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18.1.2019

CITY UP NEXT FOR LEAGUE LEADERS

The games keep coming quick and fast for Hyundai A-League leaders Perth Glory, and after back to back home wins against Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers they head east for Week 14 to take on fourth placed Melbourne City on Saturday afternoon at AAMI Park. It will be Glory's fifth game in 20 days, but they keep getting the job done, although last week’s sensational fightback against the Wanderers was a close thing, but a Diego Castro inspired comeback maintained their six-point lead at the top. That lead was cut to three points when Melbourne Victory thrashed Brisbane Roar in midweek, and with Sydney, Adelaide United and Melbourne City pressing a win on Saturday will keep them all in their shadow. City did however lose ground on Glory after a surprise loss at Central Coast Mariners in midweek, so they will be looking to bounce back on Saturday.

Both sides have been in the transfer news in recent weeks, with reports Glory striker Andy Keogh and City's Uruguayan striker Bruno Fornaroli could be swapping clubs. But Tony Popovic, and Keogh himself have denied it, and I'm sure the Irishman will be doing all he can on Saturday to bring the three points home. Again, all the focus will be on which team Popovic will select this week. In the past two games he has made ten changes, and after Sunday's tough battle with the Wanderers he might tinker again. He rested Matthew Spiranovic and Neil Kilkenny for the Wanderers game, and it likes they will return, a huge game for Kilkenny against his former club, while Jason Davidson, Castro and Brendan Santalab all came off the bench last week and all had good games - Good luck with that one Popa.

Popovic said it’s a good problem to have and he believes they can get better, which is a worry for the rest of the league. "We'll put out a team that we believe will win this game," he said. "It won't revolve around resting anyone. We've had a few days to recharge. It's only a six-day turnaround, but at this stage that feels like a lifetime. I believe we can be a lot fitter, and I don't believe we're fit enough yet to play our style of football for 90 minutes. But that will grow and that will get better. It's not easy to open up and play at all times the way we want to. Physically it's very demanding. We've got to keep working on that and improving that, and hopefully the minutes will get longer and longer that we can dominate games."

Without Fornaroli City Head coach Warren Joyce has tried a number of players up top, Lachlan Wales looked good and scored in the midweek defeat, while last weekend defender Ritchie De Laet did the job and popped up with the winner against Brisbane. The midfield battle will be interesting with Dario Vidosic, Rostyn Griffiths and Luke Brattan are forming a tough combination, so whoever Glory go with it's vital to get that spot right. Jake Brimmer and Juande were the pair against Wanderers, but with Kilkenny coming back, will he give Brandon Wilson some game time in the middle or will he go for Spiranovic, who can play that role too. At the back Shane Lowry was replaced at half time last week, no injury has been mentioned, but with Scott Neville, Tomislav Mrcela and Alex Grant all putting in good shifts, this is another tough choice for the coach, but a good one to have.

City get back Harrison Delbridge to the side as the defender returns from his one-match ban for the accumulation of yellow cards. Dario Vidosic also joins him in the 18-man squad with the attacker still touch and go with the hip injury that has kept him out of the previous three matches. Osama Malik is under an injury cloud and will be given the maximum time to prove his fitness for Saturday with the defender picking up a corked thigh against the Mariners, while Mark Birighitti could also miss with a back injury, he has been replaced in the squad by James Delianov, but will also be given up to kick off to prove he is fit.

Melbourne City FC squad: GK Eugene GALEKOVIC, RGK James DELIANOV, 2 Ritchie De LAET, 3 Scott JAMIESON (c), 4 Harrison DELBRIDGE, 5 Bart SCHENKEVELD, 6 Osama MALIK, 7 Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 8 Riley MCGREE, 10 Dario VIDOSIC, 13 Nathaniel ATKINSON, 15 Kearyn BACCUS, 19 Lachlan WALES, 21 Ramy NAJJARINE, 22 Curtis GOOD, 26 Luke BRATTAN, 27 Florin BERENGUER-BOHRER, 34 Connor METCALFE - *two to be omitted* - Ins: DELBRIDGE (return from suspension), VIDOSIC (promoted) - Outs: Nil

Perth Glory squad: GK Liam REDDY, RGK Tando VELAPHI, 2 Alex GRANT, 3 Jason DAVIDSON, 4 Shane LOWRY, 5 Ivan FRANJIC, 7 Joel CHIANESE, 9 Andy KEOGH, 11 Brendon SANTALAB, 13 Matthew SPIRANOVIC, 15 Brandon WILSON, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, 20 Jake BRIMMER, 22 Fabio FERREIRA, 23 Scott NEVILLE, 27 JUANDE, 88 Neil KILKENNY - *two to be omitted* - Ins: SPIRANOVIC, WILSON - Outs: Nil - Unavailable: 19.Chris IKONOMIDIS (international duty)

18.1.2019

GLORY YOUTH SIDE HAVE CITY IN THEIR SIGHTS

PGFC academy First Team will play their final Foxtel Y-League game this weekend, when they visit CB Smith Reserve to take on Melbourne City. After back-to-back wins the youngsters currently sit in third spot on the Conference A table, two points behind Sunday's opponents, and they can have a say who will play in the Grand Final next month, with City vying for top spot with Brisbane Roar. Gabriel Popovic has settled in nicely at the club, after his move along with his brother Kristian from Western Sydney Wanderers last season, and he was outstanding in the 4-2 win against Adelaide United last time out, and the 15-year-old said they fought the game out well and deserved the three points.

"It was a great team performance from the boys against Adelaide, especially after going down to ten men," he explained. "We fought hard together for the full 90 minutes, and it was great to come away with the three points and win back-to-back games for the first time this season. "My brother and I have settled in well, as it's never easy to join a new club, but the boys have been great with helping us settle into the new environment."

The striker, who is the son of Hyundai A-League Head Coach Tony Popovic, will miss the trip after a training ground injury, but he said the young group have improved and are now performing well and they head into the final game full of confidence, and will be doing all they can to end their season on a high. "I'm really disappointed to miss the game due an injury I picked up in training, but that’s football, the boys head over to Melbourne full of confidence," he said. "The squad have been working very hard every week in training, and it's so glad to see it showing on the pitch. We want to win every match we play in and Sunday will be no different, so hopefully the boys get the job done and end the season on a high."

Head coach Richard Garcia was pleased with his sides battling performance against Adelaide and he said it showed how far the squad has come this season. "To go down to ten men so early in the game wasn't ideal, but it showed me that the group have been taking things on board and they played with courage" he explained. "They fought for everything and continued to try and play the football we want to play. They have worked hard so far this season and they now starting to find their feet as a group, but there is still plenty of room for improvement and hard work ahead.

Garcia said City are a talented side and he is confident they can go there and put in a positive performance. "It's the final game of the season and the players have another opportunity to play against a good opponent and test themselves" he said. "The guys are gelling well as a group and have grown, which is a great to see. We lost Zayd last week early in the game and everyone dug in and played with a fair amount of maturity, it’s pleasing to see. It’s now about reproducing those performances consistently "

17.1.2019

HARD WORK RE-IGNITES DAVIDSON'S NATIONAL DREAM

Perth Glory defender Jason Davidson's mental strength and appetite for hard work have reignited his hopes of a return to the national set-up. Davidson has been a key in Glory's table-topping run, playing all 13 games and coming off the bench to help spark Sunday's 4-3 win over Western Sydney Wanderers.

Davidson is expected to feature in Saturday's clash with Melbourne City as coach Tony Popovic rotates his players in a heavy schedule. But it could have been a very different story. A hairline fracture was discovered in his back when he joined West Bromwich Albion after an impressive 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"It's something that I've had from young apparently," said Davidson, who has 22 Socceroos caps. "I don't even know where it is. It has been a test of my mental side at times, but it's important to be strong mentally to keep going. I just try to focus on the positive side and keep the negative stuff out of my head."

WBA retained Davidson despite the injury but after a couple of games he moved to Huddersfield Town. He was also with Groningen before signing for Glory from Croatian side Rijeka, where he was loaned out to Slovenian club Olimpija Ljublijana.

Davidson has dropped 5kg under the tough Popovic regime. "I came to Perth to get back to a level where I needed to be. I thought Tony was the best coach to give me the opportunity to get back in the national team," he said.

"It's been fantastic to feel fresh and fit again. It's enjoyable to play with a smile on my face, be happy and enjoy my football. Every player should have the ambition to play for their country. I've been fortunate enough to have tasted that and it's something I aspire to again."

16.1.2019

POPOVIC'S WARNING TO A-LEAGUE RIVALS

Here's a scary thought for Perth Glory's rivals - coach Tony Popovic reckons his players are going to get even fitter in the coming weeks. Glory have built a reputation for their elite fitness this season, with Popovic's demanding training regime helping his team snatch a series of wins at the death.

Glory's dominance late in games was on display again last Sunday when they came from 3-1 down in the 77th minute to snatch a 4-3 win over Western Sydney Wanderers. Glory are three points clear on top of the table - a margin they can extend to six with victory over Melbourne City on Saturday night.

Popovic has been thrilled with his team's sensational start to the 2018/19 season. But he's adamant they can go to another level. "I believe we can be a lot fitter," Popovic said. "I don't believe we're fit enough yet to play our style of football for 90 minutes.

"But that will grow and that will get better. It's not easy to open up and play at all times the way we want to. Physically it's very demanding. We've got to keep working on that and improving that, and hopefully the minutes will get longer and longer that we can dominate games."

Popovic successfully rotated his squad during a recent stretch of three games in eight days. The former Socceroo is likely to do the same when Glory take on Melbourne City (away), Adelaide (home) and Newcastle (home) over the space of eight days.

15.1.2019

ROGIC SECURES SOCCEROOS SPOT IN KNOCKOUT STAGE

A late goal from Celtic midfielder Tom Rogic has secured the Socceroos a place in the knock-out stage of the 2019 Asian Cup after a 3-2 win in Group B against Syria at Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday evening. The holders were made to fight for the win against a determined Syria, who were roared on by a vocal crowd. Awer Mabil gave Graham Arnold's side the lead just before half time, but Syria hit back moments later, Omar Khrbin scoring from close-range. Perth Glory winger Chris Ikonomidis regained the lead for the Socceroos, but a dubious penalty ten minutes from time by Omar Al-Soma restored parity. Another Syria goal would have knocked the Socceroos out, and there were some nervy moments, but Rogic calmed the nerves in stoppage time, firing home superbly from the edge of the box.

"It's fantastic, a wonderful learning process," Arnold said. "The older boys did very well with their leadership, we knew that Syria were going to throw everything at us but we did well tonight. We're very grateful and happy to go through to the last 16, I do believe the longer we go, the longer the learning experience for these guys on a four-year journey. That was a difficult pitch to play on, very quick, Mabil is a terrific striker. That's another learning experience. Past experiences show that when you score a goal or concede you have a three- or four-minute emotional window where you can switch off. Straight after we scored, we conceded, that’s when you have to be more focused than ever.”

Many were concerned in some of the defending on the night, but Arnold said he is focusing on the positives for now. "It's when there are a lot of long balls, it can become a lottery with the second ball," he said. "The first goal was a mental thing, the second one, you said I don't want to look at - it was a penalty, there's not a lot we can do. "This journey is really exciting, I'm learning a lot on how to deal with training sessions. Without four players out there tonight through injury and suspension, it was a mighty performance."

Arnold made one forced change to the starting line up from the win against Palestine, with Massimo Luongo coming into midfield, with skipper Mark Milligan dropping back to the centre of defence in place of the suspended Trent Sainsbury. It was Syria who settled the quicker, and they looked dangerous every time they went forward, and the dangerous Khrbin went close to the opener on 13 minutes, but he fired wide of the post. The Socceroos should have taken the lead eight minutes later, Rhyan Grant's teasing cross picked out Jamie Maclaren, who lost his marker, but his glancing header flashed wide - he should have done better. Maclaren, who scored his first goal for the green and gold against Palestine, went close again on 36 minutes.

The Hibernian striker was picked out by Rogic, but Ibrahim Alma produced a good save to deny him completed a better save to deny Maclaren's follow up. But the keeper could do little on 41 minutes when the Socceroos hit the front. Ikonomidis found Mabil, whose curling shot flew in the top corner of the net, much to the relief of the Australian fans in the crowd. But they say you are always vulnerable just after you score and that was the case as Syria levelled two minutes later. Mouaiad Al Ajaan cross was headed goal wards by Khrbin, Mat Ryan saved, but the ball wasn't cleared and when it was returned back into the box Khrbin side footed home from close-range.

The Socceroos re-grouped at the break and they opened well with Mabel firing over the top, and on 54 minutes they regained the lead. Rogic's slide-rule pass picked out Ikonomidis on the left of the penalty area and he finished low past Alma, and despite a desperate goal line clearance from ? the goal was awarded, much to displeasure of the Syrian players, who surrounded the referee as they thought the ball hadn't crossed the line, but the goal stood, and replays later showed it did go over the line. Syria were then adamant they had a penalty when it looked like the ball hit the arm of skipper Milligan in the box, but the referee waved away their penalty claims, I think the Socceroos got away with that one.

Arnold's side looked to kill the game off and Rogic's low shot was saved by Alma, before Ikonomidis fired just wide on 70 minutes. They went closer five minutes later, second half substitute Apostolos Giannou raced down the right channel, his low shot beat Alma, but crashed off the far post and away to safety. But on 79 minutes they certainly didn't when Omar Al Soma fell in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Replay's showed he had been brought down by his own team mate, but Al Soma sent Ryan the wrong way to level things up again.

It was now Syria pressing for the winner and Fahad Youssef long-range shot flashed wide, and moments later Tamer Hag Mohamad did likewise. It was tense, as one more goal to Syria would end the Socceroos campaign, but in third minute of stoppage time they scored the vital third. Ikonomidis found space down the right and intelligently squared to the ball to Rogic on the edge of the box and he finished clinically to win it. The Socceroos' Round of 16 opponents will be the Group F runner-up, which will be determined when Japan and Uzbekistan square off in the early hours of Friday morning.

Australia: GK Mat Ryan, 2 Milos Degenek, 4 Rhyan Grant, 5 Mark Milligan, 8 Massimo Luongo (6 Matthew Jurman 90+1'), 9 Jamie Maclaren (14 Apostolos Giannou 68'), 15 Chris Ikonomidis, 16 Aziz Behich, 21 Awer Mabil (10 Robbie Kruse 82'), 22 Jackson Irvine, 23 Tom Rogic

Syria: GK Ibrahim Alma, 2 Ahmad Al Saleh, 3 Mouaiad Al Ajaan, 5 Omro Al Midani, 7 Omar Khrbin, 8 Mahmoud Almawas, 9 Omar Al Soma, 10 Mohammed Osman (21 Fahad Youssef 72'), 12 Hussein Al Jwayed (15 Abdul Malek Anizan 74'), 14 Tamer Hag Mohamad, 20 Khaled Al Mbayed (18 Mohamad Zaher Almedani 83') – Referee - Cesar Arturo Ramos Palazuelos

13.1.2019

GLORY FIGHTBACK TO BEAT WANDERERS

Perth Glory maintained their six-point lead at the top of the Hyundai A-League after a gutsy come from behind 4-3 win against Western Sydney Wanderers at HBF Park on Sunday afternoon. Goals either side of half time from Kwame Yeboah and Roly Bonevacia looked like it would end Glory's recent good form, but second half substitute Diego Castro pulled one back. Abraham Majok then added Wanderers' third and it looked grim for Tony Popovic's side, but goals from Ivan Franjic, Andy Keogh and a controversial Juande penalty four minutes from time completed the stunning comeback.

"It was a crazy sort of game," Popovic said post-match. "We created an amazing opportunity in the first couple of minutes and we didn't take it. They've [Wanderers] been very dangerous all year and are a very dynamic team, but we defended very poorly today, so it was no real surprise that we struggled at times. But what can you say about the character of the boys? You're down 3-1 in the 77th minute at home and you win 4-3. It's quite special. I'm just delighted for everyone involved and I'm sure it's a night that the fans will remember."

Glory made five changes to the side that beat Sydney FC on Wednesday with Scott Neville and Tomislav Mrcela came into the back line for the rested Matthew Spiranovic and Jason Davidson, who dropped to the bench. Juande came into the middle of the park for Neil Kilkenny, who dropped to the bench, while Andy Keogh and Fabio Ferreira came in to the front line, with Diego Castro and Brendan Santalab also dropping to the bench, as the coach continued his rotation policy. While the Wanderers were missing import players Oriol Riera and Alexander Baumjohann.

The home side made a good start and should have taken the lead after only three minutes. A neat one-two between Ferreira and Neville sent the defender down the right, his cross picked out the unmarked Keogh five meters from goal, but the Irish striker headed inches wide. The side selected by Glory had raised a few eye brows in the 9,000 crowd, but it was a good start and Juande tested Wanderers keeper Nicholas Suman moments later.

It was the second visit to Perth for the Wanderers this season, and they starting to get on top in this one and Yeboah was denied by a smart save by Liam Reddy. Yeboah, who has recent signed for the Wanderers from German club Fortuna Köln was a real handful and he was thwarted again by Reddy as they pressed for the opener and it duly came six minutes before half time. Nick Fitzgerald's corner flicked off the head of Shane Lowry and Yeboah turned the ball home at the back post despite Mrcela's attempted goal line clearance.

Popovic made a double change at the break, bringing on Castro and Davidson for Shane Lowry and Joel Chianese, and once again it was a positive start, with Suman getting down well at his near post to save Franjic's effort, but against the run of play it was the visitors who doubled their advantage on 67 minutes. A quick break down the left by substitute Abraham Majok, who had replaced the injured Jordan O'Doherty after only 18 minutes, he released Yeboah who squared the ball to Bonevacia, and the Dutch striker made no mistake from the edge of the box.

It didn't look good for Glory, but they are a new team under Popovic, and they reduced the margin four minutes later. Jake Brimmers’s cross wasn’t dealt with and Neville’s shot was turned home by Castro from close-range. The flag was up for offside but after consulting with his assistant the goal stood. But the game swung back in the visitors’ favour when Yeboah led another quick counter-attack and laid the ball off for Majok to fire low past Reddy. Many in the ground thought that was game over, but Glory had other ideas. First on 79 minutes Castro’s cross was headed against the bar by Alex Grant and Franjic fired home the rebound to make it 3-2.

Then four minutes later the home side drew level, Castro slipped Franjic down the right and his low cross was turned home by Keogh at the back post. Glory were well on top and two minutes later Glory won it, when Keogh was pulled down in the box by Brendan Hamill and referee Kurt Ams pointed to the spot. It looked a little soft, but VAR gave it the all clear and Juande finished with aplomb. But the action hadn’t finished there and in the third minute of stoppage time Jaushua Sotirio found space in the box, but Grant got back with a last-ditch tackle to deny him and seal a remarkable comeback.

Wanderers head coach Marcus Babbel was left fuming after the game and thought the officials got some of the decisions wrong. “If I say that, what I think, what is in me then I get a (fine) or I get banned, so I’m not talking about it,” he said post-match. “But you have the chance to talk about it because I saw a fantastic game, two games played a really good style of football I think for the supporters, for the people in the stadium, was a fantastic game to watch." He also added he struggled to see how there were “so many mistakes” in the A-League, given the presence of the VAR. "This is what I don’t understand. Now you have the help with the VAR and even then, you do so many mistakes,” he said. “This is very hard to accept and especially if you have a team on the pitch like today with so many young players that deserved definitely more. But what will you do?”

Perth Glory: GK Liam REDDY, 2 Alex GRANT, 4 Shane LOWRY (3 Jason DAVIDSON 46'), 5 Ivan FRANJIC, 7 Joel CHIANESE (17 Diego CASTRO 46'), 9 Andy KEOGH, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 20 Jake BRIMMER, 22 Fabio FERREIRA (11 Brendon SANTALAB 81'), 23 Scott NEVILLE, 27 JUANDE - Subs not used: RGK Tando VELAPHI, 88 Neil KILKENNY

Western Sydney Wanderers: GK Nicholas SUMAN, 5 Brendan HAMILL (c), 7 Nick FITZGERALD (22 Rashid MAHAZI 62'), 8 Jordan O’DOHERTY (49 Abraham MAJOK 18'), 11 Bruce KAMAU, 13 Tass MOURDOUKOUTAS, 17 Keanu BACCUS, 21 Tarek ELRICH, 27 Kwame YEBOAH (16 Jaushua SOTIRIO 87'), 28 Roly BONEVACIA, 33 Tate RUSSELL - Subs not used: RGK Vedran JANJETOVIC, 14 Mathieu CORDIER - Referee: Kurt Ams

13.1.2019

UNDERSTRENGTH JETS DEAL GLORY'S TOP TWO HOPES A BLOW

Perth Glory's top-two finish lies in tatters this morning after a disappointing 1-3 defeat against an understrength Newcastle Jets at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday afternoon. Skipper Sam Kerr gave them the lead at half time, but after the break it was all Jets and goals to Arin Wright, Tara Andrews and Cortnee Vine stunned Bobby Despotovski's side and has really dented their top two aspirations, while the win bolstered the Jets finals chances.

"We did not play well in the second half, not at all and it was very disappointing," Despotovski said post-match. "It was a pretty even game in the first half and we took our goal well. I thought the girls played well in the first half, but the second half was horrendous.

"I'm not sure that Newcastle are better than us quality-wise, but it looked like they wanted it more and it was exactly the same as the second half against Melbourne Victory [in Round 9]. Once things started not to go our way, we seemed to want to hide and that's not acceptable. We need to calm down now, reflect on the game and then get back on the training ground, regroup and get ready for the Western Sydney game. The finals places are all still up for grabs."

Glory opened brightly and went close to the lead on 23 minutes, Leticia McKenna’s shot was well saved by Jets keeper Britt Eckerstrom. The home side went close moments later, Arin Wright shot flashed inches over the top. But on the half hour Glory hit the front. Rachel Hill's cross was headed home by Kerr for her 50th goal in Glory colours. Glory custodian Eliza Campbell made sure they would go to the break with the lead, producing a stunning save to thwart Jenna Kingsley.

The Jets lifted after the break and Hannah Brewer and Gema Simon both went close before Wright levelled things up on the hour, a well-struck shot from the edge of the box. The home side hit the front four minutes later, Andrews capitalised after some hesitant Glory defending. Kerr did come close to restoring parity with a header, while substitute Lexie Moreno also fired just over the bar, but they couldn’t find a away past the impressive Eckerstrom. With Glory pushing players forward the Jets wrapped up the points in stoppage time, Vine shot took a deflection and rolled in to the net past Campbell.

Newcastle Jets FC: GK Britt ECKERSTROM, 2 Hannah BREWER, 4 Libby COPUS-BROWN (11 Cortnee VINE 61'), 5 Arin WRIGHT, 6 Cassidy DAVIS, 7 Gema SIMON, 12 Tara ANDREWS (19 Pana PETRATOS 89'),17 Jenna KINGSLEY, 18 Clare WHEELER, 22 Larissa CRUMMER, 32 Tessa TAMPLIN (25 Teigan COLLISTER 72') - Subs not used: RGK Claire COELHO

Perth Glory: GK Eliza CAMPBELL, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Alyssa MAUTZ, 5 Shannon MAY (15 Alexia MORENO, 84'), 9 Rachel HILL, 10 Jacynta GALABADAARACHCHI (17 Liana COOK 45'), 11 Leticia McKENNA (12 Jenna ONIONS 56'), 13 Jamie-Lee GALE, 20 Sam KERR (c), 24 Natasha RIGBY, 25 Katie NAUGHTON - Subs not used: RGK Morgan AQUINO - Referee - Isabella Blaess

12.1.2019

KEOGH INSISTS HE'S NOT GOING ANYWHERE

Perth Glory's chances of snaring Bruno Fornaroli appear dead in the water after Andy Keogh expressed his desire to stay in Perth. Melbourne City were exploring the prospect of a blockbuster trade that would have seen them send Fornaroli to Glory in a straight swap for Keogh.

Fornaroli's hefty pay packet was already shaping to be a major stumbling block, while City were also hesitant to send the star attacker to a title rival. The final nail on the head could be Keogh's preference to stay in Perth, where he is settled with an extended family.

"I see my future here," said Keogh, who joined Glory in 2000 and the clubs' fourth highest goalscorer with 47 goals in 106 appearances. "I'm settled in Perth with my family and have enjoyed my time in WA over the past four-and-a-half years."

"I'm close to finalising my Australian citizenship and have built up a good relationship with the passionate fans who have always been great to me through the good and the bad. They're also my harshest critics which is great because it pushes me to perform even better."

The 32-year old has been in strong form this season, netting seven goals in 12 games. "I'm in form at the moment, enjoying my football and loving the new regime under Tony Popovic," Keogh said. "The team has been performing consistently and I'm happy to have contributed more to that this season, long may it continue."

12.1.2019

'THIS IS JUST THE START' SAYS SOCCEROO IKONOMIDIS

Look out Asia, the Socceroos are just getting started - that's the message from Perth Glory's Chris Ikonomidis after Australia kick-started their AFC Asian Cup defence with a 3-0 win over Palestine. The 23-year-old made the most of being handed a start by providing assists for Awer Mabil and Aposotolos Giannou in a bright display.

"I'm happy with my performance and the team's win," Ikonomidis said. "We've got a squad full of talented players. This is Australia. This is just the start for us, we're only just getting warmed up. There's so much more to give. I think there's a real buzz in camp and everyone's excited for the next match."

Ikonomidis's rise to Socceroos starter is one of several exciting emergences in Australian football since last year's FIFA World Cup. His ball to Mabil for the South Sudanese refugee's strike was a combination between two 23-year olds who weren't part of Australia's squad at last year's World Cup in nRussia.

"I told him before the match to come in on my right foot and I'll have my head up, just cut across the defence and I'll look for you. We performed that," Ikonomidis said. "Getting that one win and having the goals flow brings a little bit of relaxation and more confidence to team."

12.1.2019

TRAINING GROUND INJURY RULES LYDEN OUT FOR THE SEASON

Aston Villa's Jordan Lyden is out for the remainder of the 2018/19 season following a freak injury in training. The midfielder was recalled by Villa boss Dean Smith earlier in the week from on loan to League Two side Oldham Athletic.

22-year old Lyden damaged a muscle when he simply had a shot at the end of a training session, with scans showing he will miss at least the next three months. It is a blow to Lyden and Smith as Villa seek a return to the Premier League with a promotion push in the second half of the season.

12.1.2019

LIONS AND PHOENIX PLAY FOR BAXTER

Football is not the main concern when Stirling Lions host South West Phoenix at Macedonia Park on January 19, the game will be a Charity Match for Phoenix teenager Baxter Hutchinson who was diagnosed with brain cancer last year, with all money raised going to the ‘Cure Brain Cancer Foundation’.

“After being diagnosed in September 2018, 18-year-old Baxter has been a dedicated campaigner to raise awareness and funds to help in finding a cure for brain cancer,” Stirling Lions President Luke Pavlos said. “Andrew Forrest and Tour De Cure have both supported and contributed towards Baxter’s fundraising, helping him raise much needed money for Brain Cancer research. “South West Phoenix FC, whom Baxter played with prior to his diagnosis, along with Stirling Lions FC are proud to support the teenager, to further raise money for Brain Cancer research.”

The charity match will be held at Macedonia Park Balcatta on January 19th (5pm) A gold coin donation entry fee, canteen, bar as well as raffle ticket sales will go towards the charity, with proceeds to be donated to Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.

Baxter’s determination and courage is an inspiration to all and with unconditional support from his family and friends Baxter has been unselfishly raising money towards brain cancer. We ask all Footballwa readers and WA football supporters to come down on January 19th to support the game - gates open 4pm.

12.1.2019

WANDERERS NEXT UP FOR GLORY

Perth Glory are back in Hyundai-League action on Sunday when they host Western Sydney Wanderers in Round 13 at HBF Park (5.00pm WA Time) Glory moved six points clear of the chasing pack after the win against Sydney FC on Wednesday and this will be their fourth game in 15 days, but it doesn't look like it's affected the squad and Head coach Tony Popovic has the luxury of a full squad to choose from. Alex Grant and Fabio Ferreira were rested for the Sydney game, and both come back in the squad, while Andy Keogh started on the bench and will be pushing for a starting role this week, but Brandon Santalab, who replaced the Irishman in the starting line-up, and scored, would love I'm sure to play against his former employer.

In fact, there is four former Wanderers players in the Glory squad for the clash, Santalab, Matthew Spiranovic, Liam Reddy and Scott Neville, while Head Coach Popovic was also coach of the club. Popovic was quick to salute his players' resilience, maintaining their performances in a hectic period. "We travelled back from Brisbane and arrived on Monday afternoon and the lads put in a performance like that on Wednesday [against Sydney FC] without any talk of a short turnaround or fatigue," he said. "I think that shows where the players are at physically and mentally.

"They'll take on any challenge and we know that there are many still ahead of us and we can't take our position for granted, because if we do, we won't get the result on Sunday. We'll need to perform as well if not better against Western Sydney. They are a different type of opposition. They'll be very dynamic, they run, they chase, and they've created the most chances in the league. If we take them for granted, we'll end up empty-handed, so we need to make sure that doesn't happen."

Santalab, who scored 35 goals in 97 appearances for Wanderers, admits having many fond memories of the club but said all emotion will be put aside at kick-off. “It’s business as usual for me. The main goal against the Wanderers is to shake the back of the net,” he said. “It’s all about focus now, not thinking too deep into the situation and not letting the emotion get into this one. It’s very easy to do, but the sole focus is on the end result. Three points. I have a lot of respect for everybody at the Wanderers and what that club gave me in my career, great memories that I will have for a long time, but this is not the time think about that. This is the time for us to focus, get the three points.”

The striker opened his account for Glory in the big win against Sydney, and he said he celebrated hard after firing home the third goal of the night. “It was not so much about relief. It was great to score in my first start,” he said. “That gave me a lot of confidence. Whether I start or come off the bench goals are always in my mind. It’s always great to score but for me it’s always been about the team and the work rate and how I can make a difference for the team. That’s the key. That was my main target in the game against Sydney and the goal was a nice bonus.”

On the other hand, the Wanderers enter the game eighth on the table after a run of five matches without a win, form that sees them 10 points off the final’s places. Markus Babbel’s side should have got something from a 3-2 defeat to Wellington Phoenix on Tuesday but paid the price for poor defending late and life gets no easier for the struggling Wanderers as they head to the west without Spanish striker Oriol Riera and influential German midfielder Alexander Baumjohann, who both limped off in the loss to Wellington.

Perth Glory squad: GK Liam REDDY, RGK Tando VELAPHI, 2 Alex GRANT, 3 Jason DAVIDSON, 4 Shane LOWRY, 5 Ivan FRANJIC, 7 Joel CHIANESE, 9 Andy KEOGH, 11 Brendon SANTALAB, 13 Matthew SPIRANOVIC, 16 Tomislav MRCELA, 17 Diego CASTRO, 20 Jake BRIMMER, 21 Jacob ITALIANO, 22 Fabio FERREIRA, 23 Scott NEVILLE, 27 JUANDE, 88 Neil KILKENNY - *two to be omitted* - Ins: GRANT (promoted), FERREIRA (promoted) - Outs: Dino DJULBIC (Omitted) - Unavailable: 10 Chris IKONOMIDIS (international duty)

Western Sydney Wanderers: GK Vedran JANJETOVIC, RGK Nicholas SUMAN, 5 Brendan HAMILL (c), 7 Nick FITZGERALD, 8 Jordan O’DOHERTY, 11 Bruce KAMAU, 13 Tass MOURDOUKOUTAS, 14 Mathieu CORDIER, 17 Keanu BACCUS, 21 Tarek ELRICH, 22 Rashid MAHAZI, 24 Raul LLORENTE, 27 Kwame YEBOAH, 32 John ROBERTS, 33 Tate RUSSELL, 34 Patrick ZIEGLER, 49 Abraham MAJOK - *two to be omitted* - Ins: MAHAZI (promoted), LLORENTE (promoted), ROBERTS (promoted), MAJOK (promoted) - Outs: 9.Oriol RIERA (injury - 3 weeks) 10.Alexander BAUMJOHANN (injury – 3 weeks) - Unavailable: 16.Josh RISDON (international duty), 19.Mark BRIDGE (injury – 2 weeks)

11.1.2019

IKONOMIDIS OUTSTANDING IN SOCCEROOS WIN

Australia have breathed new life into their Asian Cup defence with a solid 3-0 win against Palestine in Dubai. After their opening round loss against Jordon it was vital to get the three points and they did it comfortably with Glory winger Chris Ikonomidis outstanding, setting up two of the goals. Jamie Maclaren opened the scoring early with his first international goal. The result never looked in doubt from that point, and the points were wrapped up, with Awer Mabil scoring the second goal and Apostolos Giannou providing the sealer at the death, both from crosses from the Glory winger. The Socceroos now need only one point from Tuesday's meeting with Syria to secure second position in Group B and a round-of-16 clash against the runner-up from Group F, likely to be Uzbekistan or Oman.

“I’m happy with my performance and the team’s win,” Ikonomidis said. “We’ve got a squad full of talented players. This is Australia. “This is just the start for us, we’re only just getting warmed up. There’s so much more to give. I think there’s a real buzz in camp and everyone’s excited for the next match.” On the Mabil goal the Glory winger said he gave him heads up prior to the match. “I told him before the match to come in on my right foot and I’ll have my head up, just cut across the defence and I’ll look for you. We performed that,” Ikonomidis said. “Getting that one win and having the goals flow brings a little bit of relaxation and more confidence to team. We’ll be doing exactly that again in four days’ time.”

Coach Graham Arnold made three changes to the team that lost their opener, Rhyan Grant replaced the injured Josh Risdon, while Ikonomidis and Jackson Irvine came in for Robbie Kruse and Massimo Luongo who both dropped to the bench. The coach wanted a reaction to the Jordan shock, and he got it, but Maclaren fluffed his lines early after being picked out by Ikonomidis, the Hibernian striker took an air swing with the goal at his mercy. But he didn’t have long to wait to rectify that miss, giving the Socceroos the lead on 18 minutes. Tom Rogic's cross from deep was headed home by Maclaren, and he was mobbed by teammates as he celebrated his drought-breaker.

You could see the relief in the group and in a flash, it was 2-0 to the reigning champions. Ikonomidis was found down the left, he cut inside his marker and sent a deep cross to the back post Mabil was on hand to fire home. Australia were on top and Irvine nearly added a third, first his effort was blocked by defender Musab Battat and his second flashed over the crossbar. The Palestinians were struggled to create anything going forward, while the Socceroos looked dangerous going the other way. Mabil could have had a brace before the break, racing into the box from Maclaren’s lay off, but he failed to find the target.

Palestine were on the front foot after the break, but it was Australia who went close to a third, Grant’s ball into the box was met by Palestine defender Abdullah Jaber his flick hit the crossbar and away to safety. The only downside of the win came on 83 minutes, when Trent Sainsbury earned a yellow card for time-wasting. It was his second of the tournament, meaning he will be suspended for the match against Syria. But in the final minute the Socceroos added a third. Giannou, who came on for Maclaren late in the second half, was picked out in the penalty area by Ikonomidis, and Cyprus-based striker headed home from inside the six-yard box.

Australia: GK Mat Ryan, 2 Milos Degenek, 4 Rhyan Grant, 5 Mark Milligan, 9 Jamie Maclaren (14 Apostolos Giannou 82'), 15 Chris Ikonomidis, 16 Aziz Behich, 20 Trent Sainsbury, 21 Awer Mabil 10 Robbie Kruse 87'), 22 Jackson Irvine, 23 Tommy Rogic (8 Massimo Luongo 75')

Palestine: GK Rami Hamada, 6 Shadi Shaban, 7 Musab Battat, 8 Jonathan Zorrilla (18 Oday Dabbagh 57'), 9 Tamer Seyam, 14 Abdallah Jaber, 15 Abdallatif Al Bahdari, 19 Mahmoud Wadi (12 Khaled Salem 77'), 20 Nathmi Albadawi (3 Mohammed Rashid 71'), 21 Alexis Norambuena, 23 Mohammed Darwish




If you have any additional information on Western Australian soccer that we have left out, or if you would like to get in contact, email Jacob at jacob@footballwa.net

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