DE SILVA 'A HUGE LOSS' FOR MACARTHUR
Coach Dwight Yorke says Daniel De Silva's knee injury is a setback for Macarthur FC as the A-League club waits on medical advice to determine if the star midfielder needs surgery. A former Australian Under-23s international, De Silva was on the receiving end of an errant boot from Sydney FC winger Joe Lolley in his teams' 3-0 last-start win.
De Silva played no further part in the match, with Lolley receiving a red card and later a two-match ban for his challenge. The timing of the injury has meant Macarthur needed to wait until after Christmas to send De Silva for scans and the club are still working to decide if Medial Collateral Ligament surgery is the best option.
Yorke is preparing to do without De Silva for the short term but if surgery is the required option, his knee could take months to heal. "There's no question that Danny's a huge loss for us," Yorke said. "We're not sure exactly the length of the injury but it's one that's going to set him back for a few weeks."
"It's unfortunate for Danny... It's a big loss but that's the name of the game in football. It's an opportunity for other people to step up and I've always extended to the rest of the squad that for us to be competing with the best teams here, we will be using the entire squad."
GLORY AIMING TO KICK START THEIR SEASON IN ADELAIDE
Perth Glory will look for their second win on the road for season 2022-23, when they travel to the City of Churches to take on Adelaide United on Monday afternoon at Coopers Stadium. (Kick off 4.45pm WA Time) Glory have struggled on the road, and have won only one in their last 15 games, something that will need to change, sooner rather than later.
Glory have picked up four points in three games, since the World Cup break, and Head Coach Ruben Zadkovich believes their performances deserved more, and he is hoping for another positive performance against the fifth-placed United. “Adelaide are a very good side, especially at Hindmarsh, it’s a tough place to go,” he said. “From personal experience as a player and now having been there as a coach a couple of times, it’s always a cagey affair and they’re very much in your face.
“We know what we’re in for, we’ve been preparing well on the grass and the lads have trained really well, so they are all positive signs for a good performance and we aim for three points in every game. We’re still a work in progress and we still need a few additions to make us a top team, but what I’m really pleased with and positive about at the moment is that there has been a really clear identity to the way the team has played in the last three performances which have been really good.”
Glory have lost their last two games in the South Australia Capital. In April last season, goals from Bernardo Oliverira and Nestory Irankunda saw them run out 2-0 winners, while in round four this season, the Reds secured a narrow 2-1 win. Craig Goodwin opened the scoring for the hosts, before Giordano Colli scored a screamer to level things up, but Japanese striker Hiroshi Ibusuki secured the points for Adelaide.
Zadkovich has plenty of belief in his squad, and that’s been the focus this week, but he is well aware of the talent Adelaide has within their ranks. “We know they’ve got threats, and we know what they’re about, we know how they play,” he said. “But in the end, it’s about us and how well we defend as a collective. I like to think that we can put in the type of performance on the ball that we have in the last three games, when we’ve been the better side and won one, lost one and had a draw, so we go into the game with plenty of belief.”
Glory sits bottom of the table, but it’s a tight ladder and they are only five points out of the play-off places, so a few wins could see them rise the table, and Zadkovich feels that the true pattern of the season is yet to emerge. “We’ve been in most matches, and it’s also worth noting that we’ve only played twice at home and we’re unbeaten at home,” he said. “The league and the ladder, I believe, will level itself out when we’ve played as many home games as some of these other teams, but that’s the tough start to the season that we’ve faced. I still think we’ve dropped some points that we could have taken in some of those away games and that’s frustrating and slightly disappointing.
“But what I am taking a lot of positive energy from is just how hard the players are working and how much they’re staying together. They’ve been really resolute in their belief in terms of where the club and the team are going. They can feel that we’re growing and improving and that will put us in good stead at the back end of the season. We’d like to get more points on the board. Obviously, we don’t want to be where we are on the ladder, but we stay very clear in our belief and in the process. I think that’s very important at a time like this.”
Adelaide United squad: GK Joe GAUCI, GK James DELIANOV, 4 Nick ANSELL, 6 Louis D’ARRIGO, 7 Ryan KITTO, 8 ISAÍAS, 9 Hiroshi IBUSUKI, 10 Zach CLOUGH, 11 Craig GOODWIN, 13 Lachlan BARR, 14 George BLACKWOOD, 21 Javi LÓPEZ, 26 Ben HALLORAN, 27 Josh CAVALLO, 28 JUANDE, 36 Panashe MADANHA, 41 Alexandar POPOVIC, 47 Asad KASUMOVIC, 55 Ethan ALAGICH, 66 Nestory IRANKUNDA
Perth Glory squad: GK Liam REDDY, GK Cameron COOK, 2 John KOUTROUMBIS, 5 Mark BEEVERS, 6 Aaron MCENEFF, 7 Ryan WILLIAMS, 8 Mustafa AMINI, 10 Salim KHELIFI, 12 Luke IVANOVIC, 14 Jack CLISBY, 16 Keegan JELACIC, 18 David WILLIAMS, 19 Zach DUNCAN, 20 Giordano COLLI, 23 Mitch OXBORROW, 25 Matt HATCH, 28 Trent OSTLER, 29 Darryl LACHMAN, 36 Joseph FORDE, 37 Jacob MUIR
EPAKIS LOOKING TO BOUNCE BACK AGAINST WESTERN UNITED
Perth Glory will play their first game of 2023 on New Year’s Day, when they welcome the unbeaten Western United to Macedonia Park in round eight of the Liberty A-League (kick-off at 4pm). Alex Epakis’ side will look to bounce back from their narrow defeat against league leaders Melbourne City on Tuesday, but United head West in scintillating form, winning their opening four games, the latest a 3-1 win against Melbourne City, handing City their first loss of the season.
Glory will be looking for a repeat of their last game at home, when they fought back from two goals down to beat Canberra United 3-2, and with United scoring ten goals this season, Epakis said it should be end-to-end thriller, and is looking for their loyal supporters to back them at their new home. “I think it’ll be a very transitional game as they do like to attack quickly,” the Head Coach said. “They’re not a slow possession, build-up-based team which means when they do get the ball they go forward and when we get the ball, we’re going to try and do the same, so it’s going to be end to end.
“Although they’ve come in as a new team, a lot of them have played together at NPL level for the last few seasons and they’ve topped that up with some top-tier recruits, so credit to them for that. But we also know that we are in a good place with our own business and while they’re coming here in good form, we’re coming in with a really fixated mindset on getting a result and I’m really optimistic about what we can achieve.”
Epakis said they will be looking to build on their performance against the league leaders last week, and despite the loss he saw some huge positives from his side. “We didn’t get the three points, but we did take away a lot of growth from that game, and the quick turnaround gives us the opportunity to put that growth into practice in what is another big game,” he explained.
“They [City] have got attacking threats all over the field and coming off the bench, that’s not to say we weren’t an attacking threat either, because I thought we created some good chances. But defensively as a structure, we were compact, and we knew that we were going to have to be disciplined for 90 minutes and manage the transition moments when they did break through us, but the players were very, very good as a collective without the ball.”
Sunday will be the first meeting between the two sides, and Glory will hopefully welcome their American striker Rylee Baisden back to action, she missed last week due to injury, but her four goals will be a welcome return for the side. They have also added Tijan McKenna, Abbey Green and Claudia Mihocic to the extended squad.
United will be tough, with Chloe Logarzo, the Matildas midfielder, who is on loan from American club Kansas City, and American duo Sydney Cummings and Jessica McDonald, have all scored two goals this season, while another American import Hannah Keane has been outstanding for them. Whilst Glory have only won once this season United boss Mark Torcaso is well aware they can be a real threat. “They are a good side, and they have a coach who has them well organised, it has been a pretty consistent group,” he said.
“He (Alex Epakis) is building in the same way to what Adelaide have (in terms of keeping the majority of a squad together) so they are a dangerous opponent. They have good players individually, but also ones that can link together and play well. We’ve worked very hard on what Perth’s strengths and weaknesses are. It’s a long trip, some of our girls will be having their first Perth trip, but if we worry about ourselves, we’ll be OK. But they are playing us for the first time, so there’s no expectations on us in that position.” It will be a great game, so get along and support the ladies.
Perth Glory Squad: GK Sarah LANGMAN, GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 6 Tijan MCKENNA, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 9 Demi KOULIZAKIS, 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 11 Rylee BAISDEN, 12 Sofia SAKALIS, 13 Sarah CAIN, 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 17 Abbey GREEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO, 22 Claudia MIHOCIC, 23 Alana JANCEVSKI, 42 Gabriella COLEMAN - Ins: MCKENNA, BAISDEN, GREEN, MIHOCIC - Unavailable: 24 Milan HAMMOND (injured)
Western United squad: GK Alyssa DALL’OSTE, GK Hillary BEALL, 2 Stacey PAPADOPOULOS, 5 Aimee MEDWIN, 6 Chloe LOGARZO, 7 Francesca IERMANO, 8 Jessica MCDONALD, 9 Hannah KEANE, 10 Kahli JOHNSON, 11 Emma ROBERS, 14 Natasha DAKIC, 15 Adriana TARANTO, 16 Melissa TARANTO, 18 Aleksandra SINCLAIR, 19 Tyla Jay VLAJNIC, 20 Sydney CUMMINGS, 22 Alana CERNE, 24 Julia SARDO - Ins: PAPADOPOULOS, SINCLAIR - Unavailable: 4 Jaclyn SAWICKI (injured), 12 Harriet WITHERS (injured)
AJAN HEADS TO ARMADALE
Talented striker, Amir Ajan has become Armadale SC first major signing for 2023 season. The 27-year-old played for Bosnia and Herzegovina club NK Celik Zenica in 2016, before joining Austrian side SC Kalsdorf in 2018, before heading down under. The striker has had several years of experience in the NPL with Sorrento, Balcatta and Stirling Macedonia last season.
Head Coach John O’Reilly said he is a player that has been on his radar for a couple of seasons. “Amir is a player I’ve been keen to get to the club for a while, and I’m delighted we’ve managed to secure his signature for 2023,” he said. “He brings a wealth of experience from Europe in his early years, and has been successful in the NPL. He is a high energy player, with the ability to upset opposition defenses with his high press and no nonsense tackling. Amir joins us with high expectation and a strong desire to win, and his enthusiasm will lift the team and entertain the fans."
Ajan said he is delighted to join the Alfred Skeet Reserve club, and is looking forward to working with O’Reilly and his new team mates. “After a lot of thought and after some feedback from my loved ones, I believed that joining Armadale was the right thing to do for the coming season,” he explained. “John is a respected coach, and some people know what I’m like and some don’t, but the guys at the club know that they will always have my honesty on and off the pitch.
“Football is a big part of my life and I give respect to the game by training and playing to the best of my ability. I’m looking to be a role model to some of the younger players and also be pushing some of those older than me to do the same, and I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Armadale supporters who are the best in the league.”
His football journey started in Europe, and he said that was a great learning curve for his career in the game. “NK Celik was my first professional contract and that’s where I can say I learned what being a professional is all about,” he said. “I started off in Germany with Kickers Offenbach and then made the move to Austria playing for GAK Graz and SC Kalsdorf, where I spent most of my time. I always like to share my experience to the young boys and what it might take to reach these levels, and the hard work that goes into it.”
Ajan said his time at Stirling was enjoyable and wished them all the best next season, but his focus is now at Alfred Skeet as the club look to continue their improvement from last season. “I can’t fault Stirling, I enjoyed my time there, it’s a great club, alongside the players and coaching staff it was pleasure, the decision was tough but when it comes to what’s best for me, I believe I made the right decision,” he explained. “My focus is now here, and I believe that the club has the right structure and requirements to be a top four club in the coming season. I’m here to help make that happen and I have no doubts with the right people amongst the club that this is achievable.”
KHELIFI SNAPPED UP FOR TWO MORE YEARS
Perth Glory have confirmed that Salim Khelifi has signed a new, two-year contract with the club after starting life in the Isuzu Ute A-League well. The Tunisian international has been impressive since arriving at the beginning of this season, and has started each of the club’s eight games to date, and has been a handful, and his cross found David Williams for the opening goal against Wellington last week.
Glory Head Coach Ruben Zadkovich and Head of Recruitment, Andy Keogh, have both been hugely impressed by the way the gifted 28-year-old has conducted himself on and off the field, and to extend his contracts is a great piece of business. “Salim has been a real shining light with his professionalism and personality around the group,” said Zadkovich. “His tactical understanding and versatility make him very valuable and his performances warranted reward. “We are delighted to secure his services for the next couple of seasons.”
Keogh said the speedy winger, who signed from Swiss Super League club FC Zürich, has made a big impact at the club. “Salim has proven to be a really positive addition to the club,” he said. “We look forward to continuing to work with him in the coming years.” The club can also confirm that striker Ben Azubel has had his contract terminated by mutual consent in order to take up an opportunity in Thailand. The 29-year-old made four starts and two substitute appearances in purple after signing in the off-season. “We would like to thank Ben for his efforts and wish him all the best in the next stage of his football journey,” said Keogh.
MCENEFF ROAD TO GLORY
Perth Glory midfielder Aaron McEneff has been outstanding in his first season at the club, but he has had a career full of ups and downs, starting at the Tottenham Hotspur youth academy, before stints at Shamrock Rovers in Ireland, and then a season in the Scottish Premier League with Heart of Midlothian. He caught up with extratime.com and spoke about his frustration at Spurs, when international clearance cost him the opportunity of a contract, this after signing a two-year scholarship in 2012, Aaron’s international clearance didn’t arrive until the following January, which kept him out of competitive football until after that date.
“It was very frustrating,” said McEneff explained. “I didn’t know about international clearance throughout the whole of pre-season. I remember getting a phone call the night before we were due to play our first U-18 league game. Alex Inglethorpe, the youth team coach called and explained the situation. All I could do was play in friendly games on a Saturday even though you wanted to play in the competitive ones. I just kept my head down, trained and tried to improve because at the end of the day that’s why you’re at an academy like Tottenham for ... To try and make yourself a better footballer.”
He was disappointed when released from Tottenham in mid-2015, and after trials at Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday, he returned to Ireland and joined Derry City. “When I went back home, for the first two months I was in and out of the team. I probably lacked a bit of confidence because I hadn’t been playing consistently for a good while,” McEneff said. “Then there was coming to terms with playing senior football in the League of Ireland, which is a very good standard. I used the following off-season really well, to get myself as fit as I could and come back ready to go.
“I started that second season a wee bit iffy as well, but after three or four games I started feeling more confident, and I think I played every game since then at Derry. For young players to get a cross-channel setback at such a young age, everybody deals with that in their own way. Sometimes a bit of time is what it takes for someone to get on their feet and mature.”
Leaving Derry for Shamrock Rovers in late 2018, McEneff’s maiden season in Dublin concluded with him netting an 89th minute penalty on FAI Cup final day. While Dundalk equalised during injury time a 4-2 shootout victory secured the Hoops first cup win in 32 years, which was one of the best moments in the youngster’s career.
“I was due to take the fifth penalty and it was probably the best day in my football career. On the day of the cup final, you wake up and there’s a proper buzz straight away,” he said. “You get to the Aviva Stadium, and it’s packed with fans and your family are there, and that day I felt we played really well. When we did get the penalty and I scored, I thought that’s game over, but football’s a funny game. My mate, Mickey Duff scored the equaliser, so we were laughing about it in extra-time.”
Despite more silverware when Rovers captured the 2020 Premier Division title, an offer from a sleeping Scottish giant proved too tempting to turn down. “When I heard about the interest from Hearts, I was buzzing because they’re a massive club. It looked at the time that they were going to get promoted from the Championship, to play in the SPL. I thought it would have been the best move for me. The first year and a half, I was in and out of the team quite a bit, for whatever reason,” the midfielder said.
"Even though I didn’t play regularly, I thought I did contribute a lot of the times I did play. We qualified for Europe, then the next year and got to a cup final. I did enjoy times at Hearts and there’s a great bunch of lads there. Every footballer should want to play every week, so that’s why I made the decision to move on this year and ended up in Australia.”
His decision to call Perth home came about largely from Perth Glory’s Head of Recruitment, Andy Keogh. As someone who received a call up to the Republic of Ireland senior squad for a Nations League fixture against Bulgaria in late 2020, Aaron insists that playing in the A-League shouldn’t prevent any possible future international involvement.
“It’s always been a dream for me to play for Ireland. Getting called up to the squad was an amazing feeling for me and my family. Moving out to Australia, some people might see it as hampering my chances, but if I get myself playing regularly here and doing well, then there’s no reason why I can’t be putting myself in that conversation again,” he said. “It’s something I would love to do, but right now I’m concentrating on my club football. I’ve had a few games and the league’s now back after the World Cup break.”
A big move, from Edinburgh to Perth, for McEneff and his family, with a different lifestyle, domestic league and the days of travelling to away games by coach, long gone, but he is loving it. “Me and my family love living here. It’s a beautiful city and then you’ve got the beaches. We’ve enjoyed life so far, since moving out here, and there are some very good players in the league, and teams try and play good football. “All the travelling has been tough at times, and we’ve had our first five games away from home.
“I found that difficult because you have the long flights and then the time difference to deal with. There’s a few of us in the squad who’ve not been used to that. Difficult to adjust to, but I’m sure in time I’ll find ways of getting the best out of myself the next day when you turn up on the pitch. With home games coming up, we’re hoping to pick up some wins and bounce right up the table.”
CONTENTIOUS PENALTY GIVES CITY THE POINTS
Perth Glory have come away empty-handed from AAMI Park on Tuesday afternoon, after a contentious penalty on the hour gave hosts Melbourne City a 1-0 win in week six of the Liberty A-League. In a tight contest the dubious penalty from American striker Emina Ekic was the difference between the two sides, but Glory pressed hard late and were unlucky not to take a share of the spoils against the league leaders, and Head Coach Alex Epakis was very proud of the way his side played against a Melbourne side, who have only lost once this term, and was left disappointed by the penalty decision.
“It was a very hard-fought performance and we defended very resolutely against some of the best attacking threats in the competition,” he said. “We’re disappointed to have been undone by that penalty and I genuinely believe we could have walked away with something more positive. But what we are walking away with is a really resilient performance and those standards are going to help us going forward into the next couple of matches and for the rest of the season.
“We brought on players that gave us the energy we needed and the players that started laid a fantastic foundation and put a lot of effort in to set us up to get something out of the game. It’s bittersweet because we did a lot of really, really good things, but unfortunately have nothing to show for it other than a growth in our internal belief that we can match it with one of the strongest teams in the comp.”
Glory suffered a huge blow going into the game with top goalscorer Rylee Baisden out due to injury, so Epakis made three changes to the side that beat Canberra United last time out. In came Isabella Wallhead for Baisden, while Sofia Sakalis and Sarah Cain also came into the starting lineup, with Sadie Lawrence and Alana Jancevski dropping to the bench.
It was a warm one at kick off, with the temperature in the mid-thirties, and it was the hosts making the early running. The lively Ekic crossed from the left on eight minutes, but Kiwi international Hannah Wilkinson fired wide of the target. They went close again six minutes later, former Glory midfielder Leticia McKenna skipped past a number of players, but her shot was palmed away by the alert Sarah Langman at her near post.
After soaking up the pressure early, Glory grew into the game and on the half hour Cyera Hintzen tried her luck from the edge of the box, but it was straight at City keeper Melissa Barbieri. The American striker was in again four minutes before half time, as Glory finished the half the better. Susan Phonsongkham ball sent her in on goal, and she rounded the keeper, but a superb last-ditch tackle from Naomi Chinnama denied her, and at the break it was scoreless.
The hosts made a double change at the break, with Rhianna Pollicina coming in for Bryleeh Henry and Julia Grosso replacing Chelsea Blissett, and the pair were straight into the action, combining to set up McKenna three minutes in, but the former Glory midfielder fired over the top from close-range. They went close again moments later Daniela Galic picking out Kaitlyn Torpey, but her shot was cleared off the line by the alert Ella Mastrantonio.
City were asking all the questions, and Langman’s punch from Torpey’s cross crashed off the post, as the hosts pressed for the opener, and it duly arrived on the hour, with a questionable penalty when Pollicina burst into the box and went down under pressure from Kim Carroll. The contact looked to be minimal, but referee Rebecca Mackie pointed to the spot, and Ekic fired home the resulting penalty.
Wilkinson then headed over the top from McKenna’s corner, as City looked to put the game to bed, but as the game entered the final ten minutes it was Glory who were pressing for the equaliser. Substitute Koulizakis saw her shot flash wide, before Sakalis teed up Hintzen five minutes from time, but she couldn’t keep her effort down. Despite the loss, Epakis’ side have a quick opportunity to bounce back when they take on Western United at Macedonia Park on New Year’s Day, and win could move them to within four points of the top four.
Melbourne City coach Dario Vidosic has hailed half time substitute Pollicina as one of the A-League Women’s outstanding players. “She’s one of the best players in this league,” he said post-match. “She’s showing it now every week and last week was excellent – (player) of the match, scored two. We want to look after her. Normally you don’t want to (substitute) someone that’s (player) of the match and hitting form and take them off. We always want, as a substitute, that impact and she was great.”
Melbourne City: GK Melissa BARBIERI, 3 Naomi CHINNAMA (16 Karly ROESTBAKKEN 78'), 4 Chelsea BLISSETT (7 Julia GROSSO 46'), 6 Leticia MCKENNA, 8 Kaitlyn TORPEY, 13 Emina EKIC (20 Caitlin KARIC 69'), 14 Katie BOWEN, 17 Hannah WILKINSON, 18 Leah DAVIDSON, 22 Bryleeh HENRY (10 Rhianna POLLICINA 46'), 24 Daniela GALIC - Subs not used: RGK Sally JAMES
Perth Glory: GK Sarah LANGMAN, 3 Kim CARROLL (23 Alana JANCEVSKI 82'), 4 Natasha RIGBY, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM (9 Demi KOULIZAKIS 61'), 12 Sofia SAKALIS, 13 Sarah CAIN (42 Gabriella COLEMAN 69'), 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO (18 Sadie LAWRENCE 69') - Subs not used: RGK Morgan AQUINO – Attendance: 4,341 - Referee: Bec Mackie
BOLTONS' IREDALE REFLECTS ON A TOUGH YEAR
The biggest and most challenging year of Jack Iredale’s career is ending on a positive note. The defender already had a big task establishing himself in the Bolton Wanderer’s squad but that was only half the battle, as back home in Perth his father, Paul, had also fallen seriously ill.
On the pitch, Iredale has maintained impressive focus, starting 20 games in all competitions and pushing himself to the top of a competitive list of left wing-backs. However, he admits there have been some difficult moments as he juggled professional and family life.
“Looking back on the year it has been my biggest in football,” he said. “I had a great time at Cambridge but then an opportunity came up here and when a club like Bolton is interested, you don’t say no. It was a massive deal to me, I was buzzing to be here and I really want to progress next year as well.”
“But it has been tough off the field. My dad has not been well, so it has been tough trying to juggle that. I’m an only child and I’m over here. Obviously, you want to be able to support your parents as much as possible. When they are struggling a bit at home, it is hard, but the support the club has given me has been amazing.”
“I went straight into the gaffer to tell him what was happening, and he has been incredible with it. The players have helped me out as well and I feel like I did struggle with it but as time went on, I have started to deal with it better. Dad has started to get a bit better as well. Mum and him and coping better with it, which has made things a little easier.”
Iredale arrived at Bolton unsure as to where he would be pitched. He had played most of his career as a centre-half or a left-back but had also pushed on to play in midfield during his days at Cambridge United. He has since held down a regular start at wing-back to play 1,321 minutes in League One, the sixth most for an outfield player in the squad.
“I didn’t know what position I’d play when I came in but to have played as many games as I have, I’m certainly happy with that,” he reflected. “I could be critical of my own performances, I think any player is and wants to do better, and I am fixing on trying to get better too. I still think there is more to come.”
The same, says Iredale, could be said of Bolton’s performances so far this season. “I am struggling to think of one game we have been perfect in,” Iredale said. “You can always find something in every game that you have done well and want to keep doing and also something that you can give more.
“In the last two results that we have had the performances have been good and I think we just need to play better for longer periods of time. Against Shrewsbury we were the best team for 75 minutes but in that last 15 we lost the game. Exeter at the weekend we were really good for the first half, first hour maybe, but then the intensity dropped off.”
Bolton’s next opponents, Derby County, may well be a good yardstick in a run of games to mid-January which pits them against a handful of teams who are also eyeing Championship football next season. “We know it will be a tough game to start off a tough run of fixtures that we have got, so we want to do it the right way,” Iredale said.
Up until this week’s milder weather, Bolton had struggled to train properly at their Lostock base because of frozen pitches. That’s a far cry from the blue skies and warm sands of Western Australia where Iredale grew up and played his junior days with ECU Joondalup and Perth Glory NPL.
“Every single year at this time of year my mates are back home on the beach in 35deg and I am here in sideways rain – but I get to play football for a living and there is nothing I’d rather do,” he laughed. “I have been over here for a while now but can you ever get used to it? I don’t think you can. If you’re cold, you’re cold.”
LIBERTY A-LEAGUE LEADERS UP NEXT FOR GLORY
Buoyed by their first win of the Liberty A-League last week against Canberra United, Perth Glory will head to AAMI Park in a confident mood to take on league leaders Melbourne City on Tuesday evening (kick off 5.15pm WST). The come from behind 3-2 win against Canberra was a huge boost to Alex Epakis’ side, but the Head Coach knows his side needs to show further improvement in a number of areas to get the better of a talented City side who have won four of their five games, including a 4-0 win against Canberra on Friday evening.
“A lot of players grew in confidence in themselves [in the win over Canberra] more than anything,” he said. “That type of result was very similar to some of the results we had last year and to the way we won games last year. So, we know that we’re capable of those gritty types of performances when it doesn’t look like things are going for us. The reality is that we have a different kind of test in this upcoming match and we have to be better as well.
“Hopefully we can manage our performances from minute one to minute 90 and make it a little bit easier on ourselves. They’re a very strong outfit as they have traditionally been for a number of seasons now. They’re very athletic and dynamic and we have to match that aspect of the game and be really good and really disciplined for 90 minutes, especially when we don’t have the ball and in the transition moments. With the ball, we’re as good as anyone and if we manage those other moments, we give ourselves a really strong chance.”
Glory didn’t play City last season home or away last season, the last time they played City in Melbourne was in Round 14 in 2020-21 when the hosts prevailed 2-1 at Frank Holohan Soccer Complex. Rhail Dobson gave City the lead on the hour, before Alexandra Chidiac doubled the advantage 19 minutes later. Patricia Charalambous pulled one back for Glory in stoppage time, but it just a consolation goal.
The last time Glory won in Melbourne was in December 2016 when a Sam Kerr brace saw them come from behind to win 3-2. Rosie Sutton gave Glory the lead just after half time, before goals from Jessica Fishlock and Aivi Luik saw the hosts hit the front, but Kerr had the final say, bagging the winner six minutes from time. Glory have won three of their previous 11 games against City, with the most recent of those coming in November 2018 when Kerr and Alyssa Mautz both bagged a brace in a spectacular 5-2 rout at HBF Park.
Epakis is hopeful his players will benefit from the extra time ahead of a challenging January fixture list, and he knows the win against Canberra will give them confidence on Tuesday. “We know that it’s an important period coming up,” he said. “We’ve got two games in quick succession after this little break in our schedule and we want to make sure that we start of the run of games over the festive period with a good level of intent and intensity, building on the momentum from our last performance.
“When you have a result like that and the way in which we won it as well, the tired bodies and the knocks and niggles, they’re easier to manage than they are after a loss or a disappointing performance. The team is in very good spirits and there’s been a really good energy and buzz around the group this week and it’s been great to be a part of it.” Glory have added Tijan McKenna, Sarah Cain, Isabella Wallhead and Claudia Mihocic to the squad for Tuesday’s game.
Perth Glory Squad: GK Sarah LANGMAN, GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 6 Tijan MCKENNA, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 9 Demi KOULIZAKIS, 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 11 Rylee BAISDEN, 12 Sofia SAKALIS, 13 Sarah CAIN, 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 17 Abbey GREEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO, 22 Claudia MIHOCIC, 23 Alana JANCEVSKI, 42 Gabriella COLEMAN
Melbourne City Squad: GK Sally JAMES, RGK Melissa BARBIERI, 3 Naomi CHINNAMA, 4 Chelsea BLISSETT, 6 Leticia MCKENNA, 7 Julia GROSSO, 8 Kaitlyn TORPEY, 10 Rhianna POLLICINA, 13 Emina EKIC, 14 Katie BOWEN, 18 Leah DAVIDSON, 19 Maria Jose ROJAS, 20 Caitlin KARIC, 21 Isabella ACCARDO, 22 Bryleeh HENRY, 24 Daniela GALIC
NEVILLE MAKES BRISBANE A-LEAGUE HISTORY
Brisbane Roar defender Scott Neville has equalled club legend Matt McKay’s A-League all-time appearance record. The 33-year old made his 272nd A-League appearance for Brisbane in last night’s 1-1 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers.
And while he sits equal 13th on the all-time A-League appearance list, Neville shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. “It’s a great achievement; throughout that time I’ve had some serious injuries and left Australia for a season,” Neville said.
“Obviously, someone of Matt Mckay’s calibre, not just how well he did for Brisbane Roar but for football in Australia, hopefully, there are many more games to come for me. I’m just loving football so if I can keep playing at the highest level I can keep playing at and feel good hopefully I can play as long as possible.”
Neville, a former Sorrento player, first entered the national league in 2008 with Perth Glory as a 19-year old. He went on to have stints at Newcastle Jets and Western Sydney Wanderers as well as a second spell at Glory before joining Brisbane 2019.
However, Neville’s career to date hasn’t been without its difficulties. He had heart surgery ahead of the 2013/14 season after discovering an extra pathway to his heart, a catheter was run inside of him to his heart with an electric shock used to burn off the pathway.
Then in Round 9 of the season, while playing for the Newcastle Jets, Neville ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament but it wasn’t the only issue, as he had to wait for his medial ligament to heal before having surgery.
For Neville, keeping a positive mindset has been key in his ability to come back time and time again. “With age, you become a bit smarter with what you do, how you prepare and recover from games,” he said. “Tearing your ACL was a major one, that’s 9 months to a year out of the game.”
“The scariest one was the heart surgery... once you hear you need heart surgery you kind of question if you ‘will be able to play again’, ‘how serious it is’ but lucky enough I managed to be playing within a few weeks... it’s hard pressed to find an athlete, in any sport who hasn’t had an injury.”
Having spent four seasons with Brisbane, Neville has been playing alongside a core group of players and believes that it is because the team has such a tight knit playing group it has helped the squad continue to grow.
“There is a big core group of the same players, obviously some players have left, some have moved on, but that backbone and tight knit group really means a lot and it helps us come game day,” Neville said.
KERR LEADS CHELSEA TO TOP OF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP
Samantha Kerr opened the scoring as Chelsea overcame Paris St Germain 3-0 to secure top spot in their Champions League group. Emma Hayes' unbeaten side had already qualified for the knock-out phase and simply needed to avoid defeat to their French opponents by two or more goals to lock up their position.
Kerr broke the deadlock shortly before half-time, bursting clear and neatly transferring the ball from her right to left foot before unleashing an unstoppable effort into the top right corner. Lauren James secured the win by netting twice in seven minutes in front of 10,129 fans at Stamford Bridge.
GLORY SHARE THE SPOILS WITH WELLINGTON
Perth Glory had to settle for a draw, after a 1-1 draw against Wellington Phoenix in Friday evenings Isuzu Ute A-League ‘Distance Derby’ clash at Macedonia Park. David Williams had opened the scoring midway through the first half, his first goal for the club, but Oskar Zawada levelled for the visitors just after the half hour. Both sides had their chances to seal the three points, but Glory keeper Liam Reddy and his Wellington counterpart Oli Sail were in great form.
Glory Head Coach Ruben Zadkovich was a little disappointed they not been able to secure back-to-back home wins, but he thought there was much to like about their performance against an in-form Wellington side. “I thought there were a lot of positives, there’s a real clear identity around the way the team is moving the ball and defending and the positive for me is that that process is clear and the performance, for the most part, was very good,” he said.
“We just lacked moments of quality and cutting edge in that final third and again, there were one or two defensive lapses, one of which we got punished for. So, there’s an element of frustration, but there’s certainly a lot of positivity and belief around the group and we feel like, on our day, we can give any team in this competition a really good run for their money. On another day, we could have won tonight and last week was much the same.”
Glory went into this one unchanged, but on the bench Israeli striker Ben Azubel was an absentee, after he left the club and signed for Thailand club BG Pathum United, and with Glory’s lack of goals this was a surprise, while Giordano Colli returned to the bench. In front of another packed house at their new home, Glory opened brightly, and they went close to the opener on 17 minutes, Keegan Jelacic getting on the end of a cut-back from Ryan Williams, but the youngster couldn’t keep his shot down.
On 20 minutes the Glory Shed and active supporters walked out of the ground to continue the protest of all the teams in the league, on their disapproval of the decision by the league to play the Grand Final in Sydney for the next three seasons without consulting with fans or clubs. But they missed the opening goal, as two minutes later Glory’s good start was rewarded with the lead.
Salim Khelifi eased past his marker on the right, and his cross picked out David Williams, whose glancing header found the bottom corner of the net, much to the delight of the home faithful. The visitors, who had lost just once in their last five games, looked for a quick response, but Reddy saved low to deny Yan Sasse. But it was the Glory who were creating some great chances, first Ryan Williams long-range shot flashed wide, before the lively Khelifi shot on the run was saved low by Sail.
But on 31 minutes it was Wellington who levelled. A surging run by Bozhidar Kraev, the Bulgarian midfielder playing the ball to Sasse, who slipped Oskar Zawada in on goal, and the Polish striker finished clinically past Reddy. The Glory keeper was in for a busy night, and four minutes later he produced a smart save to deny Zawada’s volley, after he was picked out by a cross from the right by David Ball. But it was the hosts who finished the half the better and Jelacic curling a shot flashed inches wide of the post, before Sail denied Aaron McEneff in stoppage time, but at the interval it was all-square.
It was Wellington on the front foot after the break and Reddy saved from Steven Ugarkovic early, and he was at it again moments later getting down well to parry the dangerous Zawada’s shot on the turn, after he was picked out by Callan Elliot. Glory settled, but they were struggling in the final third, but Jack Clisby almost regained the lead just after the hour, his free kick was heading for the net, but Sail got a hand to it and tipped it over the top.
It was the hosts who looked the most likely to score, and they almost found it two minutes from time, Adam Zimarino’s corner was headed goalward by fellow substitute Luke Ivanovic, it beat Sail but clipped the top of the crossbar, but the points were shared. Reddy, who is set to bring up his 350th A-League appearance when Glory travel to Adelaide next week, it was just another day at the office in game 349 – putting in a shift that’s become all too familiar throughout his career.
“Yeah, if I can get through Christmas,” Reddy joked when asked post-game as to whether he feels as good as ever on Paramount Plus. “Hopefully, I’ll obviously play but yeah, I still feel young. I still feel good. Probably the younger boys in the team keep me a little bit younger than I actually am but the body’s feeling good and mentally I’m good. So, I’ll probably continue to keep playing until that goes anyway.”
“I think it was a really good team performance tonight, obviously, the result is not there but we picked a valuable point up. We got in really good areas but [didn’t have] that killer instinct and probably at both ends too, because I think their goal was quite soft, but definitely a lot of positives to come out of this game, just like last week. Obviously, the result wasn’t there but they’re a tough team to play against us and it’s another point. We keep on moving.”
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 5 Mark BEEVERS, 6 Aaron MCENEFF, 7 Ryan WILLIAMS (43 Adam ZIMARINO 86'), 8 Mustafa AMINI (19 Zach DUNCAN 86'), 10 Salim KHELIFI, 14 Jack CLISBY (36 Joseph FORDE 86'), 16 Keegan JELACIC, 18 David WILLIAMS (12 Luke IVANOVIC 63'), 29 Darryl LACHMAN, 37 Jacob MUIR - Subs not used: RGK Cameron COOK, 2 John KOUTROUMBIS, 20 Giordano COLLI, 28 Trent OSTLER
Wellington Phoenix: GK Oli SAIL, 4 Scott WOOTTON, 5 Steven UGARKOVIC, 9 Oskar ZAWADA, 10 David BALL, 11 Bozhidar KRAEV (14 Alex RUFER 90+3'), 12 Lucas MAURAGIS (19 Sam SUTTON 46'), 17 Callan ELLIOT, 21 Joshua LAWS, 23 Clayton LEWIS (13 Nicholas PENNINGTON 76') 31 Yan SASSE (7 Kosta BARBAROUSES 70') - Subs not used: RGK Alex PAULSEN - Attendance: 3,977 - Referee: Casey Reibelt
MACRON ITALY VISIT WA
Footballwa.net sponsor Macron Sports Hub Perth, were visited last week by Macron Italy head office CEO Gianluca Pavenello and Chief Revenue Manager, Giovanni Maruzzi, to chat to local clubs regarding their products, operations and company’s ethos towards working with local level sports clubs. WA Sales Manager John O’Reilly said it was a great to see so many local clubs, who use Macron apparel, come down to Dorrien Gardens to meet and greet with the Management team from the Bologna head office.
Despite their jet lag, the pair gave a general overview of what has been happening in the Macron world over the last few years since covid, the growth of Macron in Australia and innovative plans for the future of the brand. Giovanni Maruzzi presented a presentation on Macron Global before the meeting broke into open discussions with members from local clubs.
One of the club representatives was Mark Watts from Armadale SC, and he said it was a good to chat and meet the representatives. “It was great to meet the team behind the brand and get a glimpse behind the curtain, so to speak,” Watts said. “Macron are a major brand and it was fantastic to see that head office are accessible to the local level people of the game”
Gianluca Pavenello mentioned in conversation. "Australia is such an important part of the world for us to be partnered with because the nation loves sport,” he said. “The people here share the same passion as we do for the beautiful game." During the week Macron had meetings with their Pro-Clubs; Perth Glory, Melbourne Victory, AFL side Port Adelaide and NRL club Paramatta Eels.
But on Saturday and Sunday the Macron team took time out of their busy schedule to visit local clubs, stadiums and junior summer clinics. “It was a productive weekend and all involved went away with a new level of awareness of how the company operates,” WA Sales Manager John O’Reilly said. “It also showed that Macron continues to grow as one of the biggest sportswear companies in the sporting world.”
GLORY LOOK TO BOUNCE BACK AGAINST THE NIX
Perth Glory return home on Friday evening, when they host Wellington Phoenix in the ‘Distance Derby’ at Macedonia Park. (Kick off 7.30pm) Ruben Zadkovich’s side will be looking to bounce back from the disappointing result against Macarthur last week, but their first half performance was impressive, and had they taken their chances the points would have been wrapped up, but they didn’t take them, which is a cause for concern. They will be hoping they can make it back-to-back wins at their new home, this after a 2-1 win against Western United, but they take on a Phoenix side, who have lost just once in their last five games and were impressive 3-1 winners against Adelaide United last weekend.
Zadkovich is expecting a tough game against the Phoenix, the side who are coached by a former team mate of his at the helm, with Ufak Talay building a strong side over the ditch. “They’re a very well coached team, Ufuk is an old teammate of mine from the Sydney FC days,” he said. “He’s one that even way back then, I had a lot of admiration for his football brain and how he went about his business as a player.
“He’s a fantastic coach, you can tell that they’re very well-drilled, have some very good patterns of play and certainly create a lot of chances. I think they’re a good team that, a little bit like us, should have picked up more points throughout this early part of the season. So, I think we’ll have a very tough challenge on our hands on Friday night and their performance last week against Adelaide showed that.”
The coach thought his side were unfortunate to leave empty-handed last week, but he is confident the progress his side is making is encouraging, and they are heading in the right direction. “We’re still very early on in a building phase as a club, however, I can see big improvements week to week and I can see us edging closer and closer towards being a really good team,” Zadkovich explained. “I thought in the last 180 minutes of football, we’ve played some really good stuff.
“We won one game against last year’s champions and went away from home and totally outplayed Macarthur in my eyes and didn’t get the points. There are still definitely some areas to work on in both boxes, but there are some big positives there. We’re very happy to be home this week and we’re really excited for Friday night. It would mean a lot to everyone, the players and the staff, to get the win. They’ve been working really hard and it would be nice to get points again for our very loyal supporters, the ones who get down to Macedonia Park.”
The last time Wellington visited WA was in round 17 in season 2020-21, when the visitors left HBF Park with a 3-1 win. In front of 9,229 supporters, Ben Waine gave Phoenix the lead on 56 minutes, but Joel Chianese levelled moments later. But goals from Louis Fenton and Jaushua Sotirio saw Phoenix take all three points. But Glory leads the overall head-to-head in this fixture with 14 victories to six, but Friday it will be just the third time this season that Wellington have had to leave New Zealand, with Talay’s side recording two wins, three draws and one defeat on home soil.
In team news for the game, Giordano Colli and Mitch Oxborrow have been added to the squad, and it looks like everyone came through the trip to NSW all clear of serious injuries, and Zadkovich hopes to have a near full squad to choose from. “We got through the game pretty well, but it’s a shorter turnaround and the travel makes it difficult, but most guys were moving ok today [Wednesday],” he said. “A few were modified, so we’ll just have to hope that they get through tomorrow’s session and recover well enough to play, but if they don’t, it’s an opportunity for other players that are waiting in the wings.”
For the Phoenix, Bulgarian import Bozhidar Kraev has been dangerous, scoring five goals in his debut A-League season, but they will be without another striker, with New Zealand international Ben Waine ruled out due to illness. Kraev was on target in last week’s win against Adelaide, with others from Oskar Zawada and Yan Sasse, so Glory will need to be on their toes to keep them at bay, and continue their perfect start at Macedonia Park.
Perth Glory squad: GK Liam REDDY, GK Cameron COOK, 2 John KOUTROUMBIS, 5 Mark BEEVERS, 6 Aaron MCENEFF, 7 Ryan WILLIAMS, 8 Mustafa AMINI, 10 Salim KHELIFI, 11 Ben AZUBEL, 14 Jack CLISBY, 16 Keegan JELACIC, 18 David WILLIAMS, 19 Zach DUNCAN, 20 Giordano COLLI, 23 Mitch OXBORROW, 25 Matt HATCH, 28 Trent OSTLER, 29 Darryl LACHMAN, 36 Joseph FORDE, 37 Jacob MUIR – Ins: COLLI, OXBORROW - Unavailable: GK Brad JONES (injured), 21 Anthony BURKE-GILROY (injured), 22 Adrian SARDINERO (injured)
Wellington Phoenix squad: GK Oli SAIL, GK Alex PAULSEN, 4 Scott WOOTTON, 5 Steven UGARKOVIC, 6 Tim PAYNE, 7 Kosta BARBAROUSES, 9 Oskar ZAWADA, 10 David BALL, 11 Bozhidar KRAEV, 12 Lucas MAURAGIS, 13 Nicholas PENNINGTON, 14 Alex RUFER, 17 Callan ELLIOT, 19 Sam SUTTON, 21 Joshua LAWS, 23 Clayton LEWIS, 31 Yan SASSE - OUT: 8 Ben OLD (injured), 18 Ben WAINE (sick) - Unavailable: 3 Finn SURMAN (injured), 24 Oskar VAN HATTUM (injured)
KNOWLES FILLS AUSTIN VOID FOR BRISBANE
Joe Knowles has been anointed to fill the striker's role at Brisbane Roar following the departure of big-name signing Charlie Austin. The former Queens Park Rangers and Southampton striker returned to England after making his final appearance for Brisbane in last weekend's 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets.
Knowles has featured in a variety of positions up front for Brisbane this season and has impressed coach Warren Moon. "Joe Knowles will get his opportunity," Moon said. "Joe has done brilliantly since he's come in... his work rate off the ball is superb and he provides quality going forward. He hasn't scored yet but I am confident his best days are yet to come. He's definitely an A-League player."
Knowles, who started his career at ECU Joondalup, is coming off a superb season with Victorian club Oakleigh Cannons. Oakleigh won the 2022 National Premier Leagues title thanks largely to Knowles' goal-scoring abilities, the 26-year old netting 13 times and was named the league's player of the year.
BEEVERS CONFIDENT GLORY IMPROVEMENT IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER
Towering defender Mark Beevers is adamant Perth Glory is not far away from arresting their disappointing start to the A-League season. The 1.93m centre-back, who has impressed since arriving from English club Peterborough United in the off-season, believes Glory are on the right track despite being rooted to the bottom of the table.
Glory will look to win their third home game on the bounce - extending into last season - when they host Wellington Phoenix tomorrow night. Three points would help Glory keep pace with the rest of the league as, at this early stage of the season, just two wins separate last from fourth on the ladder.
Beevers said the gap between them and their rivals was not as vast as it may seem. “We see opportunities in every game we play, we’ve got players that can create chances and score goals, right from the back to the front,” Beevers said. “We go into every single game confident that we’re going to score goals and also confident we can keep the back door shut.”
“We know as a team that we’ve got enough to overturn any team in this league and touching on the defensive side of things as well, throughout the season so far we’ve been relatively good - if we can just combine them two things together, the results will come.”
Glory have been solid at the back so far this season but Beevers said every position group was focused on how they could improve. “There are things that are quite obvious to us that we need to iron out, and we’re working really hard on the training ground to put things right and I know that’s going to show in the games coming up,” he said.
After a lengthy career in England’s Championship and League One, Beevers said it was vital Glory turned their temporary home Macedonia Park into a fortress, knowing first-hand how tough it could be to play away games at smaller grounds packed to capacity.
“It’s key in any season that you need to make your home patch a fortress and we’ll be looking to do that,” he said. “I’ve played in stadiums before where the front row almost seems like they’re on the pitch and it’s not a nice place to go away to. But it’s great to play when it’s your home fans (and) if they’re at it, it can be your 12th man.”
MAYNARD-BREWER THE HERO OF CHARLTON’S CUP SUCCESS
Goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer was the hero of the hour as third-tier Charlton Athletic became the only non-English Premier League side into the quarter-finals of the League Cup, knocking out top-flight Brighton and Hove Albion in a penalty shootout.
With Charlton and Brighton deadlocked at nil-all after 90 minutes, the game went straight to penalties. Both sides had missed three spot-kicks when Perth-born Maynard-Brewer saved from Brighton's Moises Caicedo, leaving defender Samuel Lavelle to convert the crucial penalty for the Addicks.
"It's a special night, a special performance," said Charlton coach Anthony Hayes. "We rode our luck at times against a high-calibre Premier League side. "The shootout for me was a bonus. You flip a coin really and Ash was fantastic. It was a special night. It gives everyone a lift. It's one the players, the fans and the staff won't forget."
HOME GROUND FORTRESS IS BEEVERS AIM
Perth Glory defender Mark Beevers has settled into A-League football well in his first season, and his partnership with Daryl Lachman has been outstanding, and the veteran defender believes a good home record is vital, and he is hoping to make Macedonia Park into a fortress and somewhere teams fear to go. The 33-year-old, who headed down under from then Championship club Peterborough United, has played nearly 500 games in the UK with Sheffield Wednesday, Millwall, Bolton Wanderers and the Posh, as well as a loan spell at Milton Keynes Dons.
He has played at one of the most feared grounds in the UK, after playing over 130 games for Millwall, and their home venue is the Den, a place where nobody liked to play, so the guy knows what he is talking about, and he wants to make Glory's temporary home ground a formidable place for rivals to visit, and next on the list is Wellington Phoenix, who head to Perth for the Round nine clash. With Glory's regular home ground HBF Park undergoing an upgrade, they will play its home games at the 4000-capacity Macedonia Park until March, and he wants it to be a home ground advantage.
"It's key in any season that you need to make your home patch a fortress, and we'll be looking to do that,” Beevers explained. “We got off to a great start, and with the backing of our fans as well, it will become hostile in there. That really helps us as players on the pitch. I've played in stadiums before where the front row, it almost seems like they're on the pitch. It's not a nice place to go away to, but it's great to play when it's your home fans."
On Friday the Glory's supporter group are set to walk out in the 20th minute as part of the competition-wide protest against a decision by the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) to sell the next three A-League Men's and Women's grand finals to Sydney. Perth coach Ruben Zadkovich said it was up to fans whether they wanted to take part in the protest, adding he hopes the ugly scenes witnessed at the Victory-City derby in Melbourne last weekend will never be seen again.
ABRAMS TAKES THE REINS AT UWA
Richard Abrams will coach UWA Nedlands in season 2023, after the 46-year-old took over the reins from Basil Lenzo. It was a disappointing 2022 for UWA Nedlands, the club were almost relegated to State League Division Two, and had to go through the Relegation/Promotion Play-Off, before eventually beating Carramar Shamrock Rovers to keep their Division One status, for an 11th season.
Abrams, who coached at Forrestfield United last season, said he is looking forward to the new challenge. “I am excited to be a part of the unique partnership between UWA and Perth SC a club I spent seven happy years at,” he explained. “The collaboration has been put together by two dedicated parties and myself and Simon Turner (assistant) are proud to have a role within for 2023.”
Many in the game were surprised when Abrams was released by Forrestfield, but he was saddened to leave, but he said that’s football. “Leaving Forry was a huge disappointment, however not a surprise, the writing was on the wall when Mark Twamley the President departed and a new direction was chosen,” he explained. “We had a very young side who developed vastly in 2022, with most joining top four teams or NPL clubs so we know 100% we were on the right track. Whilst saddened to leave, the moment Simon and I met with the UWA and Perth football department and listened to the plans we knew this opportunity was something we could add value too.”
Last season has been and gone, and Abrams said it full steam ahead for 2023, and he said pre-season is going well. “Last year is last year and we can only judge the lads on what we see now, and so far, the players attitudes and desire has been first class coupled with making us feel very welcome,” he said. “We won’t be touching on last year at all and hope to add one or two to a good group and along with hard work hope to surprise a few this year.
“We have a good blend of existing players, new signings and top-quality youngsters via Perth SC, so we will have plenty of clay to mould with. We began preseason early December and with Technical Director Dan Evans being able to spend time on the track with the lads as well, we have had a good month, and to be honest the standard has been higher than expected. We are very much looking forward to January with all that brings and enjoy the upcoming 2023 Night Series.”
MAYNARD-BREWER BRINGS DOWN THE SEAGULLS IN PENELTY SHOOT OUT
Former ECU Joondalup academy product Ashley Maynard-Brewer was in the headlines in the UK overnight, after his crucial penalty save saw third tier Charlton Athletic beat Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion on penalties after the EFL Cup tie ended in a 0-0 draw.
The English-born keeper, who joined the London-based club from ECU in 2015, held his nerve in the shoot-out at the Valley in front of 17,464 supporters. Both sides had missed three spot-kicks, but Maynard-Brewer saved from Brighton's Moises Caicedo, leaving defender Samuel Lavelle to convert the crucial penalty for the Addicks, who are the only side from outside the EPL in the quarter-final stage of the League Cup.
"It's a special night, a special performance," Charlton's interim coach Anthony Hayes said. "We rode our luck at times against a high-caliber Premier League side. "The shootout for me was a bonus. You flip a coin really and Ash was fantastic. It was a special night. It gives everyone a lift. It's one the players, the fans and the staff won't forget."
GUTSY GLORY HIT BACK TO BEAT CANBERRA
Perth Glory have come from two goals down in the first half to beat Canberra United 3-2 in and entertaining Liberty A-League round five fixture at Macedonia Park on Sunday afternoon. The visitors raced into a two-goal lead, with goals from Nickoletta Flannery and Vesna Milivojevic, and it looked like another home defeat was on the cards.
But Alex Epakis’ side had other ideas, and American import Rylee Baisden pulled one back in first half stoppage time, before her American counterpart Cyera Hintzen levelled early in the second half. In an entertaining encounter, it was the hosts who found the winner with Baisden bagging another, here fourth of the season, much to the delight of the Glory faithful.
“It was a performance built on resilience and character,” Epakis said post-match. “We went down 2-0 and that obviously wasn’t the start that we wanted, but the players knew that it was really important to get something today. We knew internally that we were capable of performances and results like that against strong teams, but it was just a case of actually doing it and today the players did us all very proud.”
Glory made three changes to the side that lost to Melbourne Victory last week, with Sarah Langman coming in between the sticks for Morgan Aquino, while Kim Carroll and Susan Phonsongkham came in for the suspended Sarah Cain, and Abbey Green, who dropped to the bench. There was another good crowd on hand at kick off, but it was visitors who found the opener on 13 minutes.
Former Matildas striker Michelle Heyman raced down the right, and held of the challenge of Carroll, before crossing to the back post and Flannery made no mistake, side footing home from close-range. Glory looked for an immediate response and Hana Lowry’s effort was well saved by Chloe Lincoln, but it was Canberra looking the more dangerous. Langman saved from Flannery on the half hour, and four minutes later they added a second.
Glory turned the ball over on the half way line, and Grace Jale raced down the right, before picking out Milivojevic on the edge of the box, and the Serbian midfielder finished clinically, giving Langman no chance. Glory ended the half well, and Alana Jancevski shot was tipped onto the bar by Lincoln, the rebound also bouncing off the crossbar. It looked like it wasn’t to be their day, but in stoppage time Glory found a lifeline. Lowry’s corner wasn’t dealt with and Baisden pounced to fire home from close-range.
That goal gave the hosts a lift, and they levelled eight minutes into the second half. Baisden sent Hintzen down the left channel, she burst into the box, held off Kennedy Faulknor and finished with aplomb from a tight angle past Lincoln. The hosts were on top, and Lincoln got down well to thwart Lowry’s shot moments later, but there was little the Canberra keeper could do on 69 minutes when Glory hit the front.
The impressive Hintzen was the supplier this time, her clever through ball sent Baisden racing in on goal, and she made no mistake, much to the delight of the Glory faithful. Canberra, who hadn’t lost this season, pressed late looking for the equaliser, the best fell to Milivojevic on 73 minutes, who was sent into goal be Heyman, but she couldn’t keep her shot down. Glory held firm with Carroll and skipper Natasha Rigby outstanding at the back, and at the final whistle it was Glory celebrating their first win of the season.
Perth Glory: GK Sarah LANGMAN, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM (12 Sofia SAKALIS 60'), 11 Rylee BAISDEN, 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO (9 Demi KOULIZAKIS 75'), 23 Alana JANCEVSKI (42 Gabriella COLEMAN 68') - Subs not used: RGK Morgan AQUINO, 17 Abbey GREEN
Canberra United: GK Chloe LINCOLN, 5 Emma ILIJOSKI, 6 Laura HUGHES, 8 Sasha GROVE, 10 Grace MAHER (12 Hayley TAYLOR-YOUNG 79'), 11 Grace JALE, 15 Madison McCOMASKY, 16 Kennedy FAULKNOR, 17 Vesna MILIVOJEVIC, 19 Nickoletta FLANNERY (13 Sophia CHRISTOPHERSON 60'), 23 Michelle HEYMAN - Subs not used: RGK Keeley RICHARDS, 7 Ellie BRUSH, 24 Ellen GETT – Attendance: 611 - Referee: Kelly Jones
A WASTEFUL GLORY LOSE IN THE BULL PIT
After a dominate first half, Perth Glory have left empty handed in Week Eight of the Isuzu Ute A-League, after a 1-0 loss against Macarthur FC at Campbelltown Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Ruben Zadkovich’s side had plenty of chances to be out of sight at the break, but they failed to take them and were made to pay on 71 minutes when Macarthur’s Georgian striker Bachana Arabuli headed home. It consigned Glory to another defeat against the host, who they have never beaten in the A-League, and leaving them bottom of the table.
Zadkovich said the result was harsh, but missed chances cost them, but he will take something from the game, as they prepare for Friday’s game at Macedonia Park against Wellington Phoenix. “It’s was frustrating not to get something from that game based purely on the positive football we played and the chances we created but didn’t take,” he said post-match.
“But there were some positives there and some progress. The players are honest; they understand that we threw away points today. Macarthur FC Head Coach Dwight Yorke summed it up when he said ‘we might have stolen one from you there’. The better team lost the game, that’s clear, but at the end of the day, it comes down to taking those chances we should score.”
Glory went into this one unchanged from the side that beat Western United last week, and they started well, and should have taken the lead on 15 minutes. Great work down the right by New Zealand under 17’s midfielder Keegan Jelacic saw him skip past his marker, he got to the byline and pulled the ball back to an unmarked Ryan Williams in the penalty area, but striker blazed over the top, with the goal at his mercy.
Moments later Jelacic then set up skipper Mustafa Amini, who fired over the top, before Filip Kurto did well to deny David Williams, as Glory continued to dictate terms. Jelacic, who was outstanding in the win against Western United last week, went close himself five minutes before half time. The lively Salim Khelifi low cross picked him out, but he couldn’t turn his shot home, the ball flashing inches wide of the far post.
But in the final minute of a dominate first half, Glory had their best chance to take the lead. Amini and Jelacic combined on the left, the latter finding David Williams, who shot from the edge of the box was heading for the top corner of the net, but Macarthur’s Polish keeper Kurto produced a stunning one-handed save to deny the striker, but at the break, the hosts, who hadn’t had one shot, went in level.
Macarthur were on the front foot after the break, with their coach’s half time address still ringing in their ears, and they went close to the lead six minutes in. Glory gave the ball away at the back, and former Glory midfielder Daniel De Silva sent Ulises Davila in on goal, he crossed into the box, but Al Hassan Toure wasn’t on the same wavelength, and the chance was gone, much to frustration of the Macarthur skipper.
Glory looked a little flat, but almost found the opener just after the hour, Ryan Williams raced past Kearyn Baccus down the right, his cross found David Williams, whose acrobatic volley flew over the top. But with their first effort on target the hosts found the winner 19 minutes from time. Toure’s depp cross to the back post found Arabuli, who lost his marker to head home from close-range.
Glory pressed late, but couldn’t break down a tight Macarthur defence, the win moving the hosts to fourth, while Glory sit rock bottom. “In the second half we were the better team and we got the goal that changed he game,” Macarthur coach Dwight Yorke said post-match. “Today was a significant win for us to make sure we get back on track.”
Macarthur FC: GK Filip KURTO, 5 Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 6 Tomi USKOK, 7 Daniel DE SILVA, 9 Bachana ARABULI (94 Anthony CARTER 80'), 10 Ulises DAVILA (24 Charles M’MOMBWA 87'), 11 Kearyn BACCUS (27 Jerry SKOTADIS 72'), 13 Ivan VUJICA, 35 Al Hassan TOURE, 44 Matt MILLAR, 99 Daniel ARZANI (37 Jed DREW 72') - Subs not used: RGK Nick SUMAN, 2 Jake McGING, 8 Jake HOLLMAN
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 5 Mark BEEVERS, 6 Aaron MCENEFF, 7 Ryan WILLIAMS, 8 Mustafa AMINI, (19 Zach DUNCAN 72'), 10 Salim KHELIFI (11 Ben AZUBEL 76'), 14 Jack CLISBY, 16 Keegan JELACIC (28 Trent OSTLER 82'), 18 David WILLIAMS, 29 Darryl LACHMAN, 37 Jacob MUIR (2 John KOUTROUMBIS 82') - Subs not used: RGK Cameron COOK, 36 Joseph FORDE – Attendance: 2,826 - Referee: Tim Danaskos
GLORY LOOKING FOR FIFTH TIME LUCKY
Perth Glory will be hoping its fifth time lucky when they go in search of their first win of the Liberty A-League season when they host Canberra United at Macedonia Park on Sunday (Kick-off at 4pm) Alex Epakis’ side are unbeaten on the road, gaining two hard fought draws, and should have come home with six points with a bit more luck, but have lost both at home, and the coach said that the club’s fans will have a vital role to play in helping his side secure their first win of the season.
They have played Sunday’s opponents already this season, when goals from Elizabeth Anton and Gabriella Coleman, were cancelled out by Grace Jale and Vesna Milojevic for United, which saw the sides share the points in a 2-2 draw in round one. But over the years the two sides have forged a rivalry, but due to the pandemic the last time Canberra headed west was in round five in 2019 when a last-minute goal from Kim Carroll, who returns to Sunday’s squad, earned Glory a 1-1 draw, this after Simone Charley had given the visitors the lead at Dorrien Gardens.
Epakis feels that they can go one better on home soil. “In that Round One fixture, I think both teams were a little rusty at times,” he said, “and we know we are better as a team than what we showed in that performance. We’ve improved in areas and they’ve improved in areas, but ultimately, we’ve had a look at what they’ve done over the last couple of weeks and we’ll be ready for them, there’ll be no surprises. In the last three seasons, they’ve never come to Perth; they’ve had all home fixtures, so for them to have to come here on Sunday will be a good opportunity for us.
“Each one of those [previous games] has been end-to-end with moments that have gone for us and moments that have gone against us. They’ve always had the home crowd advantage and we’ve always felt hard done by in that instance. They definitely get a strong backing [at home] and they have an influence on helping the team create energy and sway the referee on 50-50s. It’s helped them in certain games against us and now we need to do the same. We need to make sure that we really capitalise on the home ground advantage.”
The coach explained the group have had some frank and honest appraisal on their start to the season, and what he requires to start climbing the table. “The key thing is when you’ve had an inconsistent start like we have, there’s no solution externally; the solutions are internal,” he said. “They’re inside the squad and the answers are just in hard work and being better.
“We’ve really turned the screws on our own expectations and individual performances this week and have made it clear that if individually we’re all better, the collective will be stronger. This is our opportunity to put together a 90-minute performance and really kick-start the season. I’m expecting a game where our team goes out and has a really strong performance and we’ll look to bounce back from the inconsistent start that we’ve had. We’ll have 16 committed players looking to go out and get a job done.”
Glory will be without Sarah Cain who is serving a one-match ban after seeing red against Melbourne Victory last time out, but defensive trio Carroll, Bella Wallhead and Claudia Mihocic all return to the squad. But Canberra will take great heart from their win against Wellington Phoenix last week, with Michelle Heyman bagging a brace, a timely reminder of her technical prowess and ability to round off team moves and half-chances with an efficiency that has taken her to the summit of all Liberty A-League goalscorers.
The partnership with Grace Jale, the ex-Phoenix star currently on two goals this season, and the industry and creativity of Laura Hughes, Grace Maher and the exceptional Vesna Milivojevic behind, has been a highlight of the season to date for United and hints at more promise to come. The visitors will, however, be without Chinese international Chengshu Wu and young defender, Grace Taranto.
Perth Glory squad: GK Morgan AQUINO, GK Sarah LANGMAN, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 6 Tijan MCKENNA, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 9 Demi KOULIZAKIS, 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 11 Rylee BAISDEN, 12 Sofia SAKALIS, 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 17 Abbey GREEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO, 22 Claudia MIHOCIC, 23 Alana JANCEVSKI, 42Gabriella COLEMAN - In: CARROLL, MCKENNA, WALLHEAD, MIHOCIC - Out: 13 Sarah CAIN (suspended)
Canberra United squad: GK Keeley RICHARDS, GK Chloe LINCOLN, 4 Holly MURRAY 5 Emma ILIJOSKI, 6 Laura HUGHES, 7 Ellie BRUSH, 8 Sasha GROVE, 10 Grace MAHER, 11 Grace JALE, 12 Hayley TAYLOR-YOUNG, 13 Sophia CHRISTOPHERSON, 14 Chloe MIDDELTON 15 Madison McCOMASKY, 16 Kennedy FAULKNOR, 17 Vesna MILIVOJECIV, 19 Nickoletta FLANNERY, 23 Michelle HEYMAN, 24 Ellen GETT - Unavailable: 9 Chengshu WU 3 Grace TARANTO - Not Selected: 2 Emily ROACH
GLORY READY FOR RAGING BULLS
Perth Glory will look to build on last week’s win against Western United when they meet Macarthur FC at the Campbelltown Stadium on Sunday afternoon on week eight of the Isuzu Ute A-League. (Kick-off at 2pm WST) Two stunning strikes from Ryan Williams and Jack Clisby secured Glory’s second win of the season, and the manor of the performance has given their supporters some thoughts of optimism
They dominated for long periods against last season’s champions, and Head Coach Ruben Zadkovich will be looking for more of the same on Sunday, but he knows they will have to at their best in defence against a good Bulls outfit. With the likes of Ulises Davila, Craig Noone and Daniel Arzani they have the weapons to hurt you, but the coach is confident they can come home with the points.
“We’d love to follow up the good performance that we had at the weekend in front of our fans with a hard-fought win away from home,” he said. “I’m expecting an interesting one because Dwight Yorke is a coach who’s letting his players play with a real element of freedom which makes them unpredictable. They’ve got some high-quality individuals and some real threats and I think we’ll have to be at our best defensively in this game to nullify those threats, and if we do that, I think we’ll win.”
The last time the sides met, Macarthur fought back from two goals down to beat Glory 4-2. Giordano Colli, who returns to the squad for this week’s game, gave them the lead in the first minute, and Trent Ostler doubled their advantage on 18 minutes. But Davila and Noone levelled things up, both from the spot, before Al Hassan Toure and Moudi Najjar secured the points for the hosts.
Zadkovich believes the World Cup break has helped his side regroup and refresh ahead of last week’s game, and they will take a lot of belief into Sunday’s clash. “The [World Cup] break came at a good time for us, it reminded us of how hard we have to work on the training pitch and the areas we need to improve in, but the process hasn’t changed,” he explained. “The only difference is that we didn’t travel and in our last two home games, we’ve beaten the Premiers and the Champions, so there’s something to be said for how much the travel takes its toll and also how much our players love playing in front of their fans.
“We’re looking pretty solid at the moment [in terms of injuries] and I must stress that there’s a high-performance team that was brought into the club in the off-season and they’re doing a fantastic job at the moment in keeping our assets on the pitch and at the peak of their physical capabilities. We’ll take a pretty strong team away to Macarthur and hope to get the points.”
Macarthur head into the game looking to bounce back from a narrow 1-0 home loss against Melbourne Victory last time out. They currently sit in seventh spot on the ladder, two points above Glory, who will be looking for a first win against the newest franchise on their home ground.
Macarthur FC squad: GK Filip KURTO, GK Nick SUMAN, 2 Jake McGING, 5 Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 6 Tomi USKOK, 7 Daniel DE SILVA, 8 Jake HOLLMAN, 9 Bachana ARABULI, 10 Ulises DAVILA, 11 Kearyn BACCUS, 13 Ivan VUJICA, 17 Craig NOONE, 24 Charles M’MOMBWA, 27 Jerry SKOTADIS, 31 Lachlan ROSE, 35 Al Hassan TOURE, 37 Jed DREW, 44 Matt MILLAR, 94 Anthony CARTER, 99 Daniel ARZANI - In: HOLLMAN - Out: 15 Aleks SUSNJAR, 19 Jasper WEBER, 32 Isaac HOVAR,
Perth Glory squad: GK Liam REDDY, GK Cameron COOK, 2 John KOUTROUMBIS, 5 Mark BEEVERS, 6 Aaron MCENEFF, 7 Ryan WILLIAMS, 8 Mustafa AMINI, 10 Salim KHELIFI, 11 Ben AZUBEL, 14 Jack CLISBY, 16 Keegan JELACIC, 18 David WILLIAMS, 19 Zach DUNCAN, 20 Giordano COLLI, 23 Mitch OXBORROW, 25 Matt HATCH, 28 Trent OSTLER, 29 Darryl LACHMAN, 37 Jacob MUIR, 43 Adam ZIMARINO - In: COLLI, OXBORROW - Unavailable: GK Brad JONES (injured), 21 Anthony BURKE-GILROY (injured), 22 Adrian SARDINERO (injured)
TAGGART BACK FOR MORE GLORY
WA footballs worst kept secret was announced on Thursday morning, with Perth Glory signing former striker, and Socceroos striker Adam Taggart on a three-and-a-half-year deal. The Perth-Born striker, who came through the ECU Joondalup academy, and began his professional career at Glory in 2010, playing ten games, before a surprise move to Newcastle Jets in 2012. He then made a dream move to English club Fulham in 2014, but injury curtailed his appearances for the Craven Cottage club, and he was loaned out to Scottish club Dundee United.
But in 2016 he returned to Glory, and it was a successful one, scoring 20 goals. He left the west again in 2018, joining Brisbane Roar, before he had three years overseas, taking out the K-League Golden Boot in 2019 with Suwon Samsung Bluewings and then moving to J-League side Cerezo Osaka. for whom he scored a further 10 goals. At international level, Taggart won Under-20 and Under-23 caps before making his Socceroos debut against Hong Kong in 2012. He featured against both Spain and Netherlands at the 2014 World Cup and to date, has scored six goals in 17 appearances, and was unfortunate to miss out on selection in the 2022 Qatar World Cup squad.
The 29-year-old, who watched Glory from the stands as a youngster, has been transferred from Cerezo Osaka, but he will have to wait for his third start in purple, as he will not be available for selection until the January transfer window opens. But having proven himself in Asia, Taggart is now delighted to be returning home. “It’s always been in the back of my mind that if I got the opportunity to come back, I’d jump at it straightaway and when that opportunity did come up, I knew I wasn’t going to let it go, this club means so much to me,” he said.
“It’s my hometown club, the club that I grew up supporting, a club that I know inside out and which is full of people that I love and that I’ve played with and against. To be able to do it all in front of my family and friends, especially after being away for so long, means a lot to me and it’s just something I felt needed to happen. At the age of 29, it makes sense to play my best footballing years at Perth Glory, and having been at Macedonia Park on Saturday, I got that buzz like you get at HBF Park, the buzz that I had growing up as a kid and it makes you feel at home.
“I can’t wait to get started and do everything I can to help the club and push the club forward. Ruben (Zadkovich) has played a massive role in getting me back to the club. He’s someone I’ve always had a good relationship with and he was a mentor for me, especially when I was at Newcastle with him. He shares the same mentality as me and knows me very well as a player and as a person.”
Zadkovich said Taggart will play a key role in helping the club turn things around, after winning the A-League wooden Spoon last season for the first time. “Adam is a player I’ve seen grow from a young up- and-coming talent in the A-League into a top-class striker at international level,” he said. “During my time as captain of Newcastle Jets, I witnessed first-hand what he is like at the peak of his powers on the grass in terms of finishing. I also got the chance to know the depths of him as a person and more importantly, the ability and attributes he has in terms of leading the team from the front as a player.
“He possesses the qualities that a top striker needs, both physically and mentally. He is selfish when he needs to be in front of goal and yet always plays for the team. I believe he is the right character to spearhead this rebuild at Glory and help drive the club back to the top. Being from Perth and more importantly a Glory fan at heart, he understands what the club is about and what we are working hard to build. We are extremely excited to secure his signature and can’t wait to unleash him in the purple jersey again.”
Glory CEO Anthony Radich, believes that the signing of a proven goalscorer is an important one for the club at a number of different levels. “We’re incredibly delighted to welcome Adam back home and have him commit to us for the next three-and-a-half seasons,” he said. “Having someone of his quality will add enormous value to the club both on and off the field and I’m sure all Glory Members and fans will be excited by this news.” The club also announced today that Pacifique Niyongabire has had his contract terminated by mutual consent in order to pursue an opportunity elsewhere. The 22-year-old made 17 A-Leagues appearances for the club last season after signing in July 2021.
NPL PROMOTION AND RELEGATION GIVEN AN OVERHAUL
Football West has announced they are introducing an extra promotion/relegation place between the NPLWA – Men’s competition and the Men’s State League Division One, effective from 2023. This has been a popular topic amongst the WA football family for a number of years, and this will give sides more opportunity to get promoted to the NPLWA.
The present situation is a straight one-up, one-down, with the team finishing bottom of the NPL at the end of the regular season replaced by the champions of Division One. But from next season there will be potential for another side to go up, with the introduction of a four-team play-off involving the team which finishes the regular season second bottom in the NPL and those that come second, third and fourth in Division One.
That will be determined by a play-off series, which will consist of two semi-finals over two legs, with the NPL second bottom taking on the Division One fourth-place team, while the Division One second-place team takes on the Division One third-place team, with the two winning teams advancing to a one-off final to decide who will play in the NPL the following season.
This scenario is already in place between State League Division One and Division Two, and will also be introduced between Division Two and the Amateur Premier Division from next season. So next season there will no longer be a Division One Top Four Cup, although the NPLWA – Men’s Top Four Cup remains unaffected.
“Opening up the extra spot in these divisions will create greater interest and excitement, with more teams having something to play for near the end of the season,” Football West CEO Jamie Harnwell said. “There will now be clear, uniform criteria regarding promotion and relegation, from NPL down to the Amateur Premier Division.”
FOLETTA HEADS BACK TO GLORY
Perth Glory have bolstered their defensive stocks, with the signing of former defender Isabella Foletta, who has joined the Liberty A-League squad on an injury-replacement contract for the remainder of the 2022/23 season. Foletta returns to the west, after making five appearances for the club from 2018 – 2020. Now 22, Foletta has also represented Brisbane Roar and Canberra United and played in Europe with Italian giants, Lazio, alongside Glory’s Ella Mastrantonio, and she is thrilled to be returning to the club where her professional career began.
“I’m really grateful and excited to be back playing in purple for a club I have been supporting ever since I was a little girl,” she said. “I’m ready to get out on the park and make my mark in the A-League with my hometown club. “This team has so much potential and definitely has the ability to go all the way and that makes me excited to be a part of it. “Alex (Epakis), the staff and all the girls have been nothing but welcoming.”
The Head Coach believes that the new recruit is a great pick-up for the club and will add depth to the squad. “It is great to have Izzy return to her hometown club and bring with her the experience from playing overseas and for other clubs Australia in recent seasons,” he said. “She has been training with the team for a few weeks now and I have been really impressed with her strong character and work ethic.
“On the field, she brings a defensive skill-set and versatility across several positions which will add to our depth and options. She is very happy to be back home and eager to help the team continue to evolve and progress. I am very excited to work closely with her and prepare her to be ready to contribute to the team over the coming weeks.”
NSW HIJACK THE A-LEAGUE AND THERE NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT
They say football is for the fans, but that doesn’t seem to be the case this week when the APL (Australian Professional Leagues - A-Leagues) announced the Men’s and Women’s A-League Finals will be held in Sydney for the next three years. This was done without consultation with the supporter groups, and all the clubs, and it has also been condemned by all clubs, players and former players, so is the game for the supporters, or has it been hijacked by NSW for the corporate dollar?
The partnership between the Australian Professional Leagues (APL) and Destination NSW, the lead government agency for the New South Wales Tourism and Major Events sectors, is designed to develop an engaging Grand Final experience for football fans in Australia and New Zealand, but it looks more like a Sydney monopoly of the game.
The final series in the past have been hard fought games, with teams battling to win the rights to host the biggest game of the season, and many Glory fans can remember the great atmosphere at a packed Optus Stadium in 2019 when we earned the right to host the Grand Final against Sydney. On that day the result didn’t go our way, but we earned it, but now that has gone after this decision.
It was announced on Monday by CEO of the APL Danny Townsend, who was coincidentally the Sydney FC CEO for over four years, leaving his role in May 2022, and it might have opened a can of worms. Speaking at the announcement, he said. “The FIFA World Cup 2023 showed that we are a country of football fans and whet the region’s appetite for the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year. But fans don’t want to wait for four years in-between competitions to see our best sporting talent perform.
“Football fans now get the best of both worlds - they can now look forward to a showpiece Grand Final event in a set location, as well as watching A-Leagues and national team stars week-in-week-out at their local A-Leagues team. This is a unique opportunity to build a tradition for football fans. When you think about a cup final in England, you think about the trip to Wembley, and we want fans in Australia to look forward to the A-Leagues finals in the same way. We have already broken the previous record for attendance this season in the Liberty A-League Women and have set an objective to make history again with Grand Final attendance in the year that we host the FIFA Women’s World Cup.”
To rub salt into the wounds NSW Sports Minister Alister Henskens said that NSW had the most clubs and most passionate supporters in the league, but with a state election just around the corner, is this money a sweetener to the NSW public, you have to wonder. He said, “With the FIFA Women’s World Cup coming and on the back of the Socceroos historic world cup in Qatar, football in Australia has never been stronger.
“NSW is home to the most clubs in the A-Leagues competition, with the greatest supporter base, most passionate fans, the highest level of football participation and the best football venues, including Australia’s largest rectangular football stadium. This new week-long football event will provide football and sports fans with an experience unique to all other codes and cement the A-League Grand Finals amongst the very best sporting events on our national sporting calendar.”
The outcry from the football family was instance, and Melbourne Victory Chairman Anthony De Pietro has resigned from the APL board. “It has become clear that in order for me to act in the best interests of Melbourne Victory and football in Victoria, I needed to resign as a board member of APL,” he said.”
Chairman of Perth Glory Tony Sage said he is furious the decision was made without WA’s consent, and the contract was on the agenda to be discussed in a meeting of clubs on Thursday. "I woke up this morning (and) I had all these text messages - it's the first I knew about it as an owner of a club," he said. "I thought it was going to be decided by vote on Thursday when we will meet together.
“No, then they go out and do the deal … it is a slap in the face. We had 57,000 at the Grand Final against Sydney, the highest on record. Say we make it and we play the Wellington Phoenix in the Final. Do you how many people are going to turn up in Sydney to watch that and how many can afford to, it is a slap in the face – and a hit to the fans.”
Western United were also left in the dark. “We do not support the Isuzu UTE A-League Men’s, Liberty A-League Women’s or the E-League Grand Finals being played in Sydney for the next three seasons. “Our Club isn’t represented on the APL board, and we weren’t consulted on the decision announced yesterday. While we are grateful to Destination NSW for wanting to support football financially and the APL’s efforts to increase its commercial revenue, the reaction of our fans over the last 24 hours speaks volumes.”
The supporters’ groups have also had their say, and the Glory Shed Supporters Club said. “We would like to join other supporter’s groups in expressing its disappointment surrounding the awarding of the A-League’s Men and Women’s Grand Finals to NSW for three years. As the oldest supporters’ club representing Perth Glory supporters, some of our members best memories have come from attending locally and travelling to NSL and A-League Grand Finals over the years.
“One of the memorable Football Grand Finals in Australia was the 2000 NSL Grand Final, where 43,242 people crammed into Subiaco Oval to witness Perth Glory host its first NSL Grand Final. As much as the events of that day still hurt us Glory supporters, imagine how the Wollongong supporters felt having travelled to Perth for that! Many of our members were also there in 2004 when Perth Glory won the last ever NSL Grand Final away to Parramatta, and who can forget 2012 when Glory supporters filled two bays in Brisbane for “that” A-League Grand Final.
“Then there was 2019 where 56,371 fans crammed into Optus Stadium after an epic penalty shoot win out the week before. Now just imagine for a moment, if after that epic penalty shootout win, Glory knew that despite having earned the right to host the Grand Final. They had to forfeit that right to NSW/Sydney, because of an agreement on where the Grand Final would be staged. Imagine Glory giving the crowd advantage to Sydney FC who happened to come from the state today announced as hosting the Grand Final’s for the next three seasons.
“That’s not right, to take away the massive home ground advantage of which a team has earned throughout the season. Goes against what’s been in place since the NSL era where the team who finished on top, earned the right to host the Grand Final should they qualify. The GSSC hopes the APL and relevant parties reconsider this decision which has clearly angered the Australian football community.”
It’s the Melbourne Derby is this week, and a big protest has been organised. “We will be walking out at the 20th minute and not returning. We strongly encourage ALL Victory and City fans to do the same. It's the duty of anyone inside the stadium who cares about the integrity of the game in Australia to support this action. You can’t fight the fans. You will not win.
“To Danny Townsend and the rest of the APL: You have until Saturday to reverse this decision or one of your biggest fixtures will be played in front of an empty stadium. We call on the rest of the league to walk out at their fixtures this weekend. A unified response against this corrupted decision is the only way this can be stopped.”
This decision will have a detrimental effect on the game, if it goes ahead. We’ve just had the Socceroos perform well in the World Cup in Qatar, and football was on the front and back pages of the newspapers, as Graham Arnold side made it out of the group stage for only the second time. This decision has taken all the gloss off that, and we’ve sold out to NSW, lets stand firm and show them this isn’t on. Football is for the supporters, and to play and host a Grand Final you have to earn it, not be handed it.
GLORY LEFT DISHEARTENED BY GRAND FINALS SWITCH TO SYDNEY
Perth Glory have been left fuming by the A-League’s decision to move the men’s and women’s Grand Finals to Sydney, with owner Tony Sage saying the move will leave fans disenfranchised. The club was given no say in the league’s decision, with the Australian Professionals League board - which Perth do not have a representation on - voting unanimously in favour of the plan.
It is understood Glory outlined their concerns to the A-League last week when they were informed of the decision to park the Grand Finals in Sydney for the next three years. The club reportedly told the league the move would put interstate fans at odds and voiced their concerns the decision would fuel sentiment among supporters the league was biased towards eastern states teams.
Sage said while the concept was floated six months ago, he had not heard anything about it until this morning. “I just thought they were going to get all the bids in from the governments and then see what number it was, and if that number was any good,” he said. “But you still have got to have a good story to tell and I don’t think there is a good story to tell.”
Sage said interstate fans were the victims of the plan, with the soaring costs of air travel likely to discourage fans from attending. “I can imagine it now, Wellington versus Perth Grand Final in Sydney,” he said. “The fans, how can they afford $1500 return tickets, plus tickets, plus accommodation? For someone from Perth, it’s a $3500 exercise.”
“People mainly from the east coast like Brisbane can fly down, it’s a couple of hundred bucks. Melbourne to Sydney is a couple of hundred bucks. They don’t think about the distance travelers at all. I think they want to make it like AFL and have at one location and make it an epic event in Sydney forever. Even though it’s a three year deal, I think that was the aim of them doing it.”
AYRES DOUBLE SINKS GLORY
Perth Glory is still looking for their first win of the Liberty A-League Women’s season, after a 0-3 defeat by Melbourne Victory at Macedonia Park on Sunday afternoon. The hosts were behind at the break with Melina Ayres on target, and Glory’s hopes took another blow when Sarah Cain was sent off just before the hour mark. Another goal from the Australia Under-20 striker Ayres, before Alex Chidiac wrapped up the scoring late, to seal a comprehensive win for the reigning champions.
“I want to be really clear that I’m very proud of my team,” Glory Head Coach Alex Epakis said post-match. “I’m proud of the way we went after the reigning champs. We didn’t want them to come here and have an easy game; we wanted to make sure that we absolutely gave it as much as we could to get a result. The first half, we went in 1-0 down, but I was still pretty confident we could get something out of it, then the red card happened which was disappointing and it was probably at the worst possible time. Where I become really proud is that when we went down, we didn’t drop tools, we kept going at them and kept a level of togetherness.”
Epakis made four changes to the starting line up from last weeks 2-2 draw against Newcastle. In came keeper Morgan Aquino, Sadie Lawrence, Alana Jancevski and Abbey Green with experienced defender Kim Carroll and Isabella Wallhead missing, while keeper Sarah Langman and Gabriella Coleman dropped to the bench.
Glory started well and went close to the lead on 11 minutes, Hana Lowry’s corner picked out skipper Natasha Rigby, but her header was cleared off the line by the alert Elise Kellond-Knight. They went close again three minutes later, Jancevski audacious lob from close to the halfway line, almost caught out Victory keeper Casey Dumont, but it flashed just wide of the target.
But despite dominating early it was the visitors who found the opener on 24 minutes, Beattie Goad ball into the box found Ayres who turned sharply and finished low shot past Aquino. Glory pressed for the equaliser, but they couldn’t find a way past a tight Victory backline, and they headed into the sheds behind.
The Glory were on the front foot after the break, but they were reduced to ten men when Cain was shown a second yellow card and sent off on 56 minutes. She picked up her first yellow early in the first half for a pull of a shirt, but referee Lara Lee had no other option but to send her off after bring down Lia Privitelli in the middle of the park
Victory took advantage almost immediately, Ayres scoring her second from close-range. Then 15 minutes from time, the visitors wrapped up the points with a third, Chidiac’s corner curled over Aquino and into the net. It could have been four late, but substitute Ava Briedis saw her long-range shot flick the top of the crossbar, but it was Victory taking the points. Glory will look to bounce back next Sunday, when they welcome Canberra United to Macedonia Park – 4.00pm kick off.
Perth Glory: GK Morgan AQUINO, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 11 Rylee BAISDEN (9 Demi KOULIZAKIS 75'), 13 Sarah CAIN, 15 Cyera HINTZEN (12 Sofia SAKALIS 82'), 17 Abbey GREEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO (42 Gabriella COLEMAN 64'), 23 Alana JANCEVSKI (10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM 64') - Subs not used: RGK Sarah LANGMAN - Red Cards: Cain 56’
Melbourne Victory: GK Casey DUMONT, 3 Claudia BUNGE, 5 Jessika NASH, 6 Beattie GOAD, 7 Gema SIMON (16 Paige ZOIS 74'), 8 Alana MURPHY (2 Tiffany ELIADIS 74'), 10 Alex CHIDIAC, 14 Melina AYRES (17 Maja MARKOVSKI 81'), 18 Kayla MORRISON, 19 Lia PRIVITELLI, 21 Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT (22 Ava BRIEDIS 81') - Subs not used: RGK Miranda TEMPLEMAN – Attendance: 700 - Referee: Lara Lee
CLISBY STUNNER GIVES GLORY A PERFECT HOMECOMING
Perth Glory have kick started their Isuzu Ute A-League Men’s season after the World Cup break, with a well-deserved 2-1 win against last seasons champions Western United at a packed Macedonia Park on Saturday evening. In their first game on home soil since May, Ruben Zadkovich’s side produced an impressive performance, to send their supporters home happy.
Ryan Williams gave them the lead early, before a stunner from Jack Clisby doubled their advantage. Former Glory midfielder Neil Kilkenny pulled one back late for the visitors, which set up a frantic finale, but Glory held firm to secure their second win of the season, and the coach was delighted for everyone involved at the club, after starting the season with five away games.
“I’m just really, really proud for everyone, especially my playing group,” he said post-match. “We really wanted to do it for our fans who have been without football here for a long time. They’ve endured a pretty horrid time for the club, to be honest, but they stick with us, that’s what Perth Glory fans do and it was nice to get a win in front of them. I thought the facility, Macedonia Park and the way it’s come together was a massive positive.”
Glory made five changes to the side that lost 0-4 to Melbourne City last time out, with skipper Mustafa Amini returning from injury, while David Williams, Clisby, Jacob Muir and Keegan Jelacic were also included. Ben Azubel and Zach Duncan were on the bench, with Giordano Colli, Joseph Forde and Jacob Dowse omitted.
The hosts started brightly in their new home and Aaron McNeff tested Neil Young early, but United hit back with former Glory defender Josh Risdon seeing his effort flash wide of the target. But on 14 minutes the Glory faithful were on their feet as they opened the scoring. Muir sent Ryan Williams down the right, and he raced to the bye line before his cross shot sailed over Young and into the top corner of the net, much to the delight of the home faithful.
Williams was in again 12 minutes later, cutting in from the right, but Young got down well to push his shot around the post. United started to get a foot hold in the game and they went close to levelling late. Another former Glory player, Jacob Tratt cross into the penalty area picked out Aleksandar Prijovic, who lost his marker but headed narrowly wide, he should have done better, but at the break Glory held a narrow lead.
Glory started the second half well and Amini sent Ryan Williams in on goal, but his shot on the run was parried by Young, and the keeper pounced on the rebound. But on 52 minutes Glory found a second, and what a goal it was in front of the Shed. Jelacic found Clisby on the left, the former Inglewood United defender cut inside his marker and curled home superbly from the edge of the box giving Young no chance and raced off to celebrate with his teammates.
It was a great start to the second half, and Glory were causing problems down the right, with Ryan Williams and Salim Khelifi outstanding, Williams sending an effort fizzing over the top moments later as they pressed for a third. Williams was in again on the hour mark, he was sent racing clear by a superb through ball from Jelacic, he raced into the box, but his chip over Young was inches over the top.
But seven minutes from time United found a lifeline, Kilkenny’s free kick from the left eluded everyone and nestled in the corner of the net, so it was game on. Glory looked leggy and lack of game time seem to be catching up with them and United pressed for the equaliser, and they almost found it in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Nicolas Milanovic’s cross picked out Noah Botic, his header beat Liam Reddy, but the woodwork came to the rescue of the Glory custodian.
The drama wasn’t over their and moments later Leo Lacroix was sent off by referee Daniel Elder, after he spotted the Swiss defender hit out at Glory substitute Matt Hatch and he showed him a straight red card. “Glory skipper Amini said it was a deserved three points. “I think we had to show resilience,” he said post-match. “Western United didn’t win the league for no reason, but I think we played to our strengths… we had to work hard in defence, and the boys gave a massive shift. We’re very happy with the three points in Perth. We’ve been very unlucky. We’ve had our first five games away, now we’re at home and I think we’ve got (six) out of eight games at home, so all the teams coming to Perth, be ready, you’re going to cop it.”
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 5 Mark BEEVERS, 6 Aaron MCENEFF, 7 Ryan WILLIAMS, 8 Mustafa AMINI, (19 Zach DUNCAN 72'), 10 Salim KHELIFI, 14 Jack CLISBY (25 Matt HATCH 89'), 16 Keegan JELACIC, 18 David WILLIAMS (11 Ben AZUBEL 89'), 29 Darryl LACHMAN, 37 Jacob MUIR (2 John KOUTROUMBIS 89') – Subs not used: RGK Cameron COOK, 28 Trent OSTLER, 43 Adam ZIMARINO
Western United: GK Jamie YOUNG, 4 Leo LACROIX, 8 Lachlan WALES, 11 Connor PAIN (26 Nicolas MILANOVIC 62'), 14 James TROISI (38 Noah BOTIC 80'), 19 Joshua RISDON, 27 Jacob TRATT (5 Dylan PIERIAS 62'), 42 Rhys BOZINOVSKI (7 Tongo DOUMBIA 62'), 44 Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 88 Neil KILKENNY, 99 Aleksandar PRIJOVIC – Subs not used: RGK Ryan SCOTT, 9 Dylan WENZEL-HALLS, 33 Ben COLLINS - Red Cards: Lacroix - Referee: Daniel Elder – Attendance: 3893
GLORY NEW BOY WILLIAMS READY FOR HOME DEBUT
It has been almost 15 years since Ryan Williams last played at Macedonia Park and more than a decade since he last played a game in Western Australia. But after a 12-year English sojourn, the winger is set to play his first ever professional game in his home city when Perth Glory host Western United tonight.
Williams, 29, left Perth when he was just a teenager to chase his professional dreams and established a career in England’s divisions below the Premier League, enjoying stops at Fulham, Portsmouth, Oxford United and Rotherham United.
Williams, who will follow in the footsteps of his brothers Rhys and Aryn in playing for the Glory, said it meant a lot to him to finally represent his hometown club. “I would have preferred it to be at Perth Oval, which was something I was really looking forward to in terms of when I was growing up, that was stadium I went to and watched Glory play,” he said.
“But I’m equally as excited for my family and friends and everyone to come down and watch us at Macedonia Park. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, I never thought the time was right and fortunately, this time was right.”
Williams said the confines of Macedonia Park were not too dissimilar from grounds he had played on in England, particularly the proximity of the seats to the pitch. The winger arrived in England as an 18 year-old and initially signed with Portsmouth and spent a brief stint Fulham before going on to play more than 200 games across the Championship, League One and League Two.
Williams said heading halfway across the world as a kid had forced him to mature quickly, but after 10 years on the road, felt the time was right to return home. “I certainly have grown up a lot faster than probably what I would have done if I’d stayed at home,” he said.
“It’s difficult to kind of put it into one or two sentences but it was one of the most enjoyable periods of my life, definitely a lot of highs and lows. But I just wanted a bit of a new challenge and this was here for the taking for me and it was something that I wanted to try.”
Meanwhile, Perth Glory owner Tony Sage believes the club could have its own facility to call home within the next five years and they had had tentative discussions with councils. “There’s lots of things that have been discussed with councils around around Perth that want Perth Glory,” Sage said. “I’d say within five years we’ll have something.”
SOCCEROOS AND MATILDAS IN LINE FOR PERTH
Football Australia have confirmed Perth is on the radar to host the Socceroos and the Matildas in 2023. It has been six and four years respectively since the Socceroos and the Matildas last visited Perth, but Football Australia chief executive James Johnson said this week the two sides are ripe for a return.
And State sports minister David Templeman has backed the plan. “We will be hosting five FIFA Women’s World Cup games next year, and any additional games with the Matildas or the Socceroos would be a huge coup for local fans and visitors to our State,” Templeman said. “There is no doubt fans would love to see both teams in action here.”
It comes after Johnson told SEN he viewed Perth as an “important market”. “The Socceroos brand will be at an all-time high and we need to keep that brand relevant in the market, so what we’re looking to do in the year 2023 is bring the Socceroos back in at least three out of the four international windows,” Johnson explained.
“We want to bring the team out to Perth and that’s a goal for us in 2023. We’ve not been able to take a lot of content to Perth in my tenure, which is nearly three years, and a lot of that has to do with the COVID border controls that were in place. But now we are looking at bringing the Socceroos and the Matildas to Perth in 2023.”
The Socceroos last played in Perth in 2016 when they beat Iraq 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier, although they had a game scheduled against Kuwait for March 2020 before COVID-19 forced its cancellation. The Matildas’ last trip out west came when they beat Thailand 5-0 in 2018.
FIFA’s international windows in 2023 are set for March, June, September, October and November. The Matildas’ home World Cup campaign will run through July and August, with Perth hosting five group stage games. The Socceroos are due to contest the Asian Cup in 2023, although the time and place are yet to be determined after China withdrew from hosting.
POLLARD SIGNS FIRST PRO-CONTRACT
Former Perth RedStar defender Sam Pollard has signed his first professional contract, after agreeing to move to Faroe Island Premier League club Argja Bóltfelag FC for next season. The talented 23-year-old was born in Blackburn in the UK, but has played all his football in Australia, coming through the ranks at ECU Joondalup and going on to play in the American College system with The University of Omaha Nebraska.
Argja Bóltfelag finished eighth last season, in their fifth season in the top flight of football in the country, and Pollard said he is thrilled to sign his first contract, and is looking forward to the new challenge. “Yes, I’m really excited, this is my first professional contract so I know that I need to work even harder now but yes I’m really excited with the opportunity and can’t wait to get going,” he said.
“The opportunity came after their coaching staff identified me through Wyscout.com, a website for players agents and scouts, while I was playing in America. They watched my games here in the states, as well as going back and watching my games from this year’s NPLWA season for the RedStar’s. I will be heading over in the new year, and can’t wait to get started.”
The speedy left-wing back said his time at The University of Omaha Nebraska has helped his football, with a number of talented players from all over the world, and that has helped him get the contract. He helped the side to the Semi-Finals of the Summit League, but they went down narrowly to the University of Denver 0-1. “This was my second stint in the American college system, I played for University of Omaha Nebraska in NCAA division One, and I enjoyed every moment of it,” Pollard explained.
“The level of football has been unbelievable, and all the teams have young lads from all over the world who are pushing for professional contracts, so it’s a very technical, physical and competitive. But I was lucky enough to play in a really good team with good coaches, and they really did help me greatly, which I can’t thank them enough.”
RedStar Coach Callum Salmon said he is delighted for Sam, and wished him all the best. “On behalf of Perth RedStar we are so proud of Sam for making the step up and signing his first pro contract,” he said. “We aren’t surprised, and neither will be anyone who has followed Sam’s progress. He is an excellent player, with loads of potential to keep improving and we believe this will be the first step in a long career for Sam. He is a pleasure to coach, works his socks off and is an exciting player. We wish him all the best and will watch his progress closely.”
His time at ECU Joondalup / Perth RedStar also helped Pollard’s pathway in his football career, and he said it was strange going back this season with the club having a new identity. “Yes, obviously last time I played at the Campus it was for ECU, so it was a little different coming back with it being a new identity but it was brilliant,” he explained.
“The club has a lot of ambition with an unreal squad of players and being able to be coached again by Callum (Salmon), Kenny (Lowe) and Davy (Butterfield) was the icing on the cake for me, I loved it. I would have loved to have been able to stay and finish of the season with the lads, but I had to head back to America, but I’m so happy they went all the way and won the top four they deserved it.”
SPARROW SET FOR MANAGERIAL DEBUT
Fremantle City will have a new coach for 2023, with Matty Sparrow taking the reins from Cameron Lord, who has joined the coaching staff of A-League club Perth Glory. It will be the first managerial job for the former Scunthorpe United and Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder, and he said he has hit the ground running. “I’m delighted to be appointed first team coach, and I think it’s a great opportunity for myself at this stage of my career,” he explained. “I’ve had 25 good years of playing so I’ve always had plans to be a coach or be involved with that side things once I finally hang up my boots.”
Sparrow was part of the Fremantle side that pushed for promotion from Division One last season, but he said a dip in form in the second half of the season cost them, and they fell short, and he said he had mixed emotions at season end. “To finish in the top four is all clubs aim, but I feel we should have finished higher up in the table if I’m honest,” he said. “The second half of the season is where we fell short especially against the top four teams in the league, it’s alright beating the bottom six teams but you’ve got no chance of challenging for the tile if you can’t beat the teams around you.”
The club announced the signing of Sparrow, who will be joined by Matt Lenzo, as his assistant. “We are delighted to announce Matty as our new State League First Team Head Coach. Matty, or affectionately known to all players and committee members as “Spadge”, is a veteran of over 500 professional playing appearances across his 17-year UK Football League career,” executive board member Alex Ricciardi said. “He has seven championship medals and two exhilarating goals scored at the iconic Wembley Stadium. Spadge has been the club captain over the last two years, players player of the year last season and we are delighted and excited to see him continue his footballing career in this key role.”
The midfielder, who will be player-coach next season, if required, has got the English UEFA B license, which he did a few years ago back home at Barnsley Football Club. Also in between playing he coached a number of academy teams down the years, but has never had the time to go into full time coaching up until now, and he said pre-season is going well.
“The squad is looking strong and competition for places will be healthy and that’s exactly what we need if we want to give it a real go this season,” sparrow explained. “We’ve managed to keep a lot of the players from last year and we’ve signed ten new players as well so the group is looking really good on paper, I looking forward to the new challenge.”
GLORY COMING HOME
Perth Glory will return to Isuzu Ute A-League Men’s action after the World Cup break, and will play their first home game in over 200 days, when they host last season Champions Western United at their new home, Macedonia Park on Saturday evening (7.30pm). It’s a huge day for suburban football with Stirling Macedonia, Glory and the WA government getting the ground ready for Saturday, and it should be a great atmosphere.
It’s the first home game of the season, and the first since they beat Melbourne City 2-0 at HBF Park last season, with a brace from Callum Timmins, and they will be searching for their second win of the new campaign. Head Coach Ruben Zadkovich said he can’t wait to get back playing on home soil, after playing their first five games on the road this season, and he believes having their loyal supporters behind them will give them a huge boost.
“The biggest thing for me is to be playing in front of our home members and fans again,” he said. “The members and fans of this club always come with their voices and their support and that’s a big help for us. There’s a lot for the fans to be excited about. Firstly, just to go to a football match with loved ones and family and kids. It’s going to be one of those environments where you’re right on the fence and close to the action and I remember when I was a young kid, those are the best type of football days.
“We’re super-excited and we want to do our supporters proud and give them something to believe in again. We know we still have a lot of work to do and it’s going to take time for us to be the team they want us to be and the team they deserve. But one thing I know, is that on the weekend, the players will be giving everything to get those points and the fans will help.”
Zadkovich said the World Cup break has been good for his squad, with players with niggling injuries having time to get back to full fitness, which gives him a few selection headaches. “I’m really proud of the way the boys have trained,” he said. “They’ve applied themselves really well over the last four or five weeks and I think that should culminate in a good performance at the weekend. Our medical team has done a fantastic job, led by our Head of Medical, Jas [Jasraj Sidhu], who is an exceptional physio. He’s done a lot of work with a couple of the individuals who had some issues and we’ve got a pretty full roster at the moment, which is nice. That promotes the competitive environment which we needed in the break. We’ve got a lot of work to do.
“It’s a new group; we’ve got a lot of new faces, but we’ve had some time now to take shape on the training pitch and that gives not only myself, but also the players, some confidence. Some of those performances away from home at the start of the year were a little off the mark, but not so far in some areas. So, we’ve had an opportunity to refine and we’re really excited for the weekend.”
Skipper Mustafa Amini is one of those players recovered from injury, and he is in line to make a welcome return from injury and Aaron McEneff will be available once again having missed the Round Five clash with Melbourne City through illness. Saturday’s opposition will also be boosted by former Glory defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley’s suspension being reduced on appeal, allowing the veteran centre-back to potentially feature against one of his former clubs. Also, Malian international midfielder Tongo Doumbia has also returned to John Aloisi’s extended squad, but Steven Lusitca is out injured.
Perth Glory squad: GK Liam REDDY, GK Cameron COOK, 2 John KOUTROUMBIS, 4 Luke BODNAR, 5 Mark BEEVERS, 6 Aaron MCENEFF, 7 Ryan WILLIAMS, 8 Mustafa AMINI, 10 Salim KHELIFI, 11 Ben AZUBEL, 14 Jack CLISBY, 16 Keegan JELACIC, 18 David WILLIAMS, 19 Zach DUNCAN, 20 Giordano COLLI, 23 Mitch OXBORROW, 29 Darryl LACHMAN, 36 Joseph FORDE, 37 Jacob MUIR, 43 Adam ZIMARINO - Ins: KOUTROUMBIS, MCENEFF, AMINI, COOK, JELACIC, David WILLIAMS - Outs: GK Pierce CLARK, 12 Luke IVANOVIC, 77 Stefan COLAKOVSKI -
Unavailable: GK Brad JONES (injured), 21 Anthony BURKE-GILROY (injured), 22 Adrian SARDINERO (injured)
Western United squad: GK Jamie YOUNG, GK Ryan SCOTT, 4 Leo LACROIX, 5 Dylan PIERIAS, 7 Tongo DOUMBIA, 8 Lachlan WALES, 9 Dylan WENZEL-HALLS, 11 Connor PAIN, 14 James TROISI, 17 Ben GARUCCIO, 19 Joshua RISDON, 23 Alessandro DIAMANTI, 26 Nicolas MILANOVIC, 27 Jacob TRATT, 33 Ben COLLINS, 38 Noah BOTIC, 42 Rhys BOZINOVSKI, 44 Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 88 Neil KILKENNY, 99 Aleksandar PRIJOVIC - Ins: DOUMBIA (return from injury), BOTIC, TOPOR-STANLEY (return from suspension) - Outs: 21 Sebastian PASQUALI -
Unavailable: 10. Steven LUSTICA (injured)
NO PLACE LIKE HOME FOR A REFRESHED GLORY
Perth Glory coach Ruben Zadkovich has promised the club's loyal fans his players will give it their all when they play their long-awaited first home game of the A-League season. Glory were forced to spend their first five matches of the campaign on the road while their temporary new home - Macedonia Park - was being upgraded.
Glory will play most of their home games at the 4000-seat venue this season due to the unavailability of Perth Oval, which is currently being spruced up ahead of next year's Women's World Cup. The last time Glory played an A-League match in Perth was the final round of last season, when they shocked high-flying Melbourne City 2-0.
Glory will be aiming to produce a similar shock when they host defending champions Western United on Saturday night. "We'd love to do our fans and members proud," Zadkovich said. "We know there's still a lot of work to be done and it's going to take time for us to be the team they want us to be and they deserve us to be. I can't guarantee results, but what we can do is guarantee effort."
Glory sit on bottom of the ladder after posting one win and four losses through the opening five games. Western United sit just one point higher with one win, one draw and four losses in six matches. Although the World Cup break has robbed Glory of match practice, Zadkovich said it had allowed the group to physically and mentally refresh.
"You've got to remember, some of the players in this current squad were part of Perth Glory during the toughest time in probably the club's history," Zadkovich said. "(They were there) through COVID and back-to-back quarantine, and all those away games... It was nice for us to have some time at home to be with our loved ones (during the World Cup break)."
GLORY WOMEN URGED TO GET MORE AGGRESSIVE
Perth Glory women's coach Alex Epakis says it's time for his players to put more heat on the opposition, starting with Sunday's home clash with Melbourne Victory. Glory sit ninth on the A-League ladder after starting their season with two draws and a loss. Last week the team twice coughed up the lead to draw 2-2 with Newcastle Jets.
Epakis feels his players are doing a lot right, but is urging them to become more aggressive when not in possession. "A big focus this week has been on the aggression without the ball and looking to be more hungry to win the ball higher up, knowing that if we press aggressively and we don't win it, we're also then really ready and comfortable to recover back as well," Epakis said.
Seventh-placed Victory lost to Western United and Sydney FC in the first two rounds before opening their account with a 1-0 win over winless Wellington Phoenix last week. "You look across the field in the squad they have, they've got some really experienced players and they've got an experienced coach," Epakis said of the defending champions.
"We have to respect that. I'm confident and I say this to the players as often as I possibly can, that if we're good enough for long enough we can compete and beat anyone, regardless of what form the opposition is in... There will be a few changes (from last week), some forced and some performance based. We're assessing that this week at training."
CLISBY HAILS A-LEAGUE AFTER SOCCEROOS’ WORLD CUP PERFORMANCE
Perth Glory’s Jack Clisby says the Socceroos’ World Cup performances are a ringing endorsement of the A-League’s quality. 20 of Australia’s 26-man squad in Qatar have A-League experience and the 30-year old defender said the national teams’ achievement in getting to the round of 16 spoke volumes about the league.
“It’s always talked about the A-League is underestimated, but you look at most of the Australian squad, a lot of them have played A-League,” Clisby said. “I played with some of the best players in that Socceroos team like Aaron Mooy, he was grown in the A-League and now he’s playing at the highest level in the world.”
Clisby feels there was a lot of symmetry in the way the current team and the 2006 World Cup had inspired fans. “You looked at all the games, all the different places that were hosting the games on the streets and around the country, the footage of the fans going crazy over the results,” he said.
“It’s just fantastic to see our game getting that kind of recognition and support. It’s great to push the game forward in Australian football like it did back in ‘06 when the Socceroos did well - we want young boys and girls to come through, enjoy the game, really push it in this country and get it to where it deserves to be.”
GLORY LOOKING FOR FIRST VICTORY OF THE SEASON
Perth Glory takes on last season’s Champions Melbourne Victory in the Liberty A-League Womens at Macedonia Park on Sunday afternoon. (4.00pm) Alex Epakis’ side are still searching for the first win of the season, but they have been unlucky in all three games, two draws on the road at Canberra and Newcastle, and a narrow loss against Adelaide United in their home game, and the coach is backing his side to take up the challenge to the reigning champions Victory.
Sunday’s visitors lost their first two games of the season, but bounced back to beat Wellington, and Epakis is looking forward to the challenge and is expecting a tight game. “Looking across the field at the squad that they have,” he said, “they have some really experienced players and a really experienced coach. They are a team that has done very well in recent years and we have to respect that. The form that they’re in at the moment is a little indifferent, but we haven’t been winning either and we need to make sure that we are the best version of ourselves going into this game.
“I’m confident and I say this to the players as often as I can, that if we are good enough for long enough, we can compete with and beat anyone, regardless of what players the opposition have or what form they’re in. Both teams are really going to want to go and win this game for different reasons. We’re really clear that this is an important opportunity for us to put a performance together and that’s the feeling and the internal motivation. We want to win this for us.”
Epakis said they have reviewed last week’s draw at Newcastle, and believes there were lessons to be learned and he is hoping to rectify that on Sunday and give their loyal supporters something to cheer about. “We went through the previous performance and highlighted where we need to improve and that has set us up nicely in a good frame of mind for this coming match,” he said. “From a structural and shape point of view, with and without the ball, we are where we need to be. It’s just little moments where we can be a little bit more clinical.
“A big focus this week has been looking to be more aggressive and hungrier to win the ball higher up, knowing that if we press aggressively and we don’t win it, we’re also ready and comfortable to recover back. We want to tidy up that part of our game as defending aggressively and defending high should be our bread and butter. We really appreciated all their support last time and we hope that they’re eager to come and have that experience again, despite the result. We’re hoping to put on something entertaining again this week and we’d really appreciate their support.”
The last time the two sides met in the west was in round 12 in season 2020-21 at Dorrien Gardens, when a goal from New Zealand international Annalie Longo gave the visitors a narrow 1-0 win. The most recent game between the teams went Glory’s way, with Mie Leth Jans and Leena Khamis both finding the net to seal a 2-0 win at AAMI Park in February. Glory will be without experienced central defender Kim Carroll (personal reasons), but Claudia Mihocic and Sadie Lawrence could come into selection contention as they close in on a return to full fitness.
Perth Glory Squad: GK Sarah LANGMAN, GK Morgan AQUINO, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 6 Tijan MCKENNA, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 9 Demi KOULIZAKIS, 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 11 Rylee BAISDEN, 12 Sofia SAKALIS, 13 Sarah CAIN, 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 17 Abbey GREEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO, 22 Claudia MIHOCIC, 23 Alana JANCEVSKI, 42 Gabriella COLEMAN - Ins MCKENNA, GREEN, LAWRENCE, MIHOCIC - Outs: 3 Kim CARROLL (personal reasons)
Melbourne Victory squad: GK Casey DUMONT, GK Miranda TEMPLEMAN, 2 Tiffany ELIADIS, 3 Claudia BUNGE, 5 Jessika NASH, 6 Beattie GOAD, 7 Gema SIMON, 8 Alana MURPHY, 10 Alex CHIDIAC, 14 Melina AYRES, 15 Amy JACKSON, 16 Paige ZOIS, 17 Maja MARKOVSKI, 18 Kayla MORRISON, 19 Lia PRIVITELLI, 21 Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 22 Ava BRIEDIS, 23 Emily KOS, 24 Anna LIACOPOULOS, 27 Rosie CURTIS - In: JACKSON (returns from injury), KOS (returns from injury), LIACOPOULOS (promoted), CURTIS (promoted) - Unavailable: 9 Catherine ZIMMERMAN (injured), 11 Natalie TATHEM (injured)
VEGA MENA BACK FOR MORE GLORY AT REDSTARS
Perth RedStar has re-appointed Championship winning coach Carlos Vega Mena as the Head Coach of their NPLWA Women’s side for 2023. The likeable coach, who was named as the NPLW’s coach of the year last season, returns after a historic 2022 season, which saw his side take a clean sweep of the Night Series, State Cup, NPL title and Top Four Cup, whilst going unbeaten in the process.
Vega Mena said he is delighted to be returning to the Campus, and looking for more success. “I’m very happy to be returning as Head Coach for another season at Perth RedStar. The team’s performance in 2022 was simply outstanding and I’m keen to see what the team can do in 2023,” he explained. “As a coach, I’m looking forward to helping develop pathways for the younger players and giving them opportunities in the NPLW. They are the future of football in WA and getting the balance of experience and youth right is essential for success. I’m also looking forward to working with my newly appointed female coaching staff.”
He will be joined in the dugout by recently retired Women’s captain Shawn Billam, who will become an assistant coach. Billam has an unsurpassed playing history with RedBacks/RedStar’s, having been with the club since 2010 and played 212 games for the first team. She won six State Cups, five league titles, two Top Four Cups and two Night Series, and made 63 appearances for Perth Glory from 2011 until 2018.
The Head Coach is looking forward to working with Billam, a player he has a great deal of admiration for. “I’m extremely excited to work with Shawn whose playing experience includes Gold Medal Winner, Premier League, NPLW and Perth Glory and is much loved at the club,” he explained. “Shawn also brings her Football West and State Team coaching experience to the table. The expertise and experience, not to mention the energy and enthusiasm, that Shawn adds to the coaching staff is invaluable. She is adored by players and Club members alike and we are incredibly lucky to have her at Perth RedStar.”
Also Joining Vega Mena and Billam will be Jessica Wheatman who will be the new coach of our NPLWA – Women’s U21’s. Another ex-player at the club since 2015. She made 91 appearances for the first team and was named as player of the year and players player of the year in 2018. During her time with the first team Jess won three league titles, three State Cups and a Night Series. Another appointment saw Maya Diederichsen return as the clubs’ women and girls’ goalkeeping coach.
“We now have three female coaches on our NPLW coaching staff with Shawn and Jess Wheatman (U21 Coach) joining our female Goalkeeper Coach Maya Diederichsen, all ex-players at the Club with vast experience,” Vega Mena said. “They all bring a different perception and understanding of female football to Perth RedStar. These coaching appointments re-iterate the Club’s commitment to providing pathways for all females in football, not just players, and I’m keen to see what we can do together in 2023.”
GRANT DISAPPOINTED AFTER BEING OVERLOOKED FOR SOCCEROOSS
Centre-back Alex Grant believes his career-best form in South Korea should have seen him in Socceroos consideration instead of watching the World Cup from home. The Pohang Steelers defender impressed for the K-League giants and was nominated for team of the season after helping his club finish third in the league and qualify for the Asian Champions League.
A year after scoring the goal which propelled Pohang into the ACL final, Grant’s form throughout 2022 was arguably as strong as any Australian defender as he earned consistent game-time in one of Asia’s toughest leagues. However, a Socceroos call-up was never forthcoming and a late-season ankle injury foiled any prospective chances of the 28-year old snaring an unlikely World Cup berth.
While he took immense pride from watching the Socceroos’ performances in Qatar and was determined to earn a spot in the squad moving forward, Grant believed his career-best form in Korea warranted a call-up. “The Socceroos contacted me a few times about being in the extended squad and I thought probably throughout the year, it would have been just for me to play or be involved in a camp or squad,” he said.
“That only would have been fair going off what I’ve done over the last 18 months in terms of getting to a Champions League final in Asia and playing consistently in a league regarded better than the A-League and the injuries they had in my position. The response I got was that I was slow — I didn’t hear it from them personally, I was just told through the grapevine that’s the reason why they didn’t pick me.”
After almost three years with Pohang, Grant is more acclimatised to life in Korea and culture differences than he once was - but living overseas with a young family has not been smooth sailing. “People don’t realize how tough it is, whether it be the football, living alone or even like myself being with a young family, over in a different country where you’re often isolated and don’t have many friends,” he said.
Currently back in Perth, Grant has been training with former club Perth Glory but ruled out a permanent return to Australia. “The ambitions I had when I left were that I wanted to stay out of Australia for as long as I could,” he said. “If it means me staying another year at Pohang or if someone comes in for me in the transfer window and takes me somewhere else, then so be it.”
SOCCEROOS GIVE ARGENTINA A SCARE BUT BOW OUT
The Socceroos incredible 2022 Qatar World Cup run has ended at the hands of Argentina, going down 2-1, at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on Sunday morning. They didn’t go down without a fight pushing their illustrious opponents all the way. Lionel Messi had given the South Americans’ the lead just after the hour, and the game looked over when Julian Alvarez added a second, pouncing on a mistake from Socceroos skipper Mat Ryan.
But Graham Arnold’s hit back with Craig Goodwin’s shot deflecting off Enzo Fernandez 13 minutes from time, and both sides had late chances, but try as they might the Socceroos couldn’t find the equaliser, the best chance falling to Newcastle United new recruit Garang Kuol deep into stoppage time, but Argentina keeper Emiliano Martinez made a great save to deny him.
The Socceroos leave Qatar after their best performance at the World Cup, with two wins in a single edition of the tournament for the first time, and Head Coach Arnold was proud of his players “I have to be very proud of the players. You know, we played against the number three in the world. And the first goal from Messi was a quality goal. The mistake cost us (Ryan’s blunder)," he said. "I just hope that everyone back in Australia really respects what we've done and are proud of us as well. We took it to them."
Arnold made just one change to his starting line-up, despite the short turnaround from Australia’s win over Denmark played just three days ago. Keanu Baccus, who impressed off the bench in all three group matches, replaced winger Craig Goodwin. Argentina also made just one change of their own, with Juventus star Angel Di Maria benched after a thigh injury in their win over Poland. Alejandro Gomez replaced him in the starting line-up.
It was a cagey opening at a packed Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, the Socceroos soaking up a lot of pressure from Argentina, and there was a number of hefty challengers, including Baccus’ shirt front of Messi, before Jackson Irvine foul on Marcos Acuna earned him the game's first yellow card. Clear cut chances were few and far between, but ten minutes before the break it was Argentina who opened the scoring.
Messi’s initial free-kick into the six-yard box was cleared by Harry Souttar, but Alexis Mac Allister regained possession and played it in to Nicolas Otamendi, whose first touch teed Messi up on the edge of the box, and the little maestro curled his shot into the corner of the net, for his 94th international goal – and his first-ever in the World Cup knockouts, and they led by that goal at the break.
The Albicelestes started the second half well and substitute Lautaro Martinez played in Messi again, but his first-time strike was deflected straight to Ryan. But on 57 minutes, Argentina was gifted a second, the Socceroos custodian’s poor first touch saw him closed down, the ball falling to Alvarez, who fired home, much to the embarrassment of Ryan. It looked game over but Arnold changed things up bringing on Ajdin Hrustic and Craig Goodwin for Riley McGree and Keanu Baccus.
Still Argentina looked dangerous going forward, as the Socceroos rode their luck, with Messi denied twice by some desperate defending. Arnold went his bench again and changed the shape with twenty minutes to go, making a triple substitution, with Mitch Duke, Milos Degenek, and Mat Leckie all coming off, with Jamie Maclaren, Kuol, and Fran Karacic brought on.
It had the desired effect and seven minutes later they were back in the game. Aziz Behich raced down the left and crossed into the penalty area, the ball was blocked and fell to Goodwin, whose long-range shot took a deflection off Fernandez, which sent the ball into the back of the net, much to the delight of the green and gold supporters in the stadium, and at the live venues across the country.
It was game on, and they almost levelled five minutes later, a mazy run from Behich, saw him skip past a number of Argentina defenders, before cutting inside the box, but his shot was superbly blocked by Lisandro Martinez. But with Arnold’s side searching for the equaliser, they left holes at the back, and Martinez should have done better when found by Messi, but his shot was well wide of the target. Both sides had chances in stoppage time as the game really opened up, and Ryan produced smart saves to thwart Martinez, twice in as many minutes.
Arnold sent defender Souttar up as a make-shift striker, as the they chased the equaliser to send it to extra time. Their late pressure was nearly rewarded in the final attack of the game, a ball into the box by Hrustic was flicked on by Souttar, the ball landing at the feet of Kuol, who brought the ball down superbly to set up the shooting opportunity, but Martinez spread himself well to save well, to seal the game for his team mates. Argentina will now face the Netherlands, who beat the USA 3-1 earlier on Sunday.
"We gave it everything. Just like we have every minute of this competition. So proud of all the players and the staff. Just not enough on the day," an emotional Jackson Irvine said after the match. "I think we did everything we could to give ourselves a chance in the game. When Argentina is celebrating like this, victory against Australia, I think it shows what kind of opposition we gave them today. It's difficult to comprehend everything at the moment. It's all quite raw. I hope we made everyone proud."
AUSTRALIA: GK Mat Ryan, 2 Milos Degenek (5 Fran Karacic 72’), 4 Kye Rowles, 7 Mathew Leckie (21 Garang Kuol 72’), 13 Aaron Mooy, 14 Riley McGree (23 Craig Goodwin 58’), 15 Mitchell Duke (9 Jamie Maclaren 72’), 16 Aziz Behich, 19 Harry Souttar, 22 Jackson Irvine, 26 Keanu Baccus (10 Ajdin Hrustic 58’) – Subs not used: RGK Andrew Redmayne, RGK Danny Vukovic, 3 Nathaniel Atkinson, 6 Marco Tilio, 8 Bailey Wright, 11 Awer Mabil, 17 Cameron Devlin, 20 Thomas Deng, 24 Joel King, 25 Jason Cummings
ARGENTINA: GK Emiliano Martinez; 7 Rodrigo De Paul, 8 Marcos Acuna (3 Nicolas Tagliafico 72’), 9 Julian Alvarez (22 Lautaro Martinez 71’), 10 Lionel Messi, 13 Cristian Romero, 17 Alejandro Gomez (25 Lisandro Martinez 50’), 19 Nicolas Otamendi, 20 Alexis Mac Allister (4 Gonzalo Montiel 80’), 24 Enzo Fernandez, 26 Nahuel Molina (14 Exequiel Palacios 80’) – Subs not used: RGK Franco Armani, RGK Geronimo Rulli, 2 Juan Foyth, 5 Leandro Paredes, 6 German Pezzella, 11 Angel Di Maria, 15 Angel Correa, 16 Thiago Almada, 18 Guido Rodriguez, 21 Paulo Dybala - Attendance: 45,032 – Referee: Szymon Marciniak
KERR CONTINUES TO FIND THE NET
Samantha Kerr has scored in a fourth successive Women's Super League game as Chelsea crushed bottom club Leicester City 8-0 to maintain their three-point lead at the top. The Matildas' captain has now scored five WSL goals this term as she bids to become the golden boot winner for the third season in a row.
Kerr is currently three goals behind the leading pair, Manchester City's Khadija Shaw and Aston Villa's Rachel Daly, but may have been left just a little frustrated that she didn't get even closer after the weekend's goal-fest. She hit the post and squandered a couple more chances before finally hitting the target just before the break with Chelsea's fifth goal.
Kerr was eventually brought off just after the hour as Chelsea continued to run riot with Fran Kirby and Jessie Fleming both finishing with doubles and Guro Reiten, Niamh Charles and Beth England also on the scoresheet. The win keeps Chelsea three points ahead of but Manchester United and Arsenal, who've both played a game less.
GLORY LET THE LEAD SLIP TWICE TO DRAW IN NEWCASTLE
Perth Glory have squandered the lead twice, to draw 2-2 against Newcastle Jets in week three of the Liberty A-League at the No.2 Sportsground on Saturday afternoon. American import Rylee Baisden had given them the lead just before half time, but the Jets levelled early in the second half, with Laura Allan on target. Player of the match Baisden regained the lead for Alex Epakis’ side moments later, but Ashley Brodigan restored parity 13 minutes from time. Glory had chances to win it late, but they had to share the spoils.
It continued Glory’s unbeaten start on the road this season, and the coach said there was plenty of positives to take out of the game. “My initial thoughts are that we played well enough to get the win, but we just didn’t do enough to shut them out,” Epakis said post-match. “When you go up twice and don’t win, you end up feeling a bit flat afterwards, but it is what it is and we keep moving forward. I idn’t really feel like we were under pressure [in the first half].
“We did concede a little bit of possession and shots against us, but going in at half time, the team was pretty comfortable. The first-half performance didn’t say much about what it actually felt like out there. [Rylee] had a huge influence on the game, once she scored her first goal, her performance went to another level in other areas of her game. She’s a real asset and she’ll continue to be an asset as the season goes on.
“I felt that a few players definitely had a good game in attacking areas and we had threats all across the field which is a positive. We’ll continue to work on our craft and what we’re doing. We’ve got an internal belief that when we’re performing at our best for long enough, we’ll compete with anyone. [Next week’s opponents] Victory will be a good team to play against and we’re looking forward to it.”
The Jets, who were coming off a 4-2 home win against Western Sydney Wanderers last week, were on the front foot early and Sarah Langman was tested with shots from Murphy Agnew and Lucy Johnson early, but the first real chance came for the hosts just after the half hour. Tessa Tamplin was given far too much room, and her rasping long-range shot was well saved by the alert Langman.
Glory steadied and three minutes before the break, and against the run of play, they hit the front. A long clearance from Langman found Cyera Hintzen down the left, she took on her marker and lifted a teasing cross to the back post and her fellow American Baisden volleyed home from close-range. They almost doubled their lead in stoppage time, Hintzen’s long-range shot was well saved by Jets custodian Georgina Worth.
The hosts were level nine minutes into the second half, Sarah Griffith’s ball over the top found Allan, who outmuscled Isabella Wallhead and chipped over the on-coming Langham, the ball going in via the post. But four minutes later Glory restored their lead. Ella Mastrantonio sent Wallhead down the left, and her cross picked out Baisden, whose glancing header beat Walsh.
It was end-to-end football, with chances at both ends, Hintzen heading over the top for Glory, before Tara Andrews headed straight at Langman down the other end. Baisden went close to her hat-trick moments later, but she couldn’t keep her effort down when well placed, then on 77 minutes the hosts levelled things up. Sophie Stapleford’s long-ball was not dealt with by Liz Anton, and substitute Brodigan pounced racing into goal and finishing low past Langman.
Despite conceding a sloppy goal, Glory pressed for the win and went within inches of achieving that three minutes later. Substitute Demi Koulizakis sending Baisden down the right channel, and her shot on the run crashed off the crossbar and away to safety, inches away from her hat-trick. They had another opportunity to seal the points late, but Alana Jancevski shot drifted narrow wide. They are back in action next Sunday in a double header at Macedonia Park when they host Melbourne Victory – Kick off 4.00pm, the Men’s side take on Western United at the same venue after.
Jets midfielder Murphy Agnew said they showed great resilience to come back twice. “We were more dominant in the first half, had a couple of chances, and they just scored on a good transitional break,” she said post-match. “In the second half it was a bit more back and forth, definitely a bit more equal. It definitely is a bit of a morale-booster that we came back twice from being down a goal, it just shows our resilience as a team.”
Newcastle Jets: GK Georgina WORTH, 3 Emily GARNIER, 6 Cass DAVIS, 9 Tara ANDREWS (10 Sophie STAPLEFORD 70'), 11 Tessa TAMPLIN, 12 Murphy AGNEW, 13 Lauren ALLAN (19 Ashlee BRODIGAN 70'), 14 Lucy JOHNSON (29 Adriana KONJARSKI 87'), 15 Sarah GRIFFITH, 18 Taren KING, 22 Cannon CLOUGH – Subs not used: RGK Claire COELHO, 5 Leia PUXTY
Perth Glory: GK Sarah LANGMAN, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 11 Rylee BAISDEN (23 Alana JANCEVSKI 85'), 13 Sarah CAIN, 15 Cyera HINTZEN (10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM 85'), 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO (12 Sofia SAKALIS 89'), 42 Gabriella COLEMAN (9 Demi KOULIZAKIS 61') – Subs not used: RGK Morgan AQUINO – Attendance: 1,230 - Referee: Caitlin Williams
GLORY AIMING TO KICK START THEIR SEASON AGAINST THE JETS
Perth Glory continues their Liberty A-League season on Saturday, when they take on Newcastle Jets in Round three at the No.2 Sportsground - Kick-off at 12pm WST. Glory, were unfortunate to come away empty handed from last week's home game against Adelaide United, dominating the second half, but they couldn’t find a way past Red's keeper Annalee Grove who was outstanding on the day.
Poor starts to the opening two games has cost the them this season, and it’s a trend Glory Head Coach Alex Epakis is hoping to change on Saturday, and he is backing his side to come all guns blazing, and maintain it for 90 minutes. “We just have to start quicker and play better from the first whistle,” he said. “The second half [against Adelaide] was exactly where we needed to be, but we just need to play that way for longer periods of the game. It’s pretty clear internally how we can rectify that and I’m really confident that going into the next round that it will happen.”
The Jets are coming off an impressive 4-2 win against Western Sydney Wanderers, and Epakis said he could change the line-up for the big game in the Hunter Valley. “It was a good result for them [Newcastle] and what that performance allowed us to do was identify where they are strong,” he explained. “We need to nullify that and also be stronger in attack to make sure that we pose some threats to them. Potentially we might tweak some things, but we’ve also got to back the players who have done well over the course of pre-season, so it’s just about finding that sweet spot from a structure point of view.”
Glory have been competitive in both games, and deserved more, and the coach believes it will be a tight competition this season, with some of the favorites struggling so far. “From when NPL finishes to when A-League Women starts is a fair gap in time and I think as a result of that, players and teams are still building performances,” he said. “I think that the inconsistent start some teams have made has maybe been due to that. But I think after this round, it’ll start to click into gear.”
New signing Rylee Baisden said they will be looking to continue where they left off last week against Adelaide, and remains confident that her team can use it as a foundation to clinch three points on Saturday. “As a group we grew. We started a bit slow, but you saw 70 minutes of good football and it’s exciting knowing what we can bring (to the game against Newcastle). We have to create our own luck though,” the former Brisbane Roar player explained.
“It’s nice to get a hot start and get an early one in the net. Pieces are falling into place. We’ve got a good squad and it’s exciting to see everything starting to come together. We respect every team, but we are also to be respected. We have the fight in our group and are ready to bring it and get three points on the road. We’re going out there a day early to get some training in our legs. That’s good for the squad.”
Newcastle Jets squad: GK Georgina WORTH, GK Claire COELHO, 3 Emily GARNIER, 4 Josie ALLAN, 5 Leia PUXTY, 6 Cass DAVIS, 7 Chloe WANDALOUW 9 Tara ANDREWS, 10 Sophie STAPLEFORD, 11 Tessa TAMPLIN, 12 Murphy AGNEW, 13 Lauren ALLAN, 14 Lucy JOHNSON, 15 Sarah GRIFFITH, 18 Taren KING, 19. Ashlee BRODIGAN, 22 Cannon CLOUGH, 24 Josie MORLEY, 29 Adriana KONJARSKI - Ins: BRODIGAN, KONJARSKI - Outs: 23 Teigen ALLEN, 25 Lara GOOCH
Perth Glory Squad: GK Sarah LANGMAN, GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 6 Tijan MCKENNA, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 9 Demi KOULIZAKIS, 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 11 Rylee BAISDEN, 12 Sofia SAKALIS, 13 Sarah CAIN, 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 17 Abbey GREEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO, 23 Alana JANCEVSKI, 42 Gabriella COLEMAN - Ins: MCKENNA, KOULIZAKIS, LAWRENCE - Unavailable: 22 Claudia MIHOCIC (injured), 24 Milan HAMMOND (injured)
SOCCEROOS BEAT DENMARK TO MAKE HISTORY
The Socceroos have moved into the round of 16 at the 2022 Qatar World Cup after a 1-0 win against Denmark at Al Janoub Stadium on Thursday morning, making history in the process. Graham Arnold’s side progressed to the knock out stage for the first time since 2006 with Mathew Leckie’s goal securing the win against the tenth ranked team in the world, and it gave them two wins in the group stage, for the first time ever. Leckie’s goal, a stunning individual effort secured the win, but the defending of the green and gold, led superbly by skipper Mat Ryan and defender Harry Souttar, saw them survive a late surge by the Danes.
“It’s the first time ever an Australian team’s won two games at a World Cup, in a row, maybe we’re talking about a new golden generation,” Arnold said post-match. “Because I’ve been listening and hearing about that golden generation of 2006, they got four points, and now we’ve got six, so maybe we’re talking about a new generation. I’m just so pleased with the players work ethic, the commitment, the fight they had and the way they played.
"Denmark is a very good team, they’re top 10 in the world for a reason, they’ve got high quality players who play in top leagues around the world, but defensively I thought we were outstanding tonight. I’m just so proud and happy, it’s what World Cups are for, I truly believe that the Socceroos are the team that unites the nation, you don’t see when the cricket world cup’s on, the final. Federation square like it is, pubs like they are, if it’s rugby union, rugby league or anything, but the World Cup of football unites the nation, and I’m just so proud we’ve been able to put smiles on people’s faces.”
Arnold made just the one change to the side that beat Tunisia in the last game with Milos Degenek replacing Fran Karacic at right-back. The Socceroos knew destiny was in their own hands, win and they would be in the last 16, and they made a bright start, with Riley McGree’s goal bound shot from the edge of the penalty area hitting Mitch Duke. But the Danes, who needed a win to get through, hit back and Ryan saved well at his near post to deny Mathias Jensen.
They were in again moments later, Jensen was sent down the right channel, he cut inside the box, but his shot was palmed over the top by the alert Ryan. The Socceroos keeper was being kept busy as Denmark pushed for the opener, but once again the Socceroos defended desperately. McGree had another effort midway through the half, but his half-volley was straight at Kasper Schmeichel.
Denmark had been poor in the tournament so far, but they continued to press and Skov Olsen and Christian Eriksen had chances, but failed to beat Ryan. Duke was putting in another good shift up top and he had a sight of goal in the shadows of half time, but he couldn’t beat Schmeichel. Craig Goodwin then made space down the left, his low cross into the box was dangerous, but no Socceroos players could get on the end of it and Andreas Christensen cleared the danger.
Both sides made changes at the break, Australia bringing on St Mirren midfielder Keanu Baccus for Goodwin, while Denmark brought on Alexander Bah for Rasmus Kristensen. Once again, the Socceroos were on the front foot earning a couple of quick corners, before McGree cross from the left picked out Jackson Irvine, but the midfielder couldn’t keep his shot down. Eriksen then tested Ryan, but the Manchester United midfielder’s shot from the angle failed to find the target.
Then on the hour mark, the Socceroos found the decisive opener. They were defending a set-piece when Souttar cleared the ball to McGree in the middle of the park, and sent Leckie away after a lung-busting run, and he sent Joakim Maehle one-way then the other, before firing low across Schmeichel and into the corner of the net setting off wild celebrations in the stadium and around Australia.
It was heart in mouth time on 71 minutes, when it looked like the referee had pointed to the spot after Souttar brought down Kasper Dolberg, but the flag was already raised for offside. The big Stoke City defender then got back well to block Dolberg’s effort as Denmark pushed everything at the Socceroos, and the whole defence were working overtime to keep the Europeans at bay.
Their final chance came in the final minute of stoppage time, they won a corner, and even Schmeichel came forward, and Eriksen’s corner to the back post found Andreas Cornelius, whose header looped up and over the top of the bar, the ball landing on the roof of the net. Then moments later the whistle was blown, and it was the Socceroos celebrating a famous victory.
“I’m proud, exhausted, everything really. It’s hard to describe the emotions right now,” Leckie said post-match. “We always knew we could do it as a group. We had our doubters but our spirit, our belief, our work ethic and how close we are as a group shows on the pitch. The last 15, 20 minutes we battled until the end. It didn’t matter what they threw at us, we weren’t conceding. We’ll make the most of it tonight, but then it’s all about recovery.”
DENMARK: GK Kasper Schmeichel, 2 Joachim Andersen, 5 Joakim Maehle (21 Andreas Cornelius 70’), 6 Andreas Christensen, 7 Mathias Jensen (14 Mikkel Damsgaard 59’), 9 Martin Braithwaite (12 Kasper Dolberg 59’), 10 Christian Eriksen, 11 Andreas Skov Olsen (24 Robert Skov 69’), 13 Rasmus Kristensen (26 Alexander Bah 46’), 23 Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, 25 Jesper Lindstrom – Subs not used: RGK Oliver Christensen, RGK Frederik Ronnow, 3 Victor Nelson, 4 Simon Kjaer, 15 Christian Norgaard, 17 Jens Stryger Larsen, 18 Daniel Wass, 19 Jonas Wind, 20 Yussuf Poulsen
AUSTRALIA: GK Mathew Ryan, 2 Milos Degenek, 4 Kye Rowles, 7 Mathew Leckie (10 Ajdin Hrustic 89’), 13 Aaron Mooy, 14 Riley McGree (8 Bailey Wright 74’), 15 Mitchell Duke (9 Jamie Maclaren 82’), 16 Aziz Behich, 19 Harry Souttar, 22 Jackson Irvine, 23 Craig Goodwin (26 Keanu Baccus 46’) – Subs not used: RGK Andrew Redmayne, RGK Daniel Vukovic, 3 Nathaniel Atkinson, 5 Fran Karacic, 6 Marco Tilio, 11 Awer Mabil, 17 Cameron Devlin, 20 Thomas Deng, 21 Garang Kuol, 24 Joel, King, 25 Jason Cummings – Attendance: 41,232 - Referee: Mustapha Ghorbal
GLORY HOMECOMING SPOILT BY THE REDS
Perth Glory’s homecoming has been spoilt by Adelaide United, who won 1-0 in a tight encounter in the round two clash at Macedonia Park on Sunday afternoon. In their first Liberty A-League Women home game in almost a year, a big crowd was on hand to watch Alex Epakis’ side, but it was Dylan Holmes’ first-half goal that proved enough to take the points back to South Australia. But the hosts were unlucky not to take anything from the game, they had a number of chances after the break, but they couldn’t beat Annalee Grove, who was man of the match for the visitors.
The crowd of 1,264 got behind Glory all game, and the coach was quick to praise them in his post-match interview. “The result was obviously disappointing, but I’m also disappointed for all the people that came out to support us, they gave us everything and myself and the players really appreciated that,” Epakis said. “It was a performance where the two halves were completely different. We weren’t good enough in the first half, the wind played a part and we weren’t as sharp as we would have liked.
“We addressed that in the second half and really went after them, but it just wasn’t enough. The performance we had last week was strong and the performance this week was strong; we’re there, but we’re not quite there yet. I’m pretty sure that in the next couple of weeks, we’ll continue to find our groove. These are the teams we want to be competing with and we did compete today.”
It was the visitors who made the better start, and they were rewarded with the lead on 19 minutes, Chelsie Dawber made space on the right, and her cross into the box was well finished, on the volley by Holmes. They went close to a second moments later, Emily Murray finding space in the box, but her shot flashed just wide of the far post. Glory was struggling to cope with the Reds, and their Chinese international midfielder Yuyi Xiao then fired over the top when well placed.
Glory steadied and Gabriella Coleman, who scored on her debut at Canberra last week, saw a shot go wide, before Grove saved low to deny skipper Natasha Rigby on the half hour. Murray went close again moments later, Sarah Langman saving low, and Xiao’s follow up shot was cleared off the line by the alert Rylee Baisden. Both Murray and Holmes had late chances to increase the visitors lead, but Langman and some desperate defending kept them at bay.
Glory started the second half on the front foot, and had the ball in the net early, Baisden sending Cyera Hintzen in on goal, and she finished past Grove, but the flag was up for offside, but replays showed the striker was onside. The American striker was in again on the hour, but Grove got down at her post to deny her, before Hana Lowry shot was saved well by the Adelaide custodian, and she reacted superbly to the rebound, saving bravely at the feet of Hintzen.
Grove was having a blinder and she saved Baisden’s effort, but Adelaide should have wrapped up the points on 67 minutes, Holmes racing into goal, but her shot whistled wide of the post. They went close again two minutes later, substitute Melindaj Barbieri denied by Langman.
Glory ended the game well Lowry fired wide of the target, before Grove saved low to thwart Hintzen. The hosts had one last chance to grab a point in stoppage time, substitute Alana Jancevski’s free kick looked destined for the top corner, but Grove was determined not to be beaten, producing a smart a one-handed save to seal the three points for the visitors.
Perth Glory: GK Sarah LANGMAN, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 11 Rylee BAISDEN (10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM 64'), 12 Sofia SAKALIS (13 Sarah CAIN 60'), 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO (17 Abbey GREEN 82'), 42 Gabriella COLEMAN (23 Alana JANCEVSKI 72') - Subs not used: RGK Morgan AQUINO
Adelaide United: GK Annalee GROVE, 8 Emily CONDON (14 Meisha WESTLAND 69'), 9 Paige HAYWARD, 10 Chelsie DAWBER (6 Jenna McCORMICK 90+3'), 11 Isabel HODGSON, 12 Nanako SASAKI, 13 Ella TONKIN, 16 Dylan HOLMES, 19 Maruschka WALDUS, 21 Yuyi XIAO (7 MelindaJ BARBIERI 64'), 22 Emilia MURRAY (15 Katie BOWLER 64') - Subs not used: RGK Grace WILSON - Referee: Rebecca Durcau
GLORY BRACING FOR HUGE FINANCIAL HIT
Perth Glory are bracing for a huge financial hit this A-League Men season, but chief executive Anthony Radich says being able to play a full allocation of home games is priceless. After spending the large part of two COVID-affected seasons on the road, Glory's mens team were dealt another huge blow when their home ground at Perth Oval was ruled out of action for the bulk of the current campaign.
The venue is undergoing an upgrade to get it ready for the 2023 Women's World Cup, with the delays in the construction industry meaning Glory will play 10 of their 13 home games at Macedonia Park. The first of those at the Stirling venue will be against Western United on December 10, with Glory not expected to return to Perth Oval until mid-March.
Temporary seating has been installed at Macedonia Park to expand capacity to 4000. However, that figure is much lower than the 6000 to 12000 fans Glory attracted to games before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The club is still unsure exactly how much of a financial hit they will cop this season due to the unavailability of Perth Oval, but it's expected to be significant.
"We're still working through that," Radich said. "It's a moving feast in terms of what we are able to fit in here (at Macedonia Park) and what we are able to do and execute. It's a significant financial hit, but we're hopeful the government is listening and we'll be looked after accordingly (through compensation)."
Glory may be able to lift capacity beyond 4000 if the temporary lighting doesn't take up too much room. But either way, playing in front of limited home fans was much better than the alternative option - spending the entire season on the road. "The primary objective for us was to make sure we had home games back here," Radich said.
"It's not ideal in terms of financially for the club. We take a hit to membership, corporate and spectator numbers. But just ensuring that our brand is kept alive and our fans and members get to see their heroes out on the field - you can't put a price on that." Glory's women's team return to home comforts on Sunday when they host Adelaide United at Macedonia Park.
DUKE HEADS SOCCEROOS TO VICTORY
The Socceroos have kept their chances of progressing into the knock-out stages of the 2023 Qatar World Cup, for the first time since 2006, after a hard fought 1-0 win against Tunisia at the Al Janoub Stadium on Saturday evening. Mitchell Duke’s first half header proved the difference, but they were made to earn it with Tunisia having a number of chances late. The win is just Australia’s third victory at the FIFA World Cup and first since 2010 against Serbia. They also kept their first clean sheet in more than 48 years after achieving the feat during their inaugural appearance in 1974.
“I felt our performance, our fight, our grit, our determination… the old Aussie way was very important tonight, and I’m very proud of the boys,” Socceroos coach Graham Arnold said post-match. “I said to the boys when I got them in the circle after the game, I’m very proud of them, but we’ve achieved nothing. This moment, yes, we will talk about after. We’ve got one win, and it hasn’t been done for 12 years and all that stuff, but we’re here to go as far as we can go.
“That one game is done and I don’t want any emotion from the players, I don’t want them sitting up all night watching social media and all that stuff. It’s about getting their sleeping right, recover well and the mindset ready for Denmark. I don’t want any celebration. Just enjoy these couple of minutes with the fans here in the stadium. Get yourself in the dressing room, ice baths, recover and get ready for the next one.”
Arnold made the one change from the side that lost against France, with Nathaniel Atkinson out injured, he was replaced by Fran Karacic at right-back. The stadium was a sea of red, with small pockets of Socceroos supporters, and it was a tight opening, with Australia using a high press, causing a number of turnovers. The Tunisians were hitting on the counter attack, but clear-cut chances were few and far between, the first a long-range effort from Mohamed Drager which sailed over the top.
But on 23 minutes the Socceroos found the opener. Duke was involved in the start of the move that sent Craig Goodwin down the left, the Adelaide United winger’s cross deflected off a Tunisian defender and Duke’s glancing header found the bottom corner of the net out of the reach of the outstretched arm of Tunisia keeper Aymen Dahmen. It was a great goal for the big striker and it was a deserved lead for the Socceroos. Goodwin was having a great game, and moments later his low cross found Jackson Irvine, but he couldn’t find the target.
Tunisia ended the half the better and Kye Rowles did well to block Youssef Msakni shot on 38 minutes, the Heart of Midlothian defender putting his body on the line. Moments later Souttar did likewise, as the Socceroos switched off from a throw-in, Issam Jebali finding Drager, who looked likely to score, before the big defender got in a last-ditch block to deny him.
Both sides had late chances as the game opened up. First on 44 minutes Goodwin’s set-piece found Duke, but he headed straight at Dahman, but three minutes into stoppage time Tunisia should have levelled. Jebali found space down the right, his cut back found Msakni, but with the goal at his mercy he fired wide, and at the break Duke’s goal was the difference.
The Socceroos were under the cosh early in the second half, and Naim Sliti and Jebali were denied by desperate scrambling defending. But the Socceroos were hitting on the counter and Goodwin was again the supplier on 56 minutes, sent down the left by Irvine, but his low cross flashed across goal. They had another golden opportunity on 71 minutes, substitute Jamie Maclaren raced down the left, the former Perth Glory striker’s low cross into the box was inches away from Leckie, with the goal gaping.
Mat Ryan was in commanding form, claiming a number of crosses and he then got down well to deny Msakni moments later. Aaron Mooy was next to go close for Graham Arnold’s side, Maclaren finding the Celtic midfielder whose long-range shot fizzed inches over the bar. But as the game entered the last ten minutes, it was Tunisia asking all the questions, and Ryan saved Montassar Talbi’s long-range strike, then on 86 minutes they were in a gain.
Rowles got a bad bounce, the defender losing his footing and letting in substitute Taha Yassine Khenissi, but Souttar showed great pace to get back and produce a superb sliding tackle on the edge of the box to deny him. Souttar then blocked Sliti’s effort after the Tunisian raced into the box, the Socceroos were defending desperately.
Wahbi Khazri then shot straight at Ryan, but Awer Mabil could have added a second late. The substitute raced clear, and with Maclaren free in the box screaming for the ball he went alone and the chance was gone. But at the final whistle it was the Socceroos taking the points, and their supporters in the ground and all-around Australia celebrated a famous victory.
Central defender Souttar was outstanding at the back, putting in a man of the match performance, but he was the first to say it was a team effort. "I can go through the whole team and say what an unbelievable job they have done," the Stoke City defender said post-match. "It's not a one-man team. All the lads did amazing, even the subs that came on knew their role, knew their jobs.
“Obviously, it's a little bit of a different feeling than the other day, coming off after that game against France, and we were hanging on for a little bit towards the end, the last 15, 20 minutes. When the final whistle went, just the relief - all that hard work we have put in so far and over the qualification stages has come to that. "I am just so pleased, but we have won one game. We have still got a huge, huge goal to play for, we want to get out of the group."
TUNISIA: GK Aymen Dahmen, 3 Montassar Talbi, 4 Yassine Meriah, 6 Dylan Bronn (21 Wajdi Kechrida 73’), 7 Youssef Msakni, 9 Issam Jebali (11 Taha Yassine Khenissi 73’), 14 Aïssa Laïdouni (10 Wahbi Khazri 67’), 17 Ellyes Skhiri, 20 Mohamed Drager (13 Ferjani Sassi 46’), 23 Naim Sliti, 24 Ali Abdi – Subs not used: RGK Aymen Balbouli, RGK Mouez Hassen, RGK Bechir Ben Said, 2 Bilel Ifa, 5 Nader Ghandri, 8 Hannibal Mejbri, 12 Ali Maaloul, , 15 Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane, 18 Ghailene Chaalali, 19 Seifeddine Jaziri, 25 Anis Ben Slimane
AUSTRALIA: GK Mathew Ryan, 4 Kye Rowles, 5 Fran Karacic (2 Milos Degenek 75’), 7 Mathew Leckie (26Keanu Baccus 85’), 13 Aaron Mooy, 14 Riley McGree (10 Ajdin Hrustic 64’), 15 Mitchell Duke (9 Jamie Maclaren 64’), 16 Aziz Behich, 19 Harry Souttar, 22 Jackson Irvine, 23 Craig Goodwin (11 Awer Mabil 85’) – Subs not used: RGK Andrew Redmayne, RGK Daniel Vukovic, 6 Marco Tilio, 8 Bailey Wright, 17 Cameron Devlin, 20 Thomas Deng, 21 Garang Kuol, 24 Joel King, 25 Jason Cummings - Attendance: 41,823 – Referee: Daniel Siebert (Germany)
EPAKIS LOOKING FOR HOME COMFORTS
Perth Glory will play their first home game of the season at their new venue on Sunday afternoon when Alex Epakis’ Womens side host Adelaide United at Macedonia Park. (Kick off 4pm). The home of NPLWA club Stirling Macedonia has been revamped and Glory will play both Isuzu Ute Men and Liberty Womens A-League games at the venue.
Epakis, who side only played once on home soil last season, is looking forward to playing in front of the supporters, and looking to build on their good start to the season at Canberra United, when goals from Liz Anton and Gabriella Coleman gave them a well-deserved 2-2 draw last week. “It’s hard to put it into words,” he said. “I really believe that the one home game we played at Macedonia Park last season, that late win, there was certainly an element of that which was down to the energy that the crowd was able to create and which our players were able to feed off. We’re hoping that the support of the Members and fans will be an important factor. I’m excited at a personal level and I know the players are too.”
Glory showed great determination to twice come from behind to secure a point from last weekend’s season-opener, but the coach feels that his side have plenty more improvement in them. “The message in training this week has been that we played well enough to get a result last weekend, but we are also very aware of where we can be better,” he said. “We’re really excited to go and execute that now against another good team in front of our home crowd. “We believe that if we’re a little bit more focused and tidier in what we’re doing, we can expect a much-improved performance.”
Epakis knows the challenge that is ahead of chargers, with Sunday’s visitors reaching the Finals last season and opened their new season with an impressive 1-0 home win over Sydney FC. “Canberra and Adelaide share some similarities in that they both have good attacking players across the front three and they have players who can hurt us in transition moments,” he said. “But I also believe that one of Adelaide’s strong points over recent seasons has been their physicality all across the field.”
The coach happily confirmed that he had no fresh injury concerns from the Canberra trip, and he has added three to the squad for Sunday’s home opener, and he is looking forward to the challenge. “When we played them last year, we spoke about matching their energy and physicality with and without the ball and we have to do that again this week,” he explained. “We’re all good (injuries), if anything, we’re probably hoping to bring one or two players back in this week who will potentially be in contention for the game.”
Glory have not managed to beat Adelaide on home soil since January 2016, when a brace from Vanessa Di Bernardo gave them a 2-1 at Ashfield Reserve. Last season the two sides claimed a win apiece, in round four Glory were beaten 4-2 by the Reds in Adelaide, this after goal from Cyera Hintzen and Alana Jancevski had drawn them level early in the second half. Then in the next round Glory reversed the result in Gosford, when a goal from Mie Leth Jans gave them a 1-0 win. It should be an entertaining game, and hopefully a big crowd will be on hand to witness the first game at Macedonia Park, tickets are still available and you can pay at the gate on the day.
Perth Glory Squad: GK Sarah LANGMAN, GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 6 Tijan MCKENNA, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 9 Demi KOULIZAKIS, 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 11 Rylee BAISDEN, 12 Sofia SAKALIS, 13 Sarah CAIN, 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 17 Abbey GREEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO, 23 Alana JANCEVSKI, 42 Gabriella COLEMAN - Ins: 6 MCKENNA, 9 KOULIZAKIS, 18 LAWRENCE - Unavailable: 22 Claudia MIHOCIC (injured), 24 Milan HAMMOND (injured)
DAVIES WINS STIRLING MACEDONIA F&B
Stirling Macedonia returned to NPL football last season, after two-years in the wilderness, and Ian Ferguson’s side hit the ground running, finishing third, and their season officially came to an end last month when they held their Presentation Evening at Macedonia Park. The club will be in the spotlight during the A-League season, with Perth Glory holding their home games at the ground, and a lot of hard work has gone into making the ground up to A-League standards, and the club should be congratulated on their approach to the upgrade.
Back to the awards night, and it was a great evening, well presented by Donna Giuffre (Head of Media and Operations Australia for DT38) and it was Gyles Davies who was the big winner on the night, winning the clubs Fairest and Best, beating defender Luke Palmateer to the top award, while Palmateer also won the Coaches Award. Davies joined the club in 2020 from Olympic Kingsway, helping them to promotion back to the NPL, and last season fought back from a serious injury, to help the club into the Top Four Finals.
The midfielder was honoured to win the award. “Individually, it was a great honour to be Stirling Macedonia’s player of the year in a team full of great characters and players,” Davies explained. “There were a number of very worthy recipients of such an award and I am humbled to have received it in a season which was personally quite difficult for me as I carried the lingering effects of breaking my leg late in the 2022 Night Series.
“It was my first season in the NPL with the club, and it was definitely an enjoyable and successful one. As a collective the players and coaches had very clear goals and expectations of each other throughout the entire year. We had our chances to be league winners however we were not able to capitalise due to a range of factors, but we’ll be back bigger and stronger next season.”
Stirling assistant coach John Lavery said Davies and Palmateer were both outstanding last season, and both deserved their awards. “I’m a big fan of Gyles, like most people at the club he’s a very honest hard-working player with a good level of ability,” he explained. “The fact that Gyles fractured his leg early in the season and it hampered him a little, so it shows how good a player he is to still win F&B. Luke was an ever present for us last year, and I don’t think he missed a training session either. He is a fantastic footballer with a great attitude and I don’t think he was out our top three players every week, so we’re glad to have these guys back onboard this season.”
In other awards on the night, Liam Price won the under 20s Fairest and Best, with Joshua Bosevski the runner-up, while Gordon Dau won the Coaches Award. In the 18s Oskar Patterson won the Fairest and Best and the Players Player of the Year, with Hussam Mohamedkheir the runner-up, while Harrison “Harry” Pallant won the Coaches, and Most Improved award.
SOCCEROOS BEATEN IN WORLD CUP OPENER
Australia have started the 2022 Qatar Word Cup Finals with a 1-4 loss against current holders France at the Al Janoub Stadium on Wednesday morning. It started so well for the Socceroos with Adelaide United’s Craig Goodwin opening the scoring early, but it went downhill from there with France showing why they are the world champions, with Olivier Giroud scoring a brace, with other to Adrien Rabiot and Kylian Mbappe.
"An incredibly proud moment, obviously honoured to represent my country at the World Cup and to score is an amazing feeling, but you know mixed feelings because we lost the game in the end," Goodwin said post-match. "Pure elation - You know scoring any goal is a joy and almost indescribable in feeling, but to score in the World Cup against the reigning World Cup champions is a moment I'll remember for the rest of my life. But for now, it is still business, we've got two more games and we want to do the best we can and try and win those games.
"We regroup, we recover, we analyse the game on where we can do better. But this is a really short turnaround and we have to prepare for the game against Tunisia look at where we can possibly hurt them and do the best we can and it's again we have to go into with confidence. I think that first half we showed we can match it with them, but tactically perhaps we can do a little better in getting more pressure on the ball, but at the end of the day, it's that we have to prepare for the next game now."
France opened brightly, but Graham Arnold’s side grew into it, and on nine minutes they took the lead. Stoke City defender Harry Souttar, who was back in green and gold after a long-term knee injury, played a superb cross field ball which found Matthew Leckie down the right, he took it past Lucas Hernandez, and crossed to Goodwin at the back post, and his first time shot flew past Hugo Lloris and into the top of the net, much to the delight of the fans in the stadium and all-round Australia.
Hernandez was injured in the lead up, and limped off with what looked like a knee injury, he was replaced by his brother Theo. The Socceroos were pressing high and causing turnovers, and on 21 minutes Hernandez turned the ball over cheaply and it was pounced on by Mitch Duke, his long-range shot fizzed just wide of the post. But five minutes later the French restored parity, the Socceroos cleared a corner but switched off, and Hernandez’s cross picked out Rabiot, the Juventus midfielder lost his marker to head past Mat Ryan.
AC Milan striker Giroud headed over from a corner on the half hour, but two minutes later he added France’s second. The Socceroos gave the ball away in the middle of the park, and Rabiot cut the ball back to the striker, who finished into an empty net. The French were well on top and Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann saw a shot from the edge of the box flash wide, and just before half time it should have been 3-1. Griezmann ghosted in off the right and dinked the ball towards Mbappe, but the PSG winger couldn’t keep his shot down. But in first half stoppage time the Socceroos went close to levelling, Jackson Irvine found himself clear in the box from a Riley McGee cross, his header back across goal beat Lloris, but hit the post.
Didier Deschamps’ side continued to dominate after the break, with the Socceroos working overtime to keep them at bay, and Griezmann saw his shot cleared off the line by the alert Aziz Behich, but it was only a matter of time before France added a third. On 68 minutes Dembele’s cross to the back post found Mbappe, who headed home via the post. Then three minutes later the game was over for Graham Arnold’s side, Mbappe was the supplier, his cross picked out Giroud, who headed home, to tie with Thierry Henry as France's top goal scorer.
The Socceroos looked fatigued, and France went in for the kill, but Ryan stood tall to save from Hernandez, and Ibrahima Konate’s header, but at the final whistle it was France with the win, and the Socceroos will look to regroup ahead of their match against Tunisia on Saturday night (6.00pm WA time) “It’s a good experience, obviously it’s an eye opener. There’s a reason why he’s earning 200 million dollars a year and I am where I am,” Atkinson said of marking French talisman Mbappe.
“It’s good to come up against this calibre, you know what you have to work on and I know what to fix, I’ve played that scenario 50 times over and I could probably come up with 50 different solutions, but that’s football. I’m disappointed, I’ll take full responsibility for the second goal, but it’s time to move on from that and the beauty is I’ve got a game in three days to fix that. That’s the beauty of the World Cup and just tournaments in general, anything can happen, you’ve just seen what the Saudis did against Argentina.”
France: GK Hugo Lloris, 2 Benjamin Pavard (5 Jules Kounde 89'), 7 Antoine Griezmann, 8 Aurelien Tchouameni (13 Youssouf Fofana 77'), 9 Olivier Giroud (26 Marcus Thuram 89'), 10 Kylian Mbappe, 11 Ousmane Dembele (20 Kingsley Coman 77'), 14 Adrien Rabiot, 18 Dayot Upamecano. 21 Lucas Hernandez (22 Theo Hernandez 13'), 24 Ibrahima Konate – Subs not used: RGK Axel Disasi, RGK Raphael Varane, 6 Matteo Guendouzi, 12 Randal Muani, 15, Jordan Veretout, 16 Steve Mandanda, 17 William Saliba, 23 Alphonse Areola, 25 Eduardo Camavinga,
Australia: GK Mathew Ryan, 3 Nathaniel Atkinson (2 Milos Degenek 85'), 4 Kye Rowles, 7 Mathew Leckie, 13 Aaron Mooy, 14 Riley McGree (11 Awer Mabil 73'), 15 Mitchell Duke (25 Jason Cummings 56'), 16 Aziz Behich, 19 Harry Souttar, 22 Jackson Irvine (26 Keanu Baccus 85'), 23 Craig Goodwin (21 Garang Kuol 73'), – Subs not used: RGK Andrew Redmayne, 18 Danny Vukovic, 5 Fran Karacic, 6 Marco Tilio, 8 Bailey Wright, 9 Jamie Maclaren, 10 Ajdin Hrustic, , 17 Cameron Devlin, 20 Thomas Deng, 24 Joel King – Attendance: 40,875 - Referee: Victor Gomes
NATIONAL A-LEAGUE SECOND TIER CLOSE
After months of discussion the National A-League Second Division is close to being finalised, but we’ve heard that before, haven’t we? This week Football Australia has earmarked March 2024 as its preferred start date for its proposed national second-tier competition, contingent upon the results of an EOI process its CEO James Johnson hopes to commence following its approval at a December meeting of the federation's board.
After previously declaring his intention to, lock in the participants for any new competition by 2023, it is hoped the EOI process will be completed by the middle of next year, with discussions underway surrounding the optimal timing -- pre or post -- of announcing the inaugural competitors in relation to the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, but many still believe it is a long way off. "If an EOI process went well that could be a date that we could start. The focus is more on if it is a summer or a winter competition, and that would fit in as a good start of a winter competition,” Johnson explained.
"We need to differentiate this competition from the A-Leagues, it needs to be a different offer to the market. This would have a focus on developing homegrown players. It would also be a competition that is deeply rooted in the community. And naturally, our community football is played during [winter], so if it's going to be a competition rooted in the community then it should be played at the same time community football is played."
Though the model of the competition ultimately will not be settled until the completion of an EOI process, and Johnson declined to give specifics, it is understood that a home-and-away league format is the preferred option of Football Australia. While explicitly declining to comment on the specifics of how many participatory clubs an Australian second-tier might contain, Johnson observed that 16 clubs generally served as a sweet spot for the majority of competitions around the world, with Perth SC and Bayswater City the clubs being touted from WA.
What the executive was clear on, though, was that any new competition introduced by his federation would feature a clear focus on the development of young players and a preference for home-grown player rules -- be they club or association-trained -- rather than foreign quotas. Individual clubs that have widely been tapped as potential entrants have already begun the process of capitalisation and preparation needed to earn the right to be tapped as a founding member. It's expected that there will be an annual licence fee associated with taking part in the competition.
The power to monetize a second tier, as well as what model it will adopt and when it will be placed in the calendar, rests solely with Football Australia, and Johnson believes his organisation will have plenty of suitors to parse through when the time comes. "There's going to be a lot of interest in the EOI process," he said. "That's the feedback that we've received from clubs directly through the AAFC and member federations. We're expecting a high number. I don't know exactly what that number will be but there is a lot of interest for this competition to go ahead. There's a lot of clubs that have many years of history and are competing at the national level and there's a lot of clubs that are ambitious and want to grow and compete at a national level."
The EOI process, however, will not just be restricted to existing NPL clubs. "We've had indications that there would be entities that would be set up for the sole purpose of competing in a second tier," Johnson said. "So there have been some inquiries made about that. "There'd be no restrictions; there would be principles that we would set that would talk to what we would be looking for, but there'll certainly be no exclusions, if you like, of who could apply for an EOI. Certainly, there'll be more weighting put on certain criteria but that's something we'll work on and release the time of the EOI."
The executive also confirmed that his federation is already in discussions with potential commercial partners of a proposed second tier and over how the competition would be broadcast. "The reality is that right now we're in the healthiest financial position that Football Australia has ever been in," he said. "And we're at a point where we can only sell so many Matildas and Socceroos sponsors. So, in order to continually grow as a business and grow the sport, we need to find new assets and invest in the future economy of the sport, and the second-tier competition is a new property, it's a new economy for the sport. Naturally, as this is being brought to life, we are putting commercial properties that would belong to the second tier into our discussions with potential commercial partners.
“We're debating [broadcast partners] at the moment. There's no fixed view. We're pretty open to traditional and new ways to broadcast this competition. What we've seen this year with the A-Leagues is a spike in interest, watching the competition, because of the A-Leagues All Access, which is a great consideration for us as a second tier to potentially look at. But nothing is off the table when it comes to broadcast, we're looking at both traditional and more progress means and, ultimately, we want the second tier to be successful. For it to be successful, the broadcast needs to work. So, we'll take our time to get that one right." – Watch this space!!
IREDALE DREAMS OF SOCCEROOS RECOGNITION
Jack Iredale hopes playing for Bolton Wanderers and potentially one day in England’s Championship with the club will help to get him in the conversation to be called up for international duty with Australia. The 26-year old summer signing from Cambridge United has acclimatised well to life at Bolton where he’s been regularly involved in both in the heart of defence and on the far left of the pitch.
Iredale has represented Australia at Under-17 level, however, he is yet to receive a senior call-up. He is confident the move to Bolton can out him in the frame for Socceroos selection. “It was always my dream to play for Australia at a World Cup. I thought I might have had a possible chance, especially playing at a club as big as Bolton,” said Iredale, who has accumulated over 200 outings for Greenock Morton, Queens Park, Carlisle United, Cambridge and Bolton.
“I haven’t quite got recognised and scouted yet, but it’s definitely right at the very top of my goals list and I’m going to keep doing everything I can to try and hopefully get a call-up one day because it would be a dream for me. There were so many reasons why I chose to come here, but that was another massive reason, playing at a club as big as Bolton with the trajectory that the club is on, it’s only going to help me in terms of my personal goals as well.
“The under-17s was my last time. I’ve not had recently any contact in terms of being close to a squad or I’m going to be in a squad or anything like that. But I know there’s a lot of Australian footballers out there as well who are getting opportunities, so playing for a club as big as this consistently week in, week out, at the top end of League One and hopefully in the Championship very soon, it’s only going to be a good thing in terms of trying to get recognised.”
Australia have qualified for this winter's tournament in Qatar, where the Socceroos have been drawn against world champions France, Denmark and Tunisia for the group phase. Iredale is bullish about Australia's chances at the World Cup and, although the team is frequently written off they do always surprise people with their performances. He believes that id down to the national character.
“Australia get written off at every single World Cup and I feel like they go out and surprise people at every single one. They’ve got that Aussie diggers spirit and never ever are going to give up. Players will run themselves into the ground but also the technical level of Australian football is gradually increasing as well. I’ll be a fan this World Cup. I would love to be over there and involved in the squad, but I know a few of the boys in the team so I’ll definitely be watching.”
“There’s so many different national sports that you have to compete with. I think football youth-wise is by far the biggest, but I moved to Australia when I was 10 or 11, but even from that age I think just the mentality and the grittiness that Australians have. They’re stubborn and strong characters so when they get told that maybe they can’t do something, which is perhaps playing top flight football overseas, they’re going to do everything they can to get to the top.”
BURGESS ON IPSWICH'S VICTORY AT EXETER
Ipswich Town’s masked man was delighted to mark his return to action with an excellent performance and a clean sheet at Exeter. Cameron Burgess was making his first league start in two months, after suffering a series of nasty facial fractures while playing Bristol Rovers in September.
Burgess was delighted to be back in action on the weekend. “It was good from a defensive point of view to get a clean sheet with a solid performance,” he said. “They are a top side but we were well prepared for what they were going to bring, so it was a pleasing result.”
“It was good to be out there helping the team after a bit of time out. The competition is strong and we work hard to make sure anyone can step in at any time. The fans can see it’s strong and there are no dips in performance when people change, which is testament to all the boys, how they train and how they go about things.”
The severity of Burgess’s injuries means he will need to play in a protective mask for the next few weeks, but the defender isn’t overly troubled by his need for extra equipment. “I’ve worn it for a while now,” he said. “I had a bit of a hand in how it was made and where my eyesight can go to, so that’s important because it can feel like it’s not even on my face.”
“After a couple of minutes you don’t even know it’s there. I was told it might be needed until Christmas time or something like that, but I don’t have any complaints because it’s comfortable. It was a freak injury so maybe the severity maybe hasn’t hit home yet and possibly never well, but that’s a positive because I can keep on doing my job and feel comfortable doing it.”
KERR ON TARGET TO HELP CHELSEA BACK TO THE TOP
Sam Kerr has helped Chelsea back to the top of the English Super League table after a 3-0 win against local rivals Tottenham Hotspur in front of a huge crowd at Stamford Bridge. The 38,350 supporters were on their feet on 12 minutes, when the Matildas striker, and former Perth Glory skipper opened the scoring, and she went on to have another great game. Erin Cuthbert made it 2-0 before the half hour, and Guro Reiten added a third from the spot before the break.
Chelsea Head Coach Emma Hayes praised some of the individual performances behind it but also the ever-maturing play from her team overall, in her first game back on the touchline after a break for a medical matter. “For 45 minutes I saw the maturity and growth in our team in the way we circulate the ball, the rotations, the patterns, the movements, the chemistry, the symmetry - the things that come together with players who have been playing together for a long time,” Hayes explained.
“We've got better at being comfortable about the ball, especially in mid-blocks. We did that well first half. In the second half Tottenham improved in what they were doing.” With the Arsenal side of Aussie teammates Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley dropping points for the first time this campaign on Saturday, when they lost 3-2 at home to Manchester United, the path was clear for Chelsea to leapfrog them at the top, and Kerr, who is chasing a third successive WSL Golden Boot, ended any concern her fourth league goal of the season.
She seized on a clearance by England's Millie Bright, rode a tackle by Canadian Olympic gold medallist Shelina Zadorsky, and steered a shot past the keeper and three covering defenders. Scotland's Cuthbert adding a second after 26 minutes and Norway's Reiten converting a penalty ten minutes later, Chelsea had the points wrapped up before the break. Chelsea and Kerr then turn their attention to the challenge of Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Kerr started as Chelsea ran out 2-0 winners to go five points clear at the top of the table. It was a tight game, before Sophie Ingle opened the scoring for the hosts on 67 minutes. The points were wrapped up eight minutes later when Cuthbert added a second. It's a weekend off and a clear midweek for The Blues, before the next action, which is a WSL visit to Leicester. Kick-off there on Saturday 3 December is 3pm. Then it is the return match against Real with that game in Spain on Thursday 8 December.
2022 QATAR WORLD CUP PREVIEW
The 2022 FIFA World Cup Finals kick off on Monday morning, and most of the talk leading into the tournament in Qatar has been off the pitch, but we take a look at the groups and give our predictions for the biggest sporting event on the planet. First in Group A we have hosts Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and Netherlands. The Dutch seem the one to beat, and after missing qualification for the last World Cup, the three-time losing finalists have landed in a fairly comfortable group and Louis van Gaal’s mix of experience and youth should be able to top it with relative ease, but will they?
The reigning African champions, Senegal have what it takes to impress in Qatar. Knocked out in the first round at Russia 2018, the Lions of Teranga have one ambition, and that’s to outdo the legendary side that reached the quarter-finals at Korea/Japan 2002. Twenty years on from that heady achievement, and the finals are back on Asian soil, which may well be a positive sign for superstitious Senegal fans who believe the current crop is the best they have had.
Very much the surprise package in South American qualifying, Ecuador looks more than capable of making their mark in the group. Boasting a squad that is packed full of promising talents, Gustavo Alfaro’s charges exceeded all expectations to land one of the automatic tickets to the Qatar showpiece ahead of other nations that, on paper at least, appeared to possess greater talent, they could surprise a few teams in the group.
Qatar may be a dark horse to get out of the group, but home advantage helped Russia get past Spain on penalties and into the quarter-finals four years ago. Qatar will have designs on doing something pretty similar here, and the defending Asian champions are used to the conditions and will have the whole Arab world behind them. Prediction - Group Winners: Netherlands – Runners Up: Senegal
In Group B we have England, Iran, USA and Wales. Many believe England are favourites to top the group, but they have gone off the boil since football almost came home at last year’s Euros. They have failed to win any of their last six games in the UEFA Nations League – their longest winless run heading into a major tournament. Semi-finalists in 2018, runners-up at EURO 2020, can England continue that upwards trajectory by topping the podium in Qatar, only time will tell. They certainly have the talent, with Harry Kane – adidas Golden Boot winner at the last FIFA World Cup, heading up a squad of largely young, gifted and, crucially, tournament-hardened players, Gareth Southgate’s side should top the group.
Iran will be hard to beat, and after a good showing in Russia last time out, we’re not betting against them getting out of the group. If one was to put a title to their 2018 campaign, 'so near and yet so far' would just about sum it up. They picked up four points from what had previously been deemed an impossible group, featuring 2010 world champions Spain and a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portugal. Now, four years on, Team Melli are looking to restore the formula that took them within inches of making history and getting out of the group stage, may be this is their year.
Wales are determined to make the most of what will be their first FIFA World Cup in 64 years. Robert Page’s side made the finals via the play-offs. Wales took points from Belgium and Czech Republic to secure a play-off berth. A double from talesman Gareth Bale eased Wales past Austria in the semi-final, before the same player’s deflected free-kick saw off Ukraine to send Wales to a first World Cup since 1958, when a Pele goal undid them in the quarter-finals. The Welsh will give it a good go, but might fail to get out of the group
The dark horse in the group is the United States. They might have missed the last edition of the World Cup and struggled through qualifying to reach Qatar, but they have a crop of exciting youngish players like Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, Juventus’ Weston McKennie and son-of-a-gun Timothy Weah, who are building towards something. Now coached by Gregg Berhalter and boasting arguably their best-ever generation, USA are targeting a place in the knockout phase and beyond, and many believe they will. Prediction - Group Winners: England – Runners Up: USA
In Group C we have Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland. Bidding for their third title, Argentina and their iconic No10 (Lionel Messi) will arrive in Qatar as genuine contenders. Expectations are at a high amongst the fans, the 2021 Copa America win, secured on Brazilian soil at the Estadio Maracana, fired the dreams of a country that has but one objective on its mind - lifting a third World Cup Trophy. With Messi still leading the way in what will be his fifth and, quite possibly, last world finals appearance, there are many reasons why La Albiceleste are contenders for the most prized piece of silverware in the game.
Mexico have fallen in the Round of 16 at seven successive FIFA World Cups. Hirving Lozano and Co are determined to clear the barrier at Qatar 2022. Their first task will be to claim one of the top two spots in the group, which will not be easy, given the quality of the opposition. Clear that hurdle and they will have the chance to put their unwanted record to bed against one of the two qualifiers from the Socceroos Group.
Saudi Arabia qualified for Qatar 2022 in style. The task for head coach Herve Renard is to steer the nation beyond the opening phase for the first time since their debut appearance in 1998. There have been encouraging signs nonetheless in Saudi Arabia’s form as they begin their World Cup preparations in earnest. A 1-0 success against North Macedonia on 22 October was followed four days later by a 1-1 draw with Albania. Renard’s team have the unenviable task of opening their Qatar campaign against one of the tournament favourites Argentina.
The dark horse of the group is Poland, who are appearing in only their third Finals from the past nine World Cups, and on none of those occasions have they made it out of their group. The form of Barcelona’s red-hot Robert Lewandowski surely gives them a decent chance. Czeslaw Michniewicz side have been drawn in such a strong group, but Poland’s first aim will be to reach the round of 16 and consign the bitter memories of their early exit from Russia 2018 to the history books. Prediction - Group Winners: Argentina – Runners Up: Poland
The Socceroos are in Group D, along with France, Denmark and Tunisia, with many pundits naming it the ‘Group of Death’ Current World Cup holders France are the big favourites in this one, and have their sights set on retaining their title at Qatar 2022. A tough but far from impossible task, and with the talent at the disposal of Coach Didier Deschamps many believe they can. Led by their captain Hugo Lloris, who could become the country’s most capped player of all time in Qatar, France can count on several of the world’s best players, among them Kylian Mbappe, N’Golo Kante, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele.
The Socceroos will take on the French in the opening game, a daunting task, but one Coach Graham Arnold will be looking forward too. Arnold reflected after that “no-one in Australia had given us a chance”, in the play-off, and described his side’s qualification – at the end of a COVID-hit campaign in which they had to play 14 of their 18 preliminary matches overseas – as “one of the greatest achievements ever”. The grit shown in those play-offs has sparked a surge in self-belief among Socceroos fans, and with some of the youngsters and new faces having stepped up in recent games, and like all Australian teams they will ‘Have a Crack’ and don’t be surprising is they are pushing for a spot in the round of 16.
Denmark is another quality team, and are dark horses to win the tournament. Kasper Hjulmand’s side came close to glory at EURO 2020, having somehow recovered from the trauma of their star player’s on-field cardiac arrest in the opening match to enjoy a goal-laden run to the semi-finals. Even more impressive was their form in World Cup qualifying, with a place at Qatar 2022 secured with a couple of games to spare – and without a point having been dropped or a goal conceded. Add to that two UEFA Nations League wins over the world champions in the space of just four months, and it’s easy to see why the Danes are being discussed as potential title contenders.
Tunisia is gearing up for what will be their sixth FIFA World Cup. They are hoping that Qatar 2022 will be one to remember as they carry the hopes and dreams of 12 million Tunisians on their shoulders. The current Tunisian squad is a completely different proposition to that of Russia 2018. They are looking in good shape and have won plaudits for a string of impressive performances in recent friendlies against tough opposition, and expectations are high for Qatar. The road to the knockout stages, however, will not be simple in the slightest, with three good teams in the group. Prediction - Group Winners: France – Runners Up: Australia
In Group E, it will be Spain, Costa Rica, Germany and Japan, another group full of quality. It’s hard to split Spain and Germany, two powerhouses of world football, but Japan is an excellent side also, as Socceroos fans know all too well. And even Costa Rica have made a habit out of sneaking out of tough groups in the past, as they did in 2014 when they finished above England, Italy and Uruguay, so good luck picking the winners out of this one.
The favourites in this tough group would be Spain and Luis Enrique’s rejuvenated squad could spring a surprise in Qatar. The sun is shining again for a team with renewed belief. After two FIFA World Cup cycles that served up more than their fair share of frustration, controversy and disappointment, Enrique has got Spain back on track as they bid to bring back the glory years of 2008 to 2012, and the European powerhouse will be there or there about.
Hansi Flick will attempt to guide Germany to a fifth world title at Qatar 2022. The team’s quality, as well as their difficulties in finishing and maintaining their mentality throughout the 90 minutes was evident during Qatar 2022 qualifying and in the UEFA Nations League. That makes it all the more exciting to see whether Germany will transition into a tournament team – as is customary – or whether they will fail to live up to their own expectations, not many will back against them. When the chips are down the Germans usually pull out a surprise, and not many will bet against them reaching the round of 16.
Japan will be the dark horses in the group, and many Socceroos supporters know the quality the Samurai Blue have. They have lost only two of their past 13 games and have a squad packed with so much talent there was no room for Celtic stars Kyogo Furuhashi and Reo Hatate. They have fallen into an extremely tough group, but they are nonetheless confident of setting a personal best and reaching the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals for the first time. Most of the squad now are playing in Europe and competing at the highest level against quality opposition. And if they can develop into a completer and more effective team, their opponents could be in for a few surprises.
Costa Rica reached Qatar after a play-off win against New Zealand, and will find it tough to get out of the group, but they will once again hope to show what they are made of. Surprise quarter-finalists at Brazil 2014 and present at Russia 2018, Costa Rica looked down and out in the final stage of Concacaf qualifying for Qatar 2022, but managed to get into the intercontinental play-offs and beat the Kiwi’s. If a squad packed with legendary names such as PSG keeper Keylor Navas and Bryan Ruiz can negotiate that daunting hurdle of a tough group, however, the Tico fans might just start dreaming big again. Prediction - Group Winners: Spain– Runners Up: Germany
Group F is another tough one to pick with Belgium, Canada, Morocco and Croatia. Croatia were the beaten finalists last time around while Belgium won the third-place play-off, so they will be teams to beat in the group. Roberto Martinez’s has a squad brimming with talent, including the likes of Thibaut Courtois, who captured the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League crown with Real Madrid and was named The Best FIFA Goalkeeper in 2018. Also, Manchester City icon and four-time English Premier League champion, Kevin De Bruyne; adidas Silver Ball winner at the 2018 tournament in Russia, Eden Hazard; and Romelu Lukaku, who landed the adidas Bronze Boot last time round, they will take some beating.
A generation of talented Croatian players are primed for battle and intent on matching their superb showing in Russia last time out. After making it all the way through to final four years ago, Zlatko Dalic’s side will be keen to achieve something special in Qatar. After all, it is not every generation that brings together the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic, Ivan Rakitic and Dejan Lovren, to name but a few, and the prospect of fielding a side boasting such talent clearly strengthens the case of a national team that has made waves at the top table of international football in recent times.
Despite a solid performance at Russia 2018, Morocco failed to get out of their group, now, they are desperate to make amends. With the appointment of Walid Regragui as the Atlas Lions’ new coach less than three months before the start of the tournament, a lot of questions remain unanswered. Despite all the upheaval, there is a palpable sense of excitement around the new coach. But the questions on everyone’s lips is which Moroccan side will turn up at Qatar, only time will tell.
The dark horse in the group is Canada, who topped CONCACAF in qualifying and have some truly exciting young players ready to take the next steps in their careers, like Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and Lille’s Jonathan David. The last time they made the finals was in 1986, and Coach John Herman is excited about his squad, and he hopes they find a way out of the group stage and into the knockout phase this time around, and the coach believes he has the key players who could help him do it. Prediction - Group Winners: Belgium – Runners Up: Croatia
In Group G we have Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon. Many betting markets have Brazil as outright favourites to win the whole thing and add a sixth star to their famous badge, and rightly so. They have a new look squad filled with Premier League stars, and Head Coach Tite, who wasted little time in bringing the new generation into the fold. With so much talent at his disposal, he now has the difficult task of deciding who will start. His side have just put together the best ever campaign in the South American qualifiers, recording 14 wins, three draws and no defeats and scoring 40 goals in total and conceding just five. Their aim now is to go all the way in Qatar.
Dragan Stojkovic’s Serbian side, with all its attacking panache, promises to be entertaining, but can they reach the Round of 16 for the first time in their history, we will have to wait and see. On paper Serbia look to be in good shape to compete in Qatar, with a squad of players, rich in talent. The likes of Vlahovic, Mitrovic, Kostic and Tadic all have goals in them and, should they click, Serbia will be hard to stop. With two impressive victories at the end of September; against Sweden (4-1) and Norway (2-0), Serbia arrives in Qatar on a five-game unbeaten run – and want to keep the momentum going.
Switzerland is about to embark on their 12th World Cup, and Murat Yakin’s side have always demanded respect, and unafraid to mix it with the supposed favourites and upset the form book. One stand-out statistic underlines how the Swiss back line has long been the spine of the team. Back at the 2006 World Cup, when they lost out on penalties to Ukraine in the last 16 following a goalless draw, they became the first team to be eliminated from a World Cup without conceding a goal. A record that still stands today. They have a talented squad, led by veteran Granit Xhaka, while striker Noah Okafor is one to watch.
Rigobert Song is steadily giving Cameroon football fans something to shout about again. The tough former defender oversaw a nerve-shredding but successful FIFA World Cup qualification campaign and is readying his team for a tricky group in Qatar. Following a dramatic qualifying campaign that culminated in a wafer-thin play-off victory over Algeria, Cameroon will take to football’s greatest stage for the eighth time in their history, a record for an African country. With captain Vincent Aboubakar and his team-mates fully intend to follow in their predecessors’ footsteps by making a significant mark on the competition. Prediction - Group Brazil – Runners Up: Serbia
Finally in Group H, Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and Korea Republic do battle. This is probably the most even group in the tournament, but Portugal will be favourites to top the group. Cristiano Ronaldo will put all the off-field problems behind him, as he heads to his fifth FIFA World Cup, as part of a squad that spans several generations and is a product of Portugal’s prolific conveyor belt of talent. They have quality in every department and players who know what it means to win trophies on the international stage, namely UEFA EURO 2016 and the 2019 UEFA Nations League. It is for those reasons that they are capable of taking on and beating any side.
Uruguay will also be in the mix for a place in the round of 16, and the South American’s trademark grit and determination, they are always a threat at the FIFA World Cup. Diego Alonso’s side showed that in spades, when he took over as coach towards the end of their faltering qualification campaign and promptly oversaw four wins in as many matches to take them to 28 points and third place behind the runaway top two, Brazil and Argentina. La Celeste now faces a challenging group, but their performance in the group phase will go a long way to revealing if they have the credentials for a serious tilt at a third world title.
The dark horse in the Group will be Korea Republic, who failed to progress past the group stage in the past two World Cups, but they will look to break that streak. Paulo Bento’s side finished second in Asian qualifying and they will look to get out of the group stage for the first time since 2010. The team are determined to make amends for those successive disappointments and perform with distinction once again. Tottenham Hotspur striker Son Heungmin is the talisman for the side, while youngster Jeong Wooyeong is one to watch. Prediction - Group Winners: Portugal – Runners Up: Uruguay
GLORY SHARE THE SPOILS WITH CANBERRA
Perth Glory have opened their 2022-23 Liberty A-League Women season with a hard fought 2-2 draw against Canberra United at McKellar Park on Saturday afternoon. Grace Jale gave the hosts the lead early, but Liz Anton levelled on the half hour for Alex Epakis’ side. Vesna Milivojevic restored United’s lead before the break, but debutant Gabriella Coleman restored parity just after the hour mark. Both sides had chances to win it, with new Glory keeper Sarah Langman the busier, but both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.
“It was very much a Round One fixture, both teams had moments, we certainly had some moments where we weren’t good enough, especially when we were trying to play through the opposition centrally,” Epakis explained post-match. “But on the flipside of that, we also had some really good moments and some positive indications of what’s to come. [At half-time] we acknowledged that the intent of what we were trying to do was exactly what the gameplan was, but the execution wasn’t there. So, we put some solutions out there and credit to the players, they went out there in the second half and delivered.
“Especially the players that came on, I felt that they added to that lift in performance as the second half went on. G [Gabriella Coleman] worked extremely hard and I think the goal was a just reward for all the effort she put in both with and without the ball. She’ll gain a lot of confidence from today… there are signs there that she’s going to be an important player for us this season.”
Looking to secure their first ever win in Canberra, Epakis’ side went close early, Coleman was sent in on goal, but United custodian Chloe Lincoln was out smartly to save at the American striker’s feet. The hosts hit back and former Matildas striker Michelle Heyman fired wide from the angle, before Nickoletta Flannery’s effort was tipped over the top by the alert Langman. But on 13 minutes the hosts found the opener, Grace Maher’s corner picked out Jale, and the New Zealand debutant rose highest to head home.
They almost added a second moments later, Jale finding Heyman, whose shot hit the post and away to safety. Glory were almost level on the quarter-hour, Hana Lowry’s shot from the edge of the box was superbly saved by Lincoln. It was end-to-end football, as both sides looked to open the new season on a high, Flannery’s shot was saved low by Langman, before Coleman’s cross found former Melbourne City midfielder Sofia Sakalis, but her effort was cleared off the line.
Glory deservedly levelled on 34 minutes, Ella Mastrantonio, who has returned for a fourth spell in purple, delivered a corner to the front post and Anton’s glancing header went in via the far post. It was a perfect response from Glory, but four minutes before the break, all that hard work was undone as Canberra regained their lead. Maher was given far too much room in the middle of the park and she drove forward before sending Milivojevic in on goal, and the Serbian midfielder fired low past Langman.
The visitors opened the second half well but couldn’t create any clear-cut chances, but it was Canberra who went close to a third on the hour, Langman getting down well to deny Jale’s shot. But three minutes later Glory levelled proceedings again, substitutes Rylee Baisden and Cyera Hintzen combined, the latter getting to the bye-line and cutting the ball back to Coleman, who made mistake. Langman then produced another good save to deny Milivojevic’s long-range shot as Canberra lifted the tempo.
Langman was at it again seven minutes from time, as Canberra pressed for the winner, the former Western Sydney Wanderers keeper saved low to thwart Laura Hughes shot, and Flannery’s follow up shot from close-range crashed off the post. Coleman had a chance to seal a win for Glory late, but her effort was blocked, giving both sides a point to start the season.
Canberra United: GK Chloe LINCOLN, 5 Emma ILIJOSKI, 8 Sasha GROVE, 9 Chegshu WU (6 Laura HUGHES 70'), 10 Grace MAHER, 11 Grace JALE, 15 Madison MCCOMASKY, 16 Kennedy FAULKNOR, 17 Vesna MILIVOJEVIC (13 Sofia CHRISTOPHERSON 79'), 19 Nickoletta FLANNERY, 23 Michelle HEYMAN - Subs not used: RGK Keely RICHARDS, 4 Holly MURRAY, 24 Ellen GETT
Perth Glory: GK Sarah LANGMAN, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 12 Sofia SAKALIS (10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM 67'), 16 Isabella WALLHEAD (11 Rylee BAISDEN 46'), 17 Abbey GREEN, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO, 23 Alana JANCEVSKI (15 Cyera HINTZEN 57'), 42 Gabriella COLEMAN - Subs not used: RGK Morgan AQUINO - Referee: Casey REIBELT – Attendance: 1,263
GLORY WOMEN HEAD TO THE CAPITAL IN WEEK ONE
After an impressive season in the 2021/22 Liberty A-League Women, Perth Glory will look to build on their fifth-place finish when they begin the new season with a trip to McKellar Park on Saturday to take on traditional rivals Canberra United. (Kick-off at 12.00pm WST). Alex Epakis’ side missed out on the Top Four on goal difference last campaign, pipped by eventual champions Melbourne Victory, and the Head Coach believes his squad could be in no better place ahead of Saturday’s season-opener.
The club have been active in the transfer market, and have had an intense, six-week pre-season, and they are raring to go and fired up to secure what would be the club’s first ever win against United on the road, and Epakis is quietly confident that they can do exactly that. “I don’t say this lightly, but this is the best team environment that I’ve had the opportunity to work in,” he said. “Every single player is committed to what we’re doing and every single player is putting the team above themselves and it’s a real joy to come in and be a part of it.”
“There’s a fantastic energy and vibe about what we’re doing and I enjoy every day. I think this season, all the games are going to have fine-margin results, so we’ve got to make sure we’re doing the best that we can in every game for 90 minutes. We can put some value into what the opposition are doing, but we’re really focusing on what we’re doing and our job at hand. I think if we do that, anything is possible.”
When asked about his thoughts for the season ahead, Epakis feels his squad has the capacity to make a major impact as they seek to improve upon last year, their fifth-place finish was really impressive, as they had to play every game, bar one, away from home. “We’ve got a fantastic group and I really believe in what we’re doing and I really believe in the players,” he said. “Last season we did really well… and hopefully this season we can continue to grow and progress as a team.
“I wouldn’t be silly enough to put some outrageous claims out there, but what I do believe is that if we’re at our best every game and we stick to what we’re trying to achieve internally, I don’t want to put a limit on what that might look like. We’ve had a look at how we can manage things to work in our favour and use the momentum when it’s not with us, but we’re in the lead. It’s just about developing game intelligence and experience.”
That experience within the group has been bolstered by a number of the off-season recruits, including US import Rylee Baisden, Matildas midfielder Ella Mastrantonio and goalkeeper Sarah Langman, all of whom are expected to feature on Saturday. American forward Gabriella Coleman is also in line to make her debut for the club, while the only confirmed injury absentees are Claudia Mihocic and Milan Hammond.
Glory have won just two of their previous 23 meetings with Canberra, but last season’s two fixtures both ended all square. Last season the teams fought out a six-goal thriller in the Capital City, Grace Maher giving the hosts the lead, but Glory hit back with a Cyera Hintzen brace and another to Grace Anton to give them a 3-1 lead. But United scored two late goals, with Chelsee Washington and Lauren Keir scoring, giving both sides a share of the spoils.
Njegosh Popovich will take charge of the home side for the first time having succeeded Vicki Linton following the end of her two-season tenure. There’s plenty of firepower in this Canberra side, with Grace Jale, Nicki Flannery, Michelle Heyman, Grace Maher and Chinese international Wu Chengshu, who is in the mix for her Liberty A-League debut. The game can be watched live and free on 10 Play and Paramount Plus.
Squads - Canberra United: GK Keeley RICHARDS (GK), 2 Emily ROACH, 3 Grace TARANTO, 4 Holly MURRAY, 5 Emma ILIJOSKI, 6 Laura HUGHES, 8 Sasha GROVE, 9 Chengshu WU, 10 Grace MAHER, 11 Grace JALE, 13 Sophia CHRISTOPHERSON, 14 Chloe MIDDLETON, 15 Madison McCOMASKY, 16 Kennedy FAULKNOR, 17 Vesna MILIVOJECIV, 18 Chloe LINCOLN, 19 Nicki FLANNERY, 23 Michelle HEYMAN, 24 Ellen GETT - Unavailable: Ellie BRUSH, Hayley TAYLOR-YOUNG
Perth Glory: GK Sarah LANGMAN, GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 6 Tijan MCKENNA, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 9 Demi KOULIZAKIS, 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 11 Rylee BAISDEN, 12 Sofia SAKALIS, 13 Sarah CAIN, 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 17 Abbey GREEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO, 23 Alana JANCEVSKI, 42 Gabriella COLEMAN - Unavailable: Claudia MIHOCIC (injured), Milan HAMMOND (injured)
DUNN TAKES HOME INGLEWOOD F&B
Inglewood United skipper Alex Dunn ended a great season on a high after winning the clubs Fairest and Best at the Pan Pacific Hotel last month. Dunn, who missed a number of games due to injury last season, said he was delighted to take out the award. “From a personal perspective it’s a great honour to be recognised for my performances during the year and join a pretty good list of best and fairest over the years at Inglewood,” the keeper explained. “I have been working with Dave Whalley for a number of years and one thing we work on is being consistent week in and week out. Last year I was plagued with some long-term injuries so it was good to get back to my best and looking forward to more of the same in 2023.”
Inglewood Head coach Andres Oliveira said Dunn was a deserved winner of the F&B. “Alex was well deserved winner of the award,” he said. “His consistency of brilliance was outstanding and lead us to great victories and also keep us in the game for long periods.” Dunn beat midfielder Anthony Bafobusha to the award, while striker Manase Abandelwa won the Players’ Player of the Year and the Golden Boot (8 Goals), and Oliveira said he will be a big loss next season after signing for an NPLVIC side. “Manase had a great attitude and I praise his efforts on/off the field and came up with some ripper goals as well,” he explained. “His efforts are the reason why he was snatched up by Bentleigh Greens, and we are all going to miss him.”
In other awards on the night Ibere Kasukulu won the first team Rising Star Award, while in the U20’s Stefan Poposki won the F&B, ahead of Ben Harrison. Kasukulu won the Golden Boot (8 Goals), with Poposki won the Players’ Player of the Year. In the U18’s Luke Radis was the star, winning the F&B ahead of Dylan Di Toro, while he was also joint winner of the Golden Boot with Luke Dixon (7 Goals), and Players’ Player of the Year.
PERTH GLORY LEGENDS IN CHARITY MATCH
Perth Glory former players will be action on Sunday, when they take on the Perth Children’s Hospital All Stars at Balcatta Etna FC’s Grindleford Reserve (2.30pm kick-off). It was a great event last season at Sorrento, and all the money raised will go to support the fantastic work carried out by the PCH Foundation and Breast Cancer Research Centre-WA.
The Glory legends will be led by former skippers Jamie Harnwell and Gareth Naven, while Chris Harold, Kenny Lowe, Branko Jelic, Marc Wingell, Vince Matassa, Sarah Carroll, Caitlin Doeglas and many more will be among those who will be representing the club once again. The Legends Game, which began in 2020, has raised thousands of dollars for charity as well as providing public acknowledgement of the incredible efforts put in on a daily basis by the consultants, doctors and nurses who make up the PCH squad.
In addition to the on-field action this year, there will be plenty happening around Grindleford Reserve courtesy of the sensational Sambozzy Brazilian Samba Band and the fantastic dancers from All Star Dance and Performance. A special thanks to Balcatta FC for hosting the game, and food and drink will be available from the fully licensed bar and there will be free balloons for the kids. Gates open at 1.30pm and admission is via a gold coin donation – Get along and support the day!!!!
A WASTEFUL MATILDAS BEAT THAILAND
The Matildas have defeated Thailand 2-0 at Central Coast Stadium on Tuesday evening, with goals either side of half time from Sam Kerr and Hayley Raso. The win on the back of the big win against Sweden on Saturday, finished the year on the longest winning streak in the coaching tenure of Head Coach Tony Gustavsson, confirmed positive signs ahead of next year’s World Cup on home soil. The final score line did not reflect the Matildas’ dominance of a game, but missed opportunities cost them, having 31 shots to the visitors five, but a win is a win, and Raso said it ended a good run of form.
"We had a lot of chances, we need to be a little bit more clinical," the Manchester City winger explained. “But in the end, it's the result that counts.” Head Coach Gustavsson was delighted with the start, but knows there is still room for improvement. “We started off the game phenomenally, in fact it was one of our best starts to a game in a very long time," he said post-match. “Especially in those first 10 minutes, we were really flying, but we need to give credit to the Thailand goalkeeper (Waraporn Boonsing), I think she had a phenomenal game.”
The Matildas were on the front foot from the whistle, in front of another healthy crowd in Gosford (11,271), and Kerr’s shot early was saved by Boonsing. The skipper was in again moments later, her shot crashed off the crossbar and away to safety. The Chelsea striker headed wide from a Courtney Nevin cross, before Claire Polkinghorne then headed wide as they continued to dominate.
It was one-way traffic after waves and waves of Matildas pressure, but the Thai keeper and her defenders were working overtime to keep the hosts at bay. Kerr was then sent clear, but the striker tried to find two goal hero from the Sweden game Caitlin Foord, but her shot was blocked. Moments later Raso was denied by Boonsing and Polkinghorne headed inches wide.
Thailand went close to the lead on the half hour, in their first attack, but Orapin Waen-Ngoen shot drifted wide of the far post. Moments later Raso beat Boonsing, but the post came to the rescue of the Thai custodian, it looked like being one of those nights for the Matildas, but five minutes from the break they found the opener. Katrina Gorry’s corner picked out Kerr, who lost her marker and headed home and send the hosts into the break with the lead.
They doubled their advantage two minutes into the second half, half time substitute Emily van Egmond’s through ball sent Raso in on goal, and the winger finished clinically. Many thought the floodgates would open, but to Thailand’s credit they battled for everything, as they prepare for the qualifying play-offs for next year’s World Cup. Waenngoen almost pulled one back on 50 minutes, but Teagan Micah made a smart save.
Mary Fowler blazed over when sent into goal, before Raso saw an effort hit the woodwork again. Cooney-Cross was then denied by Boonsing, who was having a great game, before Fowler headed wide. Larissa Crummer then had two opportunities she failed to take, and at the other end Jiraporn Mongkoldee headed over the top, but it was the Matildas celebrating with their supporters at the final whistle.
It was a huge night for some of the squad, defender Clare Polkinghorne made her 151st appearance for the national side, joined Cheryl Sainsbury as the most-capped Matilda of all time. Also, Elise Kellond-Knight made her return from a two-and-a-half, year injury lay-off that pre-dated the Tokyo Olympics, coming off the bench late, while Gustavsson handed Matilda McNamara her debut.
“I’m so happy for KK and the team is so happy,” Gustavsson said. “What a journey. What she’s been going through could have been a career-ending crossroad moment for her and now she’s back with the national team. I get emotional talking about it.” Australia have now won their last four games and are undefeated in nine clashes with Thailand.
Matildas: GK Teagan MICAH, 2 Courtney NEVIN, 4 Clare POLKINGHORNE, 5 Cortnee VINE (10 Emily VAN EGMOND 45’), 7 Stephanie CATLEY, 9 Caitlin FOORD (11 Mary FOWLER), 16 Hayley RASO (29 Matilda MCNAMARA 89’), 19 Katrina GORRY (8 Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT 85’), 20 Sam KERR (27 Alex CHIDIAC 62’), 22 Charlotte GRANT (24 Larissa CRUMMER 46’), 23 Kyra COONEY-CROSS – Subs not used: RGK Lydia WILLIAMS, RGK Jada MATHYSSEN-WHYMAN, 3 Aivi LUIK 6 Chloe LOGARZO, 26 Clare WHEELER, 28 Amy SAYER
Thailand: GK Warapom BOONSING, 2 Kanjanapom SAENGKOON, 7 Silawan INTAMEE, 8 Nipawan PUNYOSUK, 11 Chatchawan RODTHONG, 12 Nutwadee PRAM-NAK (20 Irravadee MAKRIS 84’), 15 Orapin WAEN-NGOEN, 17 Taneekan DANDGA (14 Saowalak PENGNGAM 84’), 19 Panittha JEERATANAPAVIBUL (4 Supaparon INTARAPRASIT 71’), 21 Kanyanat CHETTABUTR (16 Jiraporn MONGKOLDEE 84’), 23 Sudarat CHUCHUEN (13 Pattaranan AUPACHAI 38’) – Subs not used: RGK Chotmanee THONGMONGKOL, RGK Nutruja MUTHTANAWECH, 3 Tipkritta ONSAMI, 5 Sangrawee MEEKHAM, 6 Ploychompoo SOMNONK, 9 Kanchaliya PHIMPHABUT, 10 Sunisa SRANGTHAISONG – Referee: Anna-Marie Keighley
GARDINER INDUCTED INTO FOOTBALL AUSTRALIA HALL OF FAME
Matildas great Collette Gardiner (nee McCallum) has been recognised for her standout contribution to Australian football as one of six inductees into Football Australia’s Hall of Fame. Gardiner was a Matildas midfield mainstay for 11 years and is regarded as one of Australia’s finest footballers of all-time.
Gardiner was inducted prior to the Matilda’s 4-0 friendly defeat of Sweden yesterday. Also welcomed into Football Australia’s Hall of Fame were fellow Matilda Moya Dodd, former Socceroos’ coach Ange Postecoglou, players’ union pioneer Brendan Schwab, Tasmanian media personality Walter Pless and former Socceroo Ted Smith.
“The Football Australia Hall of Fame is the highest honour bestowed upon players and participants who have served the game – either on or off the field – with distinction, with no better demonstration of this than our Class of 2022,” said Chris Nikou, Football Australia Chair in announcing the new inductees.
“These six highly regarded figures of the Australian football community have not only made significant contributions at a local and national level but in the case of Moya (Dodd), Ange (Postecoglou), and Brendan (Schwab), their impact and influence has been felt on the global stage.”
“With Australia to co-host the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year, it’s timely that one of Australia’s greatest female footballers in Collette Gardiner is acknowledged for her pioneering feats, along with former Socceroo Ted Smith who continues to play an important role with our men’s national team, and Walter Press for his unwavering dedication to the promotion of football in Tasmania.”
Born in Scotland, Gardiner played an integral role in the Matildas midfield between 2005 and 2015. She initially made her mark at youth level, featuring at two Under-20 World Cups and, following the 2006 tournament, was named in the FIFA All-Star squad.
At senior international level, Gardiner played 81 games and scored 13 goals. She started every game of Australia’s 2007 and 2011 Women’s World Cup finals campaigns and was a key part of the engine room when the Matildas lifted the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2010.
Since the initial Football Australia Hall of Fame induction of 84 players and participants in 1999, more than 250 male and female players, coaches, referees, administrators, and media representatives have been recognised for their outstanding contributions to our game.
BOLTON'S IREDALE ON CAMBRIDGE RETURN
Win, lose or draw, Jack Iredale won’t be checking his social media on the team bus on his way back from Cambridge United this evening. Returning to the Abbey Stadium for the first time since his summer switch to Bolton Wanderers, the West Australian defender is keen to restore some of the consistency which has been lacking in recent performances.
Iredale admitted his own performances had dipped in a message to Bolton fans a fortnight ago – but believes he is getting back to the type of form which helped him become a regular under Ian Evatt almost immediately. Despite the Whites still sitting in a play-off spot with the division’s joint-best defensive record, the mood among supporters has been tetchy, not least since last weekend’s FA Cup exit against Barnsley.
Trying to absorb all the different opinions which will inevitably be swirling around after the final whistle would be a waste of time, says Iredale. “If you want to ignore it, you can,” Iredale said. “I personally don’t go on social media to find out if I have had a good or a bad game, I can probably tell what is being said without looking.”
“It is important what we are getting told by the coaching staff is what we have to do on the pitch, that is the best way to go about it. You get told about it all the time in football – don’t get too high with the highs and low with the lows. You just have to reset, forget about the previous game, then hit the best level possible.”
Iredale expected a culture shift when he agreed a three-year deal to move to Bolton in May, and the opportunity to challenge for Championship football was one of the biggest factors in his decision. It has been very different but then Bolton is a massive club and the fans expect success,” he said.
“I knew coming in that it is a big club and that it was one that wants to get back to the top level, albeit in the right way with what is going on behind the scenes as well. I didn’t expect anything less from Bolton’s supporters. As a team we want to be winning games consistently but I think over time we have kept in touch with the boys at the top.”
Iredale appreciates the role Cambridge and their young manager, Mark Bonner, played in his own career – which may well have continued outside the UK had it not been for their offer in the summer of 2020. “I hope that there was no hard feelings,” he said of his departure. “I had a really good two years there, I was in no man’s land after Covid.”
“I was back home in Australia, didn’t have a contract, I’d left Carlisle, and then Cambridge came out of the blue and gave me that opportunity to get back to UK football. I was talking to clubs in Asia and Australia as well. I thought I was probably going to have to stay a bit closer to home, especially with what was going on.”
“No one knew what it was going to be like for football, but when the opportunity came up, my girlfriend is still over here as well and it was even more of a reason to get myself back over here and playing football. Now here I am and I’m thankful that I did. I’m looking forward to going down and seeing a lot of old friends and I’m lo
MATILDAS STUN SWEDEN
Former Perth Glory duo Caitlin Foord and Sam Kerr starred as the Matildas continued preparations for a home World Cup next year, with an emphatic 4-0 win against World No.2 ranked Sweden at AAMI Park on Saturday. Kerr opened the scoring, before Foord doubled the advantage early in the second half with a stunner. Substitute Mary Fowler added a third, before Foord added a fourth with a superb team goal that capped off a great performance, although it was an understrength Swedish outfit.
In front of a packed house of over 22,000, Tony Gustavsson’s side produced a slick performance, in only their second ever win over the European powerhouse, the team that beat them in the semi-final of last year’s Tokyo Olympics, and the big crowd finished the match clapping along to choruses of Waltzing Matilda. The coach was pleased with the display, but knows there is a long way to go. “Am I happy about this performance, yes but I’m not over the moon,” the Swedish coach explained.
“I’m very humble about where we are, this is one game. I thought we struggled for 30 minutes in the first half and were lucky not to be down 1-0. But we started off the game very well in the first five minutes, pressed high and were aggressive and could’ve scored. But after that, we got way too stretched and passive in our defending. We did a tactical adjustment with 15 minutes remaining and it worked out well. I thought the second half was one of the better halves we’ve played against a top opposition but I have to say our first half against Canada was just as good.”
It was the visitors who dominated early, with the woodwork coming to the rescue for the Matildas custodian Teagan Micah on 12 minutes. Chelsea midfielder Johanna Rytting Kaneryd shot on the run crashed off the post and away to safety, before Stina Blackstenius’ effort was saved by Micah. Steph Catley went close for the host 12 minutes later, her free kick from the edge of the box was saved low by Swedish goalkeeper Zecira Mušovic. But 13 minutes before the break the Matildas found the breakthrough. Foord sent Hayley Raso down the left, and her low cross was finished smartly by an alert Kerr at the front post, ending a four-game goal scoring drought for the striker for the Green and Gold.
The Matildas were on the front foot early after the break and they doubled their lead six minutes in. Kyra Cooney-Cross sent Foord down the left channel, and the Arsenal striker cut inside Elin Rubensson and finished superbly, curling past Mušovic despite the keeper getting a hand to it. Raso went close to a third on the hour, her shot from the edge of the box was saved low by Mušovic. Kerr headed inches wide, then Raso saw an effort flash wide, before at the other end Filippa Angeldahl’s long-range shot was saved at full stretch by Micah.
But on 73 minutes it was the hosts who found a third. A diagonal ball from Katrina Gorry sent Kerr down the left, she played in Fowler, whose shot on the run deflected off Linda Sembrant, wrong-footing Mušovic and finding the net. The icing was added to the cake five minutes later, with the goal of the game. Foord started the move finding Kerr, who played the ball inside to Emily van Egmond, whose slide rule pass sent Foord in on goal, and she finished with aplomb to make it 4-0, much to the delight of the Matildas faithful.
Foord picked up the Player of the Match, and she said it was a good win, and she is loving football for club (Arsenal) and Country. “I’m just enjoying myself at the moment, enjoying my football... I just love playing with these girls,” she said post-match. “I feel like we’ve finally come together, found that sweet spot. We want to be an attacking team, want to be aggressive, and we play our best when we’re like that. We want to be aggressive, and we want to take it to teams no matter who they are. That's what we did today and the results showed. We do feel good and we're playing the style of play that we want to play.”
Matildas: GK Teagan MICAH, 2 Courtney NEVIN, 4 Clare POLKINGHORNE, 5 Cortnee VINE, (11 Mary FOWLER 64’), 7 Stephanie CATLEY, 9 Caitlin FOORD (24 Larissa CRUMMER 82’), 16 Hayley RASO, 19 Katrina GORRY, 20 Sam KERR, 22 Charlotte GRANT (3 Aivi LUIK 83’), 23 Kyra COONEY-CROSS (10 Emily VAN EGMOND 75’) – Subs not used: RGK Lydia WILLIAMS, RGK Jada MATHYSSEN-WHYMAN, 6 Chloe LOGARZO, 8 Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 26 Clare WHEELER, 28 Amy SAYER, 29 Matilda MCNAMARA
Sweden: GK Zecira MUSOVIC, 2 Jonna ANDERSSON, 3 Linda SEMBRANT, 7 Madelen JANOGY (9 Matilda VINBERG 71’), 10 Sofia JAKOBSSON, 11 Stina BLACKSTENIUS (15 Rebecka BLOMQVIST 57’), 14 Nathalie BJORN, 17 Emma KULLBERG (13 Amanda ILESTEDT 84’), 19 Johanna Rytting KANERYD (22 Olivia SCHOUGH 57’), 20 Hanna BENNISON (16 Filippa ANGELDAL 71’), 23 Elin RUBENSSON (18 Julia Zigiotti OLME 56’) – Subs not used: RGK Cajasa ANDERSSON, RGK Emma LIND, 4 Hanna LUNDKVIST, 6 Magdalena ERIKSSON – Referee: Anna-Marie Keighley (New Zealand)
SUBIACO YOUNGSTER SELECTED IN YOUNG MATILDAS SQUAD
Subiaco young keeper Zara Board has been selected in the Young Matildas squad for the upcoming three game series against Solomon Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Coach Leah Blayney named a 23-player squad to participate in the 2022 Pacific Women’s Four Nations Tournament in Canberra and Queanbeyan from 8 – 13 November 2022.
The youngest said it’s been a great season at Subiaco and that’s help her gain selection. “It has been a lot of hard work to get to this point trying to find my own pathway has been difficult sometimes but I wouldn’t change it and this is only the beginning,” Board explained.
“This season at Subiaco has helped me improve greatly with it being my first full season of NPL. Greg (Farrell) managed to assemble a good side together which managed to win some games and establish a new playing style Subiaco will look to continue into the next seasons.”
Board started playing for Melville from 2016-2021 including playing the start of the season with MUMFC due to the first team keeper being injured and also played at the NTC program, until she was offered a first team position at Subiaco in 2022. The young keeper has had many highlights in her football and hopes this tournament will be another.
“I’ve had many highlights, the best would probably be the junior matildas trip to Indonesia which was amazing playing my first international game,” the keeper explained. “Also being nominated for WNPL keeper of the year in my first full season of NPL was a great achievement for me.
“I’m looking forward to the Pacific Nations Tournament, which is a great opportunity for this new group of players to come together ahead of the qualifiers. It gives us an opportunity to show the national staff what we have and to hopefully make our spots for the AFC tournament.”
These matches will be the next step in the CommBank Young Matildas’ preparations for the AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2024™ Qualifying Round 1. Head Coach Blayney said: “This is a fantastic occasion for this group of players as they begin their international journey at the U-20 level. It will be a good opportunity for many to learn more about themselves as they take on some of the best teams in the Pacific region.”
“We always welcome international competition and the exposure it provides to different environments, playing styles and cultures. For the CommBank Young Matildas to have the ability to take on senior teams at their age, it will be invaluable to their future development. Following the first camp of this cycle last month, we have continued to keep watch over players and the squad selection has been based on performances at various talent identification tournaments held recently, application back in their home environments at state National Premier Leagues competitions and Liberty A-League Women’s clubs.
In the first game Board was on the bench as Australia beat Solomon Islands 2-1. Avaani Prakash gave the Young Matilidas the lead, but Jemina David levelled before half time. They won it with Ella O'Grady scoring after the break, and while Australia dominated possession and territory, the Solomon Islands stayed in touch the entire match, and they went close to equalising late when David dragged her shot wide in stoppage time. Prakash and Shay Hollman were very impressive for Australia while David and Ileen Pegi were instrumental in Solomon Islands' strong performance.
GLORY READY TO BOUNCE BACK AFTER WORLD CUP BREAK
After a poor start to the Isuzu Ute A-League Men’s season, Perth Glory will be hoping early season break for the World Cup can help them reset their campaign. After a tough start with five games on the road, and the walk out of star striker Bruno Fornaroli, the club will use the break as an opportunity to reset and launch into the second part of the season.
The Glory will start their pre-World Cup hiatus a week earlier than the rest of the ALM, with Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Melbourne City their final game until December 10. Ruben Zadkovich side, who won the wooden spoon last season, sit second bottom on the ladder, having only won one game this season, 2-1 win at Central Coast Mariners, a result many Glory fans, thought was a turning of the corner, how wrong they were.
With their home ground (HBF Park), unavailable until March due to delayed renovations for the Womens World Cup, they will play their home games at a revamped Macedonia Park, starting on Saturday December 10 – kick off 7.30pm against bottom of the table western United. The Head Coach said it’s been tough on his players, but he is confident his new look group can turn things around.
“When you have away game, away game five times in a row, there’s a cumulative loading as well for the players - mentally, physically, emotionally. It starts to take its toll,” Zadkovich said. “We’re in the infancy of what’s going to be a very big rebuild and for us to have our government put us in a position where we have to start the season with five away games, it just makes it really difficult.”
Zadkovich said he planned to give his players and staff a week off to freshen up and then have a mini pre-season, and he admitted a lack of competitive games would pose a challenge but hoped a run of home fixtures, as well as regaining Mustafa Amini, could turn things around. “We go into a period where there’s a lot of home games and then the advantage is on our side and get a couple of players back and things can change really quickly,” he said.
“This league, it seems like it’s all doom and gloom, when you lose a couple and you can win a couple and jump the table pretty quick, so we’ll stay really positive. “We know how early we are in this process. Like I said before the season, it will take a couple of (transfer) windows, more than likely, to rebuild a team from bottom of the barrel in the league, to back to where we want to be and where we deserve to be.”
Perth’s start to their season was also overshadowed by Fornaroli’s messy departure, but Zadkovich hoped to keep getting minutes into young strikers Stefan Colakovski and Giordano Colli but admitted filling Fornaroli’s scoring boots would take time. “We lost Bruno, he was our marquee striker, he was our highest-paid player,” he said. “So, the focus is who replaces Bruno and that’s the reason why I’m saying it will take time, it will take windows.”
LOWRY LOVING HER FOOTBALL IN THE WEST
Perth Glory midfielder Hana Lowry is one of the young stars in the Liberty A-League Women, and with the new season starting soon, she sat down with Neil Bennett from Beyond 90 to chat about life, football and playing for NTC, Glory, Blacktown Spartans in the NSW NPLW and the Young Matildas, and her hopes of selection in the Women’s World Cup next year. Lowry will embark on her fourth season for Glory, and the 19-year-old has already made 32 appearances, and she was also part of the Young Matildas squad at the U20 Women’s World Cup, and many believe see is on the radar for full national honours.
First the youngster was asked how preparations for the season were going, her experiences at the U-20 World Cup and life in NSW, where she plays her NPLW football, and about her early days and first influences. “My Dad played and so did my brother, so I was just kind of born into football, watched football and I just fell in love with it straight away. My local club was Cockburn City SC and I played with the boys until U13’s and I loved it there,” Lowry explained. “NTC tries to create as professional an environment as they can, and you start to get a glimpse of what a professional lifestyle is like. You’re training more regularly than you would at club level, and you also have the national championships which are where you can be identified and you might get asked to attend camps etc.”
Lowry’s path to selection for the Junior Matildas followed this route, and she was part of a squad that travelled to Laos for 2019 AFC U-16 Championship qualifiers. They qualified for the finals in Thailand and earned a creditable fourth spot, with Lowry scoring three goals during the tournament. She was also part of a Junior Matildas squad that travelled to the Solomon Islands, and was clearly very proud about being involved in the national set-up. “It was a dream (being part of the Junior Matildas) and it was something I always wanted since I was really young,” Lowry said. “So, when I got the call up all the hard work had paid off and it was a special moment for me to step on the pitch and represent my country.”
The growing exposure of women’s football has meant that players such as Lowry are now becoming more well-known. She is well on the way to becoming a role model for young players herself, and she spoke about who she looked up to when she was growing up. “My family were all huge Liverpool fans and we all loved Steven Gerrard and how he played,” she said. “I loved watching the Premier League and also when the Matildas were on. Watching Sam Kerr and Lisa De Vanna as players from Perth being able to make it sort of made my dreams more realistic.”
With the growing movement of senior Matildas going overseas to play in the European leagues, Bennett asked Lowry if this was something that would inspire more young players. “Yeah definitely. A few years ago, before Sam made the move to Chelsea, it wasn’t a common thing for female footballers to go over to Europe,” the midfielder explained. “But since she has moved you can switch on the television and watch and I think that’s a really big thing for young players, knowing that they can follow those steps.”
Lowry is now a part of the Future Matildas program, having joined it in 2021 when she moved to Sydney, and she now plays her football for Blacktown Spartans in NSW. She spoke about the program, offered some thoughts on the possible reasons players in WA are moving to other states, and the differences between the NPLW in NSW and WA. “Moving interstate across to Sydney was a big step for me, but I love the program. It was a real eye-opener regarding the sort of standards expected and the intensity of the training,” she said.
“You’re training every day and sometimes twice a day. You may be playing twice a week and I think that has really helped me build some more robustness. It’s a great program for players because a lot of the drills are a replica of those used by the Matildas. The quality is there in the NPLW in WA, and I really enjoyed playing in the league. The biggest difference playing in Sydney would be there are a lot more W-League players playing in the league. In nearly every team there are half or more of the players who have played W-League. Also, Perth is very isolated and being in Sydney you are a lot closer to the Future Matildas program and things like that but, at the same time, the Perth NPL is a great league.”
The highlight of her year so far has undoubtedly been the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica. Lowry shared her experiences about the tournament and provided some insights into where she feels the game needs to grow, in order for our junior sides to become more competitive in the future. “I had to travel to Mexico on my own because I had COVID a few days before the team flew out (to Costa Rica), which was pretty big for me as I hadn’t travelled on my own internationally,” she said. “The quality of the players was an eye-opener, but even though we didn’t get the results we still competed with teams, especially Spain in the last game where there were glimpses of us being on top and that really proved to ourselves that we can compete with the best young players in the world.
“We were quite surprised by the Costa Ricans who were all in right from the start. We conceded quite early on and they went in with so much confidence with a massive crowd backing them and you could see they had a big belief in themselves and that they could get a result. They were competitive and had some really technically good players. Costa Rica is not a team that many Australian players have played against and it was really good for us to see their style as we’re only used to playing against Asian teams. (Playing against the Spanish) it was pretty crazy as they had players playing for Barcelona and those sorts of clubs and we had just been playing for our NPLW clubs.”
Lowry felt that pushing for full-time professionalism would be key to helping bridge the gap between the top national sides and Australia. She had this to say about the future of the league and a possible move overseas to further her career. “When you look back to what some of the older players were dealing with when they started, you can see how much it has changed and in 10 years’ time if it changes by as much then, you are looking at a really good league and players overseas will look at it and want to be in it,” she said. “I’m really happy here and I love playing in the league and I think eventually a goal of mine would be to go overseas, but right at the moment I’m happy here.”
For the immediate future Lowry is concentrating on the season ahead. She was upbeat about the way things have been going in pre-season and is looking forward to seeing what she and her teammates can achieve, especially as Perth Glory will be able to play genuine home games and have their supporters cheering them on. She was also asked if the 2023 World Cup Finals and a possible Matildas callup were in the back of her mind. “We’ve retained a lot of key players and we’ve added some really good American attacking players which I think is really exciting, and building on last season when we missed out on finals by goal difference, we’re all really eager to push and improve,” Lowry said. “I think (the World Cup) is in the back of the mind of all young players. It’s a big year and anything can happen, but whatever happens, I’m just so excited to be able to witness such a special occasion for Australia.”
GLORY HOPING TO LURE TAGGART HOME
Perth Glory are hoping home comforts will help them lure Socceroos attacker Adam Taggart back to Western Australia for a third stint at the club. The 29-year old was a surprise exclusion from Graham Arnold’s squad for this months’ World Cup in Qatar and is spending time at home in Perth after the conclusion of his season in Japan.
Taggart is contracted to J-League club Cerezo Osaka until the end of next season, which concludes in November 2023. Glory would jump at the chance to sign him before that deal expires, but only if Taggart approached them about a move home. It is understood Taggart and Glory coach Ruben Zadkovich are close friends from their time playing together with the Newcastle Jets.
“We’d love Taggs to play for us and he’d help fill the huge hole Bruno (Fornaroli) has left behind,” Glory owner Tony Sage said. “He’s still under 30 and he is one of the best Australian strikers. All of the A-League clubs would be looking at him, but his love of Perth will bring him back here. We don’t want to break any rules with his contract though.”
That would mean Sage and Taggart putting their differences aside, with the long-time owner launching a social media tirade against the player when he left to play for Brisbane Roar in mid-2018. “Even though we had that big stoush many years ago, I still think he is one of the best strikers in Australia and I was very surprised he wasn’t in the squad to go to the World Cup,” Sage said.
Taggart had limited opportunities in Osaka’s starting eleven this season but still scored five goals from 20 appearances for the fifth-placed side. A product of the Glory’s academy set-up, he had chalked up 230 first team appearances in Australia (Glory, Newcastle, Brisbane Roar), England (Fulham), Scotland (Dundee United), South Korea (Suwon Bluewings) and Osaka (Japan).
ARMADALE ADD NEW COACHES
After last season’s seventh place finish in the NPLMWA, the best the club have ever finished in the league, Armadale have added some experience to their coaching panel for 2023. Head Coach John O’Reilly retains his place, after guiding the club to the State League Cup Final and the Round of 32 of the Australia Cup. “Delighted to continue my role at the club, and I’d like to thank former President Ken Madeley for his support over the years, and I’m looking forward to working with new President Chris Bates,” he explained.
“The club has grown in the seven years I’ve been involved, and the hard work behind the scenes from everyone here has been fantastic, it’s like a family, and yes, we have our ups and downs, but it’s great to be involved. Last season was a great ride, we brought some players back to the club, and played some of the youngsters, and they never let me or the club down, the whole squad was outstanding, and we will look to add to that in 2023.”
Joining O’Reilly in the first team set up is Salv Todaro and Sam Hutchings. “I’m really excited about joining Armadale at such an exciting time, with a new President and committee bringing in a new vision and new goals for the club,” Todaro explained. “I’m looking forward to being part of that and helping John (O’Reilly) build on the success that he has achieved over the last couple of years and helping the club wherever I can. There is a certain buzz around the place and it’s good to be involved in that. The club enjoyed its most successful season in the NPL and made the cup final, lots of planning is going into making next year an even better one.”
“Last season we raised the overall bar having accumulated the highest points total in our NPL history. We gave some good performances throughout the league and again a promising cup run. However, we fell short at the last hurdle in the State Cup, were well beaten in the round of 32 and lost focus on the league,” Hutchings explained. “For these reasons I have very mixed emotions regarding last year, we had what most viewed a successful season but we must be more ambitious and we will push on again this time around. On to next season, I welcome Salv and look forward to working with both himself and John again this year. Salv brings great league knowledge and experience to the coaching group and will no doubt benefit the club/team this year. I am pleased and excited to return and relish the opportunity to continue the positive journey with the club.”
The club also announced Lee Taylor has the new U20s coach, who was Head Coach at Rockingham City and assistant Head Coach at Gwelup Croatia in the last two seasons. Taylor said after talking to the club, he can’t wait to get into it. “I’m really looking forward to being a part of the club, when I met John and the committee it was really exciting to hear what plans they have to help develop the club over the next few seasons,” he said. “So, I’m really pleased that they were happy to bring me into the club to help be a part of those plans. We are still building the 20’s squad, but so far there is a nice mix of players that have already committed to the club for next season so I am looking forward to working with them.
“Some of the players who have stayed with us have already been able to earn some first team minutes last season, so my job will be to make sure that we provide an environment for all the players in the group to develop further to aim to be regulars in the first team squad in the future. If the players earn the right to get promoted to the first team squad, John has shown in the past that he will give opportunities if they are deserved so I will be looking forward to seeing which players take them opportunities this season.”
The U18s coach this season will be Mike Hartley. He has a superb record as a development coach, and has recently coached the WA State under 15s at the Football Australia national youth championships, and he can’t wait to get started at the club. “Everyone at the club has made me feel really welcome and I’ve had a chance to meet some of the potential players, and I’m really excited to be working with a new group of players,” he said. “I've coached at a number of clubs in Perth but have still been looking for that club I can call home and look to make an impact. I am a UEFA and FFA A Licensed Coach, and I also work for Football West as a coach educator and coached the WA State 15s team at the NYC, I can’t wait to get started.”
ARNOLD NAMES HIS WORLD CUP SQUAD FOR QATAR
Socceroos’ Head Coach Graham Arnold has named his 26-man squad to represent Australia at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and he left out a number of experienced players. WA-born Trent Sainsbury and Adam Taggart both missed out, while Tom Rogic and keeper Mitch Langerak were also not selected, while teenage Roma midfielder Cristian Volpato, who can also play for Italy, declined a place in the squad.
Goalkeeper Mathew Ryan will captain the side in Qatar at what will be his third FIFA World Cup, with Mathew Leckie the other player in the squad selected to represent Australia at a FIFA World Cup for the third time. This year’s tournament will be the second FIFA World Cup for Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Jackson Irvine, Jamie MacLaren, Aaron Mooy and Bailey Wright, with seventeen players selected in a FIFA World Cup squad for the first time.
Head Coach Graham Arnold said the Socceroos go to Qatar full of pride and belief after a challenging four years. “It’s been a unique and difficult qualification campaign and we now arrive in Qatar with an exciting squad which will do everything to make Australia proud on the world stage,” Arnold said. “Over the past four years, 32 players have made their debut for the national team. I want to thank every player who has helped the team over this journey. “We have called upon 68 players during the qualifying campaign and every one of them has played a part in getting us here. The make-up of our team reflects Australia’s multicultural landscape. Our boys come from all over the world, they all have different journeys, but we are united by one jersey.”
After securing qualification for the fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup, sixth appearance in total, the Socceroos will be looking to progress through the group stages for the first time since 2006. The squad features nine members of the Tokyo 2020 Olyroos’ squad in Nathaniel Atkinson, Keanu Baccus, Thomas Deng, Cameron Devlin, Joel King, Riley McGree, Kye Rowles, Harry Souttar and Mitchell Duke as the overage player, while speedster Garang Kuol was the surprise inclusion, the youngster recently signing for English Premier League Club Newcastle United.
“We have worked hard to give younger players an opportunity over the campaign, to expose them to international football, to test them against the best,” Arnold said. “I’m thrilled with the development and maturity of this group who now get a chance on the biggest stage possible. The Socceroos kick off their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ campaign against defending champions France at Al Janoub Stadium on Tuesday, 22 November at 10.00pm local / Wednesday, 23 November 6:00am AEDT.
Australia’s World Cup squad: Mat Ryan (capt), Nathaniel Atkinson, Keanu Baccus, Aziz Behich, Martin Boyle, Jason Cummings, Milos Degenek, Thomas Deng, Cameron Devlin, Mitchell Duke, Craig Goodwin, Ajdin Hrustic, Jackson Irvine, Fran Karacic, Joel King, Garang Kuol, Mathew Leckie, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren, Riley McGree, Aaron Mooy, Andrew Redmayne, Kye Rowles, Harry Souttar, Danny Vukovic, Bailey Wright.
WORLD CUP SNUB FOR SAINSBURY AND TAGGART
There will be no West Australians in the Socceroos’ World Cup squad after defender Trent Sainsbury and striker Adam Taggart were omitted from the travelling party for Qatar. The pair will watch the tournament from home after being axed by coach Graham Arnold, despite featuring regularly in qualifying.
Speaking from Qatar, Arnold said the decision to leave both Sainsbury - his son-in-law - and Taggart out of the squad was tough. “I spoke to Trent about where he’s at at this moment in time, he hasn’t played for a number of weeks,” said Arnold. “But overall, I’ve gone for players like Harry Souttar and Kye Rowles who have done exceptionally well and continue to do exceptionally well. Trent was very understanding of the situation.”
“(Taggart) was one of the last phone calls I had to make. It was a decision that we decided to go for three number nines. Adam has obviously done a lot for the Socceroos in the past and again, it was just one of those decisions that that I’ve made and I truly believe in those three nines that we’ve got in (Mitchell) Duke, (Jamie) Maclaren and (Jason) Cummings and it’s one of those 50-50 calls.”
Sainsbury, one of the Socceroos’ best at Russia 2018, moved to Al-Wakrah in Qatar in August and managed just seven appearances before the league went on break. That was two months ago and he has not played a league game since, while his patchy performance against New Zealand in Australia’s last home game before the World Cup would also not have helped his cause.
Taggart, who played for the Socceroos at the 2014 World Cup, has scored just five goals in 20 appearances for J-League side Cerezo Osaka this season. He managed 61 minutes in the Socceroos’ last home game against New Zealand, but has struggled for minutes at club level and did not even make the bench for Cerezo on the weekend.
Mitch Langerak was also left out despite the Japanese-based goalkeeper recently returning from national team hiatus. Tom Rogic did not do enough to win back his spot in the side after sitting out the final phase of qualification in June due to personal reasons. And teenage sensation Cristian Volpato turned down the chance to play for Australia at the World Cup.
Australia, ranked 38th in the world, open their Group D campaign on November 23 by taking on World Cup trophy holders France. Four days later they face world 30-ranked Tunisia before rounding out the qualifying round against Denmark, 10th in the world, on November 30.
The Australia squad for the 2022 World Cup finals tournament is Nathaniel Atkinson, Keanu Baccus, Aziz Behich, Martin Boyle, Jason Cummings, Milos Degenek, Thomas Deng, Cameron Devlin, Mitchell Duke, Craig Goodwin, Ajdin Hrustic, Jackson Irvine, Fran Karacic, Joel King, Garang Kuol, Mathew Leckie, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren, Riley McGree, Aaron Mooy, Andrew Redmayne, Kye Rowles, Mathew Ryan, Harry Souttar, Danny Vukovic and Bailey Wright.
BURGESS ON RETURNING TO ACTION FOR IPSWICH
Cameron Burgess is a potential starter when Ipswich Town travel to Bracknell in the FA Cup tonight. And, if named in manager Kieran McKenna’s eleven, it’ll be the first time the defender is truly tested after suffering multiple facial fractures a little under two months ago.
Should he take to the field Burgess will be in a protective mask and with more than 30 screws still in his face. He underwent surgery to repair a broken cheekbone and eye socket following a clash with Harvey Saunders of Bristol Rovers, but there will be no shying away and no backing down.
“It was good to be back out on the pitch after a little while out,” said Burgess, who recently featured briefly from the bench at Port Vale. “I was hoping to be out for as short a time as possible. It’s not like some of the lads, who have knee injuries or something and need to be careful, and it was more about making sure the bones are healed properly.”
Burgess will play in a mask for several weeks but insists it doesn’t distract him from his game. “I have to wear it until Christmas time,” he said. “I had a bit of an input into where abouts on my face it would go to help my vision, although there were obviously some requirements too. You quite quickly forget it’s on your face after a couple of minutes.
“The metal pins will be there forever now to be honest, so that’s me now. “I think there are more than 30 in there but it’s not too noticeable. The severity of it probably still hasn’t hit home, really, but that’s probably a good thing as I get back to playing again. The injury was a freak one so it’s not one I think about too much.”
GLORY GIVEN A LESSON BY LEAGUE LEADERS
Perth Glory’s five-game away stint has come to end with a disappointing 4-0 loss against Isuzu Ute Men’s league leaders Melbourne City on Saturday afternoon at AAMI Park. The scoreline was bad enough, with former Glory striker Jamie Maclaren bagging a brace, and others to Marco Tilio and Matthew Leckie, but Glory only had one shot for the whole game, something that has to change, sooner rather than later.
“I’m disappointed,” Glory coach Ruben Zadkovich said post-match. “Obviously it’s not an easy place to come and for a squad like us, you have to be at your best and I don’t think we were and it is what it is. They’re top of the league for a reason, they’re a quality outfit and they were just too good for us tonight, there was a big divide in class and quality between the two teams
“They [the Glory players] tried hard, but belief and confidence are something that comes and goes and when you play away from home five times in a row, there’s a cumulative loading for the players mentally, physically and emotionally and it starts to take its toll. But we’ll stay really positive because we know how early we are in this process… our rewards will come later. It’s really important that we stay focused on the long-term goals and we will.”
Glory had to make a late change to their starting line up with Aaron McEneff missing out due to illness, while John Koutroumbis was out injured and Mitch Oxborrow dropped to the bench. In came Jack Clisby Luke Bodnar and Joseph Forde, for their first starts to the season, in the first game without striker Bruno Fornaroli, who quit the club last week, how they could have done with him.
The hosts were on the front foot early, and had plenty of the ball, but Glory sat deep and frustrated them, and Liam Reddy, who was making his 150th appearance for the club, had little do. He got down smartly to save Maclaren’s header on 13 minutes, and did likewise from Callum Talbot long-range shot. Leckie was then picked out by Valon Berisha on the half hour, but his header flashed over the top.
But the Glory’s resistance ended four minutes into the second half. Berisha raced into the box, before picking out Tilio, his effort broke to Maclaren, and he swept the ball home from close-range. It wasn’t the start Glory were looking for, but they had to come out and chase the game now, and that left holes at the back. Leckie fired wide on two occasions, as City continued to dominate.
Salim Khelifi had Glory’s first, and only shot, just after the hour mark, but it was straight at Tom Glover, who was a spectator for the afternoon. But on 72 minutes City found a second, Mitch Oxborrow was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box, and after a VAR check referee Jack Morgan pointed to the spot. Maclaren stepped up and sent Reddy the wrong way, for his seventh goal of the season.
It was 3-0 ten minutes later, Tilio’s shot from the edge of the box went under Reddy, and Leckie wrapped up the scoring deep into stoppage time, Richard van der Venne’s shot crashed off the post, and Leckie fired home the rebound, to give City the points, and give Glory some serious headaches.
Melbourne City FC: GK Tom GLOVER, 4 Nuno REIS (3 Scott JAMIESON 80'), 7 Mathew LECKIE, 8 Richard VAN DER VENNE, 9 Jamie MACLAREN, 13 Aiden O’NEILL, 14 Valon BERISHA (15 Andrew NABBOUT 63'), 22 Curtis GOOD, 23 Marco TILIO, 25 Callum TALBOT, 38 Jordan BOS - Subs not used: RGK Matthew SUTTON, 2 Scott GALLOWAY, 16 Taras GOMULKA, 18 Jordon HALL, 36 Kerrin STOKES
Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 4 Luke BODNAR, 5 Mark BEEVERS, 7 Ryan WILLIAMS, 10 Salim KHELIFI, 11 Ben AZUBEL, 14 Jack CLISBY, 19 Zach DUNCAN, 20 Giordano COLLI, 29 Daryl LACHMAN, 36 Joseph FORDE - Subs not used: RGK Pierce CLARK, 12 Luke IVANOVIC, 23 Mitch OXBORROW, 37 Jacob MUIR, 43 Adam ZIMARINO, 77 Stefan COLAKOVSKI - Referee: Jack Morgan
COYNE JOINS HORNETS
Former ECU Joondalup academy product Aidan Coyne has signed a first-year pro contract with English Championship promotion-hopefuls Watford. The 18-year-old, who joined Perth Glory in 2020, and went on to play five A-League games for the club, is now looking forward to taking the next step on his football journey with the Hornets who are looking to bounce back into the Premier League at the first attempt following last season’s relegation.
“The NPL WA season finished and I’d always had it in my mind that I wanted to come to the UK, so, I booked the flight and came over,” he told the Glory website. “I didn’t have a club to come to, but there were one or two clubs that I went to train at, but nothing really happened. “Family friends let me stay with them for a month of two and then I got a ‘phone call from Watford saying that they wanted me to come in for a week. After the week, they asked if I could stay for another week and then another week and eventually, they offered me a one-year deal.”
Coyne, who is the son of current Glory assistant Coach Chris, has already been hugely impressed by what he’s seen during his initial period with the Hertfordshire-based club. “I’ve been training mainly with the Under-23s, but I’ve also had some opportunities to train with the first-team,” he said. “It’s been good to see how they conduct themselves and the ability they have, which is just scary.
“It’s almost a different style of play. It’s very physical, very fast and if you take too long on the ball, the chances are that you’re going to get smashed. “It’s the way they use their bodies and how they execute. If you don’t close the ball down outside the box, they will score nine times out of ten; that’s something I learned in my first training session.”
The youngster is excited at his new opportunity in the UK, Coyne was quick to acknowledge how much his time at Glory had shaped him. “The Glory Academy played a massive role in my development, not only as a player, but as a person as well,” he said. “I joined Glory when I was 14 or 15 and went into a full-time environment with ex-pros as coaches; people like Steven McGarry, Terry McFlynn, Richard Garcia and then Ruben Zadkovich for two years. They played a massive role, especially as they were tough with me which is exactly what I needed at the time.”
The talented centre-back is now determined to focus on the task at hand rather than look too far ahead. “At the moment, my targets are pretty short-term,” he said. “I’m just concentrating on developing further as a player, getting better and better every day, working hard at training and listening to and learning from the coaches and the pros at the club. I’ve trained with the first-team a couple of times when [Head Coach] Slaven Bilic has been in charge and I really liked him as a coach. The way he gets his message across and conducts himself is very, very good.”
Glory Head of Recruitment, Andy Keogh welcomed the news that another of the club’s youngsters has earned an opportunity to develop their career in Europe after the departure of Josh Rawlins to FC Utrecht. “We’re delighted to see Aidan pursuing his dream by signing for a great club like Watford,” he said. “It’s fantastic for our club to see another talented individual make the move overseas. “We wish him all the very best and hope to see him back in purple at some point in the future.”
KERR HELPS CHELSEA TO BEAT MAN UTD
Sam Kerr continued her recent good form the English WSL, staring and scoring in Chelsea’s 3-1 win against Manchester United at the Leigh Sports Village Stadium in Manchester. The Matildas skipper bagged four for the Blues in an 8-0 thrashing of Albanians Vllaznia, and they had the better of the few chances early with Pernille Harder nodding a free header wide, and they could have had a first-half penalty when Maya Le Tissier appeared to catch Guro Reiten.
But United's defence had been watertight so far this season, but Kerr opened the scoring first on the hour mark. A poor pass was picked off by Sophie Ingle and worked to the former Glory striker Kerr, who finished clinically. Barely two minutes later they added another with Kerr at the centre, the Matildas striker latched onto a long ball and, after holding the ball up, found James in the area to net on her first return to her former club.
Alessia Russo, returning from injury for her first start since September, reduced the deficit from another piece of uncharacteristically poor defending, but United never built on that platform. Instead, Cuthbert's deflected effort in added time secured victory for the visitors to lift them joint level with leaders Arsenal, who have played a game fewer. United's first dropped points of the season leaves them three points off the pace in third.
Chelsea general manager Paul Green, taking charge in the continued absence of Emma Hayes for personal reasons, told Sky Sports after full-time he was hopeful, she would return for the Blues' next game against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on November 20. "We go into the international break hopefully ready to welcome Emma Hayes back to the touchline for our next game, if everything goes well, against Tottenham," he said. "We're delighted and congratulating everyone on a really good piece of work."
REDDY REFLECTS ON CAREER AS HE APPROACHES 150-GAME MILESTONE
When Liam Reddy arrived at Perth Glory in 2016, it was the seventh stop on the well-travelled goalkeeper’s A-League Men’s career. But after spending 11 years bouncing around the league, Reddy found something out west he had not previously - a home.
As he prepares for his 150th Glory game this weekend against Melbourne City, it is no surprise Reddy calls it the best decision he has ever made. His tenure at the Glory has included a Premiership Plate, a penalty shoot-out performance which entrenched him as a cult hero and unerring consistency between the sticks.
Reddy sits fifth all-time for A-League Men appearances with 345 games to his name, and he’s poised to become just the second Glory player to make 150 A-League appearances. Not bad for someone who first thought his stay in Perth may be a short one.
“If I was being honest, I initially just thought it’d be a one-year deal but Perth is a great city, the family has really settled in well here and we see this as our home now,” Reddy said. “Post-football, it’s probably where we’re gonna settle, so it was probably the best decision I ever made.”
Reddy, who hails from a sporting family - his father Rod and brother Joel played more than 300 top flight rugby league games combined, while his sister Bianca played netball for West Coast Fever and Adelaide Thunderbirds - said it meant a lot to join Andy Keogh in Glory’s 150 A-League appearances club.
“It’s probably something I’ll look back on when I retire, it’s a really good milestone. To be the second player to play 150 (A-League) games with Glory definitely means something to me,” he said. “This club’s very special to me and considering I initially came over with Kenny Lowe on a one-year deal, to be here seven years later, it’s a real positive.”
Reddy said the entirety of his spell in Western Australia had been enjoyable, but highlighted the 2018-19 season under Tony Popovic as particularly special. Glory finished top to claim their first silverware of the A-League era and Reddy played a pivotal role in helping them secure a home grand final, saving four penalties and converting one of his own in a nail-biting semifinal shoot-out win over Adelaide United.
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to come over here when Kenny first approached me to come over and then obviously, the successful period we had under Tony Popovic was also enjoyable,” Reddy said. “Now under Ruben, it’s a rebuilding phase that I’m enjoying and the club is heading in the right direction and that’s another reason why I’m still enjoy playing and want to continue.”
GLORY KEEN TO DOWN MELBOURNE’S RICH KIDS
Perth Glory coach Ruben Zadkovich has labelled Melbourne City as the A-League Men's benchmark, and he would love nothing more than watching his no-frills squad take them down. City, owned by the powerful City Football Group, sit on top of the national league ladder after posting three wins and a draw from their first four rounds.
Glory, last season's wooden spooners, sit near the foot of the table with just one win to show from four outings. They will start as rank underdogs in Saturday night's clash, but Zadkovich wants his players to embrace the challenge. "They're probably the benchmark in this competition," Zadkovich said of City.
"They've got a star-studded line-up, but for us it's a great challenge. I love the prospect of pitching some players that are a lot less on the salary totals than they are and seeing how they compete. We've got some young guys in our squad that are punching well above their weight, and it will be nice to go away from home and pitch them against the best in the comp."
Saturday's match will mark Liam Reddy's 150th A-League appearance for Glory, a tally eclipsed only by Andy Keogh’s 156 games for the club. Reddy spent time at Newcastle Jets, Brisbane Roar, Wellington Pheonix, Sydney FC, Central Coast Mariners and Western Sydney Wanderers before arriving in Perth for what was meant to be a short stay in 2016.
NEVILLE ACCEPTS JUNIOR COACHING ROLE WITH BRISBANE
Brisbane Roar defender Scott Neville will be taking on a new challenge come 2023. Appointed as Eastern Suburb FC’s Director of Coaching for their Under 9-13 Boys Academy next season, the 33-year old will put his extensive career experience to the test as he undertakes the role.
With over 260 A-League matches under his belt, Neville is well placed to know exactly what it takes to reach the heights of professional football in Australia. “I know how important it is to be a role model throughout the community with Brisbane Roar,” Neville said.
“If I can filter that through to some of the East’s younger players and get them onboard, supporting Brisbane and getting them to games, aspiring to be professional then I think I’ve done my job. They’ve got a good reputation down at Easts and it’s good that I can combine my passion for football and my studies.”
Currently working towards his AFC B Licence while studying Business Sport Management and Coaching at the Australian College of Physical Education, Neville now adds coaching to his plate but he does so with the support of the entire Easts family.
“Obviously it’s quite hard to coach with the commitments we have but the Technical Director of the Under 9-13’s became available [at Easts] and they’re very flexible with my commitments down there,” said Neville. “It’s a great way to see how a club works… as well as expanding the community throughout Brisbane Roar and Easts.”
ZADKOVICH HITS OUT AT 'BACK-END' FORNAROLI AND STURRIDGE
Coach Ruben Zadkovich has explained why Perth Glory cut ties with Bruno Fornaroli, revealing the star striker refused to play a role off the bench. Fornaroli's messy departure from Glory was sealed last Friday, with the 35-year-old since signing with Melbourne Victory.
The signs of Fornaroli's discontent at Glory first appeared when he was omitted to play the recent round three game with Central Coast Mariners. Within the week Glory agreed to release Fornaroli and Zadkovich addressed the reasons behind the departure before training on Thursday.
"It was pretty simple," Zadkovich said. "Bruno wasn't chosen to start in a game and then refused to sit on the bench, and he didn't want to play. Once a player makes that decision that he doesn't want to put his body on the line for the team, it becomes really easy for me. You just pick the ones that do."
Zadkovich is keen to bolster his squad during the January transfer window, but he doesn't want a repeat of the Daniel Sturridge disaster from last season. Sturridge arrived at Glory with huge fanfare, but the former Liverpool and England star managed just six underwhelming cameos in a campaign that was blighted by injuries.
Zadkovich wants to lure players to the club who have the right mindset and are still physically able to produce a high standard on the field. "We can't have a Daniel Sturridge situation or a situation where we've got with Bruno where it's a 35-year old striker at the end trying to spearhead a rebuild," Zadkovich said.
"It's too much for him to put on his shoulders. We need the right person that can carry that weight and expectation and we'll make sure we're patient and we find the right one. Bruno, whilst he's a big loss to the club, he's also 35 years old and at the back-end of his career… we won't (sign) someone who doesn't fit the bill perfectly."
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This page was last updated on the 19th January, 2023