Monday, September 28, 2009

(U-20 WC) Czech Republic 2-1 Socceroos

A sloppy U-20 Socceroos side went down to the Czech Republic this morning.

After a scoreless first half, comprising of poor passing and overall sloppy football from both sides, the Czech Republic opened up the scoring in the 50th minute, with a header from young striker Michael Rabusic. Then, after a number of half chances for the Socceroos, a reckless tackle in the box saw Ryan McGowan given his marching orders, and Tomas Pekhart converted the ensuing penalty. While McGowan made contact with the ball, given how tightly Mexican Marco Rodriguez had been refereeing, and that McGowan already had a yellow card to his name, it was no real surprise to see him sent off.

While it looked as if the Czech’s had the game closed up at 2-0 with only injury time remaining, a moment of strangeness in the Czech box changed that. A slight push in the box on Brisbane Roar’s Luke DeVere, a push that didn’t even draw protest from DeVere, resulted in Rodriguez pointing to the spot. Then, a poor penalty from James Holland that saw the Czech keeper leap to his right and save, left the Australia team downhearted, and it appeared as if they would be going to their next game with Costa Rica without a goal on the board. It appeared to be so. But, Rodriguez point back to the spot, claiming encroachment. A dubious decision, but the Socceroos weren’t complaining, and Holland stepped back up to the spot to score. However, despite the moments of craziness, which should have surely seen more time added to the 3 minutes of extra time, Rodriguez blew his whistle, and Australia didn’t have a chance to get the equaliser. So the U-20 Socceroos will move onto their next two games needing a win against Costa Rica and probably a draw against Brazil to achieve coach Jan Versleijen’s goal of 4 points.

The game had started poorly for the Young Socceroos, with a dangerous freekick in just the second minute for the Czechs, but it went over. Then in the 5th minute striker Michael Rabusic was cautioned for simulation, which was rather amusing. Australia continued to create opportunities, only for poor passing to let them down, until individual brilliance from Kofi Danning on the break presented a chance for Jason Hoffman, who put it over the bar. Then in the 27th a Czech shot hit side netting, but Australia quickly responded with a Kofi Danning cross causing trouble for the keeper, and a rebound created more trouble, but the second shot was saved. In the 34th a long passage of passing for Australia looked dangerous, but it came to nothing. Other than a Australian corner and an Aussie freekick which was easily saved, the next ten minutes of play passed rather uneventfully, and they went into half time at 0-0. A half time sub, with Sean Rooney coming on for the rather disappointing Jason Hoffman, and then SBS commentator Vitor Sobral’s amusing slipup, Wayne….Sean Rooney, were the only highlights until the goals started flowing.

Overall a very disappointing game for Australia, as they took forever to calm down and start playing well, and while enjoying many chances, could only convert one, from the penalty spot, and even then Holland had to make two attempts. Unsurprisingly, Versleijen was very disappointed at the post match press conference, and thought that the team could play much better,

“It was disappointing not only with the result but the performance because we didn’t reach the level that we should reach. If you want to get results in a World Cup you have to play at a high level and we didn’t see that today….But that aside, I know we can do much better and everybody knows we can do much better and that’s the positive coming out of it. The important thing now is to get a result against Costa Rica to have a chance of qualifying for the next round.”

I woke up early and watched the game, and other than the things mentioned above, my main two points have to be that Kofi Danning is awesome, and that as good as the Czech keeper is, he badly needs a decent haircut. Also, Bouzanis looked rather assured in goals, and was unlucky not to save the penalty, as he dived the right way, but couldn’t quite get his hand on the ball.

So make sure you watch the Young Socceroos take on Costa Rica (who lost 5-0 to Brazil) on Wednesday night, coverage starting at 11.30 on SBS.

A League Round 7 Preview

Hey everyone, lots of action in round 7, so here it is in all its resplendent glory:

Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory

An early and late goal moved Melbourne back into the top 6, and gives them a much needed boost ahead of this weeks game against Bling FC Jnr, or Gold Coast. Thanks to Marcus you can read a full match report on Melbourne Victory Offside

Central Coast Mariners v Gold Coast United

So…This unbeaten season hey…going pretty well so far. Bling FC Jnr (Gold Coast United) lost their second game of the ‘unbeaten season’, going down 3-nil to a convincing performance from Central Coast. Goals from Nicky Travis, Matt Simon and John Hutchinson moves CCM up to third, but a red card to Gold Coast’s Shane Smeltz could spell trouble for GCU, as they face Melbourne next week in an important clash. Most disappointingly however for us is that teenager Golgol Mebrahtu, who has a very heartwarming story about being found by Miron playing in a park, didn’t score. Come on, imagine the headline’s I could have used? Golgol goal! or Goal for Golgol, or GOAL GOLGOLGOLGOL GOAL! But no :( maybe next time. While Bleiberg will not be pleased by the performance, Gold Coast are still in 1st place, leading Sydney on goal difference (or Golgol difference :P), and will be hoping to get their campaign back on track against Melbourne this week. For Central Coast, they could hardly of had a better start to the season, with the team who everyone (including me) wrote off, not to mention the team that hadn’t won since New Year, being in third place on 11 points.

Wellington Phoenix v North Queensland Fury

A stoppage time winner kept North Queensland’s hopes of avoiding the wooden spoon alive, with Chris Grossman smacking it home in the 94th. Wellington had earlier troubled the scorer in the 6th minute, after a well executed move combining Daniel and Paul Iffil, before Ifill lobbed the ball to Andrew Durante, who sent it to an unmarked Leo Bertos, who promptly fired it home. Wellington then piled on the pressure, but were unable to find the back of the net, and waited until the 94th minute to let the Fury back in. The point for NQ is a positive step in their quest for avoiding the wooden spoon, but they may have to convert the ones into threes if they’re going to challenge for 6th. Wellington will be thoroughly disappointed with the result, and will need to lift their game against Central Coast if they are to come away with a result.

Sydney FC v Newcastle Jets

Bling FC senior were out in force to shoot down the Jets, and remain in equal first. A Mark Bridge wonder goal opened the scoring before Matt Thompson put it back on level pegging. Then a Steve Corica penalty put Sydney back on top. The Jets also ended the disappointing afternoon with a red card to Tarek Elrich, and had to endure the embarrassment of a saved penalty, after Clint Bolton saved Matt Thompson’s spot kick. While Thompson may have later redeemed himself, and the Jets looked significantly better in the second half, their overall performance, and Sydney’s tactics angered manager Branko Culina, who went on a rather amusing rant,

“There was only one team that really deserved to win that game…I don’t care what their coach says and the fact that he’s on $500,000 and I’m on 50 bucks or whatever it is. But if that’s what the foreigners are going to bring to this game let’s have more local coaches…I’m not having a go at him, I’m just saying that as far as football is concerned, I thought we played some great stuff. “

And while Culina has since apologised, I thinks its pretty funny (and he thinks he’s on 50 bucks, I earn more than that :P)
A good win for Sydney, considering their missing players (Kofis away on international duty), but as Culina’s rant proves, it was an unhappy afternoon for the Jets.

Brisbane Roar v Perth Glory

My prediction of a strong march home for Perth Glory is already coming home, only seven games in. Glory defeated a comical Brisbane side, mainly due to errors from the Roar. The main talking point of the game was Chris Coyne push on Brisbane keeper Liam Reddy, which led to Perth’s fourth goal. I saw it and personally think that Reddy had already pushed the ball into the back of the his net, but the debate will rage on… Read a full match review courtesy of Ahmed on the Roar offside.

Well that be all, hopefully I’ll have a round 8 preview by Friday. Also, in others news I’m doing my FFA Junior Coaching Licence on the weekend, which should be fun. I might even write up an article about it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The end of SAF: Is Manchester United really in danger of decline?

The end of SAF: Is Manchester United really in danger of decline?

By Kieran Pender

So the new season has started, and Manchester United have once again gotten off to their normal sluggish start. But with the new season underway, and Sir Alex Ferguson a year older, we have to once again ask ourselves, what will happen when the legend retires? Will we continue to fly high, or will we flounder into middle table mediocrity?

Sir Alex Ferguson has brought great success to Manchester United Football Club. 11 league titles, 5 FA Cups and 2 Champions League trophies, making him arguably the greatest football manager of all time. However, he is growing ever older and will inevitably have to retire sometime soon. But will the end of Sir Alex really spell the end of Manchester United?

In short, No. At least in the short term, Sir Alex’s reign will ensure at least another ten years or so of success. Looking at the current Manchester United reserves team, it is obvious that there is another era of great players coming through. The Da Silva brothers, Macheda, Welbeck, Evans, Petrucci, the list goes on. These talented young players should ensure another decade of silverware, but what beyond that.

Possibly the most worrying aspect of Manchester United is the financial insecurity. The Glazer family has plunged United into unimaginable debt, which could possibly result in the ultimate downfall of Manchester United Football Club. In the 2007/08 season, United won the Champions League and Premier League double, so apart from the other minor trophies (sorry FA Cup), they delivered the best possible season. However, they still recorded a loss. This is worrying, as what will happen when United have an inevitable ‘off’ year. Will it force United to sell off prized ‘assets’? Or will the club be plunged further and further into debt, and eventually go into the ever dreaded arms of ‘administration’?

Once again, luckily I believe the answer to be no. While I may not be the most economically minded person, I do understand the basics, and the basics being that Manchester United Football club is arguably the biggest football club in the world, and therefore the most attractive to buyers. When, and the time will definitely come, the Glazers sell up, they will pay off the debt and make a tidy profit.

Finally, the legacy left by Ferguson when he finally calls it a day will keep United in good enough stead that they can attract the greatest managers in the world. And with the greatest managers in the world you would hope would come more trophies…

So Manchester United fans, rest easy, the work of Sir Alex Ferguson, the greatest manager of all time, will keep us winning for decades to come.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Valencia: Football Club or Soap Opera

Following Valencia Club de Futbol has always been a rollercoaster ride. Crazy managers, amazing strikers, bad players being paid too much, good players being paid too little, shock wins and unexpected losses are all part of being a fan of Los Che.

However the last season has been even worse, leading me to wonder, is my beloved Los Che really a football club, or infact just a really bad TV show.

Hey if we don’t pay them, they’ll play better

Some of you may know that Valencia is a club riddled with debt. Unfortunately for them, they were in the middle of building a new stadium, the Nuevo Mestalla (a very nice stadium by the looks of it, I must add), when the global financial crisis hit. The buyer for their old stadium suddenly offered a much lower sum, and the deal collapsed. From here things only got worse. A debt of almost 400 million Euros, which was to be mostly paid off by the sale of the stadium, was now sitting on the books, looking pretty ugly.

Eventually things got so bad that Valencia had to stop paying their players, and a very promising start to the season descended into chaos, with a loss, and another, and another… Finally, after almost giving up hope of a Champions League spot, money appeared and the players could be paid again. And guess what? They started winning, unfortunately narrowly missing out on the CL sports. But it does prove that footballers are just like normal people, they don’t like working for free either.

Pornstars and player movement

So after another rollercoaster season, Valencia fans thought they could finally relax. And then…the transfer window opened. David’s Villa and Silva were names on every bad English newspaper headlines (and Marca, can’t forget Madrid Mail can we). Villa had signed for Barcelona, Villa had signed for Madrid, Villa was wanted by every man and his dog, Silva was wanted by Manchester United, Silva was wanted by… etc etc etc. And it went on, and on.

But guess what? They’re still here (well, as I write the transfer window hasn’t yet closed, but it looks likely they’ll be staying). However, the more surprising transfer rumour of the summer wasn’t about any of our stars. Infact, it was about none other than our resident porn star, Ever Banega. For those of you who don’t know, Banega was a promising young Boca star, who then signed for Valencia, and promptly took his pants off on the internet (or, as Roy Meredith from Championship Manager said on Chappers podcast the other day, “concerned about his off field antics”).

But enough about his porn star antics, for some reason, various British football publications got it in there heads that Banega was off to Everton on a season long loan. Even Everton Gaffer David Moyes claimed that he thought the move would go through. However, their was a slight problem for the Scotsman, neither Valencia nor Banega had heard about the move. Valencia denied having any contact with Everton, and Banega said he wanted to stay at Valencia (only to be promptly mistranslated to “I want to leave” by some new sources). So yes, a case of lost in translation for Everton.

Read the rest