you've done your job," he said. "If you can get your body in front of them and if you can knock them off balance, it's hard for defenders. "If people want to criticise me for being one dimensional that's fine. I've got a lot more to offer but what I do is effective."
Morgan believes the absence of pace to threaten opponents has made Harnwell a more thoughtful player. "He knows what he has to do and he's more choosy with his runs," Morgan said of the player who scored a hat-trick in his second game as a striker, and topped Glory's scoring charts in 2006/07 and 2007/08. "But you know as a defender (playing against him) that when the ball is hung up there, you are going to get a challenge." Just how long he can continue to fight on Glory's front line remains to be seen, but Harnwell, whose contract expires at the end of the season, is not finished yet.
GLORY BRING IT HOME (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory will use tomorrow's home meeting with Newcastle Jets to propel them back into play-offs contention. David Mitchell's team slipped out of the top six after last week's disappointing loss to North Queensland Fury, but the coach insists Glory remain positive and will be out to put up a good performance in front of their faithful fans. "This week is the first time that we've been out of the six and we want to get back in there," said Mitchell, whose players are keen to end the Jets four-game winning streak. "Newcastle has been flying so it's going to be a tough game. They will come here with a bit of swagger and hopefully a bit overconfident. We can use that, win and get the fans supporting us again."
With Branko Jelic (ankle) and Wayne Srhoj (knee) missing the game and a cloud of doubt over attacker Viktor Sikora, who pulled up sore at training on Thursday, Mitchell will be faced with some selection dilemmas as he tries to find the winning formula. "It's time now where with a couple of injuries we are looking to change things a little bit," he said. "Other players want opportunities, and will be looking forward to the chance." On of those could be out-of-favour striker Eugene Dadi, who has played just six times this season with his most recent outing being off the bench at Wellington Phoenix in early November.
While Mitchell concedes Newcastle has been in great form and that his squad will be facing a tough opponent, he remains confident Glory can give their home town fans plenty to cheer about. "In the early part of the season they (Newcastle) were conceding a lot of goals and were frustrated. Branko (Culina) has worked hard to get the team on the park doing the right things and they've built on their success to build momentum," commented Mitchell, whose own side have won only once in nine starts. "Newcastle is a good side and it's a difficult game, but one we have to take to them and win."
Recent results aside, Mitchell says Glory have been playing well and are still very much in finals contention. "We are a good football side and the last couple of weeks there has been a bit of pressure applied and we haven't played as well," he said. "But we've got good enough and strong enough players with a lot of character to show that they are good enough to overcome that. We certainly feel that we can make the six and win our home games. We are sitting one point out of the finals with eight games to go, so who would dare to write us off?"
GLORY YOUTH SET SIGHTS ON SIX (courtesy Perth Glory)
A sixth consecutive win and consolidation of a top two place will be the prizes should Perth Glory Youth get the better of Newcastle Jets at ME Bank Stadium on tomorrow. Midfielder Reece Vittiglia says the squads' superb recent form has them one step closer to achieving the pre-season goal of making the finals and claiming the National Youth League title. "Even at the start of the season our goal was to win the league so now we're just in the position where we can really take it to other teams. It's definitely a goal that we're out to grab," Vittiglia said.
While Vittiglia was one to watch in his debut for the youth side last year, this campaign has been tumultuous for the youngster who has struggled with injury. 2009/10 could not have started better for Vittiglia, who completed a stellar performance by scoring a hat-trick and in his first game of the season. However, the gifted midfielder broke his arm the following week and he missed the subsequent seven weeks. "It's been an up and down season for me compared to last year, but you've just got to try and stay positive," he said. "When you're injured you just try and get back in as fast as possible and now that I am, I'm just trying to cement my place in the squad and do my best."
Vittiglia attributes Glory Youth's success to a well-coached and organised team, adding that time has helped the boys to gel together as a unit. "Last year the youth league had just started so our team was brand new and we hadn't played with each other, but this year majority of the players were kept on," he explained. "We've had an extra year under our belts preparing and understanding how we play and I think that that extra year has really helped us understand our roles as players. "Navsie (coach Gareth Naven) has drilled into us the kind of game he wants us to play and we try and influence that on the pitch."
On the game this weekend, Vittiglia says the team are confident but not getting ahead of themselves as there is still a job to be done. "We're very confident but all the players are keeping a level head," he said. "Newcastle is a good outfit, they're always tough to play against and they've got a lot of good players. In saying that, we have good players too and you could say we're on a bit of a roll. We're all really looking forward to the game on the weekend, it's a really big game for us and we're out to take the three points."
COMES A TIME FOR JETS' YOUNG (courtesy the ‘West Australian’)
Newcastle Jets goalkeeper Neil Young faces the biggest game of his career when he lines up against Perth Glory in front of family and friends at ME Bank Stadium on Boxing Day. A trip to Perth might not be the ideal way for Newcastle's players to spend the festive period, but it could not be better for the former Sorrento custodian, who has been forced to live apart from his wife and children in pursuit of his A-League dream. It also provides Young another opportunity to prove to coach Branko Culina he deserves a new contract after being signed as back-up to Ben Kennedy.
Young, 30, has hardly missed a beat on the field since keeping a clean sheet on debut against North Queensland Fury last month after being thrust into the action at late notice when Kennedy was injured in the warm-up. But he admits his biggest challenge has been coping without his wife Lauren and sons Owen, 4, and Mitchell, 1. "It's not been easy because my family is in Perth and it was a bit tough when I wasn't playing," Young said. "Now that I'm playing it's become a little bit easier and (this week) I'll get to see the family. I left Perth in May and I've seen my kids twice since then. It's hard for me and for Lauren - she's had enough living by herself, which I don't blame her."
If all goes well and a new Jets deal is forthcoming, Young will be joined in Newcastle by his wife and children in the near future. "I've always wanted to play football at this level and it's a bit of a relief to actually get a chance," he said. "I've never hidden from the fact that I'd like to play in Perth, only because it's my home. But if Newcastle offered me a contract I'd definitely take it because they gave me the chance." Young freely admits he would be out to prove wrong those who doubted his ability to make the jump from the WA Premier League. "It's a game of opinions but it's going to be nice to come back and prove a point to some people," he said.
Young spent fourteen years hoping his form for Sorrento would prompt interest from Glory and admitted his angst at being overlooked was sometimes reflected in his temperament. "I knew I could play at the next level but I wasn't getting the opportunity and the frustration was building," added Young. Having worked his way up through the Gulls', Young played key roles in the Premier League title wins of 2001 and 2006, being voted State League Goalkeeper of the Year in the latter. He made his State team debut in June of last year in a friendly with Perth Glory.
Young has kept two clean sheets in his six Jets matches and his performances have also helped them string together four successive victories heading into the clash with Glory. Saturday's match will also give him an opportunity to lock horns with former Sorrento teammates Jamie Harnwell, Scott Neville and Scott Bulloch. Newcastle will arrive in Perth high on confidence after their string of four wins propelled the team from the bottom of the table to fourth place. Glory have travelled in the opposite direction in recent weeks, slipping to seventh place with just one win from their past nine matches.
COYNE VOWS TO MAKE WORLD CUP SQUAD
Defender Chris Coyne is determined to crash the Socceroos’ World Cup party despite the disappointment of his omission from the squad to take on Kuwait next month. Despite the absence of key players, Coyne was left out because of a recent back injury that sidelined him for the fortnight leading into Perth Glory’s weekend game with Gold Coast United. The 31-year-old was informed of his omission by coach Pim Verbeek in a telephone conversation on Monday night. “He played 90 minutes last week but Chris is not ready. He is not on his best at the moment,” Verbeek told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’. “He trained two times in the last three weeks. I think the only reason why he played was because he wants to support the team in a very difficult game against Gold Coast but he was not physically ready.”
Coyne made his Socceroos debut last June and featured prominently in Australia’s World Cup qualification campaign. However, he hasn’t featured in the Socceroos squad since the June defeat of Bahrain in Sydney, and is focused on using the disappointment of his latest omission as the catalyst to force his way back into World Cup contention. “If anything it’s going to make me even more determined to work my socks off in the break,” said Coyne, who after the Boxing Day clash with Newcastle Jets won’t play again until Glory’s 10 January fixture with Sydney FC. “If you are in a successful team winning games week in, week out, I think it paints a different picture to if you’re in a team that’s won one game in the last nine,” added Coyne, who feels his clubs recent poor form may have played a part in his non-selection.
JOONDALUP GIVE WYLIE A NEW START
Former State Schoolboys defender Chris Wylie will wear ECU Joondalup colours in 2010. Wylie was sounded out by several few clubs after splitting from Mandurah City last season and could not be happier about joining Joondalup. “There were a few clubs that called me up and showed some interest but as soon as Syd Amphlett rang me I had it pretty much in my head that’s who I wanted to play for,” said the 24-year old. “Having played with Dale McCulloch, Phil O’Callaghan, Ryan McDarby and Garin Collins I know Joondalup have a team that could really push for the title. I also knew there would be good atmosphere and high morale, which was also a factor in my decision.”
Wylie decided to bring last season to an early close following the surprise departure of Stuart Currie and the rest of the Mandurah coaching staff. “It was a disappointing year, but that’s in the past. I have nothing negative to say about Mandurah, there a fantastic club. I enjoyed my time down south, it was a good experience and I wish them luck for the coming season,” he said. “My decision to leave was a very difficult one especially as it was half way through the season, I don’t want to go in to too much detail or politics, but I did what I thought was the right thing after the coaches left.”
Leaving Mandurah midway through his third season with the club was an enormously difficult decision for Wylie. “I have a lot of respect for Stuart Currie, Billy Russell and Ron Harrison and the decision I made was my way of showing them how thankful and appreciative I am of everything they have done for me,” said Wylie. “Stuart is fantastic to work with, it was a real pleasure playing under him and I would do so again in a heartbeat. I have a lot of time and respect for Stu, he believed in me, and helped improve my game as well as giving me plenty of advice and confidence. He was a good laugh and was always down to have a pint with me.”
Wylie is particularly looking forward to re-kindling his association with striker Phil O’Callaghan, who he played two season with at Mandurah. “Joondalup has always had a good squad but seem to never fulfil there potential,” said Wylie, who made his State League debut for Fremantle City followed by spells at Canning City and Floreat Athena. “The signing of Phil O’Callaghan is a major boost, he hasn’t been top goal scorer two years in a row for no reason. There’s no doubt he’s the best striker in the league and if he can continue his good form in to the coming season who knows where he will go.”
Joondalup commence their pre-season early next month and Wylie can’t wait to get started. “I am really looking forward to it. I’ve heard good things about Syd, he has been in the game a long time and has a lot of knowledge and experience, so hopefully he can teach me a trick or two and help improve my game,” said Wylie. “There’s quality all through the team, in every position. And with one of the best youth development programs in the state they are always going to have a good squad. Hopefully, if I get myself fit and have a good Night Series I can be a key figure in defence.”
PLYMOUTH AWAIT DECISION ON LOWRY
Aston Villa defender Shane Lowry is waiting to find out whether he will be returning to Plymouth Argyle in the New Year for another loan spell with the Championship club. The 20-year old is set to have talks with Villa manager Martin O'Neill, who will make the decision, after his initial three-month loan with the Pilgrims expired with the loss at Coventry City on Saturday. Plymouth first team coach Paul Mariner has made it clear he wants to re-sign Lowry when the transfer window opens on 1 January
For the time being Lowry is unsure what the future holds for him. "I don't have a clue, to be honest. I don't think it's any secret Plymouth would like to extend my loan. I have had a have had a word with the gaffer (Mariner) and he wants me to stay," Lowry told 'Herald Sport'. "But, at the end of the day, it's between Plymouth and Villa - it's not down to me, I don't make these decisions. I would like to go out on loan again and play more games. Villa are fourth in the Premier League at the moment so I have got to be realistic. I'm not going to be playing for them. Getting games with Plymouth has done me the world of good."
One motivating factor behind Lowry's desire to be playing regular first team football is next year's World Cup. The defender is yet to make his Socceroos debut but has been included in the 23-player squad for next month's Asian Cup qualifier with Kuwait. "Obviously, you do have it in the back of your mind there is a World Cup coming up," he said. "I think there is a chance for me to make it, but you just never know what can happen over the next six months with injuries and form. The manager of Australia (Pim Verbeek) has said players need to be playing first team football every week to be considered."
BURNS CONSIDERS TRAINING IN EUROPE
Desperate to keep his World Cup dream alive, Perth Glory captain Jacob Burns has flagged the prospect of training with a European club at the end of the A-League season should he fail to secure a loan move during next month’s transfer window. Socceroos boss Pim Verbeek, who’ll announce his preliminary 30-player squad on 11 May before revealing his final 23-man selection on 1 June, has warned that players not playing regularly leading into the World Cup will not be considered for the tournament.
Burns, though, does not believe failure to secure a loan deal would necessarily spell the end to his World Cup hopes, especially if Glory can lift their game and make an impact in the A-League finals. “If you play finals football it takes you in to March,” said Burns, who believed a move to Asia after the A-League season was still an option. “Otherwise going to train with a European outfit, which could quite easily be done, but then you’ve got to be trying to organise games behind closed doors and it becomes a little bit more of a difficult kind of circumstance.”
Burns said his immediate priority was helping Glory arrest a poor run of form by securing victory against Newcastle Jets at ME Bank Stadium on Boxing Day. “This is probably the biggest game for us,” Burns said. “We’ve had good form at home and we’ve been terrible travelling. We’ve had quite a few results go against us where I don’t think we deserved it. The last two games I think we deserved what we got so we'll be working extremely hard this week.”
Glory have won just one of their past nine matches and have been particularly disappointing in away defeats to North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United in their last two games. “The good thing is it’s a league where it’s incredibly tight and a few wins gets you right back up in the top four, top three even,” the Glory captain said. “It’s not all doom and gloom we know we are strong at home and we have got a good run of home games.” Glory play at home in five of their last eight regular season games.
VELAPHI GETS SOCCEROOS CALL-UP
Talented young goalkeeper Tando Velaphi is over the moon at being included in Pim Verbeek’s Socceroos squad for next month’s Asian Cup qualifier against Kuwait. Locally developed pair Nikita Rukavytsya (FC Twente) and Shane Lowry (Aston Villa) have also been named in the predominantly A-League based squad which also features Velaphi’s Perth Glory team mates Jacob Burns and Mile Sterjovski. However, there was no place in the 23-players selected for Glory defender Chris Coyne, who featured prominently in Australia’s World Cup qualification campaign but has not featured since June.
Velaphi, a member of Australia’s squad at the Beijing Olympic Games last year, has been in patchy form of late but coach Verbeek has boosted the 23-year old’s confidence by granting him a senior call-up. “It came as a pleasant surprise to make the national team,” he said. “I just focus on my performances at Glory and try to improve so to get an opportunity like this is really exciting and encouraging. It’s going to be a pretty big game so it’s nice to be involved in the camps and to be amongst the national set up again.”
The Australia squad to play Kuwait on 6 January is Eugene Galekovic, Scott Jamieson (Adelaide United), Mike Jedinak (Antalyaspor), Shane Lowry (Aston Villa), Matthew McKay, Craig Moore, Tommy Oar (Brisbane Roar), Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners), Nick Carle (Crystal Palace), Luke Wilkshire (Dynamo Moscow), Bruce Djite (Genclerbirligi), Jason Culina (Gold Coast United), Matthew Kemp, Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory), Matthew Thompson (Newcastle United), Matthew Spiranovic, Dario Vidosic (Nurnberg), Jacob Burns, Mile Sterjovski, Tando Velaphi (Perth Glory), Alex Brosque, Simon Colosimo (Sydney FC) and Nikita Rukavytsya (FC Twente).
TODD VOWS TO PLAY AGAINST NEWCASTLE
Perth Glory defender Andy Todd is determined not to let concerns over the knockout blow he received in Sunday’s loss to Gold Coast United prevent his participation in the home Boxing Day clash with Newcastle Jets. The former Blackburn Rovers captain will consult a doctor today but is adamant he’ll line-up against the Jets, who are riding high on confidence after four successive victories. Glory have slipped to seventh on the A-League table after winning just one of their past nine games and are desperate for a victory to mark the start of a resurgence. “We are having a bad spell at the minute but all you can do is play and try to turn it around,” Todd said. “There’s no magic formula. We have to sort it out ourselves.”
Todd was concussed after receiving an accidental boot in the face during a crunching challenge midway through the first half against Gold Coast. The defender looked dazed as he sat on the sideline after being helped from the field by physiotherapist Chris Hutchinson but re-entered the game five minutes later. However, he was eventually substituted in the second half. “I felt all right in the second half but they said they didn’t want to risk getting another knock and as a defender that can always happen,” Todd told Jonathon Cook of the ‘West Australian’ newspaper. “You put on a brave face and try to grind through it. You don’t want to show any weaknesses but they made the right decision.”
Todd, 35, is bracing for an unusual Boxing Day experience after years playing as a professional in England when the 26 December fixture was played in freezing conditions. Although he has adapted quickly to the hotter climate, Todd believed afternoon start times had a negative effect on the quality of the game, which was played at a slower tempo. “You generally find the games that are a later kick-off are better games,” he said. “I think if we had an evening kick-off it would suit us, the opposition and it would be a better game for the fans.” The Glory-Jets Boxing Day showdown kicks off at 5.00pm this Saturday at ME Bank Stadium.
AMATEUR SELECT CLAIM VICTORY
The State Amateur Select squad recovered from being two goals down to defeat Malaysian Armed Forces 3-2 in last night’s pulsating friendly at Alfred Skeet Oval. “I’m really proud of all the boys, not for just the way that they played but how they trained and committed themselves at such short notice, they can quite rightly be very proud of themselves,” said coach Nik Silsby. “With more training, fitness and working together as a squad the boys could be quite some side. And massive thanks to Flav (Flavio L’Abbate) and Alex Tenner for all there work too.”
The hot and humid conditions seemed to suit the current Malaysian champions who opened up a two-goal lead inside the half hour. Felim Rugelm reeled in the gap just before half-time by outpacing the defence and rounding the goalkeeper before tucking the ball into the net. A change in formation for the second half paid dividends for the Amateur Select when Alvaro Faria netted the equalised. The hosts maintained their composure and their persistent pressure was rewarded when Dave Ashworth beating the ‘keeper to secure the State representative side a memorable victory. Malaysian Armed Forces play Perth SC at Dorrien Gardens on Tuesday, 22nd December, from 7.00pm.
NO GLORY ON THE GOLD COAST
Perth Glory has dropped out of the A-League’s top six after going down 2-0 to Gold Coast United at Skilled Park. There was plenty of endeavour shown by the visitors against a revitalised Gold Coast side that went ahead early through Shane Smeltz with Charlie Miller adding their second late in the game. “It was disappointing not to get something from the game because we changed things around and managed to create a few chances but didn’t have the key to unlock them in the penalty area,” coach David Mitchell said. “We managed to get some good possession but didn’t threaten too much in the second half and as we chased the game we opened up at the back and Gold Coast capitalised on the break.”
It was the worst possible start for Glory who found themselves behind after just 4 minutes when Miller’s lofted pass found Smeltz on the edge of the 18-yard box, the New Zealand international chesting the ball down and volleying into the top corner. The home side kept up the early tempo with captain Jason Culina flashing wide not too long after. Having taken time to regroup, Glory started to apply pressure of their own with Victor Sikora’s glancing header captured by Jess Vanstrattan, while Adriano Pellegrino’s crisp long-range attempt sent the goalkeeper scrambling to his right. Half-time was looming large when Jacob Burns’ free-kick cleared the defensive wall and appeared destined for the top corner when Vanstrattan palmed it away
Glory came out for the second period with a more attacking formation that allowed them to mount pressure on their hosts. The extra man through midfield seemed to work as the visitors enjoyed the majority of possession, getting the ball into their area fifteen times as compared to just three for the home side. However, were almost undone when Culina’s audacious shot from just inside his own half cleared a back-tracking Tando Velaphi but bounced off the bar. As the game wore on Gold Coast stepped up a gear and on 76 minutes Smeltz turned provider with Miller striking across Velaphi from close-range to secure the three points.
Glory must now quickly regroup for a Boxing Day showdown with fourth placed Newcastle Jets, who have won four matches on the trot. “I think as a team we have lost a little bit of confidence but a good performance against Newcastle will rectify that. It’s something we need to snap out of and there is the mental maturity in the team to find their way through this tough patch,” said Mitchell. “We’ve got another five games at home in the run to the finals and need to secure as many points as possible from them … we know not everything is exactly right at the moment but we are all pulling in the same direction and I have no doubt we can find some positive momentum and get the results we need.”
FIVE IN A ROW FOR GLORY YOUNGSTERS
Perth Glory Youth has risen to second rung on the Youth League ladder with a 1-0 win over Gold Coast United at Skilled Stadium. Glory Youth’s fifth win in a row came courtesy of an own goal credited to home goalkeeper Jerrad Tyson, who was helpless as Steve Hesketh’s volleyed crashed down off the crossbar and ricocheted into the net off his back. Despite the referee’s awarding it as an own goal, Hesketh was worthy of the credit and made good use of a terrific Sam Mitchinson free-kick that picked out the Glory Youth captain in the 6-yard box.
High intensity defending by Glory Youth throughout the first half allowed Gold Coast very little time on the ball. Conversely Glory Youthg created numerous opportunities but failed to make the most of some excellent lead-up play. The games only goal arrived after 26 minutes when Mitchinson’s delightfully flighted ball into the area was slammed into the bar by Hesketh, the ball rebounded down and into Tyson before falling across the line. Tommy Amphlett created a one-on-one for Cameron Edwards who lifted his shot high of the bar, and the same two players combined later with the former this time unable to capitalise.
Gold Coast started to play some better football in the second half and looked set to force their way back into the game when Richard Greer was issued his marching orders just on the hour for a needless second yellow card. Glory Youth was in no mood to let their hosts steal back a goal and pressed hard to double their lead. Edwards and the ever-dangerous Ludovic Boi were menacing in the final third and only a string of desperate saves by Tyson kept the visitors at bay. Golgol Mebrahtu created the hosts solitary chance of the second half but Chris Harold arrived just a fraction too late to meet his cross.
MRDJA STARS FOR MARINERS YOUTH
Central Coast Mariner’s striker Nik Mrdja has done his chances of a first team return the world of good by scoring twice in today’s National Youth League encounter with Brisbane Roar. With senior coach Lawrie McKinna looking on, Mrdja hit the target either side of the break and set-up another for Brady Smith to steer the Mariners to a 4-3 win, a result that keeps them atop the table. McKinna, who was left to rue missed opportunities as the first team surrendered to Roar 3-2, hinted his team may have a different starting eleven when it plays Sydney FC ion mid-week. “Going back a few weeks ago we were getting one or two chances and taking them - now we’re getting more chances and not taking them,” said McKinna. “Nik Mrdja is close to a start, he got two in the Youth League, Dylan (MacAllister) came on and did well. We have a hard game on Wednesday so we have to go there confident of getting three points, because we have coughed up another three at home.”
GARCIA READY FOR SOCCEROOS
Richard Garcia has put his hand up for Socceroos selection having made a full recovery from injury. Back in Hull City’s starting line-up after being rubbed out for nearly four months with a knee ligament injury suffered in pre-season training, the workaholic attacking midfielder is banging loudly on the plane door to South Africa. Last spotted in the green and gold in the goalless draw against Qatar in June, Garcia is expected to make his seventh successive start when the Tigers face Arsenal on Sunday morning.
Hull are only a point away from the drop zone but Garcia has impressed in recent weeks and insists the injury clouds have been banished. “I’ve strung some games together now and my match fitness is almost back to what it should be. I can feel everything falling back into place and I’m feeling fantastic,” he told theworldgame.com.au. “The boss and the club have kept faith with me. It’s always hard when you have a long-term injury but I kept working away and never got down about it. I have missed some game time with Australia and there are a lot of excellent midfielders in the frame for the World Cup but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’m really hopeful of breaking back in.”
Socceroos boss Pim Verbeek has kept tabs on Garcia by text, however, the Hull player knows there are no guarantees in a midfield where he is competing with proven performers Tim Cahill and Marco Bresciano and breakthrough youngsters Dario Vidosic, Brett Holman and Nick Carle. “The key for me is to be playing regularly, I think Pim’s made it clear he wants his players to be doing that,” added Garcia. “I can understand where the boss is coming from there because you can’t beat regular game time, especially at the level of the Premier League. I’m feeling sharp and I’m ahead where I thought I would have been at this stage after the injury.”
Australia has been pooled with Germany, Ghana and Serbia in Group D at next year’s World Cup. Garcia believes that grouping is on par with 2006 where the Socceroos faced Japan, Brazil and Croatia before progressing to the round of sixteen. “I see no reason why we shouldn’t progress,” said Garcia, who has played for Australia five times since debuting against South Africa sixteen months ago. who has so far played for Australia he added. “It’s the same sort of challenge as 2006 and we’ll relish the test. We don’t fear anybody, that’s not in our nature and the boys be happy to fly under the radar at the World Cup and be more than happy if teams under-estimate Australia.”
MITCHELL HOPES TO SILENCE CRITICS
David Mitchell coach says a good showing against Gold Coast United will be the perfect response to recent attacks the Perth Glory coach and his team. Despite sitting sixth on the table, Glory have been the focus of much criticism over the last few days following a disappointing 1-0 loss away to North Queensland Fury. Although it was only Glory's first loss in five matches, it also meant the club has only enjoyed one victory in an eight round period during which they have tumbled from top-of-the-table contention to just inside the top six.
But Mitchell is confident the club's reached their darkest point of the season and it's all up from now as the club enjoys five of its last eight matches at home. "We've probably not won a few games we should have, so it's put us in a situation where we're hanging into the six," Mitchell said. "But a couple of wins, as Newcastle have done, can quickly propel you back up the table so from that point of view, we've had a chat with the lads and they're pretty confident we can get some results to stay in our position in the six."
Mitchell said he did not feel his job was under threat, despite admitting he's looking at his options beyond this season. And the coach refused to say the players had let him down by their performance in Townsville. "They probably let themselves down," Mitchell said. "(But) it was a one-off game, second half we've turned it around, so from that point of view I can look at all the games throughout the year and there's probably one or two games you'd think we haven't performed well. But all the rest we have, so from that point of view we've done all right."
Although the club won five of its first ten games, Mitchell said on-going issues with the new players adapting to Perth had caused a few disruptions over the past few months. "Some of the guys probably haven't settled in as well as we would have liked, they came sort of late at the start of the season" he said. "When people move interstate, it's a big move but some players have moved from overseas and changed their whole lifestyle and putting kids in school so there's a lot of things there that take a lot longer than usual. It takes a little bit of time for people to settle in but I don't feel under pressure."
Mitchell appears likely to drop Wayne Srhoj to the bench for this game after the midfielder's suffered something of a form slump. The coach was also unsure whether marquee man Mile Sterjovski would play with the former Derby man struggling with a thigh injury after previously suffering an ankle complaint earlier in the season. Defender Chris Coyne is expected to resume his place in central defence alongside English import Andy Todd, while Adriano Pellegrino may start alongside Jacob Burns in the centre of the park.
ALL-STARS SQUAD ANNOUNCED
Each year footballwa.net honours those players who consistently captured our attention during the winter months with inclusion in the unofficial footballwa.net All-Stars. Our 2009 squads, selected with the input of non-playing representatives from the Premier League clubs, feature some samiliar faces alongside nine players making their first All-Stars appearance. With another year about to tick over the time is ripe to pay tribute to the twenty-two players selected in the 2009 footballwa.net Premier League All-Stars team and shadow squad.
COYNE HEADS TO THE COAST
Chris Coyne is fit and ready to return to the Perth Glory squad this weekend after missing a fortnight with a back injury. As Glory prepares for their second trip to Queensland in as many weeks, Coyne’s return is timely for Sunday’s crucial match at Gold Coast United. “The injury is all clear. I had to have an epidural to speed up the recovery process. We’ve only got nine games left and I felt it imperative that I didn’t miss any more than I had to,” explained the Socceroo defender. “Apart from being slightly undercooked after having two weeks off, I’m ready and raring to go against Gold Coast.”
Coyne, who jarred his back after an awkward landing in Glory’s game with Central Coast Mariners, says he isn’t one for watching on the sidelines and was desperate to get back on the park. “I’m one of the worst watchers ever. People think it’s easy in the stands when you’re watching your team mates play but it’s really frustrating not being out there,” Coyne said. “The positive is that we’ve outplayed Gold Coast both times. Unfortunately there was a bit of a mix up between two of the players which resulted in a fortunate goal for them and we felt a bit hard done by after that.”
Last week’s surprise loss to North Queensland Fury extended Glory’s poor recent run in which they’ve taken only six points from eight games. Coyne says the team are far better than some of their performances suggest and every single player will out to prove as much on Sunday. “You’ve only got to look around the dressing room and pretty much everyone is fit and ready and raring to go. With the squad we’ve got we know we should be up where Melbourne is,” he said. “We feel we’ve under-performed. If we win the next two games, we’ve got over the festive period and it could take us into the top three or four and that’s where we belong.”
REDEMPTION ON THE CARDS FOR GLORY YOUTH
Perth Glory youth will be looking to turn the tables on Gold Coast United when they travel to Queensland this weekend. Gold Coast have got the better of Glory twice this season, however, the visitors have won each of their last four outings and are near to full strength following the return of several players from injury. “Having almost the full squad fit again is a huge advantage for us. It gives the team more depth and we’re all working really well together,” said Sam Mitchinson. “Being one of the younger boys in the squad I look up to a lot of the older guys but all age differences aside, I learn a lot from them and its good to have that mix of youth and experience.”
Mitchinson, who scored his first youth league in last week’s win over the Australian Institute of Sport, has overcome his own injury woes to be an integral part of the team’s winning streak. “It was really good to score last week and contribute to the win. It was my first youth league goal so I was pretty excited,” said Mitchinson. And while Sunday’s game is a big test for the Glory Youth squad, the 17-year old wing back is confident of returning from the Gold Coast with a positive result. “We’re feeling really confident going into this week’s match. We are training really hard at the moment and working on our weaknesses and I think all the lads are looking forward to it.” 990am Information Radio’s live and exclusive broadcast of the Gold Coast-Glory Youth League game begins at 1.30pm on Sunday.
FINALS A MUST AS MITCHELL WEIGHS OPTIONS (courtesy the 'West Australian')
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell is making contingency plans for his future as the pressure mounts over his tenure at the A-League club. Mitchell is determined to lead Glory to the A-League finals for the first time, but admits he would consider his options if the team failed to finish in the top six. "There's a possibility, so yes," he said when asked if he had to consider the prospect of having his contract terminated. "It's a situation where there aren't many jobs in football at elite level. You have to look at it. You have to think of the consequences."
Chief executive Lui Giuliani said Mitchell had every right to consider his options but confirmed the board would back the coach for another season if he delivered finals football. "As a club, we set our expectations high and we want the fans to know that," he said. "We are keen and we are striving for success. That means we've got to create a high performance culture. We can't create a culture where we accept mediocrity." If Glory fail to reach the finals the coaching position will be reviewed by the board, which is unlikely to be sympathetic to the coach.
Glory, notoriously poor performers on the road, are in sixth place ahead of a tough task away to Gold Coast United on Sunday. Success on the road under Mitchell has been rare for Glory, winning only four of 25 matches, and defeat on the Gold Coast would amp up pressure on the Glory coach. "I think we are challenging now but I certainly don't think we should be running away with the league as some people seem to think," Mitchell said. "It's a very even league and I think people have unrealistic expectations."
Mitchell believes the club is moving in the right direction since the signing of Socceroos trio Chris Coyne, Mile Sterjovski and Jacob Burns, as well as Andy Todd and Branko Jelic. Asked if he felt he was getting the best out of the players, including his star acquisitions, Mitchell said: "I don't think they solely play for the manager. They have their own pride and self-esteem, the players." The difficulty Glory face in reaching the finals was made obvious last Friday when they were beaten 1-0 by struggling North Queensland Fury, a result which prompted owner Tony Sage to blast underperforming players.
STATE AMATEURS ON SHOW AGAINST MALAYSIAN CHAMPIONS
Nik Silsby has delighted with the attitude of those who'll represent the State this weekend against visiting Malaysian Armed Forces. The Amateur Select squad will take on the Malaysian Premier League champions in a hastily arranged friendly on Sunday evening at Alfred Skeet Oval (5.00pm). "I'm really pleased by all the players' superb attitude towards playing for the State with little preparation, especially being out of season and so close to Christmas" said Silsby, who is being assisted by Flavio L'Abbate. "We're both really looking forward to working with some really fantastic players."
It's been busy few days for Silsby who was invited to coach the squad just over a week ago, and had his first run with the squad on Wednesday evening. "With the assistance of Flavio, we came up with a squad consisting of two players from each Premier League side and asked on their availability. From the twenty-two that were asked, five were unable to play so we have an excellent squad of seventeen players," said Silsby. "The boys worked well in training last night and everyone is eagerly looking forward to the game."
The State Amateur Select squad to play Malaysian Armed Forces features Andrew Morrow, Felim Rugel (Fremantle United), Carlos Bervonetti, Daniel Scudder (Hamersley Rovers), Ian Bunton, Aaron Platten (Joondalup United), Dave Ashworth, Aaron Lickiss (Kingsway Olympic), Barry Glasscott (Lynwood United), Clayton Kendall (Murdoch University), Cathal Lennon, Paudie O’Connor (Shamrock Rovers), Alvaro Faria, Dave Palin (Southern Spirit), Seb Kressling (Spearwood Dalmatinac), Hussein Awada (Stirling Panthers) and Tristan Scott (University of WA).
SIGN UP FOR THE JANUARY SKILLZ CLINICS
Youth and junior players can give themselves the best possible start to 2010 by attending the January Skillz Clinics. A joint initiative between Pro Football Training and Canning City, the three-day camps are open to players between the ages of 6 and 16 who'll benefit from the tutelage of former Perth Glory defender Mark Lee and one-time Scotland youth international Barry Wood.
Next month's camps, which run between 18-20 January at Willetton Sports Ground, offer three fun-filled days of football activity designed to enhance and further junior player development. Through daily skills challenges, Speed Agility and Quickness sessions and mini-World Cup, urban football (3v3) and football tennis tournaments aspiring youngsters will learn all the skills needed to make them a better player.
Each child attending the January Skills Clinics will receive a player pack and be in the running for daily prizes and giveaways. And one lucky player from each camp will be invited onto the Pro Football Training Program for Term 1, 2010, valued at $500. For more information or to register for the January Skills Clinics visit canningcity.com.au or contact Pro Football Training via firstname.lastname@example.org
YOUNG HAS FORTNIGHT TO EARN NEW JETS CONTRACT
Neil Young has taken the mantle as the Newcastle Jets' first-choice goalkeeper - now he has two weeks to convince the club he is worthy of a new contract. Young has been a revelation since stepping into the starting line-up for the injured Ben Kennedy, the Jets claiming victory in four of the five games they've had the former Sorrento man between the posts. And although his fumble last week against Gold Coast United led to Shane Smeltz's second goal, Young made amends with a spectacular diving save to deny Jason Culina in the dying moments. His athletic effort was enough to win Fox Sports' Save of the Week, the second time he has featured.
Though happy with Young's form, coach Branko Culina won't be rushed into signing the West Australian shot-stopper, who is keen to settle his future. "I don't get carried away with people having a bad game and I don't get carried away with people having a good game," Culina said. "I have told Neil that we will have a look at the situation after the Perth game (on Boxing Day). It's fair to say that he is doing well and we need to have that competition (between goalkeepers) to keep going. He contributed to the second goal where he fumbled the ball but he certainly came back to save our bacon when Jason had that shot. He is doing well and it is up to the two boys to keep pushing each other."
COACH BACKS COYNE FOR WORLD CUP
Australia boss Pim Verbeek has been given a timely reminder of Chris Coyne's potential importance to Australia's World Cup campaign next year. Perth Glory coach David Mitchell is convinced Coyne, who has formed a steady central defensive partnership with Andy Todd, has a role to play with the Socceroos next year and recently spoke to Verbeek about his form. Brisbane Roar veteran Craig Moore and Everton's Lucas Neill are Verbeek's preferred central pairing, but Coyne has proved he can make the adjustment to the international scene in seven Socceroos appearances since his senior debut in June last year. "He's been solid and consistent all season and I mentioned that to Pim," Mitchell said yesterday. "I think Chris, Mile and (Glory captain) Jacob (Burns) are good enough." Glory are likely to lose the trio in January when they seek loan moves to ensure they are playing in the lead-up to next year's World Cup.
MAY DAY FOR GLORIOUS STARLET (courtesy Football West)
Unheralded midfielder Shannon May has underlined her importance to Perth Glory Women by taking out the Most Glorious Player award. May was stunned to receive the prestigious award in front of team mates, coaches, sponsors, family and friends at the team's end of season awards dinner. "I'm so surprised to win this award, it really is a shock" said May. "We have so many world class players in the squad that to win this award is really special and I would like to thank my team mates and the coaching staff."
May, scorer of the first ever goal for Glory Women, played every match of the 2009 W-League season and was tasked with a holding midfield role, a position which saw her come up against some of the country's best players. Whilst not enjoying the profile of some of the international players, the diminutive May's importance to the team cannot be questioned. "Shannon has been fantastic for our side this season, and I couldn't think of a more deserving winner," said coach John Gibson.
Washington Freedom recruit Alex Singer was named the Players' Player of the Year, whilst Matildas striker Katie Gill took the Golden Boot with three goals in as many game following her late season arrival from Swedish side Sunnana SK. Glory Women completed the second W-League season in sixth place, only one point outside of a maiden finals appearance.
PLYMOUTH WANT TO KEEP LOWRY
New Plymouth Argyle boss Paul Mariner has expressed his desire to retain the services of on loan defedner Shane Lowry from Aston Villa. Lowry's three-month loan agreement with Plymouth expires with Saturday's home match against Coventry City, however, Mariner has revealed he would like to keep the 20-year old along with David Gray, who is on loan from Manchester United. "I would like to bring them back. They're tremendous boys and we'll take it forward as quickly as possible," said Mariner. Lowry, who joined Plymouth in mid-September, has impressed in his thirteen appearances for the club during which he was called into camp with the Socceroos.
NO NEED FOR CRISIS TALKS: HARNWELL (courtesy the ‘West Australian’)
Fan favourite Jamie Harnwell is adamant Perth Glory can turn around their recent form and denied there was need for crisis talks, despite the club's precarious position on the fringes of the A-League finals. Glory continued a woeful away record when they lost 1-0 at struggling North Queensland Fury last Friday, prompting owner Tony Sage to launch a scathing assessment of the team, which has slipped to sixth place. It is understood some players were disappointed the outspoken owner had not addressed the squad before launching his public attack.
Sage bankrolled an injection of talent, including the signing of Socceroos Mile Sterjovski, Jacob Burns and Chris Coyne along with imports Andy Todd and Branko Jelic this season, and has declared finals football a minimum target. Harnwell, who came off the bench midway through the second half, had no problem with the assessment. "He hasn't spoken to us. I don't think he really needs to," Harnwell said. "I don't think there's any call for crisis meetings or something like perhaps we did last year. We are pretty comfortable with what he said and how we are going to change it."
Only Harnwell and defender Andy Todd were worthy performers against Fury, according to Sage, who said he was embarrassed by the first-half performance. "He's the owner of the club he puts his money in and I don't think anyone in the team was happy with the first-half performance on the weekend," Harnwell said. "But it's probably the only time this year that you could really criticise us for that. It hurt everyone after the game but we know we can play a lot better than that and we are pretty committed to not putting that sort of first-half performance in again."
Sage is not stranger to making controversial statements, last season the owner vowed to "cut the cancer" from the club and threatened to dock player wages after a four-goal thrashing by Melbourne Victory. "It's never nice I suppose but that's his prerogative," Harnwell said. "He said it last year after a pretty poor performance against Melbourne so some of us are sort of used to it, I suppose. It's never nice but we're all professionals and we've got to cop that criticism on the chin be it from the coach or the owner. I think the criticism we copped from (coach Dave) Mitchell and the assistants after the game was plenty enough so we sort of knew what was coming."
Harnwell, who returned to action recently following knee problems, wants to start in Glory's clash with Gold Coast United at Skilled Park on Sunday. "Whether I can last 90 minutes in that sort of humidity and temperature, I don't know," he said. "That's a call for Mitch (coach David Mitchell) whether he wants to start me or keep me on the bench for later in the game. I'd love to start obviously and that's what I'm pushing towards but that's not my call."
Striker Branko Jelic is unlikely to be ready for Sunday's match because of an ankle injury but Socceroos defender Chris Coyne appears to have recovered from a back problem, which sidelined him for the previous two games. "I think Branko is probably still struggling," Harnwell said. "Chris is looking good he trained yesterday so hopefully he gets through training sessions and we can welcome back a big presence to the side." Glory have picked up just eight points from a possible 30 on the road this season.
WILLIAMS’ CANBERRA OUT OF FINALS
Canberra United's fairytale finals campaign ended with a thud when beaten 3-0 by a ten-player Sydney FC on Saturday. After sneaking in to the semi-finals on the final day of regular season, Canberra couldn't match the league champions in windy conditions at Toyota Stadium. ''On the day, while they (had a) player sent off, they wanted it more, that's just the way football is,'' said co-captain Lydia Williams, who was born in Katanning. ''I think even though they had ten players, it still felt like they had eleven or twelve on the park and at the end of the day you have to finish chances and at the end of the day they did and we didn't.'' Sydney lost defender Alesha Clifford after just 13 minutes but a Sarah Walsh goal on half-time gave them to momentum. An unmarked Leena Khamis headed in after 61 minute before Heather Garriock sealed a grand final appearance in the final ten minutes.
GLORY YOUTH RISE TO THIRD
Perth Glory Youth won their fourth match on the trot by accounting for a young Australian Institute of Sport side 2-0 in a tough encounter at AIS Athletics Track. Sam Mitchinson broke the deadlock midway through the first half with Mario Marcinko converting a late penalty to catapult Glory Youth to third in the National Youth League. Ludovic Boi and Ryan Pearson were the star performers for coach Gareth Naven, while Perth-born defender Trent Sainsbury was rock solid for a home side that went into the match with a lengthy injury list which was compounded by the late withdrawal of Eli Babalj.
The first half belonged to Glory Youth and if not for some wayward finishing they would have held much more than a one-goal lead at the break. In the first twenty minutes when visitors sent four shots well off target with several additional chances on goal thwarted by a desperate AIS defence. The pressure valve was finally released on 28 minutes when the ever-dangerous Ludovic Boi laid the ball off to Mitchinson, whose low shot from the left flew across goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas and went in off the far post. The AIS had their best chance from the re-start with Jared Lum forcing a fine one-handed save from Aleks Vrteski.
Kamal Ibrahim’s move to the left flank provided the impetus for a more composed AIS performance in the second half. Their best chance came on 65 minutes when defender Brendan Hamill was allowed a free run into the Glory Youth half before unleashing a powerful shot which had Vrteski at full-stretch. Boi almost added a second to his teams tally three minutes later but he placed just wide following some shaky defending. The result was made safe in the 77th minute when Marcinko converted from the penalty spot after being brought down on top of the 6-yard box. Both teams fought it out to the end and Vrteski capped a quality performance with another diving save to deny Bush with five minutes to go.
SAGE THREATENS TO WALK
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has threatened to walk out on the club if it fails to make this season's A-League finals. Fuming after the side's abysmal 1-0 loss to battler North Queensland Fury, Sage labelled the players' effort pathetic and described their passing as inept. The millionaire sole owner said only two players could hold their heads high - veterans Jamie Harnwell and Andy Todd. Glory has won only one of its past eight matches and with a tricky assignment at Gold Coast United next Sunday could tumble out of the top six.
Sage bankrolled a recruiting splurge in the off-season to turn the club into a power and looks to lose more than $2 million this season. "It's the first time this season I've been embarrassed to be the owner of Perth Glory," Sage said. "If you're not desperate, don't become a Glory player. That's the message. I don't care about the travel. I think all the players should apologise to the fans." Asked how serious his threat to walk was if Glory failed, Sage said: "Very serious. With the team we've got we've got to make the finals. We've spent up big and I'm just bitterly disappointed. I've committed now to the FFA for a number of years. But I'm frustrated and angry at that first-half performance."
Sage backed coach David Mitchell, who is contracted until the end of next season, but said he must take the club into its inaugural finals campaign this season for his job to be safe. "We'd have to break the contract if we decided to get rid of the coach, but I'm saying I'm 100 per cent behind Mitch," Sage said. "You can't blame the coach for the (lack of) determination on the pitch. He knows we've got to be in the finals. I am very positive we're going to make the six." With Glory currently fifth and five of their nine remaining games at home, Sage said there will be no excuse should the club fail to make the final six.
WELSH DON’T PHASE WILLIAMS
Rhys Williams expects to receive a hostile reception when Cardiff City’s fans venture to the Riverside today after choosing to become Middlesbrough’s latest Australia international. The versatile 21-year old says the lure of playing at next year’s World Cup had nothing to do with his decision to wear the green and gold, as far as he’s concerned he is a fair dinkum Aussie. With luck, Williams will finish his breakthrough season on Teesside by mixing it with Germany, Serbia and Ghana in South Africa, and maybe England in round two.
Williams was eligible to play internationally for Wales, he has ten Under-21 caps for the Welsh, something he is expecting to be reminded of by the Cardiff faithful. “Wales came along and I don’t have a bad word to say about them. I enjoyed the ten games I played, but at the end of the day it just wasn’t meant to be,” he told sundaysun.co.uk. “As soon as I made the step-up to the first team I just didn’t feel comfortable in the Welsh squad because I am Australian …I hope I get some stick from the Cardiff fans (but) hopefully they’ll understand the decision I made.”
Perhaps Williams is looking forward to the banter because he got plenty of it from the Socceroo contingent at the Riverside in his younger days. “Mark Schwarzer was always on my back when he was here. I used to get a lot of stick from him, (Mark) Viduka and Brad (Jones). It was only banter. I’m happy with my decision and I’m so glad to be playing for my rightful country,” said Williams, who moved to Britain at the age of 16 to pursue a career in football.
Williams admits having so many Australian’s around helped him settle in when he first arrived at Middlesbrough. “When I came over I had the same agent as Brad Jones,” he said. “I didn’t know him even though he was born about twenty minutes away from me in Australia. Coming here with all the other Aussie boys obviously helped. When I first came here I went out to lunch with Brad, Viduka and Schwarzer and they’ve been really good to me.”
With the World Cup to look forward to in June, it would be easy for Williams to get distracted, however, the youngster recognises there’s a lot of work to be done at club level which will keep him focused until then. “I’ve got one eye on the World Cup but my main priority now is playing regularly for Middlesbrough,” he said. “If I do that and do well, I’ll take it from there. Just being selected in a World Cup squad would do nicely, but at the end of the day I don’t take it for granted.”
Williams’ first priority is cementing his spot in Middlesbrough’s line-up, and anything from there is a bonus. “I’ve got work hard here and force my way into the team. My priority is here and everything else is a bonus,” he said. “I never take my spot for granted at Middlesbrough or for Australia so I’ll keep working hard in training and in matches and keep working as hard as I can. The main thing is getting in my team. I didn’t have the best game on Tuesday night so I’ve got to battle for my (right-back) spot with two other players, Justin Hoyte and Tony McMahon.”
COACH QUESTIONS COMMITMENT AFTER GLORY FALL TO FURY
David Mitchell questioned his players’ fighting spirit after Perth Glory’s title aspirations were made to look wafer thin in a 1-0 loss to North Queensland Fury last night at Dairy Farmers Stadium. Glory were out-thought and out-played by a Fury side that went ahead after 32 minutes via a David Williams header. “We’re a good football team but the way that North Queensland played, they put the ball in there and scrap for everything and they kept winning the second ball,” Mitchell said. “We didn’t fight for it. That was the annoying thing. I think they wanted it a bit more than us tonight and that’s hurting … We want to play football but we have to win the fight first.”
The early signs were ominous for Glory as Daniel McBreen’s crisp first time effort was blocked by Andy Todd with only 4 minutes gone. Fury’s quest for the games first goal continued with McBreen heading wide from a corner, Robbie Fowler drive past the post from 15-metres before a diving Jeremy Brockie header flashed the wrong side of the upright. So it came as no surprise when Fury hit the front as Paul Kohler picked out an unmarked David Williams, his initial shot was blocked by goalkeeper Tando Velaphi who was helpless as Williams headed in the rebound. The home team should have taken a two-gol lead into the break but Matt Smith’s effort was cleared off the line by Adriano Pellegrino and Jeremy Brockie put the follow-up wide.
With Mitchell’s half time address still ringing in their ears, Glory opened the second half with a long-range attempt by Wayne Srhoj that was deflected over the crossbar. Fury responded by going close twice in as many minutes, Velaphi saving from Williams before Brockie’s effort on the turn flashed high. Glory were working hard to get back on level terms and from a pinpoint Todd Howarth cross Pellegrino fired into the side netting. The game opened up late on with good chances falling to both teams. On 70 minutes Justin Pasfield saved a low shot from Victor Sikora, play quickly moved to the other end where Chris Tadrosse’s close-range effort was blocked by Velaphi. Glory may have ended the game strongly but an equaliser eluded them as Harnwell and Jacob Burns each sent the ball high, Coyne had a header cleared off the line and in stoppage-time Scott Neville and Andrija Jukic conspired to deny the other a shot on goal.
LOWRY CLOSE TO NEW DEAL
Aston Villa defender Shane Lowry is poised to sign a new contract with his English Premier League club. Manager Martin On’Neill is keen to secure 20-year old Lowry on a long-term contract when he returns to Villa Park from spell on loan to Championship club Plymouth Argyle. Lowry has made it clear he wants to be playing first team football to enhance his chances of being selected in Australia’s World Cup squad, and it’s understood O’Neill will allow him to go back out on loan with Plymouth and Sheffield United both expressing their interest.
MITCHELL EXPECTS TO FEEL THE FURY
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell is anticipating a stormy reception when his team takes on North Queensland Fury this evening at Dairy Farmers Stadium. Fury are still smarting from being on the receiving end of a three-goal hiding from Sydney FC last week, a results Mitchell says could spell trouble for his team. “North Queensland had a bad result last week and I know Fergie (coach Ian Ferguson) is pretty fired up to get them out and playing against us,” Mitchell said. “They’ll be confident because they beat us last time, but we want to make sure we rectify that and get the three points.”
While Mitchell will be without Chris Coyne (back) and Branko Jelic (ankle) the coach has every confidence his replacements can do the job. “There’s a few players that have been champing at the bit to get back involved and it’s a situation where there’s a lot of competition for places and these guys are coming back in so it’s good for the team,” said Mitchell. Scott Bulloch and Jimmy Downey are back in the squad having recovered from injury while young midfielder Andrija Jukic has been promoted to the senior list following some eye-catching performances for the youth team.
Glory is unbeaten in their last four outings and keen to atone for the 2-1 loss suffered when they played Fury in October. “Last time we played them up there, it was a very even game,” added Mitchell, whose team threw away a one-nil half-time in that Round Twelve contest. “We got our noses in front and then it was a silly mistake (that let them back in). We let ourselves down and hopefully lightning doesn’t strike twice and if it does, they’ll certainly be getting my thunder that’s for sure.”
Although Glory boasts an impressive defensive record - they’ve conceded just 19 goals, two of which were in their last four games - Mitchell knows his side needs to be more clinical in the finishing department. “In the final third our crossing has got to be a bit better and our finishing’s got to be a bit better,” said the coach. “So from our point of view, were doing very well in defence and through midfield but we just want to make sure we get a bit more thrust and a better ball into that forward area and retain it and then make the chances from that.”
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT URGES UNITY ON WORLD CUP FRONT
Rival football codes have been urged to unite behind Australia's bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cups following a damaging spell of in-fighting. Sports Minister Kate Ellis pledged to work with the powerful Australian Rules and rugby league bodies after both raised concerns about hosting the World Cup concurrently with their regular seasons. "We've said all along that winning a World Cup for Australia is a massive task, is a big challenge, but ... we are committed to getting right behind our football federation and delivering," she said. "And I have to say that if we are successful in winning the rights to host a World Cup in Australia, it will be of benefit not just to the world game but to the sporting community and to the Australian community more broadly." The Australian Football League this week stated they would not make available Melbourne's second largest stadium, the 56,000-seat Etihad Stadium, while the National Rugby League said it would expect financial compensation for any losses.
NAIRN READY TO WEAR GREEN AND GOLD
Scottish-born David Nairn has spent the last couple of months preparing to return to the United Kingdom for the first time as a footballer. The Cockburn City defender gained Australian Schoolboys selection in August and next month heads abroad as part of the squad that will play friendlies against the Home Nations. "It's a great achievement and another stepping stone to improving me as a player," said Nairn on his call-up. "It's a great honour to represent Australia, not many people are privileged to do that."
Nairn, 18, was selected to wear the green and gold of Australia on the back of his strong showing at the 2009 Schools National Championships, in which Western Australia placed third. "I felt my performance during the tournament was reasonably good, my first few games I think I played very well," Nairn said, who'll be accompanied on tour by State team mates Devon Gibson and Todd Ross. "My worst game was probably against the ACT but I bounced back from that to have a strong end to the tournament, and scoring against New South Wales was also pleasing."
2009 was something of a breakthrough for Nairn, who made his first team debut for Cockburn City. "I was happy Scott Miller gave me that opportunity towards the end of the season," commented Nairn, who joined Cockburn this year from First Division club Rockingham City. "I would have liked to be part of Cockburn's first team squad more regularly but due to injuries I was never able to secure a spot in the starting eleven. All things considered, I'm reasonably satisfied with the way the season went."
The Schoolboys three-week tour starts on 15 January with a short stay in Hong Kong followed by games against Wales, Northern Ireland, England and Scotland. Nairn, a youth team footballer with Scottish clubs Raith Rovers and Arbroath before moving to Australia two years ago, is looking forward to playing back in the UK. "I hope to have a good tournament and hopefully be offered the chance to stay on at a club and train with them," he said. "It was my dream to play for Scotland or England as a kid so to go back and play against these teams is rather bizarre."
HUNTER TO FLY WITH THE SWANS
Teenage midfielder John Hunter has agreed to wear the black and whites stripes of Swan United in 2010. A stand out performer over the past three seasons for Forrestfield United, the 19-year old felt the time was right for his move into top flight football. “Playing in the Premier League has always been in my thoughts, it was just a matter of timing for me and being able to compete and succeed at first team level,” he explained. “The Swans have given me the chance and I now have to show (coach) Paul Lincoln I’m good enough to be in the starting line up.”
Hunter admits the decision to leave Forrestfield, where’s he’s coached by his father, was not an easy one to make. “It was a tough decision on my part to leave the club, that I’ve been apart of since I was a youngster. Football-wise Forrestfield is a great club with a very strong and successful youth set-up,” said Hunter. “Forrestfield has some of my closest friends, and my dad is the coach which all makes the decision harder. He has been great about my decision to join the Swans. He has coached me since I was five so he has been there from the start and is a big influence on the player I am today.”
Lincoln, who is nearing the eve of his third season in charge of Swan, is delighted he’ll be able to call on the attacking instincts of Hunter in 2010. “John is a good player that I’ve had my eye on for a while,” said Lincoln, winner of the 1997 Gold Medal when with Spearwood Dalmatinac. “He has a good work ethic good and pace, and is tall and strong for his age. He hasn’t played at our level before, but I have the confidence in him that he will live up to my expectations.”
Swan missed out on the end of season play-offs by only a couple of points in 2009 and Hunter is looking forward to helping his new club go that step further and qualify for the finals for the first time in a decade. “The club performed well last season, and Linc’s said he is aiming for the top four and that’s great,” he said. “Hopefully I will add more depth to the squad, and my height, strength and pace will help me compete at the higher level. I’m always striving to improve on the previous season, and if I do that I will know then, that I’m heading in the right direction.”
OXTOBY PLEASED WITH SEASON OF ACHIEVEMENT
Perth Glory Women laid some firm foundations this summer upon which they will build towards future success according to team captain Tanya Oxtoby. The team finished the second instalment of the W-League in sixth spot, but just a single point outside the play-off spots. "Given the circumstances that we've found ourselves in at times this season, the group has done extremely well to be just outside the four," said Oxtoby. "We are still a young group, we are still learning and we have proven we can mix it with the best at times this season."
Glory Women came on in leaps and bounds this season and Oxtoby has been particularly pleased with the teams attitude towards playing. "The mental toughness of the group has developed a lot since last year, the ability for players to give as good as they get is something as a group we lacked last season," commented the team captain. "The girls have really stood up and believed in themselves and what we are trying to do which is a credit to everyone from the coaching staff to the players themselves."
Being able to play a consistently high standard in a small league, such as the eight-team W-League, is vital and ultimately it was an inability to achieve this that denied Glory Women a top four place this season. "You have to have the ability to perform at the required level week in and week out, no matter who the opposition is or where you are playing," explained Oxtoby. "That is still something we are developing as a group, and although it has improved dramatically from last season we still have a lot more room for improvement ... and that's a massive positive for next season."
Injury, international commitments and suspension prevented Lisa De Vanna, Collette McCallum and Sam Kerr from turning out on occasions for Glory Women this season, and absences such as those also played a part in the side missing out on the finals. "It leaves a huge hole due to their special abilities as players, and that isn't something that is easily replaced," commented Oxtoby. "In saying that, the group as a whole has always stuck together and worked hard which is something I will always be proud of as a captain of a team."
The new-look coaching line-up of John Gibson and Shaun Murphy, who both played for Australia, was a big bonus this season. "Both of them have been at this level before and know what to expect, and what the players require to get the job done," said Oxtoby. "They're a bit like chalk and cheese in some respects which gives the group a great balance, whilst they still have the same philosophies and goals for the group. They both leave nothing to the imagination, and as a group we are always very clear about what our roles are and what is required to get the job done."
One of the highlights of Glory Women's season, in fact of their first two seasons, was this month's defeat of reigning champions Brisbane Roar. "The girls worked so hard this year and a lot of things didn't fall our way, but it was nice to have that hard work pay off against Brisbane," said Oxtoby of the 2-1 home win. "Leading into that game the girls were smarting from two heavy losses and winning was definitely one way we could earn back some respect from the other teams, which was one of our goals for the season ... and it's always nice to defeat a team that hasn't lost."
NOW OR NEVER FOR NEWCASTLE’S YOUNG
Neil Young is eager to stay at the Newcastle Jets beyond this season but concedes he may have to quit the A-League if he cannot secure his family's future. Young's management have opened talks with the Jets and both parties are confident of a resolution, however, an offer is yet to be tabled. The shot-stopper left his family, wife Lauren and sons Owen (3) and Mitchell (1) in Perth when he agreed to be back-up to Ben Kennedy - but now his family must come first. "I want to get a contract to secure my future and my family's future," he said. "As soon as I do that, I can arrange for my family to come over and settle down."
Playing at another club is not something Young, West Australian Goalkeeper of the Year in 2006, is considering at the moment. "Newcastle is definitely my preference. These guys gave me an opportunity to prove myself when no one else in the A-League would give me a chance," Young explained. "I'm a loyal person. This is only my third club ever. I played at Sorrento in the State League in Perth for fourteen years, then (Victorian Premier League club) Melbourne Knights for ten games and here. I don't want to go anywhere else unless I have to."
Young joined Newcastle on a one-year contract, certainly not enough to uproot his family, and unless he can earn an upgraded deal he is prepared to return to his home town and forego his football career. "I turn 31 in August, so if I can't sort something out here and no one else comes in that will be it for me," he said. "I spoke to (Jets chief executive) John Tsatsimas last week and let him know what I wanted to do. I also had a good chat with Branko at the airport when we got back to Sydney from Adelaide, but nothing formal. Branko just told me to keep working hard."
SUNSHINE TEMPT GREENHILL, DEVLIN EAST
Sunshine George Cross have been successful in luring imports Gary Greenhill and Barry Devlin, formerly of Perth SC and Western Knights respectively, to Victoria. Sunshine coach Andy O’Dell, who turned out for North Perth Croatia in his playing days, is looking forward to seeing what his new recruits are capable of. “I’ve still got contacts in Perth and I asked about some of the imports in the WA State League. Gary and Barry were mentioned and I’m hoping they’ll add something to our squad,” explained O’Dell. “I spoke to both players and told them they have to be better than what I’ve got here - they know if they aren’t then it’ll be ‘see you later’.”
Greenhill, 24, came to Australia from England early last year with the intention of joining Sunshine, however, things didn’t go quite to plan. “Before I came to Perth my agent hooked me up with Sunshine. But the timing wasn’t right so I agreed a deal with Perth,” explained Greenhill, who’ll meet his new team mates for the first time following his return from England, where he’ll spend Christmas with family. “I’ve kept myself fit and I’m looking forward at playing the whole season and performing at a standard I know I can. If I can do that, fingers crossed, bigger and better things can come from it.”
A key figure in Perth’s drive towards being crowned 2009 State League Champions, Greenhill thoroughly enjoyed his season stay at Dorrien Gardens. “It was a great season at the club and I met a lot of great people there. It will be sad to leave especially Normo and his family, who have been my family over here, and if it wasn’t for them I probably would have gone home and not stuck it out,” said Greenhill, who isn’t ruling out a Perth return somewhere down the track. “I would not say ‘no’ to a return (but) we’ll just have to wait and see how Melbourne works out for me and take it from there.”
For Devlin, the opportunity to test himself in the Victorian Premier League was simply too good topass up. “My number was passed onto the manager and when he heard I was interested one thing led to another so I’ve agreed to go over at the start of January,” said Devlin. “Their season starts in mid-February and pre-season started last week so I’ll have to do a bit of training by myself before I go over. I don’t really know what to expect to be honest - Ivan Zuvela told me the standard is of a similar level to WA so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Devlin’s drive out of midfield were vital in the Knights winning the 2009 Premier League title and, despite the Grand Final loss to Perth, he was thrilled with how the year panned out. “It’s been an excellent season for the club, and from a players perspective I think the league is what we all wanted to win. So to do so with three games remaining was a huge achievement for everyone involved,” explained Devlin, who celebrated his season by winning the clubs’ Fairest and Best award.
Sunshine finished eighth last season when a disputed goal in the final league game against South Melbourne cost them a place in the finals series. “The clubs aim is to get in the finals this season, but our budget is small compared to most clubs,” explained O’Dell. “We are all striving to get the club back to the glory years, Sunshine was the powerhouse of Victorian football for most of the 1960s and 1970s. It won’t be for a lack of effort from the coaching staff and players as the club strive for success next season.”
PREMIER REVEALS WORLD CUP STADIUM PLAN
Premier Colin Barnett has revealed he wants to demolish Subiaco Oval and build a new stadium should Australia be granted hosting rights of the tournament in 2018 or 2022. "Australia is making a bid for the World Cup Soccer and as part of that Western Australia has made a commitment that we will have a FIFA compliant stadium should we win the World Cup," said Barnett this morning on 6PR radio. "That will probably be a progressive rebuild of Subiaco, and by a rebuild I mean complete demolition and rebuilding an entirely new stadium. That's, I think, the way the state can afford it." Barnett said the new stadium would seat more than 50,000 people in order to comply with FIFA's requirements for hosting World Cup games.
NEVILLE HAPPY TO PLAY HIS PART
Scott Neville is well aware he’s no certainty to line-up for Perth Glory on Friday against North Queensland Fury, despite a man of the match effort in last weekend’s draw with Brisbane Roar. Chris Coyne’s withdrawal due to a back injury opened the door for 20-year old Neville, who made the most of his opportunity with a starring role at right-back in a re-shuffled Glory defence against Brisbane. Despite knowing he could return to the bench for the upcoming game if Coyne is passed fit, Neville is prepared to do the hard yards to earn selection. “I just try and play my best whatever the needs for the team,” said Neville, who has filled a variety of roles for Glory Youth. “In the youth team I was playing centre back and with the first team I came in and played right back last season and I’ve done the job at right wing as well. Basically, just wherever I get asked to play, I’ll do it.”
SOCCEROOS CAN UPSET GERMANY: MURPHY
Former Socceroo Shaun Murphy has thrown his weight behind Australia causing the first boilover of the 2010 World Cup when they take on Germany in their opening game on 14 June. Murphy, scorer of the winning goal when Australia upset Brazil at the 2001 Confederations Cup, believes the Socceroos will go into the game with Germany confident of an upset. “There’s nothing like a hard draw to focus the mind,” he said. “I think if they didn’t have such a tough draw they could’ve been a bit complacent. They’ve got to go into the game thinking they can win it. They’ll be focused and they’ll compete and they’ll do all the things that we are good at. A draw is not out of the question and we are capable of pinching a win as well.”
Australia, who have also drawn Serbia and Ghana in Group D, have enjoyed some success against heavyweight nations in the past couple of years, including wins over the Netherlands, the republic of Ireland, Ghana and Nigeria. Murphy, capped 20 times by Australia, acknowledged the gulf in prestige between the Confederation Cup and the World Cup but said it would make no difference to the Socceroos who would relish the opportunity to take the scalp of one of the world games superpowers on any stage. “I just think the guys have played in so many big games in the past four years taking in the last World Cup and they have progressed so much,” he said.
DOUBLE SWITCH IN THE GLORY FRONT OFFICE
Perth Glory has made two additions to its off-field staff with the appointment of Paul Kelly and Steve Nelkovski. Kelly, a member of the Football West board, has been appointed the A-League clubs chief executive while former television journalist Nelkovski joins Glory as their new media and communications manager. Glory owner Tony Sage is excited about the new appointments, which will continue to strengthen the club’s administration team. “I’m very happy to welcome both Paul and Steve to the club. Both men are very well respected and established in their fields and I’m confident they will be an asset to the club moving forward,” Sage said. Kelly and. Nelkovski begin with Glory on 4 January 2010.
HARNWELL SEEKS FURTHER GLORY
Jamie Harnwell is hoping his rescue act against Brisbane Roar will help convince the club to extend his love affair with Perth Glory. Introduced just before the hour mark, the club veteran had been on the pitch only twenty minutes when he squeezed the ball under goalkeeper Griffin McMaster and into the back of the net via the post. "I wanted to put a case forward for a place in the starting eleven and for being here next year. It's a huge relief and a huge weight off my shoulders," said Harnwell, who's late goal cancelled out Luke Devere's 52nd minute opener.
Harnwell was understandably delighted with his first senior appearance in over two months. "Coming on I was taking deep breaths on the sidelines because I knew it was such a big chance and it's been a long time coming for me," he said. "The way the game was panning out, the opportunity was there for me. Having the two injuries one after the other always puts doubts in the back of your mind whether you can come back and perform at the level you want to and be involved in the way to want to. You do get those doubts but I've been pretty lucky that I've come back probably earlier than most people expected and come back in a bit of form as well so I was pretty happy."
WE WERE PASSED OUR BEST: MITCHELL
David Mitchell believes a heavy training workload may have contributed to his side's poor passing game in a 1-1 draw with Brisbane Roar. Although Glory dominated possession, particularly in the first half, Mitchell felt his players lacked precision delivering into the forward third, allowing a solid Roar defence to repel numerous attacks. "I just don't think we were as sharp as we could be in our final third," said Mitchell. "The conditions didn't help and certainly when you try to open teams up you have to be very sharp and make sure your touches are good. I felt there were just a few players that weren't on song and that reflected in some of the sloppy passing that we had. They did their defence very well but that's where we have to be better." The draw left Glory sitting in fifth place, five points away from second but only six points above last.
W-LEAGUE PEERS VOTE KERR THEIR TOP PLAYER
Perth Glory Women attacker Samantha Kerr has reinforced her reputation as one of the nation’s brightest young stars when awarded the Players’ Player of the Year at the 2009 W-League Awards in Sydney. The 16-year old starlet showed maturity beyond her years to play a crucial role for Glory, who enjoyed their best season in the competition. Kerr’s ability to find the back of the net was also recognised with Goal of the Year honours for her long-range effort against Sydney FC in Round Eight.
The Julie Dolan Medal for Player of the Year was awarded to Central Coast Mariners’ Michelle Heyman, who also picked up the Golden Boot for her eleven regular season finishes. Mariners custodian Jillian Loyden was named Goalkeeper of the Year, while the Young Player of the Year Award was shared by Elise Kellond-Knight (Brisbane Roar) and Ellyse Perry (Canberra United). The Coach of the Year was split between Stephen Roche (Central Coast) and Ray Junna (Canberra), with Referee of the Year honours going to Kate Jacewicz.
HARNWELL GIVES GLORY A SHARE OF THE SPOILS
Favourite son Jamie Harnwell made a spectacular return to the Perth Glory first team by netting the equalising goal in today’s 1-1 draw with Brisbane Roar at ME Bank Stadium. Roar had taken the lead on 52 minutes through Luke DeVere only to have substitute Harnwell commemorate his return from injury with the equaliser twelve minutes from full-time. “I know he’s a threat up front and we didn’t look like we were creating much up there and I felt it was time for Jamie Harnwell and he delivered,” said coach David Mitchell. “We dominated most of the game and had a few chances in the first half, then in the end when we conceded the goal it was great that we came back to sneak the draw. We’re happy with the draw in the end, but disappointed overall not to get the three points.”
The opening passages were relatively even with the visitors fashioning the first chance which Mitch Nichols fired not too far wide from distance. With a top four spot up for grabs, Glory went close after 17 minutes, Branko Jelic heading past Griffin McMaster but into the crossbar with Adriano Pellegrino nodding the rebound straight at the goalkeeper. Jelic was again denied by McMaster four minutes later, and soon after Victor Sikora and Pellegrino combined but the latter’s shot was well blocked by the ‘keeper. Glory were continually finding find holes in the visiting defence and five minutes out from half-time Jacob Burns long-range attempt was captured down low by McMaster.
Brisbane emerged from the break with renewed purpose and on 52 minutes DeVere netted at close-range after Josh McCloughan headed a corner from the left by Adam Sarota back across goal. The visitors were by no means comfortable with their one-goal lead and an alert Tando Velaphi tipped over Van Dijk’s long-range shot. However, it would be one-way traffic for the remainder of the game as Glory upped the ante. With the crowd of 7,217 becoming restless, Todd Howarth swung the ball in from the left, Pellegrino headed it down and Harnwell bustled in between two defenders to get the crucial touch before celebrating in front of the Shed. Both sides had chances to steal a late win but an unmarked Van Dijk was let down by his first touch while Howarth’s curling shot was brilliantly kept out by McMaster.
SOCCEROOS GET GERMANY
Australia have been handed a tough draw for next year’s World Cup in South Africa. The Socceroos will kick-off their campaign against three-time champion Germany on 14 June followed by a showdown with Ghana (16 June) before completing their group fixtures against Serbia (24 June). “Could have been better, could have been worse,” Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek said. “Germany’s one of the best teams in the world - it’s a great opponent for the first game. Ghana is very strong and Serbia beat France. Every game is full of challenges.”
Sixth-ranked Germany will be the Socceroos’ most difficult opponent, having qualified for the last four Cup finals as well as reaching the Euro 2008 decider. Their last meeting produced a thrilling 4-3 win for Germany at the 2005 Confederations Cup. Ghana, ranked 37th in the world, made the last sixteen of the 2006 World Cup, while 20th-ranked Serbia topped its qualifying group in front of 1998 world champion France. Australia needs to finish either first or second in the Group D to progress to the round of sixteen where they will face either the winner or runner-up of Group C.
DOUBLE DELIGHT FOR GLORY WOMEN
Two of the world’s best strikers have combined to ensure Perth Glory Women finished the second W-League season with a 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory at Clipsal Stadium. Lisa De Vanna came off the bench to break the deadlock on 81 minutes before club and country team mate Katie Gill killed the game off six minutes later. “De Vanna, (Sam) Kerr and Gill - it was a wonderful combination and that’s even possibly a national team combination going forward. I was pretty happy with that tonight,” said coach John Gibson. “Just after half time we lost our way a bit. We made a few adjustments and then we got on top of them again. It’s a credit to the girls. They have had some not so good experiences but they have learned from them this year.”
With Canberra United winning earlier in the day, Melbourne needed at least a point from the game to get their first taste of finals action. The early signs were positive for the visitors as Julianne Sitch skipped past the Glory defence but her shot posed no problems for Emma Wirkus. Glory’s first attempt came soon after, Elisa D’Ovidio latching onto a through ball and with goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri advancing the midfielder’s attempted lob was narrowly high. Minutes later Sam Kerr sent in a cross which was cleared only as far as Ella Mastrantonio, whose stunning strike from 18-metres was just past the post. Weathering the flurry of chances, the visitors hit back when Vedrana Popovic released Sitch but her shot was well gathered by Wirkus.
Melbourne emerged from the break with Sitch, Katrina Gorry and Selin Kuralay asserting authority. Kuralay rattled the crossbar before forcing a superb reflex save from Wirkus at the rebound, while the Glory ‘keeper did well to palm away Monnique Hansen-Kofoed’s cross into the goalmouth. The introduction of De Vanna was to near immediate effect, the livewire striker instigating Glory’s first attack of the period in which Gill’s shot was blocked and Mastrantonio tested Barbieri with the follow-up. De Vanna got the breakthrough by outpacing her marker and, with only Barbieri to beat, slotting into the net. The result was soon put beyond doubt as Gill’s lob over the ‘keeper from distance put the icing on Glory’s cake.
The win set three new Glory Women records - a point tally high of 13, most wins in a season and also their highest final placing of sixth. “The team has done everything we have asked of them for the year. Again we talk about processes, skill sets and habits. They did that again today and they were fantastic, particularly when the other team had so much at stake,” said coach Gibson. “Where the group is at, at this point, I think it is a fantastic result for us to finish just a point outside of the four. We knew that the middle part (of the season) was going to be hard with the draw that we had but there are no excuses.”
BOI USES HIS HEAD AS GLORY YOUTH CLAIM VICTORY
A diving headed goal by Ludovic Boi earned Perth Glory Youth a 3-2 win against Brisbane Roar on a scorching summer’s afternoon at Clipsal Stadium. The win extended Glory Youth’s winning run to three games, moving them temporarily to joint top spot alongside Adelaide United and Gold Coast United. “We really wanted the three points today and capitalise on our recent form,” Boi said after the match. “The last time we played Brisbane they got the win so it was nice to get one back against them and maintain the pressure on a top four spot. Winning breeds confidence and I think that is the feeling amongst all the boys and it’s great to be getting the results we’ve worked really hard for.”
Opportunities were limited for both teams during the opening stages as the mercury hovered around 37 degrees Celcius. The first chance of any significance arrived after 19 minutes when Alex Pearson came off his line to deny Antony Schiavo with a fine reaction save. And while that would be the best the visitors would muster in the first half, Glory continually pressed before taking the lead on the stroke of half-time. A foul by Isaka Cernak on Million Butshiire led referee Peter Chapman to point straight to the spot, Eugene Dadi converted his first attempt but was forced to retake the spot kick and again got his angles right to put the hosts ahead.
Brisbane looked more purposeful after the turnaround and Stefan Vrbesic had been on the park only a couple of minutes when he struck a quick equaliser. Tommy Amphlett, who had come on at the break for Dadi, was causing all sorts of problems for the visiting defence and on 54 minutes set-up Glen Trifiro to restore Glory’s lead. Brisbane was back on level terms within two minutes via Josh McVey’s stinging long-range strike. However, Glory were not to be outdone and on 64 minutes Amphlett used his pace to burn off the defence deliver a pin point cross which Boi met with a sensational diving header at the far post. Brisbane played out the final few minutes with ten men after Bob Malcolm was sent for dissent.
TIMING RIGHT FOR GLORY (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory will field possibly their strongest line-up of the season when they face Brisbane Roar at ME Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Coach David Mitchell is expected to take unchanged squad into the match, a rarity this season with injury and suspension forcing changes most weeks. It’s been a rejuvenated Glory side that has taken to the pitch in recent weeks, disposing of top of the table Sydney FC on home soil before taking a point, and notching a second straight clean sheet, against an in-form Central Coast Mariners.
While Brisbane has enjoyed past trips the west, Glory captain Jacob Burns says his team is looking to repeat the 4-2 away win achieved in round seven. “Getting the win up there earlier this season was a great result and we need to be vigilant and protect our home patch because they will be very keen to come over and get one back on us,” he said. “We’ll be confident, we’re always confident at home, we play our game and try not to worry about the other team too much. When we are in good form and we play our kind of game I think it will get us the results we’re looking for.”
With only eight points separating places two through ten, the prize being offered on Sunday will be keenly sought by both teams. “It is a tight old league, there’s not much separating second place through to last place at the minute. If we can string a few results together now I think we can cement our spot in the top six,” Burns said. “We’ve got quality in the side and are fortunate now to be in a position to call on most of the squad. It hurts when players are out and people are missing but we’re in a good spot to push on from here … We’re expecting a tough game but I think it will also be an exciting one with both teams very keen to get goals on the scoreboard.”
BACK-TO-BACK WINS THE GOAL FOR GLORY WOMEN (courtesy Football West)
Perth Glory Women go in search of successive W-League wins for the first time when they face Melbourne Victory on Saturday afternoon at Clipsal Stadium. Glory Women disposed of reigning champions Brisbane Roar last time out and will be looking to claim another high profile scalp this weekend. "We are looking to finish on another positive this Saturday, back-to-back wins would be a great reward for the whole team," said coach John Gibson. "We played them in the first game of the season and we are looking to avenge that loss as we did against the Roar."
American import Alex Singer has been consistently one of Glory Women's best players and Gibson has been delighted with her impact on the team. "The introduction of Alex Singer to the squad has been fantastic. She has added something different to the team and has been one of our most consistent performers," he said. "We have chatted to her about playing in the next W-League season and would love to have her back but it would depend on her circumstances next year. She is certainly one of the players we will be looking to recruit back and we will make some decisions after our post season review."
The mood has been buoyant on the training track following last weekend's win against Brisbane. "The whole squad was pretty happy this week with the result against the Roar, and deservedly so, they have worked pretty hard over the season and deserve a little bit of fortune that comes their way," said Gibson. "It was quite interesting reading the stats, the Roar had a lot more opportunities but didn't create much, and they didn't have clear cut chances. Emma (Wirkus) made one class save but overall they didn't create much and were frustrated by our defence. We were really well organised, and it shows that we can match it with anybody on our day."
Although out of the finals race, Glory Women are guaranteed to finish at least one place higher than in the inaugural W-League summer. "The draw is more difficult than season one, but we definitely want more points than last year which is important for the girls and is one of the goals we have set for ourselves," said Gibson. "We can compete with the best in the country over long periods of time, I would give the side above pass for the season so far and depending on the result this weekend maybe even higher." Glory Women take on Melbourne from 5.15pm tomorrow at Clipsal Stadium, following the Glory Youth fixtures with Brisbane Roar which kicks off at 3.00pm.
GRIFFITHS SCOOPS RISING STAR AWARD
North Queensland Fury midfielder Rostyn Griffiths has been named Football Federation Australia's most outstanding under-21 player for the month of November. The 21-year old A-League rookie, the fourth nominee for the 2009/10 Young Footballer of the Year, said he'd hoped to get regular game time this year to show his wares. "It's been one of my goals really since the beginning of the season to at least get nominated," said Griffiths, who played first team with ECU Joondalup at the age of 15. "This is my first full season playing at the top level and that's been my aim - to get as many competitive games as possible."
Griffiths has been in solid form this season for Fury and was the club's first ever goal scorer. Since then, he's played a variety of roles from attacking midfielder to holding midfielder and centre half. That versatility is something he's happy to provide to coach Ian Ferguson and while he's under no allusions, he'd like to think he can catch the eye of selectors and coaches for representative duties. "There's obviously under-23s and things like that so I'd like to be looked at, that's for sure," Griffiths said. "I haven't played for a young squad for a while, so definitely if the chance comes up it would be good."
Griffiths joins Kofi Danning (Sydney FC), Leigh Broxham (Melbourne Victory) and Tommy Oar (Brisbane Roar), as well as a further two players to be nominated over the coming months, to qualify to be named the NAB Young Footballer of the Year. The overall winner will receive a $10,000 personal investment portfolio, a NAB Private Client Manager to assist with a range of banking and financial services, and the inaugural NAB Young Footballer of the Year Award. To acknowledge the vital role junior football clubs play in the development of today's young stars, NAB will also present a $3,000 equipment pack to Griffiths' nominated junior club, Kingsley.
GILL DELIGHTED WITH HOME DEBUT (courtesy thewomensgame.com)
A match-winning double last weekend was the perfect way for Katie Gill to commemorate her Perth Glory Women home debut. Gill, an Australian international, scored once in each half to lead Glory to a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Brisbane Roar. "It's good to find the back of the net and to find it twice in the game is even better," said the 24-year old striker, whose brace knocked over the defending W-League champions. "That was icing on the cake, but I think the more important thing was just that the team played well together. The girls deserved to win and they got a win."
Fresh from a spell in Sweden, Gill linked up with Glory Women a few weeks ago and has been impressed with the quality of football being played at the club. "It's always fun to play with players who want to play football. I think it is their enjoyment of the game and on the weekend the girls showed that," Gill commented. "The team has some great foundations. There are so many young faces in the team and that is really promising for the future. They are a talented group of girls and in football terms their technique is fantastic."
Gill played the last couple of seasons with Sunnana in what is recognised as one of the top women's league's in the world, Sweden's Damallsvenskan. "The football is great and the culture surrounding football is great. I just really loved the country itself," said Gill, who returns to Australia better for the experience. "It's really all about the mental toughness ... going in there and putting yourself in unfamiliar situations. It's about really trying to work yourself out and, hopefully, coming out on top."
Playing in the Women's Professional Soccer league in the United States does tempt Gill, however, for the time being she's happy splitting her football between Sweden and Australia. "It's definitely something I would consider ... it's basically a drafting system so really I would have to be chosen," she explained. "In all honesty I love the Swedish season. It's great because it compliments the Aussie season, I can play in Sweden and then come back and play in Australia and it doesn't affect that much."
Glory Women make their final appearance of the season on Saturday evening against Melbourne Victory at Clipsal Stadium (kick-off 5.15pm). "It was great to win against Brisbane but it was just a step in the right direction - now it's all about consistency," said Gill, who'd love to add a few more goals to her Glory tally. "The results previously have come down to young player mistakes and it is always going to be the case when you have a young squad. Hopefully the girls will be really motivated and we can win again this week."
VELAPHI UNDER INJURY CLOUD (courtesy the 'West Australian')
Goalkeeper Tando Velaphi is confident a back problem will not derail his bid to complete a hat-trick of clean sheets when Perth Glory face Brisbane Roar at ME Bank Stadium on Sunday. Velaphi struggled with the injury during pre-season and felt uncomfortable last week after the problem flared again at training. He declared himself fit to play against Central Coast Mariners, where he recorded a second successive clean sheet, but withdrew from training on Tuesday to recieve intensive treatment. "It's just a bit of a recurrence of a problem I've had before," Velaphi told Jonathon Cook. "I'll have treatment and I'm looking to train on Friday and Saturday and then play against Brisbane on Sunday."
If Velaphi is fit to play this weekend he will be up against his former Young Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou, whose recent appointment at Brisbane has started to reap rewards. Brisbane have won two of their last three matches and were in top form last weekend when they demolished Wellington Phoenix 4-1 at Suncorp Stadium. "Ange is a good coach and they looked solid (last week) and had a big win," Velaphi said. "I think this is a game where both teams need a win, really. They will be pushing to get in the top six and we want to get a win to keep us up near the top." Glory, on 22 points, are fifth on the table, eight points behind leaders Melbourne Victory, while Brisbane (19 points) are seventh, just a point adrift of sixth-placed Wellington.
CRUNCH TIME FOR GLORY
Captain Jacob Burns has identified the upcoming trio of games against Queensland opposition as a crucial time for Perth Glory to consolidate its position in the top six. Glory host Brisbane Roar on Sunday then head east for games with North Queensland Fury and Gold Coast United in what is shaping as a vital road trip. A three-match unbeaten run has seen Glory consolidate their place in the top six, and the team are determined to press on and achieve a final placing much higher on the table.
Glory have had little success against Brisbane, winning just twice in thirteen meetings. "We've been strong at home but Brisbane are no pushover. They're a bit up and down this season but I think that they've found their groove and had a good result in their last game," Burns said, referring to Brisbane's 4-1 win over Wellington Phoenix. "For us it's about wining our home games and then picking up some stuff away. You then put yourself in good stead."
The last time Glory played at home reaped a 2-0 win over then leaders Sydney FC, and another result of that ilk will go a long way towards them maintaining the pressure in the race towards the finals. "Melbourne have started to pull away (at the top of the table) and it's all bunched after that (but) in our position, if we can get a few more results over this lead in to the Christmas period then come January time, we should be up there and really pushing. That's where we want to be - finals football."
YOUNG PLANS ON STAYING NUMBER ONE
Newcastle Jets goalkeeper Neil Young intends holding onto his starting spot ahead of youngster Ben Kennedy. Young was thrust into his A-League spotlight three weeks ago when Kennedy injured his groin in the pre-game warm-up against North Queensland Fury. The 30-year old keep a clean sheet on debut as the Jets triumphed 2-0, a performance he followed up with strong showing against Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC. “It takes more than two or three games to prove myself but I think I am putting a good case forward,” Young said. “Keeping clean sheets helps - but it is just not me who keeps a clean sheet - if the defence plays well then it makes my job a whole lot easier. If I getting clean sheets then hopefully I can keep my spot.”
With Kennedy looking likely to be passed fit to play in this week’s away game with Adelaide United, Jets coach Branko Culina will have a tough decision to make between the two custodians. Young, who played locally for Sorrento, said he would love to keep his spot in the run-on side and hopefully extend his contract with the Jets. “He (Kennedy) started doing training last week, but I asked him to take an extra week’s holiday,” joked Young. “But it’s been good and very exciting. Obviously I want to stay here and get a new contract and if I keep doing well and keep doing my job hopefully the performances will speak for themselves. If the club wants to re-sign me I am happy to stay. I can’t harm my chances with the more games I play.”
BORO CAN TO EMULATE BURNLEY: WILLIAMS
Socceroo Rhys Williams has urged Middlesbrough to emulate Burnley’s remarkable climb back to the Premier League promised land. Williams, who enjoyed a three month loan spell at Turf Moor last season, believes Boro can follow the Clarets’ lead by putting together a winning run that ends with promotion. “My experience from last season at Burnley is that if you go on a run then anything can happen. Burnley didn’t have the best of starts because they didn’t win any of the first four games,” Williams told gazettelive.co.uk. “But this is a league where everyone drops points, and Burnley showed that if you go on a run that you keep climbing the table. They lost only two of the last 17 games and earned promotion on the back of it.”
Burnley even suffered a blip immediately after Christmas when they lost five consecutive games. But, with Williams playing regularly at right back, they turned things around to end the home and away series in fifth place before qualifying for the Premier League via the play-offs. “We’ve also got a dressing room where everybody is totally focussed on winning promotion,” said Williams, who is Boro can string together a run similar to Burnley. “We know that things haven’t been going our way … But we know what we need to do if we are to improve, and that’s the big thing. If we can concentrate for 90 minutes and shut teams out, then we can get back to where we were at the start of the season when we were smashing teams. Then we can think about going on a run.”
Williams missed Boro’s recent outing with Peterborough through suspension, however, the break turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the youngster who has been suffering from a bit of stress on his pelvic bone. Having had a week’s rest, Williams is now ready to help his team register their first win under new manager Gordon Strachan. “QPR like to play football, so that will encourage us to play as well,” he said. “If teams kick it long you find that you gradually drop down to that level, but it always suits us to have the chance to play our football. We know it will be a tough game because they are above us in the league, but they are all tough. We’ll go there looking to win, and if we do that, the rest is up to us. It’s time to turn things around.”
LEGENDS IN ACTION
Perth Glory tips its hat to the legends of yesteryear on Sunday by staging the inaugural ‘Football in WA’ celebrations at ME Bank Stadium. The fixture, set to become an annual event, acknowledges and celebrates football in this state and Glory’s rich history. The action kicks off at 2.30pm with a legends game between teams of past Glory and State League players. Taking to the field for the Glory of yesteryear are Bobby Despotovski, Jason Petkovic, Gareth Naven and Scott Miller who’ll pit skills against the likes of Peter Murphy, Norrie Sutton, Willie Herd and Alan Pottier. The legends game is followed by Glory’s A-League encounter with Brisbane Roar, which starts at 4.00pm. Festivities continue at half-time in the main game when State League Champions Perth SC and Premiers Western Knights are welcomed onto the pitch along with the Perth Glory Women’s team.
FUZZ A WINNER FOR FOOTBALL WEST
The ‘Football with the Fuzz’ initiative has won Football West the Community Event of the Year at the 2009 Western Australian Sport and Recreation Industry Awards. Targeting the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse community, ‘Football with the Fuzz’ attracted over 3000 community supporters from regions including Afganistan, Iraq, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The tournament, which operated between March and October of this year and coordinated by Football West, aimed to assist WA Police reduce marginalisation within community groups, and foster everyday inclusion and acceptance.
Football West CaLD program officer Gordon Duus was delighted to see the program recognised by the sports industry. “It’s great that ‘Football with the Fuzz’ has been recognised with this award,’ Duus said. “The event is a positive initiative that we hope to build in future years to achieve much more with emerging communities with greater emphasis on participation by women and youths from various backgrounds. The events in 2009 were major successes, with over 560 players and 3000 people attending both days festivities.” ‘Football with the Fuzz’ has also been nominated for the 2009 Western Australian Multicultural Community Service Awards, to be held on the 1 December.
VETERAN HARNWELL READY TO RETURN
Perth Glory's Mr Versatile, Jamie Harnwell, has put his hand up to return in next Sunday's home clash with Brisbane Roar. The versatile big man made a low-key comeback by playing half a game in Glory Youth's 1-0 win over Central Coast Mariners, ten weeks after tearing the medial ligament in his left knee. Playing with his knee heavily strapped, Harnwell said the plan was always to just get through 45 minutes. "It felt really good. The last couple of weeks I've been getting twinges but they have reduced and I got through 45 without any twinges and more importantly without even thinking about it," Harnwell said. "Even though I was confident, when you get out there you're never quite sure, so that was good to get through." Although hopeful of pushing his way straight into the first team, Harnwell is at best likely to start on the bench against Roar.
RELIEF FOR GLORY AS COYNE SHAPES UP
A hamstring problem injury picked up against Central Coast Mariners isn't expected to prevent Chris Coyne from taking his place in this weekend's game with Brisbane Roar. Coach David Mitchell said Coyne would be nursed through training this week to ensure he would be fit to take his place alongside Andy Todd in the Glory defence for Sunday's clash with Roar at ME Bank Stadium. "He was really struggling with his hamstring against Central Coast and we thought he might have to come off," Mitchell told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "He'll probably miss a couple of sessions early in the week and it's something we'll just monitor."
Mitchell is understandably keen to retain a back four that was rarely breached by a Mariners side that had scored nine goals in their previous two matches prior to being held scoreless by Glory. The coach said he was unlikely to call on veteran Jamie Harnwell, who has recovered from a knee injury and is champing at the bit to play his part for the senior team. "He's obviously missing playing and he came through half a game with the youth team at the weekend," Mitchell said. Glory will be desperate for a victory over Roar before embarking on a difficult road trip in which they play North Queensland Fury (11 December) and Gold Coast United (20 December).
YOUNGSTERS REACH FOR GLORY
Perth Glory Youth players enjoyed teaching students from Mirrabooka Senior High School some new skills last week as part of the club’s ‘Glory in the Community’ program. Dean Evans, Ludovic Boi and Steven Hesketh, all hailing from Stirling Lions, along with that clubs’ Director of Coaching Mick Lyons led a special skills training clinic attended by over sixty promising young footballers. As well as showing off their best football moves, the Glory Youth trio were there to encourage boys and girls to see first hand what it takes to make it to the top of the local football scene.
Mirrabooka SHS runs a specialist soccer skills program which gives Glory as well as local clubs, like Stirling, the chance to link up with migrant students from all over the world who live and breathe football. “We have such a range of cultures and backgrounds at the school and soccer holds such universal appeal to so many of our students,” said Joe Wright, football coordinator at the school. “It really brings them all together, especially those in the program who get two soccer classes a week.” The program aims to provide aspiring young players an opportunity to develop their skills.
DEFENCE EARNS COACHES PRIASE
David Mitchell was delighted to come away from Friday night’s trip to Gosford with a hard-earned point. The Perth Glory coach was full of praise for his troops, especially experienced defenders Andy Todd and Chris Coyne following the scoreless draw with an in-form Central Coast Mariners, who’d hit nine goals in two games. “The way they’ve been playing to come to their ground and get a result is a good effort,” Mitchell said. “Andy has been superb all season and probably underestimated by a lot of people, he is a real pro and gives us a focus on the pitch and in the dressing room as well. Add to that the great form of Chris Coyne and we have a terrific combination there. The two centre halves have really made a difference to our team.”
MELBOURNE HAS WARD TO THANK FOR VICTORY
Nick Ward has inspired Melbourne Victory to their best win of the season, 4-0 over Gold Coast United, in just his second game back from serious illness. Ward, playing only weeks after recovering from a staph infection, turned in a man-of-the-match performance, scoring a 22-metre thunderbolt as well as setting up the first of Archie Thompson’s two second-half goals. The win, incredibly only Melbourne’s third in nine home games this season, took the reigning champion five points clear of Sydney FC at the top of the A-League ladder.
CHAMPIONS STUNNED BY GLORY WOMEN
Perth Glory Women has handed Brisbane Roar its first loss of the W-League season with a surprise 2-1 win on a hot afternoon at Clipsal Stadium. Matildas striker Katie Gill scored once in each half on her home Glory debut against a Roar outfit whose dominance was let down by poor finishing. “We rode our luck a little bit at times but they just worked their backsides off for each other and that was fantastic” said Glory coach John Gibson. “All the departments, from our defenders to our midfielders to our forwards, were fantastic today and it was really pleasing.”
Early indications suggested it was going to be a long afternoon for Glory who spent much of the opening passages holed up in defence. After going close on several occasions the visitors finally got the goal they deserved on 11 minutes when Lana Harch sliced open the defence with a precision through ball that Courtney Beutel fired over advancing goalkeeper Emma Wirkus. Hard-working midfielder Elisa D’Ovidio orchestrated a rare Glory attacking foray seven minutes by playing Sam Kerr down the right from where she crossed to the far post where Gill rose high to head past Casey Dumont.
Buoyed by the equaliser, Glory then enjoyed some good possession and started to turn the screws on their opponents. A fine cross by Dani Calautti to the top of the 18-yard box found Kerr but her header was just wide of the target. Roar stepped up the pace leading into the break but despite their dominance couldn’t find the back of the net. Joanne Burgess shot over the crossbar amid the flurry of opportunities while Beutel just failed to get any purchase on a Harch cross.
The visitors came out of the break fired up and would have re-taken the lead through Ellen Beaumont who was denied by a terrific Wirkus reflex save at the near post. After weathering the initial onslaught, Glory worked their way back into the game and on 63 minutes Gill lashed a loose ball into the net after getting on the end of a poorly defended corner. D’Ovidio should have made the game safe soon after placed her shot high and wide. Roar mounted a late charge to salvage the game, however, Gill denied them a point by clearing off the line an Elise Kellond-Knight effort.
Coach Gibson had nothing but praise for his team’s gritty performance, particularly the efforts of strike partners Gill and Kerr. “Certainly we knew it would be a tough back end of the season but we trusted everything we have done this year and the girls worked really hard,” he said. “Katie did exceptionally well for us today. She is a wonderful asset to the group and adds a bit of experience and some leadership. It was quality play today by her and Sam and it was good to see … For us now it is about getting positive results and moving forward. We have a really young group so I am looking forward to progressing with them next year.”
DADI HEADS GLORY YOUTH TO VICTORY
A second-half header from veteran striker Eugene Dadi gave Perth Glory Youth an upset 1-0 win over Central Coast Mariners in sweltering conditions at Pluim Park, Gosford, this morning. “We are delighted to continue on with our winning steak and we now have to carry on and push for a top four finish,” said team captain Dean Evans. “We should have added a couple more and made the win more emphatic, but a win away from home is a good win and we’ll enjoy the trip back. We had a number of Glory senior players in the side today, which sometimes can unstable the side, but they were all great today. Eugene Dadi showed what a professional player he is by coming on at half time and scoring the winner, while Aleks Vrteski kept it tight at the back.”
The Mariners had the better of play for much of the first half but rare was it that they threaten goalkeeper Vrteski. Glory stepped up a gear following the break and on the hour Dadi should have given them the lead but directed his close-range header straight at ‘keeper Andrew Redmayne. Brendan Griffin then had a chance to put the hosts in front only to be thwarted by some desperate defending. Dadi made amends for his earlier miss on 77 minutes by heading in a cross played to the back post by Todd Howarth. Glory were unlucky not to extend their lead in the closing stages with Ludovic Boi and Adam Taggart both going close.
GLORY GAINS VALUABLE POINT
Central Coast Mariners hot streak was brought to a sudden halt when they were held to a dour scoreless draw by Perth Glory at Bluetongue Stadium last night. Despite the Mariners netting nine goals in their past two matches it was Glory - who’d returned home empty handed on each of their six previous trips to Gosford - that threatened most in a lacklustre affair watched by 7,857 fans. “I thought we had the better chances overall and could have come away with more than the draw,” coach David Mitchell said. “I’m still very pleased with the performance and to get any points against the Mariners on their home turf is a great effort. To keep a clean sheet against a side that has been banging in goals from all over the place was critical and I thought the defence was superb.”
The home side were on top early, Michael McGlinchy shooting wide and Matthew Crowell straight at goalkeeper Tando Velaphi. Glory were doing all the defending as McGlinchey’s pass put clear Nik Mrdja who was foiled by Velaphi’s courageous smothering save. Wayne Srhoj was the architect of the visitors first opening, the midfielder playing down the right for Mile Sterjovski whose cross was put over the crossbar by Victor Sikora at close-range. It was very much a battle of attrition in the centre of the park where Srhoj and Jacob Burns were pitched against McGlinchey and Nigel Boogaard. As the half came to a close Glory started to assert themselves and on 41 minutes Adriano Pellegrino’s cross from the right was headed down by Chris Coyne to Sterjovski whose long-range volley flashed past ‘keeper Danny Vukovic only to cannon back off the post.
The second half started much like the first, Adam Kwasnik dinking the ball over the defence for Mrdja whose hesitation was enough for Velaphi to block his attempted chip. Both sides were struggling to string together their passes with the newly laid surface having a lot to do with it. On 51 minutes Sterjovski delivered a cross from the left to an unmarked Pellegrino, but his back post header was saved by Vukovic. Glory had by this stage worked their way back into the game and a quick counterattack ended with Sikora’s low drive pushed around the post by Vukovic. The closing minutes produced chances for both teams to snatch victory. Mariners substitute Matt Simon headed wide when well placed, Sikora had a shot saved by the ‘keeper, and Ahmad Elrich’s final minute effort was just high of the bar.
GLORY STARS BACK IN FOR MARINERS CLASH (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory will be strengthened by the return of influential midfielder Wayne Srhoj for what is arguably the toughest assignment in the A-League at the moment, a trip to Gosford to tackle the in-form Central Coast Mariners. Srhoj is expected to be injected directly into the starting line-up and could also be joined by Socceroos striker Mile Sterjovski as well as former Dutch international Victor Sikora. Sterjovski has overcome a stomach bug that restricted his training leading into the win over Sydney FC, while Sikora made a successful return to the pitch after a hamstring strain.
The trio will be a welcome inclusion for coach David Mitchell as he formulates a plan to contain a rampant Mariners attack that has scored nine times in the last two outings. "Everyone is fit and eager to be part of the game which is a positive position to be in," Mitchell said. "To have the quality of Mile and Victor coming off the bench last week changed the game in our favour but both are very keen to play their part from the start this time around. We also have Wayne coming back in and I have a decision to make about how we line-up. There are a few options which is good for the side."
Glory have developed several strategies which Mitchell hopes will counter the Mariners forward thrusts. "They have that never say die attitude, even if you get a couple of goals they can come back. They've always been a very competitive side," Mitchell said. "I have known Lawrie (McKinna) for a long time and what he has done at that club has been fantastic. It'll be a hard challenge for us no doubt but one that we will go into to put on a good show and get the result." FoxSports 2 will screen a live broadcast of the game from 5.00pm (Perth time), alternately, tune your radio to 6PR (882am).
EVANS OUT TO SINK THE MARINERS
Perth Glory Youth can breath new life into their play-off aspirations by claiming the three points on offer from this weekend’s game with high-flying Central Coast Mariners according to midfielder Dean Evans. The Glory youngsters put aside some indifferent recent form last week to defeat reigning Y-League champions Sydney FC, and an encore performance on Saturday could propel them back into the top four. “It’s a huge game for us this week as we need to stay in touch with the top of the four,” said Evans of the game against top of the table Mariners. “They have surprised many with their results this year. At the moment they deserve to be where they are, but we are confident we will knock them off and get ourselves on a bit of a winning run.”
Evans only recently returned to the Glory Youth line-up having missed the opening stages of the season with a knee injury. The versatile 19-year old marked his fourth game of the campaign last week by scoring the deciding goal against Sydney. “I was a bit surprised when I did score as it’s been a long time coming, but it was my first goal and most of all it turned out to be an important goal for the team,” said Evans. “It was a really good win for the boys, considering we were coming off a 0-3 loss the week before. We showed a great deal of character to bounce back and we will take that into Saturday’s game at Central Coast Mariners.”
The Glory Youth line-up is likely to be bolstered for the Mariners game by the inclusion of club veteran Jamie Harnwell, who is working his way back from a knee injury. Unfortunately, Harnwell’s addition is offset by the absence of team captain James Hesketh with a hamstring complaint. “It’s a shame Stevie will miss the game, he will be a huge loss for us,” said Evans of his Stirling Lions team mates. “But we may have Jamie Harnwell coming in, after recovering from a knee injury, so we do have a very capable replacement.” The team’s home town supporters can listen to a full replay of all the action on 990am from 12.00noon on Saturday.
YOUNG GRABS HIS CHANCE
Neil Young considered it too big a risk for his family to pack up house and move east when Newcastle Jets came knocking with a one-year contract in August. The 30-year old former Sorrento stopper knew this was to be his last chance at an A-League career and instead of uprooting wife Lauren and sons Owen (3) and Mitchell (1), opted to rely on daily telephone calls, and more recently over the internet on Skype, to keep up to date with what is happening at home.
But things have taken a dramatic turn in Young's favour during the last three weeks. A groin injury to regular goalkeeper Ben Kennedy presented Young with an unexpected chance to stake his claim to the place between the posts, and he's certainly not disappointed. He marked his A-League debut with a clean sheet against North Queensland Fury and backed it up with an eye-catching display against Wellington Phoenix, where a controversial goal by Paul Ifill denied him a second clean sheet.
Young recovered by pulling off a contender for save of the year. His reflex stop to deny Ifill at close-range has been replayed regularly on Fox Sports, who deemed it their 'Save of the Week'. Young has welcomed the extra exposure this has brought him but concedes it has caused a few waves at home. "My older boy recognises me on the TV and tries to talk to me," Young told theherald.com.au. "He is getting a bit frustrated that I won't talk back." Young will next see his family in person when Newcastle journey to Perth on Boxing Day.
A slight groin problem has restricted Young to light duties this week, but he has declared himself a certain starter against second-placed Sydney FC on Sunday. "We can't really afford any more injures, so the physios have wrapped me up in cotton wool," said Young, who'll come face-to-face with one of the best strike forces in the league. "It is another test, but every game is a test. At the moment I am pushing my case. BK is another week away (and) it will be good when he is back because we will both be striving for the number one spot. Then it comes down to the coach."
HERD JOINS IMPS ON SHORT-TERM DEAL
Lincoln City have signed 20-year old midfielder Chris Herd on a one-month loan deal. Herd, an Australia Under-20 international, will remain at Sincil Bank until 2 January and goes straight into Chris Sutton's squad for the FA Cup second-round tie at Northwich Victoria on Saturday. Herd joined Villa in 2005 and has featured regularly in the reserves but is yet to make a first team appearance. He made his Football League debut early last year during an eleven-game loan spell at Port Vale which was followed by a four-game stint at Wycombe Wanderers.
MAKE OR BREAK TIME FOR GLORY WOMEN
Perth Glory Women coach John Gibson insists his side have a score to settle with the reigning W-League Champions Brisbane Roar on Saturday at Clipsal Stadium (3.00pm). The Roar humbled Glory 6-0 only four weeks ago and that defeat is still fresh in the minds of the Perth players and coaching staff. "It will be a very tough game this weekend against Brisbane, we have a score to settle after the result last time we played them and we are definitely going into the game looking to win," said the Glory coach.
The Roar escaped with a 5-3 win on their last visit to Perth thanks to a couple of last minute goals. Gibson will be hoping for a similar positive response this time around, barring the glut of goals against. "The amount of goals conceded recently is not a concern in regards to individuals, it's the whole group defending collectively that we need to work on. It takes a whole unit to defend, and we have been working on that at training during the week," he said. "A lot of it is organisation, and the errors we have made are because of a lack of concentration at vital moments in the game."
Saturday's game is a must-win for Glory - anything less than maximum points is almost certain to end their finals dream. Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against the home team who enter the round minus Lisa De Vanna (suspended), Collette McCallum and Ciara Conway (both injured). In their absence Gibson will look to Australia internationals Emma Wirkus and Katie Gill, team captain Tanya Oxtoby, American import Alex Singer and teenage sensation Sam Kerr for leadership and inspiration against a Roar line-up boasting no less than eight current Matilda's.
Gibson has been pleased with how his young side have performed this season and hasn't given up hope of making the finals. "For large chunks of games this year we have competed very well and it has been pleasing to see that level of competition against some of the country's best players," the coach said. "Finals are still in the back of our minds, but mainly we are focusing on our performances and the processes involved in making sure we are not only competitive, but in a position to take maximum points from our remaining matches."
Glory return to the home turf of Clipsal Stadium for only the second time in six weeks and will have the luxury of finishing the season at home again on Saturday week against Melbourne Victory. "It is certainly good to be back at home again, in front of our crowd and on home turf and the girls are really looking forward to it and showing the fans that we can mix it with the best in Australia," concluded Gibson.
DEVLIN HUMBLED BY KNIGHTS AWARD
Midfielder Barry Devlin celebrated his first full season as a Western Knights player by winning the club highest award. Devlin's contributions in the centre of the park where he partnered Gold Medal winner David Micevski were an essential ingredient in the Knights claiming regular season honours. "I'm very flattered to be named the Knights Fairest and Best. We had a great season and I feel any one of five or six players could have taken out the award," said Devlin, who is looking to play in Melbourne next year.
Devlin says everyone associated with the Knights should feel immensely proud of what they achieved this year. "Winning the Premier League was a great feeling, all the players and management should be very proud of themselves," added the 26-year old, who hit peak form in mid-season wins over Mandurah City and Cockburn City. "The league is the bread and butter and, despite the heartbreak of losing the Grand Final, 2009 was a memorable season for the club."
Defender Stuart Ferguson, currently playing in New Zealand, was voted Runner-Up Fairest and Best. David Annall commemorated his ninth season with the Knights by winning the Players' Player of the Year, while English import Anthony Campbell picked up the Golden Boot award. Ryan Shackleton was awarded Fairest and Best in the reserves ahead of Stuart Siddall, and Alen Galic went home with the Most Improved trophy. The Youth team Fairest and Best went to Phillip Gorecki, Caleb Becsi was runner-up and Ivan Skorich received the Coaches Award.
BULLOCH TO FIGHT ON FOR GLORY CONTRACT (courtesy the 'West Australian')
Midfielder Scott Bulloch will not be deterred by his latest injury setback as he fights to convince coach David Mitchell he deserves a new contract. Bulloch emerged from his battles with an Achilles tendon problem by scoring the opening goal in Sunday's home win over Sydney FC. But the midfielder's first start of the season was tinged with disappointment when post-game scans confirmed he'd torn a thigh muscle. "When you're only on a one-year contract every week you're not involved is one less game that you've got to show what you can do," said Bulloch. "You never know when your next game is going to be, so I went out and tried to prove to Mitch that I should be in the squad next year because I do have something to give to the squad."
Bulloch hopes to recover in time to press for selection away to North Queensland Fury on 11 December. "It's a setback but I'm not too upset about it because I felt I did all right (against Sydney), so I'm still on Mitch's radar. I'll be out for two weeks and hopefully when I come back I can try and break in straight away," said Bulloch. Mitchell was impressed with the 25-year old's determination as well as his enthusiasm to continue against Sydney after a first half head clash with Sung Hwan Byun left the former Premier League midfielder with a gashed head that required five stitches at half-time.
Bulloch, who played locally for ECU Joondalup, Perth SC and Sorrento, is in no hurry to return to his previous job with the police service, and will seek a move to another A-League club if he is unable to secure a new Glory contract. "Every game I play is to prove I should be here," he said. "I don't want to leave Perth - I'm a Perth boy. Obviously if it doesn't work out here I'll have to look elsewhere and with Melbourne Heart coming into the league there are places for another 23 players. But I want to stay in Perth and it's up to me to prove that I should be here."
LOWRY HAPPY TO STAY AT ARGYLE
Centre-back Shane Lowry has revealed he would be interested in remaining a Plymouth Argyle player upon the expiration of his current loan deal. Lowry recently told manager Paul Sturrock he is keen to stay on at Home Park beyond the three-month loan agreement with Aston Villa, which expires just before Christmas. "I would definitely think about it because I have been playing games week in week out," said 20-year old Lowry. "I have got a spot in the team, I think I have been doing all right and the results have started to turn a bit. But it's really out of my hands, to be honest. It's between Plymouth Argyle and Aston Villa."
Lowry made his debut for Argyle in the 3-1 defeat away to Newcastle United in mid-September and has put in some impressive performances in his ten starting appearances. "When I first came to the club we had a couple of defeats, but we have had a settled back for the past four or five games," said Lowry, who has developed a good defensive partnership with Kari Arnason in recent matches. "I think you can see that once you start playing a few games together we can defend well. Obviously, we need to work hard to get more clean sheets, because that's what wins you games. But our results are starting to turn a bit, besides the blip on Saturday (when Argyle lost narrowly at Leicester City)."
Lowry spent the lead-up to that game in camp with the Socceroos. And while the young defender enjoyed the experience, he knows all too well that his chances of making the Australia squad for next years World Cup hinge on him playing regular first team football. "It was good experience for me again. I did a lot better in training this time. I felt more settled and I was enjoying it," he said of last week's trip to Oman. "Only 18 out of the 24 players stripped for the match, and I wasn't expecting anything, but it's just nice to be recognised. "Now I have got to keep putting in performances for Plymouth because that's my bread and butter … the Championship is a really good league for me to be playing in. There is a lot of exposure. All I can do is get my head down and work hard."
HARNWELL RE-ENTERS THE FRAME
Club stalwart Jamie Harnwell has taken another step on the long road to recovery with inclusion in an extended Perth Glory squad for Friday's game at Central Coast Mariners. Coach David Mitchell is happy Harnwell has recovered from the knee injury he picked up against Brisbane Roar two months ago but said it's unlikely the 225-game veteran will feature for the first team. "He's coming through so he can train with us and be part of the youth team," said Mitchell. "He's part of the squad. He might be on the bench - he might not, I think not. He wanted to play last week and I said 'no, get another week's training under your belt' … Jamie is someone that is very important to the club. I like him as a player and think he adds a lot of value but ideally needs some game time before stepping straight back into the senior side."
MRDJA WANTS TO PROVE HIMSELF AFTER INJURY NIGHTMARE
Central Coast Mariners striker Nik Mrdja says the unshakeable belief that injuries wouldn't end his A-League career have been the key to his return to form. The 30-year old former Perth Glory player has grabbed three goals in his last two games, including a double in Saturday's 5-1 thumping of North Queensland Fury. And despite limping out of that game with a bruised ankle, Mrdja believes he will finally be able to make a meaningful contribution to the in-form Mariners, who have climbed to fourth on the ladder.
Mrdja joined the Mariners for the 2005/06 campaign, but has made just 34 appearances in four-and-a-half years largely due to a serious injury that saw him develop a hole behind his right kneecap. "It is not a common thing, it developed over time and because I am left-footed all the stress was going through my right knee and eventually it dug a hole," said Mrdja, who played locally for Perth SC and Bayswater City. "When I had the first operation the rehab wasn't right, the op went well but I didn't give it long enough and came back running too soon and it tore it all apart."
After fighting his way back to fitness, Mrdja started 2007/08 season with a bang and two goals in his team's first three games. This led to a Socceroos debut against Argentina, however, Mrdja broke down again in training three days later and was ruled out for the remainder of the season. "It was a tough time but I never thought I couldn't come back," he said. "As long as I got word from the physio there was hope then it put my mind at ease and I knew that as I had done it before I would be able to come back and score goals again."
Mrdja played 16 games last season but it proved to be a stop-start campaign with heel and ankle problems affecting him, but he now feels the worst is behind him. "My body and the strength in my knee is the best it has been in four years. It has just taken me a bit longer than usual to get my full fitness," he said. "I am delighted that it is all behind me. The next thing is to find some form, do well on the park and get some more goals." Out of contract at the end of the current season, Mrdja is going the right way to prove he is worth a new deal to coach Lawrie McKinna
AMPHLETT MAKES POSITIVE STEPS
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell praised new signing Tommy Amphlett's nerveless debut in the club's 2-0 home defeat of Sydney FC on Saturday. The ECU Joondalup flyer was cleared to play late last week and was immediately handed a spot on the against a Sydney outfit that entered the round on top of the A-League table. Amphlett, 21, replaced Naum Sekulovski in the 81st minute and showed no signs of being overawed with a lively, albeit brief, performance. "He made some good forward runs and did what we expected," Mitchell said. "He's a good lad and it's been a big change for him. Three weeks ago he wasn't involved here at all, he's come in and trained with us and then done well when he's come into the team."
SAGE ADVOCATES CUP COMPETITION (courtesy the West Australian)
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has proposed a change to the A-League schedule in which clubs would play each other twice and a mid-season FA Cup-style competition would be introduced. Sage emerged from last week’s club owners meeting in Sydney feeling optimistic about the future of the game, but still had concerns over the A-League's centralised funding structure. The mining entrepreneur raised the prospect of introducing a mid-season cup competition involving State league clubs to generate interest in an A-League that will be expanded to eleven teams next season. "I think we could play each other twice with a cup competition mid-season to involve maybe two State league clubs from each State, which would take up about six weeks," Sage said. "I think it would make it more interesting."
The Glory owner's biggest complaint seems set to again fall on deaf ears. Sage is adamant clubs would be better served if they were given more autonomy regarding the negotiation of sponsorship deals. "Clubs want the ability to make more money at State or club level rather than centralising it all at FFA level," he said. Football Federation Australia has negotiated league-wide deals for a number of major sponsors as well as securing Reebok as the exclusive strip manufacturer. The peak body distributes an equal share of funds back to the clubs, however, Sage believes Glory could get a better financial return by negotiating their own deals in most instances. "Their view is that some of the weaker clubs would struggle to get sponsorship dollars and they want all clubs equal," Sage said.
Sage has also argued for Glory to receive a travel allowance given that the club spends more money on accommodation than any other in the league. He said Glory's travel bill was around $350,000 a season due to the high number of nights the players spent in hotels to allow them to rest after long flights to the east. Sage compared it to powerhouse clubs Melbourne and Sydney, whose accommodation costs are believed to be less than $100,000. The Glory owner said FFA's appointment of Archie Fraser, formerly chief executive of AFL club St Kilda, to a specific role as head of the A-League was a giant step in the right direction. He also praised the decision to extend from five to ten years the next A-League license agreement, which he was likely to sign early next year, and was optimistic about Australia's bid for either the 2018 or 2022 World Cups.
GLORY MOVES TO SECURE KEY PAIR
Perth Glory has taken steps to shore up the nucleus of its side by launching contract negotiations with its biggest out-of-contract players. English recruit Andy Todd and Dutchman Victor Sikora are viewed as crucial to plans for next season with the club hopeful both will sign new one-year deals within a fortnight. Todd, 35, has been a revelation at centre-half while Sikora, 31, has chimed in with four goals in his a dozen appearances.
A total of nine Glory players will come out of contract at seasons' end, amongst them club stalwart Jamie Harnwell and former captain Jamie Coyne. The club are close to offering a two-year deal to midfielder Wayne Srhoj, who has formed an important combination with captain Jacob Burns in the engine room. Veteran striker Eugene Dadi, who scored ten times last season but has struggled this term, is expected to be amongst those released.
GOAL SIGNALS BULLOCH’S REVIVAL
Perth Glory attacker Scott Bulloch is hoping his goal in yesterday's home win against Sydney FC is the turning point in a frustrating, injury-interrupted season. Bulloch marked his first start of the season by ghosting into the penalty area on 57 minutes to glance in a superb Jamie Coyne cross and give Glory a lead they didn't relinquish. "I obviously thought about taking the shirt off and all that type of thing," said Bulloch. "I had about 65 different celebrations all in my mind - but (there's) just no words to describe it, just really happy. It's been a really long three months."
Bulloch enjoyed a solid pre-season and was looking forward to his second A-League summer when he was struck down by an Achilles heel injury. "With the Premier League teams, I played well while they were here and then after that, for three months I have just been struggling and trying to come back a little bit too early," commented Bulloch, whose three previous appearances this season were off the bench. "Mitch (coach Dave Mitchell) told me to work hard in the youth team and you'll get your chance. It all came together today and lucky for me I worked hard and it was nice to get a goal so it worked well."
GLORY DOWN TABLE-TOPPERS
Perth Glory got their season back on track with a 2-0 win against high-flying Sydney FC at ME Bank Stadium. Scott Bulloch, making his first start of the season, broke the deadlock in the 57th minute before substitute Branko Jelic sealed victory two minutes from full-time, consigning Sydney to their second straight loss. “It was a good team performance, the defence was solid. We’re back to the old Glory that we’ve been used to,” commented coach David Mitchell post-game. “It was important for us to win today and it was nice to keep a clean sheet.” Glory’s first win in five matches keeps them in fifth spot and just two points adrift of fourth-placed Central Coast Mariners, who Glory meet next Friday on the east coast.
A warm day in the West Australian capital made for a quiet opening by both teams, Glory’s tentative early approach allowing Sydney to dictate terms. The visitors first genuine opening arrived on the quarter hour when Karol Kisel, having cut in from the left, saw his long-range effort tipped over the crossbar by a full-stretch Tando Velaphi. Glory threatened soon after when Naum Sekulovski wriggled down the left and sent in a cross intended for Jacob Burns but intercepted by Terry McFlynn. Bulloch was doing a sterling job in keeping Sydney midfielder Stuart Musialik quiet, and although Glory forced a succession of corners it was the visitors who continued to have the better of proceedings. On 41 minutes Wayne Bridges had his shot saved by Velaphi, and moments later Alex Brosque flashed wide from distance.
Mile Sterjovski came on for the second half and almost immediately dragged shot past the post. Glory looked brighter all over the park and on 57 minutes they got the breakthrough they deserved, Jamie Coyne crossing from the right for an unmarked Bulloch to head in at close-range. It turned out to be Bulloch’s final contribution as he soon made way for Victor Sikora, who would play a key role in ensuring Sydney did not find a way back into the game. John Aloisi twice went close to equalising in the final ten minutes but glanced a header wide and later lifted hight of the bar. With the clock ticking down Sikora and Sterjovski played a clever one-two which saw the latter race into the box before unselfishly sliding the ball low into the path of Jelic who neatly put away his fifth goal of the season.
EVANS EARNS YOUTH GLORY
A late headed goal by Dean Evans has given Perth Glory Youth a dramatic 3-2 victory over Sydney FC at ME Bank Stadium. Veteran striker Eugene Dadi put Glory two goals up inside the half-hour before Sydney worked their wayback into the contest with a goal either side of the break by Chris Payne. “We knew it was going to be a very hard game with Sydney being the reigning champions. We prepared well and the spirit was good before the game and we went into it with a lot of confidence,” said Evans, who scored ten minutes from the end. “It’s been a while coming so I was happy to put away my first goal in the Youth League. I’m hoping to sneak a few more in this year but the most important thing is the team keeps winning and I’m happy to have contributed on the scoresheet today.”
Glory came out firing and with 20 minutes gone Dadi nodded them in front from close-range following a pin-point Steve Hesketh cross. The margin was doubled in the 29th minute when Josh Risdon’s long ball from the right released Glen Trifiro, his cutback from the by-line being slotted in by Dadi. Sydney pulled one back against the run of play when Iain Ramsey’s cross from the left was converted by Payne. Second half substitute Mario Marcinko almost extended Glory’s advantage but hit the side netting with a shot on the run. Sydney were soon on level pegging as poor communication in the home defence saw Payne go clear and skilfully flick the ball over Alex Pearson before walking it into the net. Pearson brilliantly narrowed the angle, forcing a wild shot from Payne. Through the brilliance of Andrija Jukic and Ludovic Boi Glory deservedly re-took the lead on 80 minutes when Evans powered the ball in from a corner.
TIME RUNNING OUT FOR GLORY GIRLS
Top of the table Sydney FC out-gunned Perth Glory Women 5-2 in today’s W-League encounter at Leichhardt Oval. Despite suffering their fourth loss in a row, Glory remain just four points outside the top four, however, with only two regular season games remaining time is fast running out for them to clinch a play-off berth. The first half was five-star entertainment with Glory taking a deserved 7th minute lead thanks to Sam Kerr, who gained possession 35-metres out and lobbed goalkeeper Nikola Deiter for an audacious opener.
The hosts hit back almost immediately with Julie Rydahl coolly converting a penalty awarded for a foul on Leena Khamis. The momentum was now in Sydney’s favour and on 14 minutes Khamis’ cool finish at close-range put the Sky Blues ahead. It became three-one after 20 minutes, Khamis continuing to be a thorn in Glory’s side as she finished some great lead up work from captain Heather Garriock. The day got better for the home fans as, with time ticking towards the break, Catherine Paaske found space at the far post to head in at a corner.
Glory showed plenty of spirit in the second half and just after the hour were rewarded when livewire substitute De Vanna slotted in to bring the gap back to a couple of goals. With the weather cooling, the game continued at a good pace and Khamis should have bagged her hat-trick but missed a sitter after Sarah Walsh ripped apart the Glory defence. Glory faded during the closing stages, allowing Sydney to once again take control. There was only a matter of minutes left when Walsh completed yet another excellent game by latching onto through ball and rounding the ‘keeper before slotted in via the upright.
LOWRY HAPPY TO OFFICIALLY BE AN AUSSIE
Perth-born defender Shane Lowry has revealed his relief at being granted a clearance to play for Australia after representing the Republic of Ireland at youth level. Lowry was cleared to play for the Socceroos just two days before last weekend’s Asian Cup qualifier against Oman in Muscat. “It’s a relief. It was hanging over my head a bit last time we were in camp and I didn’t know how long it was going to take,” he told the Football Federation Australia website. “Now I’m officially Australian, so to speak, and I’m just really excited for the future.”
Although he did not take part in the win against Oman, Lowry said the experience of training alongside some of the biggest names in Australian football was invaluable. “It was a really good experience and the weather was nice in Oman compared to England where it’s getting cold,” said Lowry, who is contracted to English Premier League club Aston Villa but is on loan at second-tier Plymouth Argyle. “Training was great, high tempo and it was nice to get in amongst the big boys again like Lucas (Neill) and Tim (Cahill). You see what they do at training and you can only pick up good habits.”
Lowry said the atmosphere in the rooms post match was brilliant after the come-from-behind win, but felt for his good friend Rhys Williams following his sending off. “Everyone was buzzing afterwards because it was a tough game. Mark Schwarzer was unbelievable and deservedly got the man of the match award and the lads showed great fighting spirit and that’s what typifies Australia,’’ Lowry said. “But I was absolutely gutted for Rhys, it was one he couldn’t really avoid as it was more of a collision.’’
A junior at ECU Joondalup, Lowry recently switched his allegiance to Australia after being approached by Socceroos boss Pim Verbeek. But he retains a soft spot for Ireland and watched their heart-breaking and controversial World Cup qualifying defeat to France this week. “I still have ties to Ireland, I still watch their games and I still cheer them on. I want to see them do well, even though I’ve always seen myself as an Australian,” he said. “It would’ve been great if they got into the World Cup as well but it wasn’t to be.”
AMPHLETT STEPS UP TO A-LEAGUE
Perth Glory has added outstanding young ECU Joondalup attacker Tommy Amphlett to their squad as an injury replacement for Anthony Skorich. Amphlett caught the eye of Glory coach David Mitchell during the winter and has been training with the senior Glory squad over the past three weeks. “I’ve seen Tommy a number of times in the state league and was impressed with the way he went about his football,” Mitchell said. “He is a bright young lad with a good cross and a proven ability to find the back of the net. It’s disappointing for Anthony being out but he is working hard to come back as soon as he can. In the meantime we’re happy to be able to give another quality young Perth product the chance to perform on the big stage.” Skorich has endured a frustrating run of injuries this season and his latest foot problem will sideline him for at least six weeks.
BOI BACK IN THE FRAME
Perth Glory’s young guns are ready to go into battle with reigning National Youth League champions Sydney FC at ME Bank Stadium on Sunday. The Glory squad will be bolstered by the inclusion of speedy attacker Ludovic Boi, who returns from a two week absence due to a hamstring strain. “I’m really glad to be back in the squad. There’s not much you can do about injuries when they happen, it comes with the territory,” said Boi, who made his A-League debut against Melbourne Victory a fortnight ago. “It was very exciting getting the opportunity to play with the first team. I was looking forward to getting out on the pitch in front of a massive home crowd. There were a lot of nerves before the game but it was a great experience and one I hope to have again soon.”
Five of the inaugural Glory Youth squad stepped up to the first team this seasons and Boi is determined to follow in their footsteps. “I guess it’s the goal of all the youth boys to be selected for the first team. I’m happy to come back with the youth squad, train hard and hopefully get another gig with the senior guys,” he said. After a home loss to Melbourne last weekend Glory are determined to rebound on Sunday against a strong Sydney outfit. “Winning is obviously the most important thing and we want the three points. Sydney is a proven side having won the youth league last year,” said Boi. “They’re a tough team to beat but we’ve got a good squad as well and I think we’ll get one up on them this time.”
TOUGH TEST FOR GLORY (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell has urged his players to use Sunday's home game with high-flying Sydney FC to kick-start their finals aspirations. A win against the table-topping Sky Blues can provide Glory a timely boost following a four-game winless run. "It's a very important game obviously," Mitchell said. "It's being played on our home turf and we want to come out with our heads held high and get back on the winning road. Sydney is a consistent threat and rightfully at the top of the table. They'll be coming here to show they can win anywhere in the country while we're just as determined to show we belong amongst the league leaders."
After missing out on maximum points in their last four outings Mitchell said he is confident his side can deliver the knockout blow in Sunday's heavyweight bout. "Every match we've played this season we've be in with a chance to get something out of it," he said. "We've looked back and there are matches where we could have claimed the points and need to make sure we take our chances in the second half of the season. You're always looking for more goals, I think we've created some good opportunities but just need to capitalise on those. If you can get a few goals on the board it gives you a buffer and reduces the pressure that teams like Sydney can place on you."
GILL CLEARS TRANSFER HURDLE
Matildas striker Katie Gill has been cleared to play for Perth Glory Women against Sydney FC at Leichhardt Oval tomorrow after a frustrating delay because of transfer regulations. Gill, scorer of 26 goals in 54 appearances for Australia, was prevented from making her debut last weekend and feared she could be blocked from joining Glory before her clearance was confirmed this week. "I think it's been frustrating for quite a few people," Gill told Jonathon Cook of the 'West Australian' newspaper. "We've got three games left and it's going to be hard to make the semis now but we'll be going in (to each match) as underdogs, which isn't a bad thing."
Coach John Gibson said Gill, who has spent two seasons in Sweden and played for Newcastle Jets in last season's W-League, would provide a physical element that had been missing from the team. "It's a big boost to the team to have Katie, particularly with her size and presence," Gibson said. Gill, whose parents moved to Perth four years ago, said she was impressed with the enthusiasm of Glory's young players and hoped her experience could help increase the intensity. Glory will be without Matildas midfielder Collette McCallum, due to an ankle injury, for the remainder of the season. Tomorrow's Sydney-Glory W-League game will be shown on shown on ABC1 from 3.00pm.
ANYONE FOR TENNIS, FOOTBALL STYLE?
Football tennis is the exciting new initiative by former Perth Glory player Mark Lee designed to improve a player’s skills. Lee has been involved with a variety of skill development initiatives since arriving from England in 2003 and is particularly excited about his latest venture. “From the beaches of Brazil to the training pitches of professional footballers, football tennis is a game played and loved by all,” said Lee, who established Football Tennis Australia with one-time Glory team mates David Tarka and James Robinson. “It’s played with great passion and a competitive spirit but never before has it been a sport or organised tournament. We have lots of plans for it and the first tournament will be held in Perth.”
Football tennis is the ideal vehicle for players to perfect their technical ability as well as being fast, exciting and - most importantly - fun to play and watch. Football Tennis Australia will conduct tournaments in all states, allowing players of all ages and abilities to play the 2v2 lightening quick hybrid sport. A junior tournament takes place this Sunday, 22 November, at South Lake Leisure Centre with a senior event scheduled at the same venue on Sunday 6 December. Participants and spectators will soak up a party-like atmosphere generated by music and live DJ’s, making the occasion more of an event than a game.
Lee hopes the football community embraces the new football variation. “We are all huge fans of the game and want to share our enthusiasm and allow all to experience it,” said Lee, who won the 2005 Gold Medal. “In a short space of time we have played some demo games during half time at a Perth Glory game and have been given a wonderful opportunity by the PFA with a scholarship under the guidance of Price Waterhouse Coopers. I believe there is a huge future for the tournaments starting in Australia, and hopefully spreading to other countries.”
Since parting company with Glory last summer Lee has been keeping himself busy with a variety of pursuits. And with the new season just around the corner he’s considering offers to again pull on his playing boots. “I’ve not thought about playing again, I’ve been too busy with Mark Lee Football Coaching, Pro Football Training, SAQ, Urban Football Australia and Football Tennis Australia which is fantastic but obviously taking up a great deal of time,” he explained. “I have been invited to pre-season at Balcatta, I’ll see how it goes but there are no finalised plans to play next year.” For more details about Football Tennis Australia visit footballtennis.com.au or send an email to email@example.com
DROUGHT ENDS FOR TASESKI
Oliver Taseski could hardly contain his delight when revealed as winner of the 2009 Goalkeeper of the Year at Friday night’s Gold Medal Awards ceremony. The long-time Inglewood United custodian was the stand-out performer in a strong field of ‘keepers that included Corey Hugo (Swan United) and Frazer Siddall (Western Knights). “It’s been a long time between drinks, the last time I won it was eight or nine years ago,” said Taseski, who also collected the award in 2001. “I’ve been working hard the last few years, I’m very proud to have this under my belt and I’ll try hard to defend it next year.”
Taseski is the first to admit Inglewood under-achieved this season - they placed seventh but only a single point outside the top five - and the ‘keeper is already focusing on bringing success to his club in 2010. “I thought we could have done better in the league. We had a tough year, we had three coaches and a lot of injuries and players in and out,” commented Taseski. “We were very unsettled and I think next year (coach) Shane Pryce will steady the ship … a lot of people underestimate us and next year is very promising for us, I’m very much looking forward to it.”
LUJAN SETS HIS SAIL WITH SWAN
Swan United continues to build towards 2010 with the recruitment of attacking midfielder Roberto Lujan. The 23-year old Bolivian joins the black and whites on the end of a strong season with Canning City and is looking forward to another season in the top flight. “I had a very good time with Canning City, the players were great and that made my decision to leave difficult, but after we we’re relegated I decided to move to another Premier League club,” said Lujan.
Lujan feels Canning’s relegation from the top flight was down to a simple lack of experience. “I don’t think the relegation was because of the lack of quality in the side, it was probably because we didn’t have enough experience. This made it difficult for everyone concerned to establish the squad we had and grow from there for next season,” he explained. “I want to improve my game, and you cannot make your football grow taking a step backwards, so the move to Swan is great challenge for me.”
Swan coach Paul Lincoln was impressed with Lujan’s efforts during the winter and set about bringing the attacker to the Swan Valley. “After we heard Roberto was looking for a new club we spoke to him and put our case forward. He was very keen after our lunch and I was delighted when he rang me back to confirm,” said Lincoln of his newest signing. “He brings pace and skill to our squad and I’m very excited heading into next season.”
Lujan learned the finer points of his game in Boliva before moving to Perth in 2007. “I started when I was 8-years old with Bolivar Soccer Club, the most important soccer team in Bolivia. I played for them until I was 16, then I got promoted to their professional team and played there for three years,” he explained. “While I was there I earned my biggest achievement, being a sub for a final of the South American Cup where we played against Bocca Juniors from Argentina. Unfortunately we lost but it’s an awesome experience that I will never forget.”
Unfortunately, the curse of injury struck Lujan in late 2006, ruling him out of the game for an extended period. He moved to Western Australia the following year and played a season with Perth SC before joining Canning for their first ever Premier League campaign. “I am ready to give my best for the good of the (Swan) team,” he said. “The South American style I have in my game, combined with all the hard work in the field that I think characterise the Australian player, and that I have learnt from them, it’s going to be lethal.”
WARD FEARED HIS CAREER WAS OVER
Excruciating pain, weight loss, a serious staph infection and hospitalisation lead Nick Ward to one conclusion - he was finished as a professional footballer. But fortunately the talented midfielder has put those thoughts behind him as he prepares for a possible recall to Melbourne Victory's line-up for Saturday night's game against Brisbane Roar. "I thought it was my career over, really," Ward told Grantley Bernard of the 'Herald Sun' newspaper. "I'd had osteitis pain before and this was ten times the pain. Unbearable - I was throwing up from the pain, it was pretty bad."
The medical theory is the staph bacteria might have entered Ward's body during an injection to help repair his troublesome groin in late June, but it did not surface as a serious condition for about a month. The midfielder was at home one night when the infection erupted. "It gradually got worse and worse through the night," Ward said. "I wasn't able to walk and I was bedridden for four days until I was slowly getting strength back to lift up my legs. I was pretty sick and it was pretty painful for a few days before the antibiotics kicked in."
Ward has given the strongest possible indication he is ready to resume his A-League career with two full games for Melbourne's youth team. It will be a big comeback for Ward, but he's used to coming back from all manner of injury, proving that while his body might be frail at times his mind and determination are at full strength. "I've just had one thing to the next," he said. "I'm hoping it's the last of everything now and I can get on with a strong finish to the season and go into (the Asian Champions League)."
FERGUSON FLIES INTO HAWKES NET
It's been a whirlwind few weeks for ex-Western Knights player Stuart Ferguson, who has moved to New Zealand to further his playing career. A key figure in the Knights Premier League success, Ferguson had hardly time to digest his teams' Top Five final loss to Perth SC when he was boarding to link up with New Zealand Football Championship outfit Hawkes Bay United. And just three days later the English-born defender made his debut off the bench against Waikato. "I've settled in well over here after a very full first few days," commented Ferguson. "They're a good bunch of boys here and we're training hard ready for the season ahead. Hopefully we can reach the finals at the end of the year which is something the club has never done before."
Appearances in Hawkes Bay's first two games of the season have given Ferguson a good feel for the league in New Zealand, which he feels is on par with the local competition. "Of what I've seen the standard across the board over here is probably the same level as the top three or four in the Football West Premier League," he said. "One difference is we train 20 hours a week, so the level of fitness is higher and tactically a bit better as the coaches have more time to work on things during the week. And with it being a national league, players have to dedicate a lot of time to training and playing so must people are 110% committed to the cause."
Former Wycombe Wanderers player and now coach of the Bay, Matt Chandler, is delighted to be able to call on the services of Ferguson. "He has fitted in very well, his inclusion in the side last week (against Otago United) was an introduction he wasn't expecting but he has started brightly. I think our fitness levels were above where he was and that might have been a shock to him but he coped well. His heading ability will be an asset at set plays and his distribution, although good, will be worked on to our philosophy. He is a defender who wears his heart on his sleeve and is inspirational to players around him."
Although over 5,000 kilometres away, Ferguson wasted little time to congratulate former team mates David Micevski on his Gold Medal win. "I was told the news on Saturday afternoon here and spoke to Dave the day after on the internet, it's great to hear he won," said Ferguson. "He's a great lad and a great player, I've wished him all the best for whatever he decides in the future, shame I couldn't have been there really. We had a good group of lads down at the Knights this year and that's one thing football does, it provides friends for life and I defiantly have a few of those back there in Perth for sure."
There has been talk of Ferguson heading back to Nash Field in 2010, however, the big defender is committed to seeing out the season with the Bay before deciding his next step. "My boss in Perth would love me back so I've told him that is my intention to return once the season is over," he said. "My plan is to travel and see the rest of New Zealand for a few weeks and then return to Perth in April sometime, whether or not I'll play next season remains to be seen. The Knights have signed some good players, a few which play in my position, so I may become a faithful supporter of the Western Knights next year ... we'll see what happens."
Football has played second fiddle to rugby as the national sport of New Zealand for a long time, but the Kiwi's weekend qualification for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa could be about to change that. "It's funny how New Zealand's attitude on football changed overnight following the Bahrain game on Saturday night, it's certainly opened a few people's eyes on how exciting the game is," said Ferguson. "The kids here love the game. The problem is the (lack of) opportunity to play after school age, there are not many leagues at a senior level. Hopefully, the football federation will now create opportunities for young players and allow the sport to grow similar to the recent growth in Australia."
THE GLOVES ARE OFF! (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show)
Once a goalkeeper always a goalkeeper, of that there can be no doubt. So we goalkeepers have to stand united and fight for what is a very important cause. We are talking about equal opportunity to win the most prestigious award in Western Australian football, the Gold Medal, which has not been won by a goalkeeper since first being awarded close to 50 years ago. If we look at the Football Writers Footballer of the Year award in England, as this has a longer history than the PFA version, since starting in 1947/48 four goalkeepers have taken out the award - Bert Trautmann, Gordon Banks, Pat Jennings and Neville Southall. Based on the average of this award a goalkeeper should be in the frame every 15 years or so.
However, it has become apparent that the referees tend not to think of awarding votes to goalkeepers, as after the game they do their 3-2-1 votes for the best player and then also vote for the best goalkeeper. As one said on the Gold medal night, ‘I never consider the goalkeepers as I give them a separate vote.’ So that comment would imply that a goalkeeper will never have a chance of driving away with the car and the Gold Medal, which seems more than a little unfair when they can determine a team’s success and failure as much as a striker. Hopefully the voting on this issue will be reviewed for next season, to make the award all-inclusive - if not the unofficial goalkeeper’s union may well have more to say!
PROFESSIONAL LIFE IS MICEVSKI’S NEW GOAL
2009 Gold Medal winner David Micevski wants to use the successes of the recent winter as the catalyst for a return to professional football. Micevski won the prestigious Gold Medal on Friday evening by one vote from Mandurah City defender Ryan Townsend, with the Western Knights captain stealing the lead in the final round of voting. “I’m absolutely over the moon. I didn’t know I was going to win it until the last vote,” said Micevski, who made 24 A-League appearances for Perth Glory between 2005 and 2008. “I thought I’d be up there with a chance but it was a great fight with Ryan all the way and it came down to the wire.”
It looks increasingly unlikely the Knights will be able to hold onto their star midfielder with Micevski actively seeking opportunities in the A-League or Asia in a bid to resume his professional career. “My first choice would be to stay in Perth with the Glory but if I can’t get a chance there then I may look over east and see if I can get a chance to get back in the A-League,” he said. “With my manager we are also looking at Asia and Europe as well, there are a few options to look at, but we will need to see what develops there. No doubt that winning this fantastic prize will put me in the shop window.”
WILLIAMS TAKES SOLACES FROM COACH’S WORDS
Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek has assured emerging youngster Rhys Williams that the red card collected against Oman on the weekend won't act as a speed bump to his fast-moving international career. Sent off after just 15 minutes before a ten-man Australia came back to win 2-1, 21-year old Williams was relieved with the post-match pep talk delivered by the Dutchman. "The boss basically told me it was a learning curve and to just get over it quickly and to keep working on my game and improving which is what I plan to do," Williams told theworldgame.com.au. "Obviously I felt pretty bad about it and it meant a lot when the coach reminded me that it's something I need to take on board without letting it put me off or hold me back."
Williams was as surprised as almost everybody else who saw him accidentally clatter into Al-Housni Hassan and then be shown a straight red by referee Sun Baojie for what was more a moment of bad timing than cynical intent. "I must admit I was a bit taken aback when the referee showed me a straight red," he added. "For sure, it was a clumsy challenge but I didn't ever expect it to lead to a send off. It's something I want to put behind me but to also to make sure I don't repeat it again if I'm in a similar situation. I would have been gutted if we'd gone on to lose the game. But the boys showed what great character there is in the team by refusing to back down and I thought they were worth the win. With ten men it was a big result and it showed it takes a lot to beat the Aussie spirit."
A surprise starter on the right side of the defence, Williams has been little short of a revelation since his come-from-nowhere debut in June's World Cup qualifier win over Japan, which he followed with a similarly strong showing against the Republic of Ireland in August. "I never imagined only a few months back that I'd have been involved with the Socceroos so quickly. It's been incredible and now I just have to keep myself grounded, keep doing well for Middlesbrough and make sure I give myself every possible chance to be picked for future internationals," he added. "Just being in camp with so many superb players is an experience in itself, the level is special and it makes you become a better player yourself."
YOUNG SOCCEROOS QUALIFY FOR CHAMPIONSHIPS
Australia is through to the 2010 AFC Under-19 Championship after completing the qualification tournament in second place. Comfortable wins over Hong Kong, Chinese Tapiei and Singapore and a draw with Indonesia booked the Young Socceroos spot in next year’s championship before going down to group winner Jaoan in their final game. And while coach Jan Versleijen was disappointed to see his team lose to Japan late in the piece, he was nonetheless happy with their performance throughout the tournament. “It was very beneficial for us to not just get the results but also to get valuable experience together as a team during the two and a half weeks,” Versleijen said.
Two goals to Karem Bulut and one from Kliment Taseski was enough to secure the Young Socceroos a 3-1 win over Hong Kong on the opening day of competition. Bulut registered the first goal on the half hour, converting past the goalkeeper following a neat lead-up that involved Nikola Stanojevic and Kofi Danning. Four minutes later Sam Gallagher played a long diagonal ball to Danning, who beat his defender and laid off for Bulut to score from inside the 6-yard box. Ben Kantarovski's foul ten minutes into the second half was punished with Wong Wai scoring from the penalty spot. The match was sealed in the 80th minute when Rhyan Grant flicked a pass to Taseski, who finished well. Mark Birighitti played a full game with Eli Babalj coming off the bench after 70 minutes as replacement for Bulut.
Babalj scored twice off the bench to lead the Young Socceroos to a 4-0 victory over Chinese Taipei two days later. After a scoreless first half played in heavy rain, the deadlock was broken in the 68th minute when Birighitti played down the middle to Ben Kantarovski, he relayed the ball to Babalj who beat his marker before neating into the bottom corner. Two minutes later an unmarked Dylan McGowan headed in from a Tom Oar corner. Oar was again involved in the 81st minute when his centring pass was calmly slotted in by Babalj from a narrow angle. The scoring was completed just before full-time after Nikola Stanojevic was felled inside the penalty area and Steve Lustica converted the resulting penalty. Birighitti played a full game, while Babalj entered the fray on 38 minutes to replace Taseski.
The Young Socceroos thrashed Singapore 8-0 in their third match. Sam Gallagher headed in the opener after 7 minutes, with a penalty conversion by Lustica and Grant's close-range effort midway through the first period giving Australia a three-goal buffer at the turnaround. Dimitrios Petratos slid the ball past the goalkeeper soon after the restart, then on 57 minutes Babalj made no mistake from the spot following a foul on Tommy Oar. Kantarovski calmly placed into the net after the 'keeper parried a vicious shot by Danning, who on 70 minutes looped his header over the 'keeper from a James Virgili cross. The scoring was made complete eight minutes later by Kantarovski in a goalmouth scramble. Birighitti and Babalj both played the full 90 minutes.
Australia’s spot at next year’s AFC Under-19 Championship was assured following a 0-0 draw with host nation Indonesia. A vocal crowd of around 5,000 were treated to a highly quality encounter in which the Young Socceroos hit the crossbar on a number of occasions, while at the opposite end goalkeeper Birighitti was forced to make a number of crucial saves to ensure a clean sheet. “This was the toughest game so far in the tournament and probably the highest quality game of the tournament,” said coach Jan Versleijen. “The Indonesian team were well organised, disciplined and played some very good football.” Birighitti played a full game with Babalj an unused substitute.
A narrow 3-2 loss to Japan completed the Young Socceroos qualifying campaign. Australia broke the deadlock 40 minutes into a high intensity match when McGowan headed in a Tasseski corner. Nagai Ryo fired into Birighitti’s top corner three minutes into the second half, and a couple of minutes later a penalty converted by Kikuchi Daisuke gave Japan the lead. The Young Socceroos drew level on the hour, Bulut’s fine pass allowing Oar to place neatly into the net. The game appeared destined to end in a draw when, five minutes into stoppage time, Ryo’s blistering first time shot secured Japan a last-gasp victory. Birighitti and Babalj both played the full 90 minutes.
TODARO CAPS “EXCELLENT YEAR” AS THE TOP COACH
Navigating Balcatta to the First Division title and a spot in next year’s top flight earned Salv Todaro the First Division Coach of the Year mantle at Friday evening’s Gold Medal Awards ceremony. “It was an excellent year for us. It’s very exciting - it’s the first time in 32 years that the club has been the premier division,” he said. “Full credit to the players. They worked really hard in training, they worked really hard in the games, they had a belief in themselves and with each other and a lot of times through the year that got them through some hard games.”
Todaro took the occasion to shine the spotlight on some of Balcatta’s star performers in 2009. “Ashley Rosendale was a different class, in the First Division he’s someone that can score goals, he scored 25 great goals,” said Todaro, whose team gained promotion by finishing two points clear of Wanneroo City. “Andy O’Neill was great as well, he provided the ammunition for Ash and in the last ten games scored ten goals. Everyone chipped in. Chris Ramsey shored up the defence, and Brian McDonald came into the side for the last couple of games and was excellent.”
FLOREAT ADD BARERRA TO HONOUR ROLL
Silky-skilled midfielder Jason Barerra has celebrated a sensational debut season with Floreat Athena by winning the club’s most sought after trophy, the Fairest and Best. “To win the Fairest and Best after my first year with Floreat is especially great. When I came to the club I didn’t expect to win any awards because there are so many great players here - John Migas, Adam Bachellor, Bran Mikulic just to name a few,” said Barrera, signed last summer from Fremantle Spirit. “This season would have to be one of my top ones. Getting to the finals of the Night Series, winning the Cup with the boys and now to have won the Fairest and Best.”
Team captain John Migas was Runner-Up Fairest and Best with Branimir Mikulic and Dean Aplegren joint third. Mikulic took home the Golden Boot award, while Alex Novatsis had his name added to the recipient list for the Troy Bernard Rising Star Award. The Reserve team Fairest and Best was taken out by attack-minded Rafael Bundu with Modrick Sims runner-up. Adam Wood was presented with the Fairest and Best in the Youth team ahead of goalkeeper Corey Woods. The George Papas Club Man of the Year Award was shared by Sam Tzoganos and Anastasi Katris.
WINNING RUN CAN START WITH SYDNEY: COYNE
Defender Jamie Coyne says Perth Glory are ready to make a statement when they host Sydney FC at ME Bank Stadium on Sunday in the first of three meeting with the table-topping Sky Blues in the second half of the A-League season. In a fixture quirk, Glory has already played some teams twice but are yet to be tested by a Sydney side that holds a narrow one-point lead over the rest of the competition. After challenging for top spot early in the season, Glory are currently placed fifth place and know that taking points from those above them is the best way to move forward.
Coyne believes a good result in front of a home crowd this weekend will give Glory great confidence as it faces the current league leader repeatedly in the run home to a possible finals appearance. “We were up the top two or three for a couple of weeks and we’re pretty disappointed to drop that back a little bit,” Coyne said. “There’s not a big gap there (between all sides on the table) ... but as the season goes on I think one or two teams probably will pull away. Hopefully we can get on that winning run and that can be us, so that’s something we’re going to strive for.”
Following a rare weekend off the Glory boys are fit and firing, with Coyne confident they can eradicate the small lapses that have costs them points over the past month. “We have been working on the little things that we need to get right, it’s something we’re all confident we can put a stop to and have a break in the season allows you to focus on those sort of things rather than a specific opponent,” said Coyne. “To concede goals late in the half, or near the end of the game, is pretty disappointing. Obviously soccer isn’t a high-scoring game so when you’ve got a 1-0 lead you want to keep it.”
The break came at a perfect time for Coyne, the hard running defender given time to rest before this week ramping up his efforts to return to the side after missing the team’s draw at Wellington Phoenix with a thigh strain. “It was unfortunate to miss the game against Wellington but it (thigh) has come good in the last week or so and I’m ready for the game on the weekend,” he said. “As long as the coach picks me I’ll be out there. I feel ready to play and have been working pretty hard the last four or five days to make sure.”
Coyne is also predicting a hot reception for former Glory captain Simon Colosimo as he returns to play in Perth for the first time since leaving the club at the end of the 2007/08 season. “I’m sure he’ll get a nice clap from all the fans. When Simon left here it wasn’t the best circumstances,” Coyne explained. “He’s a friend of mine and obviously he’s a good player and has been having a good season, but hopefully he plays pretty ‘crap’ on the weekend. That would be nice and hopefully the fans get stuck into him.” Glory takes on Sydney from 4.00pm this Sunday at ME Bank Stadium.
NORMANTON HUMBLED BY COACHING AWARD
The State’s most successful club coach, Graham Normanton, was uncharacteristically lost for words after winning the 2009 Premier League Coach of the Year. Normanton, who’s guided Perth to a staggering eighteen trophies since 1999, was a deserved trophy recipient at Friday evening’s Gold Medal Awards ceremony. “I’m humbled by it to be honest, it’s the first time I’ve won the Coach of the Year,” said Normanton, who this year led Perth to victory in the pre-season Night Series and end of season Championship play-off. “A piece of my award tonight belongs to the boys, without them I’ve got nothing.”
Normanton was equally delighted to see young attacker Chris Rizidis collect the Troy Bernard Premier League Youth Best and Fairest trophy. “We’ve had our eye on him all season, he’s been doing really well in the 18’s and for him to win tonight is a real bonus,” said Normanton, a keen supporter of youth development. “We blooded a few kids this year, that’s not to say they are going to play a major part next year, but it’s something they can get experience from and that’s what we’re looking for from within the club for these kids.”
GLORY PRIMED FOR FINALS ASSAULT
David Mitchell believes there are even bigger and better things to come from his side in the second half of the season with a maiden finals appearance firmly on Perth Glory’s radar. Glory are placed fifth at the mid-point of the expanded 27-game season with Mitchell saying there are plenty of positives to take from the first half of their campaign. “I think we’re in the mix, we’ve had some great results, we’ve had some indifferent results but on the whole I’m pleased with the way we are ticking over,” said the Glory coach.
Glory has an impressive record at home and will play seven of their remaining thirteen games at ME Bank Stadium. They’ve secured points in five of their six outings on home soil and are determined to ensure the trip west remains as painful as possible for opposition sides. “Traditionally we’ve been quite strong at home in the run in towards the back end of the season so we’re looking forward to that,” Mitchell said. “I think having the fans coming back and supporting the club in big numbers has been great, it gives everyone a lift.”
After adding 13 new players to the roster this season Mitchell predicted it would take some time for the squad to gel and believes the run home is where the Glory will produce their best. “We’re in a good position but we’re no going to get carried away. We want a good run home,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got a lot of good players at the club and we just have to make sure that we continue to work hard and the results will take care of themselves. That’s what I’m going to ram home to them (the players).” Normanton was equally delighted to see young attacker Chris Rizidis collect the Troy Bernard Premier League Youth Best and Fairest trophy. “We’ve had our eye on him all season, he’s been doing really well in the 18’s and for him to win tonight is a real bonus,” said Normanton, a keen supporter of youth development. “We blooded a few kids this year, that’s not to say they are going to play a major part next year, but it’s something they can get experience from and that’s what we’re looking for from within the club for these kids.”
FORMER STATE COACH TIPS KIWI CUP UPSET (courtesy the West Australian)
One-time Western Australia coach John Adshead says New Zealand can produce a shock at next year's World Cup. Adshead, whose spell in charge of the State team in the 1970s was an important step in his coaching career, was the first man to guide New Zealand to a World Cup when he took them to Spain in 1982. One of his charges in that campaign, Ricki Herbert, was the coach behind the Kiwis latest qualification, which was sealed on Saturday with a 1-0 win over Bahrain in Wellington.
In 1982, New Zealand lost to Brazil, Scotland and the Soviet Union but Adshead believes a Kiwi upset could be on the cards in South Africa next year. "If you look at recent World Cups, there aren't any underdogs," he said. "There are no easy games and if you don't treat it like that you do so at your peril. Teams that are not expected to do anything suddenly get a result. I think this team is going to have to work hard and lift their game again but I'm sure they will."
Adshead, who lives in New Zealand, said qualification would be a huge fillip for the game in a country dominated by rugby. "It's a huge lift and I couldn't be happier," he said. "Everyone involved with the 1982 team are absolutely delighted. It's like handing on the torch. The country is buzzing. It's an amazing place to be."
Having arrived in Perth from England in 1970 Adshead spent six years learning the coaching ropes. He considers his spell in Perth instrumental in his coaching development. "Perth was everything for me. It lifted me up the rungs of the ladder to a level I would've never reached if I'd stayed in England," said Adshead, whose time in Perth included two years with East Fremantle Tricolore.
Adshead moved to New Zealand in 1976 and took over the national team in 1979, leading them to the World Cup at his first attempt. "When you are there it's a fantastic feeling but when you are looking back from a distance you think 'bloody hell, did I take a team there?'" he said. "And every World Cup you watch seems to get bigger and better and you think I've been there and I've done that. It's amazing."
MURPHY BACKS WILLIAMS AFTER SOCCEROOS SEND OFF
Former Socceroos defender Shaun Murphy says Rhys Williams should not lose too much sleep over the challenge and red card that left Australia teetering on the brink of defeat in the weekend Asian Cup qualifier against Oman. Williams, 21, was sent off just 15 minutes into the game after bringing down Al-Housni Hassan in the penalty area. Murphy, who led Perth Glory to the 2004 National Soccer League title, felt Williams was unfortunate to have been sent off. “He didn’t do a lot wrong and it really was a harsh punishment. It wasn’t a deliberate foul,” said Murphy, capped 18 times by Australia.
Although Mark Schwarzer saved Khalifa Ayil’s penalty, the defender tucked away the rebound to give the home nation the lead and leave Australia with a mountain to climb. But the ten-man Socceroos rallied courageously and Luke Wilkshire’s first goal for Australia on 43 minutes and a thunderbolt from Brett Emerton seven minutes from the end of normal time sealed a vital 2-1 win. While Williams would have wanted more time in which to impress coach Pim Verbeek, Murphy feels the youngster is already positioned strongly for next year’s World Cup squad. “He can play at right back and in the middle of the park so he’s versatile and, at his age, it’s all in his favour,” said Murphy.
CLUB OWNERS, FFA HEADED FOR CRISIS TALKS
Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy will hold a crisis meeting this week with A-League club owners. While qualification for consecutive World Cups has enhanced Australia’s international standing, A-League crowds are dropping as clubs continue to lose money. Average attendances across the competition are down with most clubs standing to lose at least $2 million. FFA has been forced to take over Adelaide United, while there are fears for the future of Gold Coast United.
It is understood club owners want assurances from FFA that the clubs will get their entire salary cap funded from a new television rights deal due to begin in 2013. At present, the clubs are receiving about $1.2 million - round half the salary cap - each per season. Clubs are also angry about sponsorship restrictions, including being forced to use Reebok for playing strips and merchandise rather than being able to negotiate their own deals.
MELBOURNE KRUSE TO VICTORY OVER GLORY YOUTH
Perth Glory Youth will be looking to quickly regroup following today’s 3-0 loss to Melbourne outfit at Clipsal Stadium. The home side enjoyed the better of early possession and territory but were undone as Robbie Kruse twice the most of his opportunities to put Melbourne in the box seat. “I thought the first thirty or so minutes the boys had the game under control but there were a couple of small mistakes which let Melbourne back in and before we knew it we were going into half time two-nil down,” cach Gareth Naven said. “Our boys worked hard, tried hard and played some good football but you also want good results and that’s what we’re missing at the moment.”
Both teams had their chances during the opening exchanges with Scott Bulloch shooting wide for the hosts, as did Evan Berger and Nathan Elasi for Melbourne. The best opening came the way of visiting captain Aziz Behich when through one-on-one with Aleks Vrteski, who did well to save the shot. Kruse then blew the game wide open with two goals in quick succession, the first arriving on 28 minutes when the striker put the ball past Vrteski in a goalmouth scrap. Five minutes later Kruse released a classy strike with his left boot that gave Vrteski no chance whatsoever. Kruse could have had a third just before half time when found alone with the ‘keeper, but he elected to pass instead of take the shot himself and nothing came of it.
Glory’s worked hard to get back in the game after the break but Howard Fondyke’s powerful long-range effort was wonderfully saved by Mitch Langerak. Otherwise, it was Melbourne who carried the momentum and a strong shot by Elasi was kept out by replacement ‘keeper Alex Pearson. But there was nothing Pearson could do on 72 minutes when Elasi unleashed a blistering shot into the net which ensured victory for the away team. Melbourne’s desire for a fourth saw Andrew Kruger send a couple of shots wide, while Berger made great contact only for Pearson to push his attempt over the crossbar.
GARCIA AT THE DOUBLE FOR HULL
Richard Garcia struck twice as Hull City continued their resurgence with a 2-2 friendly draw against Italian club Atalanta on Thursday night. Garcia, who started in the Tigers 2-1 win over Stoke City last weekend, picked up where he had left off by sending a timely reminder to manager Phil Brown of his importance to Hull's squad in the battle against the drop. His performance will have given Brown much food for thought ahead of his side's 'six-pointer' against West Ham at the KC Stadium next Saturday.
UNDER-16 WOMEN DENIED WORLD CUP BERTH
Australia has missed out on a place in the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup after finishing fourth at the AFC Under-16 Women’s Championships in Thailand. The national youth team went down in the third/fourth place- play-off to Japan, who qualify for next year’s tournament in Trinidad and Tobago along with Korea Republic and DPR Korea. The was a disappointing outcome for the Australian Under-16 team who went into the last four as the tournament’s form team, having defeated China, Chinese Taipei and Japan to emerge from the group stage as the only team with a 100% record.
Tara Andrews gave Australia's campaign a dream start by scoring all the goals in a 4-0 win over China. Australia's attacking stance was rewarded in the 18th minute when Andrews converted a free-kick to the near post by Stephanie Catley. Her second came just before the hour and following a Hannah Brewer cross, then five minutes later Andrews completed her hat-trick by expertly rounding the goalkeeper. Full-time was on the horizon when Andrews neatly chipped the advancing 'keeper from the edge of the 18-yard-box to round out the scoring. Samantha Kerr was replaced in the 82nd minute by Brittany Whitfield.
It was a much-changed Australia side that two days later secured a semi-final berth by defeating Chinese Taipei 7-0. The tone was set early as Rebekah Stott posted Australia's opener after 3 minutes with Heidi Makrillos adding a second soon after. Sharni Brown further extended the lead before turning provider for Michaela Hatziridos to head in with 19 minutes gone. Hatziridos netted again, and with three minutes left in the half an unmarked Caitlin Friend put away Australia's sixth. Chinese Taipei proved more resilient in the second half but four minutes into stoppage time Friend beat the offside trap and slid the ball past advancing goalkeeper Lin Shih-Ting. Kerr was an unused substitute.
Australia came back from a goal down to defeat Japan 3-1 on Monday and finish top of Group B. Japan took a 7th minute lead when Kanna Oda’s shot ricocheted off the post and goalkeeper Brianna Davey before hitting the net. Parity was restored six minutes later, ‘keeper Mayu Yoshida fumbling a Teigen Allen corner with Whitfield pounce to slot into the empty goal. Allen put Australia ahead in the 28th minute, beating her marker on top of the 18-yard box before rifling past the ‘keeper. The game was made safe in first half stoppage time when Caitlin Foord finished precisely after beating the offside trap. Kerr played the full 90 minutes.
DPR Korea progressed to the Championship final with a thrilling 4-3 semi-final defeat of Australia. Whitfield put Australian in front after 8 minutes only to have Kim Kum-Jong equalised nine minutes later. A fine counterattack orchestrated by Allen saw Foord restore the lead in a one-on-one with the 'keeper after 27 minutes, but the teams entered the break level after Pong Son-Hwa hit the target on 37 minutes. Australia opened the second stanza brightly and on 64 minutes again went ahead when Van Egmond's long-range effort sailed over the 'keeper. Kim Kum-Jong levelled the contest in the 77th minute before Kim Yun-Mi hit the winner with five minutes to play. Kerr played a full game.
Japan secured qualification for next years Under-17 Women’s World Cup by defeating Australia 6-2 in the third/fourth place play-off. Japan took the upper hand when Mai Kyokawa headed in on 31 minutes with Hikaru Naomoto netting a long-range effort soon after. Kyokawa bagged her second on 52 minutes, Andrews’ diving header pulled a goal back for Australia before a spectacular free-kick from outside the 18-yard box completed Kyokawa’s hat-trick. Hikari Takagi put away Japan’s fifth, Foord grabbed a late consolation goal but it was Kyokawa who had the last say by scoring her fourth three minutes from the end. Kerr was replaced in the 83rd minute by Heidi Makrillos.
FINALS DREAM TEETERS ON THE BRINK FOR GLORY WOMEN
Perth Glory Women’s play-off hopes suffered a savage blow when dumped 4-0 by Canberra United on a hot afternoon at McKellar Park. The home side signalled their intention from the get-go, Ashleigh Sykes launching a quick shot almost immediately from kick-off which goalkeeper Emma Wirkus saved well with her legs. Glory’s best chance of the period came on 32 minutes when Lisa De Vanna’s shot slipped through Lydia William’s gloves but narrowly trickled past the upright. Canberra’s dominance was rewarded nine minutes later when Sykes snared her third goal in as many games against Glory to put Canberra ahead at the break.
Canberra doubled their lead straight after the re-start, co-captain Ellie Brush heading in in trademark fashion from an Ellyse Perry corner. Glory’s defence had no answers to the speedy home attack as substitute Ellie Raymond came off the bench to further increase their advantage in the 77th minute. And there was further disappointment for Glory when, in the second minute of injury time, a wicked deflection off substitute Jaymee Gibbons found its way into the back of the net. The result sends Glory toppling down to sixth on the W-League ladder, four points behind fourth-placed Melbourne Victory and one adrift of Canberra, with three rounds remaining.
SOCCEROOS CLOSE IN ON ASIAN CUP
Lucas Neill has declared “bring on South Africa” after Australia produced a reminder how deep they can dig when it counts to move to the verge of Asian Cup qualification. The Socceroos’ courageous 2-1 away win over Oman came after they went one man down and one goal down. “The going got tough, we got our heads down, saw a very difficult challenge, took it on face to face and we were victorious,” said captain Neill. “It’s a great effort from all the lads. We really had to dig deep at times, rode a little bit of luck, but in the end really can be happy with they way we performed and won the game - bring on South Africa!”
The Socceroo’s hopes looked grim when last defender Rhys Williams was issued his marching orders on 15 minutes after clattering into Al-Housni Hassan, the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty which Khalifa Ayil netted on the rebound after Mark Schwarzer saved his first attempt. Apart from Ali Al Habsi’s save from Tim Cahill on 24 minutes, it was Oman which did much of the attacking after the opening goal. Imad Al Hosni had the best chance but shot it over the top when through on the Australian ‘keeper. The Socceroos’ hot back two minutes from the break when Mark Bresciano, seemingly hemmed in by three opponents, turned quickly and delivered a dangerous floating cross to the far post where Luke Wilkshire bundled the ball in at close-range.
The second half mirrored the pattern of the first with Oman playing with the greater confidence. Schwarzer twice made important close-range saves to deny Imad Al Hosni and Ismail Al Ajmi, Wilkshire cleared an Al Hosni header off the line, and Craig Moore blocked a Hashim Saleh shot. Australia eventually got a chance on goal after 76 minutes but a header by substitute Scott Chipperfield was cleared off the line by Hassan Yousuf. The Socceroos second goal materialised out of nothing six minutes later, Wilkshire picked the ball up in midfield and threading it down the left to David Carney whose cross was drilled in low on the half-volley by Brett Emerton. Oman was gutted and while Ayil had a good chance late with a header, Australia held firm to record a win of true character.
PEARSON “STOKED” WITH GLORY CALL-UP
Up and coming star Ryan Pearson is still buzzing from his first taste of the A-League. The creative utility travelled to Wellington Phoenix last weekend and, although not in the match day squad, said the experience has increased his desire to become a regular at the top level. “I was stoked to be called up to the first team,” said Pearson, who played the winter season at Armadale. “Travelling to New Zealand with the team was great. Obviously I would have liked to have been in the final squad but nothing but positives came from the experience. It has definitely given me added confidence and shows that David Mitchell is keeping an eye on me and the youth team. I really hope I can get another chance soon.”
MICEVSKI NIPS IN TO WIN GOLD MEDAL
David Micevski entered West Australian football history last night by taking out the Football West Gold Medal. A superb season in the middle of the park for Western Knights earned former national league player Micevski the prestigious award as the Premier League's best and fairest player for 2009. There was a full house at Grand Ballroom of the Burswood International Resort Casino where the achievements of the recently completely State League season were celebrated.
It was a congested leaderboard at the seasons' middle point. Perth midfielder Antonio Naglieri, winner of last year's Gold Medal, was out in front with 14 votes, one ahead of Canning City captain Paul Van Dongen and defender Ryan Townsend of Mandurah City. Also in hot pursuit were David Micevski and Ante Kovacevic (Floreat Athena) with 12 votes, Andy Brown (Mandurah) and Greg Sharland (Perth SC) had 11 votes with Shane Pryce (Inglewood United) on 10 votes.
Micevski and Townsend each put his foot down in the second part of the winter to turn the Gold Medal into a two-horse race. The lead alternated between the two several times and with three games to go it was Micevski who had his nose in front by a single vote. Townsend's best on ground against ECU Joondalup in Round 21 put him in the box seat, however, a stylish display at Perth on the final day of the season earned Micevski three more votes and the 2009 Gold Medal.
By the end of counting Miceski had tallied up 28 votes to be one clear of Townsend. Brown came in third with 22 votes followed by Armadale import James Robinson, who scored four best on grounds in the last six-weeks to move to 19 votes. Level with 17 votes were Swan United captain Aaron Cole, Van Dongen and Naglieri, who was overseas for much of the second half of the season. Sharland was next with 16 votes, which was one more than Ludovic Boi (Stirling Lions) and Pryce. View all the 2009 Gold Medal votes (xls, 249kb).
Oliver Taseski collected his second Goalkeeper of the Year award, pipping Corey Hugo (Swan) by a single vote. Phil O'Callaghan's 15-goal winter, consisting of eight for Mandurah and a further seven with Stirling, earned the 22-year old his second Golden Boot in as many years. Andy Brown's spectacular bicycle kick into the top corner during Mandurah's Round One clash with Stirling was rightfully recognised as the Goal of the Season.
Guiding Perth to victory in the pre-season Night Series and end of season Championship play-off earned Graham Normanton the Premier League Coach of the Year. Steven Gregory was deservedly voted recipient of the Golden Whistle Award, with Mathew Cheeseman named Assistant Referee of the Year. The David Schrandt Memorial Award, which recognises club volunteers, was taken home by Cockburn City president Heidi Lazzaro. The Fair Play Award was taken out by Perth.
It was a night of double celebration for Perth SC striker Chris Rizidis after he collected the Youth Best and Fairest trophy along with the Golden Boot. 32 goals earned Rizidis the top scorer award, while his 21 votes were rewarded with the player of the year. Stirling's David Sesay actually finished on top after counting with 22 votes but was ineligible for the main award, likewise Papa Kpatar (Knights) with 17 votes and Adam Wood (Floreat) with 16 votes. That made Thomas Black (Perth) and Brandon O'Neill (ECU Joondalup) joint runners-up on 14 votes where they were partnered by another ineligible player, Curtis Prior (Stirling).
South West Phoenix attacker David Rodgers was named Fairest and Best in the First Division for the third time. Rodgers picked up 28 votes to add the trophy to his wins of 2004 and 2006, the latter as a Fremantle City player. Patrick Quinn (Phoenix) collected 23 votes but his ineligibility made Gosnells City's Stuart Aitken runner-up with 20 votes. Brian Cairney (Wanneroo City) and Ashley Rosindale (Balcatta) also polled 20 votes but were ineligible. Another Gosnells player, Ian Maguire, came in third on 19 votes with Dragan Njegic (Dianella White Eagles) trailing by one.
A 25-goal winter earned Balcatta's Rosindale the First Division Golden Boot. His first year with the club was highlighted by a stunning four-goal haul at Gosnells City in Round 17 and hat-tricks on away soil against South West Phoenix and Morley Windmills. Salv Todaro was named the First Division Coach of the Year for navigating Balcatta through the 22-game home and away season and into next years top flight. The Fair Play Award was taken out by Bunbury-based Phoenix.
Forrestfield United's Julian Kesacoff will also look back on 2009 with great fondness after taking out the First Division Youth Fairest and Best. 19 votes were enough to land Kesacoff the trophy by two from Scott Jumeaux of Phoenix. Marcus Passante, also of Forrestfield, was third with 16 votes, which was one more than Bozo Ramic (Fremantle Spirit) and two ahead of S.Tracey (Forrestfield). The First Division Youth Golden Boot was presented to Passante, who netted 25 times during the winter months.
YEARS' BEST HONOURED ON FOOTBALLS NIGHT OF NIGHTS
The 2009 State League season officially comes to a close this evening with the 48th annual Gold Medal Awards ceremony. Early indications are there'll be a bumper turnout for the gala event in the Grand Ballroom of the Burswood International Resort Casino. The evenings' centrepiece will be the awarding of the 2009 Gold Medal, Western Australia's highest individual honour, to the Premier League's best and fairest player.
It seems everyone is tipping the Gold Medal to go to Western Knights playmaker David Micevski, however, he faces some stiff competition from the like of Greg Sharland (Perth SC), James Robinson (Armadale) and Mandurah City team mates Ryan Townsend and Andy Brown. ECU Joondalup livewire Tommy Amphlett is also expected to poll strongly along with Aaron Cole (Swan United), Jason Barrera (Floreat Athena) and Paul Van Dongen (Canning City).
Knights boss Paul Price has his nose in front for the Premier League Coach of the Year but hot on his heels are Graham Normanton (Perth) and Michael Roki (Floreat). Oliver Taseski (Inglewood United) and Frazer Siddall (Knights) are tipped to battle it out for Goalkeeper of the Year honours with Cory Hugo (Swan United) the dark horse of the field. Adam Wood (Floreat), Chris Rizidis (Perth), Papa Kpatar (Knights) and Stirling Lions pair Curtis Prior and David Sesay (Stirling Lions) should be amongst the leaders for the Troy Bernard Premier League Youth Best and Fairest.
There'll be little separating the leaders when the final rounds of votes are counted in the First Division Best and Fairest. South West Phoenix pair Patrick Quinn and David Rodgers will finish high on the tally board along with Balcatta marksman Ashley Rosindale and Gosnells pair Stuart Aitken and Ian Maguire. Brian Cairney (Wanneroo City), Dragan Njegic (Dianella White Eagles) and Donald Sutherland (Forrestfield United) are also expected to poll strongly.
After guiding Balcatta to the First Division championship, Salv Todaro has been installed as the red-hot favourite to land the Coach of the Year where Gerry McEwan (Wanneroo) and John Hunter (Forrestfield) are his main rivals. Little were separate the leaders at the end of counting in the First Division Youth Best and Fairest with Bozo Ramic of league champions Fremantle Spirit, Scott Jumeaux (Phoenix), Laurence Ralph (Ashfield) along with Forrestfield's Julian Kesacoff and Marcus Passante expected to be there or thereabouts.
CRUNCH TIME FOR GLORY WOMEN (courtesy Football West)
The finals aspirations of Perth Glory Women go on the line when they take on Canberra United at McKellar Park in Canberra on Saturday. Glory are currently placed fifth, two points ahead of Canberra, but more importantly three points adrift of Melbourne Victory who currently occupy fourth with only a handful of games to play. "This is a must win game for us without a doubt," said Glory coach John Gibson. "It's a must win for both teams to stay in touch with the top four. There are a number of tough games for other teams this weekend as well so a good result can put us right back in the mix."
Glory welcome Lisa De Vanna and Ella Mastrantonio back to the starting line-up but will once again be without playmaker Collette McCallum, who has a grade two strain of her ankle ligaments and may miss the remainder of the season. "Collette will probably be out for the whole season. She has strained her ankle ligaments against Brisbane and the diagnosis is not good," said Gibson. "But the team are shaping up well. We have had a few eventful moments this year and it’s all part of football. We are staying on task and looking forward to the game, continue to trust what we have been doing in training."
HOWARTH CASHING IN ON LATE SHOT AT GLORY (courtesy thewest.com.au)
Just four months ago, Perth Glory midfielder Todd Howarth was resigned to plying his trade in the State League and working full-time in a bank. Fast forward to present day and the versatile 27-year old has set his sights on making sure his stay in the A-League is an extended one. Howarth was plucked from the ranks of Perth SC by Glory coach David Mitchell and signed to a one-year deal just days before the club's season opener against Adelaide United in August.
With his dream of an A-League contract finally realised, Howarth has repaid Mitchell's faith in spades in his 13 appearances to date. "I'd pretty much given up," Howarth said of his A-League hopes. "Five, six years ago now I had a couple of trials with the Glory. They didn't go too well so I just played in the State League with Perth for a while. Then I went away to Europe for a couple of years and didn't play all that much, just a bit of Sunday League. When I came back I was content to play State League but I'm just happy the Glory came knocking."
And when Howarth heard that knock, he wasted little time in handing in his resignation to the bosses at the bank. "It was pretty easy to wave goodbye," he said with a laugh. "It was pretty boring." But the skilful winger is taking nothing for granted and knows he needs to impress in the second half of the season in order to keep the dream going. "Every game is important," he said. "I'm still learning like any of the youngsters are. You have to work hard to keep your place and not take it for granted. I'm enjoying it and learning a lot and hopefully it continues for a few more years."
Glory, who held on for a 1-1 draw against Wellington last Sunday, enter the FIFA break sitting fifth on the table. Such is the closeness of the competition, bottom-placed North Queensland are just three points adrift of Glory with a number of teams pushing hard to crack the finals-bound top six. "The leaders are creeping away a bit and the bottom end of the league is getting more congested," Howarth said. "We are only three points off bottom. We've made some silly errors and conceded goals where we shouldn't have. But there's still half the season to go and hopefully we can pick up more wins."
CACERES ANGLING FOR PHOENIX START
Adrian Caceres doesn't want a lot but would dearly love to add to his solitary start for Wellington Phoenix. The attacking midfielder has made the first eleven just once for his new club but that may be about to change following a solid 20-minute run off the bench against Perth Glory draw last time out. "I don't think I can do any more than what I've done," said Caceres. "Every time I've come on I've done well for the team. I always try and play for the team. It's hard because a lot of people - family members - tell me I should be a bit more greedy and go for goal so I can get a start. But I tell them it's not like that. I think if you do your bit as part of the team and you do the right thing for the team you'll get the start."
Caceres arrived in Wellington during September carrying a minor hamstring injury. That niggled impacted his early performances, including his Phoenix starting debut against Central Coast when he replaced Daniel, who was in Brazil following the birth of his daughter Luisa. "I knew I wasn't ready for that game but I had to do a job for the team," said the former Perth SC player. "I've worked hard to get myself fit and get myself to the right level and every time I've come on I've shown a little bit of what I can do and hopefully that can translate into 90 minutes."
The big talking point in the New Zealand capital this week has been the All Whites' World Cup qualifier second-leg against Bahrain which will be played in a packed Westpac Stadium on Saturday night. With Mark Paston, Ben Sigmund, Tony Lochhead, Tim Brown, Leo Bertos and David Mulligan on international duty, along with coach Ricki Herbert, numbers have been down at Phoenix training this week. Caceres will be one of the 35,500 fans cheering on his Phoenix team-mates on Saturday night. "I'm looking forward to it. It'll be good to watch the All Whites try to get through to the World Cup. It would be an amazing historic thing if they did and a great achievement, I wish the boys all the best," he said.
KARP'S FEET FINALLY GROUNDED (courtesy a-league.com.au)
It has been a whirlwind couple of years for Tal Karp, but the crafty midfielder has finally found her feet at Melbourne Victory. The inaugural season of the W-League proved a logistical nightmare for Karp with her legal career at Mallesons Law Firm colliding with her duty as captain and curtailing her own progress on the field. "Last year was incredibly difficult. I worked for a judge and we were travelling interstate because the court usually sat in Canberra, so I was travelling for weeks on end and then flying back for games on the weekend," Karp said. "I wasn't really able to train properly myself and wasn't with the team often enough.
Hailing from Perth, Karp lived in Canberra for eight years while studying to become a lawyer at the Australian National University. But it wasn't before she moved to Melbourne three years ago that the world of corporate law began to take its toll. "Before the season commenced I was travelling around overseas for a few months and decided that in order to play this season I needed to step back from corporate law because there's clearly not enough time in the day to do both," she said.
Karp now lends her expertise to Football Federation Victoria and finding much more time to lead her team. "I'm really proud to be part of this second W-League season and it's great to see the league kicking on so I'd love to see us push into the finals again," said Karp, who feels the league has proved a huge success. "It's doing a lot for the profile of the women's game just in the sense that being associated with the men's league lends a lot of credibility to the women's game that we might not have had previously."
Just as the A-League is making short strides as a franchise, the W-League is taking tiny steps after the prolonged absence of a national women's league before 2008. "Increased confidence (from the first season) has led to better players. The girls know what they're up against in terms of knowing what to expect of players from different states so they've got a little bit more background on the league," explained Karp, who has no doubt the exposure will lead to a better standard of football in Australia.
Having endured the struggle with work last season Karp was more than happy to take on a dual-captaincy role with impressive shot-stopper Melissa Barbieri this season. "I think it's great to be able to share the captaincy with Melissa, I have great respect for her on and off the park, so I think its just added weight to our leadership group," she said. "We've also for the first year implemented a leadership group (consisting of herself, Barbieri, Thorlakson, Sitch and veteran defender Marlies Oostdam) so it just shows that there's a number of people taking a leadership role which I think is really important."
After a distinguished international career with the Matildas, which included representing Australia at the 2003 Women's World Cup and the 2004 Olympic Games, you sense Karp is relishing the opportunity to focus solely on her club. "We're going fairly well, we're in fourth place at the moment, things are shaping up well for us to be in finals contention but we still have a lot of work to do to improve our game and the understanding between the players," she added.
YOUNG MAKES THE GRADE
Neil Young has kept a clean sheet on his national league debut to help Newcastle Jets move off the bottom of the A-League table. Despite being coming into the starting eleven at late notice, Young produced a solid performance between the posts of Sunday’s 2-0 win over North Queensland Fury. When regular goalkeeper Ben Kennedy injured his groin in the pre-game warm-up it was to the former Sorrento shot-stopper, who’d played the first half of the Youth League match earlier in the afternoon, that coach Branko Culina immediately turned.
With little time to compose himself, the shot-stopper grabbed his unexpected opportunity with both hands, keeping the Jets first clean sheet in more than a year. “I didn’t have time to get nervous really. I got the call and I had to just concentrate. You just never know when the opportunity will present itself. Thankfully I was ready,” said Young. “To keep a clean sheet against a side with Robbie Fowler in it, is something I can look back on in years to come, doing it in my first A-League game is extra special as well.”
Young's memorable A-League debut marks the completion of a long journey of sacrifice. “My wife and kids are still back in Western Australia,” he said. “I didn’t even have enough time to call them on Sunday. They support my dream to make it in this competition. I hope this is the start which will eventually repay them.” Young’s clean sheet puts pressure on Kennedy to force his way back into the Newcastle line-up. The added competition for the top spot is welcome news to coach Branko Culina, who hinted Young is set to keep his spot in the side when the Jets meet Wellington Phoenix next Sunday week.
RIVALS LINING UP FOR GLORY STARS
Perth Glory face a fight to hang on to some of their highest profile players as clubs start planning for the entry of Melbourne Heart into next season's A-League. Nine Glory players - including English import Andy Todd, Dutchman Victor Sikora, midfielder Wayne Srhoj and former captain Jamie Coyne - are out of contract at the end of the season with all expected to be sounded out by rival clubs. Additionally, 200-plus game veteran Jamie Harnwell, French striker Eugene Dadi, defender Jimmy Downey and midfielders Todd Howarth and Scott Bulloch are also coming out of contract.
Glory chief executive Lui Giuliani acknowledged salary cap considerations would play a significant part in determining the make-up of next season's squad. "It will be tough to retain all the players we want to retain purely because of salary cap pressures," he said. "This year we've put together a good crop of players and the key is to maintain as much of that crop as we can. That's how you create understandings (between players) and you improve the dynamics of the team because you've got players who've played with each other for a while."
A-League clubs were allowed to spend $2.25 million on player salaries this season plus $250,000 on additional services. Clubs are also entitled to sign a marquee player whose wages are outside the cap. Giuliani said some rival clubs had already approached Glory requesting to speak to out-of-contract players. Todd, Sikora, Srhoj and Jamie Coyne are expected to be priorities for coach David Mitchell, while former Perth SC player Todd Howarth has performed well in his 13 appearances. Dadi has played just six time this term with Harnwell and Downey featuring even less due to on-going injuries.
KAY HONOURED AT BEING PERTH’S BEST
Homegrown talent Trent Kay is honoured to have his name added to the winners of Perth SC’s Fairest and Best award. Kay, 22, picked up the trophy as his club’s best player for 2009 at Friday evening’s presentation ceremony. “I’ve had a look at previous winners and to have my name next to those players is a great honour,” said the young defender. “The season as a whole was definitely the best I’ve been involved in. We went through a bit of a rough patch when we had a lot injuries but once that blew over we dug deep and got the results when we needed them. Winning the Final for the first time was an awesome feeling and something I want to do again next season.”
Kay was voted his clubs Fairest and Best player ahead of Todd Howarth, who captained Perth prior to his joining Perth Glory in late June. 21-year old goalkeeper Luke Martino marked his first season of senior football by winning the Robert Giorgi Memorial Trophy, while Alan Darlington was presented the trophy as Youth Development Player. Nathan Rawes collected the Reserve team Fairest and Best trophy with Simon Wilson runner-up. The Youth team Fairest and Best went home with Chris Rizidis, the runner-up spot filled by Thomas Black.
NEW SEASON MAPPED OUT
There will be significant changes to the structure of the State League season when the 2010 campaign kicks into life early in the new year. "Football West undertakes an internal review of all competitions at the conclusion of every season and identified areas for improvement," explained Ben Fitzpatrick, media officer at Football West. "We sought feedback from the State League Standing Committee, they are there to represent the clubs and have supported the changes thus far, and have provided feedback and alternative changes that they would like to see implemented."
The first alteration of note is a re-formatting of the Premier League Night Series into an exciting six-week package, commencing the last weekend in January. The twelve top flight clubs will be divided into three qualifying groups of four teams from which the top two from each group along with the two top-ranked third placed teams go through to the play-offs. "We wanted to reduce the amount of round robin matches and introduce more knockout matches, which will hopefully in turn provide more exciting matches and interest for spectators," said Fitzpatrick."
The two tiers of State League football have traditionally run in synch, however, that won't be the case next year with the Premier League scheduled to kick off on 13 March with the First Division following three weeks later. "There are more matches in the Premier League with the finals series, etc and we believe that running the season until the end of October is too long, overlapping with the three Perth Glory teams," said Fitzpatrick. "Premier League clubs have better access to their grounds in March and are capable of playing earlier in the year. This will align us more closely to start dates of other Australian State Leagues."
This leads to an overlap at the opposite end of the year where the closing rounds of the First Division coincide with the start of the Top Five finals series. "There are only a limited number of weeks in the season to stage all of the fixtures. If we are to avoid running deep into October for the Premier League, then unfortunately the consequence is a slight overlap with Division One and the finals," commented Fitzpatrick. "The overwhelming majority of Division One clubs do not have access to their grounds until 1 April, hence why it starts later than the Premier League."
There are also some significant changes to the scheduling of the Soccer Pools Cup. The opening round has been pushed back to the end of April - seven weeks after the start of the Premier League - with teams who progress to the second and third rounds required to back up Saturday league games with a Monday Cup fixture. "The State League Standing Committee, who represent the clubs, requested Saturday League and Monday Cup matches and we have accommodated this request," said Fitzpatrick. "This format has been used previously, many years ago."
And next year's Cup Final will be played in mid-August, two weeks before the end of the home and away series. "This year the Western Knights had almost three weeks without a match due to finishing top of the league table and not making the Cup Final. This is unacceptable and a disadvantage to that team so we have taken steps to address this for 2010," said Fitzpatrick, who doesn't feel the mid-season scheduling of the Cup Final removes some of the prestige associated with the knock-out competition. "We do not believe that to be the case - the Cup Final will always hold prestige no matter what date it is played."
The regular season concludes on the last weekend of August with the Top Five finals series commencing seven days later to determine the State Champion. "The team that wins the Grand Final is called the Champion team," said Fitzpatrick. "This is written into the rules of competition prior to the commencement of the season and all teams know this. To have a finals series it must mean something to the teams playing otherwise there is no point in having it. This is also in line with the A-League and other State Leagues in Australia."
The changes to next years State League shows Football West are actively looking at ways to improvement the local season, and there are plenty more currently under consideration. "The State League review is currently in progress and major changes will be implemented in 2012," explained Fitzpatrick. "All clubs have been involved in the review and have been heavily consulted. The State League Standing Committee has made its recommendations to the Football West board which will consider the recommendations shortly."
JOONDALUP THRILLED WITH SOCCEROOS CALL-UPS
ECU Joondalup are understandably delighted two of their former players - Shane Lowry and Rhys Williams - have been included in Pim Verbeek’s Australia squad to face Oman this weekend. Coach Steve Amphlett remembers fondly Lowry and Williams coming through his clubs youth system, and feels bigger and better things await both players. “It would be fantastic to see Shane and Rhys out there playing for Australia,” Amphlett told au.fourfourtwo.com. “They have both worked very hard and it’s tremendous for everyone at the club to see them picked for their country and doing well for their clubs. Shane is a very humble lad and when Rhys is back he asks if he can come down and join in training.”
Joondalup have a strong history in the area of youth development with the likes of Chris Herd (Aston Villa), Rostyn Griffiths (North Queensland Fury) and Tommy Amphlett (Perth Glory) all spending time at the club. “Good coaching staff,” said Amphlett when asked the secret of their success. “We have a structure in place right the way through from the youngest age group and people who just do it because they love their football.” And with at least another five Joondalup youngsters are looking to move abroad Amphlett says the A-League still has some way to go before local youngsters view Australia as the promised land to play professional football. “At the moment, you’ve still got a lot of the youngsters, and their parents, still wanting to go overseas, but with time hopefully that will change,” he added.
JONES BIDES HIS TIME BEHIND SCHWARZER
World Cup hopeful Brad Jones fears his chance of replacing long-time Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer may not come any time soon, admitting that the evergreen shot-stopper could play at the top level for as long as he wants. “His standards never drop, he’s relentless and totally dedicated to everything he does. His professionalism is second to none,” commented 27-year old Jones. “He’s looked after himself and he can keep going pretty much as long as he wants. He can play into his 40s easily if that’s what he wants. It’s a matter of how long he has the desire and how his body holds up. At the moment he shows no signs of letting up, either for the Socceroos or with Fulham.”
The job of keeping Schwarzer on his toes, and potentially unseating the 72-times capped ‘keeper, is up to the likes of Jones and Reading’s Adam Federici, also included in the Socceroos squad for this weekend’s AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Oman. “It’s down to us to put the pressure on,” Jones said. “It’s not like nobody has ever tried to push him. It’s more a case of him being the best. He’s put more pressure on himself than anybody has managed to put him under. I’ve known Schwarz since I was 16 and he’s a big of a role model for me. He’s taught me a lot and he’s somebody I call a mate. He’s helped me heaps, both on and off the pitch.”
Jones has played only once for Australia - in the 1-0 friendly loss to Uruguay in Sydney 28 months ago. He’s happy to be back in Pim Verbeek’s World Cup equation after making the ‘keeper’s jersey at Middlesbrough his own as the team coached by former Scotland international Gordon Strachan battle for an instant rebound to the Premier League. “I’ve been in a few squads here and there for Australia but wasn’t playing regular club football at the time,” he added. “Now that I am, it will hopefully keep me in the picture. I just have to make sure I keep performing and don’t slip off the radar.”
The chances of Jones getting any game time against Oman hinge on the remote prospect of the ageless Schwarzer breaking down. That’s not something Jones is wishing and he’ll just be will be content to do well in the training sessions leading into the game. “It’s important that I produce in practice sessions and show the boss what I can do,” he said. “It will be hard with the heat playing in Muscat. It will take a little time for the boys to acclimatise but they’re used to all challenges of travelling and different conditions now, and we’re all confident of being good enough to get the result we need.”
CUNNINGHAM LANDS GULLS’ TOP PRIZE
New Zealand import Paul Cunningham is the worthy winner of Sorrento's Best Player trophy. "It is an absolute honour to accept the award - just disappointing I couldn't be there to enjoy the night with all of the lads," said defender Cunningham, who is currently attending trials in Singapore. "I really enjoyed my football this season and that comes down to been surrounded by quality guys on the field, the coaching staff and everyone behind the scenes. I don't think I could have picked a better club in Perth to come to and I'd like to thank Tom (Bartlett), Steve (Neville) and Murphs (Shaun Murphy) for making it all possible."
Cunningham's win denied Todd Harnwell a Best Player hat-trick, however, the Gulls captain didn't go home empty handed, collecting the Runner-up Best Player as well as Golden Boot Award. Stuart Banks' blistering half-volley into the top corner from 27-metres at home to Inglewood United earned him the Best Goal/Save. Kris Dennis was recipient of the Reserve team Best Player ahead of versatile defender Nicholas Trajkoski. Daniel Flanders was awarded Best Player for the youth where the runner-up was Ryan Sheppard, who was also named the club's Most Improved Young Player.
LOWRY JOINS SOCCEROOS IN OMAN
Australia coach Pim Verebeek has added former ECU Joondalup junior Shane Lowry to his squad for Saturday's AFC Asian Cup qualifier with Oman. Lowry linked up with the Socceroos over the weekend having received his international clearance from Ireland, for whom the 20-year old played at youth level, on Friday. Contracted to Aston Villa but currently on loan to English Championship outfit Plymouth Argyle, Lowry has been on top of his game since his mid-September with a recent best on ground performance against Middlesbrough amongst his nine first team appearances.
GLORY KEEN TO EXPLORE RUKAVYTSYA RETURN
Perth Glory want to bring their former star striker Nikita Rukavytsya back home to boost their A-League prospects. Glory will investigate the feasibility of loaning Rukavytsya back from Dutch club FC Twente, which signed the 22-year old in January. The strongly built striker, who made his senior international debut against the Republic of Ireland in August, has made only two league appearances for Twente this season.
Glory chief executive Lui Giuliani said the club was keen to gauge Twente's interest in loaning Rukavytsya, who scored 10 goals in 19 appearances for Glory last season. "If a loan opportunity for Nikita was available it would be a nice option for us because he knows the club and he knows the conditions," Giuliani said. Glory face the prospect of losing Socceroos Mile Sterjovski, Jacob Burns and Chris Coyne in January as they seek loan moves to improve their chances of World Cup selection.
PUGLIESE GOES BACK-TO-BACK
Homegrown talent Michael Pugliese celebrated the winter season by taking out top honours at Stirling Lions' annual presentation ceremony on Saturday night. Pugliese collected his club's prestigious Players' Player of the Year award for the second year running, pipping fellow defender and Perth Glory Youth player Steve Hesketh, who went home with the Fairest and Best trophy ahead of attacker Jason Mirco. Mid-season recruit Phil O'Callaghan collected the first team Golden Boot prize with seven goals in the Lions final eight games of the campaign.
Dennis Galan went home as Reserve team Players' Player of the Year ahead of Paul Rechichi, who also collected the Fairest and Best award. Matthew Italiano and Dennis Galan shared the Runner-Up Fairest and Best with Liam Boland snaring the Golden Boot. The Youth team Fairest and Best was presented to Chris Zito with Curtis Prior and Nick Dicarlo as joint runners-up. 17-year old Ndumba Makeche was awarded the Golden Boot and Coaches Award along with the clubs' Most Outstanding Youth Player. Australian Under-13 international Daniel Da Silva received the inaugural Youth Academy Player of the Year, the trophy of which is a boot worn by Everton and Australia striker Tim Cahill.
WE’LL MAKE THE SIX: MITCHELL
David Mitchell is convinced Perth Glory will be among the six teams to contest the A-League finals series at the end of the 2009/10 campaign. Glory came away from Wellington Phoenix with a point yesterday and the coach wasn't too unhappy, despite conceding a late equaliser. "Certainly I think we had enough chances to win the game, we played well and it was a credit to the boys in the way they performed," Mitchell said. "Of course we were disappointed to concede a goal but Wellington has their tails up of late and has scored a lot of goals here in the past few games so I was pleased to see the way we repelled them. We've hit the bar and had a couple of good chances that we could have capitalised on. We held firm at the back and didn't make the silly mistakes that have cost us recently so from that point of view it was a step in the right direction."
The result ended Glory's three game slide and ensured they remain in finals contention at the half way point of the season. "The effort the boys put in today and the way we went about the game was great and it showed to me that we'll make the six," Mitchell added. Wayne Srhoj's enterprise in the middle of the park was rewarded with the games opening goal, a curling free-kick from 25-metres that gave the goalkeeper no hope as it slammed into the top corner. "We've practised plenty of those at training and it certainly was nice to see one come off," Mitchell commented of Srhoj's free-kick. "Wayne is a talented player and can produce some special things on the pitch and that was certainly one of them."
Glory had several strong contributors across the park including in central defence where Andy Todd and Chris Coyne were particularly solid after Paul Ifill equalised. "They threw a lot at us, particularly in the final fifteen minutes. They managed to get a goal back and then kept on pushing forward. I thought we did very well to keep them out towards the end," Mitchell said. "It's a hard place to come. There is a five hour time difference (between Perth and Wellington) and it's not easy to adjust. So to perform as well as we did, for as long as we did, was good ... There were a lot of things to like about our performance but there are also things we have to continue to work on, that's what we'll do in the next couple of weeks before our next match at home."
TWO IN A ROW FOR NATALE
Defender Paul Natale was given reason for double celebration when the trophies were awarded at Cockburn City's annual presentation ceremony. The classy defender picked up his club's highest individual honour, the Fairest and Best, for the second time in as many years along with being voted the Players' Player of the Year. Runner-Up Fairest and Best was Michael Grigo, who shared the Top Goal Scorer trophy with Renato Jelen and Aaron Dos Santos. The Clubman Award went to promising defender Devon Gibson, who is in line for Australian Schoolboys honours on this summer's tour of the United Kingdom
Left back Craig Thompson received the Reserve team Fairest and Best with the runner-up spot taken by fellow defender Pavle Beserko, who was voted the Players' Player of the Year. Joseph Brunetto picked up the Top Goal Scorer trophy for the third time in five years. Jaime Street, who showed his versatility by playing in both midfield and defence this winer, scooped the pool at Youth team level, winning the Fairest and Best along with Players' Player of the Year awards. Declan Boyham went home with the Runner-Up Fairest and Best, while the honour of Top Goal Scorer was bestowed on David Johnstone.
GLORY WOMEN HAVE MURPHY IN A SPIN (courtesy thewomensgame.com)
Shaun Murphy captained Perth Glory to the pinnacle of Australian football and, now retired, is doing his bit to ensure the success of the club's women's team. Murphy, confirmed assistant to Glory Women coach John Gibson at the end of last month, has thoroughly enjoyed his first few weeks in the job. "It's been interesting so far but I am really enjoying it actually," said Murphy, capped 18 times by Australia. "The girls are a good bunch to work with and they really want to learn. I feel like I am doing some real coaching in advancing their technique and how they play the games."
Murphy admits to being surprised by the way Glory Women go about their business on the park along with the players dedication to bettering themselves, both individually and as a team. "I've been impressed with the way we have gone about what we are doing and I think some of the girls in our squad have some great skills," he said. "Gibbo (John Gibson) focuses lot on their technique. That goes so far to improving them as players and not making basic mistakes and silly errors. The girls have really taken that on board and are improving as players."
Further developing the Glory Women's understanding, awareness and reading of the game is something Murphy, a veteran of close to 450 games, has a keen interest. "We are very much at the development stage with the ladies. They are possibly a little bit behind the guys in terms of technique and just their ruthlessness towards the game," he commented. "I believe half the game is played in your head. If you can educate the girls about thinking about the game and watch how other people do it, I think it can go a long way to improving their own game."
As a player Murphy anchored the defences of Notts County, West Bromwich Albion, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace and Glory. So it comes as little surprise that he's now tinkering with Glory Women's defensive capabilities. "We are working on the back girls appreciating a clean sheet, along with their relationship with the goalkeeper. We are working on conceding set pieces (and) targeting areas which we can tighten up," commented Murphy, who is seeing positive early results. "Last season we only kept three clean sheets for the season and this year we have two clean sheets already."
Murphy can't stress enough the importance of Glory Women grinding out results, something that could be decisive in their quest to make the end of season play-offs. "I have said to the girls that you are not always going to play well but if you can come away with something from the game because you battled well it's progress," he commented. "Having finished second last in season one and having got off to a reasonably good start (this season), I would like to see them challenging for a finals place. That would be good progress. We have tough games coming up but we are just quietly going about our business."
SRHOJ STUNNER SECURES VALUABLE AWAY POINT
Perth Glory has avoided setting an unwanted club record of four successive losses by holding Wellington Phoenix to a 1-1 draw at Westpac Stadium. Wayne Srhoj’s stunning free-kick gave Glory the lead midway through the second half but the visitors were forced to hang on in the closing stages after Paul Ifill equaliser eight minutes from the end. Coach David Mitchell said after the game that, now more that ever, he believes Glory can qualify for their first A-League finals series. “I’m starting to think that the effort we put in and showed today that we’ll make the six," said Mitchell, who’s team remain in fifth place. “It’s a hard place to come and to perform as well as we did for as long as we did, it gives us a lot of heart … From my point of view, I’m happy with the result, and the good thing is we’ve stopped the (run of) losses.”
It was a scrappy opening quarter hour as both teams took time to settle. Reece Crowther was the first of the goalkeepers to be called into action when, after some great lead-up work from Adriano Pellegrino and Todd Howarth, he captured the latter’s cross. Phoenix squandered a glorious chance on 21 minutes when an error in the Glory defence set Costa Barbarouses free but the young striker fired just wide. Six minutes later Mile Sterjovski was equally as wasteful at the other end when Jacob Burns put him with just the ‘keeper to beat but the striker’s weak shot was easily gathered by Crowther. Play was flowing from end to end but clear chances for either side were few and far between until the closing minutes of the half when Sterjovski ballooned a shot high before Burns went even closer by rattling the crossbar.
Phoenix started the second half strongly with Tim Brown, Daniel and Andrew Durante all going close. Glory finally broke the deadlock on 69 minutes when Todd was felled by Ben Sigmund some 25-metres from goal, and up stepped Srhoj to sweetly curl his free-kick over the defensive wall and into the top corner of Crowther’s net. The home side responded strongly with substitutes Leo Bertos, Adrian Caceres and Troy Hearfield adding some attacking drive. Phoenix were rewarded for their endeavours with eight minutes to go when Caceres’ shot was parried by Velaphi and Ifill made no mistake converting from close-range. The home side had numerous opportunities to take all three points in the remaining minutes but Ifill, Durante, Bertos and Caceres could not land the decisive blow.
GLORY WOMEN SUNK BY MARINERS
Perth Glory Women has gone down 2-1 to Central Coast Mariners in their round six W-League game at Clipsal Stadium. Lydia Vanderbergh and Michelle Heyman put the visitors two-nil up before Glory starlet Marianna Tabain pulled one back in the final half hour to set up a rousing end to the match. While not happy with the end result, Glory coach John Gibson was pleased with the team’s efforts following last weeks’ six-goal loss. “We were certainly looking for a good reaction from last week’s disappointing performance,” he said. “In the second half we came out and had a real crack but then again conceded two really soft goals. You are always going to get punished at this level when you make silly mistakes. I’m more than proud of the girls’ response from last week’s efforts.”
The match began with simple passing errors costing Glory, the home side conceding possession far too easy. A cheeky snap-shot by Ashleigh Connor gave the home team a scare but, thankfully, goalkeeper Emma Wirkus was positioned to save. Vanderbergh put the Mariners ahead after 20 minutes by slipping between two defenders to fire into the roof of the net after Heyman crossed from the right. Glory attempted to get back on level terms but their persistence in playing a long ball game produced few openings. The Mariner’s clearly wanted to increase their lead before the break but Connor’s long-range strike curled just wide of the far post and Heyman’s glancing header also ended the wrong side the upright.
The introduction of Lisa De Vanna sparked a Glory revival and early in the second half the Australian international broke away from the defence only to skew her shot wide. The Mariners second goal arrived on 56 minutes when Heyman pounced on a poor back pass by Tanya Oxtoby and powered into the net, despite Wirkus pushing the shot onto the upright. Glory responded in a matter of minutes, Tabain coolly slotted past Loyden to set-up an interesting final half hour. Kelly Golebiowski squandered an opportunity to seal an away win, then Connor failed to hit the target twice in a matter of minutes when well placed. A bad day at the office for Glory was compounded when Elisa D’Ovidio was stretchered from the ground close to the final whistle.
GLORY PACK FIREPOWER FOR LONG TRIP (courtesy Perth Glory)
Star import Branko Jelic is back on board when Perth Glory jet across the Tasman on one of the longest domestic road trips in world football to tackle Wellington Phoenix on Sunday afternoon. Having missed last week's game due to illness, Jelic has trained strongly this week and will line-up alongside joint leading goal scorer Mile Sterjovski for the first time in nearly a month. "Mile and Branko have a good understanding and I think they are a dangerous combination," explained coach David Mitchell. "We have a few options in attack and I haven’t decided exactly how we’ll line up as yet but it’s nice to have Branko available again."
Mitchell is looking for an improved effort in the back third of the park after lapses in recent outings have been punished by goals to the opposition. "It's not just the back four when we talk about defending, it's everyone as a unit on the park. The midfielders, the strikers, everyone has a duty to defend and that is something we've worked hard to improve," said the coach. "I don't think it is a huge issue, its something we can definitely rectify quickly. The boys are very focused and we're confident of putting it right starting this week."
Wellington are unbeaten in a dozen games at Westpac Stadium and coming off a six-goal mid-week demolition of Newcastle Jets. "We played them earlier in the season and I felt we gave as good as we got," Mitchell said of the 2-1 round two loss. "I think both sides have improved since then and it will be another good contest. They’ve recruited very well, (Chris) Greenacre and (Paul) Ifill have been excellent up front, while we know the quality of Leo Bertos. They haven't lost at home in quite some time so it is a big challenge but we'll be going there with the right attitude and looking to take it right up to Wellington."
GLORY WOMEN WANT REDEMPTION (courtesy Football West)
Perth Glory Women go in search of redemption when they face second-placed Central Coast Mariners in this weekend's sixth round of the W-League. It's a game that could define Glory's season, the girls from the west coast attempting to bounce back from a six-goal thrashing by Brisbane Roar and show they are genuine W-League contenders. "It's about getting back on track, it was obviously a very disappointing result last weekend and we are looking for a positive reaction from the team against the Mariners on Saturday," said coach John Gibson. "We need to get back to basics, do the things that have worked well for us in the past. If we do the one percenters, we can compete and have a chance at success. The players have been switched on at training, we have worked on a few things for the weekend and have looked fairly sharp, so we are hopeful of a much improved showing."
While Gibson is delighted to have Matildas striker Lisa De Vanna back from suspension, the coach has to go without midfielder star Collette McCallum due to a potentially season ending ankle injury. "Collette had a nasty incident against Brisbane, she won a tackle and went over on the ankle. She has had some scans and we find out today how long she will be out for, but it looks like three to six weeks at this stage," said the coach. "You can't replace lost quality like that but we do the best we can to give another girl the opportunity to step up and show us what they can offer against another of the country's best teams. I will finalise the squad at our final training session tomorrow and see what we can come up with to surprise the opposition and get the three points." Glory Women take on the Mariners on Saturday afternoon from 3.00pm at Clipsal Stadium, home of Inglewood United.
SCALI BOYS DON ON THE STRIPES ONE LAST TIME
Swan United will honour two of its favourite sons, Damian Scali and Carlo Scali, with a joint testimonial game and dinner this weekend. A host of Swan greats plan to strap on their boots in tribute to the clubs most prolific goalscorer, Damian, and its record appearance holder, Carlo, on Saturday from 3.00pm at the Swan Italian Club. Damian, 33, hung up his playing boots at the completion of the 2009 season with Carlo, 38, calling it a day in late-2004.
Damian wore the black and whites stripes of Swan on 251 occasions in League competition, returning 106 times, during a 14-year senior career. Along the way he picked up the clubs Fairest and Best trophy once, was runner-up twice and leading goal scorer on a club record nine occasions. “It should be a great day,” said Damian of the testimonial. “I have been overwhelmed with the amount of players that have shown an interest in Carlo’s and my game, so it will be great to catch up with everyone again.”
Carlo made his Swan debut at the age of 16 and by the time of his retirement had clocked up 428 League appearances for the club. Winning the 2001 Gold Medal was the high point of a stellar career that included two First Division Player of the Year awards and three club Fairest and Best trophies. “I’m looking forward to putting on the boots again but are a bit concerned with keeping up as Damian has a team full of players who have just retired or still playing and my team is full of has beens like me,” comment Carlo.
Pulling on the boots for Carlo Scali XI are goalkeeper Frank Letizia, Justin Hugo, Mick De Re, Carmelo Sciacca, Darren Freeman, Andy Watson, Michael Di Fulvio, Franc Rashella, Rory Mouttet, Dean Nicolaou, Terry Nicolaou, 1997 Gold Medal winner Paul Lincoln, 1993 First Division leading goal scorer Roy Meier, Carlos Echeverria, Greg Scali and Mario Romeo. The side is coached by another Swan legend, Len Dundo.
Lining up for Damian Scali’s XI are Cory Hugo, Jason Antenucci, 1999 Gold Medal winner Aaron Cole, Robert Monterosso, Greg Cicanese, Tony Cumace, Paul Dundo, Miki Vujacic, Tony Trusso, Michael Knox, Peter Simcox, Dom Ando, Damien Todorovic and Peter Markham. Cos Scali has been handed coaching responsibilities for the day.
DANDENONG OFFERS BRIGHT A NEW BEGINNING
Jeff Bright is moving to Victoria to enhance his prospects of playing national league football. A regular on the local scene for close to a decade, 24-year old Bright recently agreed to join Dandenong Thunder in the hope of it leading to something bigger and better. “I feel the time is right, I need to try something different and that means seeing if I can compete with the best players in Australia outside the A-League and I get a chance to do that every week in Victoria,” he said. “I’m hoping to find some form and get a chance in the A-League again. It’s a massive risk - not just to me but to my fiancee and young boy - so I want to give it everything and one last crack.”
Bright played juniors just down the road from Dandenong and it was through an old friend that the opportunity to play in Victoria came about. “I’m really good friends with one of the players, Marcus Stergiopolous, he started at Sale where I played as a junior in East Gippsland,” explained Bright. “He was really keen to get me over after my loan with Perth Glory last year, which I declined because my fiancee was pregnant and the time just didn’t feel right. Since then they have won the minor Premier League and lost in the Cup Final, so there’s a bit of regret I didn’t go over when the chance originally came up.”
It appeared Bright’s career had finally taken off last summer when he made his A-League debut during a short-term contract with Perth Glory. Unfortunately, he was released after just a single appearance and things then took a turn for the worse with the midfielder suffering serious injury early in pre-season with Mandurah City. “It was definitely the toughest time of my career,” he conceded. “Doing my knee five minutes into a pre-season game having spent so much time getting myself fit for a big year was hard. Then when I did come back I just didn’t think I got a chance and most of all I wasn’t enjoying my football.”
Armed with a burning desire to play first team football, Bright transferred mid-season to Armadale where he featured prominently in the starting eleven under coach Brad Hassell. “I’ll admit I was gutted at leaving Mandurah, no doubt about it, and walking into the change rooms at Armadale for the first time didn’t feel right,” he admits. “But once I got to know the players, the coaches and the club they really helped reignite my passion for playing and let me enjoy my football again. I couldn’t believe how much my attitude changed after just one training session with Armadale - they made me feel welcome and I can’t thank them enough for what they did for me.”
There have been many highlights in Bright’s State League career began as a 16-year old at Cockburn City and includes time with Fremantle City, Perth SC, Mandurah City and Armadale. “Winning the League, Cup and Night Series with Perth was awesome, especially the game against Sorrento on the last day of the season when we won 6-0 to secure the title, and winning the First Division with Mandurah was also massive,” Bright reminisced. “But the best thing was to represent this State at junior and senior levels. I’ve never felt more proud than when wearing the WA shirt and I’m lucky to have played a lot for the State in the last nine seasons.”
Bright has been keeping himself in tip-top shape since Armadale’s season came to a close five weeks ago. “I’ve been riding over 200km and running over 40km a week, I don’t think I’ve ever been fitter in my entire life,” said Bright, who is determined to give himself the best possible opportunity of making a quick impression at Dandenong. “I’m also working with Marty Kelly from Positive Fit, he’s the personal trainer for Mandurah and has pretty much transformed me in the last eight weeks … the first thing I want to do playing in Victoria is break into the first team.”
The appointment of former Glasgow Rangers player Stuart Munro as coach for 2010 shows just how serious Dandenong are about building on recent success. They finished last season on top of the Premier League table, losing just twice in 22 regular season games, but were denied the championship when out-shot on penalties by Altona Magic in the Grand Final. “Dandenong are a huge club, they have a massive fan base - probably the biggest outside the A-League,” said Bright. “I’ve watched some footage of their games on youTube and have been really impressed ... I can’t wait to play in front of their supporters.”
CANBERRA HAVE THE DEPTH TO COVER FOR INJURIES: WILLIAMS (courtesy Canberra United)
Lydia Williams believes Canberra United has the depth to cover the growing list of injures when they take on the Brisbane Roar on Saturday in a rematch of last seasons’ Grand Final. With three starting defenders likely to be sidelined for the fixture, the situation has given some of the squads younger players an opportunity to step up for the challenge. “We’re going to be struggling a bit with injuries but we have such a good line up within our squad that we can utilize all of them,” said Williams, Canberra’s co-captain. “Obviously we’ve had a bit of a loss with some of the players in the team at the moment but playing in front of a home crowd and against Brisbane Roar is always a big boost for us.”
Canberra go into the weekend without Lin Chiung Ying, who won’t play again this season after rupturing her ACL last weekend, Ellyse Perry is unavailable due to cricket commitments while it's touch and go whether Ellie Brush overcomes an ankle injury. Should Brush not recover in time, Williams is ready to step up her game and take control of the makeshift young backline. “I’m up for the challenge,” Williams said. “If (Ellie) is out then I’ll probably have to step my game up a little bit more but I’m not thinking about that just yet. I have to worry about my own game first before I start worrying about anyone elses.” Canberra host Brisbane in a W-League Grand Final rematch at McKellar Park on Saturday - the game is televised live on ABC 1 from 3:00pm.
COYNE OUT OF WELLINGTON GAME
Defender Jamie Coyne has been ruled out of Perth Glory's game with Wellington Phoenix on Sunday because of a thigh problem. Coyne, who missed four matches at the start of the season because of a knee problem, picked up a knock in the 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory and failed to improve in time for the trip to New Zealand. "It's annoying for Jamie because he was out injured for a while, he's come back in and done well and now he's been knocked back again," coach David Mitchell said. Also absent for the game with Wellington are striker Victor Sikora and young gun Ludovic Boi, both are sidelined by hamstring problems.
FOOTBALL HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION (by Ashley Morrison, Not the Footy Show)
Congratulations to all concerned with Flexible Signage Solutions Top Five Final on Saturday between Perth SC and the Western Knights. Whereas I personally feel the champions are the team who win the league, and the play-offs are just an added interest, it was a great day for football. The crowd was back up to levels we should see at State League finals, the pitch was in immaculate condition, the referee was superb and both teams added to the whole event with the best team winning.
Now, I do not want to rain on anyone's parade but as with everything in life if you do not want to look at ways to improve then others will eventually pass you by. The first issue is this season has dragged on far too long. We are November and have only just finished the finals series in which the three teams who finished in the top three were the last three standing. They were also the same three teams to have won all of the silverware this season, so what did the finals series prove? If we want this format do we really need five teams playing, why not keep it to four? And while we're at it maybe we could have it finished before the last weekend in October?
Next is the hoary issue of prize money. We are lead to believe that Perth received more money for winning the finals series - which at most would be four games - than the team that finished on top of the league table at the end of a 22-game home and away series. That should not be the case as surely it's a far greater achievement to win a league title than what is effectively an end-of-season cup competition between five teams.
Finally it was great to see that the West Australian ran a story on the final on Saturday but how come the trophy featured in the photograph, was not the one they were playing for that afternoon, even though the caption advised otherwise? This is a minor issue, but again comes down to professionalism. I raise these issues because, although Saturday was a success and a good advertisement for the game, we cannot rest on our laurels. There are still many things that need to be sorted out before the game gets to be where it should be.
JONES SETS SIGHTS ON HOME FRONT
Brad Jones admits he'd love to be on the plane to South Africa with Australia this summer - but he says earning a place in the Middlesbrough starting line-up is his number one priority. Australia were among the first countries to qualify for the World Cup finals and Jones and his compatriot Rhys Williams are both hoping to be involved in what could be the chance of a lifetime. However, while he'd love to oust number one choice and former Boro team mate Mark Schwarzer, Jones has his sights firmly set on domestic affairs for the time being. "I've just go to concentrate on playing well for Boro," said Jones, who this week was named in the Socceroos squad to play Oman. "It would be brilliant to go to the World Cup finals, but it would be better to win promotion with Middlesbrough. Right now, I'm just concentrating on doing well for the club."
MITCHELL BEGINS SEARCH FOR REPLACEMENTS
Perth Glory coach David Mitchell has started preparing for the absence of his trio of Socceroos during the most important part of the A-League season and wants like-for-like replacements. Striker Mile Sterjovski, midfielder Jacob Burns and defender Chris Coyne are all likely to be ruled out of the last two weeks of the regular season as well as the finals because of their desire to make Australia's World Cup squad. The three players recognise the importance of playing in the lead-up to the World Cup, which kicks off on 11 June in South Africa, and have been given permission to make loan moves to overseas clubs so they can stay in Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek's sights.
Even though the A-League regular season finishes mid-February and the four-week finals series culminates on 20 March, transfer regulations are likely to force Sterjovski, Burns and Coyne to leave Glory before the end of January. Glory are seeking clarification from Football Federation Australia regarding bringing in replacement players from overseas clubs. "They don't like to bend the rules as such, but they want to help out clubs as much as they can," Mitchell said. "They understand that the club went out of its way to bring in some quality players this year and if it does affect us I'm pretty sure they'll be accommodating."
INGLEWOOD LOSE OUT AS BROPHY STEPS ASIDE
Kevin Brophy has brought to an end his highly successful reign as reserve team coach at Inglewood United. Brophy has guided Inglewood's second string to three league titles in the last four years in addition to savouring Cup Final victory but says it's now time for his family. "The decision to stand down was not an easy one as I have so much affection for Inglewood United," commented Brophy. "But the pull of my family is too great and with the kids growing up fast I need to spend more time with Matthew, Aisling, Caitlin, Conor and my wife Marina."
Brophy rates winning the league in 2007 as his greatest achievement. "I've enjoyed winning every title at Inglewood but I think the second championship was outstanding as we only lost the two games," said Brophy, whose team finished on top of the pile in 2006, 2007 and 2009 and were runners-up in 2008. "Being an ex-defender I hate conceding goals and the fact that we only conceded 19 was an achievement in itself. Looking back though, I'm quite proud of the year we missed out on goal difference as we did not have the strongest squad and to finish second to a good Stirling Lions outfit and ahead of a very good NTC squad was a pretty good achievement."
Inglewood's recent focus has been on developing, rather than recruiting, future first team players. "Over the last few years we've not recruited that many first team players. We've relied on bringing players through and I think that, how well we have done that, has been shown by our success on the park," Brophy said. "Mladen Kovacevic, Alex Stamtiades, James Duncan, Matt Worton and Sandi Loncar are some of those who've come through, Aaron Colli would have been more involved had he not taken a year off and James Sammut had a huge impact when he stepped up. They are all great fellas and their attitude and discipline playing within a system was first class."
Former national league defender Shane Pryce will lead Inglewood into season 2010, an appointment Brophy feels is spot-on for the inner-city club. "Shane Pryce is a legend at the club, he carries everyone's respect and I really do hope that he can bring the success to the club that it deserves," said Brophy. "I'm only sorry that I can't be there to help him out. All the players are right behind him and the way he has gone about things since he took the job on full-time, I know that he will do well. Next season I'll catch a few games with (former coach) Lee Bamber and, if and when Prycey wants, I'll do a bit of scouting for him."
Brophy also tipped his hat to the non-stop efforts of Inglewood president Siggy Kramer. "There is no one more passionate about Inglewood than Siggy, and he certainly deserves to be rewarded for all the unseen work he puts in as well as all the money he has invested over the years," said Brophy. "He has very forthright views and is very aware of what is best for Inglewood and the State League. This tends to upset a few, but you can't fault the man for wanting the best and the passion he has for his club. He gave me an opportunity - he didn't know me from Adam and took a risk. I think that leap of faith has been repaid and I am so grateful for all the wonderful memories and friends that I have made in my time at Inglewood."
A-LEAGUE ON THE CARDS FOR GARCIA?
Hull City's impending squad cull could pave the wave for A-League clubs to swoop for Australian international Richard Garcia. The Tiger's new executive chairman Adam Pearson has already made it clear that the clubs' wage bill is far too high and that numbers need to be trimmed back. Garcia has been sidelined by a serious knee injury for much of the campaign and is one of the players who could be moved on by the struggling Premier League outfit. Adelaide United and North Queensland Fury have already been touted as potential suitors for the former Kingsway Olympic player.
BIRIGHITTI COMMITS TO ADELAIDE
Adelaide United have shored up their goalkeeping stocks for the next few years by re-signing Australian youth international Mark Birighitti and Goalkeeper of the Year Eugene Galekovic. 18-year old Birighitti, signed from Perth SC in 2008, has penned a two-year deal which will keep him at the club until the end of the 2011/12 season. "I'm really happy to have signed for two more years," said Birighitti. "It's a great club, the boys have great to me and I have a good relationship with the coaches and the boys, so it would be hard to go to another club even though I was coming out of contract."
Birighitti admits his ambitions are to one day ply his trade in Europe but says he a lot to learn before getting there. "Deep down I knew I wasn't ready yet to make that big move overseas, so a few good seasons in the A-League playing regularly in the first team will do me good, and then I can make the move overseas when I know I'm ready and the time is right," he commented. Birighitti has made four A-League appearances and was between the posts for the second leg of last year's Asian Champions League final against Japanese giants Gamba Osaka.
ROSINALE IS BALCATTA'S TOP PLAYER
First Division Golden Boot winner Ashley Rosindale was installed as 2009 Player of the Year at Balcatta's trophy presentation evening on the weekend. Rosindale, signed last summer from Stirling Lions, spearheaded Balcatta drive towards the First Division title by scoring 25 goals in 22 games. Attacking midfielder Andy O'Neill was Runner-Up Player of the Year with the Coaches Award picked up by Brian McDonald.
Mate Korda and Adam Stillitano were joint recipients of the Reserve team Player of the Year trophy. Veteran Carlo Di Toro came in as Runner-Up in the main category, with Chris Triplett presented the Coaches Award. The Youth team Player of the Year went home with Adam Gianassi, who had Adam Skowrow and Jordan Vellutini as joint runners-up. Mason Stanley collected the Coaches Award.
GOODMAN HEADS INTO THE VALLEY
Former State League defender Jamie Goodman has accepted the role of assistant coach to Paul Lincoln at Swan United. 37-year old Goodman played alongside Lincoln at Inglewood United and is looking forward to the new challenge of steering the club from the Swan Valley into the top five for the first time in over a decade. “Linc’s and I have kept in contact over the years and have had conversations about coaching together at some stage. This year the timing was right and I leapt at the opportunity,” said Goodman. “We played two seasons together at Inglewood, and he is a great bloke and was very professional on how he prepared for games then, and nothing’s changed.”
Last season was ‘interesting’ for Goodman who coached at both Bayswater City and Morley Windmills under less than ideal circumstances. “It has been an interesting year for me to say the least. The thing I take out of this year is that if the whole club is not pulling for the same goals it creates adversity. I have loved working with the players and other coaches at both clubs but some of the behind scenes antics have been an eye opener,” said Goodman. “I have been lucky enough to be given opportunities to give something back to the game when I retired. I’ve coached at a few more clubs that I would like but each new challenge provides the opportunities to continue to gain experience and knowledge.”
Having stepped into the breach following Tom Kilkelly's late season sacking by Morley, Goodman felt he was well positioned to get the job on a permanent basis. However, those hopes were crushed by the Morley board who overlooked the caretaker coach in appointing Peter Johnson for 2010. “When Tom Kilkelly asked me to come to Morley I did not expect to be caretaker coach for the last five games. It was hard to fathom the reasoning behind Tom’s exit but the players got together and put in some good performances for me,” explained Goodman, stil disappointed with the way he was treated by Morley. “Peter Johnson was appointed by the make shift board for next season with two games to go - there was no interview process or consultation as to what I could bring to the club.”
Where one door closes another opens and Goodman is now focused on working with Lincoln at Swan. “He did a fantastic job last year and was only a few minutes away from playing finals football. Linc’s is very passionate and commands discipline from the players,” Goodman commented. “We both have been around football in WA for along time, and we both want to play good football and want Swan United to be a successful club in the near future. I will give Linc’s someone to bounce off, with him being a former striker and me being a defender we can pool our knowledge and work on all facets of the game forming a more complete side.”
There’s a great deal of young talent bubbling away under the surface of Swan and Goodman is keen to play his part in further the development of both those players and the Swan club. “There are some great young players at the club and Linc’s has identified a number for us to work on, which is excellent,” Goodman said. “I watched the Under-18’s Cup Final and was very impressed with some of the young talent on display and some of those have already had a taste of first team football. Aaron Cole and Justin Hugo provide us with quality and experience while the signing’s to date - James Sammut, Roberto Lujan and Liam Bolan - show we want to play finals, and with a developing side we believe we can do that next season.”
STERJOVSKI LIKELY TO LEAVE
Perth Glory striker Mile Sterjovski admits it is highly likely he will miss this season's A-League finals as he attempts to keep his 2010 World Cup dream alive. Sterjovski received a welcome Socceroos recall today, with national coach Pim Verbeek including him in Australia's 23-man squad for the upcoming Asian Cup Qualifier against Oman. But with the A-League finals not starting until mid-February and many competitions around the world closing their transfer window in January, Sterjovski is struggling to find a strong club that will accommodate a loan move in March as he attempts to stay match-fit ahead of June’s World Cup tournament.
Glory may be delivered a shattering blow with Sterjovski, Chris Coyne and Jacob Burns all considering loan moves in January to keep alive their World Cup dreams. "It's a different market in Asia and Europe and unfortunately a lot of them open only until the end of January, so there's only a few (options available) from March onwards," Sterjovski said. "I'm in a bit of a difficult situation because I want to stay here until the end of the A-League season but at the same time if I can't get a loan move in March then I'm going to have to look at the January move. You'd have to say at this moment in time it is most likely (I'll have to leave in January) but I'm still hopeful of finding something in March because my priority is to finish off the season with Perth."
Sterjovski, who last played for Australia against Japan in June, scoffed at talk his move away from Europe had harmed his chances of making the squad for South Africa. "I've had no regrets at all about switching to the A-League," the former Derby County striker said. "I think it's the right move for me and my family. I've enjoyed every minute of it. When I first came to the A-League I thought playing regular football and performing well and winning games was going to be the make or break point (as to whether I made the World Cup squad). But I've realised now it's not really all about that, I think the most important thing is going to be what happens from March onwards … that will determine whether I make the Socceroos squad or not."
SOCCEROOS NAMED FOR OMAN
Middlesbrough team mates Rhys Williams and Brad Jones along with Perth Glory striker Mile Sterjovski have been included in Australia's 23-man squad for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Oman. Unfortunately, Glory pair Chris Coyne and Jacob Burns were overlooked by coach Pim Verbeek despite both featuring in Australia's successful World Cup qualifying campaign. For Williams it's an opportunity to add to his two Socceroos appearances, while Jones is included in the squad for the first time since the 2007 Asian Cup. Sterjovski, Gold Coast United's Jason Culina and Brisbane Roar's Craig Moore were the only A-League players selected for the 14 November game in Muscat, Oman.
The Australia squad which plays Oman is Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar), Mile Jedinak (Antalyaspor Kulubu), Scott Chipperfield (FC Basel), Brett Emerton (Blackburn Rovers) , Craig Moore (Brisbane Roar), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow), Tim Cahill, Lucas Neill (Everton), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Harry Kewell (Galatasaray), Bruce Djite (Genclerbirligi), Jason Culina (Gold Coast United), Carl Valeri (US Grosseto), Patrick Kisnorbo (Leeds United), Brad Jones, Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough), Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus), Dario Vidosic (FC Nurnberg), Mark Bresciano (Palermo), Mile Sterjovski (Perth Glory), Adam Federici (Reading), Mark Milligan (Shanghai Shenua) and David Carney (FC Twente).
FOOTBALL THE NATIONS NUMBER ONE SPORT
The round ball game remains the most popular sport for schoolboys, according to a report by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Of the 1.7 million students surveyed, the study found that the three most played sports in the country were football (277,800), swimming (240,100) and Australian Rules (223,700). Bonita Mersiades of Football Federation Australia said the finding showed how prominent the game had become. "We continue to be pleased with how many children are embracing the sport and getting involved," she commented. Mersiades said the result could play a crucial role in supporting Australia’s case for hosting the FIFA World Cup in either 2018 or 2022.
GLORY PRIMED FOR PHOENIX (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory will draw upon the pain of three narrow defeats as motivation when they travel to Wellington Phoenix this weekend. English import Andy Todd is confident it won’t take a lot to turn things around and shake Glory out of their mid-season slump. “It’s never nice to go on a little run (without a win) is it? But you know I think we look to Wellington next Sunday and we go there and be positive and try and get a result,” Todd said. “I think we have just been making little errors here and there and we’ve been getting punished for the little mistakes we’ve made. We’ve got to get back to where we were; that five game (winning) run. We have got a bad taste in the mouth now (after recent results) and I think we can quite easily go on another run, but we’ve got to obviously do it quickly.”
Glory was left to rue missed opportunities before a late Leo Bertos thunderbolt sealed a home win in round two. This weekend’s game is Glory’s last before the A-League observes a one week FIFA break and Todd said carrying winning form into the second phase of the season is a key focus for his team. “We don’t want to come back from Wellington with a loss. We want to, obviously, get a win under our belts because there is a long break,” Todd said. “If we do lose it’s a long time before there’s another game to get it out of your system. So, it will be important to get something in Wellington. We’ve been there early on this season and we played quite well but lost. It’s going to be a tough game, they got a great result against Gold Coast a couple of weeks ago, but I think it’ll be up to us to go there and take the game to them.”
JORQUIERA INSTALLED AS FREMANTLE CLUB CHAMPION
Being named 2009 Club Champion at Fremantle Spirit is the icing on the cake of a superb season for Cisco Jorquiera. A product of Fremantle's youth system, 24-year old Jorquiera went home from the club's annual presentation ceremony with the Fairest and Best as well as Players' Player of the Year trophies. Tom Straker, who took out top honours last year, was Fairest and Best Runner-Up. Darren Monaghan collected the Fairest and Best at Reserve team level where Alan Pottier came in second. The Youth team Fairest and Best award was presented to Sammy Loveless who had striker Bobby Ramic as Runner-Up.
DEFENSIVE ERRORS MUST GO: MITCHELL
David Mitchell wants to eliminate the defensive lapses that have cost his side so dearly in recent weeks. The Perth Glory coach was left frustrated by the way in which his team conceded both goals in yesterday's 2-1 loss to Melbourne Victory. Hesitant defending in the 6th minute permitted Carlos Hernandez entry into the area and fire a shot which deflected off Chris Coyne for an unlucky own goal. Then, having restored parity, Glory again dropped their guard as Hernandez made another unchecked run to convert Nathan Elasi's cross on 67 minutes.
The coach would be forgiven for thinking its deja vu, however, as it was those type of defensive errors that saw Glory give up the points in North Queensland Fury last weekend. "When we're not dominating games, we've got to keep a clean sheet," Mitchell said. "It seems to be we've got to play really well to score goals and then we tend to switch off a little bit and it is concerning because its happened a few times, so we've really got to put out finger on it."
Mitchell also defended Eugene Dadi's angry response to being substituted towards the end of the second half. The veteran striker looked particularly frustrated when asked to make way for young debutant Ludovic Boi, however, the coach says he's not overly concerned by 35-year old Dadi's response. "Eugene hadn't played for a little while and he had a good game today," Mitchell said. "If he's not happy being taken off, that's a good thing. It's good he's disappointed. If there was a little bit of dissent there, I'll have a chat with him and talk with him and put my arm around him and buy him a coffee."
MCDONALD GIVES JONES THE NOD
Goalkeeper Brad Jones was given a heads-up of what to expect from new Middlesbrough boss Gordon Strachan by close friend and Celtic striker Scott McDonald. Numerous observers have been trying to predict what life will be like under a Scotsman renowned for his volatility and quick-wit and McDonald confirmed to Jones that most are correct. However, McDonald follow up by saying Strachan is a fantastic manager, with a personality on the training ground that demands success from his players. "I texted Scott to ask what to expect from the new man and he had nothing but good things to say about him," commented Jones. "That eased it for me when I was waiting for him to come in on Monday morning."
Jones does not mind admitting that in the build-up to that first day's training, the players arrived early and were careful not to upset the new boss. "When a new manager comes in you don't know what he wants or expects. But he was straight out on to the training pitch with his personality and he was quick to get the mood right," said Jones. "Every manager is different - Steve McClaren was different to Gareth Southgate, they were different to Bryan Robson, Terry Venables. Everyone has his own way of playing and the boys are quite keen on what the new manager is doing. He has a good way of explaining every detail and showing what he wants. Everyone was made to learn exactly what he wants. We have young players so that’s good to help them learn."
Having experienced Strachan's infectious approach to the game, there has been an overall eagerness within the player group to show they deserve a spot in the Boro line-up. "He wants to be in among it and that’s good. He is tweaking things because he wants us to play the way he wants," said Jones. "Everyone knows what his sense of humour is like, but it's all about business and doing things right on the pitch. The atmosphere has changed slightly because everyone has been treading on egg shells because they don't know if they will play. Everyone has been firing in training because they don't know if he knows who they are, whether he likes them or not. He will rattle a few people and take people out of their comfort zone."
Jones signed with Boro nine years ago but has only recently established himself as the club's first choice 'keeper. He was loaned out on several occasions while playing second fiddle to Mark Schwarzer, including to Sheffield Wednesday at the start of 2006/07, and he draws upon those experiences to dismiss any thoughts Middlesbrough are certainties for a quick Premier League return. "I'm not surprised with how tight it is in the Championship," he said. "When I was at Wednesday I saw it at first hand, we were near the bottom of the table but only three points off the top half. It's always been like that in this division. That's why it's one of the toughest to get out of. Everyone says it is, but it is. You play Tuesday-Saturday every week, tiredness creeps in and games are lost. We need to pick up points as we can."
HERNANDEZ DOUBLE SINKS GLORY
Carlos Hernandez scored twice to lead Melbourne Victory to a 2-1 triumph over Perth Glory at ME Bank Stadium. Glory striker Mile Sterjovski notched one of the goals of the season but a brace to Hernandez proved the difference as the visitors enjoyed just their second ever win in Perth in front of 10,035 fans. Melbourne’s sixth win in seven games keeps them within one point of top spot, whereas Glory’s first home loss of the season slips them down to fifth position. “I’m bitterly disappointed because we’ve lost our home advantage,” said coach David Mitchell. “The first half we’ve played very well and could have been a couple of goals up. The second half we didn’t perform the way we would have liked and we paid the price for it.”
The visitors needed only 6 minutes to go in front with Hernandez allowed to walk the ball inside the 18-yard box and get off a shot that deflected off Chris Coyne, wrong-footing Tando Velaphi in the process. Glory were still sleeping on four minutes later when a quickly taken corner ended with Hernandez firing just high of the crossbar from the edge of the area. Todd Howarth created the hosts first opening on 17 minutes when he out-muscled Kevin Muscat but his shot across Glen Moss was just wide of the far post. The big crowd rose as one two minutes later when Jamie Coyne found Sterjovski, who eased his way around Muscat before spectacularly netting into the top corner from 18-metres. This sparked Glory into life and they could have been a few up by the break had Eugene Dadi been able to make more of couple of good opportunities.
It was a disjointed Glory that emerged for the second half, the hosts struggling for rhythm and finding very few holes in a Melbourne defence marshalled by Muscat and Roddy Vargas. The injection of Nathan Elasi was to immediate effect for the visitors, the 19-year old sending in an inviting low cross which an unmarked Hernandez slid into the net at the back post in the 67th minute. With Melbourne content to sit deep and threaten on the break, Glory found themselves confronted by a packed defence. Debutant Ludovic Boi went closest to conjuring up an equaliser when his cross shot almost caught Moss out at his near post.
ACTION APLENTY AS GLORY, MELBOURNE SHARE YOUTH POINTS
The young guns of Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory played out an enthralling yet scoreless draw in today’s National Youth League clash at ME Bank Stadium. Both sides attacked relentlessly throughout the 90 minutes but defences held firm to leave the scores locked at 0-0 when the final whistle blew. “Everyone worked hard but we just didn’t get the goals today,” Glory Youth captain Steve Hesketh said. “Both teams had chances but I think, especially in the second half, we had the better opportunities and everything was going our way … I think we can be happy with our form but at the same time we’re a little disappointed not to be able to take all three points from today.”
Glory opened aggressively with striker Anthony Skorich setting up a flowing move in which Scott Bulloch squared to Cameron Edwards who fired over when he should have at least tested the goalkeeper. The hosts purple patch was discoloured on 22 minutes when Reece Vittiglia was bundled over the by-line and landed awkwardly, the attacker replaced by Ryan Pearson after being diagnosed with a broken arm. But before the change was made Matthew Demo gave Glory a major scare by beating the offside trap only to fire wide from 10-metres. Demo had another chance saved by Alex Pearson soon after, while later in the half Ryan Pearson was denied at the other end by Sebastian Mattei.
The second period saw both sides amp up the attack in order to claim the three points. Ten minutes after the re-start Edwards embarked on a promising run into the area but Mattei brilliantly smothered at his feet to snuff out the opportunity. Ryan Pearson and Bulloch continued to threaten with shots at goal but couldn’t apply the decisive finish, while Edwards almost broke through a short time later but was denied by Antonio La Verde’ desperate clearance off the line. Melbourne produced a late flurry with Aziz Behic scuffing high from Stephen Hatzikostas’ superb cross. Glory, too, could have stolen victory but Skorich waited too long to pull the trigger and was forced to pass to a team mate who was promptly closed down.
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This page was last updated on the 3rd November, 2009