Monday, March 29, 2010

Half Time Heroes March/General Update

Hey everyone, sorry for the lack of posts recently. Have been really busy with school. But, holidays in two weeks time! In football related news, I am going down to Melbourne in the first week of the holidays to do work experience at Soccer International magazine, which should be a blast :).

In other news, I've started getting articles published in weekly Australian football magazine Goal Weekly. So you should definitely check it out. A list of the newsagents it is available from is here.

I'm also currently writing an article on Gold Coast United striker Golgol Mebrahtu, after I conducted an interview with him last week (well, via the GCU press officer), and finally two weeks ago I interviewed U20 Socceroo Ryan McGowan, who is currently on loan from Hearts at Ayr United. Ohh and I have an article on Aaron Mooy (Young Socceroo, currently at Bolton) that should be in Goal Weekly this week or next. Until then, enjoy this months HTH, and check out my article on Spanish progress in Europe.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bling FC v The Sprightly Upstarts: Preliminary Final preview

Sydney FC v Wellington Phoenix, Preliminary Final, Sydney Football Stadium, Saturday March 13, 8pm (EDT)


After a disappointing loss to Melbourne on aggregate, the Sky Blues will be looking to bounce back against the high flying Phoenix. Wellington had a great last month, and have been flying high with the massive support of their supporters. But after two home games they may struggle to be playing in-front of a (hopefully) hostile crowd. Sydney however will be focused on bouncing back from last weekend's defeat, and while there is speculation Shannon Cole could still be out, they will otherwise have a strong team.

My Tip: As much as I'd like to tip Wellington to continue on their amazing run, I think it will be a bridge too far for the Phoenix. Sydney will probably bounce back stronger after their aggregate loss to Melbourne, and take down Wellington on their road for a Melbourne rematch. Sydney 2-1

Some words from Luka:

The biggest mistake Sydney FC has made over the course of it's short history (a noteworthy achievement) was strenuously denouncing their marvelous "Bling FC" moniker:

"When people think of Sydney FC, we don't want them to think of Bling FC but as a team associated with quality, aspiration and as a club that represents everybody, whether you're talking about the bloke in the local pub or the senior business person," Former (or current, I've lost track really) chief executive Stefan Kamasz said last year.

However, this nickname was at least a fan/media observation and view of the club that occurred naturally. It was not marketed, Sydney's "posh-ness" was not fabricated by some suits up in Moore Park or Frank Lowie's office in Martin Place. This epithet was an antithesis to what the A-League still is - gimmicky, plastic, lacking characters and, most importantly of all, lacking real club identities. Look at Kamasz' words - who is he, or club management, to forge or remove a club's nickname? I loved to be associated with "Bling FC", rather than "Rags FC", the soon-to-be nickname given to our poorer cousins Sydney Rovers (think of the Clippers to the Lakers, the Mets to the Yankees, the Citehs to the Uniteds before the Arab Invasion). Of course, all that talk has led to nothing.

Sydney FC are still the same team as they were 5 years ago, for better or worse, and let's keep it that way, eh? No need to appeal to the paupers. We're not in Penrith. At least Harry Ngata still agrees with me. It's what has given us consistent success over the years (Uncle Lowy's generous helping hand aside).


The same cannot be said about Wellington, who chose the right nickname in the Phoenix - think the Phoenix which rose from the ashes of that shockingly bad Auckland team - to describe their meteoric rise to prominence. The 'Nux ("Nix" in a lovely NZ accent) stand one match away from the A-League grand final, and by God do they deserve it. They couldn't have ridden the crest of their wave of good form better had they been the love-child of Layne Beachley and Kelly Slater. They have John McKain back at CB, while Paul Ifil will play with a slight injury but would probably be willing to play missing a limb or two. Their gameplan borders mostly on a simple application of physics - hoping that their momentum trumps Sydney's inertia. Though, no level of inertia is a match for Pep Guardiola's masterpiece of motivation:

which Vitezslav Lavicka will no doubt have given to each of his players as homework to study, to learn, to love and to ignite the burning desires within.

My tip: to win 1-0. Aloisi.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Semi final preview

Four games to go. Two semi finals, a preliminary final and a grand final. So here's a preview of two of those games, the minor semi-final and the second leg of the major semi final.


Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets, Minor semi-final, Westpac Stadium, Sunday, 2.00pm (both times EDT)

Luka: Mark Jones, Branko's right-hand mand man with the Jets, foreshadows (indirectly) an opening onslaught by the Phoenix: "It is important that we keep that shape especially for the first 30 minutes. It is important that we don't break down in the first 30 minutes and basically making sure in a nutshell that we have a system of play that we follow." In other words, defend and hope for the best in what is going to be a white-hot atmosphere at the sold out Cake Tin stadium (fitting name really) in Wellington. Tickets for the game were snapped up like hotcakes (ok I'll stop) in what are exciting times for football in New Zealand.

Kieran: Wellington have been building over the past few weeks, and although they had to go to penalties against Perth, they're still on hot form. Newcastle were very against Gold Coast, and will once again probably struggle up front (unless Kaz Patafta puts on a masterclass...). With a capacity crowd behind them I can't see anything other than a Phoenix victory. Wellington 2-1

Marcus: I can't see Newcastle winning this game. With a sold out Westpac Stadium and form on there side Wellington should do it relatively easily. On the team sheet Newcastle get Ben Kantarovski back and Wellington lose McKain through suspension, but I can't see it making a difference. Newcastle have been struggling especially without Michael Bridges up front, they were lucky to beat GCU last week as they rarely threatened for large periods during the match. Wellington 3-0