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State Leagues  

Late Maclaren magic denies Victory in Perth

Jamie Maclaren again played the role of super sub for Perth Glory who battled back from 3-1 down to earn a point at home to Melbourne Victory on Sunday night.

The 21-year-old, whose brace from the bench gave Glory a 2-1 win over the Newcastle Jets back in November, latched on to a pass down the right flank to finish superbly across Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe into the bottom left corner.



The goal sent most of the season high 12,271 crowd into raptures, and a draw preserves the West Australians’ four point lead at the top of the table.

“I’m going to have to start looking up the dictionary for some better words, I keep using ‘character’ and ‘blue collar’,” said Kenny Lowe of his players.

“In any walk of life you’ve got a little bit of adversity and it’s how you deal with that.

“You don’t look at people when everything’s plain sailing, you don’t look at people when you’re at the top of the game or whatever, you look at people when they’ve a little of pain and I’ll tell you what, our lads tick every single box, every single time.”

Glory lost youngster Daniel De Silva to illness before kick off, and he was replaced in the starting eleven by Ruben Zadkovich.

The first goal arrived on 18 minutes when neat build up play saw the impressive Fahid Ben Khalfallah link up well with Gui Finkler before placing a shot past Danny Vukovic.

Glory didn’t have to wait long for an equaliser though, just four minutes in fact, and were awarded a penalty when Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe took out Chris Harold in the penalty area.

Andy Keogh stepped up and calmly rolled the ball into the bottom left corner for his ninth league goal of the campaign.

Victory were ahead again by half time though, with Besart Berisha punishing a rare error from Josh Risdon to score.

Victory looked certain to claim all three points in what was a fiery contest as they stretched their lead when Kosta Barbarouses capitalised on another defensive lapse from the hosts.

Rostyn Griffiths reduced Glory’s arrears with 11 minutes remaining, before Maclaren stole the headlines with his dramatic 89th minute leveller.

“We embrace what we are, we understand what we are,” said Lowe when asked about his team’s mentality and resolve.

“We know that even when we’re down we’re not down, only the scoreboard tells us we’re down.”

Recent signing Dragan Paljic was thrown in at the deep end in the first half when Harold was forced off with a potential ankle ligament injury, and the coach was happy for his new winger to get a run out.

“I said ‘play in the shade’, he’s a left footer but I said ‘go on the right wing and get in the shade’,” chuckled Lowe.

“He did great. Technically a very good player, nice footballer, linked in well for us. He’ll be a good signing.”

Victory boss Kevin Muscat expressed his disappointment at his side’s failure to win the game from the position that they found themselves in.

“I thought the performance was pretty good, just little lapses of concentration if you like,” he said.

“And to concede the way we did…to score three goals away from home, you should really be winning the game of football.

“I thought we were the better team, by far the better team tonight, trying to play football, getting the ball down, [we] scored some very good goals.”

Victory’s star man Ben Khalfallah is out of contract at the end of the season and reportedly wants to extend his stay at the club, but Muscat gave little away when asked about the Tunisian international’s future.

“In the near future we’ll get back to the hotel, he’ll have dinner with us, we’ll do recovery, he’ll get on the flight with us tomorrow, fly back to Melbourne, we’ll do some more recovery, and he’ll train with the team throughout the week,” he said.

Both sides now have a two week break before the A-League resumes a full fixture programme after the Asian Cup.



Perth Glory starting XI: 1. Daniel VUKOVIC, 5. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 6. Dino DJULBIC, 8. Ruben ZADKOVICH, 9. Andrew KEOGH, 10. Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 11. Richard GARCIA, 14. Chris HAROLD, 19. Joshua RISDON, 21. Scott Jamieson, 23. Michael THWAITE.

Perth Glory substitutes: 3. Brandon O’NEILL, 15. Jamie MACLAREN, 27. Dragan PALJIC, 30. Jordan THURTELL.


Melbourne Victory starting XI: 1. Nathan COE, 2. Jason GERIA, 4. Nicholas ANSELL, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 7. Gui FINKLER, 8. Besart BERISHA, 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 14. Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15. Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 21. Carl VALERI, 23. Adrian LEIJER.

Melbourne Victory substitutes: 11. Connor PAIN, 16. Rashid MAHAZI, 18. Dylan MURNANE, 20. Lawrence THOMAS, 22. Jesse MAKAROUNAS.
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Ferreira on the move at Adelaide?

Adelaide United speedster Fabio Ferreira could be heading out the door at Coopers Stadium after coach Josep Gombau hinted that an offer had been received for the midfielder’s services.

The midfielder was a curious omission from Gombau’s side that beat Newcastle 7-0 on Saturday at Coopers, and when quizzed about it the Adelaide boss confirmed that transfer talks were going ahead.


“It was a decision [to leave Ferreira out] that we will explain in the next days, as we have a possible offer from another club and we to decide what we will do,” Gombau said.

“He had this in his mind so it’s not the best way for him to play a game, so both him and myself decided it’s better he don’t play.”

When asked if the offer came from a different  A-League club Gombau was typically coy, saying: “We don’t want to say nothing because it’s something between the player and us, and we will announce it in the next days.”

The 25-year-old Portuguese midfielder joined the Reds in 2012, having spent time at Chelsea in England and Sporting in his homeland.

He has scored 13 goals in the A-League and is known as one of the most explosive sprinters in the league.
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Sydney silences Mariners in front of record home crowd

The Mariners have taken one step forward and five steps back over the three-week break, losing 5-1 to Sydney FC at home.

All those saying Sydney had lost their early season momentum were silenced by the 16th minute, with the first goal coming from Mark Janko who received a well-placed cross from Alexander Gersbach.


The goal was made possible by the Mariners' Josh Rose mistiming the header that would have cleared the ball from the area.

It was deja vu as the Mariners conceded two goals in two minutes, with the second goal coming from a cross delivered by Milos Dimitrijevic to Christopher Naumoff who slotted the ball past Liam Reddy.

The Mariners’ defence failed yet again in the 44th minute, with Berni Ibini managing to send a shot flying through the box, straight past Reddy and into the back of the net. The whistle couldn’t have come sooner for the Mariners, but they should thank Marc Janko for missing an easy opportunity to score in extra time.

What started as a pretty even sided game quickly turned into an up-hill battle for the Mariners. Moss’s quiet confidence before the break looked to be quietly shattering as his team unraveled in front of the 12,102–strong crowd.

“Training so far since we came back from the break has been unreal…The intensity, quality and the standards that the players are setting themselves are magnificent. I really think we are headed for a much better second half of the season,” Moss said before tonight’s game.

Either they choked under pressure, or the three-week hiatus did more harm than good, because the Mariners weren’t making the most of any opportunities they had going forward, all too often passing back.

It’s been a trademark move, with goal man Liam Reddy as involved in play as any midfielder. Phil Moss himself shouted out “Go forward!” in frustration as his men once again squandered an opportunity on the counter-attack.

“I don’t think there was anything positive from the first half… I just want to apologise to the fans,” said devastated captain John Hutchinson after the game.

Sydney on the other hand, looked cool, calm, and collected, blazing their way through a weak Mariners defence time and time again.

“Look I think that we just had a very good night, and Phil moss is doing a good job, but we were hot tonight and we had extra motivation from the campaign they ran,” said Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold.

Arnold was referring to the ‘joke’ campaign ran by the Mariners earlier this week describing him as “cashed up Arnie”.

Unlike the campaign suggested, there were not 20, 50 or 100 reasons to laugh at Sydney FC, but at the Mariners. Marc Janko made the most of Zac Anderson’s catastrophic pass back to Liam Reddy in the 48th minute, making it 4-0 for Sydney. Their fifth came in the 71st minute with another blazing shot from Ibini.

Travis Major came on for Anthony Caceres in the 56th minute, immediately injecting some intensity into his deflated team. His first goal for the Mariners came in the 66th minute after a brilliant run from Josh Rose who passed right at the last moment to allow Major the finish.

The Mariners’ best chances came by means of Matt Simon, Mitchell Duke, Anthony Caceres, and of course, Major. It should be said that the score-line could have been more level had Sydney’s keeper Vedran Janjetovic not been in such fine form.

“We were our own worst enemies tonight, we weren’t outclassed, we beat ourselves at both ends of the pitch,” said Moss.

Perhaps they should have done better from set-pieces, like the free kick they had in the 34th minute which found Simon but not the back of the net. Perhaps there was too much hesitation where there should have been desperation, in front of goal and in defence. Whatever the problem, the Mariners did not find the solution.

Not to add to the “master versus apprentice” jibes, but Moss would have been sinking in his chair at the fact that the Mariners have only lost by this margin once before to Brisbane in 2011.

"I have to take some responsibilities as the coach, and we’ve got some players in the dressing room who have to take responsibilities for some of those goals," he said.

The Mariners will next play Adelaide United, who incidentally beat Newcastle 7-0 earlier today…I bet they’re looking forward to it.



Central Coast Mariners starting XI: 3. Joshua Rose 4.Jacob Poscoliero 5. Zac Anderson 7. John Hutchinson (C) 9. Mitchell Duke 10. Anthony Caceres 11. Nick Fitzgerald 12. Liam Reddy (GK) 18. Glen Trifiro 19. Matthew Simon 25. Eddy Bosnar

Central Coast Mariners subs: 2. Storm Roux 8. Nick Montgomery 14. Travis Major 17. Richard Vernes 30. Adam Pearce (GK)


Sydney FC starting XI: 6. Nikola Petkovic 8. Milos Dimitrijevic 11. Berni Ibini-Isei 13. Christopher Naumoff 14. Alex Brousque (C) 16. Alexander Gersbach 20. Vedran Janjetovic (GK) 21. Marc Janko 25. Aaron Calver 26. Jacques Faty 27. Michael Tavares

Sydney FC subs: 1.Ivan Necevski (GK) 5. Matthew Jurman 9. Shane Smeltz 18. Peter Triantis 23. Rhyan Grant
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Jets see Red at Coopers

A rampant Adelaide United has destroyed the Newcastle Jets to the tune of a 7-0 scoreline on Saturday Afternoon at Coopers Stadium in one of the most one-sided performances in the A-League’s history.

Newcastle’s performance, which was one of the worst in a decade of the league, looked as though it belonged in the Adelaide Fringe Festival such was the comical nature of it.


Defenders standing still, midfielders not going for the ball and a plethora of misplaced passes lead the way in some slapstick genius. The credits read: Director – Phil Stubbins.

Seven goals to nothing was only half the story. The Reds constantly passed around the Newcastle midfielders and hit through the Newcastle defenders

Jets passes were misplaced, and more often than not either two players or no one went for the ball. If there was a song for the way they played, it’d be Roy Orbison’s Communication Breakdown.

After two minutes the Reds were ahead when Bruce Djite found himself unmarked in the box from a Craig Goodwin cross, and buried the chance in the six yard box.

20 Adelaide-dominated minutes later, Marcelo Carrusca doubled the lead after being played through the defence and went one-on-one with Ben Kennedy.

As he stepped around the keeper and passed into the open goal, the Newcastle defenders were in the same spot as when the move started.

The Jets weren’t the only one to put on a slapstick performance at Coopers though, as referee Matthew Conger decided to award the hosts a penalty in the 26th minute.

Adrian Madaschi had knocked over Michael Marrone in the box, and the resulting spot-kick from Carusca would be one of the most frustrating moments of the afternoon for Stubbins’ men.

The kick was chipped straight at Kennedy who caught it easily, only to be told it had to be taken again as the Jets players encroached in the area. Carrusca’s second effort was blasted into the corner, and before half an hour was up it was three-nil.

So bewildered was Madaschi that after he was dragged by Stubbins in the 29th minute he walked to the wrong bench. Whoever wrote the script for this fixture is a comic genius.

The jokes just kept on coming six minutes later when centre-back Nigel Boorgaard scored his second of the season.

Fellow defender Osama Malik knocked a header from the far post straight into the ground from a Goodwin corner and while it was bouncing towards goal, the ball clipped Boogaard’s big foot and rolled into the post and over the line.

The second half started exactly where the first finished. The crowd bellowed when Josep Gombau gave Stubbins the equivalent of a coaching bitch-slap when he brought keeper Paul Izzo off for reserve John Hall, and at the other end Ben Kennedy gave away another penalty which Sergio Cirio buried.

Not long beforehand, Djite grabbed his second and once again the Reds passed around the traffic cones that the Jets call defenders.

But it was in the final seconds of the match that when one kick summed up the whole day.

Isaias casually walked with the ball to about the 25 yard mark, and when no one moved in front of him to collect a pass and not a single Newcastle defender came to him, he decided to have a pop.

The resulting chip flew over Kennedy and into the back of the net, and one of the goals of the season capped off one of the performances of the season.

Phil Stubbins, still looking shocked after the match, said that the performance was as awful as they come.

“I think the desire amongst the group to actually go out and try and achieve something just wasn’t there,” Stubbins said

“We got smashed from start to finish; it could have probably been more… we were clearly second best from start to finish.

“My head’s full at this point in time with a lot of things swirling around in my mind,” he said.

Meanwhile Josep Gombau was sensibly satisfied after the thrashing, enjoying his team’s biggest win since he took over.

“We are satisfied with today’s game, we had a very good game, we are happy,” Gombau said.

“Today we scored the chances that we had, and it’s important because sometimes we create but we don’t score.

“I’m proud for the boys and I’m happy because everyone who came to the stadium enjoyed it, and this is important,” he said.

Newcastle will take a fortnight to reflect before hosting Brisbane Roar on 6 February, whilst Adelaide travel to the Central Coast the following day.



Adelaide United: 2. Michael Marrone, 3. Nigel Boogaard (C), 6. Osama Malik, 8. Isaias, 9. Sergio Cirio, 10. Marcelo Carrusca (Awer Mabil 71’), 11. Bruce Djite, 16. Craig Goodwin (Pablo Sanchez 45’), 18. Jimmy Jeggo, 20. Paul Izzo (GK) (John Hall (GK) 60’), 21. Tarek Elrich

Unused Substitutes: 14. Cameron Watson, 24. Bruce Kamau


Newcastle Jets: 2. Scott Neville, 4. Kew Raffique Jaliens (C), 5. Ben Kantarovski (Jacob Pepper 77’), 6. Adrian Madaschi (Allan Welsh 29’), 8. Zenon Caravella, 9. Joel Griffiths, 11. Andrew Hoole, 12. Sam Gallagher, 13. Edson Montano (Radovan Pavicevic 53’), 20. Ben Kennedy (GK), 23. David Carney

Unused Substitutes: 14. Billy Celeski, Mark Birighitti (GK)
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Mariners making the most of the break

The Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC will meet for the second time this season as the A-League resumes after the Asian Cup break, with their last clash in round 3 resulting in a 2-0 defeat for the yellow and navy at Allianz Stadium.

The boys have been busy preparing for the upcoming game; they’ve had time to reassess their game strategy, their strengths and weaknesses, and train hard. They have been able to use this time to work in new recruit Travis Major into their offensive line-up and have secured Nick Montgomery and Nick Fitzgerald for another two seasons.


The Mariners have also secured 18-year-old recruit Dejan Pandurevic until the end of the season, who has come from a stint with the Nike Academy in the United Kingdom.

“It was a great feeling when Mossy called and told me the news," Pandurevic said.

It’s my first professional contract, and it’s fantastic news for myself, my family and is a great reward after all my hard work over the years. It’s fantastic to make it as a professional."

Before the break for the Asian Cup, the yellow and navy had just secured their first win in 13 games, a 2-0 victory over Melbourne City.

Although they came into the break on a high, the match against Sydney will be a testament as to whether or not the boys have been successful in keeping momentum going and the desire to win strong.

“It's a sign that 2015 is going to be a better year than the end of 2014…we’ve all been working hard but lets not get carried away,” Moss said of their most recent games against the Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City.

Let’s hope the season does improve for the Mariners, who have been riddled with injuries and the departure of their best hopes for goal scorers.

While Nick Montgomery and Matt Simon are back from injury for the game against Sydney, left-back Michael Neill still remains on the bench, with Moss confirming that his foot injury would only been assessed as of the 20th of January.

In the best of circumstances, he will be back to play for the remainder of the season – at worst, he will have to watch his teammates from the sidelines.

“We’ve got our fingers crossed that it’s not too long term but certainly he’s a loss because he’s been playing very well and injected a lot of good things from left back both defensively and offensively,” Moss said of Neill.

Sydney, on the other side, have not won their last seven games, and have not scored in their last four, however still hold onto fifth place on the A-League ladder with 17 points while the Mariners remain at eighth place on 12 points.

It's not only the second time the teams will meet, but the second time buddies and former coaching duo Phil Moss and Graham Arnold will come head to head. Let's hope Moss has something to show his former mentor this time.

It will be a welcome win to either side, but a positive result at home for the Mariners might make all the difference in boosting their morale for the remainder of the season.
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Byline Banter: ACSX week 2

The A-League is set to kick off again this weekend but with the Asian Cup quarterfinals set to start on Thursday night, it’s hard to shift focus. So with that in mind, The Asian Cup Stock Exchange (ACSX) is once again open for business.

However, we’re not Tom Waterhouse and unlike the national stock exchange where the stock is listed in prices, ours will be a rating out of 10 based on the likelihood of each nation taking out the title.


Group A

South Korea
Last trading: 8
Now trading: 8.5
Showed their hand against Australia and became the serious threats everyone expected after failing to really impress against Kuwait and Oman. Facing a quickly-improving Uzbekistan but should still make the semis

Australia
Last trading: 9
Now trading: 7.5
Campaign momentum was slightly derailed by the South Korea last Saturday and although the Socceroos were dangerous, they just couldn’t find the net. Still a serious threat to the title and the return of Mile Jedinak will be a timely boost for the match against China

Oman
SUSPENDED
Managed to beat Kuwait 1-0 in a lacklustre game to avoid finishing bottom; looked decent overall though.

Kuwait
SUSPENDED
Finished bottom of the group without a point to their name - disappointing campaign.


Group B

China
Last trading: 5
Now trading: 5.5
Surprise packet of the tournament so far and will have plenty of support against the Socceroos in Brisbane on Thursday night. But they’ll need big performance from the likes of Yu Hai and Gao Lin to get them across the line.

Uzbekistan
Last trading: 6
Now trading: 6
The White Wolves have improved as their campaign has motored on and will put in a good shift against South Korea, but it’s hard to see them getting much further.

Saudi Arabia
SUSPENDED
Will be disappointed not to qualify for playoffs.

North Korea
SUSPENDED
Bottomed the group but showed us something against China; can be pleased with their efforts.


Group C

United Arab Emirates
Last trading: 6
Now trading: 6.5
Only group defeat came at the hands of Iran and now face one of the big favourites in their quarterfinal match with Japan. But the game won’t be as open-and-shut as you might think - do you like a real roughie?

Iran
Last trading: 7
Now trading: 7.5
Flying under the radar in the group stage has played out well for the three-time champions, but if they get past Iraq then everyone will have their eyes on them.

Bahrain
SUSPENDED
Victory over fellow struggles Qatar allowed them to avoid being bottom; never looked like qualifying.

Qatar
SUSPENDED
Also never looked like qualifying, but yeah, they deserve to host the World Cup.


Group D

Japan
Last trading: 9
Now trading: 9
Still the team to beat at this point, but UAE won’t be a pushover.

Iraq
Last trading: 2.5
Now trading: 5
This looks too much for them and Iran shouldn’t have a problem accounting for them in the quarters.

Jordan
SUSPENDED
Really should have been there in place of Iraq - disappointing.

Palestine
SUSPENDED
Sentimental favourites of the tournament and it’s been an absolute pleasure having them here. Welcome to come back anytime and they should be proud of their efforts.
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Byline Banter: Asian Cup Stock Exchange

With the A-League still on break and the Asian Cup well and truly underway, this week - and until the end of the Asian Cup - Byline Banter will be your home of the Asian Cup Stock Exchange (ACSX).

However, we’re not Tom Waterhouse and unlike the national stock exchange where the stock is listed in prices, ours will be a rating out of 10 based on the likelihood of each nation taking out the title.


Group A

Australia
Opened at: 8
Now trading: 9
Two dominating wins has the host nation looking a real threat to take out the title, even though they’re yet to face another serious contender.

South Korea
Opened at: 8
Now trading: 8
The South Koreans have so far done what they’ve needed to do without being totally convincing. Australia has been far more impressive against Oman and Kuwait, tallying eight goals as opposed to Korea’s two. Saturday’s match against the Socceroos will provide them with a chance to show the other nations how serious they are.

Kuwait
Opened at: 3
Now trading: SUSPENDED
The Kuwaitis will be looking to avoid last spot when they face Oman in Newcastle on Saturday night.

Oman
Opened at: 4
Now trading: SUSPENDED
Oman should take care of Kuwait and avoid the dreaded last place finish in Group A.


Group B

Uzbekistan
Opened at: 6
Now trading: 6
The White Wolves were Champions in 1994 and finished fourth in the last Asian Cup; there is no reason to think they’re going to do any worse than that. They’re well drilled and will improve on their opening match.

China
Opened at: 4
Now trading: 5
China shocked Saudi Arabia in their opening match and may be more dangerous than first expected. Still hard to see them going past the quarters.

North Korea
Opened at: 2
Now trading: 2
Did much better than expected against Uzbekistan in the first match and almost stole a point. Still too hard for them.

Saudi Arabia
Opened at: 5
Now trading: 5
Defeat at the hands of China would have come as a real shock and the Green Falcons need a result against North Korea on Wednesday night to remain a chance of qualifying.


Group C


United Arab Emirates
Opened at: 5.5
Now trading: 6.5
Absolutely dusted up by Qatar 4-0 and will now be looking to push towards the semi-finals. Not that far out of contention.

Iran
Opened at: 7
Now trading: 7
The Iranians are the highest-ranked team according to FIFA and they’ll be quite happy to fly under the radar as they march towards the semis. Good roughie.

Bahrain
Opened at: 3
Now trading: 2.5
Have been eliminated at the group stage in the last two Asian Cups and it’s hard to see them going any further this time around, particularly considering their next match is against UAE.

Qatar
Opened at: 3
Now trading: 2.5
Similar story to Bahrain and they need a result against Iran on Thursday night. How did they get the World Cup again?


Group D

Japan
Opened at: 9
Now trading: 9
The reigning champions were considered by many to be favorites for the title again and their structured performance against Palestine did nothing to damage their hopes.

Iraq
Opened at: 2.5
Now trading: 2.5
Got the result in a yawn-fest against Jordan on Monday night, but at least they got the points.

Jordan
Opened at: 4
Now trading: 3
Made the quarter finals in 2011 but will need quick improvement if they want to do it again this time around.

Palestine
Opened at: 1
Now trading: 1.5
Did better than many expected against Japan and got plenty of support from the crowd. Australians love an underdog and will no doubt be getting right behind them until the end of their campaign.
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Asian Cup a big miss for Adelaide

Adelaide is a city packed full of people that are often desperate for something to do.

For those that haven’t visited the City of Churches, if you come outside of March – when the Fringe Festival, Clipsal 500 and Adelaide Cabaret take over the streets – it can be a rather dull place.


So when the state Labor government decided it was high time the city’s major sporting venue was upgraded - which was completed last year - there wasn’t really an excuse for not making the ground up to the standards of international football.

The result is this: the Socceroos play elsewhere whilst the Adelaide Oval sits around collecting the dust of its former self which lingers in its historic heir.

As the Asian Cup tears up and down the east coast of this continent, Adelaidiens are presented with a choice: fork out the bucks for a flight and hotel and watch your boys run amok interstate, or stay at home and watch it on TV. If you don’t have Foxtel - and let’s face it, you need Foxtel in Adelaide - the best you’ll get in the group stage is a two-hour delay on the ABC.

It could have been so different. There is no doubt that had the national side played a game at Adelaide Oval, at least 45,000 people would have turned up. The 25,000 that graced AAMI Park on Friday night was an impassioned lot, beaming with pride for their victorious countrymen, but surely almost double is a better result for the game.

This is meant with no disrespect for the host cities of the tournament; Melbourne always puts on a good show when it comes to sport, and Sydney and Brisbane surely won’t let anyone down either, but the numbers must do the talking, and in the case of Adelaide Oval, the numbers are quite impressive.

More than 30,000 punters watched Adelaide United draw with Melbourne Victory in the infancy of the current A-league season and the AFL season had its best yet in the state as the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide Power took to the ground for the first time. Likewise, the recent cricket has been an outstanding success, despite the abrupt changes in the schedule.

What could have been a tremendous international advert for the state turned out to be an expensive trip away for its citizens. What’s more annoying is the fact that the FFA tried to help the government get Adelaide Oval up to standard but the government refused.

If the Premier and his cabinet were at Adelaide airport on Friday morning, they would have seen a sea of green and gold boarding flights away from this town. Let's hope they realise what a waste that is.
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Byline Banter: Asian Cup edition

So ends another crazy Christmas/New Year period with the A-League providing a welcome distraction from family and friends. But despite 15 matches taking place in 11 days, it’s as-you-were on the ladder.

But with the A-League on a break for the next three weeks thanks to the AFC Asian Cup, now is as good a time as ever to take a look at the main contenders to be crowned Champions of Asia.


The best teams in our region head into the tournament looking to prove that football in Asia can stand up to that of the rest of the world after all the Asian teams to qualify for the 2014 World Cup placed last in their respective groups.

Coincidentally, Japan, South Korea, Iran and Australia – the countries that qualified for the World Cup – are the nation’s most likely to take out the title and claim bragging rights in Asia until 2019.

Japan is the team that will have Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou most worried, coming off the back of some impressive lead in performances including 2-1 victory over Australia and a 6-0 demolishing of Honduras.

Leading into the competition there was speculation the Blue Samurai would make a coaching change after Mexican boss Javier Aguirre became embroiled in an alleged match fixing case in Spain relating to a 2010-11 La Liga match, but the former Athletico Madrid boss looks set to remain at the helm.

Japan will start their campaign against Palestine in Newcastle on Monday night and with AC Milan playmaker Keisuke Honda, Borussia Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa and Japan’s most capped player Yasuhitto Endo in their ranks anything less than the crown would be a missed opportunity.

South Korea are also looming as a serious threat for the title and pose an early test for the Socceroos with both teams drawing Group A.

1960 was the last time The Reds lifted the Asian Cup and their lead in form has also been an issue with Real Madrid legend Uli Stielike’s men failing to secure back-to-back wins in 2014 and were dusted up 4-0 by Ghana.

However with the likes of former Arsenal forward Park Chu-young and Bayer Leverkusen wide man Son Heung-win at his disposal Stielike will have the two-time Asian Cup winners ready to go deep into the tournament.

Iran may well prove to be the best of the roughies if one was is inclined to throw money in that direction, And with the likes of young gun Reza Ghoochannejhad who has scored 11 times in his 18 caps for the Princes of Persia it’s hard not to see them not having a strong showing.

The Iranians are the only team with an Asian Cup hat-trick to their name (1968, 1972, and 1976) but they’ve failed to contest a final since then despite going close in 2007 finishing 3rd.

Consecutive defeats to Qatar and Japan has the left Postecoglou with a record of just two wins from 12 matches leaving many Australians nervous at the prospect of the Socceroos kicking off the tournament against Kuwait on Friday night,

Australia has only tasted victory once since the 2014 World Cup with a 3-2 win over Saudi Arabia last September being followed up by a draw with the United Arab Emirates in October.

However, it’s a well-known fact the Socceroos play better on home soil and green and gold faithful only need remember their breathtaking close-fought 3-2 loss to the Netherlands last June and the gutsy 2-1 victory over Costa Rica 12 months ago.

Irrespective of how the Socceroos do in the Asian Cup, the entire country should still be proud of the fact that Australia is now seeing some quality international competitions and football coming to our isolated island nation.

But yeah, they’re going to win.

Group A: Australia, South Korea, Oman, Kuwait

Group B: Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, China PR, North Korea

Group C: Iran, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain

Group D: Japan, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine
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Wanderers' woes continue against Victory

The rivalry between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory is one that is young but full of excitement and passion.

For the team in Western Sydney, history seems to be repeating itself once again as they had a great opportunities and were simply unable to secure a win as the Victory managed a 2-1 win.


Wanderer Labinot Haliti had some of the best chances in the match that could have secured the Wanderers' first win, but he was forced into scenarios where he either stretched his leg past the ball or he shot it into the side of the net or over the top of the goal.

The tension between the two sides transcended from the terraces onto the pitch with Besart Berisha brutally knocking over Shannon Cole which was unnecessary. Berisha was quiet for the remainder of the match but he fought for every opportunity the Victory created.

The first half certainly displayed Victory's attacking prowess which was far superior to that of the Wanderers, who were relying on Haliti to finish off chances.

Nikita Rukavystya almost broke the goal-scoring drought for the Wanderers as he went on a fantastic run but Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe was able to tip the ball over the woodwork.

Despite the prosperous start for the Wanderers, Carl Valeri was able to curve the ball past Ante Covic and scored the opener of the match.

Kosta Barbarouses almost doubled their lead in the opening of the second half, swerving through the Wanderers defence only to send a straight ball just wide of the goal.

The Wanderers seemed to have brought on an entirely new squad in the second half as the players looked rejuvenated and were bursting with energy.

The red and black were finally able to bring forth an equaliser after Nikita Rukavytsya assisted recent signing Nick Kalmar, who then shot the ball into the far right side.

This was followed by a great cross by Antony Golec and Mark Bridge sprinting down the field only for his shot to deflect off the Victory’s defence into the distance.

The Wanderers dominated the game in the second half and the Victory were certainly caving into the pressure with balls being wasted and even keeper Coe kicking the ball out of the field.

Mateo Poljak was able to corner Coe and provided an opening for Bridge but he was unable to score in the empty goal.

This dominance saw a brief break when the Victory scored their second and final goal in the match. A strong shot forced Covic to push the ball out of the danger area, sending it back into the field of play.

Unluckily for the Wanderers, it bounced into the feet of Gui Finkler who without hesitation sunk the ball into the back of the net, increasing the Victory's lead to 2-1.

Debutant Steve Kuzmanovski almost scored off one of his first touches after a smart ball forced Nathan Coe to push the ball over the net, but that was one of the final opportunities for the Wanderers to score.

The game concluded at 2-1 and the upcoming break for the Asian Cup will be definitely important for the Wanderers as they did not have the most conventional pre-season; this will give them an opportunity to start the remainder of the season fresh in February.



Western Sydney Wanderers squad: Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, Brendan HAMILL, Shannon COLE, Antony GOLEC, Mateo POLJAK, Nikita RUKAVYTYSA, Yianni PERKATIS (61" Jason TRIFIRO), Nick KALMAR (73" Jaushua Sotirio), Mark BRIDGE, Labinot HALITI (87" Steve KUZMANOVSKI) and Ante COVIC (GK).

Unused substitutes: Dean Bouzanis and Daniel Alessi.


Melbourne Victory squad: Leigh BROXHAM (C), Gui FINKLER, Besart BERISHA (89" Andrew NABBOUT), Kosta BARBAROUSES, Fahid Ben KHALFALLAH, Dylan MURNANE (46" Daniel GEORGIEVSKI), Carl VALERI, Jesse MAKAROUNAS (64" Rashid MAHAZI), Scot GALLOWAY and Nathan COE (GK).

Unused substitutes:  Connor PAIN and Lawrence THOMAS (GK).
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