PLAYERS WEREN’T DISTRACTED BY OFF-FIELD DRAMA SAYS CASTRO
Captain Diego Castro says Perth Glorys’ players were not distracted by off-field dramas surrounding owner Tony Sage’s controversial bid to sell the majority of the club. “We are professionals. We can’t be affected by what happens outside,” Castro said, speaking about the collapsed London Football Exchange deal. “As a player you have to focus on-field, things that we can control.”
Castro said his team were focused on extending their unbeaten 10-game A-League run today’s against Newcastle Jets. “We have to separate the off-field and what we do on-field, the things that I can control and manage,” he said. “We don’t want to be disrupted for anything outside of the football. The focus is on the football.”
Castro said Sage had made it “crystal clear” that he was looking for a partner to ease the financial load. “This is his area, no secret he is looking for a new partnership,” he added. “Someone has to cover off responsibilities. We take information from Tony and we will see what happens.”
Castro missed Glory’s last three games with a twisted knee but showed signs he’d fully recovered in last weekend’s draw with Brisbane Roar. “I was dealing with the pain but sometimes it’s better to be a bit more conservative in terms of the treatment,” Castro said. “I’m better now, I’m recovered.”
Despite not coming away with a win Castro said he was pleased with the last two performances. “The game away in Tokyo we played fantastic, especially without the ball,” he said. “Maybe at some point we respected them too much.
“In the last game we played well without the ball. This is football. Things don’t work out the way that you deserve. The team looked composed and we are happy even though the results didn’t come. You always can improve. We will do better.”
Glory are undefeated are in their last 12 A-League matches at Newcastles’ McDonald Jones Stadium and are undefeated in their last five away A-League games, conceding just one goal in that time. Second-bottom Newcastle have drawn their last two games.
AMATEUR LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES - WEEK ONE REVIEW
The 2020 Amateur Night Series kick off this weekend, with three groups of four teams. First in Group A Joondalup United opened up the tournament against UWA Nedlands at Ellenbrook Sports Hub on Friday evening. In a tight game it was Joondalup who won it with a late free kick from Adam Rogers. “Adam has just come back from an ACL reconstruction so everyone was delighted for him to be back on the park and he was understandably very happy to score the match winner,” new Joondalup coach Neil Sherwin said. “Even though it’s still only preseason it was good to get a win on Friday and I thought we controlled possession for a lot of the contest and all that was missing was a goal or two. UWA were dangerous on the break but we defended very well and limited their chances. There were some heavy legs towards the end on the Ellenbrook pitch but there were plenty of positives and we look forward to taking on North Perth United this Sunday.”
In the other game in the group North Perth United beat newly-promoted Queens Park 4-2 at E&D Litis Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Alfa Sherif scored a brace, with Dave Musa and Thierry Gerrard adding the other, while Youhannes Teklu scored a penalty for Queens Park, with Cameron Heslop adding the other. “For 70 minutes I was reasonable pleased with the intensity that the boys played at,” North Perth Coach Alex Carter said. “We were probably gassed in the last part of the game but I’m fine with that. We are trying out a new system this year and I thought the boys did well in taking what we had done at training in to a game situation.”
In Group B Wembley Downs opened their campaign wit ha hard fought 3-2 win against Quinns at Ellenbrook Sports Hub on Friday evening. Juraj Galba, Diarmaid Rynd, Martin Sullivan were on target for Wembley, while Luke Armstrong and Liam Hunt scored for Quinns. “It was a great team effort, we had five young lads playing for the first time and combined with the senior players,” Wembley coach Mike Ford said. “That was led by Juraj Galba and Matt Devaurex to give a great team effort against a strong and experienced Quinn’s team.” In the late game in the group South West Phoenix beat Kwinana United 3-0 at the Soccerdrome in Bunbury. Lee Stewart scored twice, first a penalty after the Kwinana keeper was sent off after 30 minutes.
Jayden Prosser made it 2-0 just before half time then Stewart added his second in the second half. “It was a solid start for us in what was our first full game together,” Stewart explained. “It was pleasing we were able to manage the different periods of the game the way we did and we’ll take a lot from it moving forward. We have a very young squad that has been rebuilt from the unfortunate events of last season and it was really great to see the young lads step up and give a good account of themselves. This is a good starting point for us and we’ll now look ahead to Quinn’s this weekend.”
In Group C Night Series holders Leeming Strikers were held to a 1-1 draw by Hamersley Rovers at Wanneroo Reserve on Friday evening. Ben Greaves scored for the Strikers, getting on the end of a cross from Michael Maratea after good work down the right by Mackenzie Burgoyne. But Rovers earned the point with Gabriel Viera scoring. New Rovers’ coach Howard Tweets was happy with the performance. “Considering we are still piecing together a squad, and have not yet done any shape and structure sessions, it was very promising and ahead of where we should be.” In the late game in the group newly-promoted Maddington White City beat Jaguar FC 4-1.
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - SEMI-FINAL REVIEW
Perth SC and Floreat Athena will meet in next week’s NPLWA Night Series Final after both had hard fought wins in their Semi-Finals at Frank Drago Reserve on Saturday evening. In the first game Perth SC overcame a gallant Perth Glory side 5-3 on penalties after the game ended 1-1 after normal time. “I thought the game was a game of two halves, Perth Glory had the upper hand in the first half, however after the break our performance lifted,” Perth SC Head coach Ramon Falzon said. “We kept the ball longer in the second half and spent most of the time in their defensive half. We created enough chances to probably win it within the 90 minutes, however credit to their keeper, his saves kept them in the game. It was good to see our boys be that clinical when taking the penalties and Ryan (Montgomery) saved one too to secure our spot in the final.”
It was the Glory youngsters who opened the better and they went close to the opener after only nine minutes. After some good combination play between Ciaran Bramwell, Charlie Leech and Carlo Armiento, the ball eventually was played wide to Josh Rawlins, who crossed the ball low across the box and it was just out of the reach of Bramwell at full stretch at the back post. But two minutes later the Glory youngsters good start was deservedly rewarded with the lead. Jacob Muir played a ball from his own half through the middle of the park to Armiento, whose shot on the turn from 20-meters flew into the bottom right hand corner of the net. It looked like Glory would go into the break with the lead but in the final minute Perth levelled. A good passage of play where Perth maintained possession with some neat passes, and the ball was sent down the left where it was collected by Andreas Theodosiades, who beat his marker and placed the ball past Jackson Lee.
Both sides had chances after the break, as the game went from end-to-end. Glory ‘keeper Jackson Lee was in great form to deny Perth’s attacking threat, producing a number of fine saves to keep his side in the game, and with neither team finding the winner the game went to a penalty shoot-out. Armiento saw his and Glory’s first penalty saved by Montgomery, and with Luke Bodnar, Michael Domfeh, Jackson Morgan and Jayden Gorman all scoring Gustavo Catarcione stepped up to score the fifth to seal the win. “After a disappointing first half, we came out after the break and created lots of chances and should have scored more than the one goal we did,” Perth defender Alex Silla said. “We’ve put ourselves into yet another final and hopefully will bring home our first trophy for the season next weekend.”
Glory Coach Richard Garcia said his young side performed well and will take a great deal away from the game. “I thought the lads were great tonight, they played with maturity beyond their years, unfortunately ended up on the wrong side of a penalty shoot-out,” he told the Glory website. “It’s a hard way to lose but that’s football. After such a good first half of football that the guys dominated, it was disappointing to concede with virtually the last kick of the half. We never got over it and struggled to get going after the break.”
In the second Semi-Final Floreat Athena moved through after a six-goal thriller against Gwelup Croatia in the late game at Frank Drago Reserve and see them into their third consecutive final. Floreat hit the front on 14 minutes with former Gwelup winger Noah Shamaki on target. Both sides pressed for the rest of the half but Floreat led by that goal at half time. But five minutes into the second half Phil Arnold doubled Floreat’s lead, and nine minutes later Nick Ambrogio add a third. It looked game over, but former Floreat striker Jon Stynes pulled one back on the hour for Gwelup. Then five minutes later Stynes added a second, and it was game on, as Gwelup pushed for the equaliser.
Floreat held firm and in the fourth minute of stoppage time Liam Murray sealed the win. “I thought we were very well organised and very disciplined in our approach to the game, and we were definitely the better team in the first half and took our chances well,” Floreat skipper Dean Evans said. “Gwelup controlled a bit more of the game in the second half and got themselves back in the game, but we dug deep and secured a great win to advance to our third night series final. It was definitely a great game of football for the neutrals.” Gwelup Head Coach Taki Nicolaidis said they let themselves down at set-pieces. “Obviously we are disappointed with the final result,” he said. “Athena punished us from their set pieces, which was the difference at the end of the day.”
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES - SEMI-FINAL REVIEW
The 2020 State League night series final will between Olympic Kingsway and Western Knights after both produced big wins in Saturday’s Semi-Finals at Wanneroo Reserve. In the first game Olympic took on Fremantle City, with both sides unbeaten in the competition so far but it was Olympic who were out of the blocks early, and were ahead on 27 minutes. A corner from Elliott Tattersall was headed into the area by Luke Palmateer, and Antoine Levy volleyed home. It was 2-0 ten minutes later, Tattersall received the ball wide on the right, eased past his marker and scored from a narrow angle at the near post. It was 3-0, two minutes before the break. Ajak Riak intercepted pass as Fremantle tried to play out, before squaring the ball to Hamza Hena who made no mistake.
Fremantle needed a good start to the second half to get back into the game, but it was Olympic who added a fourth nine minutes in. A corner wasn’t dealt with and the ball fell to Hena, who laid the ball back to Cameron Murray who scored from the edge of the box. It was soon 5-0, Gyles Davies drove down the right-hand channel and pulled the ball back for Kyle Murray to score into the top corner. Amazingly Olympic added a sixth on 76 minutes, Paul McCormack squared from the right into the path of Dion Burman who fired the ball home.
Fremantle fought to the end and Massimo Basulo pulled one back three minutes from time, before Angel Andres add a second from the spot in stoppage time, but it was too little too late. “It is always pleasing to make a cup final no matter what the competition, and we now face another very competitive match against Western Knights who had a great win against Forrestfield,” Olympic Head coach Gary Williams said. “We have gradually got better as we have progressed through the competition and we will do our best to win some silverware for the club.”
In the late Semi-Final holders Forrestfield United took on Western Knights and it was Forrestfield who opened the brighter, but a combination of good goalkeeping from Knights ‘keeper Sam Stone and poor finishing saw them go scoreless. But on 25 minutes it was the Knights who hit the front, Callum Roberts raced past two defenders before finding the bottom corner of the net. They doubled their lead sixty seconds later, Alex Kretowicz pounced on a defensive error straight after the kick off to score. It was 3-0 on the half-hour, Roberts made space down the flank and his cross was turned home by Kretowicz. They added a fourth just before half time, Roberts cutting in from the left and finishing clinically from the edge of the penalty area.
The Knights made it 5-0 five minutes into the second half, Johnny Chalmers played a neat one-two with Jack Rycroft, before finding the top corner of the net. Forrestfield pulled one back two minutes later, with Dan Corbett on target, but it was a mere consolation goal as the Knights added two more late. It was 6-1 when Ryan Cox’s cross picked out Rycroft who made no mistake, before Rycroft wrapped up the scoring, tapping in from close-range after a neat build up. “It was an exceptional team performance, the boys really delivered what we have been trying to put into training,” Knights Head Coach Ivan Zuvela said. “I thought we rode our luck early in the first half where Forrestfield had three good chances, but our keeper Sam Stone was outstanding. It was a very impressive performance with some clinical finishing, so from a coach’s point of view, me and Adam Kostrencic couldn’t be happier.”
JETS END GLORY’S UNBEATEN RUN
Perth Glory have been beaten for the first time in 11 games after a surprise 1-2 loss against Newcastle Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday afternoon. It was Tony Popovic’s first Hyundai A-League defeat since late November, and a wonder strike from former Glory defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley gave the hosts the lead early, but Glory hit back before half time with Neil Kilkenny scoring from the spot. But the home side won it 16 minutes from time with Irish striker Roy O'Donovan scoring to secure the three points for Carl Robinson's side.
“Congratulations to Newcastle on winning the game but I thought the first half was the best we’ve played for a while, so it’s disappointing not to get the points,” Glory Head Coach Tony Popovic said post-match. “It’s a difficult trip here, and the surface was heavy, and late in the game we became fatigued, and the game got stretched and unfortunately we couldn’t take our half chances and they took one of theirs.
“We should have been two or three up at half time, and it would have been a totally different game, so we need to be a bit more ruthless. Our last two away performances have been good but we haven’t been clinically and the final ball hasn’t been quite right, so we will recover well and more on to another exciting game against Melbourne City on Sunday.”
The defeat, Glory's first in the Hunter Valley since 2009, brought to an end the club's ten-game unbeaten streak and prevented them from closing the gap on ladder-leaders Sydney FC who lost their derby clash with Wanderers on Friday. But it was Popovic's side who created the better of the chances in an entertaining first-half, and as early as nine-minutes it was Glory who had the best opening opportunity. Tarek Elrich, who was making his starting debut for the club, saw his powerful shot from the edge of the box beat Lewis Italiano but crash off the crossbar, but the rebound fell kindly for Joel Chianese, but with the goal at his mercy he volleyed over the top.
The Jets responded well to that let-off, taking the lead in spectacular style on 12 minutes. The Glory’s clearance only fell to Topor-Stanley, and there didn’t look much danger, but the defender pounced on a loose ball fully 30 meters from goal and unleashed an unstoppable effort into the top corner of the net giving Liam Reddy no chance.
The Jets were struggling to cope with the pace of Chianese's pace down the right, and he played a key role in getting the Glory back on level terms on 29 minutes.
He raced free of his marker and played a low cross into the box which was blocked by Nigel Boogaard, and all the Glory players were convinced it had hit the defender’s arm, and after consulting with the VAR, WA referee Adam Fielding agreed and pointed to the spot. Kilkenny stepped up and sent Italiano the wrong way from the resulting penalty to level things up and celebrated with the big contingent of Glory supporters in the crowd.
In the second half the home side looked to step things up and Reddy was twice called upon early to punch clear Dimi Petratos’ corners while under heavy pressure, then on the hour-mark, O'Donovan saw his header flash over the top. The Jets were well on top and O'Donovan forced a reflex save from Reddy after being teed up by Matt Millar, but the Irishman was not to be denied sixty seconds later. This time Bobby Burns crossed from the left and substitute Bernie Ibini flicked the ball to O'Donovan who forced the ball over the line. Glory pressed late desperately searching for the equaliser and they thought they might have found it deep into stoppage-time, but Italiano stood tall to block Bruno Fornaroli's point-blank effort at the far post.
Jets Coach Carl Robinson admits he will not be celebrating the victory for long as his mind immediately turns to how he can use the week’s training to implement his philosophy at the club. “I just come in there and one of the guys said to me ‘well done coach, you don’t seem happy, and I said ‘it’s three points, that’s all it is, and you have to move on,” Robinson said. “I’m thinking about two-week’s time and how to improve from the couple of weeks we’ve been here. I’ve sensed improvement. There’s certainly been some key contributors that have increased their level of performance and I’m pleased for them.”
Newcastle Jets: GK Lewis ITALIANO, 2 Bobby BURNS, 4 Nigel BOOGAARD, 6 Steven UGARKOVIC, 7 Roy O’DONOVAN (3 Jason HOFFMAN 90+4'), 9 Abdiel ARROYO (21 Bernie IBINI 61'), 10 Dimi PETRATOS, 16 Matt MILLAR, 18 Johnny KOUTROUMBIS, 32 Angus THURGATE (8 Wes HOOLAHAN 61'), 44 Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY - Subs not used: RGK Glen MOSS, 11 Nick FITZGERALD, 19 Kosta PETRATOS, 29 Connor O’TOOLE
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 2 Alex GRANT, 3 Jacob TRATT, 7 Joel CHIANESE (18 Nicholas D’AGOSTINO 77'), 8 James MEREDITH (5 Ivan FRANJIC 61'), 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, 20 Jake BRIMMER (27 JUANDE 65'), 21 Tarek ELRICH, 88 Neil KILKENNY - Subs not used: RGK Tando VELAPHI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM, 28 Gabriel POPOVIC, 29 Kristian POPOVIC - Referee: Adam Fielding
GLORY END SEASON WITH A NARROW LOSS
Perth Glory have ended their Westfield W-League campaign with a narrow 2-3 loss against finals bound Western Sydney Wanderers at a packed Hay Park in Bunbury on Saturday evening. Glory found themselves 0-3 down at half time with goals from Sam Staab and a brace from Kristen Hamilton. But Bobby Despotovski’s side produced a valiant fightback after the break with Celia pulling one back midway through the half and then setting up a frantic finale when Morgan Andrews headed home a second. But they were unable to continue their comeback but Head Coach Bobby Despotovski was still proud of their second-half display.
"As much as I was disappointed with the first-half performance, I was as proud of the second-half performance," he said. "I was proud of how they responded to the criticism that I gave them in the dressing-room at half-time.
"They lifted the intensity after the break and when you put a team like Western Sydney Wanderers under pressure, they crack. All of a sudden, we score one goal, then we get a second and we push them all the way.
"Obviously it wasn't to be, but I am so proud of how they responded in that second half. This season everyone in our squad has had a chance to play and not many clubs in Australia can say that. All the players are going to be better for it. It's always good to come to Bunbury and we know that the people of the south-west will support us all the time, so hopefully we can make this an annual event."
Glory came into this one on the back of three straight wins, while the Wanderers needed a win to wrap up a finals birth for the first time, and it was the visitors who started the brighter and they were ahead on three minutes. Staab bundling the ball over the line from close-range after Shannon May had managed to clear the initial corner off the line. It was 2-0 eight minutes later, when Kyra Cooney-Cross’ corner was headed home by US International Hamilton. Glory went close to pulling one back moment later, but Celia shot struck the foot of the post. But it was 3-0 to the visitors on 28 minutes, former Glory midfielder Ella Mastrantonio's free-kick picked out Hamilton who lost her marker to score.
Glory began the second half on the front foot and Crystal Thomas and Andrews were both denied Abby Smith in the Wanderers goal, before Celia succeeded, at the second attempt, in driving a loose ball into the bottom corner of the net to pull one back. With their tails up and the big home crowd of 1175 urging them on, Glory surged forward and duly pulled another back, seven minutes from time. This time Celia was the creator, launching in a deep cross for Andrews headed home to notch her sixth goal in the last four games. Despite throwing everything they had at the Wanderers in the final minutes, Glory were unable to muster a third before referee Georgia Ghirardello brought an enthralling contest to a close. The result means that Glory finish the season in seventh spot on the ladder having recorded three wins, two draws and seven defeats from their 12 games.
Perth Glory: GK Eliza CAMPBELL, 3 Kim CARROLL, 5 Shannon MAY, 6 Arianna ROMERO, 7 CELIA, 8 Morgan ANDREWS, 9 Crystal THOMAS (15 Alexia MORENO 66'), 11 Leticia MCKENNA (4 Ayesha NORRIE 56'), 13 Jamie-Lee GALE, 14 Caitlin DOEGLAS (28 Katarina JUKIC 78'), 24 Natasha RIGBY - Subs not used: RGK Morgan AQUINO, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD
Western Sydney Wanderers: GK Abby SMITH, 3 Sam STAAB, 4 Caitlin COOPER, 5 Courtney NEVIN, 7 Amy HARRISON, 10 Kyra COONEY-CROSS ( 11 Cortnee VINE 90+6'), 19 Susan PHONSONGKHAM (14 Chloe MIDDLETON 78'), 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO, 23 Kristen HAMILTON, 27 Danika MATOS - Subs not used: RGK Courtney NEWBON, 26.Rosie GALEA - Referee: Georgia Ghirardello
GLORY LOOKING TO END SEASON ON A HIGH
Perth Glory will be looking to end their Westfield W-League season on a high when they host Western Sydney Wanderers at Hay Park in Bunbury on Saturday evening. (7.15pm WA Time) Glory will be targeting a fourth successive win, while the Wanderers desperately need three points as they look to lock down a place in the finals, so with everything to play for a bumper crowd is expected, and Head Coach Bobby Despotovski feels that it's shaping up to be a memorable evening in the south-west.
"It's great to be back in Bunbury and we're really looking forward to the game," he said. "We've had a training session at Hay Park already and the field is in very good nick. We're hoping for another good turnout of fans like we had last time we played here. The weather forecast is good, so hopefully people can drive in from the surrounding areas and bring their kids along to watch a high-quality W-League game.
"In terms of our own form, it's good to see that everything we've worked on in the last three or four months is coming to fruition. Now they're seeing that it works, the players are buying into the philosophy. We have always said to the girls that they have nothing to lose and to go out and show us what they can do, play within the structure and express themselves; that's been the message all along.
"As for Western Sydney, they are obviously going to be under a lot of pressure because they're hanging on to fourth position and if Brisbane beat Melbourne City and we beat Wanderers, they'll be out of the top four. So they have to get something out of the game and that means they will press for the result, which will hopefully open up a few opportunities for us."
Glory's last visit to Hay Park saw them battle out an unforgettable 4-4 draw with Canberra United and having seen his charges score ten goals in their last three outings, Despotovski is quietly confident that they can find a way through the Wanderers defence on Saturday. "We haven't been thrashed by anyone in the league this year and that's due to us having a good structure within the team, especially defensively and that platform gives us the chance to go and create at the other end," he said.
"At the start of the season, we struggled a bit in front of goal, but as it's progressed, we've been finding goals from everywhere on the park, with defenders and midfielders chipping in and the strikers scoring. So we're getting goals from everywhere and we're in a good spot at this moment in time." Glory will be out to avenge their 3-1 defeat at the hands of the red-and-blacks in Round 9 and the historical omens are encouraging for the WA side who have won five of the previous six corresponding fixtures.
Perth Glory Squad: GK Eliza CAMPBELL, GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Ayesha NORRIE, 5 Shannon MAY, 6 Arianna ROMERO, 7 CELIA, 8 Morgan ANDREWS, 9 Crystal THOMAS, 10 Julia SARDO, 11 Leticia MCKENNA, 13 Jamie-Lee GALE, 14 Caitlin DOEGLAS, 15 Alexia MORENO, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 24 Natasha RIGBY, 34 Tia STONEHILL - *two to be omitted* - Ins: SARDO (promoted), MORENO (promoted), STONEHILL (promoted) - Outs: 19 Hana LOWRY (injured)
Western Sydney Wanderers FC squad: GK Abby SMITH, GK Courtney NEWBON, 2 Alix ROBERTS, 3 Sam STAAB, 4 Caitlin COOPER, 5 Courtney NEVIN, 7 Amy HARRISON, 10 Kyra COONEY-CROSS, 11 Cortnee VINE, 14 Chloe MIDDLETON, 16 Liana DANASKOS, 17 Tiana JABER, 19 Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO, 23 Kristen HAMILTON, 26 Rosie GALEA, 27 Danika MATOS - *two to be omitted* - Ins: MASTRANTONIO (returns from suspension), HAMILTON (returns from suspension) - Outs: Nil - Unavailable: 8 Erica HALLOWAY (knee), 40 Jada WHYMAN (knee) - Referee: Georgia Ghirardello
GLORY RESCHEDULE ACL GAMES
After threats of expulsion from this seasons AFC Champions League, and a further ban from future seasons of the competition was made to Perth Glory, after their refusal to travel to Korea due to fears of the spread of the coronavirus, a conclusion has been made that suits both parties.
Yesterday the club confirmed that following discussions with Ulsan Hyundai FC, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Football Federation Australia (FFA) and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), the club’s upcoming AFC Champions League Group F game against Ulsan Hyundai FC has been rescheduled.
Instead of travelling to play away at Ulsan Hyundai FC on Wednesday 4 March 2020 as originally scheduled, Glory will now host the Korean side at Perth Rectangular Stadium on Wednesday 18 March 2020 (kick-off time TBC). The return fixture will now take place at the Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium on Tuesday 7 April 2020 (kick-off time TBC).
Glory CEO Tony Pignata was quick to acknowledge the collaborative approach taken by the various stakeholders in rearranging the fixtures. "The health and safety of our players, staff and supporters was always the club’s priority,” he said, “and this decision safeguards that, so we are pleased with the outcome. "On behalf of the club, I would like to thank Ulsan Hyundai FC, the AFC, FFA and the PFA for their assistance in this matter and we look forward to welcoming Ulsan Hyundai FC to Perth next month."
LEEMING TARGET A HAT-TRICK IN AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES
It is the opening round for the Amateur Night Series this weekend and Leeming Strikers will be looking for a hat-trick, after winning the last two pre-season competitions. The Strikers open their Group C games against Hamersley Rovers at Wanneroo Reserve on Friday and Head coach David Palin said they are well prepared and looking forward to the night series and the new season.
“We’ve had a good preseason to date, we’ve been able to add some new faces which is good and hopefully they can push us on this season,” he explained. “We have respected the night series over the last two seasons fielding our strongest team available and that’s why wave probably won the last 2 years.
“I don’t see that changing too much but we have recognised we have to try different combinations in order to get a feel for what the squad can do as we move into league season. We’re really looking forward to trying to defend it for another year, it will be tough but that’s what we want in preseason and expect during the season.”
The 12 teams are divided into three groups of four. Each group winner will advance to the semi-finals, along with the best second-place side. Friday night sees a double-header at Ellenbrook Sports Hub – UWA Nedlands face Joondalup United in Group A, followed by the Group B encounter between Wembley Downs and last year’s beaten finalists Quinns FC. Also on Friday, the Strikers take on Hamersley Rovers in Group C at Wanneroo City Soccer Club.
On Saturday, South West Phoenix host Kwinana United in Bunbury in a 3pm kick-off in Group B. The final two games of Round One will be at E&D Litis Stadium on Sunday – North Perth United v Queens Park in Group A and Jaguar FC v Maddington White City (Group C).
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - SEMI-FINAL PREVIEW
It’s Semi-Finals time in the NPLWA Night Series, with both games being played at Frank Drago Reserve, the home of Bayswater City on Saturday evening. In the first game Pool One winners Perth SC take on Pool Two runners up Perth Glory. (5pm) Perth beat Floreat Athena last week to top the table, while Glory thrashed Armadale to take second spot in Pool Two and set up an intriguing first semifinal.
It’s the first time in the preseason semifinal for Richard Garcia’s side, and he said his young side are improving with each game. “For many of the players it’s their first time playing in senior first team football and they are coping well with physicality and are improving each week,” he told the Glory website. “The guys have grown into the games and last week against Armadale it was a good all-round team performance, and we’ll have to bring that again on Saturday against a strong Perth SC side.”
Garcia said the Foxtel Youth League has been a great learning curve for his young group and he is hoping they can continue their good form on Saturday against the most successful team in WA State League football. “The Youth League was great for the players, and they learnt a great deal which will hold them in good stead for the NPLWA season ahead,” he said. “Before that we have the Night Series against Perth SC, and it’s exciting for the players to have a chance to play in a high-pressure game and we’ll be doing all we can do to get a result on Saturday against a good side.”
Teenager midfielder Josh Rawlins was on target against Armadale, and he said it was good performance from the team, especially what was on the line. “We knew going into the Armadale game we needed a win to qualify, and we put in a good performance, the boys backing up our last couple of games,” he told the Glory website. “We created many chances in front of goal, but most importantly keeping goals conceded to a minimum, and it shows how far we have come as a group and maturing into a quality side.”
Rawlins good form was rewarded with a spot in Glory’s Asian Champions League squad, and he said it was a huge surprise, but his focus now is helping the side to the NPL Night Series Final. “I’ve been with the first team for a couple of sessions over the last few weeks, and I’m really enjoying it, and to get selected in the ACL squad was a thrill and a bit of a surprise,” the 15-year-old explained. “But Saturday is all I’m focused on, and obviously Perth have been a quality side for a while and are a challenge to come up against. “We know it will be a tough game, but our last two games have proved that we are also a very confident team, with a belief to win and play without fear.”
Perth’s win against Floreat gave them take top spot and Head Coach Ramon Falzon said he was happy with the resilience of his side and another clean sheet. “Although we have just started a new season, our had fought 1-0 win against Floreat last week demonstrated that our playing group has retained the traits that have defined us in past seasons,” he explained. “It was good to see that the players are still resilient, disciplined and driven to get a result. Furthermore, we were happy to keep another clean sheet especially because the boys were good enough to absorb the pressure during Floreat’s best moments without conceding.”
Perth SC have won the Night Series on 19 occasions, the last one was in 2010, and Falzon said they will need to be at their best against Glory if they want to have an opportunity to add a 20th this season. “Following the game against Floreat, our attention has swiftly shifted onto Perth Glory. Our performance against Floreat was not as good as we expected, and we know that we played much better the previous week against Bayswater, thus from our side we are mainly focused on starting to find some consistency in our performances,” he said. “After Perth Glory had a challenging NYL, they seemed to have turned a corner and their recent Night Series results are impressive. Over the last couple of years, our games against Perth Glory have been very competitive, tactical and both teams injected a good level of intensity into the games. Therefore, we are preparing ourselves to face a solid Perth Glory as we experienced the last couple of years.”
New Perth SC defender Luke Bodnar said they were made to work for the win, but they showed great character to get the result. “Last week was a hard-fought game, and to be fair we started slow and scrappy in the first half,” he said. “But we managed to pick it up and cut down on the mistakes in the second, and with a solid defensive effort from the whole team we came away with a well fought win.” Bodnar joined the Azzurri from Perth Glory this season, and he hopes he can give a few ideas to the players on how they play against them. “Having played at Glory for many years, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect,” he said. “We have our game plan for the game, and we will stick to it and hopefully come out on top.”
In the second semifinal Pool Two winners Gwelup Croatia take on Pool One runners up Floreat Athena. (7pm) It’s the first season in the NPLWA for Gwelup and they assembled a strong squad and have impressed in the competition to date, and the 0-0 draw against Sorrento secured their spot in this stage and skipper Blair Govan said it was a good work out. “We’re obviously really happy to get through the group stage unbeaten, and the game against Sorrento was good, and we managed to get game time into more players and give a few younger lads an opportunity and they all did really well,” the skipper explained. “I thought we controlled large parts of the game which was the aim and was really good to see, all that was missing was a goal. It’s great that we finished top and didn’t lose a game but we know that counts for nothing if we don’t back it up this weekend.”
Govan will come up against his former club this weekend, after spending three seasons in the blue and white stripes, and he’s looking forward to the games for knows it will be their best test in the competition so far. “I’m looking forward to playing against my old team, a lot of my mates are still there from when I left so it will be good to play against them and hopefully stop them going for three-night series crowns in a row,” he said. “We will be up for it, as it’s our biggest test yet, and hopefully there’s a decent crowd down there for what should be two entertaining games on the night.”
Head Coach Taki Nicolaidis said it was pleasing to top the Pool, and last weeks game gave him the opportunity to play some of the younger players in the squad, and they showed that they can play in the NPL. “I didn’t take too much out of last week’s scoreless draw as both sides had rested some senior players,” he said. “The upside was that it gave our youngsters some valuable minutes in the first team, and being the new kids on the block we didn’t know what to expect in the NS, but I’m very pleased to have topped our group and now preparing for the semis.”
Nicolaidis said Floreat have looked impressive in the group stages, and he knows Saturday’s game is a huge challenge, but he said his players are ready for it. “Athena have been in super form throughout the entire Night Series, and they seem to have improved even more since AK took over as coach,” he said. “I know him well enough that he will have them cherry ripe and raring to go for the semifinal, so we will need to be at our clinical best if we’re to progress into the final.”
Floreat Athena lost top spot in the Pool after last week’s narrow loss against Perth SC, but skipper Dean Evans said the game could have gone either way. “To be honest I thought we were the better side in the first half, we created a lot of chances but unfortunately for us we couldn't get one past their keeper, which in a game like that we need to take our chances,” he explained. “I thought the second half was a lot more even, and they took their chance with a well taken goal. I think our overall our group performance was very solid, and since AK has stepped in he has had a real focus on not conceding goals and having a strong work ethic defensively as we know with the strength of our team we have the quality going forward to score goals consistently.”
Evans said Saturday will be a tough test, but he is determined to lead the club to a third straight Night Series Final. “We know the quality Gwelup possess, they've recruited well with some really good signings and they obviously want to gel as quick as possible in preparation for the season ahead. In saying that, we've had our core group now for the last 3-4 years so we are always confident of getting results when it matters,” he said. “It looks to be a really entertaining game on paper and I know the group are looking forward to reaching another final and our third consecutive night series final and create some more history for the club. hopefully the weather holds out and we can get a great crowd on show to watch two really good footballing sides.”
New Floreat striker Sean McManus has fitted in well at the club, and although the loss against Perth was disappointing, he believes the squad is gelling well. “I thought the boys were excellent against Perth last Friday night, but it was just a matter of them taking their chances and us not,” he said. “We have a new team and we’ve gelled quickly over pre-season and night series, with the new boys, including myself, knowing the standard the club expects of us.”
McManus, who joined the E&D Litis Stadium side from Bayswater City, said all the players are looking forward to Saturday’s game and are ready for the challenge. “The boys can’t wait for Saturday night’s game against Gwelup, and I’m sure it will be very entertaining,” he said. “We will focus on our game and play to the style of play the gaffer has set out for us since coming in. We have one thing set out to do and that’s win the Night Series three years in a row.”
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES - SEMI-FINAL PREVIEW
The State League Night Series has also reached the Semifinals with both games to played at Wanneroo Reserve on Saturday, and in the first game Olympic Kingsway take on Fremantle City. (5pm) Olympic topped Group E in the qualifying stage and produced a strong performance to beat Stirling Lions 4-1 in the quarterfinals and winger Hamza Hena said it continued their good preseason form. “The win against Stirling was good and kept our good run going,” he said. “More importantly than being undefeated in the competition is the fact we continued to improve game by game, and that’s a sign of a top team. We’ve set the bar each game and we’ve gone and raised it every time.”
Hena, who joined the club from Inglewood United this season, said Fremantle are well coached and knows it will be a tough challenge, but they are confident they can get the job done. “I don’t know much about Fremantle, but I do know Cameron Lord and the modern style of football he instills in his teams, so they will be a good contender,” he explained. “I just believe in focusing on our team and our quality, for once all our bits and pieces click together we are more than capable of coming out on top of it all.”
Fremantle City went through Group A winning all their games and reached the semifinals with a hard fought 1-0 win against UWA Nedlands and Jordan Pokler said they deserved the win after dominating for long periods of the game. “We knew UWA would be our toughest test yet, we started a bit sloppy but we built into the game nicely and it was good to get another win and another clean sheet,” he said. “We had control of the game for the vast majority of it, but could’ve made the game more comfortable but failed to finish some chances.
“We defended strong and didn’t give them any real opportunities, which was pleasing. The group stage was pleasing for the boys, no goals conceded and plenty scored. Off course we want to win all our games, but during pre-season it’s more important to get minutes into the legs and implement the coach’s philosophy from the training ground into the games. The team is completely new, so was also good to build connections and relationships on the field, so overall it was a good group stage for the boys.”
Pokler will face his former club on Saturday, after leaving Olympic at the end of last season, and he said he is looking forward to facing his old team mates and helping the Port side into the Final. “Two undefeated teams go at it, should be a good one. It will be a tough game for both sides as I believe we are both contenders for the title, so it will be important to defend well and take our chances when they come in the game,” he explained. “It’s just another game and will give us more opportunity to work on things from the training ground and get more minutes into the legs. Obviously coming up against my former team, I’m looking forward to it. I’m mates with a lot of the boys in the team, so will be fun to play against them for the first time, we will have a good battle on the pitch, but have a cold one after for sure.”
In the late game current Night Series holder’s Forrestfield United meet Western Knights. (7pm) Forrestfield had to win the last game of the group stage and hope results elsewhere went their way, and it all fell into place and moved into Saturday’s game after edging out Murdoch University Melville on penalties in the quarterfinals. Striker Dan Corbett said the win against MUM was hard fought and knows they need to be consistent. “It’s been quite a mixed bag of performances from us so far, we have been putting some good periods together in games without putting it together for 90 minutes,” he said. “I thought we were a little fortunate to progress in the Murdoch game on penalties, however a win is a win, so we will continue to follow our process and see where it leads us.”
Corbett, who scored in last week’s quarterfinal, said the Knights gave looked impressive so far, but they have worked hard on the track with coach Mike Hartley, who has stepped in for Graham Normanton who is away from the club after an operation, and are ready for a big game. “The Knights are a strong team, and I watched them last Friday night against Wanneroo and they played some good football,” he said. “We will just go out and try to put what we’ve been working on in training into action and hoped that will be enough to get us to a second successive final.”
Western Knights went through Group D with three wins and eased past Wanneroo City last week in the quarterfinals. Jack Rycroft was on target in the 3-1 win and he said all the hard work the coaches and players have put in during preseason is being rewarded. “Yes, it was a big win against Wanneroo which continues are good form,” he said. “We have worked hard in preseason and put a lot of hours in over the summer, so it’s a good feeling when the performances are matching our efforts on the track.”
Rycroft said Saturday is their biggest test and knows Forrestfield are a good side, so it’s up to players to keep up the standard they have set, and he is confident they can get the right result. “We go into the game in a confident mind set, never complacent of Forrestfield a team that can always produce a good performance,” he explained. “We Still have high standards as a team and feel as though we have a few more gears we could shift into before the before the start of the season, but a semi finial is a semifinal we will be going into the game to secure a spot in the final which would be huge for the club.”
GLORY HIT THE ROAD AGAIN
Perth Glory hit the road again this weekend when they travel to McDonald Jones Stadium to take on Newcastle Jets on Saturday afternoon. (2pm WA Time) The Glory let two points slip last week against Brisbane Roar, but the 1-1 draw did see Tony Popovic’s side jump into second place on the Hyundai A-League table. But they are level on points with both Melbourne City and Wellington Phoenix, who are both breathing down their necks for that all important second spot, with Sydney FC out of site at the top 13 Points clear.
Popovic is expecting a tough game against the Jets, who have new coaches in the dig out, with former Sunderland and Norwich City midfielder Carl Robinson taking over as Head Coach, with former Rangers and Celtic striker Kenny Miller coming in as his assistant. "They have a new manager and you can see that they have some new energy and intensity at the moment, so we know it'll be a tough encounter," he said. "But we're also confident in how we're playing and full of belief that we can go there and get the result. The players are recovering well now from a heavy week and we're looking forward to a big game."
Glory will look to extend their good record at the venue, having gone unbeaten in their last 12 games, and Popovic said despite the grueling ACL travel schedule, his players are ready for Saturday’s challenge. “We had a good performance in Tokyo on what was an historic day for the club and I thought we acquitted ourselves very well and represented Perth Glory in a very good manner," he said. "We were very proud of that performance and followed it up with what I thought was a good performance away from home, considering the travel.
"I thought we deserved to win the game at Brisbane, unfortunately we didn't, but we did take a valuable point away. You have to manage it [fatigue] at this time of the year and we probably were a little fatigued in the last 15 minutes against Brisbane in those humid conditions on a heavy pitch. But that's going to happen in the next couple of months and we're not using at as an excuse. The players are recovering well now from a heavy week and we're looking forward to a big game against Newcastle."
In team news Spanish midfielder Juande returns from injury, while Kim Soo-Beom returns to the squad after missing the trip to Brisbane. There is still no Gregory Witschge, the Swiss defender was rested from the Roar game, but hasn’t been selected, the Glory faithful will be hoping he isn’t injured, after starring this season. The Roar have a couple of new signings for Saturday’s game, with former Sydney FC striker Bernie Ibini and former Welsh international Joe Ledley has joined from Charlton Athletic.
Ledley said he’s not coming here for a holiday and is hoping to help the Jets rise up the table and make his mark under Robinson. “I haven't come all this way just to enjoy the sun," he said. "It's to get out there and dedicate myself to football and work as hard as I can. I know I can still do it. There's no shadow of a doubt about that. I believe in my ability. I also know Kenny Miller, who's here as well – that made it a lot easier to know people and work under Carl for the first time as a manager is a great opportunity. I've heard a lot of good things about him, so for me it was just an opportunity which I needed to do."
Newcastle Jets FC Squad: GK Glen MOSS, GK Lewis ITALIANO, 2 Bobby BURNS, 3 Jason HOFFMAN, 4 Nigel BOOGAARD, 6 Steven UGARKOVIC, 7 Roy O’DONOVAN, 8 Wes HOOLAHAN, 9 Abdiel ARROYO, 10 Dimi PETRATOS, 11 Nick FITZGERALD, 16 Matt MILLAR, 17 Joe LEDLEY, 18 Johnny KOUTROUMBIS, 19 Kosta PETRATOS, 21 Bernie IBINI, 28 Pat LANGLOIS, 29 Connor O’TOOLE, 32 Angus THURGATE, 44 Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY - *2-4 to be omitted* - Ins: LEDLEY (new signing), IBINI (new signing) - Outs: Nil - Unavailable: 5 Ben KANTAROVSKI (quad – 2-4 weeks), 22 Lachlan JACKSON (knee – indefinite), 40 Noah JAMES (hand – 3 months)
Perth Glory squad:>GK Liam REDDY, RGK Tando VELAPHI, 2 Alex GRANT, 3 Jacob TRATT, 5 Ivan FRANJIC, 7 Joel CHIANESE, 8 James MEREDITH, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM, 13 Osama MALIK, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, 18 Nicholas D’AGOSTINO, 20 Jake BRIMMER, 21 Tarek ELRICH, 22 Vince LIA, 27 JUANDE, 28 Gabriel POPOVIC, 29 Kristian POPOVIC, 88 Neil KILKENNY - *2-4 to be omitted* - Ins: Kim SOO-BEOM (promoted), JUANDE (returns from injury) - Outs: Nil - Unavailable: 6 Dino DJULBIC (ankle – indefinite), 19 Chris IKONOMIDIS (knee – season) - Referee: Adam Fielding
CORONAVIRUS COULD END GLORY’S ACL CAMPAIGN
It’s been reported that Perth Glory are being threatened with expulsion from this season’s Asian Champions League, and being banned for a further three years, after the club said they wouldn’t travel to the Korea Republic for next week’s game due to the coronavirus. Glory ought to be commended and deserve the support of the entire A-League for standing their ground over the coronavirus controversy surrounding next week's AFC Champions League clash with Ulsan Hyundai in the Korea Republic.
Glory are scheduled to play Ulsan on Wednesday night but the spreading virus that has forced the postponement of the K-League's first round of competition at the weekend is affecting the continental competition. The Asian Football Confederation has ordered the Group F match in Ulsan to be played behind closed doors but Perth have declared they will not travel to Korea due to major health concerns. They want the match to be postponed.
If Glory forfeit the group match, they will incur the wrath of the AFC and risk a fine of $US30,000 ($45,700), suspension from this season's tournament and a ban from participating for two further seasons. Such a measure from the AFC on a club that is merely trying to protect its players and staff from an epidemic that is threatening to become a pandemic is unfair at best and draconian at worst. The Australian Government advises "a high degree of caution" for travel to the Korea Republic at the moment.
"We are prepared to cop a ban for the sake of our staff and players because we can't risk their health and safety," Glory chief executive Tony Pignata argues. "It's just too risky. I don't understand how the K-League can close down their season yet the AFC expect us to play three days later." Glory are not necessarily concerned about the safety at the Munsu ground but that in other areas like planes and hotels.
Players and staff could contract the virus from people over whom the AFC has no control and if that happened the whole travelling squad would have to be quarantined in Korea for two weeks, throwing Glory's and the A-League's seasons into disarray. Which is why the A-League clubs should support Glory for protecting their right to be safe.
This could happen to Sydney FC, who are scheduled to play Jeonbuk in Group H on April 7.
It is reliably understood that the AFC are softening their stance and are beginning to appreciate Perth's precarious position. There are some signs of a satisfactory resolution to an issue that has the potential of straining relations between Australian football and the continental governing body, and one hopes common sense will prevail. Glory Coach Tony Popovic would prefer the game to be postponed.
"We do have concerns for this game and we've relayed our concerns," he said. "There's been an outbreak in the virus very close to Ulsan, where we need to be playing. "We are getting some advice on that now. Our preference is that if it's that close to Ulsan, we'd rather postpone the game. We need to get some clarity on that - that it's safe for the players and staff to go there. If we don't get that requirement, then it will be very difficult for us to travel."
SPECIAL MOMENT DRIVING TAGGART AHEAD OF SOCCEROOS RETURN TO PERTH
Adam Taggart watched on from the stands the last time the Socceroos were in Perth. And as the Australian national team prepare to return to Western Australia for the first time in over three years, the hometown boy is pressing his claim to lead the line.
Taggart shot himself back into the national team fold during a spectacular run of goal-scoring form for K-League club Suwon Bluewings in 2019, notching 21 goals in 40 matches. He scored a brace in Australia’s 7-1 win over Chinese Taipei in October 2019, before coming up with the match-winner in the Socceroos’ 1-0 victory over Jordan.
Taggart, 26, says turning out for Graham Arnold’s men against Kuwait would be an ‘unbelievable’ moment. “My parents have never seen me play for the Socceroos live so it would be a really special moment if I was able to get on and play in front of friends and family and definitely something, I would want to tick off on my bucket list,” Taggart told socceroos.com.au.
The Socceroos last played in Perth in September 2016 when Tomi Juric and Massimo Luongo goals earned a 2-0 win that would push Australia toward qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. “I went to the last one in Perth in 2016,” Taggart remembers.
“HBF Park is such a nice footballing stadium, it’s got such a nice atmosphere, it’s very intimate, compact, the field is always fantastic so I think for another Socceroos match after watching the last one there it will be a great night and I’m sure it will be a nice atmosphere.”
“It was one of those where I hadn’t been involved in a few years and it was really nice to just go and watch the game. Obviously whether you’re playing or not you still support them, so it was nice to go and watch some good mates there as well.”
SAGE PULLS PLUG ON GLORY SALE
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has pulled out of the deal to sell the club to controversial London Football Exchange after new revelations about the company. Sage had planned to sell 80% of the club to LFE but advised Football Federation Australia on Monday night the deal was off.
The news will come as a huge relief to Glory fans concerned by LFE and the group's business model. The company has big dreams to buy eight or nine soccer clubs around the world so it can create an "ecosystem" of assets fans can access with bitcoins. However, they are reportedly being sued in London and New York over various business matters.
LFE founder Jim Aylward conducted one disastrous interview after another in his attempts to promote the group's first acquisition. On each occasion he refused to detail what means LFE would use to buy Glory or any other club for that matter. But he promised big things, including a deal with an English Premier League club.
Glory released a statement earlier this month confirming they had entered into an "asset sale and purchase agreement" with LFE. The only obstacle at that point seemed to be FFA's approval. But as questions began to swell over LFE and its dubious past, Sage seemingly backtracked and insisted no deal had been agreed.
Instead, he flew to London to meet with Aylward to conduct "due diligence". Confusing matters further was the fact Sage was appointed LFE chairman in January. His term was expected to start in March, but he has since confirmed he will no longer take on that post.
FFA confirmed on Tuesday Sage had "officially advised ... head of leagues Greg O'Rourke that following a due diligence process, the transaction will not be pursued".
NAVEN JOINS FOOTBALL WEST
Football West’s commitment to lifting the technical standard of youth football continues with the appointment of Gareth Naven as Development Officer. Naven will bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role, gleamed from a life in the game.
Naven will be directly involved in elite technical programs, including the Technical Support Program (TSP), the Skill Acquisition Phase (SAP) for Girls and the Skill Development Program (SDP). He will also help select and coach many of the State teams.
“This is a great opportunity to come back to Perth and work with the young players coming through,” said Naven, who represented the State at junior and senior levels. “I am happiest when I am out there, on the training pitch.”
“The biggest thing for me is – what are the kids good at and how can we make them great at it? It is about delivering quality content but also making sure the kids enjoy playing, so they want to come back to another session, another game.”
“The focus changes for players as they get older. Between 9 and 12, they are the foundation years where we get players to love playing and have fun. Then you get the 13 to 16-year-olds, where it is about game awareness and understanding. And 17 and over, it’s about finishing it off, the performance end of their development.”
Naven needs little introduction to long-time followers of the game in Western Australia. He started his senior career at Bayswater City. A switch to Perth SC in 1988 brought further rewards in the form of senior State honours and the 1992 Golden Medal.
Naven's inevitable step into the national league came soon after with a move to Adelaide United, where he played two seasons. Perth Kangaroos' entry into the S-League brought Naven home, the defensive midfielder captaining the team to the league title.
Naven captained Perth Glory through their first six summers in the National Soccer League. He made 143 appearances for the club, played in two Grand Finals, was named the Most Glorious Player (1999/2000), Supporters Player of the Year (1999/2000) and Clubman Award winner (2000/01).
A spell as coach of Perth preceded Naven re-joining Glory, where he would spend six years with the youth team and as assistant to Alistair Edwards. Most recently he has had three-and-a-half years at Melbourne Victory, leading them to last month's Y-League Grand Final.
GLORY BIDDERS FACING LEGAL ACTION IN LONDON AND NEW YORK
The sale Perth Glory appears to be on the verge of collapse after news the crypto-currency group behind the deal is facing multiple lawsuits. The London Football Exchange Group is under fire on multiple fronts less than a fortnight after its proposed purchase of 80% of Glory from owner Tony Sage was first announced.
Reports from London have revealed LFE is being sued by an oil trader from Turkmenistan for more than $2m, while a venture capital firm is also taking legal action against LFE in an ongoing case in New York. Additionally, LFE frontman Jim Aylward is alleged to really be James Abbass Biniaz, who was accused in 2010 of unlawful dealings.
Sage is still in Europe on a trip to conduct “due diligence” on the company to which he was appointed chairman in January. Football Federation Australia is conducting its own due diligence of the proposed takeover but seems certain to block it – assuming Sage even tries to complete the deal, as more revelations appear by the day.
RIGBY TO GO FOR GLORY IN HOME REGION
The last time W-League powerhouse Perth Glory graced the turf of the WML Stadium at Hay Park, the South West soccer community was rewarded with a glut of goals. Glory, spurred on by Matildas icon Samantha Kerr, played out a 4-all draw with Canberra United in January 2018, with a big crowd wrapped around the pitch.
But for Margaret River product Natasha Rigby, this weekend's game with Western Sydney Wanderers is about more than picking up three league points. “I love my roots,” Rigby said. “I cannot think more highly of Margaret River as a community. It is full of so many humble, down to earth people.
“It is just so different in terms of appreciation you receive from country people, because they are just so genuine and beautiful. It will be amazing to play in front of that crowd and to show even our international players. We took them down to Dunsborough earlier in the season and just to be able to show them around Margaret River, Bunbury and Busso (was great).”
FURTHER DOUBT THROWN ON GLORY’S ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE CAMPAIGN
Perth Glory’s Asian Champions League campaign is in further turmoil because of a spike in the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea. Glory’s game against Ulsan Hyundai on 4th March is in doubt following the postponement of some of the K-League’s season-opening matches.
Glory chief executive Tony Pignata said he would discuss the situation with Football Federation Australia today. “It is a concern because we don’t want to subject our players and staff to any health issues,” Pignata said. “I’ll ask the questions and bring it up through FFA to the Asian Football Confederation first thing.”
The K-League postponed Daegu FC’s match and Ulsan’s opener at home to FC Seoul on Saturday may be in doubt. And if that game is cancelled, Glory are unlikely to play in Ulsan four days later. More than 40 of 52 new confirmed cases of the virus have come from Daegu, not far from Ulsan.
INGLEWOOD TO HOST NIGHT SERIES FINALS
Football West have confirmed the Night Series Finals for the National Premier Leagues men’s and women’s competitions will take place on the same night. The double-header will be held at Perth Plasterboard Centre Stadium, home of Inglewood United, on Saturday 7 March.
Football West official Alex Novatsis said holding the two games together would provide each with greater exposure. “With the introduction of the NPLWA - Women’s competition this season, this double-header is a natural fit and it would be great to draw a good crowd to watch both games,” Novatsis said.
“Last year we held the NPL and State League Night Series finals together and people told us how much they enjoyed it – around 3,000 people attended Frank Drago Reserve. It would be great to get something like that number again as we head into the new season.”
“Inglewood have been fantastic hosts for many of our big games in recent years, including the State team aginst Perth Glory and last season’s Top Four Cup Final.” The WNPL final will kick off at 5.00pm and will be followed by the men’s decider at 7.30pm.
REDDY HITS RE-START FOR GLORY
Milestone man Liam Reddy says Perth Glory have quickly switched focus from their disappointing Asian Champions League defeat to today’s important A-League clash with Brisbane Roar. The veteran goalkeeper also dismissed concerns about the heavy travel schedule after Tuesday’s loss to FC Tokyo.
Glory flew from Japan on Wednesday night, landed in Brisbane on Thursday morning and were into their first training run a few hours later. They had another session yesterday morning and will go through their normal pre-game run. “We’ve never used travel as an excuse,” said Reddy, who will make his 100th Glory appearance at Dolphin Stadium.
“We’re used to travelling every other week. We’ve had a couple of sessions, the boys were disappointed with the Tokyo result but look really upbeat. Once we had our de-briefing in Tokyo our focus switched to Brisbane. The experience will help us improve in Asia but it’s going to help us in the A-League as well. We’ll be all the better for it.”
Reddy, in his fourth season at Glory, has played at seven A-League clubs with his 66 games for Brisbane the most appearances he'd made for one club prior to joining Glory. His form this season has made him a left-field selection for the Socceroos but Reddy dismissed it as just talk. “Haven’t heard anything about that,” he said.
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK FIVE REVIEW
It was the final games of the NPLWA Night Series and in Pool Two Gwelup Croatia and Perth Glory have moved into the semi-finals after the games over the weekend. Gwelup needed a point to move through and they that in a hard fought 0-0 draw against Sorrento at Dorrien Gardens on Friday evening. The point was enough for Taki Nicolaidis’ side to finish top of the pool and set up a semi-final against Floreat Athena next week at Frank Drago Reserve. “A draw was a fair result in where both teams were able to give good playing minutes to their squad,” Nicolaidis said. “The other pleasing thing is we remained undefeated and had another clean sheet.”
Perth Glory needed a win against Armadale to progress and they ran out convincing 5-1 winners at Dalmatinac Park on Saturday evening. They made a perfect start and were ahead after only five minutes, a ball over the top sent Ciaran Bramwell racing clear, he beat the keeper to the ball before unselfishly squaring the ball to Charlie Leech to score. It was 2-0 five minutes later, with Carlo Armiento finishing well. They added a third on 16 minutes to take complete control, Leech getting behind a static Armadale defence before lobbing Blake Henshall. It went from bad to worse for the Reds when Friday Zico was a sent off by referee Shane Skinner on the half hour.
Glory continued to dominate after half time, and it wasn’t a surprise when they added a fourth on the hour, Josh Rawlins free kick picking out Bramwell to score. It was 5-0 on 72 minutes, Rawlins found space down the right and cut inside his marker and slid the ball neatly to Giordano Colli who was one-on-one with Henshall and he finished into the bottom corner of the net. “Obviously we knew we were playing for a spot in the semi-final, so right from the get go we set the tone of the match with high intensity and quick ball movement, and raced to a 3-0 lead,” Colli told the Glory website. “Scoring another couple in the second half was important, but we were all disappointed that we conceded the goal late, but overall it was a great performance from the boys and looking very dominant ahead of the clash against Perth next.” Glory go through to meet Perth SC next week in the Semi-Final at Frank Drago Reserve.
In the other game in the group Balcatta ran out 3-2 winners against Inglewood United at Frank Drago Reserve on Saturday evening. United opened the scoring on the quarter-hour, with Harry Evans on target, and they went into the break with the lead. But on 53 minutes Balcatta levelled, Callum Stocks beat his marker and crossed to Joe O’Brien to score. Balcatta hit the front on the hour, O’Brien’s shot hit the arm of an Inglewood defender and referee David Bruce pointed to the spot, and O’Brien made no mistake from the resulting penalty. Inglewood weren’t finished and levelled on 73 minutes, Evans scoring to set up a frantic finish. But it was Balcatta who won it seven minutes from time, when referee Bruce pointed to the spot again for a foul in the box.
O’Brien stepped up and converted to complete his hat-trick. “I thought we deserved the win and once we settled in to the game and started to activate our style of play,” O’Brien said. “We then dominated the game and showed what we can really do.” Inglewood coach said Andres Oliveira he was happy with the performance ahead of the new season. “Both were trying new things, end to end with penalties and goals, so it was entertaining game,” he said. “I’m happy with our performance but we still have a lot to work to do, the only disappointment is having three goals scored against us and receiving two harsh penalties. We just keep working and focusing on our preparation for the first game of the season.”
In Pool One top spot was up for grabs when Perth SC entertained Floreat Athena at Dorrien Gardens, and it was the hosts who ran out 1-0 winners, to set up a clash with Perth Glory in the semi-finals at Frank Drago Reserve next weekend. The only goal of the game came on 54 minutes, a ball into the box found Michael Domfeh, who cut the ball back to Andreas Theodosiades who fired past Jordan Barbas to win it. “I thought we battled hard in the first half to stay in the game after an early Floreat onslaught,” Perth defender Alex Silla said. “But we came out firing in the second half, created lots of chances and deserved to take the three points on the night and finish on top of the group.”
Bayswater City finished third in the group after a 1-0 win against ECU Joondalup at Frank Drago Reserve on Saturday afternoon. The only goal of the game came on 25 minutes, ECU turned the ball over in the middle of the pitch and Riley Warland strode forward and found the top corner of the net giving Johnny Perkins no chance. “We started the game really well and caused them a lot of problems getting in behind their defence and we should’ve been at least 3-0 up at half time if we had taken our chances,” Bayswater striker Gordon Smith said. “It was another good team effort from our boys and clean sheet to go with it, and we now look forward to the season ahead, which should be an exciting campaign and very competitive.”
In the final game of the pool Rockingham City won for the first time in the competition after a come from behind 2-1 win against Cockburn City at Dalmatinac Park on Saturday evening. The hosts made a perfect start, with Ashley Rosindale on target, but Rockingham were level on 21 minutes Ryan Kennedy played a delicate pass to Charlie Betts who rounded the Cockburn keeper for a tap in. Rockingham won it on the hour with Leonardo Salas scoring a 30-yard screamer. “Comments”
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES – QUARTER FINALS REVIEW
It was an entertaining weekend of football at Hartfield Park, as the State League Night Series reached the quarterfinal stage. First up on Friday evening, Fremantle City edged out UWA Nedlands 1-0 in the opening game. The only of the game came on 17 minutes, Josh Macri played Wesley Britz through on goal who was fouled as he took the ball around the goalkeeper, but play was waved on as Angel Andres was in the right place at the right time to fire into an empty net. “It was pleasing to overcome a stubborn UWA side,” Fremantle coach Cameron Lord said. “It was a good test for us to trust our process despite moments of frustration against a well-organised side. The further we go into the competition the more important the games are in terms of testing ourselves against good sides before Round one, so we will look forward to next week’s challenge against Olympic Kingsway.”
In the late game Olympic Kingsway produced a great performance to beat Stirling Lions 4-1. They were ahead on 12 minutes, when a cross from Hamza Hena was turned home by Antoine Levy. But the Lions levelled on the half hour with Nic Challot on target, and the sides went into the break all-square. But it was the hosts who regained the lead on 51 minutes, Levy was brought down in the area and Hena made no mistake from the spot. It was 3-1 on 75 minutes with Cameron Murray firing home a free kick. They wrapped up the point seven minutes later when Elliott Tattersall crossed from the left and Ajak Riak found the net. “I felt it was the first game of the night series where we have actually put in a performance anywhere near the level that is expected,” Olympic Coach Gary Williams said. “The whole squad played a part in the win and that is what we will need going forward as we cannot do it with 11. We were positive going forward and we defended very well when we were under pressure in the second half. Stirling are a good side so to get to the semi-finals is a positive step for us.”
On Saturday afternoon Western Knights moved through to the semi-finals after a 3-1 win against Wanneroo City. The Knights were ahead when Josh Kamasz put the ball in the top corner after he received a through ball from Jack Rycroft. They added a second when Alex Kretowicz reacted quickest in a scramble in the box from a corner. It was 3-0 when Rycroft pounced from a defensive mistake and scored. Wanneroo pulled one back with Jamie Burns converting from the penalty spot, but it was too little too late. “I thought it was game of two halves,” Knights’ Coach Ivan Zuvela said. “We dominated the first with good possession and created a lot of chances and scored two. The second half Wanneroo were the much better team and made it difficult for us, but ultimately, I am proud of our team for making it to the semi-finals and we are now looking forward to next week against Forrestfield United.”
In the late game hosts Forrestfield United moved through on penalties after they drew 1-1 in normal time with Murdoch University Melville. The home side were ahead three minutes into the second half with a powerful finish by Ben Wantee after the ball ricocheted in the area. But MUM levelled on 55 minutes, some neat lead up play from Ryan Tucker, David Wallnedal and Albert Amankwaa, was finished off with a sublime left foot strike by Ben Pellizzarri. It went to the shoot-out and Forrestfield keeper Luke Martino saved MUM’s fourth spot kick and Dan Corbett fired home the fifth to win it.
Forrestfield skipper Rhys Loxley said they are happy to be in the next round. “It wasn’t our best performance over 90 minutes,” he said. “We really struggled to get going, but we were able to get a result against a well organised MUM FC side and were looking forward to the semi-final against Western Knights.” MUM assistant coach Marcus Edwards said despite the loss it was a good performance. “We were very pleased with our performance against another Division One side, and I have no doubt that game would have taken a lot out of Forrestfield,” he said. “Despite the loss we’ve already got a great deal out of this competition, and the exit leaves us free to concentrate on the remainder of our preseason.”
GLORY LET IT SLIP IN BRISBANE
Perth Glory have moved to second on the Hyundai A-League ladder after a 1-1 draw against Brisbane Roar at Dolphin Park on Saturday afternoon. It could have been better for Tony Popovic’s side after Bruno Fornaroli bagged his 11th goal of the season to give them the lead at the break. They held that lead until five minutes from time when Macaulay Gillesphey headed home to level. Glory had a short turnaround after falling to a 1-0 AFC Asian Champions League defeat against FC Tokyo in Japan only four days earlier and Popovic believes the travel schedule had an impact on the result. “I think performance was very good considering how much we’ve travelled, where we’ve come from to play this match on a very heavy pitch,” he said. “Physically it was very difficult for the players but I thought they acquitted themselves very well, a very professional display. In the end, we had the chance to get the second goal and we probably needed a second goal because, at the end, the corner really was a bit of fatigue that we conceded that.”
Popovic made three changes to the side that in Tokyo, with Jacob Tratt coming in for Gregory Witschge, who was rested, while James Meredith and Jake Brimmer replaced Kim and Kristian Popovic, both dropped to the bench. It was a special day for Liam Reddy and Jake Brimmer, both players playing their 100th and 50th A-League games respectively for the Glory. It was and official sell-out, with the Glory Shed supporters there in numbers on their annual ‘Tour of Duty’ and it was Glory who opened the brighter and had the Roar on the back foot. Fornaroli dragged a shot wide on seven minutes, before Nick D’Agostino fired straight at Jamie Young. But it was the home side who thought they had a penalty on 21 minutes when Scott McDonald was brought down by Ivan Franjic, and referee Daniel Elder pointed to the spot.
But after a VAR check it was overturned with the former Socceroos striker coming back from an offside position in the build-up. But on 33 minutes, Glory found the opener. Diego Castro played a ball across the face of the box, which was dummied by Franjic and Fornaroli showed quick feet to drift past two Roar defenders, his shot took a deflection off Jacob Pepper on its way past Young, much to the delight of the travelling supporters. Castro was then denied Young, as Glory looked for a second, but it was Roar who ended the half the better and McDonald fired wide.
The home side started the second half as they finished the first, and half-time substitute Aaron Amadi-Holloway was a real handful, and his shot on the turn flashed inches over the top on the hour. Aiden O'Neill's strike then found the side-netting as Roar continued to press and McDonald was centimetres away from converting Scott Neville's right-wing cross. Alex Grant came similarly close to getting on the end of a Neil Kilkenny ball into the box, but as the final whistle loomed, it was the men in orange who found a way through.
But on 85 minutes the hosts found the equaliser. O'Shea's corner picked out Gillesphey, and the former Carlisle United defender did the rest, heading past Reddy into the top corner. Both sides pressed for the winner and Reddy pushed Jack Hingert’s effort wide, and there was still time for Joel Chianese to force a save from Young and fellow-substitute Gabriel Popovic was just unable to get his shot away when well placed. The draw continues Glory’s ten game unbeaten run, and they are the road again next week with a trip to Newcastle Jets.
Roar Coach Robbie Fowler was proud to see his squad continuing their knack of fighting until the final whistle, that has proved so successful this year. "It's important that you come into games like this and you try not to lose the game. We've shown in the past how good we are against competing against the good teams in this league,” Fowler said post-game. “We've got plenty of belief. The mentalities are absolutely superb from our bunch of lads. To go a goal down against a strong Perth team and to have the character and the desire to come back and force a point, and maybe we could've gotten a little bit more. Full credit to our boys, I think we've showed it in abundance again."
Brisbane Roar: GK Jamie YOUNG, 2 Scott NEVILLE, 3 Corey BROWN (23 Dylan WENZEL-HALLS 82'), 5 Tom ALDRED, 6 Macaulay GILLESPHEY, 8 Jacob PEPPER (20 Aaron AMADI-HOLLOWAY 46'), 10 Bradden INMAN, 12 Aiden O’NEILL, 19 Jack HINGERT, 26 Jay O’SHEA, 77 Scott MCDONALD (30 Mirza MURATOVIC 80') - Subs not used: RGK Max CROCOMBE, 4 Daniel BOWLES, 15 Aaron REARDON, 25 Rahmat AKBARI
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 2 Alex GRANT, 3 Jacob TRATT, 5 Ivan FRANJIC, 8 James MEREDITH, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI (28 Gabriel POPOVIC 87'), 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, 18 Nicholas D’AGOSTINO (7 Joel CHIANESE 64'), 20 Jake BRIMMER (29 Kristian POPOVIC 75'), 88 Neil KILKENNY - Subs not used: RGK Tando VELAPHI, 13 Osama MALIK, 21 Tarek ELRICH, 22 Vince LIA - Referee: Daniel Elder
ANDREWS AT THE DOUBLE FOR GLORY
Perth Glory have produced another strong performance in the Westfield W-League, beating second-placed Sydney FC 2-1 at WIN Stadium in Wollongong. Bobby Despotovski’s side had won back-to-back games, including a massive win against Brisbane Roar last week, and this one was even better. American import Morgan Andrews was the hero, firing a long-range free kick just before half time, and she made sure of the points with another on the hour. Sydney pulled one back in second half stoppage time, with the unfortunate Kim Carroll scoring an own goal, but it was too little too late.
Despotovski was delighted with the performance after the final whistle. "In the last four or five weeks, we've done extremely well," he said. We saw today that the girls are working extremely hard and they got the reward for it. They enjoyed themselves today and in one way, it's nice playing with no pressure. We can't make the top four, so we have just been going out there and giving it a go. I said to the girls today that no-one has thrashed us this season, we've always been in games and there or thereabouts without quite getting over the line. And now with all the hard work they've been doing, we're getting a few wins under our belts and getting goals from all over the park. I'm very happy at this point."
The Sky Blues struggled to break down a tight Glory defence early, but Veronica Latsko, Sofia Huerta and Remy Siemsen had half-chances, but Eliza Campbell was not forced to make a meaningful save. Glory lost youngster Hana Lowry with injury on 21 minutes, she was replaced by Leticia McKenna, but as the half wore on Glory grew in confidence and started to create chances of their own and on 41 minutes, they took the lead. Andrews had been upended just outside the box by Ellie Brush, and she picked herself up and bent a stunning free kick past compatriot Aubrey Bledsoe into the top corner of the net
Glory began the second half as strongly as they had ended the first and on 58 minutes they doubled their advantage. Caitlin Doeglas surging run down the left ended with a low cross into the box and Andrews picked out the bottom corner. The home side threw everything they had at Glory in the final quarter and came close to halving the arrears twice in the space of a minute as Veronica Latsko saw her effort headed off the line by Ari Romero and Campbell then produced a fingertip save to deny substitute Mackenzie Hawkesby. The home side did find a goal in stoppage time when Amy Sayer’s ball into the penalty area was turned into her own net by Kim Carroll, but the goal came too late to be anything more than a consolation for the Sky Blues.
Sydney FC: GK Aubrey BLEDSOE, 2 Teresa POLIAS, (12 Natalie TOBIN 74') , 7 Ellie BRUSH, 8 Lindsay AGNEW, 10 Remy SIEMSEN (20 Princess IBINI 55'), 11 Sofia HUERTA, 13 Veronica LATSKO, 14 Alanna KENNEDY, 17 Angelique HRISTODOULOU, 18 Taylor RAY (15 MacKenzie HAWKESBY 64'), 19 Amy SAYER - Subs not used: RGK Trudy BURKE
Perth Glory: GK Eliza CAMPBELL, 3 Kim CARROLL, 5 Shannon MAY (16 Isabella WALLHEAD 88'), 6 Arianna ROMERO, 7 CELIA, 8 Morgan ANDREWS, 9 Crystal THOMAS, 13 Jamie-Lee GALE, 14 Caitlin DOEGLAS (4 Ayesha NORRIE 66'), 19 Hana LOWRY (11 Leticia MCKENNA 21'), 24 Natasha RIGBY - Subs not used: RGK Morgan AQUINO - Referee: Kelly Jones
GLORY HEAD TO BRISBANE IN WEEK 20
Perth Glory are back in A-League action on Saturday when they visit Dolphin Stadium to take on Robbie Fowler’s Brisbane Roar. (2pm WA time) It’s been a busy week for the club with their ACL game in Japan, but they go into this game looking to maintain their nine-game unbeaten run. Their last game was two weeks ago when they beat Wellington Phoenix 4-2, but a win against the Roar will see them jump to second on the table. Head Coach Tony Popovic said they are refreshed and ready for the challenge and looking at putting on a show for the Glory supporters, as Saturday will be the Shed’s annual ‘Tour of Duty’. "We saw our travelling fans come to Tokyo and we know how difficult that was not only logistically, but also financially," he said.
"They're spending their hard-earned money and taking time off work to come and support their team in what was an historic game for the football club and we could see by their reaction after the game that yes, we didn't get the result. “But they were really proud of their team because they could see it was a fantastic performance that was worthy of a positive result, unfortunately we didn't get it, but I'm sure they travelled home very proud. "Now we travel to Brisbane where we will have a larger contingent of members and fans and we want to let them see a real Perth Glory performance that they can be proud of and hopefully this time, we can take the points home."
Popovic is expecting a stern test against the Roar, who have won four of their last five games and held Glory to a draw at HBF Park in the opening game of the season. "Brisbane are a team that is in good form and have jumped into the top six," he said. "They've only lost once in their last seven or eight games, so they're on a very good run of results and are full of confidence. We know there'll be a good crowd to support them and it's a good challenge for us to shift quickly from the Asian Champions League to take on a team that is playing good football and getting results. The boys know they're going to be in for a real game."
Popovic said his squad emerged unscathed from their midweek ACL game and are keen to get back to domestic action. "We're injury-free from the FC Tokyo match which is a real bonus," he said. “Of course, there'll be some sore bodies, you expect that, but credit to the players, they are embracing this challenge. "Logistically it's difficult to play in two competitions, especially being based in Perth with the amount we have to travel, but the players have accepted that in a positive manner because they want to play in both competitions and sometimes you have to back up after three or four days and perform. So, we'll recover the best we can before the game and the players will switch quickly to focus upon an exciting game against Brisbane."
Glory will be out to extend a four-game unbeaten run against the Queenslanders, during which they have scored a total of 11 goals and in doing so, lengthen their undefeated run of Hyundai A-League games to ten. The Roar will honour former Glory and Brisbane star Liam Miller with a touching tribute at the game and new striker Scott McDonald is expecting a tight encounter. “They're a very tough team to break down. They're coming off a long journey being in the [AFC] Champions League so I'm hoping a little bit that they'll be fatigued but you can't take that for granted or see it as an advantage, you've got to go in there and play it as it is," he said. “Perth are a top side with some great attacking options as well so they'll be a huge threat to us and we're well aware of their capabilities. But as always, it's more what we can do. I think that's been the case in the last few weeks in terms of winning games and being on the front foot and what we can do to hurt teams has been a real positive."
Brisbane Roar FC squad: GK Jamie YOUNG, RGK Max CROCOMBE, 2 Scott NEVILLE, 3 Corey BROWN, 4 Daniel BOWLES, 5 Tom ALDRED, 6 Macaulay GILLESPHEY, 8 Jacob PEPPER, 10 Bradden INMAN, 12 Aiden O’NEILL, 15 Aaron REARDON, 19 Jack HINGERT, 20 Aaron AMADI-HOLLOWAY, 22 Jake MCGING, 23 Dylan WENZEL-HALLS, 25 Rahmat AKBARI, 26 Jay O’SHEA, 27 Kai TREWIN, 30 Mirza MURATOVIC, 77 Scott MCDONALD - * 2-4 to be omitted * - Ins: REARDON (promoted), TREWIN (promoted), MCDONALD (promoted) - Outs: Nil - Unavailable: 28 Izaack POWELL (international duty), 29 Jordan COURTNEY-PERKINS (knee – TBC)
Perth Glory squad: GK Liam REDDY, RGK Tando VELAPHI, 2 Alex GRANT, 3 Jacob TRATT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 5 Ivan FRANJIC, 7 Joel CHIANESE, 8 James MEREDITH, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM, 13 Osama MALIK, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, 18 Nicholas D’AGOSTINO, 20 Jake BRIMMER, 21 Tarek ELRICH, 22 Vince LIA, 28 Gabriel POPOVIC, 29 Kristian POPOVIC, 88 Neil KILKENNY - *2-4 to be omitted* - Ins: TRATT (promoted), MALIK (promoted), CASTRO (returns from injury) - Outs: 23 Dane INGHAM (omitted) - Unavailable: 6 Dino DJULBIC (ankle – indefinite), 19 Chris IKONOMIDIS (knee – season), 27 JUANDE (groin – 1 week) – Referee: Daniel Elder
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK FIVE PREVIEW
It’s the final round in the NPLWA Night Series this weekend, and with Pool One all wrapped up all the attention switches to Pool Two, with three teams still in the running to reach next week’s semi-finals. Gwelup Croatia are in pole position, three points clear and with a superior goal difference, and only need a point on Friday when they take on Sorrento at Dorrien Gardens to seal their spot. (6.30pm)
Sorrento sit bottom of the pool despite four competitive games and they will be doing all they can to get their first win and end the competition on a high. Gwelup beat Armadale last week a game skipper Blair Govan said they didn’t play their best but still got the result. “Armadale was a good test for us, something a bit different, and they tried to make it a scrappy game and get in about us and they done a good job of that and where pretty unlucky not to get a goal,” the defender explained. “But credit to our boys, we picked our moments and scored at good times and got the job done in the end.”
Govan said the new look Gwelup side are gelling nicely, and is hoping they can produce another strong performance against Sorrento to move into the knock out stage, which will be good preparation for their inaugural NPL season. “Sorrento are never an easy team to play. Jamie will have them well organised but we won’t look at that too much. We will just be looking to keep building on our performances every week and trying to put into practice what Taki and Glenn are asking of us. Of course, we would love to go unbeaten in the pool. It would set us up well heading into a semi-final and into the season.”
Perth Glory sit second, three points behind Gwelup and level on points with Inglewood but do gave a better goal difference, so a win against Armadale at Dalmatinac Park on Saturday evening will secure a spot in the semi-finals. (7pm) Glory produced a good performance last week against Balcatta, one that pleased Head Coach Richard Garcia. “Really pleased with the performance against Balcatta,” Garcia said. “We spoke at half time about being focused from the start of the half, so to concede so early was disappointing, but the way the players fought back and find the third was pleasing, and to see out the game shows the improvement the guys are making.” Garcia said Saturday will be another tough test for his you group, but they are determined to continue their good form and reach be knock out stage. “We move on to Armadale next week, we know a win will see us qualify for the Semi-Finals,” he said. “But we need to maintain the same focus and determination to get the rewards.”
Inglewood are level with Glory, but trail them by four goals, so they need a big win on Saturday when they take on Balcatta on Saturday evening at Frank Drago reserve. (7pm) Andres Oliveira’s side needs a win and results elsewhere to go their way to qualify, and they kept themselves in contention with a come from behind win against Sorrento last week, and Oliveira said they deserved the win after conceding so early in the game. “We haven't played any friendlies and are using the night series for our pre-season preparation games, and so far, and I'm impress with the progress,” he said. “It was a tough game against Sorrento, they are well organised and have great players who can win the game. It was a good test for our preparation and pleased we came out with a win.”
Oliveira said all they can do is get the three points against a good Balcatta side and continue their form and hope results elsewhere go their way. “I do not count the Perth Glory loss, as they decided to play professional players for our NPL pre-season tournament,” he said. “But with the other games we had set out ourselves to work on certain things for each game, but we are still a long way to our best, and this game against Balcatta won't be any different to the others, we not going to worry about the outcome, we just get ready for the season.”
In Pool One Floreat Athena and Perth SC have already qualified for next week’s semi-finals, but they meet each other at Dorrien Gardens on Friday evening to see who will finish top of the table. Floreat are the only team in competition to have a 100% record in the competition and moved through with a hard-fought win against Cockburn, and interim coach Ante Kovacevic said they were made to work for the win. “It was important to continue our positive run in the night series, and Cockburn were a difficult opponent and made us work hard to keep our lead in the second half,” he said. “We took a lot out of that game on where we need to improve our own game.”
Kovacevic, who is back at the club after four years in the A-League as Head of Football Operations at Adelaide United, said Friday will be another good test, as the club search for a third consecutive Night Series crown. “Obviously we are going into Friday’s game with a positive mindset and want to remain unbeaten, but Perth will no doubt be a formidable opponent, which will be another tough test,” he explained. “The night series is a great competition in preparation for the season proper. A trophy at the end of it will be a great achievement for the team, and club, but there is still a long way to go.”
Perth SC moved into the semi-finals after a thrilling 3-2 win against Bayswater, with youngster Jayden Gorman bagging a late winner and Head Coach Ramon Falzon said it was pleasing performance. “It was a hard-fought win against Bayswater, however more importantly the players gave us a number of good signs in our progression this season, and it was good to see that we are still a tight-knit unit following the off-season changes,” he said. “The players are always resilient in tough situations and our persistence and discipline helped us cap off a very good performance with a win. Although it is good for the club to secure a Night Series semi-final spot, our focus over the last few weeks has been to strengthen our tactical setups, so it was very good to see the players implement it against a tough opposition like Bayswater and even come away with a win.”
Falzon said they are aware top spot is up for grabs, but knows Floreat are a talented side and it will be a tough test for his young side, but he has every confidence in them. “It is true that top spot is up for grabs, however we are concentrating on more important aspects. Our players know that results are most of the times the by-product of a good performance, therefore we make sure that the players are solely focused on their individual and collective performances,” he explained. “We are aware that we are about to face another tough opponent so our aim is to start getting some consistency in our performances. We have been working hard on identifying areas that require improvement and making sure that we constantly practice to become better.”
In other games in the Pool, Bayswater City host ECU Joondalup at Frank Drago Reserve on Saturday afternoon. (5pm) The winner of this one will finish third, and City are coming off a narrow loss against Perth SC that cost them a spot in the next phase, while ECU beat Rockingham City 5-1, with youngster Ben Hinshelwood and Andy Higgins scoring doubles. In the final game Cockburn City host Rockingham City at Dalmatinac Park on Saturday afternoon. (5pm) Both sides are searching for their first win in the competition, so a victory for either side will give them confidence heading into the new season, while the loser will pick up the wooden spoon.
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES – QUARTER FINALS PREVIEW
We’ve reached the quarter-finals of the State League Night Series and all the games are on this weekend and all will be played at Hartfield Park, the home of Forrestfield United. It all kicks off on Friday evening when Group A winners Fremantle City take on UWA Nedlands, who finished second in Group C. Fremantle won all their games in the group stage and Head Coach Cameron Lord said they are building nicely. “It is nice to have a competitive edge to pre-season through the Night Series, but for us it is important to still view it as pre-season,” he explained. “This is when we look to implement what has been worked on during training into game environments, while trying new things and different personnel.
The entire process for us so far has been about just focusing on what we are trying to do and what we are trying to achieve with the way we want to play football, and though we still have work to do, we are heading in the right direction.” Lord said Friday’s opponents will be up for the game, but he is looking for his side to continue their recent good form. “We are looking forward to a new challenge in UWA on Friday, as we look to see how our players react to playing against different types of players and styles of play,” he said. “It is another football game, so it is another game that we want to win, but we need to continue to perform as we look to get consistency into our game. Now that it is the knockout stages I am sure UWA will want to progress as much as we do, so I am sure it will be an entertaining game.”
UWA moved through as one of the two best second placed teams, and they had to beat Kingsley Westside in the final game to do so, and coach Michael Janssen was pleased with the win, and the whole group stage. “We tested our players in the three games using different line-ups to give all our boys a run in the Night Series,” he said. “The Series games are more competitive than the friendlies are, and they give us a better understanding of where the boys are, and we are going to continue our plan on Friday again. We rest a few players with minor injuries or give some a break to freshen them up. The results for us were overall good but we were more looking at our performance as a team to improve towards the first game of the season.”
Janssen said Fremantle have been the form team in the pre-season competition so far, but they are looking forward to the challenge. “Facing Fremantle will be a good game to test on a higher level again. Their results were perfect and they invested a lot into their team to be the one to beat in 2020,” he explained. “We are going to face a team scoring 15 goals in three games, and keeping a clean sheet throughout. This is an early statement, but the boys are working hard in our three sessions per week and we will be prepared as good as we can to play our game. We are all looking forward to the game to stay in the competition.”
In Friday’s late game Group E winners Olympic Kingsway meet Group F runners-up Stirling Lions at 8.30pm. Olympic went through the group stage undefeated and Head Coach Gary Williams said it’s good to get these sorts of games before the league season starts. “Yes, it was good to finish top of the group, and to date we have played in three matches and created numerous chances, but we need to be a little more ruthless in the final third and maintain our concentration for the entire 90 minutes in the defensive third to be a top team this year,” he explained. “It is a very positive thing that we have finished top of the group without getting anywhere near how I believe we can play, the improvement on performances will come with more competitive matches and greater fitness levels.”
Williams will come up against his former club on Friday, with the coach spending eight seasons in the coaching structure at Macedonia Park, and he said there has been a good rivalry between the two clubs over the years, but they are ready for the challenge this time around. “The club is looking forward to the game on Friday, and there is a lot of history and rivalry between the two clubs,” he said. “I have no doubt Rob and Dave have put a very competitive side together and will be looking for an immediate return to the NPL. But there is a semi-final spot up for grabs, so I am sure there will be an entertaining match.”
The Lions finished second in Group F, but qualified as one of the best two second placed teams. New striker Gavin Knight has continued his goal scoring touch and has settled in well at the club and he said preseason is going well under new coach Rob Milevski. “The night series is always a tough competition as you play teams in different leagues and most squads have new signings and trialist so you can’t really judge the strength of opposition,” he said. “But Stirling’s pre-season has been good, we are still working on a lot of things, but we have good squad and is good to be part of it.”
Knight, who joined from NPL club Balcatta this season, is expecting a tough game on Friday, especially with Olympic in good form and topping their group. “Kingsway will be very tough as they finished top of their group, and they have some good players in their squad with experience,” he said. “But with it being the knock out stages you have to be on the top of your game to get to next round, and we’ll be doing all we can to reach the semi-finals.”
The quarterfinals continue on Saturday afternoon when Wanneroo City take on Western Knights. (5pm) Wanneroo have recruited well this season and Head Coach Jesse Bridgeman was delighted they topped the group and has been pleased with how his new look squad has gelled. “To get out of the group was our first target for the pre-season, so to top the group was even more pleasing,” he said. “But the chance to play against teams in both state league divisions is a good chance to see where we are at quite early on.”
Bridgeman said Saturday’s opponents are talented and unbeaten in group stage and he can’t wait to see how his side goes against them. “The draw against Western Knights is a good test for us and I’m were looking forward too it,” he said. “I’m quite happy with being drawn against them and I know my side is really going to be up for a good battle on Saturday in front of hopefully a big crowd.”
Western Knights went through the group stage winning all their games and Head coach Ivan Zuvela said they have improved with every game, but has also been impressed with the Football played by all the teams. “It has been a good pre-season for us and we believe we are improving every week,” he said. “The night series is not easy and I have been very impressed at the quality of the other teams we have played in Kelmscott, Joondalup City and Joondalup United, so it was a great achievement for our players to win every game and make the quarter finals.”
Zuvela said Wanneroo have been good in the group stage, and he knows a few of their players so he is expecting a tough game and a typical cup-tie. “This week’s game against Wanneroo does present us with another challenge in that it is a knock out game,” he said. “They are a club I respect a lot, and I know they have recruited well, particularly with Scott Johnston, who I rate highly as a person and player. We certainly won’t be underestimating them.”
The final game on Saturday sees host Forrestfield United entertaining Murdoch University Melville 7pm Forrestfield are the current holders of the pre-season competition and skipper Rhys Loxley said despite a first up loss they bounced back to top Group C. “We started the group off slowly probably due to the fact that we hadn’t played any friendlies, but I thought we responded really well after losing the opening game,” he explained. “We have played really well in patches of games, so for us it’s about improving every game.”
Loxley said the players will be doing all they can to win the competition again, but knows MUM will be huge test. “I have watched Matt’s team play once or twice in this competition and they look to be a well organised side and they look to have Improved last year’s squad and look to be really competitive,” he said. “But from our point of view we want to be playing competitive games and the only way to do that at the moment is through the night series. We know that when at our best, we are capable of beating anyone in this competition so for us, it’s about playing to our strengths and improving our performance every week.”
Murdoch University Melville topped Group F, getting the point needed with a last-minute equaliser in the final game against Stirling to progress and assistant coach Marcus Edwards said it’s nice to qualify but knows the hard work is still to come as they prepare for the first league. “To me the trick is not get carried away with any of the Night Series results, which also includes us toping the group. Its early days, but there is still much room for improvement in all teams. The player merry-go-round also starts at the end of the Nigh Series so teams can change considerably.”
Edwards and Head Coach Matt Wardle are excited going into the knock out stage and he is said they are both ready for the challenge. “Well, it’s obviously nice to reach the knockout stage and something we have never achieved before as a club so that we are very happy with that, but we are under no illusion, we must keep our feet on the ground,” Edwards said. “We are six weeks away from being ready for the season itself and as I have said, players move teams at the end of the Night Series. We will enjoy the experience of a quarter final of course and are very proud of the boy’s football so far but we know we still have much work to do. As for Forrestfield, well it’s literally a home game for them so they have the advantage but we will push to give them a game they can remember and, in the process, move ourselves one step closer to being ready for the 2020 season.”
GLORY HAVE SKY BLUES IN THEIR SIGHTS
After last week’s big win against Brisbane Roar, Perth Glory head to WIN Stadium on Saturday to take on second placed Sydney FC in week 13 of the Westfield W-League. (1pm WA time) The 4-2 win against the Roar made it back-to-back wins for Bobby Despotovski’s side and he hopes they can continue their form a very good Sky Blues side.
"We're looking for more of the same, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “Sydney have lost Chloe Logarzo and Caitlin Foord, I believe, so they are a weaker side than when we played them earlier in the season and even in that game, it was in the balance for a long period of time and it was only a silly penalty that cost us, we are going over there quietly confident.
“If the players by now don't have the confidence to go there and try and win the game, they're in the wrong sport. In the last two games we've scored eight and conceded four and we have nothing to lose. So, we'll go there, give it a shot and look to prove something because Sydney are sitting second in the league."
Saturday's game will also be a big one for Glory skipper Natasha Rigby who is set to make her 50th Westfield W-League appearance for the club and Despotovski was quick to pay tribute his leader. "Tash has played in every game for the past three seasons and this year as well, and that is an incredible achievement," he said. "It's like something from a movie script. She moves up to Perth from a country town in Margaret River, plays in the State League, gets spotted by a professional club and ends up becoming the captain.
"That's what it's all about; providing an opportunity for girls to play and see how far they can go with their football. Will they all end being Tash Rigby’s, no, they won't. But the more opportunities you give people to succeed, the more success stories like this will emerge.” Glory will be looking to secure what would be a first away win over Sydney FC since November 2014 and in doing so, avenge last season's Grand Final defeat.
GLORY BEATEN IN ACL OPENER
Perth Glory have begun their inaugural Asian Champions League campaign with a narrow 0-1 loss against FC Tokyo at Tokyo Stadium on Tuesday evening. It was a tight game with clear cut chances few and far between, and it looked like they had done enough to earn a point before Leandro deflected shot beat Liam Reddy seven minutes from time. Head Coach Tony Popovic thought his side deserved something from the game.
"Sometimes in football, as a coach, you can walk off the field and accept that the other team is better and you weren't able to win the match, but I think tonight, that was not the case," he said. "We deserved more from the game. For a team that has never played in the Champions League, I thought we put on a very good performance away from home and deserved something from the match. We're a little bit disappointed, which is also a good thing because we know that we competed very well with an excellent team and showed that we're a good team tonight."
It was an evenly-contested first-half, and FC Tokyo went close midway through the opening period, a goalbound strike from Brazilian import Diego Oliveira was well blocked by the alert Tomislav Mrcela. Glory’s first opportunity came moments later and it was Mrcela who got on the end of a Neil Kilkenny corner, his header clipped the top of the net on its way over the bar. The arm-wrestle continued after the break and it wasn't until the hour-mark that either goal was seriously threatened again as Bruno Fornaroli was picked out by Diego Castro, and the Uruguayan striker shot found the side-netting.
As the game went on the opened up and Shuto Abe and Takahari Yujiro then went close for the home side before Glory responded by creating their best opportunity of the night on 77 minutes. Castro was the architect, picking out Ivan Franjic as he burst into the box, but the defender delayed his shot and was unable to get a proper connection. Glory were left to rue that missed chance moments later as, seven minutes from time FC Tokyo won it.
After a spell of sustained pressure from the home side, the Brazilian international unleashed a curling shot from the edge of the box which, with the aid of a slight deflection off second half substitute Nick D’Agostino, looped into the top corner of the net. Despite their best efforts, Glory were unable to find an equaliser in the dying minutes. Glory's next AFC Champions League fixture is another away trip, this time to Ulsan Hyundai of Korea Republic on Wednesday 4 March.
FC Tokyo: GK Akihiro HAYASHI, 2 Sei MUROYA, 3 Masato MORISHIGE, 4 Tsuyoshi WATANABE, 6 Ryoya OGAWA, 8 Yojiro TAKAHAGI, 9 Diego OLIVEIRA (32 Joan OUMARI 89'), 15 ADAILTON (38 Kazuya KONNO 59'), 18 Kento HASHIMOTO, 20 LEANDRO, 31 Shuto ABE (27 Kyosuke TAGAWA 90+2') - Subs not used: RGK Go HATANO, 7 Hirotaka MITA, 23 Kiichi YAJIMA, 37 Hotaka NAKAMURA
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 2 Alex GRANT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 5 Ivan FRANJIC (28 Gabriel POPOVIC 89'), 7 Joel CHIANESE (18 Nicholas D’AGOSTINO 73'), 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, 29 Kristian POPOVIC (20 Jake BRIMMER 75'), 88 Neil KILKENNY - Subs not used: RGK Tando VELAPHI, 3 Jacob TRATT, 8 James MEREDITH, 22 Vince LIA - Referee: Yaqoob Said A Abdul Baqi (Oman)
KRISTIAN NOT FAZED AS HE LOOKS FOR GLORY
The word nepotism has been banded around at Perth Glory over the years, and it’s raised its head again over the past month with supporters having there say about the selection of Kristian and Gabriel Popovic, by their father and Glory Head Coach Tony. It was given more air time on social media this week after Kristian was surprisingly named in the Glory starting line-up in the clubs inaugural Asian Champions League clash against FC Tokyo, and the 18-year-old didn’t let his dad down, putting in an impressive performance in the 0-1 defeat.
Popovic junior has just one A-League start to his name along with nine appearances off the bench, but his improvement over the past year suggests he is on track to becoming a regular in the Glory line-up. Kristian said the pair have found it easy to separate work from home life. "He's been my dad my whole life and I've had this so-called pressure my whole life," the midfielder said. “If he selects me to play, I'm ready and I put my best foot forward. When we're at training he'll talk to me about football and when we're at home he'll just talk about family things, it’s easy to differentiate the two."
Popovic said having his 16-year-old brother Gabriel as part of the Glory squad is also a bonus. "It's great, not many players get to play with their younger brothers and especially at such a young age," Kristian said. "It's a great experience for him and it's good for me to have him in the team as well because it's someone that I know I can always talk to." Kristian said he loved the experience of taking on FC Tokyo, especially facing up to classy Brazilians Diego Oliveira, Leandro, and Adailton. "When you think about it, it's crazy," Popovic said. "Not many 18-year-olds get to play against players of this quality. "I just took the opportunity with both hands and I really enjoyed it."
GLORY ‘CAN COMPETE WITH THE BEST’: POPOVIC
Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic says there is no comparison between A-League sides and bigger-financed and heavily resourced J-League clubs. But he believes Glory can compete with the best and players were not feeling sorry for themselves after last night's Asian Champions League debut loss to FC Tokyo.
Tokyo is worth about $60 million, four times the value of Glory. "That's the reality," Popovic said of the Japanese giant. The Glory coach raised the difference after being asked by Japanese media whether he had gained an advantage by being able to study the opposition during an extended break.
"I don't know if we have an advantage. Everyone can do analysis. I don't think you need 10 days to analyse an opponent," added Popovic, whose team had an A-League bye last weekend and had their ACL match against Shanghai Shenhua last Tuesday postponed. "If you think that was our advantage, maybe that was our advantage."
"I think the advantage FC Tokyo has is the resources, the budget, the amount they can spend on their team. There are many advantages for FC Tokyo. We are not feeling sorry for ourselves, that's the reality. We're happy with our performance. We know now we can compete at this level against a team with a big budget, a very good side. We can't really compare the A-League and J-League."
Popovic said his side deserved at least a point from the game in Tokyo. "Sometimes in football, as a coach, you can walk off the field and accept that the other team is better or you weren't able to win the match," he said.
"Tonight that's not the case. Tonight we deserved more from the game. For a team that has never played in the Champions League, I thought we put on a very good performance away from home. We deserved something from the match. We are disappointed which is also a good thing."
"We know we competed very well with an excellent team and we showed we are a good team. I thought we were more aggressive, we pressed them very well, we forced their goalkeeper to kick several balls out of play. We played well enough to win or minimum to draw. We had the best chance of the game before they scored."
GLORY TO SHOW NO FEAR IN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DEBUT
Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic has declared his team will take a no fears approach into their Asian Champions League debut against FC Tokyo on Tuesday night. The Japanese club boasts players of the ilk of Diego Oliveira, Sei Muroya, Joan Oumari, and Leandro.
Glory's hopes of causing an upset have been boosted by the return of captain Diego Castro from injury. But they will still start as underdogs against the team that finished second to Ange Postecoglou's Yokohama F. Marinos in last season's J.League.
Popovic declared his team were eager to continue their form that has them unbeaten in nine A-League games. "I don't believe much will be expected from us tomorrow night from the outside, but from within we expect to show a good performance against a very good opponent," Popovic said.
"Tomorrow the fans will see a team that wants to play a certain style of football, a very confident team, that will show a lot of belief, and also we'll show a lot of respect to our opponent. I expect our team to play without fear and to continue on the good form that we've shown in our local competition, and to showcase ourselves and show the quality we have with and without the ball."
GLORY READY FOR FC TOKYO CHALLENGE
Perth Glory will make its maiden appearance in Asia's premier football competition, when they take on J-League side FC Tokyo in Tuesday's AFC Champions League clash at Tokyo Stadium (kick-of at 6pm WST). Glory’s opening game in the group against Chianese side Shanghai Shenhua was postponed last week due to the coronavirus.
Head Coach Tony Popovic said they are rested and ready to go and he is relishing the opportunity. “We’re excited, it’d the first time for Perth Glory being in the ACL and we need to embrace it and we need our fans to embrace it and enjoy it,” he told the Glory website. “We also need to go there, play without fear and put on a good performance.
"It’s quite clear in the way that they’ve been training that the players are excited. Beating Wellington in our last Hyundai A-League game was important before we had a break from the league. You can see that the confidence is there among the players and they’re looking forward to the fantastic challenge of playing against an excellent team from Japan."
FC Tokyo finished second in the J-League last season, and Popovic was quick to point out what a stern challenge they will pose. "We’ve watched them very closely, they have the same coach [from last season] and a few new foreign players, but all in all, their local players are pretty much the same,” he said. “They’re strong and obviously they were top of the league for a long time [last season]. They have an established team that’s been together for three years now.
"Their style is very dynamic and they are a very mobile team and the Japanese league in general is played at a very high pace. That’s something we’ll have to adapt to, but that’s the challenge of the Champions League. You’re up against sides in major competitions that have the resources, the budgets and calibre of foreigners that I don’t believe any A-League team could probably afford. So that’s normal and that’s what you expect in the Champions League. It’s a great chance for us to showcase ourselves and for these players to show what they can do."
In terms of recent form, FC Tokyo drew their opening Group F fixture against Ulsan Hyundai in Korea last week, while Glory do, of course, head into the game of the back of nine Hyundai A-League games without defeat.
LFE STATEMENT WIPED FROM GLORY WEBSITE
A new twist in the Perth Glory buy-out saga by a controversial London cryptocurrency investment company has thrown fresh doubt on the deal. A statement by London Football Exchange, boasting it had entered into an asset sale and purchase agreement to acquire a majority shareholding in Glory, has been taken down from the A-League club’s website.
Glory owner Tony Sage, who is in three days of talks in London with LFE about off-loading 80 per cent of the club, ordered the statement taken down at the weekend. “It contradicts my statement to the fans so should be taken down,” Sage told the 'West Australian'. Sage, who admits being sceptical about the bid but also becomes LFE chairman on 1 March, has insisted that the buy-out is not a done deal.
The LFE statement went on the Glory website on Thursday afternoon, having been leaked on Wednesday. But when questioned about it 24 hours later, Sage said the sale claim was was incorrect and that nothing had been agreed. Should an agreement be made, Football Federation Federation will have to sign off on the deal before ownership can change hands.
“If they put that out we shouldn’t have put that on our platform,” Sage said. “It is wrong. What they said obviously is for their own marketing purposes. I don’t know why they said it. I’m going to be very angry at them for that reason. If I had executed an agreement I would have had to tell the FFA, but I haven’t.”
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK FOUR REVIEW
It was week four of the NPLWA Night Series and in Pool One the Semi-Finalists have already been decided with Floreat Athena and Perth SC moving through, and they meet next week to see who tops the group. Floreat made it four straight wins with a hard fought 2-1 win against Cockburn City at Dalmatinac Park. “I thought we didn’t play our best, but also we didn’t give too many chances away to Cockburn so happy to win and progress to the semi-finals despite not playing our best football,” Evans said. “We look forward to taking on Perth next week and seeing if we can secure top spot.”
Floreat hit the front on 20 minutes after Liam Murray was brought down in the box after a mazy run and referee David Bruce pointed straight to the spot. Dean Evans stepped up, and despite Luke Radonich getting a hand to it, scored from the resulting penalty. They added a second seven minutes later, Murray found space out wide and whipped in a cross which Chris Saldaris headed home. Cockburn were back in the game on the hour when David dos Santos scored, but Floreat stayed strong to seal the three points. “I thought we dominated the first half they didn’t really have a chance,” Phil Arnold said. “But second half was end to end and we were quite poor and both sides had a few chances.”
Perth SC teenage Jayden Gorman was the hero, scoring late to secure a 3-2 win against Bayswater City at Frank Drago Reserve on Saturday afternoon, to knock the hosts out of the competition. Perth opened the scoring on 36 minutes with Andreas Theodosiades on target. But Bayswater hit back in first half stoppage time with Daryl Nicol scoring to send the teams into the break all-square. Bayswater hit the front on the hour through Jason Mirco, but their lead only lasted eight minutes with Gustavo Catarcione scoring on his return to the club. It looked like the points would be shared but three minutes from time Gorman popped up to win it.
“I thought it was a great result for us we knew our individual responsibilities leading into the game and I thought we executed them really well,” Kieran Colwell said. “The game changed in moments with some decisions not going our way, then being down 2-1 we showed tremendous character to get the result in the end. Our substitutes that came on made an impact as well which is great to see, it was a team effort and as a collective we were excellent. The result gives us good confidence leading into the NPL, Bayswater are a strong team and we are looking forward to another challenge against another strong team in Floreat next week.”
In the final game of the pool, ECU Joondalup beat Rockingham City 5-1 in the late game at Frank Drago Reserve. It was a perfect start for the Jacks and they hit the front on 25 minutes, Ewan Fawcett crossing to Andy Higgins at the back post to score. Kenny Lowe’s side doubled their lead in the shadows of half time with a stunning long-range free kick from Danny Hodgson. They added a third early in the second half with Tom Hough picking out Ben Hinshelwood who made no mistake. Rockingham reduced the margin on the hour, Ryan Kennedy hitting a cracking free kick giving Johnny Perkins no chance. But Rockingham were then reduced to ten men nine minutes later and the Jacks made them pay adding two more in as many minutes from Hinshelwood and Higgins to seal a comprehensive win. “It was overall a great performance from all the lads who played on the night, who all knew individually what Kenny expected of us which resulted in a positive result,” Hinshelwood said. “It was a good game for me and it was great to play my third game under Kenny’s guidance.”
In Pool B Gwelup Croatia look certain to take their place in the Semi-finals after taking a three-point lead at the top of the table after a 2-0 win against Armadale at Dalmatinac Park. Taki Nicolaidis’ side were ahead on 22 minutes after referee Joshua Nixon pointed to the spot after Ethan Brooks was brought down in the penalty area, and Daniel Stynes dispatching the resulting penalty low past the keeper. They sealed the points on 73 minutes, Callum Timmins ball sent Hasani Sinclair clear and he finished low past the on-coming keeper. “It wasn’t our best performance but we got the three points and that is the most important thing right now,” Daniel Stynes said. “We’re a new group and I think we’re slowly getting to where the coaches want us to be and where they expect us to be, come the season. So, it’s another performance in the bank and we’ll move onto next week.”
Perth Glory moved into second place with a 3-1 win against Balcatta at Percy Doyle Reserve on Friday evening. It was a perfect start for the Glory youngsters and they hit the front on 15 minutes. Charlie Leech racing into the penalty area and firing low past keeper Riccardo Mazzoleni. They doubled their lead in the shadows of half time, Mazzoleni saved well from a long-range shot from Leech, but Rawlins was quickest to react to fire home the rebound. But Balcatta were back in the game early in the second half, with Balcatta striker Adam Zimarino scoring to make it 2-1, and it was game on. Glory regrouped and scored the decisive third goal on 81 minutes, with new signing Carlo Armiento firing home superbly into the top corner. “It was a great win and performance from the boys and the result showed our maturity and growth over the last few months, to carry out and finish the game off with a win,” Leech told the Glory website. “It was a pleasing result and it will give us great confidence to push onto next week to continue our good run of form and to carry that out through to the start of the NPL season on March 14.”
In the final game Inglewood United kept up their push for a semi-final spot with a 2-1 win against Sorrento in the early game at Percy Doyle Reserve. “Overall it was good to get another win under our belts before the season,” Alex Ishida-Livings said. “We’ve still got a fair amount to work on but given that we were missing a few players through injury and a few others were making their first starts I think we can be proud of ourselves.” It was the hosts who opened the scoring on nine minutes, Alex Morgan heading home from a free kick. But Inglewood lifted and were level on the half hour, Steve Sokol firing into the roof of the net after a goalmouth scramble. It looked like the points would be shared but in the final minute Inglewood won it. A quick break found Robert Petkov, who cut into the box and fired low into the corner of the net. “It was horrible conditions and we struggled to get going in the first half,” Mark Barnett said. “But we levelled before the break and, I felt we controlled the second half and created some good chances going forward and we got our well-deserved winner.”
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES – WEEK THREE REVIEW
The quarterfinal places have been decided in the Football West State League Night Series after a dramatic final round of games over the weekend. In Group A Fremantle City flexed their muscles for the knockout stage with a 8-0 win against Morley Windmills at Hartfield Park on Sunday afternoon. Wes Britz, Mitch Firth and Angel Andres gave Fremantle a 3-0 lead at the break, while Morley missing a penalty late. But after the break Andres bagged two more to complete his hat-trick, with others to Britz, Abias Bukuru and Dantae Greer completed the big win. “It was a relentless win, but what was most pleasing for me was the attitude that we played the game,” Fremantle Head coach Cameron Lord said. “It is always nice to win games of football, and to top the group, and we will now look forward to testing ourselves further in the quarter final.” In the other game in the group Shamrock Rovers missed out on one of best second placed teams after a 1-0 win against Quinn’s FC at Wanneroo Reserve on Saturday afternoon. Lachy Parker saw a first half penalty saved, but he made emends after half time after a push in the back saw them awarded another penalty and Parker made no mistake. “I thought the boys played very well and it was a deserved win,” Rovers’ Ger Fitzgerald said. “We kept our shape well and stuck to the game plan and probably should have scored a few more, but we will build on it and keep working towards the start of the season.”
In Group B Wanneroo City topped the table after a 3-1 win against Ashfield at Wanneroo Reserve. Ashley Corker gave Wanneroo the lead five minutes before half time, but Ashfield levelled ten minutes after the break. Wanneroo won a penalty ten minutes from time, and Flynn Nolan made no mistake. They put the game to bed eight minutes later with Connor Lynch finding the far corner of the net. “We got off to a slow start and got into gear about 35 minutes,” Wanneroo coach Jesse Bridgeman said. “It was a very good win against a good side and very happy for the boys to be going into the next round.” In the other game in the group Subiaco also missed out on a spot in the quarterfinals of goal difference, this despite a 4-1 win against DWE at Wanneroo Reserve on Friday evening. Josh Booysen gave Subiaco the lead on eight minutes, but Michael Rizidis equalised for the Eagles five minutes later. Shay Donovan gave Subiaco the lead at the break before second goals from Ignacio Dominguez and Matthew Lenzo secured the win.
In Group C holder’s Forrestfield United moved through to the next stage after a 5-1 win against Balga at Hartfield Park on Saturday afternoon. The hosts were ahead on 10 minutes from the spot after Ryan Francis was brought down and Michael Fletcher scored from the resulting penalty. It was 2-0 on 19 minutes with Francis firing home from just outside the area. Balga pulled one back three minutes later with Josh Conti on target. But two minutes from half time Forrestfield added a third, Dan Corbett scored from close-range after being picked out by Jordan Hart. After the break skipper Rhys Loxley scored from a tight angle after Ryan Francis flicked the ball on, before Loxley set up Mitchell Crocker for the fifth late, firing home well from the edge of the box. “Going into the game, we knew we had to win by three or more so there was a sense of desperation at times, which probably didn’t help our style of play,” Loxley said. “Fortunately, we able to score some well-crafted goals and advance to the quarter finals after some challenging hit outs. Whilst the focus is still on preparing for the first game of the season, I’m sure a lot of the boys will want to have a crack at going back to back with night series wins and with home advantage this weekend anything is possible.”
In the other game in the group UWA Nedlands moved through to the knockout stage as one of the best second placed teams after a tense 2-1 win against Kingsley Westside at Kingsway Reserve on Friday evening. UWA were ahead on 17 minutes when Max Welton fed Pascal Sedwick to score. They doubled their advantage three minutes from time when Geordie Papathanassiou raced into the penalty area and finished clinically. But Kingsley weren’t finished and Jayden Drummond pulled one back in stoppage time but they couldn’t find the equaliser. “We are happy about the result and the way we presented us in the competition so far, and Friday night the boys had to face a very good Kingsley side,” UWA Coach Michael Janssen said. “It was definitely no surprise that they won the first two games, and we started strong and kept our shape very well and we limited them to long balls in this one. Our own game went as we wanted and the early goal helped our game plans, and our young players matched their team. Our defence was solid, and created some good opportunities for ourselves, including the boys coming from the bench, they fitted in perfectly and did their job second half. At the end the boys deserved the win and showed a great unit on the park despite some late pressure from Kingsley. They will definitely be the team to watch in Division Two next season, now we will get started on the preparations for the next round and 21 March where it really counts.”
In Group D Western Knights continued their winning streak with a 5-0 win against Joondalup City at Wanneroo Reserve on Friday evening and move into quarterfinals. They opened the scoring in the opening minute when Ciaran Byrne and Callum Roberts combined to set up Alex Kretowicz, who scored from close range. It was 2-0 on the quarter hour, Roberts pinching the pocket of a Joondalup defender, before rounding the keeper and rolling the ball into an empty net. It was 3-0 just after the hour, when Kretowicz cut the ball back to Lewis McMahon to score. Kretowicz completed his hat-trick with two goals late to give the Knights a big win. “I thought the 5-0 score line flattered us, and Joondalup deserved better,” Knights’ coach Ivan Zuvela said. “We scored two early goals and then we just stopped playing. It was not our best performance overall, but we were still glad to get the result and keep another clean sheet.”
In the other game Joondalup United missed out on a spot in the next phase on goal difference after a 5-2 win against Kelmscott Roos at Hartfield Park on Sunday evening. United were ahead on 22 minutes, after a free-flowing move ended with Jamie Gibson scoring from close-range. It was 2-0 on the half hour, great work down the right by Keylun Pollard, and he crossed for Callum Speed to smash home. It was 3-0 five minutes later with Tony Taylor converting from the penalty spot. But Kelmscott hit back on the hour with George Ballah converting a penalty and he did it again on 73 minutes to make it 3-2. But Joondalup steadied and late goals from Gibson and Harry Hutt secured the victory. “We’re all disappointed not to progress in the night series, but missed opportunities last week and tonight ultimately ended our campaign,” Joondalup Coach Nick Jennings said. “Having said that it was pleasing to end with a well-deserved victory and good to see a couple of the young boys get on the scoresheet.”
In Group E Olympic Kingsway topped the table after a 4-1 win against Gosnells City at Kingsway Reserve on Friday evening. The hosts opened the scoring in stoppage time in the first half, a cross from Chris Bilasz found Elliott Tattersall who finished across the keeper into the far corner. It was a tight affair but, on the hour, Gosnells were reduced to 10 men and Olympic made them pay. It was 2-0 when Tattersall cracked home his second with a long-range shot. Dion Burman added a third on 75 minutes, after being sent clear by Kyle Murray, before Murray added a fourth with chip from long-range that caught the keeper off his line. Gosnells pulled one back from the spot in the last minute but it was too little too late. “A good win and a better performance this week to beat Gosnells 4-1,” Olympic coach Gary Williams said. “We are slowly improving as players are getting fitter and getting used to each other, and we go through to the quarter finals which gives us another competitive match which will be beneficial to our preseason.”
The other game in group ended in heartbreak for Canning City, conceding a goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time to draw 2-2 with Mandurah City and miss out on the quarter finals. “We’re all gutted not to make the next stage, especially the circumstances, having to play over seven minutes of stoppage time, even though the assistant said it was all over before they scored, I’m still scratching my head how he found the extra minutes,” a disappointed Canning Coach Chris Finlayson said post-match. “Mandurah came out firing early and we took a lot longer to settle into the match than we wanted, but second half we had most of the play and really should have ended the game before they scored with the last kick. So, while that cost us a place in the next round, we are extremely proud of the group, but it’s made them hungry for the season.”
It was Mandurah who opened the scoring on 10 minutes, Harry Collins firing into the top corner. But Canning hit back and nine minutes later they were level, Emmanuel Langoya on target. Canning hit the front on the hour with James Atkins scoring, and it looked that would see them through, but deep into stoppage time a cross from out wide was volleyed home by Shane Boyle to level. “We decided to start the game with a really young side and the boys didn’t disappoint giving us our best first half display of preseason so far,” Mandurah Coach Kris Donnell said. “We didn’t look phased and played forward at any given chance with some really pleasing fluid in the passing. Second half I felt we lacked the same intensity but as a whole Pete and I are really pleased with what we saw. We have a lot of work to do before the season kicks off, but we have a young group of players who are playing some terrific football and that’s gives us something to work off. Credit to Canning as well they are a completely different side from last season and will be a tough side to play against next season in Division Two.”
Finally, in Group F, Murdoch University Melville topped the table after a 2-2 draw against Stirling Lions at Edinburgh Oval on Sunday afternoon. The draw also meant the Lions would progress to the next stage as one of the best second placed teams. “Overall, we're happy with the result given it means we go through to the next round, but we felt we missed a lot of chances in the first half,” Ryan Tucker said. “It was a good hit out, and we showed good character to fight back.” It was MUM who opened the scoring two minutes into the second half with Tucker scoring after a one-on-one with the Lions keeper. But Loic levelled for the Lions, firing home from a free kick, and the Lions hit the front nine minutes from time with Gavin Knight scoring. But five minutes into stoppage time MUM found the equaliser, Ben Pellazari heading home to send them top of the table. “It was a scrappy game to play in but maybe good for the people watching,” Knight said. “To concede so late was disappointing, especially after it came in the fifth minute of stoppage time, when we were told there was only three, but a draw was fair result.” In the late game in the group at Edinburgh Oval, hosts Curtin University beat Swan United 2-1.
GLORY SILENCE THE ROAR
Perth Glory produced their best performance of the season to beat Brisbane Roar 4-2 in a thrilling Westfield W-League game at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday afternoon. Midfielder Morgan Andrews gave Glory a perfect start, before Crystal Thomas added a second on 12 minutes. Andrews made it 3-0 before the half hour, but the Roar hit back with goals from Carson Pickett and Tameka Yallop either side of the break. But with Roar chasing the equaliser substitute Ayesha Norrie popped up with a late goal to seal the win and dent the finals hopes of the visitors.
"The team looked sharp and fresh today," a delighted coach Bobby Despotovski said post-match. “Towards the end of the game we struggled a bit physically, but with the use of our substitutes, we managed to get over the line. The girls worked very hard all game and I thought they deserved to win. Our girls wanted to build on the win over Newcastle and they did that. You need your midfielders to be standouts and your strikers to be scoring goals and they all were today and it was nice for Ayesha [Norrie] to be on the scoresheet against her hometown club."
It was a perfect start for Despotovski’s side and they opened the scoring on two minutes, with their American pair combining. Thomas’ corner picked out Andrews who lost her marker to head home. To delight of the home faithful, it was 2-0 nine minutes later, Celia sending Thomas clear, and she chipped over former Glory custodian Mackenzie Arnold. It got better for Glory when they added a third on 25 minutes when Matilidas midfielder Clare Polkinghorne handled in the box and referee Casey Reibelt pointed to the spot. Andrews kept her nerve to score from the resulting penalty.
The Roar weren’t going down without a fight and they pulled one back on 33 minutes, Pickett’s cross-shot beating Morgan Aquino. They added a second on the hour with Yallop on target, and the game was back in the balance. Aquino was sparkling form between the sticks and she made a number of crucial interventions as Roar surged forward in search of an equaliser. The home supporters were on the edge of their seats as Roar pressed, but they were off them in stoppage time when Norrie rounded off a swift counter attack to win it for Glory
Perth Glory: GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 5 Shannon MAY, 6 Arianna ROMERO, 7 CELIA, 8 Morgan ANDREWS, 9 Crystal THOMAS, 13 Jamie-Lee GALE, 14 Caitlin DOEGLAS (4 Ayesha NORRIE 79'), 19 Hana LOWRY (11 Leticia MCKENNA 61'), 24 Natasha RIGBY - Subs not used: GK Eliza CAMPBELL, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD
Brisbane Roar: GK Mackenzie ARNOLD, 2 Carson PICKETT, 3 Celeste BOUREILLE, 4 Clare POLKINGHORNE, 5 Shea CONNORS (21 Winonah HEATLEY 45'), 6 Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT (18 Leah DAVIDSON 64'), 7 Indiah-Paige RILEY, 11 Natalie TATHEM, 13 Tameka YALLOP, (22 Anna MARGRAF 78') 19 Hollie PALMER, 23 Isobel DALTON - Subs not used: RGK Georgina WORTH - Referee: Casey Reibelt
SAGE SENDS MESSAGE TO GLORY SUPPORTERS REGARDING TAKEOVER
Perth Glory Chairman and owner Tony Sage has sent a personal message to the Glory faithful regarding the takeover offer from London Football Exchange saying it’s not finalized and when it is it will only go ahead if he agrees to it. “I'm writing this from Zurich where it's only 2 degrees, and I cannot believe the rhetoric that has been caused by me advising the players and staff only about a potential deal,” he said. “These are the facts, 1. No deal has been executed by PGFC with the London Football Exchange. 2. I only told the staff and players because I did not want them to stress as I was boarding a flight that night and because once lawyers and experts get involved, things may have leaked out. The players are heading to Tokyo and would have read social media about their club being sold.
“I stressed at the meeting with the staff and players that I am going to London to talk about their offer and how it all works. 3. Nothing changes on a day to day basis, and I stay on as Chairman and in control of the club for the next three years. All the staff will also be staying. 4. Any new concept that people don't get, we are all sceptical about, myself included, hence my trip to London for 3 days to check them out. Remember Mark Zuckerberg was also laughed at and ridiculed when Facebook started. The whole blockchain crypto world was supposed to be dead six years ago, but it thrives. I don't get it myself, but it does seem to work. LFE 's concept is brilliant but will it work? I don't know and that's why I am spending 3 days with their team in London with independent experts.
“If, after this due diligence process, the final deal in London is not good for PGFC, of course PGFC won't sign up. If PGFC do sign up NOTHING changes at Perth Glory other than with extra funding, we will be able to compete with the bigger clubs in Australia and Asia. Finally, don't believe fake news. Your club has not been sold and I have not even sent anything to Football Federation Australia (FFA) for approval. Once I am comfortable I will. FFA are aware of my discussions, however. You will be the first to know on this platform. Huge good luck to Poppa and the boys in Tokyo and I hope you're all watching at 6pm on FOX 505 on Tuesday.”
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK FOUR PREVIEW
With two rounds remaining of the NPLWA Night Series, both Pools are tight as teams press for a spot in the Semi-Finals. In Pool One Floreat Athena look on course to go through, unbeaten so far, and this weekend they travel to Dalmatinac Park to take on Cockburn City. (5pm) Floreat eased past ECU Joondalup last week, while Cockburn won their first point after a 0-0 draw against Perth SC, but a win in this one will see Ante Kovacevic’s side reach the Semi-Finals. Cockburn go into the game without Anthony Skorich, while Floreat will be missing Nick Ambrogio
There is a huge game at Frank Drago Reserve on Saturday afternoon, where third placed Bayswater City host second placed Perth SC in an ‘Italian Derby’. (5pm) Both sides need three points in this one to get in pole position for a Semi-Final spot. Bayswater returned to the winners circle last week after Daryl Nicol’s hat-trick saw them beat Rockingham, and Jason Mirco said it was good to get the points. “I thought it was a very strong performance last week, against a Rockingham side that was on the back of a big loss they were determined to put behind them,” he explained. “We have a big squad with plenty of quality that seems to be getting some momentum.”
Mirco said it might only be a preseason game, but any game against Perth is a big one. “Bayswater v Perth is a big game no matter when it’s played, and there is plenty of history between the clubs and both teams will be going to set the tone for the season,” he said. “Coyney and the coaching staff have put a huge amount of effort into what’s been a massive preseason for us, so we’ll be right up for what’s always a block buster clash.” City will be without Logan Rindel and new signing Zayd Farah due to suspension.
Perth stumbled against Cockburn and skipper Andreas Theodosiades said they had their chances but didn’t take them, but he hopes they can return to winning ways on Saturday and knows the Italian Derby is a game both clubs look forward too, and they are looking to wrap up a semi-final spot on Saturday. “I thought last week was a well fought out game, and to be fair Cockburn came at us in the first half and we were lucky we didn’t come into half time losing,” he said. “But in the second we were put in a much better performance and I could have won it, but it sets up a big game at Bayswater, and if we play our own game and defend well, we should get the three points.”
Perth Head Coach Ramon Falzon echoed his skipper’s comments on the draw at Cockburn and said they need to more clinical in the final third. “Probably the draw was a fair result, Cockburn were the better team in the first half, however our players reacted well in the second half and our performance improved as time went by,” he explained. “We did have a few good chances at the end to win it, however our finishing was not as clinical and precise as it was the previous week.”
Falzon said Saturday is a big game but the big picture is the start of the NPL WA league season. “Although it is always a good feeling to win a derby, our focus is on our processes in the lead up to the NPL,” he said. “We have seen a lot of good signs from the squad this pre-season and we even exposed four of our own youngsters to first team football in the Night Series so far. Bayswater are always a very tough opposition to face; therefore, we are expecting to face a team that has got good quality players all over the park. From our side, at this late phase in our pre-season, our main objective is that we expect our players to keep demonstrating progress in our performances.” Perth will be missing Nicolas McDonald due to suspension and Matthew Milenkovic who is overseas.
In the final game Rockingham City take on ECU Joondalup in the late game at Frank Drago Reserve. (7pm) Both sides were well beaten last week, and Rockingham will be looking for their first win of the preseason competition, while ECU do have an outside chance of playing Semi-Final football but need a win in this one and hope results elsewhere go their way. ECU will be missing central defender Shane Cassidy who is suspended.
It's the same in Pool Two the Semi-Final spots still up for grabs, and Gwelup Croatia moved top with a win against Balcatta last week, and this week they take on Armadale at Dalmatinac Park on Saturday evening. (7.00pm) Armadale beat Sorrento 3-2 last week to keep their hopes of progressing through, and John O’Reilly’s will be looking to put a spanner in the works of Taki Nicolaidis. Gwelup are unbeaten and a win in this one will put them through, and last week’s win was impressive and new signing Ethan Brooks said they gelling together nicely. “Obviously it was a great win, and I thought it was very well deserved on the night,” the former Perth Glory Youth winger.
“But we know there is plenty of room for improvement, and if we can keep improving every week, we’ll only get stronger heading into the league season.” Brooks said Armadale are always tough to play against and he’s expecting the same on Saturday. “Yes, they (Armadale) are always a difficult team to play against but I’m confident we can get a positive result,” he said. “With the players we have and the preparation we put in at training during the week, we know we can come away with a win, and hopefully go far in this competition and continue it on during the season.”
Despite last week’s loss Balcatta are still in a good position to reach the next phase, but they need to bounce back against Perth Glory this week when they meet at Percy Doyle Reserve on Friday evening. (8.30pm) Richard Garcia’s side moved up to third with their win against Inglewood, and they know a win on Friday will see them overtake Balcatta and push for a Semi-Final spot. But Balcatta will have other ideas and midfielder Jon Corness said last week was a disappointing result and he knows there is improvement in the side. “Against Gwelup we played some very good football at times but unfortunately we couldn't make it count into goals, however Gwelup did take their chances and ended up running away with it,” he explained.
“We're still in a good position and still coming together as a team, so nothing will be worrying us after the result.” Corness said Friday will be a tough game, but a win will move them close to the next round. “We know when coming up against Glory you're always going to get a fit team that knows their jobs,” he said. “We've been working on a formation this week that will look to balance us out nicely and hopefully get a result to push us into the finals.” Balcatta new striker James Harmer will miss the clash due to suspension.
In the final game Sorrento host Inglewood United at Percy Doyle Reserve on Friday evening. (6.30pm) The Gulls are yet to win so far, but have been in every game so far and Jamie Harnwell will be hoping they can find a win in this one. Last week they were edged out by Armadale and will go into this one without Clark Keltie, and Ollie Annis and Tristan Stevens with suspension. Inglewood lost for the first-time last week against Glory and need to bounce back if they are to keep their Semi-Final hopes alive, and Coach Andres Oliveira will be looking for a response from his chargers.
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES – WEEK THREE PREVIEW
It’s the final group stage games in the State League Night Series and it’s all to play for with spots up for a quarter-final place up for grabs. In Group A, Fremantle City need a point when they take on Morley Windmills at Hartfield Park on Sunday afternoon. (5pm) Morley were edged out by Shamrock Rovers last week, but can still make the knock out stage, but will need to be at their best against the inform Fremantle. The port side beat Quinns last week to remind unbeaten and Mitch Firth said it was a hard-fought game.
“Yes, it was a tough game but I thought we managed parts of it well considering how early we are into our fixtures,” he said. “I myself know I’m still sharpening up the tools for the start of the season, and it still feels like I’ve got lead in me boots but the gaffer will make sure the side is as close to 100 percent for the season commencement. Firth, who followed Cameron Lord to Fremantle this season, said they go into the game full of confidence, but can’t take their opponents lightly. “We just have got to go out there and do the business,” he said. “We know what is required of us as a team and hopefully we can get it done and progress into the next round.”
In the other game in the group Quinns meet Shamrock Rovers at Wanneroo Reserve on Saturday afternoon. (5pm) Newly promoted Quinns are still searching for their first point of the competition, but Ian Ferguson’s side will want to end the group stage with a good performance, and they still could reach the next stage if results go their way. Shamrock won for the first-time last week against Morley and Gerry McEwan’s side can also make the next stage with a win, so this one should be an entertaining game.
It's tight in Group B with all sides on three points. First up on Friday evening Subiaco meet Dianella White Eagles at Wanneroo Reserve. (8.30pm) Both these sides were beaten last week, with Ashfield beating Subiaco, while Wanneroo beat Dianella, but both sides know a win will see them through, and I’m sure Brad Hassell and Rod Banjac will have their sides prepared well for this one. In the final game of the group leaders Wanneroo City host Ashfield on Saturday evening at Wanneroo Reserve. (7pm)
Ashfield won for the first time in the competition under new coach Mitchell Prentice and he will be looking for a repeat performance on Saturday against a Wanneroo side coming off a big win last week. Wanneroo Head Coach Jesse Bridgeman is looking for a repeat performance from last week. “The win last week was a good indicator where we are at this pre-season, the boys are working really hard and it’s good to see the chances created getting finished,” he explained.
“We still have a bit of work to do before the season, but I’m very pleased the way we are travelling. This week is a massive game for us, the chance to get out of the group stage will do a great deal to the confidence of the squad and a chance for us to go as far as we can in this competition. We are all really looking forward to testing ourselves against a strong Division One side.”
In Group C Kingsley Westside sit on top of the table and a win or a draw against UWA Nedlands at Kingsway Reserve on Friday evening will see them go through to the knock out stage. (8.30pm) UWA were beaten last week at Forrestfield but are still in a good position to qualify, and if they can win this one, they might move through. A UWA victory would still give Forrestfield United a chance of winning the group, depending on their result against Balga. Kingsley assistant coach Stuart Montgomery said it’s going well at the club, and last week Balga were in the game for long periods. “We are really pleased with the way we have started the night series but we also know it is only pre-season and teams are trying things out and the game against Balga was very pleasing from our point of view as we have had a few new faces in the team trying to get used to how we want to play and players getting used to each other,” he explained.
“They (Balga put us under pressure for parts of the game and we coped with it very well and had Paul Rainford to thank for a few great saves and we hit the woodwork four times so our attacking part of the game is going well.” Montgomery said Friday will be another tough test but it’s all about getting the team ready for the start of the season. “The game against UWA should be a good game as from what I have seen they are a young energetic side who play some nice football which is exactly like ourselves,” he said.
“We aren’t really looking at it if we win or draw and progressing to the next round, we are more focused on our performance and the boys putting in the necessary work and the result will take care of itself whatever that will be at the end of the game we will see. Saying that it will be good for the boys to get to the next round as they deserve it after the way they have played the first two games but we can’t rest on previous performances.” In the other game in the group Forrestfield United, who need a win to have a chance to move through to the next round, host Balga, who are still searching for their first point, on Saturday afternoon at Hartfield Park. (5pm)
In Group D Western Knights sit top of the table with maximum points and a win or a draw against Joondalup City on Friday evening at Wanneroo Reserve. (6.30pm) City are still searching for their first points in the competition, but have been close in their first two games, but they will need to be at their best to get something from this one. The Knights beat Joondalup United last week and head Coach Ivan Zuvela said it was a good performance. "We thought last week’s win against Joondalup was impressive. We played a consistent style of football that we wanted to, and to score three as well as keep a clean sheet was very pleasing," he said. "We will rotate our squad this week and we are looking for another high-quality performance. We know that Joondalup will not make it easy for us and we are looking forward to the challenge."
Andrija Jukic said the pre-season at Nash Field is going well and they will be doing all they can to make three from three on Friday. "Last week was a really good win, pre-season has been really good so far, and with few new boys in the squad, we seem to be gelling pretty good," he explained. "Joondalup will be a good side this season, so to keep a clean sheet and score a few goals was pleasing. "I'm not too sure what City are like, but I'm sure it will be a tough game. We will go out as normal, to win and to play the way we want to. Work on our systems and just get more game time with all the new players we have, it's another game under our belts for the season proper."
In the other game in the group Kelmscott Roos take on Joondalup United at Hartfield Park on Sunday evening. (7.00pm) Both sides sit level on points so a win will see one of them through. Kelmscott beat Joondalup City last week in a tight game and coach Richard Bryant said it was a hard fought and a good work out for his side. "Yes, it was a good win for us, they (Joondalup City) had us pinned down for a portion of the second half, but we defended well and took our chances which is pleasing," he said. "To be honest I’m not thinking about the next stage of the competition, Joondalup Utd will be a very tough challenge, but if we stay organised, we will hopefully be able to make things difficult for them."
It's also tight in Group E, with Canning City on top of the table on goal difference from Olympic Kingsway, and City take on Mandurah City at Hartfield Park on Saturday evening. (7pm) Mandurah are also still in the mix sitting on three points in third and a win will see them go through, so this one will be close contest. Canning new Coach Chris Finlayson is unbeaten in his first two games in charge and he said his side performed well last week in the win against local rivals Gosnells. "The lads stuck to the game plan for the whole game, and that was the most pleasing aspect of the game," he explained. "To get the win was a bonus and hopefully sets us up confidence wise for the season ahead."
Finlayson said Saturday's opponents are a good side, but his side are looking forward to the challenge. "We are all pumped for the weekend opportunity to play against another strong side and hopefully if we get a good result could see us go one step further in the competition, and get another game under our belt," he said. "The lads have been awesome in pre-season and intensity at training has increased, which gives us a headache or two for selection spots for sure." In the other game in the group Olympic Kingsway host Gosnells City at Kingsway Reserve on Friday evening. (6.30pm) City are to win a game so far, so they will be looking to end the group stage on a high, while Olympic need a win to confirm a spot in the next round.
Finally, in Group F the top two places are confirmed with Murdoch University Melville and Stirling Lions sitting on six points, and they meet on Sunday evening at Edinburgh Oval to see who wins the group. (7pm) The Lions won a nine-goal thriller last week against Swan, and Rob Milevski's side will be looking to make it three from three on Sunday. Standing in their way is MUM, who edged past Curtin in the 'University Challenge' last week and assistant coach Marcus Edwards said it was a tight affair. "It certainly was a hard-fought win against Curtin, and full credit to them, they never let us rest for the full 90 minutes and often threatened,” he explained. “Our defence was resolute, they never stopped working, met everything Curtin could throw at us, so we managed to hold the score. It’s only preseason and early days for all teams but we are pleased with our own improvement and progress so far but realistically it means little at the moment.”
Edwards said Stirling have looked impressive so far and it will be a huge challenge but one they are looking forward too. “Again, it’s really early days and we are taking one game at a time, we are just happy to get out of the group. Stirling will be strong and we have to be ready for them, it’s not going to be easy,” he said. We are looking to improve ourselves and give Stirling a stern test. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, we see it as another opportunity to get minutes into the boys and try different combinations.” In the other game in the group Curtin University host Swan United at Edinburgh Oval on Sunday afternoon (5pm), with both sides looking for their first point of the competition.
GLORY BACK IN W-LEAGUE ACTION ON SUNDAY
Perth Glory will be looking for back-to-back wins in the Westfield W-League when they host second placed Brisbane Roar at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday afternoon. (12.30pm) Bobby Despotovski's side were last in action on January 23, when they secured their first win of the season by downing Newcastle Jets 4-2 at McDonald Jones Stadium, and the coach feels that the extra preparation time will prove beneficial ahead of a meeting with a quality Brisbane side.
"During this extended period between games we've been working on reinforcing our message to the girls and on our game plan," he said. "We executed our game plan quite well against Newcastle, so we're looking for more of the same. The tactics we employed and the determination the players showed was spot on. The win against Newcastle really lifted the positivity in the camp, and the girls had been working on some things for so long and it was good to see the results of all that hard work.
"It lifted morale and confidence and it was great to see our youngest player, Hana Lowry, on the scoresheet. In terms of Sunday's game, if Brisbane lose against us, I think that would be basically the end of their finals push. They have to beat us and they do have five Matildas in their squad, all of whom I'm expecting to play, so they are going to be stiff opposition for us. From our players, I'm expecting 100% commitment to the game as they try and spoil Brisbane's party."
In terms of early team news, Despotovski confirmed that goalkeeper Eliza Campbell will come back into the selection mix this weekend after recovering from a head injury sustained in the Round 10 clash with Western Sydney Wanderers. "Eliza's fine," he said. "She went through the protocol for concussion and she's ready to go.
"The competition for places is always interesting and with so many players now fit, we'll see who stakes a claim for the goalkeeping position and across all the positions in the team."
Glory will be out to secure a first win over the Queenslanders since November 2017, while Roar, who have picked up four points from their last two games, will be targeting a fifth victory of the season.
Perth Glory squad: GK Eliza CAMPBELL, RGK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 5 Shannon MAY, 6 Arianna ROMERO, 7 CELIA, 8 Morgan ANDREWS, 9 Crystal THOMAS, 10 Julia SARDO, 11 Leticia McKENNA, 13 Jamie-Lee GALE, 14 Caitlin DOEGLAS, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 19 Hana LOWRY, 24 Natasha RIGBY, 28 Katarina JUKIC - * one to be omitted* Ins: CAMPBELL (returns from injury), SARDO (promted) - Outs: 31 Ruby JONES (omitted) - Unavailable: Nil
Brisbane Roar squad: GK Mackenzie ARNOLD, RGK Georgina WORTH, 2 Carson PICKETT, 3 Celeste BOUREILLE, 4 Clare POLKINGHORNE, 5 Shea CONNORS, 6 Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 7 Indiah-Paige RILEY, 8 Kaitlyn TORPEY 9 Rylee BAISDEN, 11vNatalie TATHEM, 13 Tameka YALLOP, 18 Leah DAVIDSON, 19 Hollie PALMER, 21 Winonah HEATLEY, 22 Anna MARGRAF, 23 Isobel DALTON - *two to be omitted* - Ins: CONNORS (new signing), RILEY (promoted), TORPEY (promoted), HEATLEY (promoted) - Outs: 10 Katrina GORRY (suspended – 1 week), 12 Allira TOBY (unavailable) - Unavailable: Nil
DAVIES LEAVES PAHANG
Right back Matthew Davies has parted company with Malaysian club Pahang just two weeks before the start of the new season. It is understood the 25-year old will join reigning Super League champions Johor Darul Ta’zim, however.
“Davies has left Pahang, and the team are now feeling the heat,” said an unnamed club source. “It was done very quickly. He has left a huge void in Pahang’s defence and coach Dollah Salleh now needs to find an able replacement for the right-back position.”
Davies grew up in Perth and spent time at the Australian Institute of Sport, who he captained in the National Youth League. He joined Perth Glory in 2012 but was limited to only 16 appearances before continuing his career in Malaysia.
WA TO BACK GLORY AFC CAMPAIGN
Perth Glory announced on Thursday morning at a packed press conference on the Swan River that the Western Australian Government will be their principle partner for the 2020 AFC Champions League campaign. Glory will make its long-awaited debut in Asia’s premier football competition wearing a brand-new kit featuring the logo ‘Perth’ on the front of the shirt.
They will also work with the state government to create business and promotional opportunities that showcase Perth as a destination for tourism, international education and trade. Glory Chief Executive Officer Tony Pignata believes that the partnership with the state government is a very exciting one and a natural fit for both organisations. “We are extremely proud to be flying the flag for Perth and Western Australia in the AFC Champions League,” he told the Glory website.
“More than 50 million people across Asia were exposed to A-League clubs in the AFC Champions League last year. The agreement provides a fantastic opportunity to simultaneously promote the Perth Glory brand and Perth as a world-class location for tourism, international education and business. As a club, we are excited at the prospect of working closely with the state to raise Perth’s profile within a key market on and off the field in the coming months.”
Those sentiments were echoed by WA State Premier Mark McGowan. “Sponsoring Perth Glory in the Asian Champions League is a real coup for Brand Perth, showcasing our beautiful State to a digital reach of more than 586 million people in Asia,” he said. “Perth Glory’s first ever appearance in the lucrative Champions League tournament comes at the perfect time for our State. This deal ensures we can leverage Perth Glory’s success in our key Asian markets, allowing Perth to beamed into the lounge rooms of tens of millions of people.
“The return on investment in tourism and international education alone will be significant and on top of that, there’s the trade and investment benefits that come out of this sort of profile. “The sponsorship also feeds in strongly to our international education strategy ‘live, learn and launch’ which positions Western Australia and Perth in particular, as a world class international education city and helps the city open its doors to increasing numbers of students, especially from Asia.
“This competition will put Perth and Western Australia on the map for a whole new Asian audience and allow us to showcase the State as a secure and attractive place to invest and visit, supporting our WA economy and leading to more local jobs.” Glory’s AFC Champions League campaign is set to get underway on Tuesday 18 February 2020 with an away trip to FC Tokyo. The club’s other opponents in Group F are Ulsan Hyundai from Korea Republic and Shanghai Shenhua of China.
VAN EGMOND STUNNER GIVES MATILDAS TOP SPOT
The Westfield Matildas are one step away from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after Emily van Egmond's stunning stoppage time effort ensured they finished the third round of the 2020 AFC Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament top of Group B, after a tense 1-1 draw with China PR on Thursday night at Parramatta Stadium. It was the visitors who dominated for long periods and sat back to frustrate the Matildas, but there were chances at both ends. But neither side were able to break the deadlock, until Tang Jiali popped up with a brilliant strike in the 86th minute. But just as it appeared China would leapfrog Australia into pole position, van Egmond hammered in a brilliant injury time equaliser.
The result means Ante Milicic's side finish Group B top and will face Vietnam in a winner-takes-all, two-legged playoff – set to be played in March – for a spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women’s football competition, while China PR will face Korea Republic having finished Group runners-up. Chloe Logarzo said the job isn't finished yet. "It's important that we play at the highest level and going in as if we were playing at the Olympics already even though this is the qualification for it, making sure our match minutes are high, and that we're carrying the highest standard. If you're doing it at the highest standard for long periods of time that's when perfection comes.," she said. "For the first time going into a major tournament I don't think there's any complacency. Ante [Milicic] really pushes us on being the best that we can be and being prepared for every single half of every single game."
Milicic made seven changes to the side which beat Thailand 6-0 on Monday, including a first start of the tournament for captain Sam Kerr. However, it would be the visitors who came closest to opening the scoring. Australia had not conceded a single shot on target all tournament prior to kick off but, on a night where goalkeeper Lydia Williams joined Melissa Barbieri on 86 caps, the Melbourne City shot stopper was the busier of the two keepers in the opening exchanges. Williams saw Wang Shanshan misdirect her header from underneath the post, while at the other end, opposite number Peng Shimeng was called into action to deny Elise Kellond-Knight's spectacular free kick.
Kerr then steered Ellie Carpenter's cross wide and Chloe Logarzo could not direct Hayley Raso's cross home as Australia rallied. Then China hit the post through Shanshan on the cusp of half time, and Williams was called into action after the break to parry Jiali's effort to safety. Ellie Carpenter and Caitlin Foord kept Shimeng on her toes, while China spurned a glorious opportunity to take the lead via Li Ying. Kerr could not convert at the back post, before Jiali's brilliant turn and shot on the edge of the box forced Williams into another good stop.
But with four minutes remaining it was China who hit the front, with a stunning finish from Jiali, who fired home from the edge of the box giving Williams no chance after a brilliant interchange with Ma Jun. But the Matildas weren’t finished and in stoppage time and neat pass from Kyah Simon found van Egmond on the edge of the box and her shot flew into the net much to the delight of players and supporters alike.
Matildas: GK Lydia Williams, 2 Ellie Carpenter, 4 Clare Polkinghorne, 6 Chloe Logarzo, 7 Stephanie Catley, 8 Elise Kellond-Knight (13 Tameka Yallop 73?'), 9 Caitlin Foord, 10 Emily van Egmond, 14 Alanna Kennedy, 16 Hayley Raso (17 Kyah Simon 67?'), 20 Sam Kerr - Subs not used: ?RGK Mackenzie Arnold, 3 Aivi Luik, 5 Karly Roestbakken, 11 Jenna McCormick, 12 Teegan Micah, 15 Emily Gielnik, 19 Katrina Gorry
China PR: GK Peng Shimeng, 3 Lin Yuping, 5 Wu Haiyan, 6 Zhang Xin (2 Liu Shanshan 90?+?3?'), 8 Ma Jun, 10 Li Ying (15 Song Duan 75?'?), 11 Wang Shanshan, 16 Yao Lingwei, 17 Luo Guiping, 18 Tang Jiali, 19 Zhai Qingwei - Subs not used: RGK Bi Xiaolin, 4 Wang Ying, 7 Liu Yanqiu, 9 Li Yifan, 14 Zhang Linyan, 20 Yang Yan
GLORY REACHES AGREEMENT OVER CLUB'S SALE
Perth Glory chief executive Tony Pignata has batted away concerns the potential new owner of the A-League club is "dodgy". Glory owner Tony Sage has reached an agreement with UK-based blockchain trading firm London Football Exchange to sell a majority stake in the club.
Sage says the firm will be buying 80 per cent of Perth Glory while he will retain 20 per cent and stay as chairman. The sale is subject to FFA approval but LFE founder Jim Aylward said it was the first step in the company's ambitions to acquire at least seven professional football clubs worldwide.
News of the potential deal has met widespread criticism, with fans and experts alike worried LFE might not be able to carry through on its promises. Vision of Aylward decked out in a gangster-style puffy jacket while announcing the ownership bid on Twitter also stoked fears.
Aylward also gave a train-wreck of an interview on radio station 6PR in which he failed to outline the exact payment method he plans to use to buy Glory. But Pignata says he has full faith Sage has done his homework and that the deal will be a good thing for Glory. "I don't think Jim's dodgy-as," Pignata said.
"If you hear him speak, he's very passionate about the game. He's a founder of a football exchange. They've been operating for a couple of years. I trust Tony. He loves Perth Glory more than his family ... and he wouldn't do anything to jeopardise the club."
Founded in 2016, LFE has ambitions about creating a trading system using a cryptocurrency token which people can use to purchase shares, merchandise, tickets or experiences direct from football clubs. Last year LFE attempted to buy first-division French outfit FC Nantes but the offer was knocked back after the club said the company couldn't provide minimum bank guarantees.
Alyward was vague when asked how exactly his company plans to buy Perth Glory - or any other club. "It could be a mix of debt, it could be forward selling of a football club's season ticket receivables, it could be equity," he told 6PR.
"I will say the FFA have already approved the preliminary funds that we have put forward so they are happy with how this deal has been funded. The FFA wouldn't approve a deal like this if they didn't already know we had enough funds to take that business through at least the next three to five years."
During his fumbly radio interview, Aylward denied his company was buying Glory simply so it could strip its assets. "What assets could I strip out of Perth Glory?" he said. "Don't try to create some thing that's sensational. All we're here (to do) is to invest and bring that club forward."
GLORY TO BE SOLD TO CRYPTOCURRENCY GROUP
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage's sale of 80 per cent of the club to the London Football Exchange has been a deal 12-months in the making. Sage first began talks with the little known LFE, a cryptocurrency group, a year ago.
Last season LFE became Glory's back of jumper sponsor, although it is understood not much was paid for the naming right. And last month Sage was appointed chairman of the London Football Exchange project, a role he officially takes up on 1 March.
Sage would not reveal how much he has sold his 80 per cent share for but 18 months ago he put a value of at least $15 million on the club.
While the LFE deals in bitcoin Sage said he will be paid in "real cash" when the deal is done later this week. "It's not set in concrete yet and the price hasn't been set. It's about 90 per cent there," Sage told the 'West Australian'.
"LFE is a tokenised company. It's like a listed company but it's in the cyber world. They have raised the money, they have sold 400 million coins, they have raised the money and those coins trade. They started off at 20c and I think they are 60 or 70c now."
"That's how they have raised the money and that entity then buys each football club. They raise the money into the head company and if they need to raise any more money they just issue more tokens. They have access to a lot of cash and with the coins you can just issue more."
"If you want to buy into Perth Glory you buy the coins but no individual can take control. No individual can buy more than 50 per cent of the coins, that would be horrific. It would cost them 100's of millions of dollars."
"I wouldn't have done the deal without the interest of Perth Glory at heart but I have said for a long time that I need a partner to be able to withstand the extra costs to stay in the hunt for trophies."
Sage said he was flying to Zurich and London today to sign the deal that would leave him as Glory chairman. "Most of the investors that own the coins live in Switzerland," sadi Sage, who brought into Glory in February 2007 along with Brett McKeon and John Spence.
He said LFE was looking to invest in seven clubs in two years - although it is unlikely any big name clubs will become involved. "They are targeting clubs in Italy, France, South America and Asia," Sage said. "The vision of this group is completely different to the City Group."
"Each club that they buy will keep its history, its club colours, heritage etc. That's one no-brainer for me. I wasn't expecting Perth to be the first club but there have been delays in some of the other transactions and they asked me to be the first I thought 'why not’."
MASTRANTONIO 'EXTREMELY CONFIDENT' OF DERBY SUCCESS
The W-League resumes this weekend with a season-defining Sydney derby the headline act. Western Sydney Wanderers travel are on the road to play Sydney FC on Saturday knowing a home semi-final spot is on the line.
Both teams are on 19 points, six behind leaders Melbourne City, but Western Sydney sit in second spot with a two-goal better goal differential. This advantage was gained courtesy of the 5-0 drubbing Western Sydney dished out to their bitter rivals on 20 December last year.
Western Sydney midfielder Ella Mastrantonio insists though, Saturday is a new ballgame. “It will give us confidence but also it’s in the past now so we have to focus on this game and this game only,” said Mastrantonio. “It’s going to be a great battle.”
Lynn Williams and Kyra Cooney-Cross destroyed the Sky Blues that December night with a double each. Williams returns from international duty for Saturday’s clash. She was in exceptional form for the United States, who qualified for Tokyo 2020, with the gun striker scoring three goals in five games.
Mastrantonio admits she is excited about having the silky skilled American back in the team for such a crucial clash. “We can’t wait for Lynn to rejoin, she’s been in incredible form for the USA so it’s exciting to have her back for the remainder of the season which are all huge games,” she said.
Mastrantonio insists her team desperately want a home final in what will be the Wanderers inaugural W-League finals campaign if they get there. “It is absolutely crucial and also a goal to try and achieve,” she said. “We want to do as best we can.”
JUANDE MISSES OUT ON CHAMPIONS LEAGUE BERTH
Spanish midfielder Juande has missed out on Perth Glory’s 26-man squad to debut in the Asian Champions League. Glory are allowed only three non-Australian players in their squad, with those taken by Diego Castro, Bruno Fornaroli and Greg Wuthrich it means there is no place for 33-year old Juande.
Korean Kim Soo-Beom is exempt from the non-Australian rule as an Asian player while defender Dane Ingham qualifies with dual Australian and New Zealand citizenship. Recent signings Vince Lia, Tarek Elrich, Daniel Margush and Carlo Armiento have been included along with 15-year old academy product Josh Rawlins. Glory open their campaign with an away game against FC Tokyo next Tuesday.
MATILDAS CONTINUE OLYMPIC DREAMS
The Matildas took another step towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after an Emily van Egmond hat-trick led them to comprehensive 6-0 win against Thailand at Campbelltown Stadium. Van Egmond struck twice in the first half to get the ball rolling, before sealing her treble in a outstanding second half that saw Kyah Simon add a brace and Hayley Raso also chime in with her second goal of the tournament. It was another clean sheet for Ante Milicic's side, and with 13 goals unanswered in the tournament, the result lifts them back to the top of Group B in the AFC Olympic Games Qualifiers ahead of China on goal difference, who they face next on Thursday night.
It was a frustrating start to the game with the Thailand side defending deep, and the final ball from the Matildas wasn't there. But on 20 minutes they had their first real chance, when van Egmond volleyed wide from an Ellie Carpenter cross. It was one-way traffic and Caitlin Foord volleyed wide at the near post, before van Egmond drew a low save from Thailand keeper Tiffamy Sornpao. Thailand continued to chance their luck as Emily Gielnik dragging a shot wide of the near post before firing high on 41 minutes after again finding space in the box.
It looked like the Thailand would hold on to half-time, but on 45 minutes the deadlock was broken. Carpenter found space on the right and picked out van Egmond at the back post who volleyed home, much to the delight of the Green and Gold supporters. There was still time for Foord to hit the post and Kyah Simon shot wide from a tight angle, before van Egmond struck again three minutes into injury time to send them in two too the good.
Momentum remained firmly with the hosts after the break, and Jenna McCormick saw her header saved by Sornpao, before Katrina Gorry's close range shot was blocked by some desperate Thailand defending. But the introduction of Sam Kerr and Hayley Raso on the hour changed the game. Van Egmond's sweetly timed volley smacked off the cross bar three minutes later, before Simon saw a shot flash wide shortly after. But on 67 minutes they did add a third, Karly Roestbakken cross was turned home by Simon.
It was soon 4-0 when Kerr got to the bye-line and pulled the ball back to van Edmond to complete her hat-trick. It was soon five with Kerr the supplier again, this time setting up Raso, who finished well. Van Egmond turned provider for the next on 72 minutes, her cross into the box was headed home by Simon. Foord looked to get in on the act but again was denied by the woodwork following a penalty box scramble on 76 minutes, while Raso also threatened to add to her haul shortly after but pushed a strike across the face of goal.
The Westfield Matildas continued to push for more in the closing minutes, however, Thailand survived a series of scrambles before the unlucky Foord struck the post for the third time in injury time with a firm, angled strike. Milicic’s side return to action against China PR on Thursday, February 13 (kick off 7.30pm AEDT) at Western Sydney Stadium, Parramatta. The top two teams in Group B will advance to a winner-takes-all, two-legged playoff – set to be played in March – for a spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women’s football competition.
Matildas: GK Mackenzie Arnold, 2 Ellie Carpenter,3 Aivi Luik, 5 Karly Roestbakken, 9 Caitlin Foord, 10 Emily van Egmond, 11 Jenna McCormick, 14 Alanna Kennedy, 15 Emily Gielnik (16 Hayley Raso 61?'?), 17 Kyah Simon (13 Tameka Yallop 74'), 19 Katrina Gorry (20 Sam Kerr 61') - Subs not used: RGK Lydia Williams, 4 Clare Polkinghorne, 6 Chloe Logarzo, 7 Stephanie Catley, 8 Elise Kellond-Knight, 12 Teegan Micah
Thailand: GK Tiffamy Sornpao, 3 Natthakarn Chinwong, 4 Pornpirun Philawan, 6 Pikul Khueanpet, 7 Silawan Intamee, 9 Warunee Phetwiset (5 Ainon Phancha 68?'?), 10 Sunisa Srangthaisong, 12 Nutwadee Pram-nak (15 Orapin Waen-Ngoen 82?'?), 13 Kanyanat Chetthabut (11 Kanjana Sung-Ngoen 36?'?), 16 Khwanrudi Saengchan, 17 Taneekarn Dangda - Subs not used: RGK Waraporn Boonsing, 2 Irravadee Makris, 8 Jiraporn Mongkoldee, 14 Saowalak Pengngam, 19 Ploychompoo Somnonk, 20 Slita Sutthibul
PORTSMOUTH BOSS SINGS PRIASES OF WILLIAMS
Portsmouth manager Kenny Jackett believes winger Ryan Williams is capable of adding more goals to his game after finding the net in a 2-0 weekend defeat of Tranmere Rovers. The 26-year old slotted in Pompey’s second goal of the game to ensure that the club achieved their best winning record in 100 years.
Portsmouth have now won nine times on the bounce, including their last three away games in the league. After the result, Jackett praised Williams’ performance, but also issued a challenge to him going forward. “His one (goal) on Saturday was a shot from outside the box, which was terrific,” Jackett told the Portsmouth News.
“He is a good player and it is about how you add goals to your game when you are in his position, because he brings so much to the team ... Goals are everybody’s target, we’ve got a young squad and Ryan is still a relatively young lad. I think his best years are ahead of him and I hope Pompey benefit from that.”
ITALIANO STAKES HIS CLAIM ON BEING NUMBER ONE AT NEWCASTLE
Lewis Italiano kept his first clean sheet for Newcastle Jets last weekend, and a repeat performance in today's derby with Central Coast Mariners should go a long way towards helping him realise a long-term goal. The 29-year old has featured in Newcastle's last four games, after spending much of the past two campaigns on the bench.
Regular 'keeper Glen Moss, currently sidelines with a calf injury, recently he will retire at season's end. And the off-contract Italiano has an ideal opportunity to convince Newcastle officials that he is capable of replacing the 249-game A-League veteran for next season and beyond.
"If I can perform, and do a job in between the sticks, hopefully the Jets won't go looking and they'll stay with me," Italiano, who played locally for Inglewood United, Balcatta, ECU Joondalup and Stirling Lions, told the Newcastle Herald. "So hopefully I can perform and help out the team as much as I possibly can."
As much as Italiano not begrudge Moss a chance to bow out of the A-League in style, he has no intention of handing over the gloves without a fight. "Obviously when he's playing, I push him, and when I'm playing, he's coaching me and pushing me in the right direction, because I want to follow in his footsteps," Italiano said.
"For him to announce his retirement, for him to get a few more games and get the send-off he deserves, I'll always be there for him. But it's an opportunity for me as well, to follow in his footsteps and to make myself the No.1 goalkeeper. So I obviously need to pursue playing time as well."
Italiano is relishing the rare chance to string together regular games, having made only 29 appearances in the A-League since signing with his home-town club, Perth Glory, for the 2011/12 season. Unlike outfield players, who might make cameo appearances as substitute, reserve keepers are called upon only if there is an injury or send-off.
"Obviously you can go weeks, you can go months, you can spend your whole career on the bench, but to be able to step in and get a few games under your belt, there's nothing better than that," said Italiano, who has also played in the Victorian league for Oakliehg Cannons and Bulleen Lions.
And while all keepers take pride in keeping their goal intact, Italiano said it required a collective effort. "Obviously not just for a goalkeeper, but also for the defenders and the team's sake, not conceding goals is a benefit for us," he said. "It was definitely a step in the right direction."
Sunday will be Italiano's first chance to experience an F3 derby for himself. "A derby is a big thing," he said. "You're playing the team down the road, so you want to be the winner ... we take every team seriously, although given it is the Mariners, I think you do pump yourself up more for that game especially."
GLORY'S AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SQUAD CONFIRMED
Perth Glory has today confirmed the 26-man squad that will represent the club in its maiden AFC Champions League campaign. Pitted in Group F alongside FC Tokyo, Ulsan Hyundai and Shanghai Shenhua, Tony Popovic's side will open with an away fixture against last season's J-League runners-up, FC Tokyo, on Tuesday 18 February 2020.
Under AFC Champions League regulations, three non-Australian players are permitted in the squad, with Diego Castro, Bruno Fornaroli and Greg Wuthrich filling those slots for Glory. Kim Soo-beom as an Asian player, meanwhile, is exempt from the non-Australian rule, while Dane Ingham is not classified as an overseas player as he holds dual Australian and New Zealand citizenship.
15-year-old PGFC Academy product, Joshua Rawlins, is included, as are recent signings Vince Lia, Tarek Elrich, Daniel Margush and Carlo Armiento. The squad was submitted in accordance with AFC registration regulations and injured players can be replaced during the next registration window.
Perth Glory Squad: 1.Tando VELAPHI (GK), 2.Alex GRANT, 3.Jacob TRATT, 4.Greg WUTHRICH, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Joel CHIANESE, 8.James MEREDITH, 9.Bruno FORNAROLI, 12.KIM, 13.Osama MALIK, 16.Tomislav MRCELA, 17.Diego CASTRO (C), 18.Nick D'AGOSTINO, 19.Chris IKONOMIDIS, 20.Jake BRIMMER, 21.Tarek ELRICH, 22.Vince LIA, 23.Dane INGHAM, 25.Carlo ARMIENTO, 26.Joshua RAWLINS, 28.Gabriel POPOVIC, 29.Kristian POPOVIC, 33.Liam REDDY (GK), 50.Daniel MARGUSH (GK), 88.Neil KILKENNY
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK THREE REVIEW
It was another exciting weekend of NPLWA Night Series games and in Pool One Floreat Athena moved clear at the top of the table after a 4-0 win against ECU Joondalup at E&D Litis Stadium. Perth SC lost top spot after being held to a 0-0 draw by Cockburn City in the early game at Dalmatinac Park. That let in Floreat to over top spot and it was Nick Ambrogio who gave the hosts the lead on 23 minutes after ECU failed to deal with a corner. They doubled their lead on the hour, when Noah Shamaki capitalized on a defensive mistake, and Liam Murray added the third on 76 minutes when referee Steven Gregory pointed to the spot. ECU keeper Johnny Perkins saved his initial spot kick but Murray was quickest to the rebound to score. The points were wrapped up for Floreat three minutes from time, another defensive mistake gave the ball to Murray who raced through and finished well past Perkins.
In the other Pool One game Bayswater City returned to the winner’s circle after a Daryl Nicol hat-trick gave them a 3-0 win against Rockingham City in the late game at Dalmatinac Park. Chris Coyne's side were ahead on 13 minutes after Luke Salmon was brought down in the penalty area and referee Julian Serra pointed straight to the spot and Nicol made no mistake with the resulting penalty. Bayswater doubled their lead three minutes before half time, a ball into the box from new signing Zayd Farah dropped to Nicol who finished with aplomb into the corner of the net. Nicol completed his hat-trick on the hour, the lively winger was sent clear with a superbly weighted through ball from Gordon Smith, he cut inside the last defender before firing home via a deflection to seal the win. "It was good to get back to winning ways, we looked quite threatening at times without really getting out of second gear," Nicol said. "But we are aware there are much tougher tests to come if we want to progress from a very difficult group."
In Pool Two Gwelup Croatia moved clear at the top of the table after a stunning 5-0 win against the undefeated Balcatta in the late game at Percy Doyle Reserve. Taki Nicolaidis' side were ahead on 25 minutes after former Balcatta midfielder Callum Timmins finished clinically from just inside the box. It was 2-0 on 32 minutes Hasani Sinclair got on the end of a quickly taken free kick to race one-on-one with the keeper to score and send them in at the break two to the good. Gwelup added a third on the hour Blair Govan's header crashed off the post and Timmins fired home the rebound. Ethan Brooks made it 4-0 with a left-foot curler into the bottom corner, before Sam Mitchinson bagged the fifth in the final minute to secure a comfortable win. "I'm very happy with the result and most importantly the three points," Nicolaidis said. "Balcatta certainly had their moments but I thought we were more clinical at the times that mattered."
Perth Glory won for the first time in the competition after a 4-0 win against Inglewood United in the early game at E&D Litis Stadium. Glory fielded a strong side for this one and they were ahead on 13 minutes. Giordano Colli's free kick from the left found Kristian Popovic who headed home. They doubled their advantage on 54 minutes, Josh Rawlins raced into the right of the penalty area and rolled the ball to Vince Lia, who fired into the bottom right corner. They added a third on 66 minutes, Colli's corner picked out Jacob Tratt, who headed home. But Glory were reduced to ten men on 75 minutes when Nick McDonald was sent off, but the ten men still had time for a fourth in the final minute. Rawlins found Ciaran Bramwell who chested the ball down on the run, rounded the keeper before rolling the ball into an empty net. “It was good to get our first win of the night series, and overall it was a strong performance from the team from start to finish," Bramwell said. "I thought defensively we were strong and in attack we created some good chances, so overall it was good to get the three points and also get a clean sheet."
In the final game Armadale also won for the first time with a 3-2 win against Sorrento in the early game at Percy Doyle Reserve. The Reds were ahead on eight minutes, Isaac Koomson made space down the left and cut the ball back to Peter Jacobsz who made no mistake. But the Gulls levelled on the quarter hour, with Alex Morgan converting from the penalty spot. But the Gulls were reduced to ten men just after the half hour with Ollie Annis sent off. After the break Armadale made their numerical advantage count when Roberto Soares was brought down in the penalty area and he picked himself up to fire past Yousri Gharsallah. But Jamie Harnwell's side weren’t finished, and they levelled on 59 minutes with second half substitute Danial Faichney on target. But John O'Reilly's side won it six minutes from time, Kevin Ashwood's long-range shot crashed off the cross bar and went in off Gharsallah. Things went from bad to worse for the Gulls when they were reduced to nine men when Tristan Stevens was sent off late in the game. "There were lots of promising improvements from a relatively new squad," O’Reilly said. "I'm very happy with the work ethic and plenty to work on now to keep moving forward."
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES - WEEK TWO REVIEW
It was week two of the State League Night Series and in Group A Fremantle City continued their winning start with a hard fought 2-0 win against Quinns at E&D Litis Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Angel Andres opened the scoring with a clinical finish when one-on-one with the Quinns keeper. They sealed the pints when Dantae Greer was played through on goal and despite some late pressure by the Quinns defender he held his composure to slot the ball beyond the goalkeeper and seal the win. “It was a good test for us, a different type of test to what we have faced up until now, with their strength and physicality,” Fremantle Coach Cameron Lord explained. “Some of the opportunities we created and the desperation we had when defending in our box to ensure we kept a clean sheet was most pleasing.”
In the other game in the group Shamrock Rovers beat Morley Windmills 3-1 in the late game at E&D Litis Stadium. Rovers were ahead in this one early, with Lachy Parker scoring from the spot. Parker doubled their lead from close-range, after Pat Morrison’s cross was headed back across goal by Ger Fitzgerald. It was 3-0 when Morrison poked the ball home in a goal mouth scramble. Morley pulled one back early in the second half but it was too little too late. “It was a good well-deserved win, and I thought we controlled the game from start to finish,” Fitzgerald said. “We learned a lot from our defeat last week against Fremantle and wanted to put things right this week and put in a good performance. We slightly changed some things and it worked well with our midfield and forwards playing very well. The defence was solid and it was an all-round very good team performance. We will be looking to build again next week when we play Quinn’s a game we’re looking forward to.”
In Group B Ashfield beat Subiaco 2-0 at Kingsway Reserve, with goals from Cadri Sylla and Samim Fattahi, while in the other game Wanneroo City beat Dianella White Eagles 6-2 at Wanneroo Reserve. The hosts were ahead on 10 minutes, with Joel Ledsham scoring from close-range after a corner wasn’t dealt with. They doubled their advantage just before half time, a great run and finish from Shakeel Alexander to send Wanneroo in 2-0 up at the break. But Rod Banjac’s side were back in the game early in the second half with Nikola Zmukic on target, but Wanneroo regained their two-goal lead with Alexander bagging his second. It was 4-1 with Craig Tooley firing home from close-range. Dianella pulled another one back through Nicola Riveros, but Wanneroo weren’t finished and Ashley Corker added a fifth with a good finish and Simon Burt scored the sixth late on. “I’m very happy with the teams form over the last few weeks with the amount of changes we have made within the squad,” Wanneroo Coach Jesse Bridgeman said. “But the boys have stepped up and its positive to see a result like that and gives us something strong to build on.”
In Group C Kingsley Westside made it back-to-back wins after a 3-1 win against Balga at Kingsway Reserve. Steven Dimitrovich’s side made a perfect start and were ahead in the first minute. Mark Eldridge’s shot was saved by the Balga keeper Lance Alavakis, but Joel Gillespie followed up to score. Balga levelled on the half hour, Dejan Andric was fouled in the box and he easily converted from the spot. But Kingsley regained their lead five minutes from half time Jayden Drummond pounced on a defensive mistake, before rounding Alavakis and rolling the ball home. Sean Johnson made sure of the win five minutes from time, racing on a through ball and lobbing the on-coming Alavakis. “It was a good start scoring in first 30 seconds but we should’ve put the game to bed in the first 20 minutes, we hit the post and cross bar a numerous amount of times in the first half,” Drummond said. “The ref gifted them a penalty, and they grew a bit more into the game, but fortunately didn’t threaten us too much after that.”
In the other game in the group Forrestfield United won for the first time after a 3-1 win against UWA Nedlands at Hartfield Park. The hosts were ahead Michael Fletcher cross was poked home by Dan Corbett from 6 yards out. It was 2-0 when Rhys Loxley won the ball from a UWA defender on the edge of the box, who crossed to Corbett who lost his marker to finish from close range. UWA pulled one back on a quick counter attack with Cameron Holley setting up Pascal Sedgwick to score. But Forrestfield wrapped up the points when a cross from the right by Cherno Bah was volleyed home by Loxley. “I thought we played well and controlled the game for large parts, especially in the second half,” Loxley said. “We didn’t play particularly well the week before so it was important for us to bounce back and put in a good performance, and I think we probably got about 60 minutes’ worth. We are still very early on in our pre-season and it is important that we continue to work towards preparing for the first game of the season, and not get ahead of ourselves. We will look to build on our performance and try and improve for the next game against Balga.”
In Group D Western Knights also remain undefeated after a 3-1 win against Joondalup United at Wanneroo Reserve. The Knights were ahead when Conor Devlin’s shot from the edge of the box flew into the net. It was 2-0 when Alex Kretowicz pounced on a fumble from the Joondalup keeper. They added a third late in the game after Josh Kamasz headed home from a Ciaran Byrne cross. “I was really pleased with how we played and get the result,” Knights’ Coach Ivan Zuvela said. “I thought we kept possession well and our work ethic to close their space was excellent.” In the other game Kelmscott Roos fought out a 2-1 win against Joondalup City at Edinburgh Oval. It was Joondalup who hit the front with Luke Peacock heading home Jake Hailstones corner, but the Roos levelled with Asa Sippits seeing the Joondalup keeper of his line and he chipped him superbly. Kelmscott won it when Simon Williams cut into the box and played in Sippits who scored his second to win it. “I thought we started slowly, but settled once we scored the equaliser,” Kelmscott coach Richard Bryant said. “Joondalup pushed us for a good portion of the second half, but in a nut-shell, we defended well and took our chances.”
In Group E Canning City remain undefeated after a 2-0 win against Gosnells City in a local derby at Hartfield Park. Canning’s goals came from new signing Ryan Moran, both strikes from outside the penalty area. “I was very pleased to get a result against a good side, and we knew it would be tough game and it was certainly a good battle overall,” Canning coach Chris Finlayson said. “The lads deserved the win I believe it’s been a while that Canning has got up over Gosnells, and while it may be preseason confidence is growing and the lads need that after last season It’s another week, and we grow as a squad, but we still have a lot to fine tune but I have complete confidence in my group the team bond is getting stronger and we look forward to another tough encounter this weekend against Mandurah City.
In the other game in the group Olympic Kingsway beat Mandurah City 3-2 at Kingsway Reserve. The host were ahead on the half hour when Pat Sara’s cross was headed home by Dion Burman. They added a second with Burman bagging a second, before Hamza Hena was brought down and he picked himself up to score from the resulting penalty. It looked game over but Mandurah had other ideas and goals from Shane Boyle and Reagan Davidson made it a close finish, but Olympic hung on for the points. “It was good to get a win and we were looking comfortable at 3-0 with 10 minutes to go,” Olympic coach Gary Williams explained. “However, credit to Mandurah for working to the end and getting back into contention which also provided some learning points for our side.”
Finally, in Group F Stirling Lions made it back-to-back wins after a 5-4 win against Swan United at Kingsway Reserve. The Lions thought they had this won at half time after a brace from Gavin Knight and others to Nic Chalot, Zed Bezdek and Matej Centrih had them 5-1 up, while John Monterosso scored Swans goal. But after the break Eric Williams’ side fought back and goals from David Foster, Allen Paterov and an own goal made it 5-4, and despite pressing for the equaliser the Lions hung on. “It was a strange game to play in against my old team, but Stirling came out of the blocks on the whistle and we played very well the first half scoring five goals,” Knight said. “Then at half time we wanted to keep to the same game plan but it was Swans turn to come out of the blocks and put a lot of pressure onto us and we let them back in the game and we gave them three easy goals. But we kept fighting and happy with the points and hopefully qualify on Sunday night after our game against Murdoch.”
In the other game in the group it was a University Derby, with Murdoch University Melville beating Curtin University 1-0 at Edinburgh Oval. The only goal of the game came in the first half, a long ball was played over the top and there was a mix up between Curtin’s defender and goal keeper, the ball fell nicely to Albert Amankwaa and he passed the ball into an empty net. “I was pleased to get the result against a tricky opposition,” MUM Coach Matt Wardle said. “It was a game a few chances for both teams and we were lucky enough to take ours, so we now look forward to a hard match against a quality side in Stirling next week.”
D’AGOSTINO ON A HIGH
Nick D’Agostino continued his goalscoring form with a double against Wellington Phoenix and the Perth Glory youngster credits strike partner Bruno Fornaroli for setting the standards high. The 21-year-old struck twice in the 4-2 triumph at HBF Park on Saturday night, making it three goals in six days for the Premiers since returning from international duty with Graham Arnold’s Australia U-23 side in January. Glory head coach Tony Popovic received some bad news on Chris Ikonomidis’ ACL injury in midweek, while skipper Diego Castro is still sidelined, but D’Agostino has stepped up since his heroics in helping the Olyroos qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and was outstaning on Friday and was rewarded with the clubs 'Player of the Match' award.
The ex-Brisbane Roar forward scored three times at the AFC U-23 Championship in Thailand, including the goal which booked Graham Arnold's side a first Olympics berth for 12 years in a 1-0 playoff win against Uzbekistan, and he has kept up the momentum since returning to Western Australia. D’Agostino’s stoppage-time equaliser rescued a point for Glory against Melbourne Victory last Saturday and his brace led the Premiers to three points against their Kiwi opponents in Round 18, before Uruguayan hitman Fornaroli had the final word with a stunning strike to make it 10 goals in 16 matches in 2019/20. “I’m always trying to learn off [Fornaroli],” D’Agostino said post-match. “We know he’s got the quality, we just have to feed the ball into him a bit more and we know he can produce magic like that. He’s one of the best strikers in the league so obviously I want to learn as much as I can and keep that gelling really well, and keep that going for the weeks to come.”
It's taken time for the striker to cement a spot in the Glory side, but a series of hip and Achilles injuries has kept D’Agostino out, but three goals in three games is already his best goalscoring season since debuting for Brisbane in 2015. The striker believes his time in the international arena has improved his match sharpness and the rest of the Hyundai A-League is starting to feel the results. “That Olyroos camp really helped, playing games every three days really helped my fitness,” D’Agostino said. “I’m feeling the best I’ve ever felt in my career so hopefully [I’ll] keep getting some more minutes and putting goals in the back of the net.”
D’AGOSTINO AT THE DOUBLE FOR GLORY
Perth Glory extended their unbeaten run to nine games after a 4-2 win against Wellington Phoenix at HBF Park on Friday evening. Nick D'Agostino bagged a brace, while Tomislav Mrcela and Bruno Fornaroli also found the net in a thrilling encounter. Phoenix striker Gary Hooper bagging a brace for the visitors, who ended the game with ten men after Tim Payne was sent off after receiving a harsh second yellow card. The win maintains Glory’s third spot on the Hyundai A-League table, and coach Tony Popovic was pleased with his side’s performance.
"It was good, obviously there was a little period there in the second half after they scored where we looked a little bit nervous, but apart from that period, I thought we thoroughly deserved to win,” he said. “We conceded a couple of soft goals, but prior to that, at 3-0, we had a couple of chances to make it four or five. In the end, I thought we deserved to get the fourth goal. Of course, I would have preferred that we saw the game out a lot easier, but we didn't and that's something we can keep improving on. You're never the finished article and we certainly know we're not, but we're on a fantastic run and we just scored four goals at home, so there's a lot to be happy about."
Glory players and coaching staff all wore black arm bands for the game in memory of one of the clubs academy player, whose mother had passed away in the week. Glory were again without skipper Diego Castro, while James Meredith was replaced in the starting line-up by Koran defender Kim Soo-Beom. Glory started well, in front of disappointing crowd, and Phoenix keeper Stefan Marinovic produced a smart save to deny Joel Chianese’s close-range half-volley, before Phoenix striker David Ball saw his header flash wide. It looked like the sides would go to the break all square, but two minutes before half time Glory hit the front. Neil Kilkenny's corner was flicked on by Chianese and Mrcela lost his marker to nod home his second goal of the season. Then in first-half stoppage-time Glory added a second. Chianese and Fornaroli combined on the right, and Fornaroli picked out D'Agostino who rifled the ball past Marinovic.
It was 3-0 early in the second half. Fornaroli played a superb through ball to Kim on the left, and the Koran crossed from the bye-line and D’Agostino lost his marker and headed home and celebrated in front of the Shed. It looked game over but the Phoenix had other ideas and substitute Hooper headed home Payne's cross from the right. But moments later Payne saw red after a trip on D’Agostino, it did look harsh but the ten men reduced the margin on 76 minutes. Hooper was given far too much room in the box, and his shot on the turn beat Liam Reddy at his near post. It was the visitors who were on top and the small crowd were on edge of their seats, but they were out of them on 90 minutes when Glory sealed the points. Fornaroli picked the ball up on the left and cut inside and unleashed a powerful shot that flew past Marinovic, much to the delight of the Glory faithful, to take his tally for the season to ten.
Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay was not happy about the red card and didn’t hold back after the match. "It's the referee’s opinion at the end of the day, but in my opinion, I think they are inconsistent in their calls anyway,” he said. “They need to more consistent in what they do. The A-League is not a developmental league for referees. Players go out there and play for results and sometimes decisions influence the game." Putting aside that frustration, Talay was disappointed with the sloppy end to the first half, as they conceded the kind of goals, they have usually prevented this season, but also impressed with their second half comeback. "We made it difficult for ourselves, conceding two goals in three minutes late in the first half," Talay said. "We made changes and got back into it but the sending off made it a lot more difficult. But the boys showed a lot of pride in themselves and courage and still went for it and tried to get something out of the game."
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 2 Alex GRANT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 5 Ivan FRANJIC (21 Tarek ELRICH, 77'), 7 Joel CHIANESE, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM (8 James MEREDITH 69'), 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 18 Nicholas D’AGOSTINO, 20 Jake BRIMMER (29 Kristian POPOVIC 73'), 88 Neil KILKENNY - Subs not used: GK Tando VELAPHI, 22 Vince LIA, 23 Dane INGHAM, 28 Gabriel POPOVIC
Wellington Phoenix: GK Stefan MARINOVIC, 3 Luke DEVERE, 6 Tim PAYNE, 7 Reno PISCOPO (21 Callum MCCOWATT, 82'), 8 Cameron DEVLIN, 9 David Ball, 10 Ulises DAVILA, 11 Jaushua SOTIRIO (88 Gary HOOPER 55'), 13 Liberato CACACE, 14 Alex RUFER (4 Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI 73'), 27 Steven TAYLOR – Subs not used: RGK Oliver SAIL, 12 Brandon WILSON, 32 Sam SUTTON - Red Cards: Payne 71’ - Attendance: 7248 - Referee: Adam Kersey
MATILDAS OPEN OLYMPICS QUALIFYING CAMPAIGN IN STYLE
Despite captain Sam Kerr starting on the bench, the Matildas delivered an utterly dominant performance to open their Olympics qualification campaign in style with a 7-0 defeat of Chinese Taipei at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. Australia ran riot in the first half with Arsenal striker Caitlin Foord scoring a hat-trick with another from Stephanie Catley to put the Matildas 4-0 up at the break. Kerr emerged off the bench and scored just three minutes later in the second stanza, while fullback Steph Catley, winger Hayley Raso, and fellow substitute Katrina Gorry each put their names on the scoresheet.
Australia coach Ante Milicic was proud of his team’s ruthlessness in spite of Taiwan’s defensive intent. “They went away from their usual set-up. With a 5-4-1 block, it’s easy to get frustrated,” Milicic said post-game. “I was pleased that we went in at halftime with a good lead, but at the same time we didn’t stop. Second half we wanted to build on that, and we did, so overall, very pleased.” Facing a Chinese Taipei side that upset Thailand 1-0 in their opening match, Foord proved it wasn’t just water raining down, banging home a hat-trick in just 38 minutes. The Matildas were dominant from the start, with the midfield in particular showing their class in unlocking the visitors defensive-minded formation. Foord struck first in the 10th minute, calmly sliding the ball past the Taipei keeper when she was played into the box by Kyah Simon.
The second goal was much the same, experienced Matildas midfielder Emily van Egmond threading the ball through delightfully with a no-look pass from the edge of the box. Foord danced around the keeper and poked home from six yards. Left back Steph Catley scored just her third international goal just after the half-hour mark, her aggressive darting run behind the backline rewarded by a pinpoint Van Egmond pass. Catley only just managed to beat the Chinese Taipei keeper to the ball and proceeded to chip neatly into the back of the net. But Foord wasn’t to be denied her second-ever hat-trick for the Matildas, with Emily van Egmond ghosting behind the defensive line and receiving a long aerial ball while unmarked. Her first touch set up Foord for yet another relatively simple finish.
Van Egmond was substituted at half-time, while Kerr arrived off the bench in the 61st minute. By that stage, Hayley Raso had made it 5-0 with a zippy counter-attack. As four Matildas charged towards goal - facing just one defender and the keeper - Raso stepped around the keeper calmly and banged home. Kerr scored just three minutes after arriving off the bench in the 61st minute, the Matildas continuing to create a host of chances - and Kerr was never going to miss from close range. The chances kept flowing but the clinical finishing faded, at least until Katrina Gorry volleyed home from eight yards after the keeper deflected a cross in her direction. The Matildas now move top of Group A in the Asian qualifying region, needing to finish in the top two of the four-team group to earn an Olympics play-off. China won their opening match against Thailand 6-1 earlier on Friday, setting up a blockbuster and potentially decisive final match next Thursday.
Matildas: GK Lydia Williams, 4 Clare Polkinghorne, 5 Karly Roestbakken, 6 Chloe Logarzo, 7 Stephanie Catley, 8 Elise Kellond-Knight, 9 Caitlin Foord (15 Emily Gielnik 75’), 10 Emily van Egmond (19 Katrina Gorry 46’), 11 Jenna McCormick, 16 Hayley Raso, 17 Kyah Simon (20 Sam Kerr 61’) – Subs not used: RGK Mackenzie Arnold, 2 Ellie Carpenter, 3 Aivi Luik, 12 Teegan Micah, 14 Alanna Kennedy
Chinese Taipei: GK Chen Si Yu, 2 Zhuo Li-Ping, 3 Jhuo Li Shan, 4 Pan Shin-Yu, 7 Chen Yen-Ping, 8 Wang Hsiang Huei (10 Tseng Shu O 86’), 9 Lee Hsiu-Chin (19 Su Yu-Hsuan 73’), 12 Chang Chi-Lan (5 Nien Ching-Yun 46’), 14 Yu Chen-Lan, 16 Li Pei-Jung, 17 Ting Chi – Subs not used: RGK Tsai Ming Jung, , 6 Pan Yen-Hsin, , 11 Lin Ya-Hui, 13 Isabella Lee, 15 Ting Chia-Ying, , 20 Lin Hsin-Hui
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK THREE PREVIEW
It's Week three of the NPLWA Night Series and with Perth Glory in A-League action on Friday evening all the fixtures will be played on Saturday. First in Pool One Cockburn City host the undefeated Perth SC at Dalmatinac Park on Saturday afternoon (5.00pm). Ramon Falzon's side have started as they finished last season, and the big win against Rockingham City showed the league they are one of the teams to beat for the title in 2020. But for Cockburn it's not been an ideal start, losing their opening two games, but keeper Luke Radonich said there were good signs in last week’s loss against ECU Joondalup. “The last two results wise was not what we were looking for, however the performance last week was better than our first game than our first so that’s a big positive,” the keeper said.
“We just have to keep building on our performances every night series game towards the start of the session.” The Cockburn custodian said Saturday's game against Perth will be a tough one, but he said they will be ready for the challenge. "Yes, it’s going to be a tough challenge as they seem to have started night series off well,” Radonich said. “However, I think the boys will be up for it and hopefully we can build on last week’s performance." In the late game at Dalmatinac Park Rockingham City take on Bayswater City (7.00pm), with both sides looking to bounce back from defeats last week.
The final game in the Pool sees Floreat Athena host ECU Joondalup at E&D Litis Stadium. Floreat are also unbeaten in the Pool and beat Bayswater last week, and they will have interim coach Ante Kovacevic in charge for the first time in this one. ECU also won for the first time under new coach Kenny Lowe, with Danny Hodgson scoring the only goal on his debut for the club against Cockburn, and he said it was a good win for the club, and they need to bring a similar performance against Floreat. "It was a great win as Cockburn came at us for 90 minutes, and I thought we were solid at the back we didn’t really let them have a chance,” he said. “With the changeover at the club it’s important we use the night series as a platform to get fit and get an understanding of how Kenny (Lowe) wants us to play. Floreat will be a very hard game they always have a good go at the night series competition, but hopefully we can do something similar to Saturday, stay organised, work hard and we can get the win.”
First up in Pool Two Sorrento will go in search of their first win in the competition when they host Armadale at Percy Doyle Reserve on Saturday afternoon. (5.00pm) The Reds have lost both games and coach John O'Reilly will hope they turn that around on Saturday, while Sorrento were edged out in a five-goal thriller last week against Balcatta, but new signing Ollie Annis said they had their chances to win it. "We felt like we had a good chunk of the first half, and we controlled the ball well and got into some good positions but just couldn’t put them away,” he explained. “We just started way to slowly in the second half which ultimately cost us. I think we’re capable of bouncing back regardless who we play, we haven’t been together long as a team but I feel like we are quite organised in terms of shape and structure. So hopefully we can put in another good performance for the full 90 minutes and get our first win under our belts.”
In the late game at Percy Doyle Reserve the undefeated Balcatta take on newly promoted Gwelup Croatia. (7.00pm) Balcatta have fought out two entertaining wins so far and Goran Static’s team have impressed, but will come up against a Gwelup side fresh off their first win in the competition last week against Perth Glory. New recruit Daniel Stynes said it was good to get the first win in the preseason competition. "It was a very good result/performance from the boys and good to get the first one on the board,” he said. “The Glory are always difficult to play against but I thought we exploited them really well and capitalised on our chances”
Stynes, who joined the club from Bentleigh Greens, said Saturday will be a good test. "It should be a good game against Balcatta and another good test for us in preseason,” he said. “We’ll be striving to go on a bit of a run now and keep winning games.” In the other game in the Pool sees Inglewood United take on Perth Glory at E&D Litis Stadium on Saturday afternoon. (5.00pm) The Glory are still searching for their first win in the competition, while Inglewood sit second behind Balcatta after a win and a draw.
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES - WEEK TWO PREVIEW
We go into week two of the State League Night Series, and like the NPL no games will be played on Friday, with Perth Glory at home in A-League action. First in Group A the two winners of week one, Quinns and Fremantle City, meet at E&D Litis Stadium on Sunday afternoon. (5.00pm), while in the late game at the venue Morley Windmills take on Shamrock Rovers. (7.00pm) Rovers’ Ger Fitzgerald said a new look Shamrock side took a great deal of positives from the game last week. “It was only our second preseason game and we had four new players starting, and a few new boys on the bench, so we learned a lot from the game from where we are and where we want to be,” he said. “But all credit to Fremantle they were very good, well organised and moved the ball well.
“They will be one of the favourites to win Division One and we can definitely see why, but we kept going until the very end but some silly mistakes cost us some soft goals.” Fitzgerald said they will look for an improved performance against Morley. “I don’t know too much about Morley really, only they came down from Division One last year, so they will be strong and we will continue to build on the Fremantle game and learn from our mistakes and hopefully get a result I know we are capable of getting,” he explained. “We will still be experimenting with different players and formations and that’s what the night series is all about trying new players and new things and build on that towards the start of the season.”
The Group B games are on Saturday, and first up at Kingsway Reserve, Subiaco and Ashfield meet (5.00pm), with both sides looking to maintain their good start to the preseason. The other game in the group sees Wanneroo City host Dianella White Eagles at Wanneroo Reserve (5.00pm). Both sides were edged out narrowly in the opening game, with the Roos losing 3-2 to Subiaco, while the Eagles lost a nine-goal thriller against Ashfield. However, Dianella were informed in midweek they would be given the game as a 3-0 win as Ashfield fielded an ineligible player, but new coach Rod Banjac said whatever the result he was pleased with the performance.
"I was a great first time hit out for us and although erratic at times neutrals would have had a field day as there were some fantastic goals on show from both sides, individual as well as collective,” Banjac explained. “Our objective for the match against a very good opponent was to work on the basic structure and to get mileage in our legs, and we certainly clocked up a few of those, and of course the result is always important, but to put it all into perspective it is also the last thing on our list of priorities at this point in time. The main focus is on re-establishing our identity and to perfect our brand of football that will eventually bring us success.”
Banjac said he is expecting another tough game on Saturday. “Wanneroo are always competitive and we look forward to this match as they are one of the better clubs in our league, and it will be a good indication as to what we’re up against in the season ahead,” he said. “Our approach to the match will be no different to last week where we will experiment, address all options at our disposal, and of course continue to rotate in order to create the depth within the squad. Our squad has very much embraced the process and now it’s just a matter of time before we put it into practice throughout the 90 minutes.”
Kingsley Westside started life in the State League well with a 4-3 win against holders Forrestfield United in Group C and this week they take on Balga at Kingsway Reserve on Saturday evening (5.00pm) It wasn't the start new Balga coach Bobby Taneski was looking for, going down 1-6 to UWA Nedlands, but the coach said it was a good hit out for his side. “It was our second friendly of pre-season and we entered the game with a mixed squad again as we try to find juggle match fitness and injuries to key players,” he said. “Our focus remains for the season proper and we will keep exposing younger players against good opposition as we progress with the night series, it is important we give them an opportunity to impress. We are not concerned with the score against UWA, as we have full belief in the squad, patterns of play and match fitness is what we are looking for during this process. If statistics are to go by then winning the Night Series does not guarantee the team promotion.”
Taneski knows the quality Kingsley Westside have and is expecting another tough on Saturday evening. “They (Kingsley) are a good team, I know several of their players and their qualities, and it was an impressive result against Forrestfield and I expected nothing else,” he said. “They are the new team in the State League and hyperarousal plays a part, I am sure they wish to prove they belong. As mentioned, they have quality on the pitch and a fantastic coach, no surprise to me they performed well. For us we will not underestimate their qualities, although we are looking to build match sharpness and reintroduction of players coming back from injuries.” The other game in the group sees Forrestfield United looking to bounce back when they entertain UWA Nedlands at Hartfield Park on Saturday afternoon (5.00pm).
In Group D Western Knights will be looking to build on their first up win when they meet Joondalup United at Wanneroo Reserve on Saturday evening. (7.00pm) The Knights beat Kelmscott in their opener while United were held to a draw in the Joondalup Derby. In the other game Joondalup City take on Kelmscott Roos at Edinburgh Oval on Sunday afternoon (5.00pm) Roos coach Richard Bryant said last week was positive performance from his side. “Western Knights are a quality side, but we took a lot from the performance, we looked like a team working together and made life difficult for the them and held our shape for most of the game, so I was very pleased,” he explained. “Looking ahead to Sunday’s game we know it will be another tough game and they (Joondalup City) did the double over us last year, so we will have to be disciplined to get anything from the game.”
In Group E there is a local derby when Canning City take on Gosnells City at Hartfield Park on Saturday evening. (7.00pm) Canning fought out a draw against Olympic Kingsway last week, while Gosnells beat Mandurah, so it should be another entertaining game. In the other game in the group Olympic Kingsway host Mandurah City at Kingsway Reserve on Sunday evening. (7.00pm) Olympic were impressive in the league last season, their best finish for a number of seasons, so Mandurah coach Pete Taylor knows the challenge that lies ahead for them in this one. “The result last week was a difficult one as it wasn’t a reflection of the game as a whole, and we definitely took more positives than negatives from the performance,” he explained.
“But we did fatigue quite badly in the last 20 minutes and credit to Gosnells as they were able to exploit that. That said it’s all about experimenting at this stage and we’ll continue to do so. Olympic will be another tough opponent but one we are looking forward too. It’s another opportunity to give players some minutes in the legs and to lift the fitness levels. We know the football problems that occurred in the second half last week so it gives the players another game to work on those errors and to try and eradicate them.”
Finally, in Group F, Swan United will be looking to bounce back from last weeks loss to Murdoch University Melville when they meet Stirling Lions at Kingsway Reserve on Sunday afternoon (5.00pm), while the Lions will look to continue on last week’s win against Curtin. In the other game in the group, MUM travel to Edinburgh Oval to take on Curtin University on Sunday evening. (7.00pm) Curtin Head Coach Michael Philp said last weeks performance was pleasing and more of the same on Sunday would be nice. “We were pleased with the performance against Stirling, who are a very good side, while we have a lot of new faces this year and this is only the second time, they've been able to play together,” he explained.
“So, it was good to see improvement, but we were somewhat disappointed in the manner in which we conceded, straight after scoring, but I think that will come. We know MUM are a fantastic team and were close to getting promoted last year, so I'd expect them to be pushing again and to go one better. We go into the game on Sunday in a positive mindset and it gives another opportunity to work on our systems against a quality side.”
GLORY AND PHOENIX MEET IN THE ‘LONG DISTANCE DERBY’
Perth Glory are back in Hyundai A-League action on Friday when they host Wellington Phoenix in Week 18 at HBF Park in the 'Long Distance Derby'.(6.45pm WA Time) It's a vital game for both sides with only two points separating them on the table, the Glory are coming off back-to-back draws, while the Phoenix are coming off the bye, but returned to the winners circle after a hard fought 2-1 win against Newcastle Jets last time out, this after a surprise loss to Brisbane in week 16.
Tony Popovic's side will be looking to continue their nine-game undefeated run, but after two draws he is hoping they can find that winning feeling again, but knows the Nix are in good form. "They [Wellington] are having a great season so far and have been very consistent," he said. “They started by losing their first four games, a little similar to us, with our run extending a bit longer than theirs. Now we find ourselves close to each other on the table in a good position and we both want to kick on. They've had the bye, so we know they'll come here refreshed and ready for a big game. But there's a real determination and focus among the players to out on a really good performance on Friday and we're looking forward to it."
The coach spoke of his disappointment in the way his side defended last week against the Victory, something they need to step up against a Phoenix who pose a serious attacking threat. "You don't become deficient now after seven games of top defending," he said. "We had a few off-moments and conceded two very good individual goals. Apart from that, we didn't give away too many chances. That's not to say we were happy with our defending, but not too much has been said about that. They [the players] understand where that was at, but they did well enough to stay in the game and get an equaliser.
"Overall it was a pleasing result and we hope to be better on Friday. In attack they [Wellington] are scoring goals and playing a good brand of football and defensively they have also been really strong. When you look at their backline, they've been very stable and haven't changed many players and they're making it very hard for teams to break them down. As a whole, they are doing a very good job."
In team news Glory winger Chris Ikonomidis will miss the rest of the season with a serious knee injury he sustained against Victory last week, meanwhile Popovic confirmed that skipper Diego Castro and Osama Malik are a chance to return to the squad for the game. “We'll see with Diego, for a couple of weeks he was struggling a bit there with training and playing, not that you could really tell by the way he played,” he said. “But we know how he feels because we work with him every day. I'm not sure he'll be right for Friday, but if he is, I'm sure he'll put his hand up.
"He's on a light session today [Wednesday] and on the pitch with us tomorrow, so if he's good tomorrow, he'll be involved. Osama [Malik] has been back for almost two weeks now, training with the team and he’s getting closer and is available for selection, but Juande is still not fit enough to be selected." Glory will be looking to add to a run of three successive wins over Phoenix in which they have scored ten goals and conceded just one. But Ufuk Talay's men will make the long trip from New Zealand in buoyant mood having suffered only one defeat since Round 4 and will have Olyroos midfielder Reno Piscopo back.
The youngster was a star as the Australian under 23’s qualified for the Tokyo Olympics and he’s happy to be back. “Coming back, I feel great, it's good to be back here with the boys and the team and I had my first training session and it didn't feel like I was gone for five weeks,” he said. “I watched every game and I'm proud of the boys, we're still going strong and that's the main thing. There's healthy competition now in our team and I'm looking forward to the weekend. If I play, I'm happy and if I don’t, I'm happy just to support the team because I know I've been gone for a while so it's not easy to come back in."
Wellington Coach Ufuk Talay said it was a timely boost to have Piscopo back ahead of a tricky run of fixtures. They play the top three teams within a four-week stretch. "He's had a few days off after a long tournament in Thailand but the one good thing about that is that I think he'll adjust to the heat we'll have in Perth," he said. "But it's good, he's match fit, he played a lot of games while he was away and he had some good performances as well so hopefully he brings that back to us." The Phoenix flew to Perth on Monday, two days earlier than usual in order to acclimatise to the warmer conditions.
Perth Glory squad: GK Liam REDDY, RGK Tando VELAPHI, 2 Alex GRANT, 3 Jacob TRATT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 5 Ivan FRANJIC, 7 Joel CHIANESE, 8 James MEREDITH, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM, 13 Osama MALIK, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, 18 Nicholas D’AGOSTINO, 20 Jake BRIMMER, 21 Tarek ELRICH, 22 Vince LIA, 28 Gabriel POPOVIC, 29 Kristian POPOVIC, 88 Neil KILKENNY - *1-3 to be omitted* - Ins: MALIK (returns from injury), CASTRO (promoted) - Outs: 19 Chris IKONOMIDIS (ACL - Season) - Unavailable: 6 Dino DJULBIC (ankle – indefinite), 27 JUANDE (groin – 1 week)
Wellington Phoenix squad: GK Stefan MARINOVIC, RGK Oliver SAIL, 2 Liam MCGING, 3 Luke DEVERE, 4 Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 5 Matti STEINMANN, 6 Tim PAYNE, 7 Reno PISCOPO, 8 Cameron DEVLIN, 9 David Ball, 10 Ulises DAVILA, 11 Jaushua SOTIRIO, 12 Brandon Wilson, 13 Liberato CACACE, 14 Alex RUFER, 17 Callan Elliot, 21 Callum MCCOWATT, 27 Steven TAYLOR, 31 Ben WAINE, 32 Sam SUTTON, 88 Gary HOOPER - *2-4 to be omitted* - Ins: MCGING (promoted), STEINMANN (Return from Suspension), PISCOPO (Return from International Duty) - Outs: 23Walter SCOTT (Injury – Knee) - Unavailable: 16Louis FENTON (Shoulder - Season) - Referee: Adam Kersey
WE HAVE THE GRAND FINAL IN SIGHT: FORNAROLI
Bruno Fornaroli says Perth Glory are aiming for a spot in this year’s Grand Final as they continue their unbeaten run. Glory are sitting in third spot on the A-League table, one point behind second-placed Melbourne City and 14 points behind pacesetters Sydney FC.
Fornaroli says the club want to go one better than season, when the lost the Grand Final to Sydney. "Our mentality is challenge for the Grand Final, of course," Fornaroli told ftbl.com.au "At the moment we are a bit behind Sydney FC but we don’t look down, we need points, we need to win game-by-game."
"This league gives you the opportunity to come second or third and win the Grand Final. This is what we want, try to win games and try to be in the best position and fight for the Grand Final. This club has never won the (A-League) Grand Final so it would be great to make history if we do it."
Glory have put aside a slow start to the season to go are unbeaten in their past eight games, with two draws and six victories. The last time they came away from a game with nothing to show was 29 November. But Fornaroli insists they have changed nothing over the past two months.
"We've found a way (to get results)," the 32-year old said. "The first couple of games we played good football without results. People ask now what we’ve changed, and I think the secret is changing nothing. We're still believing in what the coach and all the staff say."
"We still believe in our football and try to be calm because we know our moment is coming. After that you win one, you win two and after that the confidence is back and the football is still there. Now is the moment to play good football, enjoy it and win games. We are third and we are close to Melbourne City so it’s important games coming up."
IKONOMIDIS OUT FOR THE SEASON AFTER TEARING ACL
Perth Glory’s Chris Ikonomidis is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines following confirming the winger has suffered a serious knee injury. The Socceroo tore an anterior cruciate ligament shortly after coming off the bench during the second half of Saturday's A-League clash with Melbourne Victory.
Ikonomidis, 24, immediately appeared to be aware of the seriousness of the injury, beating the turf in frustration before limping off. The news is a blow for Glory’s A-League and Asian Champions League campaigns and the injury will also leave Ikonomidis unavailable for a huge year of international competition.
Ikonomidis played a role in Graham Arnold’s national team squad at last year’s Asian Cup and would have hoped to play in the World Cup qualifiers later this year. He would also have been a potential option for the Socceroos at the Copa America and as an overage player for the Olyroos at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“Obviously we’re all hugely disappointed for Chris,” said Glory’s football director Jacob Burns. “It’s always difficult when a player suffers a serious injury, but we have an excellent medical team at the club who will go above and beyond to provide him with all the assistance and support he needs to make a full recovery.”
AFC RESCHEDULES GLORY-SHANGHAI GAME
Perth Glory's Asian Champions League home game against Shanghai Shenhua has been re-scheduled until the end of April. The two sides were due to meet at Perth Oval next Tuesday, 11 February, but following restrictions on visitors from China entering Australia due to the coronavirus outbreak, the game has now been put back to Tuesday 28 April.
KERR RULES OUT TAKING RISKS
Sam Kerr has returned to full training but insists she won’t jeopardise her fitness or the Matildas’ performance in Friday’s Olympic Games qualifier against Taiwan in Sydney. Battling a thigh strain, the Matilda’s captain hinted she would be held back for her teams’ games with Thailand (10 February) and China (12 February).
Kerr picked up the injury during her first week with London club Chelsea, blaming the cold weather but playing down the seriousness of the complaint. “To be honest, if I’m good, I’ll go,” Kerr said ahead of Friday’s opening clash with Taiwan. “But the most important thing is the team. I’m not going to be taking any risks.”
“There’ll be no real decision, it’s day to day, really. I’ve got the best medical staff I could have working with me, and it feels really good today, but I’ve got a fair bit to get through until Friday. I don’t want to jeopardise me or the team. I have no worries at all that the girls will play their best this week.”
With the staccato schedule, Kerr sad the whole squad would have a role to play over three games. “I don’t think many players will play all three this week, so it’s going to be different circumstances for everyone,” she said. “This injury’s been hanging around for a little bit. I just want to get it right.”
“Any time you get an injury, it is hard. It’s been quite frustrating that it’s been lingering around for a while. But I’ve had way worse injuries than this one, so at the same time I feel very lucky that I’m still in a position where I can come into camp and help the Matildas go as far as they can in this qualification process.”
GLORY RECRUIT YOUNG ATTACKER ARMIENTO
Perth Glory have confirmed the signing of young attacker Carlo Armiento. The 20-year old forward has put pen to paper on a contract that runs through to the end of the 2019/20 season and will be available for both the A-League and Asian Champions League campaigns.
Armiento joined Adelaide United in 2018 and in addition to representing the Reds on a regular basis in both the National Youth League and South Australian National Premier League, made five appearances for the senior team last season. He recently became a free agent after mutually agreeing to cut ties with Adelaide.
Armiento is now relishing the prospect of launching the next chapter of his fledgling career in the West. “I’m really looking forward to playing with the Premiers of Australia,” Armiento said. “Tony Popovic is a very good coach and the boys haven’t lost for a while now, so hopefully I can contribute in whatever way I’m required to.”
“Being involved in the AFC Champions League, if selected, is also something very exciting. There are a number of Adelaide boys in the Glory squad, like Daniel Margush, Vinnie Lia and Tarek Elrich, so I’m looking forward to getting back out on the track again with them.”
CORONAVIRUS CASTS DOUBT OVER GLORY’S ACL DEBUT
Perth Glory’s Asian Champions League debut against Shanghai Shenhua has been thrown into turmoil after the Federal Government banned foreigners travelling from China in a bid to contain the coronavirus outbreak. Shenhua were due to arrive in Perth today for the game on 11 February and Glory have sold several thousand tickets, including 500 to visiting supporters.
A meeting of Football Federation Australia and Asian Football Confederation officials will be held tomorrow to discuss the fate of the match. They will have to decide whether it can be re-scheduled and if not how the points will be distributed which could open a clear passage for Glory to the knock-out stage.
GLORY SWEAT ON IKONOMIDIS
Socceroos attacker Chris Ikonomidis faces another stint on the sidelines after re-injuring his knee in Saturday night’s 2-2 draw with Melbourne Victory. The 24-year old missed two games after injurying his left knee on 11 January against Adelaide United, and will now will undergo scans after lasting just 15 minutes in his A-League return.
Ikonomidis knee buckled in innocuous fashion after passing the ball against Melbourne. He entered the game on 62 minutes with his knee strapped, but coach Tony Popovic said the club was confident the speedster had fully recovered from the previous injury before giving him the green light to return.
“We’re not going to risk a player,” Popovic said. “He hasn’t played for two, three weeks now. If there was any doubt in the player ... he wouldn’t have played. It would have just been another game he misses out on. He came on because we all felt he was fine.”
Popovic also explained reasoning to leave Diego Castro out of the line-up that faced Melbourne. “He copped a knock a couple of weeks ago and he’s been battling through that for a few weeks now,” Popovic said of the Glory captain. “I think we made a good decision to leave him out.”
“We’re wary of him maybe getting an injury in a different part of his body because he doesn’t have that same balance that he normally does. We just had to be really careful. He hasn’t trained much in the last couple of weeks. We keep thinking he will be fine. He wants to always play.”
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK TWO REVIEW
Perth SC have started the NPLWA Night Series in ominous form after thrashing Rockingham City 9-1 in the Pool One game at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday afternoon. Jayden Gorman and Yacoub Mustafa scored two apiece with others from skipper Thomas Southgate, Sasa Njegic and a Michael Farmer own goal completed the rout for Perth, with Riley Van Dieken’s first-half penalty was the only bright spot for Rockingham in the Round Two clash. Perth move above Floreat Athena on goal difference, the pair are the unbeaten sides in the pool. Floreat started life without Coach Garret McDuling after a 3-0 win against Bayswater City at Frank Drago Reserve on Friday evening.
Dean Evans gave Floreat the lead curling home a free kick from the edge of the box, before Phil Arnold was brought down and Evans added the second from the spot. Bayswater midfielder Brent Griffiths was sent of in the hour and Floreat wrapped up the points three minutes from time when new signing Liam Murray added the third. “Really pleased to get the win and to keep a clean and score three goals against one of the top five sides in the league which is always very pleasing,” Floreat keeper Jason Saldaris said. “It was a huge result for the club despite the news last week of Garret McDuling resigning we all dug deep to show the league that the machine still runs and that we are hungry for more silverware.”
Also, in Pool One, ECU Joondalup recorded their first win under coach Kenny Lowe. With a 1-0 win against Cockburn City at Dalmatinac Park on Sunday afternoon. The only goal of the game came on nine minutes, Andy Higgins whipped a ball into the penalty area and new signing Danny Hodgson got in between two Cockburn defenders to head home. Cockburn ended the game with ten men after Anthony Skorich was sent off by referee Julian Serra. “I thought the game went really well, and it was our first clean sheet of the season so that’s great for our defensive side of the game,” ECU striker Bayley Brown-Montgomery said. “We do need to take our chances when they come, but that I’ll come in the next few games with us all gelling together and figuring out our new tactics and formations.”
In Pool Two Balcatta maintained their perfect start to the competition with a 3-2 win against Sorrento at Frank Drago Reserve on Friday evening. The Gulls were ahead when new signing Ollie Annis scored, but Shub Mokala levelled for Balcatta. Joe O’Brien gave Balcatta the lead from the penalty spot but Annis added his second the level things up. It looked like the points would be shared but a last-minute goal from Adam Zimarino gave Goran Static’s side the points. "The match was exactly what I expected. There are a lot of good things to come out, but also improvement is required in certain moments. I am particularly pleased with the character shown in the second half and will encourage my players to move it into our next game against Gwelup"
Gwelup Croatia won for the first time in Pool Two after 3-1 win against Perth Glory at Dalmatinac Park on Sunday evening. Daniel Stynes gave Gwelup the lead before skipper Blair Govan and Hasani Sinclair made it 3-0. Ciaran Bramwell scored a late consolation goal for Glory. Gwelup coach Taki Nicolaidis said it was good to get their first win in the tournament. “We were pleased to come away with three points this week after a first up draw against Inglewood in week one,” Nicolaidis said. “Whilst it wasn’t a complete 90 minutes performance there were some good signs along the way, but there is room for improvement.”
In the final game in Pool Two Inglewood United won for the first time after a 3-0 win against Armadale at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday afternoon. A brace from new striker Robert Petkov and another from Steve Sokol wrapped up the points, and coach Andres Oliveira was pleased with the performance. “I thought we were excellent in the first half but credit to Armadale they out played after the break,” he explained. “Overall I'm very pleased with our progress as we are doing exactly what we have been working from the first to the second game.”.
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES - WEEK ONE REVIEW
The State League Night Series kicked off this weekend and in Group A Fremantle City started life under Cameron Lord with 5-0 win against Shamrock Rovers at E&D Litis Stadium. Goals from Abias Bukuru, Josh Selman, Wesley Britz, Alec Robinson and Egide Ngendakumana gave the port side a comprehensive win. “It was a comprehensive win, but what was most pleasing was the quality we showed in the second half,” Lord explained. “We need to become consistent in our performances throughout the entire 90 minutes now.” In the other Group A game Quinns beat Morley Windmills 4-1 at Wanneroo Reserve on Friday Evening. Sam Wynne gave Quinns the lead before Richard Howles bagged a second from the spot. Charlie Breen made it three from the spot before youngster Hugo added a fourth, while Yves Mwila scored the Windmills consolation goal. “It was a solid start for us,” keeper James Bosdet said. “It took us a while to get going but, in the end, it was a deserved win.”
In Group B Subiaco beat Wanneroo City 3-2 at Wanneroo Reserve on Friday afternoon. Brad Hassell’s side were out of the blocks early with Ben Jones and Ignacio Dominguez making it 2-0, but Wanneroo hit back with James Burn bagging a brace, the second on the hour after Jones was sent off and Burns levelled things up from the resulting penalty. Jesse Bridgeman’s side went in search of the winner but there was some late drama and it was the ten men who sealed the points, with Dominguez scoring five minutes from time. “I thought we were quite comfortable in the first half, especially going two goals up,” Subiaco’s Adam Carlino said. “We then conceded a penalty and went down to ten men in the second half and allowed Wanneroo back into it, but I thought we defended quite well with a man down in the last 30 minutes.” In the other game in Group B Ashfield ran out 5-4 winners against Dianella White Eagles at Edinburgh Oval on Sunday.
In Group C Kingsley Westside started life as a State League side with an impressive 4-3 win against Night Series holders Forrestfield United at Hartfield Park on Friday evening. The hosts made the best possible start with Jordan Hart bagging an early brace. But Steven Dimitrovich’s side hit back with Joel Gillespie finishing off a good move. They levelled when Jayden Drummond’s cross picked out Simone Sichel and hit the front when Drummond nicked the ball off a defender and raced around the keeper and was brought down and Gillespie scored from the spot to send them in 3-2 up at the break.
Kingsley Westside made it 4-2 when a quick counter attack ended with Sam Church, who back heeled the ball to Drummond who finished with aplomb into the top corner of the net. Forrestfield weren’t finished and Hart competed his hat-trick after Kingsley were caught sleeping from a short corner to make it 4-3, but they couldn’t find the equaliser. “We took about 20 minutes to get into the game before we knew it we were 2-0 down, but once we got the ball moving we created chance after chance and once we got our first goal, the boys lifted and we started playing a good brand of football,” Drummond said. “We felt we kept the ball really well against a strong Forrestfield side and every time we went forward, we were giving them all sorts of problems. The work rate was second to none from all the lads and I felt the three points was well deserved.”
In the other Group C game UWA Nedlands beat Balga 6-1 at Kingsway Reserve on Sunday. Lloyd Prout scored the first two goals, before Pascal Sedgwick and Bleron Mamudi made it 4-0 at the break. Balga pulled one back early in the second half with Dominic Manno scoring but further goals from Mamudi and Ivwa Simbile gave Michael Janssen’s side a comprehensive win. “The boys played a good style in the first half and dominated the park. We wanted to start strong and use the game to get sharpness and more competitiveness after a few friendly games,” Janssen said. “The new signings had a promising start as well and now we are looking forward to preparing for the next task at Forrestfield next weekend.”
In Group D Joondalup United and Joondalup City fought out a 2-2 draw in the local derby at E&D Litis Stadium on Friday evening. United skipper Tony Taylor bagged a brace, including a stunner from the edge of the box, but City hit back to share the spoils. “I was disappointed on our overall performance, we struggled early to deal with their work rate,” United coach Nick Jennings said. “But even though we weren’t at our best, we showed good character and had a few promising performances, but a draw was a fair result.” In the other Group D game Western Knights bet Kelmscott Roos 3-0 at Hartfield Park. A second half brace from new striker Alex Kretowicz set them on their way with another new signing Jake Sardelic also on the scoresheet.
In Group E Gosnells City began the competition with a 3-0 win against Mandurah City at Hartfield Park on Friday evening. Elliot Ireland gave Marc Anthony’s side the lead before Liam Cave and Tony Chandler added the others. “It was a good start to the night series, and it was a very hard-fought win but delighted more so with the way we went about it with a very young side,” Anthony explained. “We still have a lot of work to go but some very pleasing things to take us forward.”
In the other Group E game Canning City and Olympic Kingsway fought out a 1-1 draw at Kingsway Reserve. James Atkins gave Canning the lead, but Elliott Tattersall levelled in the first minute of the second half. “The lads were very tense in the first 20 minutes, and to be fair Kingsway could have put to bed early on while we found our feet, and if it wasn’t for new goal keeper signing Alec Radonich, who was in great form, we would have been behind,” Canning coach Chris Finlayson said. “But as the game progressed our confidence grew and the basic mistakes become less and we slowly got into our rhythm and overall earned a well-deserved point. All the lads performed very well couldn’t be happier with the lads’ attitude and determination, as we set our focus on Gosnells this week.”
Finally, in Group F Murdoch University Melville beat Swan United 3-0 at Hartfield Park on Sunday evening. Mark Lucas gave MUM the lead and Christian Long added the second, before new signing Ben Howe added third to wrap up the points. “The result against Swan was a great result for us as it was our first win for our pre-season campaign to date,” new MUM Head Coach Matt Wardle said. “The boys have worked really hard over the last month and deserved the three points in a dominant second half performance. Pleased with the way we are tracking at the moment and pleased that each week we are getting fitter, stronger and cohesive as a group.” In the other Group F game Stirling Lions beat Curtin University 3-2 at Edinburgh Oval on Sunday evening. Theo Chapato and Chris Sutton scored for Curtin, the Lions scorers are unavailable.
KOVACEVIC RETURNS TO ATHENA
Floreat Athena have acted quickly after the resignation of Head coach Garret McDuling and his assistant Tim Cash last week by appointing Ante Kovacevic as interim Head Coach. Kovacevic returns to the club after serving the past four years in the A-League as Head of Football Operations at Adelaide United. Kovacevic is no stranger to Litis Stadium after being part of Athena’s undefeated championship winning team in 2007, and between 2010-2011 he took over the reigns as player/coach where Athena made the Cup Final and took out the 2011 Night Series title.
Originally from Melbourne, thee big defender has played at the highest level in Australia, spending six years at the Melbourne Knights alongside Socceroo great Mark Viduka, where the team won back to back National Soccer League titles in 1995/96. He then spent three seasons at Adelaide City, wearing the captain’s armband before spending a stint with South Melbourne Hellas and then a year with Malaysian Super League outfit Selangor FA. He then joined Perth Glory at the inception of the A-League in 2005, spending two seasons with the current A-League champions, before retiring and taking a role with Glory’s football operations soon after.
Kovacevic said to be back in WA and at Athena, was like a second home coming. “I am happy to be back in Perth and re-join my football family in Athena,” Kovacevic said. “I have carved many friendships at the club and have enjoyed winning silverware as both player and coach Football is in my veins and being given another opportunity to re-join Athena is something I want to embrace to the fullest. Athena is a great club, a big brand with a lot of history. But above all it’s good to be home amongst friends”, he added. We have a lot of good players in the squad. Everyone is fighting for spots and we will be expecting the best from each other.”
Kovacevic will assume all coaching responsibilities from this week, ably assisted by goalkeeping coach Vas Vujacic and reserves coaches Antony Benetti and Zak Morgan who guided the senior team to an impressive 3-0 win over Bayswater at the weekend in round two of the Football West night series. Athena will continue their defence of the Night Series crown when they host ECU Joondalup at E&D Litis Stadium on Saturday night – Kick-off 7pm.
INJURY SCARE FOR GLORY
Perth Glory and Socceroos winger Chris Ikonomidis faces another stint on the sidelines after re-injuring his left knee in Saturday night’s 2-2 draw with Melbourne Victory. Ikonomidis will undergo scans after lasting just 15 minutes in his A-League return. The 24-year-old first injured his left knee on January 11 after copping a heavy tackle against Adelaide, forcing him to miss the next two matches.
Ikonomidis was brought on in the 62nd minute against Victory on Saturday, but was forced off in the 77th minute after his knee buckled in innocuous fashion after passing the ball. The star striker was despondent as he sat on the grass before hobbling off. Ikonomidis already had his left knee strapped, but coach Tony Popovic said the club was confident the speedster had fully recovered from the previous injury before giving him the green light to return.
“We’re not going to risk a player,” Popovic said. He hasn’t played for two, three weeks now. If there was any doubt in the player ... he wouldn’t have played. It would have just been another game he misses out on. He came on because we all felt he was fine. We’ll see if that incident is related to his previous injury or not. It could be something different.”
With Glory’s ACL campaign starting this month Popovic also rested Diego Castro against Victory to allow the skipper to rest his battered body. “He copped a knock a couple of weeks ago and he’s been battling through that for a few weeks now,” Popovic said. “We’re wary of him maybe getting an injury in a different part of his body because he doesn’t have that same balance that he normally does, so we just had to be really careful. He hasn’t trained much in the last couple of weeks. We keep thinking he will be fine. He wants to always play. But I think we made a good decision to leave him out.” Finally, in Group F Murdoch University Melville beat Swan United 3-0 at Hartfield Park on Sunday evening. Mark Lucas gave MUM the lead and Christian Long added the second, before new signing Ben Howe added third to wrap up the points. “The result against Swan was a great result for us as it was our first win for our pre-season campaign to date,” new MUM Head Coach Matt Wardle said. “The boys have worked really hard over the last month and deserved the three points in a dominant second half performance. Pleased with the way we are tracking at the moment and pleased that each week we are getting fitter, stronger and cohesive as a group.” In the other Group F game Stirling Lions beat Curtin University 3-2 at Edinburgh Oval on Sunday evening. Theo Chapato and Chris Sutton scored for Curtin, the Lions scorers are unavailable.
D’AGOSTINO EARNS GLORY A POINT
Perth Glory have fought back twice to draw 2-2 with Melbourne Victory in week 17 of the Hyundai A-League at HBF Park on Saturday evening. Victory skipper Ola Toivonen gave the visitors the lead before Bruno Fornaroli levelled with a free kick on the stroke of half time. It looked like Andrew Nabbout had given Victory the points, but Glory responded late with Nick D'Agostino scoring a last-minute equaliser. The result saw the hosts extend their unbeaten run to eight games, but Head Coach Tony Popovic was critical of his side's defensive display, but was pleased with the resolve they showed to claim a share of the spoils.
"Obviously we were delighted in the end to get a point so late, but it wasn't a great day for us today, so to come away with a point was pleasing,” Popovic explained. “Defensively we were poor today, I felt. It's something that we've been really good at as a team on this great run that we've been on, but today was not a good day defensively for us. When that happens and you have a team that is dangerous and has some very good footballers in the front third, in transition you can get caught and we got caught twice in transition and we didn't deal very well with the first and second balls today. So, for the players to show the resilience to still get a point is great credit to them."
Glory rested skipper Diego Castro for the game, with D’Agostino coming in for his starting debut for the club, while Ivan Franjic came into the starting side with Kim Soo-Beom omitted from the squad. It was a cagey opening to the game but it was Glory who created the first clear-cut chance of the evening, D'Agostino's deflected shot falling kindly for Joel Chianese whose first-time shot drew a fine reflex save from Lawrence Thomas. D'Agostino, who starred in the Olyroos Olympic qualification games, continued to look lively and forced Thomas into action again on the quarter hour, with the Victory 'keeper going full length to tip the forward's low drive around the post.
Despite dominating Glory found themselves behind on 23 minutes. Nabbout strong run down the right ended with a cut-back to Toivonen, and the Swedish striker finished clinically from the edge of the box. Glory continued to press and Fornaroli met a Franjic's cross with a stunning bicycle kick which beat Thomas, only to bounce back out off the foot of the post. But the Uruguayan was not to be denied and in first-half stoppage-time he levelled. He was brought down on the edge of the penalty area and bent the resulting free kick around the wall and into the corner of the net to claim his seventh goal in eight games.
Victory looked good after the break and deservedly regained the lead 13 minutes into the second half. Nabbout showed great pace to get away down the left before cutting in and bending a low shot past Liam Reddy. The Glory 'keeper then produced a fine block to prevent Toivonen from extending his side's lead and it looked like time was running out for the home side but D'Agostino had other ideas in the final minute. Franjic linked up with substitute Kristian Popovic on the right and delivered an inch-perfect ball into the box, and D’Agostino leaped above his marker to head home much to the delight of the nearly 10,000 crowd. The 21-year-old nearly won it for his side deep into stoppage-time, twice sending headers narrowly over the bar in a frantic finale to a pulsating contest that kept the crowd enthralled right to the end. Another injury to Chris Ikonomidis soured the fight back, the Socceroos winger left the field with a knee injury late in the game.
Melbourne Victory head coach Carlos Salvachua was proud of his players after a 2-2 draw. "First of all, I'm really happy with the performance and the attitude of the players, of course at the end not with the result because we wanted three points here. We were close, but I cannot be prouder of my players today,” he said. “I think we did a good first half, really good first half, we pressed high during a few good moments, we were really compact. I think Perth today were not really happy or comfortable with the ball and it's clear we have in front today one of the best teams in the league and one of the most difficult stadiums, always, every year. And in the second half as well it was not easy after conceding the goal in the last minute of the first half and then again, again trying to be protagonists, trying to play with offensive always with chances as well and at the end good goal from D'Agostino and that's it."
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 2 Alex GRANT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 5 Ivan FRANJIC, 7 Joel CHIANESE (19 Chris IKONOMIDIS 63') (28 Gabriel POPOVIC 79'), 8 James MEREDITH, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 18 Nicholas D’AGOSTINO, 20 Jake BRIMMER (29 Kristian POPOVIC 63'), 88 Neil KILKENNY - Subs not used: RGK Tando VELAPHI, 3 Jacob TRATT, 21 Tarek ELRICH, 22 Vince LIA
Melbourne Victory: GK Lawrence THOMAS, 2 Storm ROUX, 4 James DONACHIE, 9 Andrew NABBOUT (23 Marco ROJAS 75'), 11 Ola TOIVONEN (7 Kenny ATHIU 83'), 17 Elvis KAMSOBA, 18 Migjen BASHA (8 Jakob POULSEN 46'), 19 Ben CARRIGAN, 21 Adama TRAORE, 24 Anthony LESIOTIS, 25 Brandon LAUTON - Subs not used: RGK Brendan WHITE, 16 Josh HOPE, 26 Jay BARNETT - Referee: Stephen Lucas
GLORY'S ACL GAMES IN DOUBT
Perth Glory’s preparation for their first ever AFC Champions League campaign has been thrown into turmoil after Football Federation Australia has told the Asian confederation (AFC) Australia can no longer host the matches after the federal government banned foreigners travelling from China due to the coronavirus outbreak there.
Glory were scheduled to host Shanghai Shenhua in their opening ACL clash on Tuesday, February 11 while Sydney FC were to host another Chinese team, Shanghai SIPG, one day later. FFA said on Sunday the AFC has called an urgent meeting at its Malaysia headquarters for Tuesday to discuss how to handle the matter.
FFA head of leagues, Greg O'Rourke, will attend on behalf of FFA and the Australian clubs.
Following yesterday’s announcement by the Australian Federal Government in relation to travel restrictions for foreign nationals entering Australia from Mainland China, Football Federation Australia (FFA) officially advised the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) of the situation and in particular how this announcement directly impacts Match Day 1 (MD 1) of the AFC Champions League 2020 and it will now not be possible to play MD 1 in Australia as originally scheduled. Further information will be relayed via all the club's media platforms as soon as it becomes available and we'd like to thank our members and fans for their patience and understanding at this time.
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK TWO PREVIEW
It's week two of the 2020 NPLWA Night Series at all starts in Pool One on Friday evening when Bayswater City host Floreat Athena at Frank Drago Reserve. (6.30pm) It's been a difficult week for Floreat after Head coach Garret McDuling resigned after last week’s narrow 2-1 win against Rockingham City, and the club are on the lookout for a new coach. It was a good start to the Night Series for Chris Coyne's Bayswater, a 5-0 win against Cockburn City and Scottish striker Gordon Smith said it was a good start to the pre-season competition. “It was a great start to our night series campaign,” he said. “We came out the blocks really quick and we’re very clinical all over the pitch.”
Smith said Friday's game under lights will be a stern test, but they will be looking for a similar performance from the Cockburn game. “We know it’s going to be a tough game as Floreat have a good team, but we have assembled a squad this year that is capable of beating anyone on our day,” he explained. “Floreat have had a change of coach so the players will be looking to impress the new one, but it’s a repeat of last season’s Night Series Final, so that makes for an exciting game and both teams will be going for the win.”
The rest of the Pool One games are on Sunday evening, and first Cockburn City will look to bounce back from the heavy defeat on the opening day when they host ECU Joondalup at Dalmatinac Park (5.00pm). In his first game in charge of the Jacks Kenny Lowe also suffered a loss against Perth SC, so it's vital both sides press for a win in this one. In the final game, also at 5.00pm, Perth SC host Rockingham City at Dorrien Gardens. Rockingham were edged out by Floreat last week, conceding two goals in stoppage time to go down 1-2, while Perth came from behind at half time to beat ECU Joondalup.
Perth Head Coach Ramon Falzon said last week was a good hit-out. "Although it is still early days, it was important to test ourselves in a competitive match especially after we had three established players that just progressed their career further by joining clubs over east,” he explained. “Our first half performance was below par, however the reaction in the second half was superb. It was good to see that the squad still has the characteristics that defined us over the past few years. Furthermore, the win against ECU demonstrated that the new players are integrating well in the dynamics of the squad and within our playing style.
Falzon is expecting a fired-up Rockingham on Sunday, especially after letting the win slip late last week. "Rockingham will be a tough opposition to face this week, and they only just fell short from securing the points in the dying minutes of the game last weekend,” he said. “To me this means that Rockingham will be similar to last year, ready to put up a fight no matter the opposition. Last year it was Rockingham that ended our lengthy run of undefeated games; therefore, we know that we cannot afford to drop our guard against them, not even for one minute.”
The Pool Two games began at Frank Drago Reserve on Friday evening when Sorrento take on Balcatta (8.30pm). The Gulls were held by Perth Glory in the opener, while Balcatta fought out a nine-goal thriller with Armadale, so both teams will be gunning for the win so this one, and it should be a cracker. The other Pool Two games are on Sunday and first up Gwelup Croatia take on Perth Glory. Gwelup fought out a 0-0 draw with Inglewood last week, while Glory also played out a scoreless draw against Sorrento. Glory striker Ciaran Bramwell said the young side put in a solid performance last week. "It was the senior debuts for a lot of the boys last week and they all put in a strong performance to earn a draw against a more experienced Sorrento team,” he said.
“It was a good result considering it was most of the boys first minutes of senior football.” Bramwell knows Sunday's game is going to be a challenge, but they are determined to get their first win of the tournament. "Gwelup are a strong team who have added very good players to their squad,” he said. “So, we know we will have to put in a strong performance to come out with the three points.”
In the final game both Inglewood United and Armadale will be looking for their first win in the competition when they meet at Dorrien Gardens. (7.00pm) The Reds let the points slip away in stoppage time last week against Balcatta, this after leading 2-0 and 3-1 on the night, while Inglewood had to settle for a point against newly promoted Gwelup. Inglewood Head Coach Andres Oliveira said both sides had their chances. “Yes, we both had chances to win the game, but I was very pleased with guys because going against Gwelup who are a good team and have a been busy in the transfer market, and we also wanted to make a statement, so it made it a good challenge for us,” he explained.
“We only worked on a few things and defensively we were solid which was a carry on from the second half of last season. Also not having any friendlies and using the Night Series for this was a big ask from the players and they raised to the occasion, which is why they are very good players.” Oliveira is expecting Armadale to come out strong after their heartbreaking loss in the opening game. "Going up against Armadale this week is going to be tough as John (O’Reilly) has them well organised and has them playing very competitive,” he said. “It's not unusual them scoring four goals as they have good players, I thought they deserved to win the game against Balcatta, so we have full respect towards them and we will never take them lightly. We will match their competitiveness and make it as difficult for them as they will to us.”
STATE LEAGUE NIGHT SERIES - WEEK ONE PREVIEW
The 2020 State League Night Series kicks off this weekend with games across the metropolitan area. First in Group A, Cameron Lord will oversee his first competitive game as Head coach of Fremantle City as they take on Shamrock Rovers on Friday at E&D Litis Stadium (6.30pm) Lord joined the Port City from Rockingham City this season and he is hoping to start the pre-season competition with a positive performance. "Pre-season has been progressing well, as we all get used to a largely new playing and coaching group,” he said. “We still have lots of work to do before the first game of the league season, but we have seen signs of implementing what we have been working on during training into some of the friendly fixtures we have played.”
Lord said Friday’s game against Shamrock is important as they get game time into the players. “We are all looking forward to the game against Shamrock and playing for points always adds a little spice, which is nice,” he explained. “But at the same time in knowing at what stage of the season it is, this is about individual and collective performances and making sure we are progressing as a group to where we need to be for the first league game of the season.” In the other game in the group Division Two Champions Quinns FC meet Morley Windmills at Wanneroo Reserve also at 6.30pm.
In Group B new Subiaco Head Coach Brad Hassell takes control of his first game at the club when they meet hosts Wanneroo City at Wanneroo Reserve on Friday evening. (8.30pm) The former Perth Glory midfielder will be looking for a solid first up display from his side. In the other Group B game Rod Banjac starts life as Head Coach of Dianella White Eagles, when they meet Ashfield at Edinburgh Reserve on Sunday afternoon. (5.00pm) The likeable coach is looking forward to Sunday’s game. “It’s two months until the season commences and I could not be prouder of the hard work invested by all involved with this great club, on and off the park,” Banjac said.
“Of course, there’s a long way to go before we start making a difference, but it’s very comforting to know that we have the coaches and players that will, in time, deliver a product that the members will not want to miss out on. We are aware of the massive challenges ahead but we’ve been battle hardened, and in the game long enough not to be intimidated. We have worked very hard during the training sessions and games which was very much appreciated by a healthy crowd that turned up to support the boys in red, blue and white, and we start that journey against Ashfield SC on Sunday.”
In Group C newly promoted State League Division Two side Kingsley Westside take on current Night Series champions Forrestfield United at Hartfield Park on Friday evening. (6.30pm) Kingsley Head Coach Steven Dimitrovich said they are looking to start life in Saturday football with a bang, but knows it will be a tough assignment. “Our pre-season is going as expected after not finishing last season until early October we got back to work in January and credit to the boys they’ve had their heads down and have been working hard to get to a level where we can compete at this level,” he explained.
“Everyone at the club from President down are looking forward to Friday night, as the club takes its first steps into State League football as for the game itself what a way to start life in the state league against a very good Forrestfield side who will be out to defend their night series crown. There’s been a real buzz around the squad last couple weeks as the boys are chomping at the bit to have a crack at them to see where we are at so we can’t wait for the game to kick off.” In the other game in the group Balga meet UWA Nedlands on Sunday afternoon at Kingsway Reserve. (5pm)
In Group D there is a Joondalup Derby to open the things up, with Joondalup City taking on local rivals Joondalup United at E&D Litis Stadium on Friday evening. (8.30pm) United ended last season in good form and Head coach Nick Jennings hopes they can continue on with that in the first Night Series game. "Early days yet but as a club we appear to be moving in the right direction after a couple of testing seasons. Plenty of new faces have come through the door and training has been vibrant and high quality.
“In the three practice matches we have shown some promising signs and now have the opportunity in the competitive environment that is the night series to continue the improvement of the playing group. We’ve had very few opportunities over the years to play Joondalup City but the games that have been played have been real feisty affairs. Friday night will be no different with local pride at stake, there’s going to be a physical element to the match, but we’ll look to play the game on our terms and for the boys to come out on top. In the other game in the group Kelmscott new coach Richard Bryant takes control of the team for the first time when they meet Western Knights on Sunday evening at Hartfield Park. (7.00pm)
In Group E Marc Anthony's Gosnells City will want to put last season's late fade out to bed when they meet Mandurah City on Friday evening at Hartfield Park. (6.30pm) Mandurah have new coaches Kris Donnell and Peter Taylor in control for the first time in this one, while Gosnells will want to start the season well after the disappointment of their play-off loss. In the final game of the group Canning City travel to Kingsway Reserve on Sunday evening to take on hosts Olympic Kingsway. Gary Williams helped Olympic to their best finish in the league since 2000, and he will be looking to improve on that this season.
Meanwhile Canning were given a late reprieve to stay in the state league after relegation last season, and new Head Coach Chris Finlayson said they can't wait to get started. "The lads have been putting in the hard yards and commitment has been outstanding as we are rebuilding,” he said. “So getting the mix of existing and new lads on the same page is coming together nicely, and we’ve already had three games against Gwelup, UWA and Fremantle and all have been great hit outs for us. We have a lot of work to do before the season kicks off but so far, we are seeing improvements and heading in the right direction.”
Finlayson said Sunday’s opponents were good last season and he is expecting a tough first up Night Series game. “Kingsway had a very good year in 2019 with Gary (Williams) in charge and no doubt they will be looking to go further this season,” he said. “So, we are expecting a very tough match from a very good side we are under no illusions where we are at the moment, so as long as we stick to our game plan and be competitive and get what we need out of the game then we will be happy.”
Finally, in Group F, new Murdoch University Melville coach Matt Wardle will take control of his first game in charge with a repeat of last season Relegation/playoff final against Swan United at Hartfield Park on Sunday afternoon. (5.00pm) Swan return to the first division for the first time in five years and winger Brennan Borzecki said despite losing a few players, the squad is looking good and new Coach Eric Williams is getting them prepared for the season ahead. “Yes, pre-season in the Valley is going well, there is a few new faces as several of the boys have retired,” he said. “Training with Eric (Williams) is definitely intense and there’s no room for time wasters, so it can be quite a shock to some of the newer faces.
“We are well aware that Murdoch were a tough team to play last year and I’m sure they’ll definitely want to get their revenge this time. I’m sure it will be a tough game again this year considering the predicted heat and considering they have a new coach, but we don’t have much of an idea of their new playing style which makes it harder, but we are looking forward to the challenge.” In the other game in the group Curtin University takes on Stirling Lions on Sunday evening at Edinburgh Oval. The Lions were relegated from the NPLWA last season and Coach Rob Milevski is hoping they can start the season off with a good performance in the pre-season competition.
A BIG WEEK AHEAD FOR GLORY
It's a huge week for Perth Glory with their first appearance in the Asian Champions League on Tuesday against Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua, but before then they host Melbourne Victory in week 17 of the Hyundai A-League at HBF Park on Saturday evening. (6.45pm) Tony Popovic's side have been on the road for the last two weeks, but they have maintained their seven-game unbeaten run and return home to take Victory, who will be buoyed after a surprise 1-0 win against Japanese giants Kashima Antlers in the ACL qualifying round on Tuesday evening.
Glory are seeking a league-best fifth successive lockout in Saturday's game and in doing so, extend the club's unbeaten run to eight games. But Popovic said despite their lowly ladder position and poor recent form, Victory's star-studded attack has the potential to ask plenty of questions of Glory's defence. "As a team, we have really improved defensively," he said. "We've improved in every aspect of our game, but that's obviously highlighted now with four consecutive clean sheets.
"It's a good challenge this week to try and make it five against what, when you look at it on paper, is a fantastic front third that they [Melbourne Victory] have. We're playing against another big club. We've played two of the biggest clubs in the country in Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City and come away with four very good points from two tough away games and now we play another big club in Melbourne Victory. They are expected to be at the top at all times and when you look at their roster, you can see why."
Popovic, who coached the Wanderers to the AFC title in 2014, went on to praise the navy-and-whites for their midweek exploits in which they earned an impressive 1-0 away win over Japanese giants Kashima Antlers to secure a place in the group stages of the AFC Champions League. "They've had a tough week, but it was an exciting week which was also exciting for the A-League and Australian football as we now have three teams in the Champions League,” he said. “So, we congratulate Victory on that and we know it'll be a tough test against them. It [the win over Kashima] shows the quality they have. They've had some changes, with the coaching change, but on paper they are still very strong, especially in that front third."
In team news, Glory will be without Juande (groin) and Osama Malik (hamstring) again, but Chris Ikonomidis (knee) is in contention to return to the squad. Nick D'Agostino is available once again following his exploits with the Olyroos, while new signings Tarek Elrich and Vince Lia may also feature. Victory will have a few defence headaches after Thomas Deng signed for Urawa Red Diamonds in midweek, while Leigh Broxham is suspended after being sent off last week against Sydney. But they will have new signing Marco Rojas, James Donachie and Tim Hoogland available for selection. The game against Glory will be their fourth game in 11 days, not ideal when you are desperate for points. Victory have lost their last three matches in the Hyundai A-League and another defeat in this one will equal their worst run of form in the competition dating back to December 2015.
Perth Glory squad: GK Liam REDDY, RGK Tando VELAPHI, 2 Alex GRANT, 3 Jacob TRATT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 5 Ivan FRANJIC, 7 Joel CHIANESE, 8 James MEREDITH, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, 18 Nicholas D’AGOSTINO, 19 Chris IKONOMIDIS, 20 Jake BRIMMER, 21 Tarek ELRICH, 22 Vince LIA, 28 Gabriel POPOVIC, 29 Kristian POPOVIC, 88 Neil KILKENNY - *2-4 to be omitted* - Ins: IKONOMIDIS (returns from injury), D’AGOSTINO (returns from international duty), ELRICH (new signing) - Outs: 23 Dane INGHAM (omitted) - Unavailable: 6 Dino DJULBIC (ankle – indefinite), 13 Osama MALIK (hamstring – 1 week), 27 JUANDE (groin – 1 week)
Melbourne Victory squad: GK Lawrence THOMAS, RGK Brendan WHITE, 2 Storm ROUX, 4 James DONACHIE, 5 Tim HOOGLAND, 7 Kenny ATHIU, 8 Jakob POULSEN, 9 Andrew NABBOUT, 10 Robbie KRUSE, 11 Ola TOIVONEN, 16 Josh HOPE, 17 Elvis KAMSOBA, 18 Migjen BASHA, 19 Ben CARRIGAN, 21 Adama TRAORE, 23 Marco ROJAS, 24 Anthony LESIOTIS, 25 Brandon LAUTON, 26 Jay BARNETT - *2-4 to be omitted* - Ins: ROJAS (promoted), DONACHIE (return from suspension), HOOGLAND (return from injury) - Outs: 6 Leigh BROXHAM (suspended) Unavailable: GK Matt ACTON (shoulder), 14 Thomas DENG (released) - Referee: Stephen Lucas
SCOTT SET FOR EXTENDED INJURY LAYOFF
Wellington Phoenix have confirmed defender Walter Scott will miss 8-10 weeks after sustaining a knee injury. The 20-year old suffered a high-grade lateral collateral ligament injury during training.
Scott joined Wellington in June following his release from Perth Glory and was the second signing of new manager Ufuk Talay. "We wish Walter all the best with his ongoing recovery and look forward to seeing him back on the field later this season," said Talay.
GLORY REKINDLES FORNAROLI'S LOVE FOR GAME
Bruno Fornaroli admits he fell out of love with football during his turbulent time at Melbourne City, but his passion has been reignited at Perth Glory. One of the A-League’s top strikers, the 32-year old was frozen out at Melbourne last season, playing just four games during the 2018/2019 campaign.
Fornaroli is now thriving at Glory, bagging eight goals in 14 appearances with his team undefeated in their past seven matches. The Uruguayan, who admitted it took time to adapt to his new club, puts his return to form down to the influence of former Socceroo and current Glory coach Tony Popovic.
“I’m surprised by the way they work here,” Fornaroli told theworldgame.sbs.com.au “I know before I come I spoke with Poppa, I started to speak with him generally and I know his ideas. But really when I came and I started to work with him – it changed everything.”
“I started to feel fitter than I ever have before. He put me in the best condition to play and he trusted me, him and all the staff, also Tony Pignata. Man, I’m so happy. The first couple of games I wasn’t feeling my best football. But after I played a couple of games Poppa said to me don’t worry, it’s coming.”
“You will be better and better after games, I started to feel this after four or five games. New players, new club, new system, so you need time to adapt. Now, look, I feel great, I feel strong and now again I’m enjoying my football. That’s important, that’s the first thing. I start to enjoy the football and then I know good things are coming.”
Glory drew 0-0 with Fornaroli’s former club on Saturday. Leading into that game, Glory had gone on a six-game winning streak that include big wins over Adelaide United, Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets. They are now third on the A-League leader, just two points below Melbourne.
Fornaroli believes Popovic’s attention to detail and his man-management is second to none. “When I spoke to Poppa in January he said if you come here you will enjoy your football again,” the forward said. “Poppa’s found a way to bring me along again and I know I enjoy football, enjoy playing, there’s good players around and a good system, good ideas.”
“You only want to play in front, you only want to win and this is a good mentality and the mentality that I want. It’s the mentality I want to fight for and for this club, and of course for the people that trust me after my last time at Melbourne City.”
“Poppa’s an unbelievable coach. He’s smart and he knows every detail and that the details make the difference. He promised to be that if I came here and I would enjoy training game – and this is what player’s need.”
“It’s a long season, a long pre-season and if you don’t enjoy it then you don’t really play well. Tony has all the details every day, for every game. He prepares very well for every game and we know that. We are very confident with him and with our players.”
SAGE’S ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DREAM COMES TRUE
A long-held dream becomes reality for Perth Glory owner Tony Sage when the club makes its Asian Champions League debut next month. Sage said he had been blown away by interest in the opening game of the campaign against Shanghai Shenhua at Perth Oval.
“This has been an ambition of mine since taking over the club. It’s one of those things I can tick off the bucket list,” he said. “I have a huge sense of pride, a huge sense of achievement, and we’re not in it just to make up the numbers.”
Glory coach Tony Popovic led Western Sydney Wanderers to ACL victory in 2014, becoming the first Australian club to win the competition. “We have a coach who has been there, done it and can do it again. This plan was put in place two years ago when I hired Popa,” added Sage.
“We’re here and there’s no use being there unless you want to win it. We’ve got a bit of an advantage because it’s their pre-season but some of the players that are going to be coming out ... it’s going to be fantastic to watch.”
Glory’s traditional pre-game chairman’s function has sold out and around 500 travelling fans are expected to attend the game. “We couldn’t believe the level of interest,” Sage said. “It has exceeded my expectations. It’s blown me away.”
The pool stage has eight groups and Glory will play Shanghai Shenhua and Ulsan Hyundai while their third opponent is expected to be FC Tokyo who are red-hot favourites to beat Ceres Negros from the Philippines on Tuesday.
The ACL has a US$4 million (AU$5.85 million) first prize, US$2 million for the runner-up and purses starting at $50,000 in the group stages. The winner also qualifies for the World Club Championship with millions of dollars prizemoney at stake.
Glory chief executive Tony Pignata experienced the ACL when he was in charge at Sydney FC. “It’s a tough competition. You want to pitch yourselves against the best teams and the ACL does that,” Pignata said. “You are playing teams that have football budgets probably 10 times the size of what we have but it’s exciting.”
“You want to do well and put on a good show. A lot of Australian teams have gone in and haven’t progressed over the years. First and foremost we want to get through the group stage and into the round of 16. It’s also all about getting the club brand out and about in Asia. It is great recognition for Perth.”
GLORY LAND VETERAN DEFENDER ELRICH
Perth Glory have signed experienced defender Tarek Elrich just days after the 33-year old left A-League rivals Western Sydney Wanderers. The veteran has put pen to paper on an 18-month deal which takes in the remainder of this A-League season and next summer's campaign.
Elrich, a two-time A-League championship winner, said linking up with former Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic had been a big driver in his move west. "Tony taught me a lot and this is a great time to work under him again," said Elrich, who had made close to 300 A-League appearances.
"Perth Glory is a successful club with a rich history in both the NSL and A-League and I want to help the club to continue that success. I've had a taste of silverware in the past and want more. I know a lot of the boys in the squad, especially Liam Reddy who I've known half my life and that made the decision to move over a lot easier."
Elrich started his senior career at Sydney Olympic but made his mark at Newcastle Jets, playing 134 times between 2005 and 2012. A season with Western Sydney preceded his switch to Adelaide United when he turned out on over 100 occasions across five summers. It was while with Adelaide that he gained the first of his three Socceroo caps.
Elrich quickly became a starter following his return to Western Sydney for the 2018/19 campaign. His signing means Glory have filled their quota of players in their A-League squad and gives them extra defensive cover ahead of the start of the Asian Champions League group stages next month.
KERR WELCOMES QUALIFIERS MOVE
Matildas captain Sam Kerr has thanked organisers for moving Olympic qualifiers from China to Sydney due to the coronavirus outbreak. Next month's six Group B games will be played in Australia after China withdrew as a host nation yesterday.
Kerr took to social media to express her thanks to authorities for the move. "Thanks to everyone @FFA for putting the teams safety first & getting this done in such a short time frame. Thoughts are with China!", Kerr posted on Twitter.
The games, which involve Australia, China, Taiwan and Thailand, had already been moved to Nanjing due to Wuhan being identified as the source of the illness. It's expected the schedule, kick-off times, broadcast and ticketing information will be announced in the coming days.
NEWCASTLE 'NEED A NEW COACH' SAYS DEANS
Newcastle Jets interim coach Craig Deans says it's time for a full-time manager to take charge of the struggling club. Newcastle crashed to a fourth-straight loss on Friday at Wellington Phoenix but were unlucky not to end their eight-match winless run after creating a wealth of opportunities.
Deans, who stepped in to replace Ernie Merrick earlier this month, has overseen three losses, albeit competitive displays against highly ranked opponents. However, he believes the players would benefit from having the new coach in place as soon as possible.
Welshman Carl Robinson appears poised to take charge but Newcastle management are yet to confirm the appointment of the former Vancouver Whitecaps mentor. "If you look at the team, they don't look like a team that's lacking direction," Deans said.
"But it might just be that little extra push that we don't have at the moment, knowing that the person that's in charge is going to be there for a longer period of time and they're able to make some big changes if they want to. At the moment we're in a bit of a holding pattern."
GLORY GO ALMOST SEVEN HOURS WITHOUT CONCEDING
Perth Glory are on the verge of creating more A-League history when they host Melbourne Victory this weekend. Glory are aiming for their fifth straight clean sheet, after coming away with a goalless draw against Melbourne City.
The goalless draw may have ended Glory’s record six-game winning streak but they have now gone almost seven hours without conceding a goal. “We’re obviously disappointed we didn’t score but keeping a clean sheet again...we’ll take that,” defender Alex Grant said.
“We’ll take a lot of confidence from that. Teams know they have to do a lot to break us down. We’ve got a bit of depth and the signing or two is another positive marker for us.” The draw leaves Glory third, two points behind City, but with a game in hand and a superior goal difference.
GLORY FALL SHORT AGAIN IN Y-LEAGUE
Perth Glory's poor Foxtel Y-League campaign came to an end on Sunday when they were edged out 1-0 by Melbourne City at Dorrien Gardens. The youngsters failed to win a game this season and City's Emile Peios netted a late winner for the visitors in this one. Despite a disappointing season Head Coach Richard Garcia said the new look side have showed plenty of promise during the campaign.
"It was another very good performance by the boys, but a little bit more concentration in both boxes is the key," he told the Glory website. "We played some very good stuff, dominated the game in large patches and then controlled them without the ball as well, which is very encouraging. The mentality today I thought was fantastic because of the heat and they kept pushing themselves. At the moment our build-up is good, we’re getting into those areas quite easily and we’re defending quite well outside. It’s just inside where we need to be a little bit better."
The Glory youngster suffered a blow in midweek with Young Socceroos defender Daniel Walsh suffering an ACL knee injury - we wish him a speedy recovery. The temperature was touching 35C at kick off and it was the hosts who went close to the opener early. City's Raphael Borges Rodrigues was sent clear one-on-one with Jackson Lee, but the Glory custodian stood tall to block the strikers shot. Glory hit back and Jayden Leader's long-range shot fizzed over the top, but it was the visitors who were having the better chances and Lee had Alessandro Circati, Mason Tatafu and Joshua Samson to thank, all producing goal-line clearances for the home side.
The hot temperature took its toll after the break with clear cut chances few and far between. Glory's best came from long distance, but Giordano Colli and Charlie Leech couldn't keep their efforts down. But ten minutes from time City won it, with Peios beating Lee to claim the three points. Despite the loss and not winning all season Garcia was pleased on the improvement of the group. "This is a young group, but we won’t have many departures, if any, from this group," Garcia said. "Hopefully they can build over the next year in NPL and then come back another year wiser, another year smarter, with the experience that they need. Hopefully they can grow together and in two to three years' time they’re hitting their straps and we’ve got a whole load of guys that could possibly make their way into the senior team."
Perth Glory: GK Jackson LEE, 2 Alessandro CIRCATI, 4 Nicholas McDONALD, 5 Mason TATAFU, 6 Jayden LEADER, 7 Joshua RAWLINS (16 Fraser DUNLOP 49’), 8 Bryce BAFFORD, 9 Ciaran BRAMWELL (13 Joshua SAMSON 72’), 10 Giordano COLLI, 11 Charlie LEECH, 15 Nicholas WALSH - Subs not used: RGK Joshua LANGDON, 17 Albert FULLARD
Melbourne City: GK Liam KENNEDY, 35 Raphael BORGES RODRIGUES, 37 Gianluca IANNUCCI (52 Samuel MORRISON 46’), 38 Yaya DUKULY (49 Lucas BYRNS 46’), 39 Idrus ABDULAHI (48 Luke ORESTI 65’), 41 Mitchell GRAHAM, 47 Emile PEIOS, 50 Jordan BOS, 51 Akok AROK, 54 Jordi VALADON, 55 Harry POLITIDIS - Subs not used: RGK Callum ROLFE - Referee: Adrien Liechti
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK ONE REVIEW
The 2020 NPLWA Night series kicked off this weekend with games across the metropolitan area and the Footballwa.net ‘Match of the Round’ saw Balcatta beat Armadale in a nine-goal thriller in Pool Two at Percy Doyle Reserve on Friday evening. “The 5-4 win is satisfying especially the character shown to come back from 0-2 and 1-3 down,” Balcatta coach Goran Stajic said. “I’m so pleased for the team and want to, congratulate them on the well-deserved victory. I don't want to take anything away from Armadale they played exactly as we expected, they have a certain style that they play all the time and they executed it very well, but we now turn to Friday's game against Sorrento which we will all be ready for.”
It was the Reds who raced to a two-goal lead early, with a brace from Roberto Soares. Balcatta reduced the margin with new signing Joe O’Brien scoring from the penalty spot on the half hour, but Armadale regained their two-goal advantage two minutes later with Brian Patterson on target. Balcatta were back in the game again two minutes before half time with Adam Zimarino scoring. Balcatta took control after the break with O’Brien bagging a double to complete his hat-trick and it looked like they would take the points but in the final minute Chad Nilson levelled things up for John O’Reilly’s side.
But there was one final twist and four minutes into stoppage time Christos Vaenas bagged the winner for Balcatta. Armadale coach John O’Reilly said despite the loss there were a lot of positives to take out of the game. “We had six new players in the starting line-up, and this was our first taste of competitive football in pre-season,” he explained. “Yes, we are disappointed to lose, but I felt we earned our goals and gifted them three. But saying that I was pleased with lots of passages of play and with a bit of polish I believe we can be competitive this season.” In the earlier game at the venue in Pool Two Sorrento had new signings Clark Keltie, Ollie Annis, Graham Tough and Yousri Gharsallah in their starting line-up, but a young Perth Glory side held them to a 0-0 draw.
On Saturday evening Bayswater City opened their Pool One campaign with a comprehensive 5-0 win against Cockburn City at E&D Litis Stadium. Luke Salmon gave them the lead after only six minutes, before the former Perth Glory Youth striker added a second on 22 minutes. Daryl Nicol added a third on the half hour, before second half goals from new signing Riley Warland and Kenny Keogh completed the scoring. In the late game at the Floreat Athena’s search for a third successive Night Series crown started well with a come-from-behind 2-1 win against Rockingham City in Pool One. It looked like new Rockingham Coach Matt Brooks’ side would cause an upset after Charlie Betts gave them a first half lead. They held that lead until the third minute of stoppage time when Noah Shamaki levelled. Again, there was late drama and deep into stoppage Nelson Tsongo popped up to win it for Garrett McDuling’s side
New ECU Joondalup coach Kenny Lowe saw his side squander a half time lead to go down 4-2 against Perth SC at Dorrien Gardens in Pool One. Youngster Ben Hinshelwood gave the Jacks the lead early before Perth new striker Yacoub Mustafa levelled. Tommy Amphlett regained the lead for the Jacks at the break, but second half goals from Paul Zimarino, Jayden Gorman and Sasa Njegic ensured Perth prevailed. In the final game of the round at the same venue newly promoted Gwelup Croatia fought out a scoreless draw with Inglewood United in Pool Two
GLORY AND CITY END ALL-SQUARE
Perth Glory's six game Hyundai A-League winning streak came to an end on Saturday afternoon after Tony Popovic's side were held to a 0-0 draw by second-placed Melbourne City at AAMI Park. Both sides had their opportunities to bag all three points, with Glory coming closest to breaking the deadlock when City defender Curtis Good deflected the ball against his own post as he attempted to clear a Neil Kilkenny corner, and they also had a penalty decision reversed by VAR, but Liam Reedy was also called into action on a couple of occasions to maintain a fourth successive clean sheet.
"It was a solid away performance and a clean sheet is always good," Popovic said post-match. "We came up against a very good side who had brought in a couple of new, foreign players. In the last couple of games, we've been a little depleted and I'm delighted with the last two results that we've picked up on the road. We defended very well, and we had to. There are a lot of tired bodies out there from the last two tough away games and a heavy pitch, but hopefully we'll recover some bodies for next week and have a strong squad available for our next home game. We take a good point away from home back to Perth."
Glory went in unchanged to the side that beat Western Sydney Wanderers last week, while City included new Spanish midfielder Markel Sasueta and Scottish defender Jack Hendry. It was the hosts who were out of the blocks fast and Reddy had to be alert to save from Florin Berenguer and Jamie Maclaren inside the opening three minutes. The Glory custodian then produced a stunning save to deny City's Uruguayan striker Luna, as the hosts pressed for the opener. As the half went on Glory settled and went close themselves on the half hour, Neil Kilkenny's corner picked out Bruno Fornaroli, whose header drifted just wide of the far post. It was Glory who ended the half the better and after neat approach work from Kim Soo-Beom, Joel Chianese picked out Diego Castro in the six-yard box, but the Spaniard could only fire straight at Dean Bouzanis.
It was a tactical master class from Popovic and Eric Mombaerts after the break, but both sides cancelled each other out. But on 55 minutes Glory were awarded a penalty after referee Daniel Elder pointed the spot after Fornaroli was brought down in the box by Josh Brillante. It went to VAR and clearly the Glory striker was coming back from an offside position and the decision was overturned. Both sides pressed for the winner late and Maclaren heading narrowly wide for City, before Fornaroli was denied by Bouzanis and Good inadvertently turned a Kilkenny corner against his own post. But although both teams enjoyed spells of sustained pressure in the latter stages, neither managed to create any further serious efforts on goal, ensuring that the spoils would be shared.
City coach Eric Mombaerts was happy with his sides’ performance. “I want to congratulate our team about our defensive performance. We were very strong, we conceded not too many chances,” Mombaerts said. "It's a very good start today - a good start against Perth, a clean sheet and we were strong. Yes, for me it's a good start and maybe the next step is we have to keep our defensive performance and I know that our team also can have good possession play, and I think we can improve also our offensive side. So, I'm sure we will be better in the future."
Melbourne City: GK Dean BOUZANIS, 3 Scott JAMIESON, 4 Harrison DELBRIDGE, 5 Jack HENDRY, 6 Josh BRILLANTE, 9 Jamie MACLAREN, 10 Florin BERENGUER (7 Rostyn GRIFFITHS 90'), 11 Craig NOONE, 14 Markel SUSAETA (13 Nathaniel ATKINSON 73'), 19 Lachlan WALES, 20 Adrian LUNA (2 Scott GALLOWAY 90'), 22 Curtis GOOD - Subs not used: RGK Joe GAUCI, 30 Moudi NAJJAR, 49 Stefan COLAKOVSKI
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 2 Alex GRANT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 7 Joel CHIANESE (23 Dane INGHAM 80'), 8 James MEREDITH (5 Ivan FRANJIC 74'), 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM (3 Jacob TRATT 90'), 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, 20 Jake BRIMMER, 88 Neil KILKENNY - Subs not used: RGK Tando VELAPHI, 22 Vince LIA, 28 Gabriel POPOVIC, 29 Kristian POPOVIC - Referee: Daniel Elder
D’AGOSTINO SENDS OLYROOS TOKYO OLYMPICS
A goal from Perth Glory striker Nicholas D’Agostino has given the Olyroos a hard-fought 1-0 win against Uzbekistan in the third-place playoff at the AFC Under-23 championships to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. D’Agostino skipped past two defenders before sliding the ball into the bottom corner early in the second half at Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium on Saturday night to secure Australia’s place at their first Olympic tournament in 12 years.
“It is a moment I am never going to forget, and it wasn’t just me, it was a team performance tonight,” D’Agostino said. “We had to fight right until the end and we know as Australian's that we have the fight, the talent, and the courage to do a job. We wanted to come here and win the tournament and unfortunately it didn’t happen but we’re not taking anything away from the boys tonight, they did a fantastic job, we are through to the Olympics, we can’t be happier.”
It was the Olyroos’ second chance to qualify after they missed their first opportunity with a 2-0 loss to South Korea in Thursday’s semi-final, and Head Coach Graham Arnold said his side worked hard to secure Australia’s best-ever finish at the biennial tournament. “That would 100 per cent be the biggest game of their careers and their lives,” he said after the win. “They have not experienced anything like that at club land as well as obviously with the national teams, so it has been a wonderful learning process for the players and I felt that we dealt with it very well. When you have a great pathway, a great preparation for the Olympics, then it creates six or seven top Socceroo players and for the senior national team and that is very important.”
Australia started the game well and D’Agostino had the ball in the net on five minutes, the striker rising highest to head past keeper Abduvohid Nematov, but the referee spotted a foul on the keeper and the goal was disallowed. The Ukbeks went close themselves five minutes later, but Djasur Yakhshibaev headed straight at Tom Glover. The dangerous Yakhshibaev went close again moments later, this time curling effort from the edge of the box flashed just wide.
The Olyroos started the second half well and were rewarded with the lead on 47 minutes. D’Agostino skipped past two defenders and raced into the box holding off a third before finding the bottom corner of the net, much to the delight of players and the coaching staff. Uzbekistan pushed men forward looking for the equaliser and the Olyroos almost caught them out again on the hour. Midfielder Keanu Baccus’ found space and his effort was saved by Nematov. It was all hands-on deck for the Olyroos as Uzbekistan throw everything at them, and in the final minute Yakhshibaev had a chance to send the match into extra time, but sent his free kick into the stands. A total of six minutes of stoppage time was added but the Olyroos hung on to book their places in Tokyo.
Australia: GK Tom GLOVER, 3 Alex GERSBACH, 4 Dylan RYAN, 6 Tass MOURDOUKOUTAS, 7 Ramy NAJJARINE (10 Denis GENREAU 46’), 8 Zach DUNCAN, 11 Reno PISCOPO (22 Ben FOLAMI 86?'), 14 Thomas DENG, 15 Nicholas D’AGOSTINO, 17 Keanu BACCUS, 19 Daniel BOUMAN (9 Al Hassan TOURE 65?') - Subs not Used: RGK Daniel MARGUSH, RGK Jordan HOLMES, 2 Gabriel CLEUR, 13 Aiden O’NEILL, 16 Trent BUHAGIAR, 20 Connor O’TOOLE, 21 Jacob ITALIANO, 23 Connor METCALFE
Uzbekistan: GK Abduvakhid NEMATOV, 2 Islomjon KOBILOV, 3 Khojiakbar ALIJONOV, 4 Abdulla ABDULLAEY, 6 Azizjon GANIEY, 8 Nurillo TUKHTASINOV (23 Oybek BOZOROV 53’), 9 Jasurbek YAKHSHIBOEV, 10 Bobir ABDIXOLIKOV, 11 Mirjakhon MIRAKHMADOV (7 Sharof MUKHITDINOV 61’), 19 Ilkhomjon Alijanov (18 Doston IBRAGIMOV 75’), 20 Khusniddin ALIKULOV – Subs not Used:, 12 Mashkurjon MUKHAMMADJONOV, 13 Sherzod NASRULLAEY, 14 Abrorbek ISMOILOV, 15 Oybek RUSTAMOV, 16 Azizbek AMONOV, 17 Islom KENJABAEV, 21 Nizomiddin ZIYAVUTDINOV, 22 Sanjar KODIRKULOV – Red Card: Bozorov 59’
NPL-WA NIGHT SERIES - WEEK ONE PREVIEW
The 2020 NPLWA Night Series kicks off this evening in Pool Two at Percy Doyle Reserve, and first up hosts Sorrento entertain Perth Glory. (6.30pm) It’s a busy weekend for Glory as they are also in action against Melbourne City in the Foxtel Youth League on Sunday, so it could be a young side that takes the field on Friday against the Gulls. But Sorrento coach Jamie Harnwell said he knows whatever team Richard Garcia puts out they will be very competitive for his new look side.
“At this stage of the year, regardless of what players Glory select, we know that they are going to be sharp, fit and good on the ball," he said. "We certainly aren’t at full match fitness or sharpness yet, but I will be expecting an improvement from how we played last weekend. Despite that, each time a Sorrento team steps foot on the field we should be confident of winning the game and we want to start the season off on a positive note.
"From the end of the season we had a few positions to fill with players retiring, Scott Robertson moving to Melbourne etc but I believe we have been successful in our recruitment. We know the experience that the likes of Clark Keltie and Graham Tough have, and the quality that Ollie Annis has displayed in pre-season has been top notch. We have only managed the one friendly against Wanneroo last weekend, which was a rusty performance to begin with but I was happy with the second half and the work rate of the players."
In the late game at the venue, Balcatta takes on Armadale (8.30pm). The Reds lost every game in the competition last season and John O’Reilly will be looking to change that on Friday. The Grindleford Reserve side have been busy in the transfer market and will be a side to watch this season, and Coach Goran Stajic said the competition is a great way to get the new players settled in the way he wants them to play. “We have managed to play two fixtures thus far allowing us to bring the playing system too life with the new additions," he said. "They have been vital in complimenting the current squad and more importantly they are buying in.
"Last time we played Armadale in this competition we beat them comprehensively, however during the season we shared the points on both occasions so am not sure what to expect other than to ask my team to continue trusting our process and finish as many chances as we can. Some players to watch out for going on their performances so far in training and games are young Joe O’Brien, Anthony Topini and Jack Leech, all are in scintillating form."
The other Pool Two game is at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday evening, as newly promoted Gwelup Croatia meet Inglewood United. (7.00pm) Inglewood are coming off a fantastic season under their new coach Andres Oliveira, and where narrowly beaten by Champions Perth SC in the Top Four Grand Final, and the coach will be hoping they can go one better in 2020. Gwelup have also been busy in the transfer market as they look to hit the NPL running and skipper Blair Govan said they are ready for the challenge on Saturday.
"Yes, there’s a fair few new faces down at the club but everyone has come together well," he said. "We’ve had a good pre-season and things seem to be coming together more and more every week. We have played a few games now and there’s been a lot of positives from them but also been a good indication of things we need to improve. The boys are all just looking forward to the first game of the night series now and coming up against a strong Inglewood team will be good for us. They had a great season last year and have a strong squad which we have to respect but we can only focus on ourselves and continue to improve every week like we have been."
The Pool One fixtures begin on Saturday evening with a double-header at E&D Litis Stadium, and first up Bayswater City take on Cockburn City. (5.00pm) Games between the two sides always seems to be entertaining games and this one will be no different. In the late game Floreat Athena will be looking to regain their crown when they host Rockingham City. (7.00pm) Floreat beat Bayswater in last year’s final to go back to back in the competition and Garrett McDuling side will be looking to make it three this season. It’s a tough first up game for City new coach Matt Brooks but one he’s looking forward too.
“Floreat are always a tough opponent and I believe they are chasing their third consecutive night series title, so it will be a very difficult game for us,” he said. “Garett will have them well set up and ready to hit the ground running so we look forward to a good game. We have had a few players move on and a few players join us, and we still have a number to come in. It is still very early in our preparation for this year so we are happy with where we are at, the squad is starting to take shape and is filled with really good guys. We haven’t had any run outs apart from internal ones at this stage so it will be great to get into competitive matches.”
In the final Pool One game Champions Perth SC host ECU Joondalup at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday. (5.00pm) Perth did the league and Top Four double last season and there has been some quality left the club but Ramon Falzon’s side will again be one of the favourites again this season. It will be Jacks new coach Kenny Lowe’s first game in charge of the club and it will be a difficult first up game but keeper Johnny Perkins said they will be up for it.
“Perth SC always have a well organised team with good technical players, so no doubt they’ll be a good test," he said. "But we are focusing on us and what we want to do. We are all looking forward to getting out there on Saturday night and playing some competitive football after working hard in pre-season. The appointment of Kenny is a massive addition for the club, and to be able to bring in someone with his pedigree and knowledge of the game. Knowing that he has worked at the highest level every player is looking to learn from him and Dave to improve individually. Obviously, we are only two session in to the new era but there is a buzz about the training ground."
GLORY TAKE ON CITY IN TOP OF THE TABLE CLASH
Perth Glory go into Saturday's top of the table clash with Melbourne City at AAMI Park looking to make it seven straight wins. (kick-off at 4.30pm WST). But Head Coach Tony Popovic has stressed that ladder positions and club records have been put firmly on the back-burner in the build up to Saturday's highly-anticipated clash. Victory for the visitors would see them leapfrog the hosts into second place, while also extending the club's record Hyundai A-League winning streak to seven games.
But according to Popovic, such factors are not distracting his charges from the job at hand. "If we get to second spot just after the halfway mark [of the season], that's great, but a lot needs to happen on Saturday night to get there," he said. "It's not something we've spoken about this week as a group and we won't heading into the game. As for the record, we're very happy to have it.
"It's obviously something that doesn't happen very often, so we're very pleased to have created some more history at this football club and will do everything we can to keep it going. But again, it's not something we're talking about as a group. We're under no illusions about how hard the task will be against Melbourne City and they do have a fantastic home record."
The last visit to the venue was in round nine when Glory came home with the points in the 3-0 win. At that time, they languished bottom of the table and Popovic said the win was the turning point of the season for his chargers. "We had a great result when our good run started by beating them there... I think we can take a lot psychologically from that game," he said. "We lost to Melbourne Victory the week before and were bottom of the table and we put together a very good performance and that's a real positive for us.
"Since then, I think we've got better. It's a different team to what it was six weeks ago and hopefully we can get the same outcome as we did then. "We're always confident going into games and we're just focusing on this game to extend this run and keep our good form going." In team news for the game Juande (groin), Osama Malik (hamstring) and Nick D'Agostino (international duty) will again miss, but Popovic is optimistic that both Chris Ikonomidis (knee) and Ivan Franjic (calf) will be fit enough to return to the squad and new signing Vince Lia is also a chance to feature.
"He (Ikonomidis) is feeling better," Popovic said at training on Thursday. "He trained a little with the group yesterday, and we expect him to do the session today. We'll make an assessment after consulting with him to see how he feels. We know he's a lot more positive, but we need him to be able to go at 100 per cent in the game. If he can, he'll travel. But if he can't, we'll wrap him up and hopefully it will be next week. (Franjic is) similar to Chris. They did a part of the session yesterday, a very short probably 30 minutes together the two of them."
City midfielder Josh Brillante said Saturday is a huge game. “[It’s a] massive game,” he said. “We like to take each week as a massive game and, obviously, it being second vs third makes it a bigger occasion, and these are the games that players need to step up in and show what they’re capable of. This is the difference between being one of the top teams in the league. On Saturday we have to come out firing, especially after the last home game against Perth.
“I think it’s more of a collective team thing, rather than individually. I think that comes from training and being focused and being switched on every day. Telling yourself not to be lazy when you don’t want to run back an extra 20 meters to help the team. Those little things make a big difference on game day. [Perth] do have a great side and that just comes down to our mentality again. They have dangerous strikers, so we need to be on our toes in transition and defence. They also have a defensively structured team, so we need to find a way to break them down.”
Melbourne City FC squad: GK Dean BOUZANIS, RGK Joe GAUCI, 2 Scott GALLOWAY, 3 Scott JAMIESON, 4 Harrison DELBRIDGE, 5 Jack HENDRY, 6 Josh BRILLANTE, 7 Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 9 Jamie MACLAREN, 10 Florin BERENGUER, 11Craig NOONE, 13 Nathaniel ATKINSON, 14 Markel SUSAETA, 19Lachlan WALES, 20Adrian LUNA, 22Curtis GOOD, 36 Kerrin STOKES, 38 Yaya DUKULY, 39 Idrus ABDULAHI, 49 Stefan COLAKOVSKI - *2-4 to be omitted* - Ins: GALLOWAY (returns from injury), HENDRY (new signing) - Outs: nil - Unavailable: 1Tom GLOVER (international duty), 17 Denis GENREAU (international duty), 21 Ramy NAJJARINE (international duty), 34 Connor METCALFE (international duty), 40 Richard WINDBICHLER (hamstring)
Perth Glory squad: GK Liam REDDY. RGK Tando VELAPHI, 2 Alex GRANT, 3 Jacob TRATT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 5 Ivan FRANJIC, 7 Joel CHIANESE, 8 James MEREDITH, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, 19 Chris IKONOMIDIS, 20 Jake BRIMMER, 22 Vince LIA, 23 Dane INGHAM, 28 Gabriel POPOVIC, 29 Kristian POPOVIC, 88 Neil KILKENNY - *2-3 to be omitted* - Ins: FRANJIC (returns from injury), IKONOMIDIS (returns from injury), LIA (new signing) - Outs: Nil - Unavailable: 6 Dino DJULBIC (ankle – indefinite), 13 Osama MALIK (hamstring – 1 week), 18 Nicholas D’AGOSTINO (international duty), 27 JUANDE (groin – 1 week) - Referee: Daniel Elder
GLORY SEEK SEVENTH STRAIGHT WIN
A six-pack of wins hasn't been enough to satisfy Perth Glory's thirst, with Tony Popovic's squad eager to feast on Melbourne City in Saturday night's heavyweight clash. Glory's fighting 1-0 victory over Western Sydney last week extended their winning run to a club record six A-League games.
More importantly, the hot form has seen Glory rocket from last on the ladder into third, giving them a strong platform to launch their title assault. And a seventh straight win will see Glory leapfrog Melbourne City into second spot. Confidence is understandably sky high among Glory's players, but they aren't resting on their laurels.
"It's obviously nice to win six games in a row, but at the end of the day we want to make it seven," midfielder Neil Kilkenny said. "Melbourne City are slightly ahead of us, but they had a good start to the season and we're in a good bit of form now. Hopefully we can get the three points."
Popovic isn't new to winning runs after he guided Western Sydney to an amazing 10 straight victories in their inaugural season of 2012/13. But the master coach knows the current streak is probably something new to the majority of his squad. Glory have averaged three goals a game during their hot streak, but their performance against the Wanderers showed they can also grind out wins.
"When you win six consecutive games they'll be won in many different ways," Popovic said. "The one we won on the weekend was a real team effort. The boys fought very hard, didn't give many chances away and we found a way to win differently to what we have previously. We've done something unique for the club - winning six straight - and we're prepared to do whatever it takes to try to keep this run going."
GLORY UP FOR THE FIGHT SAYS DESPOTOVSKI
Perth Glory continue their Westfield W-League campaign tonight when they make the trip to McDonald Jones Stadium to take on Newcastle Jets. (kick-off at 4.30pm WST - Live on Fox Sports). Bobby Despotovski's side are still searching for their first three pointer of the season and the coach has given his chargers a stern message ahead of the round 11 clash saying nothing less than a win is acceptable.
A win in the east would lift the Glory above the Jets on the table and the coach is confident that his side can avenge the Jets' victory at Dorrien Gardens back in Round 4. "For me as a coach, as a group of players and as a club, we cannot accept anything less than a win," he said. "That will be the message for the next two days of training and for the game. There were patches in the game against [Western Sydney] Wanderers on Sunday where we did extremely well and that gives us confidence for Thursday. At the start of the second half, for maybe 15 or 20 minutes, we dominated.
"We scored a goal and were on top of them, but couldn't score that second goal and unfortunately copped the second and then the third ourselves. We could see on the faces of the players that they were disappointed that they didn't get anything out of the game. I understand that because we came so close and had nothing to show for it, but that's been the story of our season. The positives were that Isabella Wallhead came on and did really well and Morgan Aquino made her first appearance and that bodes well for the future."
The impressive performances on the night of the two teenagers served to reinforce Despotovski's view that the club is on the right track in terms of its medium to long-term development plan. "We said all along that these are the players that are the future of this club and that's the route that we want to take," he said. "Is it going to be painful at times? Yes. Is it going to be hard work for the girls and for myself and the club? No doubt about it.
"But my coaching staff and Perth Glory as a club are fully supportive of what we've set out to do in the next three to five years and that's positive. We're currently in the first year of that development and we're bringing the young girls in and giving them a start. It'll be a little bit more next year and then we'll expect them to step up and be the leaders of our club in the fourth and fifth year. That's the plan that we have for the future."
In terms of early team news ahead of Thursday's game, midfielder Celia is expected to return to the Glory squad having been a late withdrawal on Sunday due to illness. Eliza Campbell's head injury, however, will rule her out, meaning Aquino is in line to make her first Westfield W-League start and Ruby Jones has been drafted in on a short-term contract to provide goalkeeping cover. As for Newcastle they will be without the suspended Libby Copus-Brown and the injured Nicki Flannery. They lost 2-0 to Melbourne City in their most recent outing and their solitary victory of the season to date came over Glory in early December.
Newcastle Jets squad: GK Nicole SIMONSEN, GK Claire COELHO, 2 Hannah BREWER, 6 Cassidy DAVIS, 7 Gema SIMON, 8 Sophie NENADOVIC, 9 Tara ANDREWS, 11 Pana PETRATOS, 12 Tessa TAMPLIN, 13 Lauren ALLAN, 14 Renee POUNTNEY, 17 Jenna KINGSLEY, 18 Clare WHEELER, 25 Teigan COLLISTER, 31 Paige KINGSTON-HOGG Ins: NENADOVIC (promoted), POUNTNEY (promoted) - Outs: 10 Libby COPUS-BROWN (suspension – 1 week), 19 Nicki FLANNERY (leg – 1-2 weeks) - Unavailable: 4 Annabel MARTIN (knee – 2 weeks)
Perth Glory squad: GK Morgan AQUINO, GK Ruby JONES, 3 Kim CARROLL, 5 Shannon MAY, 6 Arianna ROMERO, 7 CELIA, 8 Morgan ANDREWS, 9 Crystal THOMAS, 10 Julia SARDO, 11 Leticia McKENNA, 13 Jamie-Lee GALE, 14 Caitlin DOEGLAS, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 19 Hana LOWRY, 24 Natasha RIGBY, 28 Katarina JUKIC - Ins: CELIA (returns from illness), Ruby JONES (gk) (new signing) - Outs: GK Eliza CAMPBELL (head injury) - Unavailable: NilReferee: Georgia Ghirardello
GLORY DOWN THE JETS FOR FIRST WIN
Perth Glory have won for the first time this season in the Westfield W-League after a stunning 4-2 win against Newcastle Jets at at McDonald Jones Stadium on Thursday evening. It was 16-year-old midfielder Hana Lowry who marked her starting debut by scoring a stunning header to open the scoring. Morgan Andrews then doubled Glory's lead from the penalty spot just before the break and shortly after the hour-mark, Caitlin Doeglas grabbed her second goal in as many games to make it 3-0. Tessa Tamplin's long-range effort did briefly reduce the arrears, but Glory responded in kind almost immediately as Celia curled home her second of the season from outside the box and Lauren Allen's subsequent strike came too late to be anything more than a consolation for the hosts.
The result lifted Glory above their opponents into seventh spot on the ladder and Head Coach Bobby Despotovski was understandably thrilled with his sides' win in testing conditions. "At the end of the day, I think we wanted this game more than the Jets," he said. "We played our style of football, scored good goals and deserved the win. Their players looked a bit sluggish after travelling back from Melbourne in their last game and our players took full advantage. I was absolutely delighted for Hana [Lowry]. She is a great young prospect and what a goal that was on her first start. The girls worked extra hard in the game in 40-plus degree-heat and they deserved everything they got from the game; we now need to build on it."
It was a bright opening from the Glory and they dominated possession and were rewarded with the lead on 22 minutes, and what a goal it was. Crystal Thomas' corner was met by Lowry, who rose well and found the net with a powerful header. Having deservedly taken the lead, Glory continued to press and were rewarded again in first-half stoppage-time. Tamplin was guilty of a needless nudge on Thomas in the box and referee Georgia Ghirardello pointed to the spot. Andrews stepped up and calmly sent Claire Coelho the wrong way from the resulting penalty.
A lively opening to the second half saw Glory's Doeglas fire just over having been released by Ari Romero, before Newcastle's Allen sent in a looping effort which was tipped on to the bar by the alert Morgan Aquino. It was a end to end football as both sides went in search of a goal but it was Glory who added third just after the hour. Andrews shot crashed down of the underside of the crossbar into the path of Doeglas who showed great composure and technique to hook the ball home from eight metres out.
Glory's march to victory was briefly interrupted when Tamplin's cross-shot sailed in from fully 35 metres out, but Spanish import Celia reasserted the visitors' authority when she strode on to a loose ball just outside the box and found the roof of Coelho's net. Allan did manage to grab a well-taken second for the Jets eight minutes from time, but the WA side were not to be denied a deserved and very welcome victory.
Newcastle Jets: GK Claire COELHO, 2 Hannah BREWER, 6 Cassidy DAVIS, 7 Gema SIMON, 9 Tara ANDREWS, 11 Pana PETRATOS (31 Paige KINGSTON-HOGG 46'), 12 Tessa TAMPLIN, 13 Lauren ALLAN, 17 Jenna KINGSLEY (8 Sophie NENADOVIC 86'), 18 Clare WHEELER, 25 Teigan COLLISTER (14 Renee POUNTNEY 70') - Subs not used: RGK Nicole SIMONSEN
Perth Glory: GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 5 Shannon MAY, 6 Arianna ROMERO, 7 CELIA, 8 Morgan ANDREWS, 9 Crystal THOMAS, 13 Jamie-Lee GALE, 14 Caitlin DOEGLAS (28 Katarina JUKIC 86'), 19 Hana LOWRY (11 Leticia McKENNA 57'), 24 Natasha RIGBY - Subs not used: RGK Ruby JONES, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD - Referee: Georgia Ghirardello
GLORY SWEATING ON STAR DUO
Star Perth Glory duo Chris Ikonomidis and Ivan Franjic are pushing to return for Saturday night's blockbuster A-League clash with Melbourne City. Coach Tony Popovic has ruled out returns for Juande (groin) and Osama Malik (hamstring) this weekend, but admits Ikonomidis and Franjic are no certainties to be fit for selection either.
Ikonomidis (knee) and Franjic (calf) both missed last week's win over Western Sydney Wanderers, but both are keen to play on Saturday against Melbourne City. "He (Ikonomidis) is feeling better," Popovic said before training on Thursday afternoon. "He trained a little with the group yesterday, and we expect him to do the session today. We'll make an assessment after consulting with him to see how he feels."
"We know he's a lot more positive, but we need him to be able to go at 100 per cent in the game. If he can, he'll travel. But if he can't, we'll wrap him up and hopefully it will be next week. (Franjic is) similar to Chris. They did a part of the session yesterday, a very short probably 30 minutes together the two of them."
OLYMPIC DREAMS STILL ALIVE FOR OLYROOS
The Olyroos will take on Uzbekistan for third-place at the AFC U-23 Championship Thailand 2020 after being defeated 2-0 by classy Korea Republic in the Semi-Final at the Thammasat Stadium on Wednesday evening. Graham Arnold's side competed well for large periods of the game however were undone by some slick attacking play from their Korean counterparts, and goals from Kim Dae-Won and substitute Lee Dong-Hyeong sealed their place in the final against Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
Earlier in the day Uzbekistan lost 1-0 to Saudi Arabia to enter the playoff for third, which will be held on Saturday night at Bangkok’s iconic Rajamangala Stadium. The winner of Saturday’s match will join Saudi Arabia and Korea Republic as Asia’s representatives at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan. Following the defeat Arnold paid credit to Korea Republic in his post-match press conference and added that he believes his side will show plenty of endeavour and fight at the weekend.
“There were four boxes that we needed to tick when we came to the tournament and the most important thing was getting into the last four to get two chances to go to the Olympics,” Arnold said. “Obviously it is disappointing tonight, but you have to take your hat off to South Korea. South Korea played very well, and we were beaten by a better team tonight. They (Korea Republic) are a physically very big team, physically powerful, fast, some quality players with individual actions, and you can see South Korea especially are spending a lot of money in developing kids and developing youth and bringing the players through.”
“It was the first time that Australia has been into a semi-final at this age group and for my players in the dressing room it was the first time that they have experienced playing a semi-final of an Asian Cup and being in that in environment. So, it was a great learning curve for them, a great lesson for them and we move forward. We have got to show, and we will show, the Aussie spirit of fighting (against Uzbekistan). I said to the boys after the game ‘great effort, we did well in patches, but that game is over now, there’s nothing you can do about that. South Korea were the better team on the night. It is all now about what’s in front of us and that’s Uzbekistan on Saturday and winning that game."
Chances were few and far between in the first half, with South Korea having the better of possession and clipping the post midway through. The Green and Gold went close themselves just before the break, defender Dylan Ryan's snap shot from the edge of the penalty area flashing just wide of the post. The deadlock was broken just before the hour. Lee You-Hyeon’s low effort from the right fizzed past an outstretched Glover and struck the left post, with the unmarked Kim waiting to tap into an open goal.
The strike lifted South Korea and shortly after, defender Jeong escaped from a congested 18-yard box to find himself one-on-one with Tom Glover, only to thrash a panicked shot skywards. But on 76 minutes they added the decisive second goal. Substitute Lee Dong-Hyeong received the ball on the edge of the area and cut inside Ryan before firing home via the post, sparking wild celebrations in the mainly South Korean crowd. Australia pressed late and had their chances but couldn't convert.
Australia U-23: 1. Thomas GLOVER (Gk), 2. Gabriel CLEUR, 3. Alex GERSBACH (C), 4. Dylan RYAN, 6. Tass MOURDOUKOUTAS, 9. Al Hassan TOURE, 13. Aiden O’NEILL (11. Reno PISCOPO 66’), 16. Trent BUHAGIAR, 17. Keanu BACCUS, 21. Jacob ITALIANO (22. Ben FOLAMI 66’), 23. Connor METCALFE (10. Denis GENREAU 46’) Substitutes not used: 7. Ramy NAJJARINE, 8. Zachary DUNCAN, 12. Jordan HOLMES (Gk), 14. Thomas DENG, 15. Nicholas D’AGOSTINO, 18. Daniel MARGUSH (Gk), 19. Daniel BOUMAN, 20. Connor O’TOOLE Yellow cards: Gersbach, Piscopo
Korea Republic: GK Song BEOM-KEUN, 2 Lee YOU-HYEON, 3 Kang YOON-SUNG, 4 Lee SANG-MIN, 5 Jeong TAE-WOOK, 6 Kim DONG-HYUN, 14 Kim DAE-WON (15 Kim TAE-HYEON 87’), 16 Jeong SEUNG-WON (10 Lee DONG-HYEONG 64’), 17 Um WON-SANG (11 Lee DONG-JUN 46’), Won-Sang, 18 Oh SE-HUN, 20 Won DU-JAE – Subs not used: 7 Woo-Yeong JEONG, 8 Kim JIN-GYU, 9 Cho GUE-SUNG, 12 Kim JAE-WOO, 13 Kim JIN-YA, 19 Maeng SEONG-WUNG, 21 An CHAN-GI, 22 Yoon JONG-GYU, 23 Ahn JOON-SOO
MCCULLOCH QUITS AS JOONDALUP COACH
ECU Joondalup legend Dale McCulloch has resigned his post as club coach, effective immediately. The 38-year old’s decision comes hot on the heels of Kenny Lowe’s appointment to the Director of Football role at the northern suburbs club.
McCulloch joined Joondalup as a teenager and played the majority of his senior career at the club. A member of their Premier League (1999) and State Cup (2002) winning sides, his on-field efforts were recognised with State team honours against South Australia and Iraq.
On hanging up his playing boots McCulloch turned his hand to coaching, naturally at Joondalup. The highlight of his six-and-a-half seasons at the helm came in 2016 when he guided the club to third in the National Premier Leagues and within a whisper of a Grand Final appearance.
GLORY SNAP UP OLYROOS 'KEEPER MARGUSH
Perth Glory have added youth to their experienced goalkeeping unit by signing former Adelaide United goalkeeper Daniel Margush on a two-year deal. The 22-year old, who is currently in Thailand with Australia's Under-23 squad, joins Liam Reddy and Tando Velaphi in Glory’s goalkeeping brigade.
Margush rose through the ranks at Adelaide to make seven appearances for the senior side between 2016 and 2018. Signing with Glory after parting ways with Adelaide earlier this month, Margush is available for selection in his new club’s upcoming 2020 AFC Champions League campaign.
Margush is excited by the prospect of launching a new chapter in his career with Glory. “This is a great opportunity for me and it was definitely the right time for me to try and look for regular first-team football,” the 1.87m shot-stopper said.
“Watching from afar what Tony Popovic has done at the clubs he’s been at, it’s always an intriguing package that he puts together and I’m excited to be a part of it now. “I think it can all go really well and I’m looking forward to getting started.”
LOWE JOINS JOONDALUP
ECU Joondalup have confirmed the appointment of former Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe to the position of Director of Football. Lowe, 58, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the northern suburbs club gleamed for a lengthy playing and coaching career in England and Australia.
New Joondalup president Mark Donnelly is excited about what the future holds for his club under Lowe. “It’s a huge step forward for the club,” Donnelly told ecujoondalup.com.au “Kenny and I are both committed long term to making ECU Joondalup WA’s most successful National Premier Leagues team.”
Donnelly said it’s not only the senior teams that will benefit from Lowe’s appointment. “Kenny has a unique understanding of the results that can be achieved through a truly integrated football club model and we have an amazing opportunity to become the hotbed for Australia’s best football talent.”
“With its climate, strong economic environment and growing support for football, Western Australia could and should be a national centre of excellence for the round ball game and we have the determination to make that happen.”
Lowe enjoyed a lengthy playing career in England where he turned out for the likes of Hartlepool United, Barnet, Birmingham City and Gateshead across 17 seasons. His introduction to the local game came in 1986 at Spearwood Dalmatinac, with who he won the Gold Medal as the leagues fairest and best player.
Having coached Gateshead and Barrow, Lowe returned to Perth and in 2007 joined the Glory coaching team. He was appointed head coach in late 2013 and guided the A-League club to successive FFA Cup Finals, in 2014 and 2015, during his four-and-a-half year tenure.
MIDFIELD GENERAL LIA JOINS GLORY
Perth Glory have bolstered their midfield stocks with the signing of experienced midfielder Vince Lia. The 34-year old, who was released by Adelaide United last week, joins Glory for the remainder of the 2019/20 A-League season as a long-term injury replacement for defender Dino Djulbic.
"I’m really looking forward to being part of what I think is a special group," Lia told perthglory.com.au "It’s a team that will obviously challenge for the league again and with an Asian Champions League campaign coming up, I’m hoping to help in any way I can."
Lia has a wealth of experience in the A-League, making more than 250 appearances for Melbourne Victory, Wellington Phoenix and Adelaide. He helped the latter win both the 2018 and 2019 FFA Cups but, with limited opportunities under Gertjan Verbeek this season, has opted to leave the club.
And Glory jumped at the chance to pick up Lia, especially with an Asian Champions League campaign on the horizon. “(Vince) will provide great competition and depth to our squad during what will be a testing time physically as we look to compete both domestically and in Asia," said the club’s football director Jacob Burns.
Lia may go straight into Glory’s squad for their huge clash against Melbourne City on Saturday night. Glory - on a club A-League record six-game winning streak - are currently third and just two points behind second-placed City, with a game in hand.
KERR OPENS CHELSEA ACCOUNT
Sam Kerr has opened her Women's Super League account as Chelsea hammered league leaders Arsenal 4-1. The Matildas captain nodded home a deep cross from Norwegian winger Guro Reiten on 13 minutes to put the Blues 2-0 up shortly after Bethany England had given Chelsea an early lead.
A stunning left-footed strike from the edge of the area from Sophie Ingle increased Chelsea's lead seven minutes later to stun the hosts who had lost just once this season and won their last five matches. The game was made safe on 68 minutes when Reiten headed in at close-range.
GLORY CREATE A-LEAGUE HISTORY
Perth Glory created A-League history by scoring their sixth consecutive A-League win for the first time with tonight’s 1-0 defeat of Western Sydney Wanderers. The victory consolidated Glory’s third spot on the ladder and set up a blockbuster with second-placed Melbourne City next weekend.
“We are absolutely delighted,” said defender Alex Grant. “Six wins on the bounce. It doesn’t get any better than that does it. We knew it was going to be tough. We spoke about controlling the game with and without the ball. We coped with them pretty well, they didn’t create much. They had one chance in the first half.”
GLORY MAKES IT SIX OF THE BEST
Perth Glory recorded a sixth consecutive win to consolidate third place in the Hyundai A-League after a 1-0 win against Western Sydney Wanders at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Bruno Fornaroli's fifth goal in the last four games proved enough to secure the points, the Uruguayan front man capitalised on some sloppy home defending to put his side in front after just seven minutes. Glory subsequently dug deep to claim the three points and stunning save from Liam Reedy made sure of a fifth clean sheet in their last six outings.
Glory went into the game without Juande, Chris Ikonomidis and Ivan Franjic, with Korean defender Kim Soo-Beom coming into the side that beat Adelaide United 3-0 last time out. Popovic's side were out of the blocks early and were rewarded with the lead on seven minutes. Jake Brimmer intercepted Dylan McGowan's poor pass to Patrick Ziegler and he slipped the ball into Fornaroli whose shot took a deflection off McGowan, wrong-footing goalkeeper Daniel Lopar.
The visitors were bossing the game with the home faithful becoming frustrated with under pressure coach Markus Babbel, but mid-way through the half they settled and went close to the equaliser on 27 minutes. Daniel Georgievski made space down the left and pulled the ball back Nicolai Muller, but the Germans volley was superbly saved by Reddy. Moments later Bruce Kamau's cross finding Kwame Yeboah, whose glancing headed flashed wide, before Mitch Duke's goalbound effort was deflected wide.
The home side thought they were level early in the second half when Georgievski's cross was bundled home at the back post Yeboah. But after referee Adam Fielding was told by VAR to check the incident on the screen, he disallowed the goal for handball, much to the displeasure of the home supporters. It was the Wanderers who were now on top and Muller and Kamau both flashed shots narrowly wide, but Glory looked dangerous on the counter attack.
That was there for all to see on the hour when Joel Chianese raced clear and crossed to Fornaroli who fired just wide of Lopar's far post. Both sides pressed and Georgievski and Brimmer were narrowly off-target with long-range strikes at either end, but on 77 minutes it looked like Glory had doubled their lead. Chianese was sent clear and held off his marker before finishing clinically past Lopar, but his celebrations were cut short with the flag up for offside.
Wanderers weren’t going down without a fight and two minutes later Swiss defender Greg Wuthrich produced a superbly-timed block which prevented Mitch Duke from sliding home Yeboah's low cross. That was as close as the hosts came to securing a share of the spoils, with Glory showing great composure to see out the final moments and seal a hard-earned fourth away victory of the campaign.
Wanderers coach Babbel was left disappointed with the disallowed goal. "It's a goal. Very simple. It's not a handball, it's a chest. But for us it's normal. Sad to say, but it's normal," he said of the decision. "So now my job is to bring their heads up again, work hard in these 14 days now, because next week we don't have a game, and we have to work on our fitness level, we have to work on our structure, and start again. There are still games to go, it's still possible. I was always a fighter." Unfortunately for Babbel he won’t get the chance as he was sacked by the club on Monday.
Western Sydney Wanderers: GK Daniel LOPAR, 4 Dylan MCGOWAN, 5 Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6 Matthew JURMAN, 7 Mitchell DUKE, 9 Nicolai MULLER (35 Mohamed ADAM 82'), 11 Bruce KAMAU (33 Tate RUSSELL 69'), 19 Pirmin SCHWEGLER, 21 Tarek ELRICH, 27 Kwame YEBOAH, 34 Patrick ZIEGLER (22 Nicholas SULLIVAN 69') - Subs not used: RGK Nicholas SUMAN, 23 Kosta GROZOS, 31 Noah PAGDEN, 59 Dean PELEKANOS
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 2 Alex GRANT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 7 Joel CHIANESE, 8 James MEREDITH (3 Jacob TRATT 78'), 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, (28 Gabriel POPOVIC 90+2'), 20 Jake BRIMMER (29 Kristian POPOVIC 82'), 88 Neil KILKENNY - Subs not used: RGK Tando VELAPHI, 23 Dane INGHAM - Referee: Adam Fielding
GLORY BEATEN BY WANDERERS
Despite a spirited second-half performance, Perth Glory were unable to upset Western Sydney Wanderers, going down to a 3-1 in Sunday's Westfield W-League Round 10 clash at Bankwest Stadium. The home side were ahead at the break with Caitlin Cooper on target, but Glory levelled through substitute Caitlin Doeglas. But despite creating a number of chances Glory failed to convert and further goals from Cortnee Vine and Courtney Nevin gave the home sdie the points.
The result leaves Glory still searching for their first win of the campaign and Head Coach Bobby Despotovski said they struggled to match the individual skill level and intensity of the home side. "We gave an early goal aware due to pure pressure, then we started playing some decent football, but couldn't maintain enough possession in the first half because they had a higher intensity than us," he said.
"In the second half we changed two positions, we needed an early goal and we got one. But again they were able to score due to us not being able to control possession. The individual skill shown by our players is what let us down today; nothing else. Those skills are not up to scratch at the moment and where we are in the league shows that. We gave it a good go, but it was not enough."
Glory got off to the worst possible start as Wanderers hit the front with just four minutes on the clock. Nevin's's cross from the left took a deflection off Ari Romero and eventually reached the far post where Cooper ghosted in to plant a firm header into the roof of the net. The home side came close to doubling their lead when Vine just failed to slide home a teasing ball from Kristen Hamilton.
Glory forced themselves into the contest and created a decent opportunity of their own on 23 minutes when a sweeping, length-of-the-field move culminated in Jamie-Lee Gale firing narrowly over. Wanderers continued to impress going forward, however and Eliza Campbell was duly called upon to produce a fine, one-handed save to block Amy Harrison's curling effort from the edge of the box.
The start of the second half saw Campbell withdrawn as she was assessed for concussion following an earlier collision with Vine and Morgan Aquino took up the gloves to make her Westfield W-League debut. Despotovski also introduced Isabella Wallhead and Doeglas as part of a triple substitution and the latter made an immediate impact by drawing the visitors level.
The tenacious Crystal Thomas drove in an angled strike which was parried by Courtney Newbon in the home goal and Doeglas was on hand to scramble the loose ball over the line. But parity was to last for just three minutes as Glory were unable to fully clear Hamilton's low cross and Vine pounced to find the bottom corner from close range.
Having seen her fellow-substitute make a major impact at the other end of the field, Aquino followed suit six minutes from time, pulling off an impressive double save to keep Cooper and then Vine at bay. But there was nothing the 18-year-old could do to prevent Western Sydney's third goal, Nevin's powerful shot taking a cruel deflection off Wallhead on its way into the net and sealing the three points for the red-and-blacks in the process.
Western Sydney Wanderers: GK Courtney NEWBON, 3 Sam STAAB, 4 Caitlin COOPER, 5 Courtney NEVIN, 6 Denise O’SULLIVAN (19 Susan PHONSONGKHAM 80'), 7 Amy HARRISON, 10 Kyra COONEY-CROSS, 11 Cortnee VINE, 15 Alex HUYNH, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO (16 Liana DANASKOS 89'), 23 Kristen HAMILTON - Subs not used: RGK Sophie MAGUS, 2 Alix ROBERTS
Perth Glory: GK Eliza CAMPBELL, (RGK Morgan AQUINO 46'), 3 Kim CARROLL, 5 Shannon MAY, 6 Arianna ROMERO, 8 Morgan ANDREWS, 9 Crystal THOMAS, 10 Julia SARDO (16 Isabella WALLHEAD 46'), 11 Leticia MCKENNA, 13 Jamie-Lee GALE, 24 Natasha RIGB, 28 Katarina JUKIC (14 Caitlin DOEGLAS 46') - Subs not used: 19 Hana LOWRY - Referee: Isabella Libri
BUSHFIRE APPEAL THE WINNER
The WA football family came together on Saturday evening to support the Football West Bushfire Charity Match between the NPL All Stars XI and the State League All Stars Xi and the Gold Fields State Amateur Team and Amateur Select XI at Dorrien Gardens. Hundreds of supporters turned out on a mild Perth summer evening to support the event, with proceeds to be donated to Rural Aid as part of the Football for Fire-Affected Farmers, their families and community’s initiative.
In the early game the State Amateur Team defeated the Amateur Select XI 5-0. Hamersley Rover’s Cosimo Figliomeni opened the scoring on five minutes but it was after the break the State side ran away with the game. Wembley Downs Stephen Geoghegan made it 2-0 five minutes into the second half, before late goals from Quinns’ Liam Hunt, Kwinana United’s, Lee Bates and Quinns’ Wayne Carter gave them a comprehensive win.
In the second game all 12 NPLWA clubs provided at least one player for the fixture, with the State team drawing their players from 11 clubs across Saturday’s Division One and Two, and it led to an entertaining contest in front of a healthy summer crowd. Football West Technical Manager Cris Ola took charge of the NPL side while Development Officer Garry Church was coach of the State League team. It was the State League side who opened the brighter and Quinns’ striker Richard Howles fired over the top early, before Ashfield’s Josh Kotio goal was ruled out for handball.
It wasn’t a surprise when the State League hit the front on 12 minutes when Kingsley Westside’s Jayden Drummond finished well after a good move down the left. The NPL side hit back and new Bayswater City signing Riley Warland headed wide, before Quinns' James Bosdet saved well to deny Pert SC's Paul Zimarino. The State League continued to create chances and Forrestfield United skipper Rhys Loxley stung the palms of ECU Joondalup keeper Johnny Perkins with a long-range shot.
But on 26 minutes the NPL side levelled, when referee David Bruce pointed to the spot and Perth Glory’s Trent Ostler made no mistake from the resulting penalty. The NPL side were awarded another penalty four minutes later, but Bosdet guessed the right way to save Ostler’s spot kick. The NPL side went close to the lead at the break when Zimarino lost his marker in the penalty area, but lifted his shot over the top and at the break it was all-square.
There were a host of changes for both sides at the break and it was more of the same with both sides having chances, the best falling to the NPL side when Cockburn City’s Julian Teles headed wide from Sorrento’s Jakub Prajza’s free kick. But on 71 minutes the NPL side won it. Armadale winger Ali Nazary collected Bayswater City’s Luke Salmon’s pass inside the area before striking across Bosdet into the far corner of the net.
The State League side pressed for the equaliser and Drummond fired over the top before Western Knights' playmaker Andrija Jukic straight at Perth Glory’s Jackson Lee in the final minute. But on the night football was a secondary thought with the money raised on the night going to a great cause.
NPL All Stars: GK: Johnny PERKINS, 2. Ali NAZARY (14. Alex ISHIDA-LIVINGS 38'), 3. Blair GOVAN, 4. Riley WARLAND, 5. Jesse Lazzaro (12. Sam MITCHINSON 38'), 6. Joel SANDERSON, 7. Michael DOMFEH, 8. Jesse FULLER, 9. Paul ZIMARINO, 10. Jakub PRAJZA, 11. Trent OSTLER.
State League All Stars: GK: James BOSDET, 2. Andrew CARTWRIGHT, 4. Harry CLISBY, 6. Josh KOTIO, 7. Zdenek BEZDEK, 8. Andrija JUKIC, 10. Richard HOWLES, 11. Rhys LOXLEY, 14. Liam PEACOCK, 17. Jayden DRUMMOND, 18. Oscar THOMPSON.
NPL All Stars: GK: Jackson LEE, 10. Jakub PRAJZA (5. Jesse LAZZARO 65'), 11. Trent OSTLER (2. Ali NAZARY 55'), 12. Sam MITCHINSON, 13. Lydon HODGKISS, 14. Alex ISHIDA-LIVINGS, 15. Robert DEL BORELLO, 16. Luke SALMON, 17. Sam RIAK, 18. Julian TELES, 19. Shane CASSIDY.
State League All Stars: GK: James BOSDET, 2. Andrew CARTWRIGHT, 4. Harry CLISBY (10. Richard HOWLES 72'), 8. Andrija JUKIC, 9. James OLDROYD, 11. Rhys LOXLEY (19. Slobodan VULIN 54', Jayden DRUMMOND 83'), 12. Kade FEARNALL (7. Zdenek BEZDEK 83'), 14. Liam PEACOCK, 16. Michael DEBELLIS (11. Rhys Loxley 83'), 17. Jayden DRUMMOND (5. Antony RUSSO 54', Josh KOTIO 83'), 18. Oscar THOMPSON - Referee: David Bruce
OLYROOS ONE STEP CLOSER TO TOKYO
Australia are within one win of the Tokyo Olympic games after substitute Al Hassan Toure scored an extra time goal to beat Syria 1-0 at the iconic Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, with Graham Arnold’s side advancing to the final four of the AFC U-23 Championship. The two finalists from the competition will book their place to the 2020 Olympic Games and the winner of the third-place playoff will join them, along with host nation Japan. It will be the first time they have qualified in 12 years, after missing out on qualifying for the London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 Games, they last competed in Beijing in 2008.
Olyroos head coach Graham Arnold said he was proud of the fight his players demonstrated on the evening. “Our boys showed wonderful fight, wonderful commitment,” he said. “We knew that Syria play a very direct game, a very physical game, so the boys had to be up for the fight, and they were. Overall, I know that we have a lot of improvement in us than what we showed tonight. Getting to the semi-finals for the first time ever is great for Australia but my whole focus is on the next game and I expect the players to go up to another level.”
Arnold also expressed his delight for Toure. The Guinea-born marksman is in his first season of professional football in Adelaide and, as of three months ago, hadn’t played football at an international level. “We were the team that was trying to play football and that’s what we worked on, those type of patterns to get those type of opportunities and we had three or four of them. But obviously very happy for the kid (Toure). He is doing fantastically well for us and happy that he scored his first goal of the tournament.”
Syria had the first real opportunity and it was keeper Tom Glover who came to the Green and Gold’s rescue on 10 minutes when he saved with his legs after Mohammad Al Bari broke through on goal. The Olyroos hit back and Reno Piscopo sent a warning shot fizzing over the crossbar after a neat exchange with Nick D’Agostino on 21 minutes. In a closely-fought contest, Toure was sent on for Daniel Bowman on 65 minutes and the 19-year-old almost got a head on Thomas Deng’s dangerous cross which flashed across the Syria goal on 74 minutes.
But Toure made his chance count in the first-half of extra-time with a one-touch outside-of-the-boot finish after he was sent clear by Brisbane Roar midfielder Aidan O’Neill’s precision through ball. D’Agostino missed a chance to wrap up the win, the Perth Glory striker fired wide from Trent Buhagiar’s cross a minute after the restart, but Australia held firm in the closing stages to progress.
Toure said he was proud to score an important goal for the nation. “It is a great honour to score for my country, especially to get us to the semi-finals where we haven’t been, it is a good honour,” Toure said. “It was a good team goal, everyone contributed to the goal and I am happy to get the win. They (Toure’s family and friends) are really proud that I have made the decision to play for Australia. I feel that Australia has given me the opportunity to play for the county, and it is an honour to play for them.
“You live for these moments, to play in semi-finals, not many people get that opportunity to play so I am just grateful. He (Graham Arnold) let us know that we still have more to go, we haven’t qualified yet. Even though it is good to get in the semi-finals there is still more to go, and we still have two more games.”
Australia U-23: GK Thomas GLOVER, 3 Alex GERSBACH, 4 Dylan RYAN, 6Tass MOURDOUKOUTAS, 7Ramy NAJJARINE (16 Trent BUHAGIAR 90’), 8 Zachary DUNCAN (13 Aiden O’NEILL 75’), 11 Reno PISCOPO (22Ben FOLAMI 99’), 14 Thomas DENG (C), 15 Nicholas D’AGOSTINO, 17 Keanu BACCUS, 19 Daniel BOUMAN (9 Al Hassan TOURE 64’) - Subs not used: 2 Gabriel CLEUR, 10 Denis GENREAU, 12 Jordan HOLMES, 18Daniel MARGUSH, 20 Connor O’TOOLE, 21 Jacob ITALIANO, 23 Connor METCALFE - Yellow cards: D’Agostino 90+3’
Syria U-23: GK Mohamad Yazan OURABI, 3 Yousef Al HAMWI, 4 Yosief MOHAMMAD, 5 Fares ARNAOUT, 6 Kamel HMEISHEH, 7Khaled KURDAGHLI, 9 Abd Al Rahman BARAKAT, 10 Kamel KOAEH (10Anas Alaji 100’), 13 Mohamad ALBARRI (19AbdulhadiSHALHA 81’), 14 ZeidGHRIR (18Mohamad Al HALLAK 105’), 15 Simon AMIN (8 Abdul Kader ADI 90’) – Subs not used: 1William GHANNAM, 2Mustafa SAFRANI, 12Milad HAMAD, 16Khalil IBRAHIM, 17Mohammad RIHANIEH, 20ZakriaHANNAN, 23Nabil KORO – Yellow Cards: Kurdaghi 73’, ZeidGhrir 105+2’, Barakat 114’
GLORY LOOK FOR CLUB RECORD AGAINST WANDERERS
Perth Glory will be looking for a new Hyundai A-League record club record on Sunday when they travel to Bankwest Stadium to take on Markus Babbel’s Western Sydney Wanderers (kick-off at 3.30pm WST). Glory Head Coach Tony Popovic has stated his side's determination to secure a sixth successive win in Sunday's Round 15 clash. Glory made it five on the bounce by downing Adelaide United last time out, thereby equalling the club's best ever run of consecutive victories which was set twice in the 2015-16 season.
But Popovic is adamant they still have plenty to prove going forward. "The morale is very high at the moment and everyone at the club is happy with the run that we're on," he said. "But we're also seeing a determination from the players that they want to keep this going and that's important. Not long ago we were at the bottom of the table, so we know what that feels like as well and we don't want to take our run for granted. It's another opportunity on Sunday to extend the run.
“We have a chance to do that away from home against a big club and we're looking forward to playing at the new stadium and seeing if we can get another win. We haven't discussed it as a group [the possibility of setting a new club record], but I think the players are aware that it would be a first for the club. You have to put yourself in a position to achieve that and now we have a chance. It's a credit to them [the players] that it's a discussion point. The players are really working hard on the training pitch to give ourselves a chance to do it."
Despite Wanderers' form tailing off after they opened the campaign by winning three on the spin, Popovic is still expecting his former side to make life difficult for the visitors. "Western Sydney have maybe been the opposite to us," he said. They made a great start to the season and now they're having a bit of a bad run in terms of results. "So, we understand that in front of their home fans they'll be desperate for a win and we have to be prepared for that.
“But we also need to show them that we're a team that wants more. We're not satisfied with what we've done so far, we want to keep improving and keep getting more results. It's a great challenge. It's a beautiful stadium and a great pitch and it's a great opportunity to showcase our football." In terms of injury news, Popovic is hopeful that both Juande (groin) and Chris Ikonomidis (knee) will be fit enough to come into his selection thoughts this weekend.
"Chris will train today, but not with the group," he said. "He's certainly getting better and we're very happy with his progress. "We're probably a little bit surprised that after that challenge that he's recovered so quickly. "We still have four days to go and we're optimistic that he'll be fine. Juande will train today with the group and if he gets through today and tomorrow, he'll be a part of the squad. Osama [Malik] is still not right for this week, but he is joining in with most of the drills today which is another step forward. He's getting closer."
Glory will be out to extend an impressive recent run against the red-and-blacks which has seen them lose just one of the last ten meetings between the two clubs. The WA side have also lost just once on their travels this term, while Wanderers have recorded two wins, two draws and two defeats in their six home games to date.
Western Sydney sit in eighth spot but, significantly, are just a point outside of the top six and Head Coach Markus Babbel believes the finals are well within reach. “If we fix a few things then I am very optimistic we will get the right results and play a better style of football,” he said. “Everything that the supporters expect, we can bring it on the pitch. It’s up to us, no-one else ... the truth is on the pitch.”
“What I like in this league, maybe Sydney FC has it over the others, but the rest of the league is 50-50 games. We know this (Perth) is an experienced side with a lot of individual quality, but if we stay in the structure then they will have a problem with us. If we don’t then they have the quality to hurt us.”
“I still feel we can have the turnaround and we can come in the playoffs. This is the target. If you look at the (competition) table this is not a big step to do, but we have to do it. We are not getting more games we are getting less so we have to start getting points. The season is not finished. We are working hard. Don’t worry, we will come in the top six and (then) everything is possible.”
Western Sydney Wanderers FC squad: GK Daniel LOPAR, RGK Nicholas SUMAN, 4 Dylan MCGOWAN, 5 Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6 Matthew JURMAN, 7 Mitchell DUKE, 8 Jordan O’DOHERTY, 9 Nicolai MULLER, 11 Bruce KAMAU, 16 Mathieu CORDIER, 19 Pirmin SCHWEGLER, 21 Tarek ELRICH, 22 Nicholas SULLIVAN, 23 Kosta GROZOS, 27 Kwame YEBOAH, 31 Noah PAGDEN, 33 Tate RUSSELL, 34 Patrick ZIEGLER, 35 Mohamed ADAM, 52 Mohamed AL-TAAY - *2-4 to be omitted* - Ins: O’DOHERTY (promoted), KAMAU (promoted), CORDIER (promoted), AL-TAAY (promoted) - Outs: 59 Dean PELEKANOS (not selected), 62 Ali AUGLAH (not selected) - Unavailable: 10 Radoslaw MAJEWSKI (knee), 13 Tass MOURDOUKOUTAS (international duty), 17 Keanu BACCUS (international duty), 20 Vedran JANJETOVIC (shoulder), 29 Daniel WILMERING (knee)
Perth Glory squad: GK Liam REDDY, RGK Tando VELAPHI, 2 Alex GRANT, 3 Jacob TRATT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 5 Ivan FRANJIC, 7 Joel CHIANESE, 8 James MEREDITH, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, 19 Chris IKONOMIDIS, 20 Jake BRIMMER, 23 Dane INGHAM, 27 JUANDE, 28 Gabriel POPOVIC, 29 Kristian POPOVIC, 88 Neil KILKENNY - *1-3 to be omitted* - Ins: JUANDE (returns from injury) - Outs: Nil - Unavailable: 6 Dino DJULBIC (ankle – indefinite), 13 Osama MALIK (hamstring – 1 week), 18 Nicholas D’AGOSTINO (international duty) - Referee: Adam Fielding
WANDERERS UP NEXT FOR DESPOTOVSKI’S SIDE
Perth Glory Womens side are coming off the bye and head to high-flying Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday focused on bringing home their first three points of the season (kick-off at 1pm WST). The Westfield W-League Round 10 fixture is part of a double-header at Bankwest Stadium, with the respective clubs' Hyundai A-League teams in action later in the day.
Head coach Bobby Despotovski, who does, of course, know a thing or two about scoring having bagged a Glory club record 129 goals during his playing days, has urged his players to be more creative and clinical in the final third and confirmed that the search for greater potency going forward has formed a major part of his side's preparations for Sundays showdown.
"We are working on scoring more goals, so the primary focus has been predominantly on creating more chances and converting more chances," he told the Glory website. "We do create chances, but our conversion rate is not as good as it has been in the last three or four years. We have a couple of new strikers and are a work in progress and everyone is working really hard to get us to where we want to be."
Glory will be up against a Wanderers side which has lost just once this season and Despotovski is expecting the hosts, who are managed by former Glory defender Dean Heffernan, to provide a stern test. "Western Sydney are one of the strongest teams in the league and it's going to be a very hard game, but our focus will be to play our own brand of football," he said.
"Players usually lift when they're playing against top teams and I'm expecting our girls to be at 150%. We know that if we give them [Western Sydney Wanderers] a sniff, they are going to score, so we need to limit their opportunities and try and create a goal or two ourselves."
Following the Wanderers game, Despotovski’s side are in action at Newcastle on Thursday and will therefore be staying over in New South Wales, a move which the coach feels is essential given the tough scheduling. "With the normal travel arrangements, we'd have travelled back on Monday, had recovery on Tuesday and then on Wednesday we'd have been back on the 'plane," he said.
"So, we'll stay over and that will minimise the impact on the girls' bodies. It'll be good to have the extra time together. Morale [in the group] is as high as ever and the simple reason for that is, we have been playing some good football, the girls believe in the process that we're putting in place and they have been working extra hard."
It’s a big day for former Glory player Ella Mastrantonio, who will play her 100-game milestone in the Westfield W-League. “I think it is definitely a huge thing and I couldn’t think of a better club to do it with than the Wanderers,” said Mastrantonio. “But, for me, it will be like just any other game. We need to bounce back after our loss to Brisbane last week which has hurt us quite a bit. I’ll be raring to go against Perth, but, just the same, very proud of my achievement.”
The 27-year-old admitted she has had her ups and downs as a professional player. Born and raised in Fremantle, Mastrantonio started her senior career with her home club Perth Glory in 2008 then went back and forth between Glory and Melbourne Victory over the next nine seasons, racking up 92 games in the process. Mastrantonio made the move to the Wanderers at the start of the season and hasn’t looked back.
The midfielder has played in all seven games and been integral part of the club’s emergence as a serious title contender. “It’s been a journey and I have grown and as person and as a player over the years,” she said. “I am very proud of my achievement and hope to get a win and celebrate just the way I want it. When I signed with the club, I knew they meant business, we all mean business with the squad we have assembled with the coaching staff, the backing of the club, the goals are still to go as high as possible and win everything we can.
“I think we are doing pretty well so far but it is only halfway. It only counts at the end of the season and hopefully, we will have a couple of trophies in the cabinet. We just need to bounce back against Perth, who we will not underestimate. Last week was just one of those games. We had multiple chances to score before Brisbane did. Now we just need to pressure ourselves and challenge ourselves to bounce back in a special way because it will be huge and help set us for rest of season to come home strongly.” In terms of team news, Glory have no fresh injuries to report and include Julia Sardo for the trip, while Wanderers could be without American import Kristen Hamilton, who will be away on international duty, as well as Irish forward Denise O'Sullivan whose guest-player stint has come to an end.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC: GK Sophie MAGUS, GK Courtney NEWBON, 2 Alix ROBERTS, 3 Sam STAAB, 4.Caitlin COOPER, 5.Courtney NEVIN, 6.Denise O’SULLIVAN, 7.Amy HARRISON, 8.Erica HALLOWAY, 9.Lynn WILLIAMS, 10 Kyra COONEY-CROSS, 11 Cortnee VINE, 15 Alex HUYNH, 16 Liana DANASKOS, 20 Vesna MILIVOJEVIC, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO, 23 Kristen HAMILTON - *two to be omitted* - Ins: ROBERTS (promoted), WILLIAMS (returns from international duty), MAGUS (promoted) - Outs: 1 Abby SMITH (knee) - Unavailable: 40.Jada WHYMAN (knee)
Perth Glory squad: GK Eliza CAMPBELL, GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Ayesha NORRIE, 5 Shannon MAY, 6 Arianna ROMERO, 7 CELIA, 8 Morgan ANDREWS, 9 Crystal THOMAS, 10 Julia SARDO, 11 Leticia MCKENNA, 14 Caitlin DOEGLAS, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 19 Hana LOWRY, 24 Natasha RIGBY, 28 Katarina JUKIC - *one to be omitted* - Ins: SARDO (promoted) - Outs: Nil - Unavailable: nil - Referee: Isabella Libri
GLORY SET TO SIGN BACK-UP KEEPER FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE CAMPAIGN
Perth Glory are on the verge of signing goalkeeper Daniel Margush as they prepare for their first Asian Champions League campaign. The club are allowed to increase their ACL squad to 30 players and are in talks with 22-year old Margush, who became a free agent when released by Adelaide United on Sunday.
Margush, currently with the Olyroos at the AFC Under-23 championship in Thailand, would compete with veteran Liam Reddy and reserve goalkeeper Tando Velaphi. The Adelaide-born shot-stopper made his A-League debut in the 2015/16 season but has made only six more appearances for his hometown club.
SQUADS NAMED FOR BUSHFIRE CHARITY MATCH
The two squads for Saturday’s Bushfire Charity Match between the National Premier Leagues All-Stars and the State League All-Stars have been named. All 12 NPL clubs have provided at least one player for the fixture, while the State team is drawn from 11 clubs.
The NPL squad includes Michael Domfeh and Paul Zimarino, who helped Perth SC to the 2019 league title, as well as Floreat Athena’s Jesse Fuller. 2019 Amateur League and Cup double winners Kingsley Westside provided Jayden Drummond to the State League squad, while Division One newcomers Quinns are represented by Richard Howles and James Bosdet.
The NPL All-Stars squad is Ali Nasari, Joel Sanderson (Armadale), Robert Del Borello (Balcatta), Luke Salmon, Riley Warland (Bayswater City), Jesse Lazzaro, Julian Teles (Cockburn City), Shane Cassidy, Johnny Perkins (ECU Joondalup), Jesse Fuller (Floreat Athena), Blair Govan, Sam Mitchinson (Gwelup Croatia), Alex Ishida-Livings, Sam Riak (Inglewood United), Michael Domfeh, Paul Zimarino (Perth SC), Jackson Lee, Trent Ostler (Perth Glory), Lydon Hodgkiss (Rockingham City) and Jakub Prajza (Sorrento)
The State League All-Stars squad is Kade Fearnall, Josh Kotio (Ashfield), James Atkins, Alec Radonich (Canning City), Jeffrey Ledwith, Antony Russo (Curtin University), Slobodan Vulin (Dianella White Eagles), Harry Clisby, Liam Peacock (Joondalup City), Scott Hoyle, James Oldroyd (Joondalup United), Jayden Drummond (Kingsley Westside), Michael Debellis, Oscar Thompson (Mandurah City), James Bosdet, Richard Howles (Quinns FC), Zdenek Bezdek (Stirling Lions), Andrew Cartwright and Andrija Jukic (Western Knights)
The Bushfire Charity Match will be played at Dorrien Gardens this Saturday, kick-off at 7pm. It will be preceded by a match between the Gold Fields State Amateur Team and an Amateur Select XI (kick-off 5pm). Admission is by donation with Football West donating money from the event to Rural Aid as part of the Football For Fire-Affected Farmers, Their Families And Communities initiative.
KEOGH JOINS INDIA’S NORTHEAST UNITED
Indian Super League side NorthEast United have confirmed the recruitment of former Perth Glory attacker Andy Keogh. The 32-year old, who represented the Republic of Ireland 30 times between 2007 and 2012, moves to India having most recently lined up for Al-Qadsiah in Saudi Arabia.
Keogh began his career in the Leeds United’s academy before a lengthy spell at Wolverhampton Wanderers, where he won the English Championship and played in the English Premier League. Loan spells at Cardiff City, Blackpool and Leeds lead to his signing with Millwall in January 2012.
Keogh was an integral part of the Glory squad between 2014 and 2019, scoring 43 goals in 96 appearances across five seasons and winning the A-League premiership in 2018/19. That spell was interrupted only by a brief stint at Thai Premier League outfit Ratchaburi in 2015.
NorthEast are currently second from bottom in the Indian Super League but have two games in hand on most of their rivals, and are only seven points off a play-off spot. The move to India makes it five countries in six years for Keogh.
OLYROOS INTO QUARTER-FINALS
The Olyroos booked a spot in the quarter-finals of the AFC U-23 Championship after a 2-1 win against hosts Thailand and a tense 1-1 draw against Bahrain on Tuesday. It left them top of Group A and a meeting with Syria in the Quarter Finals on Saturday evening. Perth Glory striker Nicholas D'Agostino bagged a brace as the Olyroos came from behind to beat Thailand 2-1 and leapfrog their hosts at the top of Group A.
The visitors went down after Thailand midfielder Anon Amornlerdsak netted in the 24th minute but D'Agostino levelled the scores with an angled strike two minutes before half-time at Rajamangala Stadium. D'Agostino then sent a crisp shot past Thailand keeper Korraphat Nareechan in the 76th minute to seal the Olyroos' victory. Following the match D’Agostino said that his two-goal effort for his nation ranks as one of the highlights of his developing career.
“It is definitely up there,” he said. “It is probably one of my greatest career achievements so far, it is my first Asian Cup, so I am absolutely delighted. Obviously, it was a tough game in front of the 22,000 fans that came out tonight. Thailand in their home country, it was always going to be a big game but especially going one-nil down early, that was tough, but we knew that we had the fight and courage to come back and we showed a lot of that tonight and got the result and that is massive for us.”
Australia coach Graham Arnold says his side showed great character to come from behind. "It [conceding] took the confidence out of the team for a good 10 minutes or so, but I thought after that, especially second half, we played very well and should have won by more," he said. "We have only been together as a team for a short period of time and the 23 players that we have with us have come together, and while they don't know each other perfectly you can see the improvement in every game. The conditions are very taxing and no doubt there will be more changes for the Bahrain game so that we can get fresh legs on and keep working hard.”
Against Bahrain Melbourne City striker Ramy Najjarine opened the scoring on 34 minutes, finishing with a neat left foot strike after he was played in on goal by Reno Piscopo – the Wellington Phoenix ace making his second assist of the tournament. Bahrain levelled proceedings via a free kick from Mohamed Jasim Marhoon in what was the last action of the first half, with Australia failing to capitalise on numerous second half opportunities the game ended in a draw. Still, Australia’s draw with Bahrain combined with Thailand’s draw with Iraq means that the green and gold secured top spot in their section, and finished the group stage unbeaten.
Post-match Arnold said that he was proud of his players for achieving the team’s first target of the tournament. “The most important thing was that we got through to the next phase,” he said. “It was the first time since 2014 that the Olympic team has got through this first phase, and that was our first goal. Now we really have to step up with improvement in our performance. It is a learning experience for these young kids to play in these tournaments.”
Arnold charges will have the benefit of an extra 24 hours rest and recovery to prepare for Saturday’s encounter, with Group B set to wrap up on Wednesday evening Thai time. “We have three days and the other group have got two days (to prepare for the quarter final),” Arnold added. “It is a matter of getting them (the players) fresh mentally and physically.” The AFC U-23 Championship's top three teams – the two finalists and the third-place play-off winner – will join Games hosts Japan at Tokyo 2020.
O’NEILL SNARES CONTRACT IN KOREA
Brandon O'Neill has played his final game for Sydney FC after sealing his long-awaited move abroad by signing with K-League giants Pohang Steelers. The Sky Blues received an offer from Pohang last week, reached an agreement with the Korean club on Monday over an undisclosed transfer fee and announced the departure of O'Neill, who will travel to Pohang immediately to finalise his move.
O'Neill, 25, has been a mainstay of the Sky Blues side for the past four and a half seasons, making in excess of 140 appearances, playing in two Grand Final-winning sides plus a FFA Cup Final victory. The Perth-raised defensive midfielder, who spent four seasons with Perth Glory before joining Sydney, had made no secret of his desire to play eventually outside Australia.
"I love Sydney FC and I have loved every minute of my time here," O'Neill said. "I have won two championships, two premierships, the FFA Cup and been named the club’s player of the year and for that I will be forever grateful. Now is the right time for me to accept a new challenge and to move out of my comfort zone again and to see what else I can accomplish."
Coach Steve Corica praised O'Neill's contribution to Sydney. "Brandon has been immensely important to this club’s success over the last five years and I would like to thank him on behalf of everyone," Corica said. "He is an excellent player and we will be sorry to see him go, but I understand he feels he has achieved everything he can here at Sydney FC, and is keen to test himself elsewhere."
O'Neill travelled to Korea yesterday to undergo his formal medical test before signing with Pohang and being unveiled as a new signing by the club. Pohang finished fourth in last seasons' K-League, missing out on the Asian Champions League by goal difference to FC Seoul. They start the new season on 1 March with a home fixture against newly promoted Busan Il Park.
CHIANESE GRABBING HIS CHANCE FOR GLORY
So long a fringe player, Perth Glory striker Joel Chianese is in the form of his life but he accepts one bad performance could see him tumble out of the starting side. The 29-year old attacker made it three goals from his past three A-League games when he scored the opener in Saturday's 3-0 win over Adelaide United.
It's been a remarkable run of form for Chianese, who has played a key role in Glory's five-game winning run during which the team have outscored their opponents 17-2. Chris Ikonomidis' dip in form opened the door for Chianese to earn a starting berth last month and the attacker took his chance with both hands. But he knows he has little margin for error if he wants to retain his spot ahead of players like Ikonomidis.
"I know with the competitive nature we've got in the team I need to play well," Chianese said. "I guess getting goals as well adds to that, hopefully it keeps me in the team. "You think, 'Oh I've scored, I should play next week'. But it's not always the case with the boss here, and that's a good thing ... If you take your foot off the pedal a little bit, somebody else will step in and take their chance."
Chianese has been a fringe player for almost his entire 114-game A-League career, which started in 2011 with Sydney FC. Glory coach Tony Popovic has been thrilled to see the veteran's improvement over the past two seasons. "He was (already) a valuable player when we came in. We just felt he was underperforming to the level that he was capable of," Popovic said.
"I don't think he was consistent enough previous to us arriving here. He always showed good little periods in a game, and we just wanted him to believe and get him to a level where he was more consistent and play longer periods at the level that he was showing in small doses. I think he's doing that a lot more now." Glory's hot run of form have seen them rocket from last spot up to third on the table.
BIRIGHITTI MAKING THE MOST OF ‘MAKE-OR-BREAK YEAR’
Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Mark Birighitti insists the 2019/20 season is ‘a make-or-break year’ after he became a forgotten man at Melbourne City. The 28-year old spent four years in Europe – playing in Italy, England and the Netherlands – after catching the eye in 51 A-League appearances for the Newcastle Jets between 2012 and 2015.
Birighitti was not able to find a long-term home at Italian outfit Varese, Welsh club Swansea City or Dutch side NAC Breda and, after only 16 appearances in Holland, the Perth-born glovesman headed back down under to Victoria. Things did not go to plan in Melbourne as Birighitti slipped down the pecking order behind Eugene Galekovic and did not make an appearance in the 2018/19 campaign under then head coach Warren Joyce.
In the 2019/20 off-season, Birighitti found himself in demand from Alen Stajcic’s Mariners and the shot-stopper is now more hungry than ever to once again make a name for himself. “Spending four years abroad was a great experience,” he said. “Now I’m at [Central Coast], it’s a make or break year for me. I’m excited to be playing first team football again and enjoy what I love doing.”
Birighitti held special praise for the man who brought him to Gosford, and revealed he rates Stajcic among the best tactician’s he has ever worked with. “Everyone is united and sticking together and [Alen Stajcic] is going a great job as well as the rest of the coaching group,” he added. “Tactically, he’s one of the best coaches that I’ve had. His man management skills are top drawer.”
SAGE PUTS THE HEAT ON FFA
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has savaged Football Federation Australia for forcing Saturday’s A-League clash with Adelaide United to be played in scorching temperatures. Before the 3-0 Glory win, Sage sent A-League boss Greg O’Rourke a searing message, blaming them for possible player distress. “You wonder why nobody turns up to the stadium and the standard of football is not the best,” Sage wrote.
“We have for 14 years begged the FFA for days like today not to happen. It’s a disgrace as we originally had this game scheduled at 6.45pm and you guys allowed it to be changed to 4.30pm knowing the chances of a hot January day in Perth would be a 99 per cent possibility. It’s all on your heads but I predict a lot of player distress.”
Speaking after the match, Sage said the conditions were so bad that young midfielder Jake Brimmer had lost 1.7kg in the 34 degree heat. “He’s a slight player and on an elite athlete that’s not good,” Sage said. O’Rourke said some kick-off times were moved in a new draw when FFA signed a free-to-air deal with ABC TV in September.
The temperature at 4.30pm kick-off was 34 degrees but the wet bulb globe, a worldwide standard protocol, was reading 27 degrees, triggering a drinks break in each a half. But that heat did not deter 11,168 spectators, Glory’s best crowd of the season. “I’m absolutely proud of our fans who turned up and watched in that heat,” Sage said.
Coach Tony Popovic said conditions had been tough for the last month but his players had coped professionally. “Very challenging. Three consecutive home games in real heat, travelling to Central Coast, the conditions were difficult,” Popovic said. “A lot of new players, very difficult for them to play in those conditions.”
“Physically it’s difficult and mentally it’s difficult to stay on top of your game. It’s a summer competition. It’s tough but that’s the situation we have. It’s nothing new for us but that doesn’t make it any easier to get through a game of football. I don’t believe it makes it easier for the fans to watch a game in those conditions.”
COACH FEARS FOR INJURED GALLOWAY
Melbourne City coach Erick Mombaerts fears defender Scott Galloway suffered a serious ankle injury late in Saturday's A-League draw with Brisbane. Galloway, a second-half substitute in the 2-2 draw, rolled his right ankle in stoppage time after a challenge from Brad Inman. The 24-year old limped off the field, aided by Brisbane coach Robbie Fowler, and failed to return for the final minutes of the game.
While Galloway will undergo scans today to determine the extent of his injury, Mombaerts admitted it didn't look good. "We have to wait to have the evaluation of his injury but I think it's a big injury," the Frenchman said. "The referee has to protect the player. He didn't give a yellow card but we see that he tackles the ball but he took the ankle of our player also. They (referees) can also make mistakes."
GLORY CONTINUE WINNING STREAK
Perth Glory reclaimed third place on the Hyundai A-League table with a solid 3-0 win against Adelaide United at HBF Park on Saturday afternoon. In front of 11,168 supporters, the biggest crowd of the season, Joel Chianese bagged his third goal in as many games on 26 minutes, before Bruno Fornaroli doubling Glory's advantage just before the break. The scoring was completed midway through the second-half when substitute Chris Ikonomidis bustled his way in on goal and finished impressively from an acute angle.
The win was Glory's fifth in a row, equalling the club's record for consecutive Hyundai A-League wins set between January and February 2016 and Head Coach Tony Popovic was understandably delighted post-match. "It was a wonderful win," he said. "It was three goals again and a clean sheet, so we just keep moving forward and we're very pleased overall. "It's been a great run a fantastic run and we've had it real tough in the last month in terms of conditions.
"We've played three consecutive home games in the real heat and then travelling to Central Coast was difficult because of the conditions there. "It was a very disciplined and professional performance from the players today. We had to withstand some pressure early on and the boys did that really well and once we scored, we always looked a threat and created numerous opportunities.” Midfielder Neil Kilkenny said there is more to come. “It was a very professional performance from the lads tonight, it probably could have been more but it was a fantastic win,” he said. “We can’t rest on our laurels we need to go on with it now.”
It was the visitors who opened the game the better, George Blackwood firing inches wide early after meeting Michael Maria's cross, before Nikola Mileusnic low shot which flashed its way through a crowded box. But on 26 minutes it was Glory who broke the deadlock. James Meredith made inroads down the left before picking out Diego Castro who in turn found Chianese on the edge of the box and the in-form winger turned his marker with his first touch, then found the bottom corner with his second.
Glory could have doubled their advantage moments later, Kilkenny's pinpoint pass reaching Ivan Franjic as he charged into the box, but Adelaide 'keeper Paul Izzo was equal to the defender's fierce shot. The hosts were not to be denied in the final minute of the first-half, however, Castro linking up with Fornaroli on the edge of the box and the Uruguayan rifling home a shot which took a slight deflection off Adelaide skipper Michael Jakobsen.
It was nearly 3-0 early in the second half, Castro's perfectly-timed through-ball sending Chianese in on goal, but his angled shot failed to find the target. Adelaide responded by carving out a double-chance of their own, Liam Reddy doing well to parry Mileusnic's first shot and Riley McGree blasting the rebound wastefully wide. But any concerns among the home faithful that the Reds might force their way back into the contest were effectively extinguished in the 68th minute.
Alex Grant's pinpoint long ball found Ikonomidis and he showed great strength and resilience to shrug off his marker, reach the ball ahead of the onrushing Izzo and make light of a challenging angle to calmly roll it into the empty net. Glory continued to threaten to add to their tally right up until the final whistle, with Ikonomidis, Greg Wuthrich and Fornaroli all going close to making the hosts' winning margin even more emphatic. The only downside to the win was an injury to Ikonomidis who was taken out from behind by Reds skipper Michael Jakobsen late in the game.
Adelaide Coach Gertjan Verbeek believed they have been irresolute defensively and not potent enough up front. “The problems are that we are giving chances away too easy,” he said post-match. “They do have the quality to use those chances and we don’t. We also had chances but we didn’t score. They were very effective just before the drinks break and just before half-time. We started well and had our possibilities and we had a lot of the ball. But I think they wanted that, that we have the ball. They want to try and play on the transition and they did it very well.”
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 2 Alex GRANT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 5 Ivan FRANJIC, 7 Joel CHIANESE (19 Chris IKONOMIDIS 60'), 8 James MEREDITH (12 Kim SOO-BEOM 85'), 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, 20 Jake BRIMMER (29 Kristian POPOVIC 86'), 88 Neil KILKENNY - Subs not used: RGK Tando VELAPHI, 3 Jacob TRATT, 23 Dane INGHAM, 28 Gabriel POPOVIC
Adelaide United: GK Paul IZZO, 4 Ryan STRAIN, 5 Michaël MARIA, 7 Ryan KITTO (16 Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS 46'), 8 Riley MCGREE, 14 George BLACKWOOD (11 Kristian OPSETH 59'), 17 Nikola MILEUSNIC (2 Michael MARRONE 73'), 22 Michael JAKOBSEN, 23 Jordan ELSEY, 26 Ben HALLORAN, 27 Louis D’ARRIGO - Subs not used: RGK Dakota OCHSENHAM, 6 Vince LIA - Referee: Alex King
PERTH GLORY V ADELAIDE UNITED – MATCH PREVIEW
Perth Glory recent good form will be put to the test on Saturday evening when they host Adelaide United in Week 14 of the Hyundai A-League at HBF Park. (4.30pm WA Time) Tony Popovic's side are coming off the bye, but are on four game winning streak, while the Reds have struggled in recent weeks, losing their last three games. But with only three points separate third placed Glory and sixth placed Adelaide, Popovic will be hoping the break won’t affect their good form, and he assured the Glory faithful it won’t.
"I haven't had to do much [during the bye week]," he said. "When we look at how players train, that usually answers things for us as a coaching staff. They look very focused. When they work, they work with real intensity and purpose. We can see that the players are enjoying this period, but they want more. No-one gives you a result; you have to go out there and earn it and we'll have to do that on Saturday against Adelaide.
Saturday is the first meeting between the two sides in the league this season, and the first since last season’s penalty-shootout epic semi-final at HBF Park. The Reds will head into the game looking to snap their losing streak, but Popovic feels that the performances produced by Gertjan Verbeek's side have been better than those results suggest. "We know it's going to be a difficult game, they [Adelaide] are not in the best form in terms of results, but earlier in the season they were one of the form teams and were playing some really exciting football," he said. "They played really well against Sydney FC without getting the result and we have to be ready for this game.
“We know they are quite aggressive and a very mobile team and I'm sure they'll try to bring that here to Perth. We have to be ready for that and trust our own game." In team news Osama Malik will again miss out through injury, but fellow-defender Greg Wuthrich has trained with the main group this week and is expected to overcome his knee problem in time to come into selection contention. There is also a return for youngster Kristian Popovic from injury, while Chris Harold has also been added to the squad.
The Reds will be without influential midfielder James Troisi, who has a hamstring injury, but defender Michael Jakobsen revealed morale within the squad was still strong and he insists they still maintain belief and was confident of turning their slump around. “It’s good, we’ve a strong belief in what we do and everybody seems to be on the right way,” he said. “I can’t fault their effort they’ve put into it and the morale is good. I think everybody works hard every day at training so it’s going in the right direction.”
Jakobsen is expecting a very difficult test against last year’s minor premiers. “I think they had a slow start to the season and now they’re showing what they did last year, the abilities they have,” he said. “It’s going to be a very tough match as well, it’s a long travel so we need to prepare well and do everything we can this week on the training pitch to set up and be aware of what they do. They’re one of the strongest sides as well in this league, so it’s going to be a very good test for us to see where we are.”
The Danish centre-back also said they must be aware of Perth’s attacking threats, but believes they can cause them problems going the other way. “As a defender that’s what you want every game,” he said. “You want to win games and it’s easier when you’ve a clean sheet. It’s going to be tough against Perth because they’re going to create chances because they’re a quality team especially offensively. That’s where they’ve the biggest threats, but defensively they will have issues with our quick front runners. I think we can make it very difficult for them but we need to be very tight at the back and don’t give away too many chances.”
Perth Glory squad: GK Liam REDDY, RGK Tando VELAPHI, 2 Alex GRANT, 3 Jacob TRATT, 4 Gregory WUTHRICH, 5 Ivan FRANJIC, 7 Joel CHIANESE, 8 James MEREDITH, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 12 Kim SOO-BEOM, 14 Chris HAROLD, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, 19 Chris IKONOMIDIS, 20 Jake BRIMMER, 27 JUANDE, 28 Gabriel POPOVIC, 29 Kristian POPOVIC, 88 Neil KILKENNY - *2-3 to be omitted* - Ins: HAROLD (promoted), Kristian POPOVIC (returns from injury) - Outs: Nil - Unavailable: 6 Dino DJULBIC (ankle – indefinite), 13 Osama MALIK (hamstring – 1 week), 18 Nicholas D’AGOSTINO (international duty)
Adelaide United squad: GK Paul IZZO, RGK Isaac RICHARDS, RGK Dakota OCHSENHAM, 2 Michael MARRONE, 4 Ryan STRAIN, 5 Michaël MARIA, 6 Vince LIA, 7 Ryan KITTO, 8 Riley McGREE, 11 Kristian OPSETH, 14 George BLACKWOOD, 16 Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS, 17 Nikola MILEUSNIC, 18 Lachlan BROOK, 22 Michael JAKOBSEN, 23 Jordan ELSEY, 26 Ben HALLORAN, 27 Louis D’ARRIGO - *0-2 to be omitted* - Ins: RICHARDS (promoted) - Outs: 10 James TROISI (hamstring) - Unavailable: 1Daniel MARGUŠ (international duty), 24 Pacifique NIYONGABIRE (adductor), 29 Kusini YENGI (knee), 35 Al Hassan TOURE (international duty), 36 Noah SMITH (foot) - Referee: Alex King
POPOVIC BACKS IKONOMIDIS TO WIN BACK SPOT
Perth Glory wide man Chris Ikonomidis has played just three minutes in the club's past two games, and there's no guarantee he'll feature more against Adelaide United this weekend. Glory Head Coach Tony Popovic is backing the player to win back his spot in the starting XI soon, but defender Osama Malik will spend at least several more frustrating weeks on the sidelines.
Ikonomidis was a star of Glory's Premiers Plate campaign last season, with his hot form earning him a Socceroos call-up. But off-season shoulder surgery has clearly halted the momentum he had built, with the 24-year-old relegated to the bench three weeks ago. The attacking midfielder played just three minutes off the bench in the 6-2 win over Newcastle, and was unused in the 3-0 win over Central Coast on December 31.
With Glory riding high on the back of a four-match winning streak, Ikonomidis faces a big battle to force his way back into the starting XI but Popovic has no doubt that Ikonomidis will play a valuable part in Glory's title charge during the remainder of the season. "There's a squad and he wasn't selected for a game a couple of weeks ago, (but) that doesn't suggest that we're not happy with him," Popovic said. "I'm sure he'll get another opportunity to start again in the near future. What we want is a squad that's competitive and a squad that's fighting for places, and that's no different for whether that's Chris, Bruno (Fornaroli), or Diego (Castro)."
MALONEY IN DEMAND
Former Perth Glory and Socceroos midfielder Brad Maloney has rejected assistant coaching roles at two A-League clubs to instead remain in Malaysia to spearhead the Countries talented Under 20's team. Maloney, who played with APIA Leichhardt, Marconi, Newcastle Breakers, Parramatta Power and the Glory in his playing career, and also won six Socceroos caps, has impressed in his time in Malaysian football and his reputation enhanced by coaching Malaysia to a 3-0 victory over Gary van Egmond’s Young Socceroos at August’s AFF tournament in Vietnam - where Malaysia made the final, and he has been making waves with the Tigers as both a senior team and U-23s number two for the past five years.
His decision to stay put in Kuala Lumpur is testament to resources pouring into the Malaysian youth system at a level significant enough to make cash-starved FFA blush. Maloney’s unprecedented success since taking charge of the U-20s that has won him a new legion of admirers, both at home and in the corridors of power at the Football Association of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. The resources being funnelled into the sport played a large part in Maloney’s decision to stay in Malaysia, which at all levels - barring the under-achievement of the U-23s at the recent SEA Games in the Philippines- is a rising power across south east Asia.
Malaysia ultimately lost 1-0 to Australia in the final in Ho Chi Min City in his first tournament in charge, but they went one better at November’s AFC U-19 Championship in Cambodia, becoming the first Malaysian side ever to top their group by winning all their games to reach the next phase of qualifying in October in Uzbekistan to send Maloney’s stocks soaring. He had this message to Australia, in terms of Malaysia’s ascension.
“We can match them technically and tactically these days, though it’s fair to say Australia are still very adept physically,” said Maloney. "We say it all the time (in South East Asia) the gap is closing. A few years ago Australia would be favourite to dominate tournaments in the region but the margin is closing. We weren’t outplayed in our games against them at the AFF tournament and right across south east Asia the standards are rising quickly.
“At times, the Australian mentality was that these countries were easy bears but that’s definitely no longer the case. Every game is tough as south east Asia is catching up. Cambodia are getting better; Thailand have been strong for a while now and Vietnam are the sane. Myanmar is also catching up fast. If Australia doesn’t really focus on development and invest heavily in the game (at youth level) we could quickly fall behind, so it’s vital to stay on top of that.”
Currently in Sydney, where he has been completing his Pro Diploma, Maloney turned down the A-League advances, preferring to continue to hone his craft before one day returning as a head coach, rather than an assistant. It’s understood the offers both came over the last three months, but the 47-year-old is focused on his current role. “It wasn’t easy initially taking the team at short notice and getting the know the players, their names and positions and getting them organized structurally all within 10 days of the first tournament," he explained.
“The players had to adapt to a new philosophy but they’ve done that and I’m working with some gifted young players. I’m enjoying working with them and a lot have now signed contracts with professional clubs and that’s good to see in terms of they’ve development.” But while delighted to extend his stay in Malaysia, Maloney is eyeing an A-League senior role opportunity at some point. “Long term, of course I’d to coach in my own country in the top professional league,” he said. “But at the moment what I really want to do is complete this project with the U-19 team in Malaysia. I want to see how far we can go at - to reach the World Cup would be unbelievable.”
DE VANNA LEFT OUT OF MATILDA'S, AGAIN
The international career of Lisa De Vanna hangs in the balance after she was again left out of the Matildas. The veteran striker was a high-profile omission for the recent series with Chile, despite the 35-year old being a regular starter for Italian giants Fiorentina.
And De Vanna has again been over-looked by national team coach Ante Milicic, who yesterday announced a 20-player squad for the Matildas' upcoming Olympic Games qualifiers in China. De Vanna is only a single appearance from breaking Cheryl Salisbury's all-time record of 151 caps and is also the Matildas' all-time highest scorer with 47 goals.
SUWON CONCEDE THEY MAY LOSE TAGGART
New Suwon Bluewings coach Lee Lim-Saeng has conceded the K-League outfit could face an uphill task to keep Golden Boot winner Adam Taggart. With Suwon under budgetary pressure heading into the new season, Taggart has become a prime target for cashed-up clubs across from China and Japan.
Lee admitted that were a big-money offer be tabled it would be difficult for Suwon to decline, much as the club likes to keep one of their prized possessions. Taggart is contracted to Suwon until 2022 and Suwon would expect to receive in excess of $4 million were they to let him go.
“I want Adam to stay at our club because we’re very happy with him,” Lee said. “There haven’t been any bids so far but if a huge offer was made to the player and the club ... If the pay offer is better than us, then it’s hard for the player to be happy to stay with us. We have to be realistic.”
With Suwon having qualified for the AFC Champions League, courtesy of their FA Cup final win, there’s plenty for Taggart to play for as he prepares to join his teammates for a three-week training camp in the United Arab Emirates. Suwon returns to action on 12 February with an ACL trip to Guangzhou Evergrande.
WUTHRICH SET TO START AGAINST ADELAIDE
Gregory Wuthrich looks set to start in Perth Glory’s crucial A-League home clash with Adelaide United as they look to cement third on the A-League ladder. The big defender limped off clutching his knee in Glory’s 3-0 New Year’s Eve win at Central Coast Mariners.
The club said early scans were positive and yesterday declared Wuthrich in contention for Saturday night’s home game. The Swiss youth international will have to complete this week’s training but his likely return is good news for Glory, who have defenders Dino Djulbic and Osama Malik on the injured list.
Glory have risen from bottom of the ladder to third on the back of four consecutive wins, during which they have scored 14 goals and kept clean sheets against Melbourne City, Western Sydney Wanderers and the Mariners. They are four points behind second-placed Melbourne City.
O’NEILL IN THE SIGHTS OF STEELERS
Sydney FC midfielder Brandon O’Neill has gone on leaps and bounds since departing his home town club Perth Glory in 2015. He left due to lack of game time in the first team under Kenny Lowe, but his talent is now on the radar of Korean club Pohang Steelers who are poised to sign him. It's been reported the K League 1 outfit are in the market for a defensive midfielder and have set their sights on luring the talented midfielder overseas, and it looks like the Sky Blues are close to agreeing a fee between $250,000 and $300,000 for O’Neill, who is contracted until mid-2021
It’s understood the 25-year-old has agreed personal terms on a one-year deal, with an option for a second season and he is expected to undergo a medical with Pohang on Monday. He has spent the past five years with the Sky Blues where he has established himself as one of the best midfielders in the A-League. He has made more than 100 appearances for Sydney FC and won two premierships, two championships and an FFA Cup with the club, and he earned his first Socceroo cap in a friendly against South Korea in Busan.
Pohang are one of the biggest clubs in Korea and finished fourth in the K League 1 last year. The Steelers last won the domestic league in 2013 and have claimed three Asian Champions League titles. O'Neill's season has been hampered by a knee injury, which has seen him miss the last five games but he is defiantly a player in demand. O’Neill, who is another player to come through WA side ECU Joondalup academy, has previously attracted interest from English Championship clubs Blackburn Rovers, Bristol City, Portsmouth and Ipswich Town, and in June it was reported Blackburn considered paying a fee of $640,000 to sign him. But in February last year O’Neill re-signed with the Sky Blues until the end of 2021.
The midfielder is happy at the Sky Blues, but did declare his desire to play overseas earlier in the season. “I’ve had a fantastic four seasons already at Sydney FC and can’t see myself at any other club right now," he explained. "This club is built for success and we’re in a great position under Steve Corica. I do have ambitions to play at the very highest level and that’s a huge target for me, one that Sydney FC will do everything in their power to help me with. I’d do anything for this club and the people who belong to it, we have such a great family culture and that’s hugely important to me.”
MATILDAS SQUAD NAMED FOR WORLD CUP QUALIFIES
Matilidas Head Coach Ante Milicic has selected a strong 20-player squad, as they look to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics through the Asian qualifying tournament next month. The squad will get together for a training camp in Sydney between January 20 and 27, with the team to depart for China on January 28. Star Chelsea striker and Matildas captain Sam Kerr and Bayern Munich forward Emily Gielnik will miss a training camp but join their international teammates in Hubei Province, China.
There is no Glory players in the squad, with keeper Eliza Campbell unlucky to miss out after a stellar season to-date. There is also no place for veteran forward Lisa De Vanna in the group, the starkest indication that the former Glory strikers long and decorated career in Australian colours is at an end. Teenage starlet Mary Fowler, who was included in the squad for last year's World Cup, is another absentee. But injury-plagued veteran Kyah Simon is included, as are the rest of the women who have been mainstays of the national team for the past few years. Melbourne Victory's first choice goalkeeper, Casey Dumont, who has been in excellent form this season, is overlooked, while her clubmate and goalkeeper, Teagan Micah, is named in the squad.
Australia will play against China, Chinese Taipei and Thailand at the Five Rings Sports Centre in Wuhan and will need to finish either first or second in Group B of Asian qualifying to advance to the final phase of matches for a place at Tokyo 2020. If they do so they will face a home-and-away play-off against Korea Republic, Vietnam, or Myanmar in early March 2020. “We have a great amount of experience in our squad, as well as some emerging talents, and I expect us to perform strongly in Wuhan,” Milicic said. “Together with my staff I have been keeping a very close eye on the Westfield W-League, and it is pleasing that many of our players have produced strong performances in the competition over the past two months.
"The great amount of consistency within our squad from November’s series against Chile in Sydney and Adelaide means that we will be able to continue to make progress with many areas of our play from the moment we convene in Sydney as we build up to these crucial qualifiers. With only 20 places in this squad and 18 for Tokyo should we qualify, every player will need to show her best in this upcoming camp and help the nation take another step towards the Olympic Games."
The training camp in Sydney will be held between January 20 and 27, with the team to depart for China on January 28. Upcoming Matches - Game 1 Westfield Matildas v Chinese Taipei - Date: Monday, 3 February 2020 - Venue: Five Rings Sports Centre, Wuhan, China - Kick-off: 4.00pm (local); 7.00pm (AEDT) - Game 2 Thailand v Westfield Matildas - Date: Thursday, 6 February 2020 - Venue: Five Rings Sports Centre, Wuhan, China - Kick-off: 4.00pm (local); 7.00pm (AEDT) - Game 3 Westfield Matildas v China PR - Date: Sunday, 9 February 2020 - Venue: Five Rings Sports Centre, Wuhan, China - Kick-off: 7.30pm (local); 10.30pm (AEDT)
Full Squad - Mackenzie ARNOLD (Brisbane Roar), Ellie CARPENTER (Melbourne City), Steph CATLEY (Melbourne City), Caitlin FOORD (Sydney FC), Emily GIELNIK (Bayern Munich, Germany), Katrina GORRY (Brisbane Roar), Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT (Brisbane Roar), Alanna KENNEDY (Sydney FC) Sam KERR (Chelsea FC, England), Chloe LOGARZO (Sydney FC), Aivi LUIK (Melbourne City), Jenna MCCORMICK (Melbourne Victory), Teagan MICAH (Melbourne Victory), Clare POLKINGHORNE (Brisbane Roar), Hayley RASO (Brisbane Roar), Karly ROESTBAKKEN (Canberra United), Kyah SIMON (Melbourne City), Emily VAN EGMOND (Melbourne City), Lydia WILLIAMS (Melbourne City), Tameka YALLOP (Brisbane Roar)
OLYROOS HELD BY IRAQ
The Australia U-23's national team opened their AFC U-23 Championship campaign with a 1-1 draw against Iraq at the Thammasat Stadium, Pathum Thani, Thailand on Wednesday evening. Graham Arnold's side were on course to open their Group A account with three points after Wellington Phoenix starlet Reno Piscopo opened the scoring with a remarkable long-range effort just over the hour mark. However, Iraq replied via substitute Mohammad Qasem's strike as the two sides were forced to settle for a share of the spoils.
Alex Gersbach said there were plenty of positives to take out of the draw. “It’s really disappointing to be honest not to come away with the three points, and we had every intention to win this game but it’s useless thinking about it now,” he said. “From tomorrow we have to think about the next game against Thailand on Saturday night [Sunday morning AEDT] and we have to remain positive.
“We need to be more clinical in the front third, that’s pretty obvious, and when we went 1-0 up, we should have seen out the game and controlled it a little more. We had control of the game for the most part and after we scored that goal, we controlled it for a little bit but then we let them back in the game. A bit of silly defending and stupid fouls and little things like that let Iraq back in the game and they capitalised on that. The positives are there, the way we want to play, everyone was trying to focus on that and a really nice goal from Reno [Piscopo].”
The top three nations at the Championship's (excluding Japan) will secure a place as one of Asia’s representatives in the men’s football competition at the forthcoming Tokyo Games. Australia dominated the possession early and Piscopo fired wide at the back post after being picked out by Trent Buhagia. They had the ball in the net moments later, but Al Hassan Toure goal was ruled out because of a foul in the lead up.
Piscopo was a constant threat on the Iraq defence and he fired narrowly missed after being set up by Gabriel Cleur, while a long-range shot from Aidan O'Neill flew over the crossbar Iraq did have chances of their own as the half wore on, Sadeq Zamil headed a corner wide, while Hussain Jabar's free kick sailed wide of Thomas Glover's post, but the Australia U-23 'keeper was otherwise relatively untroubled in the Australia goal as the two teams broke for the interval.
Arnold's side continued to pressure the Iraq goal after the break and would find the breakthrough through Piscopo's moment of magic. He was brought down on the edge of the box by Mohammed Ridha Jalil, and fired the resulting free kick into the top right-hand corner giving Iraq keeper Ali Kadhim Hadi no chance. Australia looked to double their advantage but were left to rue a turnover which allowed Qasem to pounce and curl the ball past Glover to equaliser on 79 minutes
Arnold's men mustered a late push and went close to the winner when Dylan Ryan's header crashed off the base of the post, but the two sides had to settle for an opening point. All Australia’s Group A games will be streamed on the My Football YouTube Channel and shown on Kayo Sports. They will play Thailand in their second match of the tournament on Saturday, 11 January 2020 (local time) at what is expected to be a well-attended fixture at the iconic Rajamangala Stadium, before rounding out their Group A campaign with a game against Bahrain on Tuesday, 14 January 2020 at Thammasat Stadium.
Iraq: GK Ali Kadhim HADI, 2 Ali Lateef MOHAMMED, 21 Muntadher SATTAR, 4 Najm SHWAN, 15 Alaa RAAD (17 Hasan RAED MATROOK 87’), 23 Mohammad MAZHAR, 20 Sadeq ZAMIL, 5 A ALBU-DARRAY, 14 Hussain JABAR, 10 Mohammed RIDHA JALIL (9 Mohammad QASEM 69’), 7 Murad MOHAMMAD – Subs not used: 1 Arian SEVOK, 3 Mustafa MOHAMMED, 6 Amir AL-AMMARI, 8 Ali QASIM, 13 Ihab JARIR NASER, 16 Mohammed Saad AL HASAN, , 18 Moen AHMAD, 19 Muntadher ABDULSADA, 22 Hussam MAHDI
Australia: GK Tom GLOVER, 3 Alex GERSBACH, 4 Dylan RYAN, 14 Thomas DENG, 2 Gabriel CLEUR, 13 Aiden O’NEILL (21 Jacob ITALIANO 64’), 17 Keanu BACCUS, 23 Connor METCALFE (19 Daniel BOUMAN 76’), 11 Reno PISCOPO (8 Zach DUNCAN 64’), 9 Al Hassan TOURE, 16 Trent BUHAGIAR – Subs not used: 5 Joshua LAWS, 6 Tass MOURDOUKOUTAS, 7 Ramy NAJJARINE, 10 Denis GENREAU, 12 Jordan HOLMES, 15 Nicholas D’AGOSTINO, 18 Daniel MARGUSH, 20 Connor O’TOOLE, 22 Ben FOLAMI
DEANS TAKES THE HELM AT NEWCASTLE
Former Western Knights defender Craig Deans will take charge of Newcastle Jets on an interim basis following the dismissal of Ernie Merrick. Merrick, the A-League's most experienced coach, was sacked this week after gaining just two wins from 11 games, conceding 25 goals in the process.
Deans, a former Perth Glory, Carlton and Newcastle player, will take charge for Friday's contest against runaway leaders Sydney FC. He is the W-League's most experienced coach with five years at the helm of Newcastle, winning the 2015/16 W-League Coach of the Year.
JONES SECURES SAUDI SUPER CUP SUCCES
Veteran goalkeeper Brad Jones made the match winning penalty save to secure Al Nassr the Saudi Super Cup overnight, beating Al Taawoun in a tense shoot-out. With the teams deadlocked at 1-1 after extra time and his team leading the shoot-out 5-4, the 37-year old West Australian guessed correctly by diving low to his right to deny Al-Absi and earn Al Nassr their first Saudi Super Cup.
PHOENIX SIGN OLYROO MIDFIELDER WILSON
Olyroos midfielder Brandon Wilson will seek to rejuvenate his career in New Zealand after signing an A-League contract with Wellington Phoenix. Serving an international ban for unprofessional conduct, Wilson played just one game for Glory this season before club officials agreed to terminate his contract last week.
Wellington coach Ufuk Talay, who has worked with Wilson in the Australian under-23 team, believes he had made an astute signing despite the 22-year old's difficulties in 2019. Talay said Wilson will boost Wellington in the centre of the park and at right back, where they have lost Louis Fenton to injury for the remainder of this campaign.
"Brandon brings us both stability and versatility for this season, and it also fits well with us looking long term to bring talented young players to the club," Talay said. "I've had the pleasure of working with Brandon in the Australian 23's squad in the past - he's a good person, high character and I'm sure he'll fit in well with the boys."
Wilson played 43 A-League games for Perth since his debut in August 2016 but his only appearance this season was in the opening round. The Botswana-born midfielder played at youth level for English club Burnley and made his senior debut on loan at Stockport County in 2016. He captained the Olyroos in two friendlies against New Zealand last September.
KERR KICKS OFF CHELSEA CAREER WITH VICTORY
Sam Kerr has begun life as a Chelsea player by helping her team to a 3-1 win over Reading in the FA Women’s Super League. The Matildas striker only met her teammates for the first time last week, but was named in the starting line-up by Blues manager Emma Hayes.
Reading went ahead on 15 minutes through Fara Williams but soon after had goalkeeper Grace Moloney red carded for wiping out Kerr on the edge of the box. Kerr set-up the equaliser with an exquisite backheel to Bethany England on the stroke of halftime.
Kerr was thwarted by the 'keeper early in the second half, however, her blocked effort was pounced upon by Guro Reiten who made it 2-1. Chelsea then made the game safe safe when Erin Cuthbert tapped in from close range 15 minutes from full-time.
Kerr took her bow a minute later, receiving a hearty reception from the 2228-strong crowd and stayed long after fulltime to sign autographs and take selfies. “It’s freezing to be honest,” Kerr said post-game. “But I’m enjoying it. The girls are quality and they’ve really welcomed me. I’ve settled in as best I can in nine days.”
As well as the weather, Kerr will be hoping she can adapt to the more physical side of English football. “I’ve had a few (heavy challenges) in training so I’ve already had my welcome to England,” she said. “It’s a contact sport so I took one for the team. The last few years I’ve noticed that goalies and defenders have been a bit more rough, and I like it like that. I like to challenge myself against the best.”
MASTRANTONIO HAILS WANDERERS TRIUMPH AGAINST CHINA
Ella Mastrantonio has been a key figure in Western Sydney Wanderers’ impressive 2019/20 W-League season. And the West Australian-born midfielder again played her part in this evening's 1-0 friendly win over China. The game was part of a four-day training camp Western Sydney are undertaking on the Gold Coast.
Ella Mastrantonio admits the Gold Coast trip came at just the right time. “The camp has been fantastic, everyone loves spending time with each other especially after having a mini break over New Years,” she said. “It’s a great way to get back into swing of things and prepare for the second half of the season.”
Mastrantonio praised her team’s performance against China, insisting the result epitomised the team first mentality they’ve adopted this year. “Everyone on the park did incredible today. We all worked so hard for each other and especially the girls who came on. The epitome of a team performance,” she said.
“China are an excellent team. Very technical and physical and press like anything. We did extremely well to keep calm and play out at every opportunity we could under international standard pressure, so that says a lot about our team and our girls. It was a great experience for all.”
Mastrantonio urged Western Sydney supporters to come along and inspire the team towards a maiden W-League finals campaign when they host fifth-placed Brisbane Roar next weekend. “I’m excited to see how much we can still improve this season. We’ve done exceptionally well so far but we still have room for improvement which I hope we can do which is exciting.”
GLORY LOCK UP TALENT FOR SUMMER OF 20/21
Perth Glory may only be eleven games into their 2019/20 A-League campaign but they have already locked away a solid foundation for next season. The reigning Premiers’ Plate holders have nine players contracted for next season, with more announcements expected during the January transfer window.
Glory have two vacancies in the squad and with three senior defenders - Gregory Wuthrich, Osama Malik and Dino Djulbic - injured, the backline is an area coach Tony Popovic may want to strengthen. But football director Jacob Burns said they will not be diving into the player market just yet.
“Malik is back in training which is great, we’re waiting for scans with Greg but it looks quite positive,” Burns said. “Dino’s a bit longer term and we’re still working through that. It goes without saying with Dino that defensively we could probably look in that area. Everywhere else there is already competition for places.”
“We are having a few ongoing discussions but whether they take flight time will tell. We only want players that are going to bring a winning mentality, an improvement to the squad or added competition. If there’s no-one out there, there’s no-one out there, but there’s a lot of moving parts. I could get a phone call anytime saying a player is unhappy or getting released and asking if we would be interested.”
Glory have a heavy workload ahead with the Asian Champions League starting next month, but they can extend their squad from 22 to 30 specifically for that tournament. “You might only sign them for the ACL period but they could be chasing a long-term deal and we have to be across that,” Burns said.
“We, more than most sides, are open to looking at players knowing we have a heavier load coming up. Having more bodies, knowing these fixtures are coming up from February, is something we need to be across as well. We have a squad that is fit, resilient and hardened by a very good pre-season but backing up is going to be new.”
The nine players Glory have locked in for next season are goalkeeper Liam Reddy, Osama Malik, Neil Kilkenny, Spanish veteran Diego Castro, Uruguayan striker Bruno Fornaroli and young quartet Dane Ingham, Chris Ikonomidis, Jake Brimmer and Nick D’Agostino.
ROAR TOO GOOD FOR GLORY
Perth Glory have been beaten 2-0 by Foxtel Y-League Conference leaders Brisbane Roar in their round eight clash at AJ Kelly Park on Saturday morning. A first half goal from Roar A-League striker Dylan Wenzel-Halls gave the hosts the lead, before midfielder Oscar Woods added a second on the hour. The Glory youngsters did have their chances on the day, but failed to take them, but despite defeat Head Coach Richard Garcia said the young side are heading in the right direction.
“The young side put in a strong performance against an experienced Roar side, but today we didn’t take our chances, which you need to do when you have control of the game,” Garcia said. “Once again, we couldn’t have asked anymore from the players, it was tough conditions but they all gave us 100% and it was another positive step in the right direction. Had we paid slightly more attention to a few small details we could have taken something from the game.”
It was the hosts who started the game the better and Wenzel-Halls cut in from the left after only six minutes, but his effort flashed wide of the post. But three minutes later the Roar striker did give his side the lead, getting on the end of a ball from Keegan Jelacic to fire home powerfully past Josh Langdon. The Roar continued to press Issack Powell’s long-range shot flew over the top, but Glory started to get a foot hold in the game and went close themselves on 37 minutes.
Mason Tatafu found space on the edge of the penalty area and his shot whistled over the top. Moments later Ciaran Bramwell had sights on goal, but the strikers shot from a tight angle was blocked by a Roar defender. Wenzel-Halls went close again before half time after a strong run down the flank, but Langdon produced a smart save to deny him. Both sides went close early in the second half as the tempo of the game lifted. First Eli Adams’ low shot went inches wide of the post, before Charlie Leech saw his effort do likewise.
But on 60 minutes it was the home side who doubled their lead. Stefan Mauk was involved in the lead up, and it was finished off by Woods. Glory were then convinced they had a penalty after Giordano Colli was sent into the penalty area, the midfielder rounded Roar keeper Macklin Freke and was brought down but referee Max Crane waved away their protests.
The visitors weren’t finished and Bramwell and Leech both tested Freke with long-range shots, but the Roar keeper saved both to secure the three points for the hosts. The youngsters have a bye next week and will then round off their season by hosting Melbourne City at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday 26 January (kick-off at 10.30am, admission FREE).
Brisbane Roar: GK Macklin FREKE, 2 Emlyn WELLEMORE, 3 Aaron REARDON, 6 Oscar WOODS, 8 Keegan JELACIC, (11 Braydon DOOLAN 69?')?, 10 Harry TALBOT (14 George MELLS 63?')?, 12 Eli ADAMS, 13 Stefan MAUK (15 Ben BRAUNSTORFER 81?'), 17 Izaack POWELL, 19 Cooper McCORMARK, 23 Dylan WENZEL-HALLS - Subs not used: RGK Nathan FOSTER
Perth Glory: GK Josh LANGDON, 2 Mason TATAFU, 4 Zayd FARAH (17 Nicholas McDONALD 64?')?, 5 Daniel WALSH, 6 Dane INGHAM (16 Joshua SAMSON 80?'?), 7 Joshua RAWLINS (13 Trent OSTLER 59?', 8 Jayden LEADER, 9 Ciaran BRAMWELL, 10 Giordano COLLI, 11 Charlie LEECH, 15 Nicholas WALSH - Subs not used: RGK Jackson LEE - Referee: Max Crane
GLORY HIT BACK LATE TO EARN A POINT IN ADELAIDE
Perth Glory produced a fantastic second half fight back to draw 2-2 with Adelaide United in Friday evening's Westfield W-League Round 8 clash at the Marden Sports Complex. Glory found themselves trailing 2-0 at the break courtesy of quick-fire efforts from Chelsie Dawber and Mary Fowler, but American duo Crystal Thomas and Morgan Andrews both scored their first goals for the club as they fought back to earn a point.
Head Coach Bobby Despotovski feels his players got reward for their tireless effort as they came from behind earn a point. "Our story from last week continued in the first half when we struggled to score despite creating numerous chances,” he said. "We played well, created chances, but didn't score and when you do that, you're running the risk of conceding which was exactly what happened. They [Adelaide] had two shots on target in the first half and scored with both of them.
"At half-time I told the girls how well they had played - they delivered on everything we asked them to do, except putting the ball in the net, but in the second half we changed some tired legs, Crystal's goal got us back into it and we pushed right to the end. I'm just so pleased for the girls that they got something out of the game having worked so tirelessly."
The visitors were on the front foot and dominated early and they were almost gifted the lead, when Natasha Rigby's cross was turned goalward by Reds defender Emily Hodgson, but keeper Sarah Willacy got back to save. Then from the resulting corner, Leticia McKenna struck the crossbar with a looping header and moments later, Katarina Jukic's shot drew a low save from the overworked Willacy.
The Reds custodian was keeping her side in the game and on 14 minutes she produced a smart double save, first to parry Andrews' initial effort, before claiming the follow-up header from Celia. As the half wore on, Adelaide gradually settled and went close through skipper Amber Brooks after the Glory defence had struggled to clear Kahlia Hogg's free-kick. But against the run of play it was Adelaide who opened the scoring on 38 minutes.
Capitalising on a cheap turnover in midfield, Dawber raced forward, and the 19-year-old calmly clipped the ball past the on-coming Eliza Campbell. Then in the final minute things went from bad to worse for Glory as Adelaide doubled their lead. Dawber turned provider, finding Fowler on the edge of the box who picked out the bottom corner with a clinical finish.
Glory desperately needed a good start to the second half, and that’s exactly what happened. Thomas showed great pace to get away down the right, before cutting inside and curling her shot into the roof of the net. An excellent save from Glory keeper Campbell prevented Mallory Weber from restoring Adelaide's two-goal advantage almost immediately and as Glory threw bodies forward, the Reds came close to picking them off on the break, with Charlotte Grant and substitute Lais Araujo both failing to convert decent opportunities.
Despotovski’s side pressed forward looking for the equaliser, but again Willacy stood tall to Andrews. It looked like the Glory would leave empty-handed, but in the last minute of normal time, it looked as if Glory's final chance had come and gone when Andrews fired straight at Willacy from just inside the box. But Glory were rewarded for their fight moments later, after Dylan Holmes’ challenge on Thomas on 93 minutes was deemed a penalty by referee Kate Jacewicz. Andrews stepped up and the former US Under-23 international kept her nerve to convert from the spot and secure her side a battling point.
Adelaide United: GK Sarah WILLACY, 2 Emily Hodgson, 3 Kahlia HOGG, 4 Mallory WEBER (12 Isabel HODGSON 82'), 5 Charlotte GRANT (6 Georgia CAMPAGNALE 90+1'), 9 Mary FOWLER, 10 Chelsie DAWBER (18 Lais ARAUJO 69'), 11 Laura JOHNS, 14 Julia ASHLEY, 16 Dylan HOLMES, 22 Amber BROOKS - Subs not used: RGK Evelyn GOLDSMITH
Perth Glory: GK Eliza CAMPBELL, 3 Kim CARROLL, 5 Shannon MAY, 6 Arianna ROMERO, 7 CELIA, 8 Morgan ANDREWS, 9 Crystal THOMAS, 11 Leticia MCKENNA (19 Hana LOWRY 72'), 24 Natasha RIGBY (16 Isabella WALLHEAD 46'), 28 Katarina JUKIC (14 Caitlin DOEGLAS 54') - Subs not used: RGK Morgan AQUINO - Referee: Kate Jacewicz
REDS NEXT UP FOR GLORY
Perth Glory go into Friday’s Round 8 - Westfield W-League clash against Adelaide United still searching for their first win of the season and Head Coach Bobby Despotovski has labelled it as a 'must-win' game for his side. The Reds are also still looking for their first three pointer of the season, so both will be doing everything to change that on a hot Adelaide evening.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) have confirmed that the game will be rescheduled to kick-off at 8:30pm (ACDT). This is due to the forecast of extreme heat in Adelaide on Friday which would have seen an ambient temperature of 40°C at the original kick-off of 7:00pm (ACDT). The forecast for 8:30pm (ACDT) is for an Ambient Temperature of 38.1°C and a Wet Bulb Globe Temperature of 22.9°C with sun-set to occur at 8:32pm (ACDT).
Last season's corresponding fixture saw The Reds and Glory battle out an entertaining 2-2 draw, but this year, according to Despotovski, only three points will do. "It's a must-win game for us," he said. "At this point, a top-four finish may be out of the question, but we still have plenty to play for. If we beat Adelaide, we'll be on four points and then we can build from there. But if we lose, it's going to be very hard not to finish last. We are not that far away. It's a work in progress. We have not been smashed by anyone and have been in every single game."
Glory's most recent outing saw them suffer an unfortunate 2-1 home defeat at the hands of reigning Premiers Melbourne Victory, while Adelaide were beaten 2-0 at Sydney FC. That result marked the first time this season that the Reds have lost by more than a single goal, however and they certainly have some quality in their ranks, notably 16-year-old Matildas star Mary Fowler and American duo Amber Brooks and Mallory Weber. The Reds are unbeaten in their last three meetings with Glory, but the WA side have won 12 of the 18 overall meetings between the two clubs.
Adelaide United squad: GK Sarah WILLACY, 20 Evelyn GOLDSMITH, 2 Emily Hodgson, 3 Kahlia HOGG, 4 Mallory WEBER, 5 Charlotte GRANT, 6 Georgia CAMPAGNALE, 7 Ciara FOWLER, 8 Emily CONDON, 9 Mary FOWLER, 10 Chelsie DAWBER, 11 Laura JOHNS, 12 Isabel HODGSON, 14 Julia ASHLEY, 16 Dylan HOLMES, 18 Lais ARAUJO, 22 Amber BROOKS - *two to be omitted* - Ins: Ciara FOWLER (promoted), Mary FOWLER (returns from injury)
Perth Glory squad: GK Eliza CAMPBELL, GK Morgan AQUINO, 2 Sarah CARROLL, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Ayesha NORRIE, 5 Shannon MAY, 6 Arianna ROMERO, 7 CELIA, 8 Morgan ANDREWS, 9 Crystal THOMAS, 10 Julia SARDO, 11 Leticia MCKENNA, 12 Jenna ONIONS, 14 Caitlin DOEGLAS, 19 Hana LOWRY, 24 Natasha RIGBY, 28 Katarina JUKIC - *two to be omitted* - Ins: ONIONS (promoted), LOWRY (promoted) - Outs: Nil - Unavailable: Nil - Referee: Kate Jacewicz
GLORY YOUNGSTERS FACE A TOUGH TEST IN BRISBANE
Like their Women’s W-League side, Perth Glory Foxtel Y-League side are still searching for their first win of the season and they will be facing a huge test on Saturday morning when they take on reigning champions Brisbane Roar at AJ Kelly Park (kick-off at 8.30am WST). Last time out the youngsters were beaten by Adelaide United, a game where they held the lead just after half time, but mistakes cost them and Head Coach Richard Garcia said despite the loss it was a step in the right direction. "I thought we defended well against their forward pressure early, this after they had taken the lead, and I thought we were solid and deservedly levelled before half time,” he said.
“We started the second half well and Ciaran [Bramwell] took his chance well to give us the lead. But to concede from two set-pieces is disappointing; a free kick and a deflected shot was a real kick in the teeth for the boys. We pressed late looking for the equaliser, but again a mistake of our own doing, with a stray pass across our goal, puts them in on goal to complete the scoring. It was a step in the right direction for this young group and was more in line with the performance we expect. It’s now about the finer details in and around the box, something we have to get right against Brisbane this week.”
Roar, meanwhile, are currently sitting second in Conference A, two points behind leaders Melbourne Victory to whom they lost 3-1 last weekend. One of Brisbane's three wins thus far this season came over Glory in Round 4 when Keegan Jelacic bagged two of their four goals at Dorrien Gardens. Last year's corresponding fixture also went the way of the Queenslanders, Chris Harold grabbing Glory's goal in a 2-1 defeat. Following Saturday's game, Glory have a bye and will then round off their season by hosting Melbourne City at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday 26 January (kick-off at 10.30am, admission FREE).
WILSON DEPARTS THE GLORY
Perth Glory insist young midfielder Brandon Wilson’s departure has nothing to do with the scandal in Cambodia that left his Olympic dream shattered. The talented midfielder’s immediate future has not been revealed but the club said in a statement today that his contract had been terminated by mutual consent.
Wilson who burst on the scene last season, would have been frustrated with just one appearance this season, the opening round draw with Brisbane Roar, after making 44 previous appearances since his 2016 signing. The Botswana-born midfielder moved to Perth when he was 10 and joined the WA National Training Centre before moving to English club Burnley for three years where he played under-18 and under-21’s football for the Clarets.
He was one of four players suspended from international duty for “unprofessional conduct” alleged by a woman last year after a seven-month independent investigation. The incident is alleged to have occurred during the AFC under-23 qualifying tournament last March after one of the players made contact with the woman through Tinder and provided her with tickets for one of the games. On the final night the player invited her to the team hotel, where she had consensual sex with the players.
Glory football director Jacob Burns wished Wilson all the best. “We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Brandon for his service,” he said. “Everyone here at Glory wishes him all the very best in his future endeavours.” Wilson also thanked the club for everything they have done for him. “I’d like to thank the members and fans who have been excellent to me,” he said. “I’d also like to thank (owner) Tony Sage, the coaching and office staff and all my teammates. Hopefully at some point in the future I’ll return to my hometown club.”
Wilson becomes the first player confirmed to be leaving the club in the January transfer window and opens the door for coach Tony Popovic to bring in new blood. On other Glory news, they are still waiting for the results of scans on defender Gregory Wuthrich who injured his knee in Tuesday night’s 3-0 win over Central Coast Mariners. Two other defenders Osama Malik and Dino Djulbic are already on the injured list. If any of the three is deemed to have a long-term injury a replacement can be brought in outside of the January window.
GLORY PART WAYS WITH WILSON
Young midfielder Brandon Wilson has had his Perth Glory contract terminated by mutual consent. The 22-year old’s immediate future has not been revealed but Glory insists his departure is nothing to do with the scandal in Cambodia that left his Olympic dream shattered.
Wilson, who made 45 appearances for Glory, was one of four players suspended from international duty for a breach of Football Federation Australia's code of conduct during the AFC Under-23 Championship qualifying tournament in Cambodia in March.
“I’d like to thank the members and fans who have been excellent to me,” Wilson said via a club statement. “I’d also like to thank (owner) Tony Sage, the coaching and office staff and all my teammates. Hopefully at some point in the future I’ll return to my hometown club.”
Botswana-born, Wilson moved to Perth when he was 10 and honed his skills with the National Training Centre program. In 2013 he joined English club Burnley where he played for the under-18 and under-21 teams. Wilson returned to Western Australia in 2016 to sign for Glory.
RESURGENT GLORY HAVE MORE IN STORE
Perth Glory have roared up the A-League standings during the past month, going from last to third on the ladder, but coach Tony Popovic warns his team still have a lot of improvement to come. Following yesterday's 3-0 win over Central Coast Mariners, the defending premiers have now won four games in a row.
"We're not a finished article now in one month. Far from it," Popovic said last night. "We have a lot of growth, a lot of improvement to come and along the way we've got to stay strong and show that character and desire that we showed in difficult conditions with an opponent that was full of confidence."
Popovic said the biggest difference over the past month had been more extended periods of good play, when things had just fallen together. "We've remained calm," he said. "The players obviously wanted the results and we had some frustrations but they didn't show that in their performances and now it's coming together ... it's a nice way to finish 2019."
Heading into a bye before playing Adelaide on 11 January, the premiers are sitting pretty with five wins and three draws to be one point clear of competition newcomers Western United. Popovic confirmed Glory will keep an eye on the market for the upcoming transfer window, which opens on 3 January and closes on 31 January.
"We're always actively looking, searching, but if there is a chance to bring anyone in we want it to be a player that can make a difference and help the squad in this period we've got coming up," the Glory coach said. "If not, we'll persist with the squad we have and the good young players that are coming through."
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This page was last updated on the 30th December, 2019