ON THIS DAY ... 1977
Sunday 28th February, 1977, is etched in the memory of all Floreat Athena loyalists as the date their club captured their first major piece of silverware. Floreat's triumph came at the expense of Azzurri who they defeated 3-2 in a thrilling Night Series final at the Lake Monger Velodrome. While the game generally lacked finesse, due in part to the small pitch which made it difficult for players to find space, the crowd of over 4,000 were treated to an exciting game full of twists and turns.
After a scoreless first half, Azzurri went in front on 50 minutes when George McMillan latched on to a long through ball that he guided inside the post. Floreat struck back twenty-one minutes later when defender Gordon Ferguson crashed his downward header into the net following a corner. Both teams threw everything into breaking the deadlock but, with no addition to the scoreless, the match went into what would be a drama filled period of extra-time.
Two minutes after the restart Chris Glennon forced Brent Atherton to concede possession and played a cross to the far post where Martin Pereira headed in Floreat's second of the night. Four minutes later a long through ball caught Azzurri square at the back and Paul Hallum raced through to beat goalkeeper Chris Parfitt and angle the ball into the net. It looked as though it was 'game, set and match'.
The second half was just seconds old when Gary Marocchi scored an amazing - if controversial - goal by clipping the ball over the head of Floreat 'keeper Stephen Martin straight from the kick-off. It was a rare mistake by referee Denis Cooney who had failed to make sure all players were back in position, including Martin who was still walking back towards his goal, before signalling for the second half to commence.
Marocchi's goal sparked an Azzurri onslaught which lasted for the next fifteen minutes but failed to find a way past an experienced defence which kept their shape and focus under relentless pressure. There were stand-out performances on the night for Floreat from Martin, who made numerous matching winning saves in extra-time, Ferguson and G.Byron. The best players for a luckless Azzurri side were Eric Marocchi, McMillan and Aldo Trinca.
WARD EMBARKS ON ENGLISH TRIALS (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory midfielder Nick Ward will undertake a week-long trial with English Championship side Leicester City following his recent trip to Bahrain with the Socceroos. Ward signed a new two-year contract with Glory earlier this month and was called into the senior Australian squad for the first time for their Asian Cup qualifiers last Wednesday. The 20-year old former Stirling Lions player was an unused substitute on the night but was due to fly from the Middle East to England to take up the trial with the East Midlands club before returning home.
A clause in Ward's contract allows him one week's trial with an overseas club per season but any club wishing to sign him would be required to pay a transfer fee to Glory. The club's technical manager, Mich d'Avray expects the exciting midfielder to be back in Perth ahead of the 2006/07 A-League season. "We did not re-sign Nick with the intention of losing him before he had kicked a ball for us. I would like to think he will spend a couple more seasons with us before he seriously considers going overseas," d'Avray said. "Another season or two playing in the A-League would benefit Nick and could help his chances of playing for the Socceroos as well."
NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND FIVE (Bayswater City vs Inglewood United by Peter Simcox; Swan I.C. vs Stirling Lions by Elliott Leonard; Armadale vs Sorrento by Kerry Slater; Floreat Athena vs Western Knights courtesy Floreat Athena)
Reigning Night Series trophy holder Inglewood United stretched their unbeaten run to three games with a hard fought 2-0 defeat of Bayswater City in Friday's early game at Litis Stadium. It was one-way traffic in a frantic opening spell in which Inglewood was quick to assert their authority as Daniel Niederberger's header had Bobson Koroma at full stretch and Darren Broxton fired wide from distance. Bayswater slowly got into rhythm with Mark Lee and Daniel Micevski holding the balance of power in midfield. In the 20th minute a great run by Micevski saw him provide the ball to Jason Lawton whose cross was headed back across goal by Ben Rogers and Danny Stoitis cleared the danger. There were chances at both ends as the half went on, Louis Parkinson's long-range strike was straight at Koroma and a Micevski shot was held by Jason Razmovski. The best chance of the half came moments from the break when Lee's in-swinging corner found an unmarked Lawton who headed over from close-range. Brodie Martin and Parkinson went close for Inglewood early in the second half while at the opposite end Micevski rifled past Razmovski only to have the ball crash into the upright. The deadlock was finally broken mid way through the half by Broxton whose expertly curled the ball wide of Koroma. Bayswater were hell bent on equalising as Rogers fired over and a free-kick from the edge of the are by Lee had Razmovski scrambling down low. However, when James Hesketh's shot cannoned back off the crossbar you just couldn't but help feel it wasn't going to be Bayswater's night. The result was eventually put beyond their reach with five minutes remaining when Niederberger played through to Albert Osei-Tutu who evaded one challenge then rounded the 'keeper to stroke the ball into an empty net.
Stirling Lions booked themselves a place in the last four of the Night Series for the first time in ten years courtesy of a 2-1 win over Swan I.C. The game could not have started much worse for the black and whites who were a goal behind after just 3 minutes when Damian Scali turned the ball past his own goalkeeper when attempting to clear an in-swinging corner from Steve Porter. From there Stirling didn't looked back and some fine lead up work on the left from Phil Arnold put the ball at the feet of Ryan Jeans whose shot kept out by Louis Lopresti at full stretch. Stirling were in control and a cross from Porter fell nicely for Arnold but his shot was palmed away by Lopresti, and Ludovic Boi sent the follow-up just wide of the post. With Damien Catalano and Miki Vujacic slowly stemming the tide Swan began to see more of the ball but still were unable to really test Phil Straker. Just before half-time the margin became two goals as Arnold pounced on a defensive error by Jonathon Mathers which he then shot low past replacement 'keeper Daniel Agudelo. The game continued in much the same vein in the second half with Jeans shooting wide following another defensive lapse, and minutes later Arnold hit the side netting following another mistake from the Swan backline. Swan slowly settled and were denied a penlaty by referee Joe Fusari when David Foster was bundled over inside the box. With ten minutes left the black and whites pegged a goal back when Catalano's cross was helped on by Foster and Vujacic netted from close in. And while a stunning shot from the edge of the area by Vujacic was narrowly wide it was a case of too little too late for Swan who will surely now bow out of the tournament at the group stage.
Sorrento continued their good Night Series form with a dominant 3-0 win over Armadale in the opening game on Sunday evening. It didn't take long for the northern suburbs' side to take control as shots from Simon Harland and Jared Love were narrowly wide of the target. On 12 minutes Todd Harnwell played a low cross into the area and in the scramble which followed Harland squirted the ball to Love who rammed in over the line much to the delight of the Gulls faithful. Shortly after Harnwell sprinting on to a pass lofted over the defence but as he advanced on goal fired wide of the left post. Armadale goalkeeper Nick Stone made a courageous save at the feet of Love, and Michael Ord's header flashed high as Sorrento looked to kill off the game. On 28 minutes Jason Goodwin had the ball in the net with Armadale's first meaningful attack but the linesman's flag ruled his effort out. A fierce strike from Marlon Ramirez was pushed wide by Neil Young as Armadale forced the pace just before the break, and from the resultant corner Christian Alvarez' blistering shot skimmed the top of crossbar. Five minutes after the re-start Ord sent a free-kick long to Harland who headed it back to Love and with a fine shot he steered in his second of the night. The game was ended as a contest four minutes later when Harland played Glen Thomas through for the classy midfielder to neatly lob Stone from 22-metres. Although clear-cut opportunities were scarce Armadale refused to give up the fight and went continually pushed forward in search of a consolation goal. A long-range effort by Billy Kirkpatrick flew narrowly past the post, while in the final minute a terrific Scott Devine volley produced an equally as impressive response from Young who was happy to concede a corner.
Floreat Athena's second successive clean sheet enabled them to beat Western Knights 1-0 and keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals. Sensible use of the ball and some neat movement put Floreat on top early and resulted in a Okwy Diamondstar header skimming the crossbar. New signing Boima Karpeh was impressive on debut and after combining well with the midfield fired wide of the target. The Knights began to get more involved with Stuart Montgomery going close and a Jon Higgins free-kick was tipped away by goalkeeper Vas Vujacic. The referee responded to a number of physical challenges by taking the names of several players from both teams. The best chance of the period came on the half hour when Karpeh's cross was met by an unmarked Diamondstar whose powerful header beat Tommi Tomich but flashed over the bar. Floreat continued their onslaught after the break with Diamondstar shooting straight at Tomich and a long-range effort from Josip Magdic crashed into the bar. Their perseverance was finally rewarded in the 75th minute as a measured pass from Paul Vlachou put Karpeh through and the lively attacker glided past his marker before slotting neatly under the 'keeper. Any hopes of a Knights comeback were effectively dashed by the dismissal of Luka Jukic for a second yellow card offence shortly after they went behind. Not surprisingly, Floreat's dominance continued with Josip Magdic hitting the bar and the upright denying both Branimir Mikulic and Karpeh. The Knights almost snatched a point late in the piece through Montgomery whose curling shot was just beyond the post.
DESPOTOVSKI PLEAS FOR LOCAL LEAGUE GAME TIME
Bobby Despotovski fears his national league career will be virtually over if he is prevented from playing in the local Premier League during the winter months. The Perth Glory veteran says he could not afford to take a long break and still be expected to perform at his peak when the A-League resumes, possibly as late as September. A-League regulations allow contracted players to compete in local competitions only in special circumstances - such as for players who had little game time during the season.
In order for Glory to get the best out of him Despotovski said it was vital that he be allowed to continue to play in the local competition ahead of what is likely to be his final season at national league level. "I'm very concerned about not being able to play in the (local) league because I'm sure that would help me perform to the best of my ability in the A-League season," said Despotovski, who will be 35 when the next A-League season kicks off. "It's probably going to be six months (before the A-League starts again) which is a hell of a long break."
Despotovski considers a five-week break is long enough for him to recuperate from the season's rigours, and that an extended break would make it virtually impossible for him to return to full fitness while also increasing the risk of injury. "If I come back (to training with Glory) and I get injured, the club won't be able to use me," added Despotovski. Glory technical manager Mich d'Avray said the club was seeking permission for Despotovski and Stuart Young, who made just five appearances last season, to be granted permission to play locally.
YOUNG SOCCEROOS QUALIFY FOR ASIAN CHAMPIONSHIP
The Australian Under-20 squad is through to the Asian Youth Championship after topping their preliminary qualifying group. Comfortable wins over Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka saw the Young Socceroos cruise through the qualifying tournament and book their place amongst the sixteen nations at the AFC Youth Championship being played in October. They join China, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, DPR Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Korea Republic, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and host nation India.
In hot and humid conditions, the Young Socceroos opened their campaign with a solid 3-0 win over Turkmenistan on Wednesday. Troy Hearfield gave Australia a dream start by finding the back of the net inside the first minute. A fierce left footed drive from the edge of the 18-yard box saw Hearfield double the margin on 65 minutes. Victory was confirmed five minutes later when David Williams converted a Jimmy Downey cross at close range. West Australian Tando Velaphi was between the posts for Australia.
Four days later the Young Socceroos cruised to a 4-0 victory over Sri Lanka, who were themselves coming off a 2-1 win over Turkmenistan. Australia created a number of scoring opportunities in the first half but it wasn't until two minutes after the interval that the deadlock was broken when Hearfield headed in a free-kick. Chris Grossman doubled the difference in the 70th minute, and two goal in three minutes by Bruce Djite wrapped up the win. Goalkeeper Aleksander Vrteski played a full game for Australia.
CANNING STROLL TO NIGHT SERIES VICTORY
Canning City recorded a comprehensive 4-1 victory over Morley Windmills in their re-arranged First Division and Amateur Night Series game this evening. The only goal of the first half came via the head of Simon Versaico after 12 minutes. Morley evened the ledger ten minutes into the second period when Simon Messenger converted a dubious penalty. But just as Morley looked like going on with the job they found themselves behind once again as Shane Laing nodded the ball into the net after the goalkeeper failed to sufficiently deal with a Ryan Allomes free-kick. Morley were twice presented chances to equalise but Messenger shot wide from the spot, and Flavio L'Abbate was thwarted by an alert Jeff Cargill. Julio Barrendilla outpaced two defenders before rounding the 'keeper to score Canning third, and then Versaico rounded out the scoreline with a swift counter-attack in stoppage time.
WEEKEND IN SUMMARY
Two second half goals earned reigning Night Series trophy holder Inglewood United a 2-0 win over Bayswater City in Friday's opening match. Darren Broxton netted the first goal with Albert Osei-Tutu sealing victory with five minutes left. Stirling Lions are through to the last four after accounting for Swan I.C. Stirling's win came courtesy of an early own goal and a late first half minute strike from teenager Phil Arnold. Miki Vujacic scored a late consolation goal for Swan.
Sorrento continued there good Night Series form with a 3-0 victory over Armadale. Jared Love put the Gulls ahead early, and five minutes into the second half doubled his sides lead. The result was assured by Glen Thomas who lobbed Nick Stone for goal number three. Floreat Athena kept their semi-finals hopes alive by defeating western Knights 1-0 in a physical game. Floreat were on top early but it took until the 75th minute that Boima Karpeh fired in the game's only goal.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW (by Peter Simcox)
Weekend Five of the Night Series gets under way this evening with reigning trophy holder Inglewood United taking on Bayswater City at 6.30pm. Eddy Hodgkinson's Inglewood go into the game undefeated but are expected to meet some stiff opposition from a Bayswater side in need of three points to keep their campaign on track. In the late game at 8.30pm, Group B leader Stirling Lions can all but wrap up a place in the last four with victory over Swan I.C.
On Sunday evening, Sorrento go head-to-head with Armadale from 6.30pm. Peter Murphy's young Armadale squad has displayed a great deal of determination in previous outings but have nothing to show for it, and they'll be aiming to upset the Gulls. The late game should be a close encounter between Floreat Athena and Western Knights teams both needing maximum points to stay in the hunt for the semi-finals. Get along and support your team - entry to the 2006 Night Series is $6 for adults and $4 for concession holders with children under the age of 15 admitted free.
BAYSWATER LIFE SUITS MICEVSKI
An off-season transfer to Bayswater City has given Daniel Micveski a new lease on life. The attacking midfielder decided to leave Dorrien Gardens last month for the greener pasture of Bayswater and hasn't once looked back. "I'm really enjoying it at Bayswater," said 21-year old Micevski. "We have a very enthusiastic and committed young team, and the coaching staff are very organised, enthusiastic and committed to performing well in 2006. The coaches have a lot of faith in my abilities and I'm looking forward repaying that by performing well and having a solid season."
Luck hasn't been on Bayswater's side during the Night Series to date. After an opening round win over Armadale Bayswater have suffered successive losses to Cockburn City and Perth S.C. which leaves them needing victory over Inglewood United this weekend in order to keep alive their slim play-off hopes. "Inglewood will go into the game feeling confident that they will win it," said Micevski. "But as the underdog we have nothing to lose and I think we'll approach the game a little differently to the counter-attacking game we adopted against Perth last weekend."
Micevski draws a great deal of inspiration from the achievements of brother David who starred for Perth Glory during the closing few weeks of the A-League season and was recently invited into camp with the Australian Olympic team. "Anybody who knows my brother and I knows just how close we are and how much we devote our lives to the game. We have learnt so much from each other and have followed the same footsteps throughout our football careers. David has been given the opportunity and has done well, and I hope that one day I'll get the same opportunity and would relish the chance to play alongside my brother in the A-League."
QUICK START FOR LOVE
Things have been going well for Sorrento so far in the Night Series and a place in the last four in certainly within their reach. The northerners opened their campaign by drawing with Inglewood United at the start of the month and last weekend scored a resounding 3-0 win over Cockburn City. One of the scorers in that win was Jared Love who, after bagging sixteen goals last year, was glad to open his account for the new year. "I was really pleased to get on the score sheet last week," he commented. "It's always good to get your first goal of the season and if I'm able to put away a couple more in the coming weeks I'll be on course to better my tally of last season."
With Perth S.C. odds-on favourite to win Group A, it's likely Sorrento will battle it out with Inglewood for the second semi-final berth. This weekend Sorrento take on an Armadale side who are yet to register a point after three outings and, while the Gulls are tipped to win, Love playing down talk of a goal avalanche against their young opponent. "We're concentrating on getting a win and keeping the pressure on Inglewood," he said. "I don't think it's important that we beat Armadale by a sizeable margin, but if we can win by three or four goals then that would certainly be a big boost for our chances of making the semis." Sorrento's clash with Armadale takes place on Sunday evening at 6.30pm.
FIRST DIVISION/AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES, WEEK FIVE (Dianella White Eagles vs Gosnells City by Stefan Jelesic)
A remarkable second half performance earned Dianella White Eagles a 3-2 win over Gosnells City in the First Division and Amateur Night Series at Coker Park on Tuesday evening. Gosnells made a strong start and not surprisingly went ahead in the 20th minute when a defensive error provided Darren Ingham with an easy goal. The second half was seven minutes old when Brian Cairney made the most of another mix-up to put Gosnells two-nil up. It was now that Dianella stepped up a gear and a superb through ball allowed Dragan Njegic to reel in the difference. Njegic was again involved in the 78th minute in combining with Dragisa Volarevic to set-up Dejan Djukanovic for the equaliser. Seven minutes later another Njegic run saw him deliver a superb cross on to the head of Miladin Gligoroski who bagged the deciding goal.
Forrestfield United registered a morale boosting 4-3 win in a pulsating game with Morley Windmills. Jon Greenwood slotted in Forrestfield's opening goal after receiving a flick on from Lucus Whitehouse and beating his marker after 10 minutes. But the game didn't spark to life until Glen Noblet converted from the penalty spot early in the second half. Morley struck back almost immediately through Scott McIlroy who benefitted from a superb cross into the area, and parity was restored when Ray Rose neatly rounded two opponents before flicking the ball over the approaching goalkeeper. Noblet scored his second from the spot ten minutes later, and an exquisite chip by Phil Bell made it four-two. Flavio L'Abbate netted Morley's third goal in a goalmouth scramble six minutes from the end.
Thursday's early game ended with honours shared between Queens Park and South Perth United at 2-2. While both teams were very slow to get going it was South Perth who enjoyed the lions share early possession, and midway through an uneventful first half went ahead when one of their forwards slipped the ball into the net after rounding the goalkeeper. This spurred Queens Park into life and after a series of promising attacks they equalised following a lovely cross into the area by new signing Toby Omenihu. There was a great deal more enterprise shown after the break and South Perth's grip over midfield eventually produced a fine solo goal to regain the lead. Throwing caution to the wind, Queen Park pressed forward over the closing stages and earned a point when Ben Anderton slotted the ball through to Scott Reinsma who finished clinically.
Rockingham City defeated Stirling Panthers 1-0 in an uninspiring late game. The southern suburbs side started well and had their opponent pinned in defence for much of the opening exchanges. The game was turned on its head after 15 minutes when the Stirling goalkeeper was red carded for handling the ball outside his 18-yard box. Even though they had an extra player, it took Rockingham until the second half to really threaten with Terry Flynn twice failing to convert one-on-one opportunities with the stand-in 'keeper. Frustrations got the better of Rockingham midfielder Brian Hastie who received his second yellow card after lashing out at an opponent. The games only goal arrived close to the end when Flynn found himself with space to volley neatly into the net from close-range.
VUJACIC BACK TO HIS BEST (by Peter Simcox)
All players go through highs and lows in their career but midfielder Miki Vujacic hopes the latter are behind him. After losing his spot in the Swan I.C. first team towards the end of last year Vujacic has responded with an impressive pre-season. "So far this season it's been looking really good," said Vujacic. "Personally it's been one of the hardest pre-seasons I have done for a while and at the same time it has been quite enjoyable. The sessions have been varied very well with a good mix of hard running, gym sessions, boxing and now we are slowly introducing the balls and short dynamic work."
Vujacic admits to being pleasantly surprised by the increased level of commitment from the Swan players. "This year the squad is very young and is looking very fit and determined," he commented. "The introduction of Rory Moutett adds a bit of bite in the midfield and Dom Ando will bring a bit of experience to our defence. Damien Catalano has been looking sharp and Jovo Pavlovic continues to impress and will learn a lot this year under the guidance of coaches Carlo Scali and Michael Di Fulvio. The group as a whole are motivated and looking sharper and fitter than ever."
The talented midfielder almost pulled the pin this season after a drop in motivation, but the 24-year old responded by rolling up his sleeves and getting stuck in. "Last year was a very hot and cold year for me," he explained. "Illness throughout most of the pre-season set me back a little but mainly a lot of frustration and a lack of motivation caused me to dip in form. I love playing football but if I'm not enjoying it then I'm about as useless as Doogsy's distribution at training. Initially I was going to take this year off to concentrate on work and hoping to take an extended holiday through Europe, but the thought of not playing the game I love didn't sit well so I decided to at least to give pre-season a go."
The catalyst for Vujacic's renewed enthusiasm was selection in the 2006 State Futsal team. "That was the main reason why I have decided to play on this year, well that and to play with a great bunch of players at Swan," he commented. "The chance to represent your state is an honour at any level so when this opportunity arose I went for it. Futsal is probably one of the most entertaining sports to play and watch and the benefit it gives any outdoor player is enormous. It speeds up your decision making process and sharpens your ability to limit mistakes and punish any opportunities that may arise."
West Australia was represented by two teams, the Cougars and the Pumas, at the 2006 National Futsal Championship on Queenslands Gold Coast in January. "Our performances were quite outstanding even if the results may not show it," said Vujacic who ended the tournament as the state's highest goalscorer. "Technically and physically we were probably in the top three or four teams but being all outdoor players we struggled with the tactical know-how of the eastern states teams. However we did extremely well to the extent that the Australian coach praised our efforts during the tournament." Vujacic's Cougars team mates included Scott Campbell, Shane McNally, Andre Sarpe and Vas Vujacic.
SOCCEROOS COME FROM BEHIND TO BEAT BAHRAIN
The Socceroos have come from behind to defeat Bahrain 3-1 in the opening Asian Cup qualifying match at the Bahrain National Stadium in Manama. The home nation were the first to draw blood when, nine minutes from the break, when captain Salman Isa got in behind the defence and centred to Hussein Ali who tucked his shot across Ante Covic and inside the far post. Hussein Ali went within inches of doubling Bahrain's advantage only minutes into the second half but his low effort struck the base of the upright before being cleared. Australia hit back shortly after through Archie Thompson who powerfully headed in Josip Skoko's free-kick into the area. Skoko scored Australia's all-important second goal in the 79th minute with a perfectly-placed shot from the edge of the 18-yard box. Ahmad Elrich rounded out the scoring from the penalty spot in the 88th minute after he was felled by felled by Abdullah Marzooq. Western Australia's two representatives, Michael Petkovic and Nick Ward were unused substitutes.
DEEG EYES SILVERWARE
It's business as usual at Dorrien Gardens for Goalkeeper of the Year Gareth Deeg. After helping Perth S.C. to the Premier League and Cup double last year the 27-year old is keen to get his hands on further silverware. "Our plan is to win the Night Series and then add another trophy or two later in the year," he said. "There's no secret to our success - our style of play has been the same since Graham Normanton was appointed coach, and our new assistant coach Kenny Lowe is keen for that to continue. Quite simply, we play the best attacking football that we can by passing the ball about and keeping possession until the opportunity arises for a chance on goal."
The off-season departure of David Micevski, to Perth Glory, along with Dino Djulbic, Antonio Naglieri and Andreas Oliveira to Victorian club Frankston Pines will be difficult for Perth to counter. And while the club are sad to see the quartet leave Deeg says it's a ringing endorsement that youth development is being done right at Dorrien Gardens. "All the players are really happy that the boys have gone on with their careers, and the club as the club as a whole can take a lot out of credit the boys have achieved. It's a real buzz to see what's happening for David and it'll be great to see one of our team mates playing at the next level and, hopefully, at the next Olympics."
"The coaches have brought in a number of players to cover out losses and assembled a squad which is pretty solid right across over the park. Only time will tell if we've again got the mix right," Deeg continued. "We have the best defence in the competition with Aaron Cole, Michael Icanovski and Gianfranco Circati and a midfield which includes Robbie Puca, Gary Faria, Peter Lord, Scott Bulloch, Jeff Bright and Matt Danskin along with some good young lads from last year's reserves. David Onoforo was the league's leading goalscorer last season and to partner him we've got Barry Wood and Felim Rugel."
When not keeping goal for Perth Deeg spent a considerable amount of time training with Perth Glory last year. "It worked well for both of us - I got to train full-time and Glory had the use of another 'keeper. I feel it helped my game and for that I thank the coaching staff and players at Glory," he said. While Deeg still harbours dreams of one day playing in the new national competition he says he'd have to carefully weight up his options should such an offer eventuate. "I'd love the opportunity to play in the A-League but it would have to be on my terms now as I've just had a career change and are about to start training as a fireman with FESA."
LOCAL LADS HOME FROM INTERNATIONAL DUTY (by Peter Simcox)
Five young West Australians have returned home after fulfilling the dream of a life time by representing Australia in Europe. David Houston, Scott Paterson, Andy Pomfret, Brendan Ross and Wesley Ryder were part of the Australian Schoolboys squad which recently completed a whirlwind tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland. "The tour was great," said Paterson who had the added honour of captaining Australia while overseas. "All the WA boys improved our game by playing against quality opposition and the international games were brilliant. But my highlight of the tour was captaining the boys to a win against the Republic of Ireland on Australia day." That win came courtesy of Sorrento youngster Houston who bagged the only goal of the game.
The trip was made all the more memorable for Ryder as it was his first time abroad. "It was very exciting for me as it was my first time overseas," he said. "It was also very tough with so many games at such a high level, but it was a great experience. There are two highlights of the tour for me. The first is playing the Republic of Ireland on Australia Day and winning 1-0 in my first full game on tour, and the other was playing the England Schools team in front of a big and very vocal crowd - it felt like a Champion's League final. The greatest feeling was walking out of the tunnel and singing the national anthem on our national day, it gave us all a big lift, the love for Australia I guess. It's something I'll never forget."
Both Paterson and Ryder were surprised by how well the Australian side fared against Britains emerging football talents. "The teams we played against were physically weaker than us,' said Paterson. "But their strength was they were very good at moving the ball forward quickly. I personally believe that, overall, we matched the sides on tour." Ryder echoed the same sentiments of his Australian team mate. "Some of the teams, such as England Schools and England Colleges, were good, there's no doubt about that. But to be honest Wales and Northern Ireland were lucky to beat us and those were games which we could have won if we had taken our chances."
The Australian Schoolboys tour commenced with a narrow 0-1 loss to Welsh Colleges on 20th January. Ramone Close bagged the sides goal in their 1-3 loss to Northern Ireland Schools, and Peter Kotsopoulos found the target when the Schoolboys lost a practice game to 1-2 to St Timothy's School. Their first win resulted from Houston's strike against the Republic of Ireland Schools and which was followed by a 2-2 draw with England Schools against who Ersan Gulum and Ben Spruce scored. Kotsopoulos bagged the goals against England Colleges (1-0 win) and Everton (2-2 draw). February started with a 1-5 loss to Glasgow Rangers which preceded a 2-1 win over Scotland Schools in which Kotsopoulos netted twice. The final game of the tour on 7th February ended in a 1-2 loss to Hamilton Academical Youth with Kotsopoulos against on target.
WARD READY FOR EUROPE ACCORDING TO DUTCH GREAT
Dutch legend Johan Neeskens has delivered a ringing endorsement of Nick Ward's growing talent, declaring the Perth Glory midfielder is ready to play in Europe. But any such move will have to wait after Ward agreed terms on a new two-year deal with Glory late last week. Neeskens, who played for the Netherlands in the 1974 and 1978 World Cup finals and was recently appointed Socceroos assistant coach, believes the 20-year old has what it takes to play professionally in Europe. "From what I saw, Nicky could play in the Dutch competition," he said. "He's a good midfield player, he's fit, he has a good technique."
Ward's growing influence during a disappointing season for Glory has already earned him a first call-up into the Australian team for this week's Asia Cup qualifier against Bahrain in Manama. Glory's failure to reach the A-League finals forced the super-fit midfielder into an intense individual program, set by Australia's overseas-based strength and conditioning coach Anthony Crea and supervised in Perth by Socceroos goalkeeper coach Tony Franken. The gruelling program has given Ward the best possible chance of impressing against Bahrain and earning a place at a Dutch-based camp immediately after the upcoming game to be supervised by coach Guus Hiddink.
Neeskens and assistant coach Graham Arnold will take charge of the under-strength Socceroos for the Bahrain match due to Hiddink's commitments with Dutch club PSV Eindhoven. If Ward can force himself into the training camp he could yet make a late bid to be part of Australia's twenty-three player World Cup squad. "Players like (Tim) Cahill, (Marco) Bresciano and (Jason) Culina are very good players, so it will be hard to get in the squad," Ward admits. "I'm just thinking that if I get a chance against Bahrain and I do well, there's a possibility that I could go to the camp in Holland."
OLIVIERA OPENS VPL ACCOUNT
Andreas Oliveira has struck his first Victoria Premier League goal following a summer move from Perth S.C. Oliviera and former Blues' teammates Dino Djulbic and Antonio Naglieri joined Frankston Pines last month and the trio have wasted no time in establishing themselves as part of the match day line-up. All three have featured prominently in Frankston opening three games of the season with a stunning first minute strike by Oliviera earning the club a 1-0 win over Green Gully on the weekend. With three games played Frankston are place sixth but only three points behind unbeaten leader Oakleigh Cannons.
NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND FOUR (Cockburn City vs Sorrento by Kerry Slater; E.C.U. Joondalup vs Stirling Lions by Elliott Leonard)
Sorrento remain in the mix for a semi-final berth after defeating Cockburn City 3-0 in their Group A Night Series match at Litis Stadium on Friday evening. A timely interception by Jason Godfrey thwarted Michael Ord as he lined up the target early on while that the other end Paul Oliver's long-range strike flashed wide. Cockburn were forced to re-shuffle their deck after just 9 minutes when Dean Gartside was harshly red carded for clattering in to the back of James Morgan when contesting possession. Not surprisingly, Sorrento capitalised thirteen minutes later when Jared Love converted from the penalty spot after goalkeeper Ken Fytengionous was judged to have impeded Todd Harnwell. Glen Thomas then had the ball in the net but an upraised assistant's flag disallowed his effort. Having taken time to adjust Cockburn eventually got into rhythm and stormed their way back into the game. A poorly defended corner saw Peter Petkovich denied by the razor sharp reflexes of Neil Young. John Mirco's 36th minute free-kick was paddled away by the Gulls custodian, and from the resulting corner Young was again called upon to keep out a John Mirco strike. The second half started slowly and neither side looked all that threatening. The game burst back into life midway through when Michael Mirco's shot on the run rose just over the crossbar, and minutes later a blistering strike by Love was turned wide by Fytengionous. Sorrento went down to ten men in the 74th minute after Danny Hill was issued his second booking of the night. But this only spurred the northerners on and they bagged two rapid fire goals to kill the game off. A darting run and cutback from Harnwell allowed Harland to pick his spot past Fytengionous in the 78th minute, and sixty seconds later swift movement of the ball ended with substitute Lewis Flatt drilling in his sides third.
Western Knights opened their Night Series account with a lacklustre 2-0 win over Wanneroo City in Friday's late game. It was clear that Knights coach Ronnie Campbell had nothing but victory on his mind by naming a dangerous three-man attack in which Stuart Montgomery was partnered with the effervescence of Paul Cooke and Greg Montenegro. Wanneroo custodian Gary Kent, making his first start of the year, was called into action early to batter away a quickly taken free-kick from Ivan Zuvela. Not long after Cooke pounced on a poor clearance but was unable to capitalise by steering the ball just wide of the upright. Scott Evans created Wanneroo's first real chance with a long cross-field pass to an unmarked Sota Iwasaki who was thwarted by the ever-alert Tommi Tomich. Montgomery was unfortunate not to have put his side ahead with a rasping shot from the top of the 18-yard box which flashed narrowly past the outside of the post. Wanneroo's lone striker Craig Bowman worked hard but was offered little support as his sides best moves were continually broken down by a defence in which Evan Wallace and David Annall were outstanding. The Knights domination continued after the break and on the hour they were rewarded as Evan Wallace rose highest in a crowded area to head in Jon Higgins deep corner. And five minutes later the result was put beyond doubt as Cooke jinxed his way past three defenders before squaring to substitute Andrew Jennings who fired past Kent to score his first goal at senior level. However, Wanneroo refused to give up and good work down the left by Scott Evans set up hard-working midfielder Phil O'Callaghan whose effort was narrowly off-target. The Knights were unlucky not to add a third goal close to the final whistle through Jennings but he placed wide when well-positioned.
Stirling Lions stretched their unbeaten run three games with a 3-0 trouncing of E.C.U. Joondalup in the early game on Sunday. It was a deserved win for Stirling who controlled the game for long periods and limited their opponent to only scattered half chances during the ninety minutes. Joondalup made a positive start and in the 8th minute Tom Jones threaded a pass into the path of Garin Collins who side-stepped the defence but placed his shot wide of the target. Within minutes Stirling had won a corner which Steve Porter sent into the heart of a crowded 18-yard box where Darko Ilomanoski poked the ball into the net for the night's first goal. Ian McMillan forced a superb fingertip save from Phil Straker on the quarter hour as Joondalup sought to get back on level terms. McMillan then turned provider with a cross which picked out an unmarked Tom Jones but his close-range effort was directed straight at the 'keeper. These misses would haunt the northerners after Stirling increased their hold over teh game with a second goal on 32 minutes from Phil Arnold who ran nearly half the length of the pitch to chip Peter Stewart as he attempted to narrow angle. The non-stop efforts of Porter and Ludovic Boi in midfield were the cornerstone of Stirling's dominance while at the back Ilomanoski and Riste Stefoski gave the opposition forwards little room to manoeuvre. Chances on goal after the break were scarce although Ryan Jeans went close to adding to his sides tally from a 63rd minute Porter free-kick. It wasn't until the last minute that Stirling netted their third and final goal as Arnold rammed the ball past Stewart from a deep cross by substitute Peter Koidis.
Perth S.C. defeated old foes Bayswater City 1-0 when their Group A concluded the weekend's Night Series schedule. A clash of shorts delayed kick-off by twenty, who was at fault depended on who you spoke to but the lack of information relayed to the awaiting large crowd was totally unacceptable. However, once play did get commence Perth were quick to seized the initiative and took the game up to their supposedly revitalised opponents. A Matt Danksin free-kick was plucked from under the crossbar by goalkeeper Bobson Koroma, Gianfranco Circata headed just high at a corner, and a superb crossfield ball from Peter Lord saw Danskin beat two defenders before crashing a shot into the bar. Bayswater's first effort came after 16 minutes when Daniel Micevski's drive was deflected for a corner. But this was only a short aberration and the assault continued at the other end with Scott Bulloch firing just wide from 20-metres. While the majority of play took place in Bayswater's defensive half a fine move involving Micevski and Mark Lee teed-up Ben Rogers who fired just past the post from 15-metres. Perth's reward arrived five minutes from the break when good lead-up work by Robert Sciascia allowed Gary Faria to break the deadlock with a spectacular overhead kick. The second half started with Ben Rogers shooting wide from 15-metres and an effort from Scott Bulloch from a similar distance ended in the same outcome. Bayswater's best move of the night came on the hour when Lee, after combining with Igor Novakovic and Rogers, fed a pass to Micevski whose shot had Gareth Deeg at full stretch. If Bayswater wanted anything from this game then they needed to attack but instead they remained defensively minded as Perth carved out chance after chance. David Onoforo, Lord and Bulloch all tested Koroma as the minutes ticked by while efforts by Felim Rugel and Faria were just off-target.
YOUNG MATILDA'S MAKE CLEAN SWEEP OF NEW ZEALAND SERIES
The Young Matildas have completed preparations for next month's FIFA Under-20 Women's World Championship qualifying tournament with back-to-back victories over New Zealand. The Australian team eased their way to 3-1 and 4-0 wins over their Trans-Tasman rival at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. West Australian Collette McCallum played every minute of both games for Australia and captained the side in the opening fixture.
On Wednesday, the Young Matilda's cruised to a 3-1 win over the Kiwi's. Midfielder Amy Jackson starred with two superbly-taken goals in the opening 12 minutes to set the scene. New Zealand rallied to score in the 65th minute through Renee Leota following a goalmouth scramble. However the result for the home team was rarely in doubt and Leena Khamis ensured victory with a well executed volley thirteen minutes from the end.
Three days later Australian were rarely troubled in defeating New Zealand 4-0. The opening goal didn't arrive until nine minutes into the second half when Jenna Tristram found the target. Further strikes by Sasha McDonnell, McCallum and Khamis ensured Australia made a clean sweep of the friendly series. The final margin could have been even greater with McCallum striking the post and Tristram having a goal disallowed in the dying minutes.
WORLD CUP SPOT BECKONS FOR ERGIC
A World Cup berth for Serbia and Montenegro is not out of the question for Ivan Ergic. The former Perth Glory midfielder has fended off illness and injury to re-establish himself at Swiss club F.C. Basel and is on track to gain his first senior international call-up. "I didn't play any qualification games but the coach (Ilija Petkovic) said he's followed how I've been playing and as long as I'm playing regularly and in good form there's a good chance that I will be in the squad," Ergic told Jonathon Cook of the "West Australian".
It is just the boost the 25-year old needs after his career was struck down by injury followed by a battle against depression in 2004. "When I was sick I didn't have any targets. I wasn't even thinking about playing football," Ergic admits. "I'm still not a regular player (for Basel) but I've had a few games where I've played from the start and I feel good mentally and physically. Things are starting to fall back into place."
Ergic, who came off the bench in Basel's 1-0 win over Monaco in the UEFA Cup on Wednesday, might well have been in contention for the Socceroo's World Cup squad had Australian authorities acted quickly when he burst on to the scene with Glory in 1999/2000. Despite being named that seasons' young player of the year, Ergic, who was born in Yugoslavia but spent almost four years in W.A., was initially overlooked for selection in the Australian youth teams before being called into the Yugoslavia national team set-up.
GLORY SECURE WARD'S SERVICES
Perth Glory is pleased to announce that one of the A-League's brightest young stars, Nick Ward, has re-signed for his hometown club for another two seasons. Ward scored five goals from thirteen starts in the 2005/06 season and was one of Glory's most consistent players throughout his run in the first eleven. The 20-year old put pen to paper on the deal just hours before flying to Bahrain where he'll be part of the senior Australian national team for the first time.
Despite firm interest from rival A-League clubs, Glory were always confident of retaining the young prospect's services, and Ward is delighted with the opportunity to further his career with the club he grew up watching from the stands at Members Equity Stadium. "I am very happy to have signed another contract with Perth Glory and knowing that my deal was up at the end of the season, there was nowhere else I wanted to go," he said.
"Although the season was disappointing on a team level, with everyone here gutted that we didn't reach the finals, I was pleased with my personal performances once I got into the starting line-up," the Australian Institute of Sport graduate added. "Now I want to build on my first full season with the Glory and try to make sure we get into the finals next season. It has been a great experience to play in the first season of the Hyundai A-League and I am looking forward to the next campaign already."
WEEKEND IN SUMMARY
Perth S.C. remain as the only team with a 100% win record at the conclusion of the fourth weekend of Night Series action. The Blues edged a step closer to a semi-finals berth after a spectacular bicycle kick from Gary Faria earned a 1-0 win over Bayswater City in Sunday's late game. Earlier in the night Stirling Lions turned in an impressive display to defeat E.C.U. Joondalup 3-0.
Sorrento thumped Cockburn City 3-0 in the opening game on Friday. Cockburn were behind the eight ball after just 10 minutes when Dean Gartside was sent off. Not long after Jared Love bagged the Gulls first goal from the penalty spot, and second half strikes from Simon Harland and Lewis Flatt completed the scoreline. Evan Wallace and Andrew Jennings were on target in Western Knights' 2-0 victory over Wanneroo City later in the evening.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
Things are starting to warm up as the McInerny Ford sponsored Night Series. This weekends fixtures commence with Sorrento verses Cockburn City at 6.30pm on Friday. Billy Russell's side showed great improvement in their last outing and will be keen to continue that form against Sorrento who are coming off a weeks break. The late game has both Western Knights and Wanneroo City seeking their first win of the pre-season tournament.
The action on Sunday starts at 6.30pm with E.C.U. Joondalup looking for a third successive victory when they meet Stirling Lions in the top of the table Group B showdown. It's a similar story in the late game in which an unbeaten Perth S.C. come face-to-face with traditional rival Bayswater City from 8.30pm. Entry to the 2006 Night Series is $6 for adults and $4 for concession holders with children under the age of 15 admitted free.
FIRST DIVISION/AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES, WEEK FOUR (Canning City vs Stirling Panthers courtesy Canning City; Balcatta vs South Perth United courtesy Balcatta; Fremantle United vs Morley Windmills courtesy Morley Windmills)
Canning City picked up their second win in the First Division and Amateur Night Series by accounting for a dogged Stirling Panthers outfit at Coker Park on Tuesday evening. It was another slow start from Canning who found themselves a goal down after just 2 minutes following a defensive mix-up. Having taken their time to get into gear, Canning responded on the half hour when a quality strike from 22-metres by Simon Versaico levelled the game. Two minutes later Shane Laing converted a good cross from the left by Jeevan Krishnan, and a terrific exchange down the left flank involving Patrick Fitzgerald and Paul Van Dongen ended with Laing slotting in from 8-metres to make it three-one at the break. The result was put beyond doubt by Versaico who put away his second of the night following good lead-up work from Ryan Allomes.
David Moschilla found the target four times as Balcatta crushed a gallant South Perth United 6-0 in Tuesday's late game. It didn't take long for Balcatta to gain the ascendency and midway through the half Moschilla got in behind the defence to convert a pass from Scott Broadley. Alley Di Nuzzo split the defence on the half hour for Carmelo Gumina to slot past the 'keeper, then Moschilla put his second on the board just before half-time. Early in the new half Moschilla completed his hat-trick from a Broadley cross, and with 65 minutes played the Balcatta striker bagged his fourth of the evening. Although the game was now beyond them, South Perth continued to press forward but simply could find no way past a watertight opposing defence. The scoreline was rounded out by 17-year old Daniel Franklin who outpaced the defence before finishing clinically in the 88th minute.
A late penalty handed Morley Windmills a 2-1 win over Fremantle United in Thursday's late game. The opening stages were dominated by Fremantle who launched wave after wave of attack but couldn't find the avenue to goal. The closest they came was a brilliantly taken free-kick that beat the defensive wall and goalkeeper Matt Darling only to come back off the woodwork. Morley made a more positive start to the second half and went ahead through a fine header from Paul Dundo. Jamie Lattapiat's handball inside the 18-yard box saw Morley reduced to ten men, and Fremantle get back on level terms when the spot kick was converted by Andre Rossi. Just when it appeared the game would end in a draw, a foul on Flavio L'Abbate drew a penalty for Morley which the nippy forward slammed into the back of the net to decide the game.
Floreat Athena amateurs defeated Gosnells City 2-1 in Thursday’s opening match. Details of this game will be added as they become available.
GLORY FAVOURITES LINE UP FOR TESTIMONIAL
Loyalty is a rare quality in sport these days but Scott Miller and Bobby Despotovski have bucked the trend with a decade of service to Perth Glory. The national league club will honour their two longest serving players with a testimonial game featuring past and present Glory players on the afternoon of Sunday 12th March at Members Equity Stadium. Amongst the stars already confirmed to strap on their boots are Con Boutsianis, Vinko Buljubasic, Danny Hay, Vas Kalogeracos, Brad Maloney, Tommy Maras, Danny Milosevic, Damian Mori, Shaun Murphy, Gareth Naven, Rob Trajkovski, Paul Strudwick and Robbie Zabica.
The game has already attracted enormous interest with the sold out signs already up for a testimonial dinner on Friday 10th March, and which will incorporate the clubs Most Glorious Player Awards. Corporate boxes for the game are also selling fast. "We want to leave fans with a smile on their face after a tough season and we hope the return to Members Equity Stadium of the Glory legends will help do that," said Despotovski. "We want people to join us on a fun trip down memory lane." Tickets for the testimonial game are selling fast and can be purchased from Ticketmaster on 136 100 or www.ticketmaster.com.au
TEENAGE PAIR STEP UP FOR VILLA
It's been an eventful past week for Chris Herd and Shane Lowry. The teenage pair headed to England last year to accept offers to join the youth academy at Premier League club Aston Villa. Having successfully established themselves in the Youth team, Herd and Lowry have recently featured prominently for Villa's second string who are currently placed third on the Premiership Reserve League North table.
Herd scored a last-gasp equaliser to earn Villa a 2-2 draw at Blackburn Rovers last Monday, 6th February. Goals from Matt Derbyshire and Jermal Johnson put Rovers on course for victory before Gabriel Agbonlahor reduced the arrears. Five minutes into stoppage time Herd rifled past the goalkeeper to snatch Villa a share of the points. Both Herd and Lowry saw out the full 90 minutes.
Three days later, a first half hat-trick from Agbonlahor was behind Villa's 3-0 away win over a star-studded Manchester United. Lowry played a full game for what was a very young Villa line-up while Herd was introduced with ten minutes remaining. Herd again came off the bench, this time in the 78th minute, as Villa played out an uninspired scoreless draw with Bolton Wanderers last night.
VELAPHI AND VRTESKI KEEP GOAL FOR YOUNG SOCCEROOS
Goalkeepers Tando Velaphi and Aleksander Vrteski will fly the flag for West Australian when the national youth team begin their arduous route to the 2007 FIFA World Youth Championship. The pair, currently attending the Australian Institute of Sport, have been included in the Australian Under-20 squad for next week's opening Asian qualifying matches. W.A. has a long-held reputation for producing quality goalkeepers and Velaphi and Vrteski join Tony Franken, Robbie Zabica, Tommy Maras, Vince Matassa, Michael Petkovic, Jason Petkovic and Brad Jones to have donned national team colours.
Australia head to Sri Lanka on the weekend for the first stage of qualifiers for the 2007 World Youth Championship. Their opening match is against Turkmenistan on Wednesday 22nd February which is followed by two games in three days against Sri Lanka, on Friday 24th and Sunday 26th February. The winner of the group will compete in the Asian Football Confederation Under-20 Championship in India during October. The top teams from that event qualify for the finals tournament being hosted by Canada in mid 2007.
The twenty player Australian Under-20 squad is Evan Berger, Foad Comandari, Bruce Djite, Jimmy Downey, Peter Eleftherakis, Chris Grossman, Troy Hearfield, Greg King, Michael Marrone, Stephen O'dor, Shaun Ontong, Matthew Spiranovic, Tando Velaphi, Dario Vidosic, Aleksander Vrteski (Australian Institute of Sport), Mitchell Langerak (Across the Waves), Kaz Patafta (Benfica), Tarek Elrich (Newcastle Jets), David Williams (Queensland Roar) and Wade Oostendorp (Sydney F.C.).
CACERES SIGNS ON FOR VICTORY
Melbourne Victory has announced Adrian Caceres as the first addition to its playing roster for the 2006/07 A-League season. The exciting 24-year old has agreed to a two-year contract with the club and is considered a ready made solution to Victory's short-comings on the left side of midfield. "Adrian is a very gifted young player who could slot into our team without any trouble," said coach Ernie Merrick. "He's a very attack-minded player and is also an excellent finisher. If you look at what we need to add to our squad in that left-sided position, Adrian ticks all the boxes. He's a player of real pedigree and promise and he's young enough to grow with the rest of our talented squad."
Caceres is thrilled to be joinnig Victory, citing the professional setup of the club as one of the key determinants of his decision to cross the country. "Out of all the A-League clubs, Melbourne has perhaps the best reputation among all the players in the league," Caceres said. "All the players talk amongst themselves and it's clear the facilities and setup in Melbourne rival those at bigger clubs in Europe. I'm sure my game will improve under the guidance of Ernie Merrick and ... I look forward to playing in front of the big crowds at Olympic Park."
After establishing himself as a regular starter for Perth S.C., Caceres accpeted an offer to join English side Southampton in 2000. Although he played regularly for the Saints Reserves Caceres found first team opportunities scarce and turned out for Brentford and Hull City. He returned to Perth in 2002 and was part of Perth Glory's back-to-back championship winning squads of 2002/03 and 2003/04. Caceres again headed abroad for a year in which he played at Yeovil Town, Aldershot Town and Wycombe Wanderers in England. He was drafted back to Glory for the inaugural A-League season as replacement for import Neil Taggart.
MCCALLUM AWARDED YOUNG MATILDA'S VICE-CAPTAINCY
Collette McCallum has been named vice-captain of the Australian national team that commences their campaign to qualify for the 2006 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Championship next month. Highly rated 18-year old Sally Shipard will lead the Young Matilda's into the upcoming tournament with McCallum and Kylie Ledbrook as her deputies. McCallum, 19, is no stranger to international football. A regular part of the Australian youth team since 2001, the attacking midfielder made her senior debut last January and has already made a dozen appearances for the Matilda's.
The Young Matildas are currently in camp in Canberra and play two matches this week against New Zealand as preparation for next month's tournament. Commencing 5th March, the side plays off against Singapore, Myanmar and host nation Thailand in the preliminary qualifying tournament. If the successfully negotiate that event they'll gain entry to the final stage of qualifying being hosted by Malaysia the following month. The 2006 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Championship will be played in Russia in September.
The twenty-three player Australian Under-20 squad is Grace Gill, Nicole Somi, Lydia Williams (Australian Capital Territory), Danielle Brogan, Renee Cartwright, Caitlin Cooper, Briony Holcombe, Olivia Kennedy, Leena Khamis, Kylie Ledbrook, Sally Shipard, Servet Uzunlar (New South Wales), Elizabeth Kermode, Alison Logue, Jenna Tristram (Northern New South Wales), Kim Carroll, Sasha McDonnell, Clare Polkinghorne, Alannah Reed, Kate Stewart (Queensland), Vicki Balomenos (South Australia), Amy Jackson (Victoria) and Collette McCallum (West Australia).
KNEE INJURY SIDELINES CAMPBELL
The Night Series may be over for one-time State representative Scott Campbell. The Swan I.C. midfielder will be out of action for up to six weeks after damaging knee ligaments in his sides recent win over Western Knights. "It was bad challenge that caused the injury, I got caught between two players and I knew straight away that I'd done some damage," said the talented 25-year old. "The doctors initial report wasn't good but once the swelling went down the news was better as it was only a grade one or two ligament tear. It's disappointing for me as I had been working hard, and it was the first pre-season for a couple of years that I've been fit and rearing to go."
NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND THREE (Stirling Lions vs Wanneroo City by Kirk O'Connor; Bayswater City vs Cockburn City by Lennie Bavich; Floreat Athena vs Swan I.C. courtesy Floreat Athena)
Wanneroo City slumped to their second loss of the pre-season when beaten 2-1 by Stirling Lions in Friday's opening Night Series fixture at Litis Stadium. But the result would have been so much different had the northern suburbs side been able to make more of their numerous opportunities in front of goal. Wanneroo could have gone ahead as early as the 1st minute when Derek Cooke sped down the right and sent a low cross to the top of the 6-yard box only to find no one there to finish off the move. Young striker Phil Arnold was featuring prominently for Joondalup as they set about carving out a handful of chances without being able to beat goalkeeper Kevin Miller. Phil Straker was called into action at the other end to keep out a solid header from Craig Bowman which came about from a well directed Phil O'Callaghan free-kick. Stirling should have taken the lead midway through the half when Leo Harman found himself with only the 'keeper to beat but disappointingly sent the shot over the crossbar. The final chance of the period came via a Stirling counter-attack which ended with Arnold pulling the ball wide of the upright. The deadlock was broken shortly after the re-start when sloppy defending presented Arnold with a golden opportunity which he accepted with glee. But the lead was short-lived as not long after a speculative free-kick from O'Callaghan squeezed through the outstretched arms of Straker and into the net. As the clock ticked down further chances came at both ends with Arnold unable to convert in a goalmouth scramble, and Cooke clipping the wrong side of the bar with a neat effort. The closing stages were dominated by Stirling and, after their fourth successive corner, Ryan Jeans pounced at close-range to snare the deciding goal.
A couple of second half strikes from Mileta Miletic inspired Cockburn City to a 2-1 defeat of Bayswater City in the late game on Friday. Bayswater settled the better and created the games first genuine shot on goal through Daniel Micevski whose long-range effort drifted wide in the 10th minute. Dean Gartside twice came to Cockburn's rescue with last gasp tackles to thwart Ben Rogers and Sean Brooks as they lined up the target. With 26 minutes played Bayswater's perseverance paid off as Damir Kuduzovic jinxed his way past two defenders and delivered a tantalising ball into the penalty area where Brooks slammed it past goalkeeper Alan Dunlop. It was only now that Cockburn began to find ways past the opposing defence as Dom De Felice rifled wide and Jason Dos Santos sliced his shot after being set up by Anthony Pereira. Bayswater should have been awarded a penalty shortly before the break when Marko Aleksic clearly handled the ball, but the referee thought otherwise and allowed play to continue. The second half started with a bang as a fierce drive from John Mirco stung the hands of Bobson Koroma, and within a minute Rogers crashed the ball into the upright at the opposite end. Cockburn slowly took hold of the game and drew level midway through the half when Johnny Mirco stripped Tony Cumace of possession and threaded a pass to Miletic whose low shot beat the 'keeper. The dismissal of Aaron Dos Santos following a fracas with Tony Cumace initially looked to have subdued Cockburn, but with Michael Mirco and De Felice spurring the side on they continued to press forward. The decisive blow arrived with nine minutes left as Michael Mirco drew the defence before slotting to Miletic who beat Koroma at the second attempt.
Floreat Athena got their Night Series campaign back on track with an impressive 2-0 defeat of Swan I.C. at the end of a very hot Sunday afternoon in Perth. Anything less than all three points would almost certainly end Floreat's play-off hopes and so it came as no surprise that Michael Roki's young side started the game at full pace. Floreat were quick to establish control over the centre of the park where Bajo Savic and Josip Magdic operated with menace. Savic forced an early save from debutant goalkeeper Daniel Agudelo and not long after the midfielder set up Saul Contera who fired wide. With John Migas and Paul Vlachou in commanding form chances were scarce for Swan although Miki Vujacic did curl the ball just beyond the far post on 15 minutes. Great work in the lead up by Costa Socratous saw Adam Bachiller volley high from close-range. Moments later it was one-nil as Bachiller's sweetly stuck shot from 27-metres flew beyond Agudelo's reach and into the top left hand corner. The margin was doubled a minute from the break as Okwy Diamondstar cleverly beat his man and centred to Contera who confidently powered the ball into the net from 15-metres. Swan started the second half with more drive but could find few ways past a well-organised defence. But as the game worse on Floreat regained the upper hand and Diamondstar tested the reflexes of Agudelo with a terrific shot on the turn. In an effort to salvage something from the game Swan threw everything forward in the closing stages. But Floreat weren't about to let victory slip from their grip and Vas Vujacic moved sharply to keep out a header from David Foster, and in the final minute Jovo Pavlovic's shot from didn't cause too much trouble for the 'keeper.
Inglewood United claimed victory in the final game of the weekend by a 2-0 scoreline against a young Armadale side. A first half double from Albert Osei-Tutu earned Inglewood maximum points to keep them on course for back-to-back Night Series titles. Unfortunately, neither Inglewood nor Armadale found it necessary to provide further details of this game.
MAJOR SPONSOR QUITS GLORY
Still reeling from a disappointing season, Perth Glory has been dealt another blow with major sponsor Western QBE ending an eight-year partnership with the club. The insurance company has terminated the agreement worth about $300,000 to sponsor the club next season after Football Federation Australia secured a three-year arrangement with rival insurance firm Zurich Australia for the A-League.
Western QBE general manager Jules di Bartolomeo said the company was disappointed it had not been given the opportunity to discuss with FFA the possibility of sponsoring the league. "One of the things we always had was exclusivity in relation to insurance. We obviously didn't want any other insurance company to have a presence at Perth Glory games," he said.
During their eight-year sponsorship Western QBE poured least $1.5 million into the Glory coffers, and this season invested around $600,000 on sponsorship and Glory-related advertising. Glory's chief executive officer Jeff Dennis said the club would work closely with FFA to seek a new major sponsor. The national body have confirmed it's set 30th April to extricate Nick Tana from his Glory obligations even if a new owner has not been finalised.
WEEKEND IN SUMMARY
There were few surprises on the third weekend of Night Series fixtures. Ryan Jeans' fourth goal of the tournament earned Stirling Lions a 2-1 win over Wanneroo City on Friday evening. Phil Arnold had earlier put Stirling ahead only to have Phil O'Callaghan equalise shortly after. In the late game, Cockburn City recorded their first win under new coach Billy Russell by coming from behind to down Bayswater City 2-1. Sean Brooks' first half strike for Bayswater was cancelled out after the break by a Mileta Miletic double.
Floreat Athena got their campaign back on track with a 2-0 win over Swan I.C. on Sunday evening. A stunning strike by Adam Bachiller from 20-metres set Floreat down the path to victory, and Saul Contera completed a sweeping move by putting away his side's second of the night just before the break. Inglewood United continued their quest for back-to-back Night Series titles by triumphing 2-0 over a young Armadale side. Albert Osei-Tutu orchestrated Inglewood's win by scoring twice in the first half.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The Night Series continues at Litis Stadium this weekend with the third round of group stage fixtures. Wanneroo City showed great promise in their opening match a fortnight ago but will need to be on top of their form when they square off with Stirling Lions tonight from 6.30pm. The late game pits Bayswater City against a Cockburn City side that is itching to register their first win of the pre-season tournament.
Anything less than victory is likely to spell disaster for Floreat Athena go head-to-head with Swan I.C. on Sunday from 6.30pm. Inglewood United are hotly tipped to make it two wins from as many starts when they meet a luckless Armadale in the late game. Entry fees for the 2006 Night Series are $6 for adults and $4 for concession holders with children under the age of 15 admitted free.
WARD RECEIVES SOCCEROO CALL-UP
Perth Glory midfielder Nick Ward has been called up to the Socceroos squad for the upcoming Asian Cup qualifier against Bahrain. It's the 20-year old's first call-up to the senior Australian team and comes hot on the heels of his appearance for the Young Socceroos at last years World Youth Championships. Ward has been one of the stand-out players of the inaugural A-League season, scoring five times from thirteen starts. The attacking midfield player has featured in every game for Perth Glory this season although he was only used as a substitute during the early part of the campaign.
"When I was told I was over the moon, I couldn't believe it, I did have a sort of an inkling that I may be involved but it was still a big surprise to be told that I would be in the Socceroos squad," Ward said of his inclusion in the squad. "I was actually told when I was in camp (with the Under-23 squad this week), Graham Arnold and Johan Neeskens called me into their office and I was buzzing!" Australia's match in Bahrain on Wednesday, 22nd February, is the country's first qualifying match for the 2007 Asian Cup competition being co-hosted by Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.
With Australia's World Cup squad yet to be settled, Ward is determined to make the most of his opportunity. "I think I am capable of playing for the national team and it is a great opportunity to show what I can do," he enthused. "I want to make sure I don't take it for granted and I just want to do my best if I get an appearance. In training I will be doing my best to try and cement a spot for the future ... With the World Cup a few months away there could be opportunities so I will have to work hard because there are some very good players around."
The Australian squad to play Bahrain is Michael Valkanis (Adelaide United), Luke Wilkshire (Bristol City), Michael Beauchamp (Central Coast Mariners), Brett Holman (Excelsior), Ahmad Elrich (Fulham), Ante Covic (Hammarby), Scott McDonald (Motherwell), Tony Vidmar (NAC Breda), Michael Thwaite (FC National), Jade North (Newcastle United Jets), Nick Ward (Perth Glory), Alex Brosque, Spase Dilevski (Queensland Roar), Michael Petkovic (Sivasspor), Josip Skoko (Stoke City), David Carney, Alvin Ceccoli (Sydney F.C.) and Jon McKain (Timosoara Politechnica).
PERTH AND KNIGHTS ARE TOPS WITH PUNTERS
Perth S.C. and Western Knights have been installed as the red-hot favourites to finish top of their respective Night Series qualifying group. The two clubs, who between them have won four of the past five pre-season tournaments, received top billing in footballwa.net polls conducted during the past fortnight which asked who would finish top of the two Night Series groups.
Perth accumulated an unprecedented 51.1% of the Group A vote to emerge as the hands-down favourite. A distance second was Inglewood United (15.4%) who edged out Sorrento (13.8%) by a very slender margin. Few gave Bayswater City (9.0%), Armadale (7.4%) or Cockburn City (3.2%) much opportunity of progressing beyond the tournament's initial phase.
It was a similar story in Group B which the Knights won with a 40.0% majority. E.C.U. Joondalup (16.9%) are expected to be the Knights major challenger followed by Floreat Athena (12.9%) and Swan I.C. (11.9%). Not even a revamped squad could prevent Stirling Lions (10.0%) from being well down the list which was stumped up by recently promoted Wanneroo City (8.8%).
OUR BEST IS YET TO COME SAYS BAYSWATER CAPTAIN
Bayswater City will be seeking back-to-back wins when they take on Cockburn City in their second Night Series match this Friday. The club made a confident start to their pre-season campaign a fortnight ago when they defeated Armadale 2-0 with a performance that captain Mark Lee says augers well for the year ahead. "Although we didn't start as well as we'd have liked, we were able to relax after scoring the first goal and at times showed exactly what we are aiming to play like on a more regular basis this year," he said. "If we can build on the result against Armadale and carry it through the Night Series and into the regular season we'll be in for a very good year."
There was a lot of change at Bayswater during the summer, and not just in terms of the playing staff. Gerry Maio was voted in as president, a new board appointed and former Australian youth international Frank Faraone named as first team coach for 2006. "The club is going through a time of change, all of which has been very impressive," commented Lee, who admits to being impressed by the new coaching team of Faraone and Eric Bambaci. "The training is well planned and specific to what is expected of us in matches. They're always stressing the importance of playing the ball on the floor and maintaining possession. Everybody clearly understands their role in the side and we have built up a very good team spirit."
The playing staff has also been the subject of a major overhaul with no less than six players making their Bayswater debut against Armadale. Lending their experience to the side are Tony Cumace, Bobson Koroma and Sean Brooks who complement the emerging talents of Goce Dilevski, Stefan Smiljanic, Edin Mehic, Daniel Micevski and Rob Icanovski. "The new players have settled in well and everybody gets along with each other," commented Lee. "We have lost a few players but I think we can still improve on last seasons' placing." In the debit column are star imports Ross Barnes and Stuart Fraser, who've returned to Scotland, Andy O'Neill (Ashfield) and Cormac Dawson (Western Knights).
Lee, who came out of contract at the end of last season, was also called upon by several clubs but knocked back all offers to honour a verbal agreement with Bayswater. "It's been really enjoyable at Bayswater and I've been made to feel a part of the set-up since day one. I built up an excellent rapport with the coaching staff and, although I was shocked at their dismissal, I believed that we had a good nucleus of players to build upon. Now with the new coaching team in place I'm very excited about the season and impressed with the work they have done with us so far. The other major factor in my decision to stay is that we live close to the ground and I now get home at a reasonable time on training nights!"
FIRST DIVISION/AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES, WEEK THREE
The abandonment of both games in the First Division and Amateur Night Series on Tuesday evening caused more than a few red faces at Coker Park. A lighting failure early in the second half of the opening clash between Balcatta and Gosnells City lead to the referee bringing the game to a premature end on safety grounds. And when the problem hadn't been rectified by the fixtured start time of the late game in which Canning City were due to meet Morley Windmills, match officials were left with no option but to send both teams home early. It is understood Football West are in discussion with all four clubs as to the possibility of re-scheduling the games.
But before the lights went out Balcatta and Gosnells managed to get in just under an hour of play which came to a close with the former holding a 2-0 advantage. The early exchanges saw the majority of the play took place in the middle third of the park. As the game opened up Gosnells pair Darren Ingham and Brian Cairney failed to make the most of some good opportunities. Not far out from the break Balcatta went ahead when a throw-in was flicked on and David Moschilla nipped in to slot past teenage goalkeeper Greg Simmonds. Balcatta continued their assault in the second half and after a period of sustained pressure a foul on Moschilla resulted in a penalty which was duly converted by Goce Nikoloski. That was pretty much the last play of the night as three minutes later the ground was plunged into darkness and the game abandoned.
Thursday evening's activities commenced with Dianella White Eagles registering a 2-0 win over host club Queens Park. There was entertainment aplenty in the first half as both sides strung together some very promising moves, however, neither goalkeeper was seriously troubled as crosses and through balls were intercept by a couple of alert defences. Dianella stepped up the pace in the second half and were rewarded when experienced striker Dragan Njegic put away the first goal of the evening. Queens Park's attempts to get back on level terms were hampered as they all too often failed to make the most of the ball when in possession. The result was put beyond doubt close to the final whistle by Nik Culum who crashed a fine shot into the back of the net.
A convincing 4-1 defeat of Forrestfield United has given Rockingham City their first win of the tournament. However, Forrestfield were the side which started confidently and after 7 minutes had the lead as Glen Noblett whipped in a dangerous cross which Brian Robertson put away 6-metres. It took Rockingham only a matter of minutes to response with Steve Cramphorn running on to a pass lofted over the defence and beating the goalkeeper in a one-on-one. Rockingham began to dominate proceedings after the break and midway through the period they deservedly went ahead via a penalty converted by Cramphorn. Terry Flynn volleyed past the 'keeper for goal number three and a low strike by substitute Jason Carmichael completed the scoreline.
PAVLOVIC AIMS FOR FIRST TEAM SPOT
Teenager Jovo Pavlovic has made it his goal to be playing regular first team football by years' end. The talented midfielder has risen through Swan I.C. ranks over the few seasons and last year forced his way into the starting line-up for his clubs final three games of the campaign. This year Pavlovic has set himself the challenge of becoming established in Swan's first eleven. "I'm really looking forward to the season and show the coaches that I'm ready for first team football," he said. "The club has been great to me over the past two years and I hope I can repay some of the faith they have showed in me."
Pavlovic has come on in leaps and bounds since taking up an offer to join Swan's youth development squad last season. As well as making his first team debut in 2005, the teenager wore State Under-16 colours at the National Talent Identification Champions in Sydney. And he's primed himself for a strong start to 2006 by taking part in a recent training camp conducted by coaches from the Australian Institute of Sport. "The camp was great," he commented. "We had the opportunity to be trained by A.I.S. coaches and hope I can go on with it for the rest of the season."
Swan coach Carlo Scali has been delighted with Pavlovic's progress and can see no reason why the midfielder won't be in the mix to be playing week in, week out this year. "Jovo's got the goods and he will progress to a first team regular, how soon that will be will be up to him," said Scali. "He is capable of playing regular first team now and will be given the opportunity to cement his place with some games in the Night Series. He will be a very good player for us this year and an excellent prospect for the club in the future."
MAKE OR BREAK GAME FOR FLOREAT
Anything other than a win this weekend against Swan I.C. will spell disaster for Floreat Athena's Night Series. The inner city club are facing the very real possibility of having their tournament come to an early end after disappointing results in their opening two Group B fixtures. A draw with Stirling Lions and last Sunday's spiritless loss to E.C.U. Joondalup puts Floreat in the desperate situation of needing victory over Swan in order to keep alive any hope of qualifying for the semi-finals.
Floreat's disappointing start to the campaign has left coach Michael Roki to seriously consider his next move. "Every game is so important in a short tournament like the Night Series, and having a 'shocker' like we did against Joondalup last week really puts a dent in our campaign," said the Floreat boss. "Now the pressure is on the players to stand up and be counted as we need three straight wins to stay in the race for the semi-finals. Nevertheless, fighting for survival can sometimes bring about the best in a team, and I'm sure Swan can expect a much more focused and determined Floreat when we meet on Sunday."
Although the Night Series hasn't so far been kind to Floreat, Roki remains upbeat for the coming season. "We are aiming for a decent showing in all competitions this year but the focus is on the Premier League. At this stage I'm happy about where our fitness levels are at, but there is still some work to be done in the tactical area once the squad is bedded down a bit further. I believe the additions to our squad will more than cover the losses. Even though Floreat are now one of the smaller wage paying clubs, the team we field will be very competitive and will figure amongst the top five."
LAW 4 : THE PLAYER'S EQUIPMENT
All clubs are reminded that FIFA have updated the Law concerning player safety and the wearing of jewellery. This very issue made headlines around the globe in October when A-League referee Mark Shield refused to allow Perth Glory's Damian Mori to take the field against Melbourne Victory because he was wearing a wedding ring.
The amended 'Law 4.1 - The Players Equipment' states "A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewellery) :
The Laws of the Game can be viewed in their entirety online via the FIFA website.
COLCHESTER MAKE HISTORY COURTESY OF GARCIA DOUBLE
Another two goal haul from Richard Garcia has enabled Colchester United to set a new club record of nine consecutive victories. The 24-year old scored twice, and was denied a third by the goalkeeper, in the U's 3-1 League One defeat of Bradford City on Saturday. It's been a memorable fortnight for Garcia whose tally stands at six goals from four games. "I'm feeling fitter and sharper with every game," he said. "I'm benefiting from playing in my best position, as a striker, rather than having to play wide on the right of midfield."
"We all want to win promotion this season," continued Garcia. "For that to happen, we need to keep winning matches. We were a bit flat in the first half today, and my first goal stemmed from our first good move of the match ... we didn't look back after that. Perhaps all the games we had played recently, took its toll on us in the first half. But we raised our game in the second-half, and I could have ended up scoring a hat-trick. Their 'keeper made a good save to deny me."
500-GAME VETERAN HOWELLS CALLS TIME
Fremantle-born Lee Howells has brought the curtain down on his playing career at the age of 37. A veteran of over 500 senior games in England, the versatile midfielder hung up his playing boots after being offered the assistant manager role with non-League outfit Mangotsfield United. Howells enjoyed a long and successful career with Cheltenham Town where he became their longest serving player. In his thirteen seasons with the Robins Howells made over 450 first team appearances, gained F.A. Trophy winners and Nationwide Conference champions medals, and won four semi-professional caps for England. He moved into the non-League in early 2004 by joining Merthyr Tydfil for whom he'd play over 40 times, the majority as captain, before short spells at Mangotsfield and Clevedon Town.
WARD IN CONTENTION FOR SOCCEROOS
Perth Glory midfielder Nick Ward improved his chances of being called into the Socceroos squad for this month's Asia Cup qualifier against Bahrain with an stand-out performance in front of Australia's assistant coaches Graham Arnold and Johan Neeskens yesterday. "He's definitely knocking on the door," said Arnold, who will be acting coach for the Bahrain fixture in Guus Hiddink's absence. "He's done very well and gets one or two goal-scoring opportunities every game."
Another player that's caught Arnold's eye is 19-year old David Micevski who hasn't looked out of place since being loaned to Glory from local champion Perth S.C. "He's come from nowhere really," Arnold said. "He's very neat and tidy but very aggressive as well. I think he's got a great future." Arnold has implored Glory to quickly re-sign Ward, Micevski and Young Socceroo midfielder Billy Celeski, who he feels offer the club a very bright future.
DESPOTOVSKI TAKES OUT AWARD
Perth Glory striker Bobby Despotovski has taken out the 990 Information Radio Bic Most Valuable Player award in the 2005/06 A-League season. Votes were cast by the 990 Information Radio commentary team on a 3-2-1 system from the twenty-one Perth Glory home and away matches broadcast by the station. Despotovski opened up a substantial lead early in the season after gaining maximum votes in four of the first seven games. Nick Ward took out the runner-Up award after polling votes consistently in the second half of the season with his first votes coming from the round nine win over Melbourne Victory. The comprehensive broadcast of all Perth Glory home and away games in the inaugural A-League season was produced and presented by Wisdom Sports Media through 990 Information Radio.
JETS DOWNED AS GLORY CLAIM FIFTH
Perth Glory finished their season on a positive note with a 3-1 win over Newcastle united Jets at EnergyAustralia Stadium this afternoon. The win elevated Glory to fifth on the final A-League table, two points adrift of finals-bound Newcastle. The day could not have started much better for Glory who went ahead after 7 minutes when Nick Ward instinctively side-footed into the top corner after David Micevski's rasping drive cannoned back off the crossbar. This stung the Jets action and, after several close calls, they drew level on 33 minutes when a partially cleared corner fell to Nick Carle's whose shot from 15-metres was deflected in off the knee of Vaughan Coveny. The home side were getting on top and Jason Petkovic made a fine save to thwart Stuart Musialik. On the stroke of half time the Jets were denied claims for a penalty by referee Matthew Breeze when Carle's shot struck the arm of Ryan Townsend.
The Jets threatened to score early in the second half with Matthew Thompson and Stuart Musialik both firing shots over the bar. Twelve minutes into the second half Glory struck for a second time as Despotovski sent in a low cross which narrowly evaded a diving Ryan Townsend and deflected in off the leg of Allan Picken. The result should have been put beyond doubt ten minutes later when Despotovski headed across the face of goal to Damian Mori who, with the goalkeeper nowhere to be seen, somehow failed to make contact with the ball from all of two metres. Some good lead-up work from Scott Miller and Ward put the ball at Mori's feet in the 72nd minute and this time there was no mistake as the veteran striker powered a low shot into the far corner. The Jets refused to give up hope but could find few holes in a well organised back four underpinned by captain Jamie Harnwell and Townsend. Their best opportunity saw Petkovic smother at the feet of Carle, while close to the final whistle both Carle and Labinot Haliti fired wide.
NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND TWO (Swan I.C. vs Western Knights by Peter Simcox; Inglewood United vs Sorrento by Kerry Slater)
A dramatic last minute goal from Damien Catalano earned Swan I.C. a 2-1 win over Western Knights in Friday's early Night Series fixture. Just five minutes had elapsed when the black and whites went ahead through a long ball from Justin Hugo which picked out Catalano who held off the last defender before stroking the ball past Tommi Tomich. Andrew Jennings and Stuart Montgomery were causing all sorts of problems for the Swan defence and it was the latter who went closest to equalising with a volley that was just off target. Further chances came and went at both ends of the park leading into half-time. Tom Shepheard headed Rory Mouttet's cross wide, and good lead-up work from Jon Higgins ended with Montgomery shooting wide. The second half commenced with the Knights piling on the pressure and Ivan Zuvela failed to make the most of a golden opportunity when goalkeeper Louis Lopresti was caught out of position. Swan were denied a second goal by Tomich who produced a stunning save to keep out a terrific strike from Catalano on the counter attack. Parity was restored on the hour when Montgomery caught out the defence with a quickly taken free-kick which curled into the top corner. Things got worse for Swan when, two minutes later, Mouttet was sent off for a second bookable offence. Next it was the Knights turn to go down to ten men with the dismissal of Luka Jukic on 75 minutes, and shortly after the referee had little option but to dismiss Danyal Bennett for dissent. Claus Nielsen and Paul Cooke sent shots goalward in an attempt to put the Knights ahead without success. With time fast running out Catalano latched on to Shepheard's pass through the middle which he lashed low past Tomich to decide the game.
Honours were shared between Inglewood United and Sorrento who played out an entertaining 1-1 draw in the late game on Friday. But the outcome could have been so much different had the Gulls made more of their numerous opportunities on goal. The match was far from the disjointed affair expected of a first competitive outing of a new season. Kevin Griffiths fired the first shot in anger after 7 minutes only to have Neil Young paddle his volley to safety, and shortly after Glen Thomas' attempted chip of Oliver Taseski was gathered at the second attempt. Sorrento controlled the opening phase through the hard work of Thomas, James Morgan and debutant Lewis Flatt in midfield. Simon Harland shot wide, Harnwell was denied by Taseski and Thomas should have done better in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper. It took until midway through the half for Inglewood to sparked into life. Daniel Niederberger was thwarted by the combined efforts of Richard Watson and Chris Smith, then Albert Osei-Tutu's header was kept out by Young. The second half opened with a couple of sensational saves as Young denied Osei-Tutu, and Flatt's thunderbolt had Taseski at full stretch. Louis Parkinson twice went close for Inglewood but his first shot flashed across the face of goal and a few minutes later his downward header from a Griffiths' cross was held by Young. The deadlock was finally broken on 78 minutes when Taseski made a hash of collecting a long clearance by Young and Harnwell stroked the ball into an empty net. With that Inglewood upped the tempo and Young was tested by goalbound efforts from Niederberger, Osei-Tutu and Dean Aplegren. With just minutes left Inglewood got their reward via a lightning raid down the left by Jason Colli whose low cross was put away by Osie-Tutu.
E.C.U. Joondalup put themselves in a good position to qualify for the Night Series semi-finals by steamrolling Floreat Athena 3-1 in the early game on Sunday. The win was Joondalup's second from as many starts and sends them to the top of the Group A standings. Floreat were left under no illusions that this was going to be a difficult night as the team from the far north set about stamping their authority over proceedings. Joondalup's aggressive approach unsettled their opponent who were afforded little time to think when in possession. Midway through the opening half Joondalup snared the lead courtesy of a superb strike from distance by Scott Bushby which gave goalkeeper Alex Dunn as it soared into the top corner. Anthony Jones crashed a shot into the cross and a rasping volley from brother Tom Jones was narrowly off target as Joondalup looked to increase their advantage. The margin was doubled early in the second half by an Anthony Jones who was allowed a free header at the back post from a Garin Collins free-kick. Offering little resistance in midfield, Floreat all too often conceded possession. And it was on such an occasion that the result was put beyond doubt as Scott Blackmore fed the ball to Collins who arrowed his a shot past the 'keeper. It wasn't until now that Floreat began to knock together a few passes and threaten when going forward. Their consolation goal was orchestrated by the hard-working Chris Wylie whose cross to the far post was sent back across the face of goal by Okwy Diamondstar and Saul Contera tapped in from close-range. The result leaves Floreat's hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals stage of the pre-season competition hanging by a thread.
Perth S.C., who were without seven of last year's regulars, defeated a young and inexperienced Armadale 2-0 on a balmy summers evening. The game took a while to settle as Perth struggled to string their passes together and a resolute Armadale worked on trying to get out of their defensive half. It appeared only a matter of time before the floodgates would open as Gary Faria, Peter Lord and Scott Bulloch took control over the centre of midfield, and Matt Danskin and Jeff Bright began to make inroads down the flanks. However, Armadale goalkeeper Nick Stone had other thoughts and produced a string of fine saves to deny Faria, Bulloch, Danskin and Lord. For their part Armadale could muster little of significance as their strikers inability to hold the ball up until support arrived continually saw their attacks unfurl. A well-flighted corner from Danskin produced a powerful header from Aaron Cole which Stone tipped over the crossbar, and from the very next corner the 'keeper reacted sharply to get his hands on a fine drive by Faria. The second half was four minutes old when a rare error by Stone saw him misjudge a Faria cross and David Onoforo was positioned to head into an empty net. An inch-perfect cross from Cole led to further frustration for Perth when Lord headed over, and then lively striker Felim Rugel nodded high from a Danskin free-kick. Whilst not having too much impact in an attacking sense, Armadale coach Peter Murphy would have been impressed by the work ethic from young trio Daryl Platten, Matt Bennion and Ben Howe. Victory was finally secured on 78 minutes when Onoforo held his nerve under pressure from Stone and, with his back to goal, cleverly hooked the ball over his shoulder and into the net.
LAZARIDIS ITCHNG FOR WORLD CUP ROLE
Stan Lazaridis has every right to feel justifiably rewarded by gaining selection in Australia's squad for June's World Cup finals tournament. Since debuting for the national team against Kuwait in April 1993 Lazaridis has been a regular on the left side of the park, be it in an attacking midfield or defence capacity. His 57 'A' appearances is the eighth greatest for an Australian, and put him second to Tony Vidmar (75 games) in the current squad. Even as he approaches his 34th birthday, no one would begrudge Lazaridis his chance to fulfil his dream.
But if you think Lazaridis will be content with just being part of the squad in Germany then you're mistaken. "I think you know me well enough to understand I'm not one to sit back and accept hurdles thrown my way," Lazaridis told Ray Gatt of "the Australian" newspaper. "I've never been one to settle for second best. Of couse, first I have to be picked as part of the 23-man squad which is a tough proposition given the huge talent base Australian soccer has, but I won't be content to be a second-stringer or tourist in Germany."
An unfortunate injury and some bad luck has seen Lazaridis slip down the pecking order as far as Socceroos boss Guus Hiddink and first team selection is concerned. A toe infection forced him out of September's World Cup qualifiers against the Solomon Islands and allowed Scott Chipperfield to stake his claim with a couple of impressive performances. "To pick up a toe infection just before the match was a real blow," he said. "I was feeling great. I felt fit and strong. Had the infection come twenty-four hours earlier I would have been right to play against the Solomons."
While Lazaridis made the squad for October's friendly with Jamaica along with the two World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay the following month, he was limited to watching all three games from the bench. The Birmingham City stalwart admits Chipperfield had done everything right and deserved the opportunity. "To be honest, Scott did very well and deserves to be in the side. He is a terrific player and earned the right to play in those games," he said.
"But it is now up to me to show what I can do," continued Lazaridis. "Football is a funny business. You never know what is around the comer. I don't really know what Guus is thinking. So there is always a chance of breaking back in. Look what happened to me before the Solomons match. It can happen to anyone ... a suspension, an injury, loss of form - not that I would wish that on any of my team-mates."
While the World Cup is always in the back of his mind, Lazaridis says his focus is with Birmingham's battle to avoid relegation. An veteran of eleven-years of English football, Lazaridis' future could depend on whether Birmingham can maintain their place in the Premier League. "I don't know what I will be doing at this stage," he said. "There is a lot going on at the moment and I just want to concentrate on helping Birmingham avoid relegation. I don't think anything will happen until after the World Cup."
A return to Australia to finish his career and give something back to the game that has been so good to him is very much on the cards. "I'm feeling great, possibly the best I've ever felt I'm injury free. I think I have one more good season left in me in the Premier League or even the Championship," Lazaridis said. "Failing that, there has been interest from a number of clubs in the A-League back home which I would seriously consider. I have had three clubs get in touch with me and Perth Glory rang the other day." Either way, Lazaridis is confident he has two or three more seasons left in him.
OLYMPIC HOPEFULS TAKE FIRST STEPS TOWARDS BEIJING
The long road to the 2008 Beijing Olympics will commence next week when a preliminary squad of home-based players are put through their paces at the Australian Institute of Sport. Eighteen players have been invited to Canberra where the primary focus will be on fitness, physiology and medical testing. Perth Glory quartet Billy Celeski, David Micevski, Ryan Townsend and Nick Ward will be amongst those put through their paces by national team assistant coaches Graham Arnold and Johan Neeskens during the three-day camp which commences tomorrow.
"This camp is the first stage in the identification process of players as we commence the long road towards next year's Olympic qualifiers," said Football Federation Australia's John Boultbee. "Next week's camp will not include overseas-based players, nor Hyundai A-League players that are involved in the finals series. There will be a similar camp in March for a separate group with further players called in over the coming months allowing us the opportunity to develop a large pool of players eligible for Beijing."
The eighteen players called into camp at the AIS this week are Frank Lagana (Heidelberg United), Matt Deegan, Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Manly Warringah), Jay Lucas (Marconi Stallions), Vince Lia, Adrian Leijer, Kristian Sarkies (Melbourne Victory), Billy Celeski, David Micevski, Ryan Townsend, Nick Ward (Perth Glory), Spase Dilevski, Ben Griffin, Tyler Simpson (Queensland Roar), Nick Crossley (Richmond), Keegan Wolfenden (South Cardiff), Nathan Hughes (Sutherland Sharks) and Jordan Simpson (uncontracted).
MURPHY TAKES AIM AT D'AVRAY
Former Perth Glory captain Shaun Murphy has slammed the club and questioned whether Mich d'Avray is the solution to its coaching problems. Murphy launched a verbal barrage at Glory officials via the "Sunday Times", describing the club as shoddy, arrogant and short-changing local players. Businessman David Rodwell, who is negotiating to purchase Nick Tana's majority shareholding in the club, last week threatened to abandon the take over deal unless d'Avray replaced Alan Vest as coach next season.
However, Murphy says d'Avray must shoulder much of the blame for this season's failures. "Glory needs fresh faces and Mich is definitely not the answer," Murphy told David Davutovic. "The sign of a good manager is when he doesn't have a big budget and succeeds and I don't think they'll have a lot of money to throw around like Mich did in the NSL. Mich must be held responsible for most of the signings. He recruited a lot of interstate players, but didn't do his homework and I don't think he bought the right ones."
"The club needs a huge shake-up and I can't see it getting any better if he's going to be there," added Murphy, who has dropped the threat of legal action after being axed by Glory midway through a two-year deal. "They're already behind the eight-ball in signing players. There's so much arrogance there which stems from (chief executive) Jeff Dennis and d'Avray - the Stan Lazaridis situation is a classic example."
The former Socceroo also lashed the club over spending big dollars on attracting players from interstate while those drawn from the local ranks are offered a pittance in comparison. "The only money they've spent is probably on Colosimo and they ripped off the local players this season and forced them into signing cheap contracts, yet they're the ones that have performed," he said.
"It's about time they respected what boys like Bobby Despotovski, Scotty Miller and Jamie Harnwell have done for Glory and paid them what they deserve," continued the former Socceroo. "The interstate players have been paid most of the wages and that's probably why there hasn't been a great camaraderie. Players talk and it's not a harmonious set-up when that happens."
GARCIA CATCHES GLORY'S GAZE
Former Australian under-23 striker Richard Garcia is being targeted to spearhead Perth Glory's attack next season. The club's technical manager Mich d'Avray said the search was on for a striker to complement veteran campaigner Bobby Despotovski and Garcia was one of those being considered. "This is not a club point of view, but I think, personally, we need to target la good striker for next season to play alongside Bobby," d'Avray commented. D'Avray added that the best strikers in Australia were already contracted to A-League clubs and Glory would have to be creative in their attempts to bolster the attack.
Garcia, who left Perth as a 15-year old to join West Ham United's youth academy in 1997, has hit form for English League One side Colchester United recently with four goals in his last three games. Glory have made contact with Garcia but their chances of securing the versatile striker, who is out of contract at seasons' end, are slim. Garcia will be tempted to stay with Colchester should they gain a spot in the Championship next season. Garcia has overcome a knee injury, which robbed him of a place at the 2004 Olympics, and recent hip problems to play a leading role as Colchester chase promotion to England's second tier.
FULL DEBUT FOR TOWNSEND
Young defender Ryan Townsend is in line to make his starting debut on Sunday in Perth Glory's final outing of the inaugural A-League season. Townsend, an Australian youth international, signed a short term deal with the club last month and following the expiration of Danny Hay's contract Glory are likely to give him an opportunity to show what he can offer this weekend. "There is a good chance of Ryan starting a match for the first time so it will be interesting to see how he gets on because, despite training with us for some time, we haven't had much opportunity to see him in a game," commented coach Alan Vest.
The news was not so positive for Jamie Coyne who has been struggled with a persistence groin injury for the past few months. The defender has been omitted from the travelling party along with Simon Colosimo who Vest says has been distracted by recent speculation about a move overseas. "I don't think Simon is in the right frame of mind to play this weekend so he is not in the squad for the game at Newcastle," the coach said. Adrian Caceres is also a serious doubt for the match after missing training on Thursday and Friday due to illness. Vest could be forced to make the journey east with 14 players if he does not recover in time.
DESPOTOVSKI SIGNS ON FOR TENTH SEASON
Perth Glory has commenced the process of putting together a squad for the summer of 2006/07 by re-signing start striker Bobby Despotovski. The most prolific goalscorer in the club's ten-year history, Despotovski was made a Glory life member last weekend alongside Scott Miller. The 34-year-old has proven that he is still a huge favourite with the Glory faithful and heads into the final game of the A-League season as the competition's joint highest goalscorer alongside Archie Thompson.
"Despite a couple of minor injuries I have been really pleased with my form this season and I have felt my fitness level has been pretty good in general," Despotovski said. "I have proven to myself that I can play in the new A-League and I still feel I have a lot to offer Perth Glory. Although it has been disappointing not to reach the finals this year the club have shown they are determined to turn things around and I did not hesitate in signing a new contract because I believe Perth Glory can be successful in this league next season." On average, Despotovski has scored a goal nearly every other game throughout his Glory career.
WEEKEND IN SUMMARY
Inglewood United began their defence of the Night Series title by drawing 1-1 with Sorrento in Friday’s early game. Todd Harnwell gave the Gulls the upper hand only to have Albert Osei-Tutu earn Inglewood a share of the points. Swan I.C. may have ended with nine players but they still managed to defeat Western Knights 2-1. Damien Catalano bagged a double for the black and whites while Stuart Montgomery was on target for the Knights.
E.C.U. Joondalup trounced Floreat Athena 3-1 on Sunday evening. Scott Bushby opened the scoring with a shot from long-range, Anthony Jones doubled the margin via a second half header and the margin became three goals when Garin Collins found the target. Floreat’s consolation came via Saul Contera late in the piece. Perth S.C. were rarely troubled as they ran out 2-0 victors over a young Armadale line-up. David Onoforo, recipient of last year’s Golden Boot, was the Blues hero with both goals.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
There are some big games in the second round of the McInerny Ford sponsored Night Series at Litis Stadium this weekend. From 6.30pm tonight Swan I.C. challenge a Western Knights outfit keen to make amends for a surprise loss to the black and whites in the group phase of last year's tournament. The late game, which starts at 8.30pm, features Night Series trophy holder Inglewood United up against Sorrento. The northern suburbs will looking to reverse last year's 1-4 semi-final loss to Inglewood.
Floreat Athena are likely to be without Bajo Savic, Peter Coci and Costa Socratous through injury when they square off with E.C.U. Joondalup in Sunday's opening fixture. At 8.30pm, Peter Murphy's Armadale will need an almighty effort to get over the line against the might of Perth S.C. The Reds will be without defenders Craig Anderson and Richard Lacey who were sent off in the loss to Bayswater City last week. Entry fees for the 2006 Night Series are $6 for adults and $4 for concession holders with children under the age of 15 admitted free.
INGLEWOOD KEEN FOR BACK-TO-BACK TITLES (by Peter Simcox)
Even though most clubs approach the Night Series as little more than preparation for the season proper, everyone agrees that there's nothing better than a good run in the competition. Just ask trophy holder Inglewood United who, after a successful Night Series campaign, went on to take fourth place in the league and qualified for the association Cup final. "The Night Series gives us an opportunity to get our players fit, organise ourselves and prepare for the coming season," said coach Eddie Hodgkinson. "Having only three trophies up for grabs in our season it makes the Night Series a viable competition. Any kind of success in any football competition breeds confidence into the players and gives them the belief that they can win things. I believe the only way to approach any game or competition is with the view of winning it. There is a strong chance that I will give some of our young players an opportunity but I would also like to say that it makes no difference what age they are - if they deserve the opportunity they will get it."
FIRST DIVISION/AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES, WEEK TWO (Forrestfield United vs Stirling Panthers courtesy Forrestfield United; Dianella White Eagles vs South Perth United by Stefan Jelesic)
Forrestfield United started their First Division and Amateur Night Series campaign with an entertaining 4-2 win over amateur outfit Stirling Panthers at Coker Park on Tuesday. Forrestfield were out of the blocks fast as Phil Bell's superb through ball between two defenders allowed Glenn Noblet to calmly slot home in the 5th minute. The score was doubled after 10 minutes when a Noblet corner was headed in at the back post by an unmarked Carlo Di Toro. Kayne Gordon-Davidson made it three-nil on the half-hour when he blasted in a cutback from Noblet. Stirling's hard work was rewarded by a goal on the stroke of half-time. The second half saw a more concerted effort from Stirling, however, it was Forrestfield who scored next through Bell. The game's final goal was a beautiful long-range effort from Stirling which left Forrestfield goalkeeper Scott Radford helpless.
South Perth United pulled off a major surprise by toppling Dianella White Eagles 3-2 in the late game on Tuesday evening. In what wasn't a particularly attractive game of football, Dianella were quickly into stride and would have been a couple of goals up inside ten minutes if only for better finishing. Midway through the first half South Perth gained the lead via a well crafted goal which was struck from just inside the 18-yard box. Following this South Perth took control but were unable to increase their advantage. Dianella looked dangerous after the break, particularly in the counter-attack, but it was South Perth who found the back of the net to make it two-nil. Two goals in quick succession brought Dianella back into the game and set up a tense finish. The decider came with just minutes to play when a South Perth counter-attack produced a goal of pure brilliance.
Rockingham City squandered the lead to crash 2-3 to Fremantle United in Thursday's early Night Series fixture. Fremantle were given the perfect start as a dangerous ball into the 18-yard box was lashed home by Rocky Vasile. It took Rockingham until the second half to get back in the game with Terry Flynn drawing them level with a fine shot from 14-metres. Rob Crerar and Fraser Brown went close in quick succession as Rockingham sought the lead which eventually arrived via Erik Kuzmar whose show squirmed under the goalkeepers’ body. Fremantle upped the tempo and equalised through a looping header which found the top corner. With only minutes left on the clock Mike Tripi sprung the offisde trap to race clear and slot in the deciding goal.
Controversy reigned in the late game as Floreat Athena amateurs had three players sent off in their 1-1 draw with Queens Park. It was a bright start from Floreat who controlled the opening exchanges but didn't create a great deal that troubled the Queens Park goalkeeper. Even so, Floreat went into the break with the advantage courtesy of an own goal which resulted from a poorly defended corner. The second half was a lot more balanced with both sides going close on several occasions. The game disintegrated into farce midway through the half when a rash of red cards reduced Floreat to eight players. Terry Georganis was the first to be ordered from the field, Theo Christou joined him shortly after and with ten minutes to go Steve Litas was also issued his marching orders. This allowed Queens Park back into the game and a good solo goal from Kyle Mitsopolous earned the hosts a share of the points.
KNIGHTS' HOPES ARE HIGH (by Peter Simcox)
Western Knights have high hopes for their ninth Night Series campaign under dual championship winning coach Ronnie Campbell. "We look forward to the Night Series and, like most coaches, I want to win the competition," commented Campbell this week. "The boys have trained well although we haven't pushed them early as some clubs have done. We'll use the tournament to build up for the season proper." In recent years the Knights have been one of the local scenes most consistent and attractive sides and Campbell says those qualities will carry over into 2006. "Willie Kelly and I try to attract the sort of players who play the ball around, and we'll continue to try and bring in these players to our club. We've got a number of talented youngsters at the Knights and they will get their opportunity to shine in the Night Series." The Knights begin the new season at 6.30pm on Friday against last year's finalists Swan I.C.
RODWELL WANTS D'AVRAY AS COACH
David Rodwell has threatened to pull out of a deal to purchase Nick Tana's majority share of Perth Glory unless technical manager Mich d'Avray agrees to coach the side. Speaking with Jonathon Cook of the "West Australian", Rodwell said his efforts to resurrect Glory's flagging fortunes hinged on d'Avray agreeing to return to the helm of the club he guided to National Soccer League championships in 2002/03 and 2003/04.
"Chelsea have Jose Mourinho, who is the special one in England. I think I have the special one in Australia," said Rodwell, who owned South African team Cape Town Spurs when d'Avray won the league as coach in the mid-90's. "Look at Mich's record. I can sit in the background and he can get results. If he doesn't play pretty football sometimes, that's fine. If we have to grind out results, okay. But we've got to be in the top four."
Rodwell, who currently owns 25% of Glory, said he was confident a deal with d'Avray would be reached. "The only reason I got involved in Glory is because of Mich. I didn't invest in the club, I invested in my jockey, Mich d'Avray," said Rodwell. "I knew I'd lose money but I knew we'd be successful on the field. And I can honestly say that I made a mistake last year. When Mich was not going to be coach, I should never have been part of it."
"In Mich's coaching career three years in South Africa and three years here he has never been out of the top two," Rodwell added. "I don't care what coach comes in. He can have the best credentials I'm not interested. I've got faith in the one man I can work with; a man I can trust. I'm not saying in the first season we're going to do it again, but funny things happen."
Rodwell paid tribute to Glory chairman Tana, who founded the club in 1995 and has personally invested around $6 million on it. "I salute Nick Tana. He put his money where his mouth is," Rodwell said. "If there was no Nick Tana there would've been no Perth Glory. And he was hugely instrumental in the transformation of the league." Any potential buy-out of Glory won't be finalised for at least two months due to on-going talks between Tana and Football Federation Australia.
NEVILLE LOOKS FORWARD TO CHALLENGE (by Peter Simcox)
Sorrento go into the Night Series buoyed by a successful 2005. The Gulls first team ended the League campaign as runner-up to Perth S.C. while their reserves took out the League and Cup double. Steve Neville, appointed as coach following Trevor Morgan's departure for Singapore, says his players are raring to go after a tough pre-season. "We began just before Christmas and have held three sessions a week since," the coach explained. "The boys have worked hard and are looking forward to the challenges ahead."
Neville remains unperturbed at the prospect of going into the Night Series without a few of his more experienced players. "Unfortunately we picked up a couple of injuries in the last scratch match we had and we have lost a couple of our senior players. But it times like this when you look at the younger lads and Louis Flatt and Jessie Higgins, both members of our successful reserves side, will get their opportunity sooner rather than later due to the injuries amongst our senior players."
There are a few personnel changes for the Gulls in 2006. Scottish imports David McGeown and Paul McMullan have returned home, and youngster Brodie Martin has joined Inglewood United. "The two Scottish lads will be a big loss. They were good quality and had a great attitude, which I believe improved our group of players, they talked to the boys and were very professional," commented Neville. "Brodie's departure wasn't a complete shock but disappointing. We were aware he was unhappy not getting regular football last season, but we wish him good luck."
GLORY READY TO REBUILD (courtesy Perth Glory)
Perth Glory's chief executive, Jeff Dennis, has given his assurances that the club will use the disappointment of missing out on finals football for the first time in eight years as an opportunity to rebuild for the future. Since the club's entry into the old national league in 1996, Glory has continually set the highest of standards both on and off the pitch. The rare instance of the club not qualifying for the finals this season will lead to a comprehensive review of all club operations in the quest to return to the pinnacle of football in Australia.
While discussions continue with Football Federation Australia regarding Glory's ownership, club officials are committed to the task of rejuvenating the club with the focus of excellence in football. And Dennis is confident that the club can create a stepping stone for a return to winning ways. "All clubs go through highs and lows and unfortunately it has been Perth Glory's turn to experience a low this season," Dennis said. "The test is how we respond to this challenge and I'm confident we can turn things around for the second season of the Hyundai A-League. We have already started a full and comprehensive review of all club operations and if we need to make wholesale changes we will."
With club operations at all levels to be addressed in coming weeks, Dennis insists that the thrust of this process would be to revitalise on-pitch performance. "We see this as a valuable opportunity to start from a clean slate and develop a new vision for the future," he explained. "This will include strengthening our football structure and the development of a new playing squad for next year. It's vitally important that we build a squad of loyal and committed players, something that we have been used to in previous seasons. We will look to finalise negotiations with our local players as soon as possible and build a competitive squad around them ahead of the next season.."
Dennis expects the issue of Glory's ownership to be finalised by the end of March. "We have been working closely with Football Australia and everything is progressing well," he commented. "Indications are that the whole process will take a further six to eight weeks to complete and this will bring a welcome injection of new enthusiasm and drive to Perth Glory. There is no question that mistakes have been made this season. We are not making excuses for these and are committed to addressing all the issues that need addressing head on. It's essential that during this challenging time for the club that we continue to have the support of our loyal supporters to help us rebuild the club to again reach the heights achieved in previous seasons."
SWAN PUT FAITH IN YOUTH (by Peter Simcox)
Last season's Night Series runner-up Swan I.C. go into this season's tournament determined to give the youngsters in their ranks a chance to show what they're made of. "We've named a few of our youth development squad to play in the Night Series" explained coach Carlo Scali. "We'll use the pre-season competition to try out some formations and to give our youngsters at the club an early opportunity to impress for first team selection. We feel the youngsters within the club are more than capable of stepping up to play senior football this year."
Swan's completed preparations for the pre-season competition last weekend with their annual camp in Sorrento "The weekend was packed with various fitness tasks and games that were both physically demanding and enjoyable for the players," said Scali. "It also gave us a chance to get all three teams, coaches, committee members and sponsors in the same place to make themselves known, and basically get the entire club involved. We set goals for the season for all teams, and covered what the clubs' expectations and responsibilities for all the players throughout the year are both on and off the field." Swan's campaign starts with a 6.30pm meeting with Western Knights on Friday.
GARCIA EYES WORLD CUP SPOT
In-form striker Richard Garcia would love to wear the green and gold of Australia at this year's World Cup. The Colchester United player is not currently in the plans of national selectors but he aims to turn a few heads by regularly finding the back of the net during the second half of the English League One season. Garcia swept home his fourth goal in the last three games to seal Colchester a 3-1 F.A. Cup fifth round win over Derby County in Saturday. This followed a late brace which secured a 2-1 home win over Port Vale the previous weekend, and a mid-week winner at Cheltenham Town.
In emerging as one of Colchester's key contributors 24-year old Garcia has one eye on being a late inclusion in the Socceroos squad for Germany. "The World Cup is in the back of my mind, but the main thing is to keep doing well for Colchester," insisted Garcia. "Firstly, I'm just trying to play as many games as I can for Colchester. Then who knows whether the selectors will come and watch me or not? I believe that they are watching my progress. I've been scoring some goals lately, so maybe they might start paying me some more attention. It certainly won't do my chances any harm."
A spate of niggling injuries has seen Garcia move in and out of Colchester's line-up since joining the club in September 2004. But he is now fully fit and excited about the months ahead as the U's prepare for a hectic schedule of League and Cup fixtures. "There's no reason why we can't keep winning. I think we can go on and win promotion this season," remarked Garcia. "The F.A. Cup is always something to get excited about. I don't mind who we draw in the next round, though I suppose I'd like to play against my old team West Ham. Some people made us the favourites against Derby, but we were really the underdogs - we just have a lot of belief about us. I guess that this has been my best week since I've been at Colchester."
GLORY BEGIN CONTRACT TALKS
Perth Glory is expected to open negotiations with a handful of players coming out of contract within the next few days. Its understood talented young midfielder Nick Ward, who has attracted the attention of several A-League rivals, is at the top of Glory's most wanted list. Also expected to be offered new deals are team captain Jamie Harnwell, Bobby Despotovski, David Tarka, Jamie Coyne, Billy Celeski and Naum Sekulovski. At the current time only five players - Simon Colosimo, Jason Petkovic, Hiroyuki Ishida, Ante Kovacevic and Stuart Young - are under contract for the summer of 2006/07.
VEST PREPARED TO WALK
An angry Alan Vest has called for a complete overhaul of Perth Glory after its season came to a premature end when beaten 1-2 at home by Sydney F.C. yesterday. Speaking at the post-match press conference, Vest made it clear he wanted no involvement next season unless the club sorted out the internal strife that ruined their chances of a top-four finish. Vest questioned the commitment of some players and revealed the extent of the problems within a fractured squad. "I was disappointed with a few individuals all year - I have had a go at them, and I have had a go at them before the game, during the warm up. But that is life, they are the players we have got unfortunately."
It's been a tumultuous season for Glory. Some questionable recruitment and secret meetings amongst the playing staff which led to the axing of high-profile coach Steve McMahon had done nothing to help Glory's cause Vest said. "The club has got to have an overhaul. There is no question about that," the coach commented. "The character hasn't been there this season. The spirit hasn't been there this season. There've been cliques around the club. If you are going to do anything at this game, then you've got to get that sorted out. It's a shame for the ones who do battle and scrap and give everything they've got."
SEASON ENDS EARLY FOR GLORY
The season is effectively over for Perth Glory who crashed 1-2 to Sydney F.C. this afternoon at Member Equity Stadium. The result puts Glory out of the running for a finals berth and leaves them with little more than pride to play for when they meet Newcastle United Jets in the final round of the season next weekend. Sydney came out at full pace with Steve Corica, Jacob Timpano and Alvin Ceccoli each have good early opportunities on goal. The visitors broke through on 14 minutes when David Carney's cross caused confusion in the home defence and Mark Rudan nodded in from a couple of metres. The margin became two goals eleven minutes later when some exquisite lead-up involving Dwight Yorke, Matthew Bingley and Saso Petrovski was finished off by Ruben Zadkovich at close range. Glory's best chance came five minutes from half-time when Clint Bolton blocked shots from Bobby Despotovski and Scott Miller following a fine cross from the left by Jamie Coyne.
The introduction of Adrian Caceres and Hiroyuki Ishida breathed new life into Glory as, minutes after the restart, Bolton was called upon to tip away a Despotovski shot after it deflected off Ceccoli. Glory should have pegged a goal back when awarded a penalty for Mark Milligan's foul on Caceras, but Despotovski's spot kick was brilliantly kept out by Bolton. There was better luck for Despotovski in the 63rd minute when he volleyed an Ishida cross past the goalkeeper to bring the hosts back into the game. Damien Mori should have done much better than skied his shot with only the 'keeper to beat shortly after. Although defending in numbers, Sydney threatened on the counterattack with Carney and Petrovski going close to sealing victory for the visitors. Caceres skipped away down the left in the 77th minute but his effort was saved by a full-stretch Bolton under pressure from Ishida . Glory continued to push forward as the clock ticked down but could find no way past Bolton and a well-organised Sydney defence.
LAZARIDIS MIFFED BY PERCEIVED SNUB
Perth Glory is in very real danger of missing out on hometown hero Stan Lazaridis. The 33-year old spoke of his desire to play for Glory in next season's A-League over four months ago, but having not heard from the club Lazaridis is considering his options with Adelaide United, Sydney F.C. and Newcastle Jets all understood to have made contact with the Socceroo. "I've had calls from other A-League clubs that are desperate and here's me thinking I'll be loyal and give something back to Perth, but I don't think I am now," commented Lazaridis, who is out of contract with Birmingham City come the end of the English season.
Glory's position is mystifying considering they've struggled to attract big crowds this season. Lazaridis would be the ideal marquee player, offering enormous marketing potential for a club craving positive publicity. "If they're looking from a business and marketing point of view in getting bums on seats, I can't see why they wouldn't be interested," he said. "The thing is, if they're going to sign any other Socceroo, they won't be interested in moving to Perth unless they have links here."
The clubs technical manager Mich d'Avray said Glory were intending to contact Lazaridis. "We really need to speak to the contracted local players before we speak to Stan," d'Avray said. "How would it look if we went to talk to Stan Lazaridis? It would be unethical and a slap in the face to the current Glory players yet to be offered new deals. You've got to look at the salary cap and it's nothing personal, but I think our priority should be a striker next season because of the problems we've had."
NIGHT SERIES, WEEKEND ONE (Cockburn City vs Perth S.C. by Lennie Bavich; E.C.U. Joondalup vs Wanneroo City by Kirk O'Connor; Armadale vs Bayswater City by Adam Rucci; Floreat Athena vs Stirling Lions by Elliott Leonard)
Three late goals enabled Perth S.C. to come from behind and defeat Cockburn City 3-1 in the opening game of the 2006 Night Series at Litis Stadium on Friday. Perth where quickly into stride with a series penetrating attacks that had their opponents back four working overtime to keep the game on a level footing. It wasn't until the 24th minute that Cockburn carved out their first attacking foray which ended with John Mirco sending the ball high over the crossbar. Shortly after Perth attacker Scott Bulloch was denied by a fine save down low by Alan Dunlop. With 32 minutes played Cockburn claimed the lead as Jason Dos Santos' cross found Mileta Miletic who chested the ball down before unleashing a vicious shot that gave Gareth Deeg no chance. Dunlop ensures his side went into the break with the lead by keeping out Barry Wood's header from a Matt Danskin cross. The game swung in Perth's favour after the break courtesy of a triple substitution by stand-in coach Ken Lowe which saw the introduction of Aaron Cole, David Onoforo and Felim Rugel. Parity was restored in the 68th minute by Rugel who danced through the defence and slammed a powerful shot past the goalkeeper. Two minutes latter Perth were awarded a penalty after Paul Oliver was ruled to have handled a Gary Faria cross, and from the spot Peter Lord made no mistake. The sealing goal came via Faria, a former Cockburn player, whose superb strike from 20-metres came to nestle in the bottom left hand corner of Dunlop's net. Jeff Bright very nearly added the Blues fourth but his effort cannoned into the post close to the final whistle.
E.C.U. Joondalup claimed the year's first derby by defeating a gallant Wanneroo City 1-0 in Friday's late game. Play was evenly balanced in a first half which see-sawed from end to end. Craig Bowman forced a good save from Joondalup custodian Peter Stewart early on, while at the opposite end Tom Jones' well struck shot from distance was turned around the post by Wanneroo goalkeeper Kevin Miller. Ben Yates was quickly closed down by the defence after being played through by Bowman, then an unmarked Scott Blackmore disappointingly headed over the crossbar from a free-kick. A poor back pass was seized upon by Bowman who collided with Stewart while trying to round the 'keeper and the opportunity mounted to nothing. The deadlock was broken right on half-time by Ian McMillan who headed in a cross from Garin Collins which put Joondalup in the box seat. Joondalup dominated after the break and would have increased their advantage if not for the shot-stopping abilities of Miller. Much of their drive was coming wide on the left where Martin Ashworth continued caused problems for the Wanneroo defence, while in the centre of the park it was Dale McCulloch and Scott Bushby who were running the show. Slowly but surely Wanneroo began to re-assert their authority and going into the final quarter hour appeared destined to equalise. And they should have done so via Bowman who sped past a tiring defence and rounded Stewart but with an open goal at his mercy the attacker sent his shot wide of the target. Joondalup had a late chance to put the game beyond doubt but substitute Tom Amphlett was thwarted by Miller.
Frank Farone was an ideal start to his tenure as coach of Bayswater City when they defeated Armadale 2-0 in Saturday's early game. The opening exchanges were very scrappy as both teams cleaned out the off-season cobwebs. Sasa Kilibarda almost gave Armadale the lead with a terrific volley on the turn which ended narrowly over the crossbar. Bayswater's first genuine opportunity came on 20 minutes when Daniel Micevski's free-kick from 20-metres forced a sharp response out of Nick Stone. As the minutes ticked by Bayswater grew in confidence and strung together some promising attacks through a great display of one-touch passing. Igor Novakovic slipped the ball through to Micevski who's shot from close-range was wide, and later Oliver Langdale was denied by the goalkeeper. Bayswater finally broke through a minutes from half-time when Mark Lee whipped a free-kick into the area from the right and Tony Cumace, unmarked at the back post, buried his shot into the bottom corner. Cumace went close to doubling the margin early in the second half with a fierce strike from 30-metres which rattled the bar. The match appeared to be ended as a contest in the 57th minute when Bayswater captain Mark Lee converted from the penalty spot following Darryl Platten's foul on Novakovic. But Peter Taylor had other ideas and twice went close to bringing Armadale back into the game, his first chance crashed into the post while a few minutes later Bobson Koroma saved the youngsters goalbound strike. Armadale's night then went from back to worse as Craig Anderson was issued his marching orders for bringing down Damir Kuduzovic, and with only a few minutes to play Richard Lacey received his second yellow card.
Ryan Jeans made a sensational debut for Stirling Lions by scoring a hat-trick in his sides 3-3 draw with Floreat Athena in Saturday's late game. The ball was in motion just a minute when Stirling took the lead through a defensive slip which allowed Jeans to slot past Vas Vujacic in a one-on-one situation. It took Floreat until the 37th minute to equalise when Adrian Sutton rose highest to head in a corner from Adam Bachiller. The second half was only minutes old when, from wide on the left, Jarrod Smith sent the ball into the danger zone to an unmarked Bajo Savic who drilled his shot past Phil Straker from close range. But the lead was to be short lived as just two minutes later Steve Porter's searching pass made it's way to Jeans who drove a powerful shot past Vujacic. Floreat responded in style and by the 56th minute had re-claimed the lead after Savic's long range effort was parried by the 'keeper straight into the path of Sutton who had no trouble in despatching the ball into the net. Stirling began their search for a third goal when Tom Straker drilled a free-kick into the 18-yard box where Peter Dunn's shot deflected off the post. Their reward arrive on 76 minutes when Dunn's cross from the right eluded a crowd of players but not Jeans who had the simple task of knocking in his hat-trick at the back post. There were chances for a dramatic late winner at both ends as Porter's curling free-kick from just outside the area cannoned back off the crossbar, while Athena substitute Chris Beech also hit the woodwork the a header.
YOUNG HAS NO REGRETS (by Peter Simcox)
Veteran striker Stuart Young really is the forgotten man of the A-League. As Perth Glory were short-listing players for the new national competition Young was one of the first names mentioned. So it came as no surprise when late last year he became their first signing. But the 33-year old has had to endure a nightmarish twelve months in which he's worn Glory's instantly recognisable purple and orange shirt on only a handful of occasions. Nevertheless, he's risen above the disappointment of not playing the game he's devoted his life to and fallen in love with the lifestyle Western Australia has to offer.
Young was delighted when confirmed as Glory's first signing. However, what was to follow was nothing but frustration for Young who fell out of favour with coach Steve McMahon in pre-season. It was only after Alan Vest took over the reigns in January that Young came into regular contention for the match day squad. "It has been the worst period of my professional career," the 33-year old said. "But ultimately you must treat each situation you face as professionally as you can, although at various times over the last twelve months that has not been easy."
While playing opportunities have been hard to come by the veteran striker he says he has no regrets about joining Glory. "There was interest from another A-League franchise but my wife was really keen on a move out west," he explained. "Moving to W.A. has been terrific for us as a family as we have fallen in love with the place, and the people we have met have all been welcoming. Not to be playing has been difficult but I don't regret for a moment moving here. The happiness of my family is far more important to me than any professional difficulties I may be experiencing."
As a player looking in, Young has been impressed with the structure of the new A-League and is of the firm belief the game can only get better from here. "The first year of the new competition has exceeded my expectations," he said. "The crowds may not be at a level that the league desires, but they are infinitely better than the old N.S.L. The standard of play has been surprisingly good, but with the twenty man roster we have seen some inferior performances when clubs have had injury problems."
With the State League crying out for quality players to help build its profile, Young admits to being tempted by a spell in the local game. "There is a long break once again at the end of the A-League season and I'm sure that playing in the local competition is an option for some of our players," he said. "As for myself, I have another year to run on my contract with Glory and to be honest I haven't thought too much about playing locally yet. That could be an option if the club deems it in my best interests to get some game time under my belt, which is something I have been sorely missing recently."
WEEKEND IN SUMMARY (by Peter Simcox)
The 2006 McInerney Ford Night Series began on the weekend with a full round of games at Litis Stadium. Perth S.C. bounced back from conceding an early goal to defeat Cockburn City 3-1. E.C.U. Joondalup came out on top of near neighbour Wanneroo City 1-0 to give new coach Stuart Currie a first-up win against his former club. On Saturday evening Bayswater City won 2-0 against Armadale who ended the game with ten men following the dismissal of Craig Anderson and Richard Lacey. Ryan Jeans made a sensational debut for Stirling Lions by hitting all three goals in their 3-3 draw with Floreat Athena.
WEEKEND IN PREVIEW
The new Football West season is upon us with the opening rounds of the McInerney Ford sponsored Night Series taking place this weekend at Litis Stadium. The pre-season tournament has been a regular fixture on the West Australian football calendar for almost half a century and provides clubs a perfect opportunity to road test their new squads ahead of the home-and-away series. The undisputed kings of Night Series football are Perth S.C. who've lifted the trophy an astonishing fourteen titles since 1961, while Stirling Lions' six triumphs puts them a distant second.
The 2006 Night Series kicks off this evening with the Group A meeting of Cockburn City and Perth S.C. (6.30pm). This is followed by what promises to be a fiery Group B derby between E.C.U. Joondalup and newly promoted Wanneroo City (8.30pm). On Saturday, Armadale square off with a re-energised Bayswater City (6.30pm) in Group A. The Group B showdown between Floreat Athena and a new-look Stirling Lions (8.30pm) brings the evenings' entertainment to a close. Entry fees for the 2006 Night Series are $6 for adults and $4 for concession holders with children under the age of 15 admitted free.
VEST TO MAKE LATE DECISION ON LINE-UP
Perth Glory coach Alan Vest will hold off naming his squad to face Sydney F.C. until tomorrow morning due to a number of minor injuries affecting his players’ fitness. “Billy Celeski probably will not be able to play because of a hip problem, he is going to have an injection today so we will have to see how that reacts. David Tarka has pulled up in training again so we will have to get that looked at too. David Micevski, Henry (Fa’arodo) and Naum (Sekulovski) have all had little niggles over the last few days so we will have to assess the situation after training on Saturday,” Vest explained following this morning’s training run.
Even so, Vest should have more options than he did for last week’s away game with New Zealand Knights. Socceroo Simon Colosimo returns from suspension, Hiroyuki Ishida has overcome a back complaint and Jamie Coyne reacted well to an injection in his groin and should make the starting line-up. Although Sydney have not yet won this year Vest will be warning his players to be on their guard against a team very capable of turning on the style. “Teams have been good one week and then shocking the next week in this league,” Vest said. “Sydney have not been the best since they came back from Japan (for the Club World Championship) but they are a very good team when they put everything together.”
TOUGH START FOR NEW COCKBURN COACH (by Peter Simcox)
A baptism of fire awaits Billy Russell when he takes the reigns for his first game as coach of Cockburn City. A more daunting opponent could not have greeted Russell whose troops meet league and cup holder Perth S.C. in the opening game of the 2006 Night Series. And while Perth will be without the likes of Andreas Oliveira, Antonio Naglieri, David Micevski, Dino Djulbic and Aaron Cole on Friday evening Russell says he's not about to underestimate the Blues depth. "Perth are a very professional outfit and have recruited well in the off-season, it will be a difficult game first up for us," he said.
Friday's game will be the first competitive hit out for Cockburn's new coaching team of Russell and assistant Tom Kilkelly. With a long season ahead of them, the pair have decided to foster and develop depth within their squad by exposing the clubs emerging talent to first team football during the pre-season tournament. "The Night Series will be an opportunity to play some of the younger players at the club as we have a number of our senior players not back in training yet," Russell explained. Cockburn and Perth square off from 6.30pm on Friday at Litis Stadium.
COLCHESTER GO TOP THANKS TO GARCIA
Richard Garcia has successfully put an injury hampered few months behind him by netting three vitals goals for Colchester United in the space of a few days. On Saturday the former Australian youth international bagged both goals in his clubs 2-1 win over Port Vale which launched them to top spot on League One table. And four days later he booked Colchester's place in the LDV Vans Trophy Area Final by scoring the solitary goal in their semi-final clash with Cheltenham Town.
Starting the Port Vale game on the bench, Garcia was introduced in the 73rd minute with devastating effect. Less than a minute after coming on the 24-year old lashed his second of the ball past the goalkeeper to put Colchester ahead. The visiting team equalised via the penalty spot within five minutes, but Garcia delivered a second and more decisive blow by tucking the ball away in the 87th minute to secure Colchester's ninth successive home win.
Following the win Garcia said he and his team-mates were ready to dig in and fight to stay atop the League One table. "We have got up there thanks to a good attitude and we have to maintain that and stay up there," he said. "Teams will be looking at us now and wanting to knock us off the top. They will be wanting to bring us crashing down to earth and we have got to be ready to keep the hard work up and stay where we are." Colchester head the standings by one point over Southend United.
A first half strike from Garcia earned Colchester a 1-0 win in Tuesday evening's LDV Vans Trophy Southern Section semi-final showdown with Cheltenham. The visiting team dominated the game from start to finish but their only goal arrived on 21 minutes when Garcia who latched onto a Greg Halford pass before unleashing a fierce strike that the goalkeeper failed to hold. The victory puts Colchester into the Area Final where they'll meet Swansea over two legs.
ENROLMENTS OPEN FOR SUPER SKILLS SESSIONS
Following on from the success of last years' Super Soccer Skills Sessions, Perth Glory captain Jamie Harnwell will once again be offering young players the opportunity to develop their game in a fun atmosphere. Commencing mid-February, the eight week course is open to players aged nine to fifteen and focuses on honing a players' individual skills. By limiting each one-hour session to a maximum of ten players all participants are guaranteed the attention they need to enhance their skills. The upcoming round of Super Soccer Skills Sessions will be held at Percy Doyle Reserve (Duncraig) starting on Monday 13th February. With places limited, you are encouraged to register your interest by contacting Harnwell on 040 4178 067 or via email@example.com.
ROCKINGHAM LAY FOUNDTIONS FOR FUTURE
If Rockingham City harbour the desire to emerge as a new force south of the river then they are going about it the right way. It's been a hectic few months for the First Division club who've put into action plans for a successful coming season and beyond. "We've been busy on a number of projects, " commented club spokesman Brian Hallums this week. Amongst the irons in Rockinghams' fire are the appointment of a new coaching team which will lead them into 2006, a merger with neighbouring Bay City, and the impending move to Lark Hill Sporting Complex.
First cab off the rank for Rockingham was to appoint Byron Wood as first team coach, and Nick Tywman his assistant, for the coming winter. "We see their appointment as a continuation of our successful 2005 campaign," explained Hallums. "Byron was assistant to coach Billy Russell last year and Nick is a former Rockingham player. Both are young in coaching terms but we're confident their enthusiasm for the game will rub off on the players at Rockingham."
A joining of forces with amateur club Bay City is viewed as another step in the right direction for Rockingham. "Our merger with Bay City will significantly increase our numbers, particularly on a Sunday," said Hallums. "We won't be expecting a great deal of difference immediately in our Saturday side, but the merger is in line with our five year plan to increase the number of players at the club, including juniors, and ensure our future."
Topping what has clearly been a busy off-season for Rockingham have been on-going negotiations for their move to new premises at Lark Hill Sporting Complex. "Everyone is aware our clubroom has been looking very tired over the last few years, and this will suit us perfectly, " said Hallums. "The complex is a bit further south, between Port Kennedy and Secret Harbour, and we'll be sharing facilities with Rockingham-Mandurah Cricket Club. The new clubrooms and pitches should be ready for the 2007 season."
WANNEROO KEEN TO COMMENCE LIFE IN TOP FLIGHT (by Peter Simcox)
Wanneroo City are looking forward to making their first ever appearance as a Premier league club. The northern suburbs side won comfortably promotion to the top flight last season and new coach Gerry McEwan can't wait for his side's Night Series derby clash with E.C.U. Joondalup on Friday. "The players have worked hard in the pre-season and are really looking forward to the game against Joondalup," said McEwan. "It's been a good pre-season with Willie McNally working along side me we're looking forward to the challenge ahead. We've got to show we can compete in the top division and if the players show me commitment on and off the park we'll be okay."
McEwan, assistant coach last season at Wanneroo, stepped up to the helm following the off-season departure of championship winning coach Stuart Currie who, ironically, is now in charge of Joondalup. Much of last seasons squad remains intact for Wanneroo who'll promote from within their ranks for the pre-season tournament. "We've retained quite a lot of the boys from last season, and I've rewarded three youngsters for showing their great attitude in the pre-season by adding them to the Night Series squad. If the game's right on the night for us we'll be able to introduce them to first team football," explained McEwan. Wanneroo begin life in the top flight by taking on northern rival Joondalup from 8.30pm on Friday at Litis Stadium.
W.A. TRIO INVITED TO NATIONAL TEAM CAMP
Three products of the local system have been called into camp with the Young Socceroos. Goalkeepers Tando Velaphi and Aleksander Vrteski along with attack minded Nikita Rukavytsya, all currently enrolled at the Australian Institute of Sport, will participate in the six-day camp which commences tomorrow in Canberra. Velaphi and Rukavytsya played youth team football for Perth S.C. prior to accepting offers to attend the A.I.S. last year while Vrteski kept goal for Stirling Lions first team in 2005. The trio will hoping to be amongst the twenty players selected to represent Australia in next months qualifying tournament for the 2007 FIFA World Youth Championship.
The full training squad is Joel Allwright, Noel Bahnsen, Bruce Djite, Evan Berger, Foad Comandari, Jimmy Downey, Peter Eleftherakis, Chris Grossman, Troy Hearfield, Greg King, Robbie Kruse, Michael Marrone, Christopher Nunes, Stephen Odor, Shaun Ontong, Nikita Rukavytsya, Matthew Spiranovic, Tando Velaphi, Dario Vidosic, Aleksander Vrteski (Australian Institute of Sport), Mitchell Langerak (Across the Waves), Tarek Elrich (Newcastle United Jets), David Williams (Queensland Roar), Nick Crossley (Richmond), Matthew Smith (Sutherland Sharks), Wade Oostendorp (Sydney F.C.) and Goran Popovski (Sydney Olympic).
FIRST DIVISION AND AMATEUR NIGHT SERIES (Canning City vs Fremantle United courtesy Canning City; Morley Windmills vs Rockingham City courtesy Morley Windmills)
There were plenty of thrills and spills in the opening week of First Division and Amateur Night Series games at Coker Park. Canning City should consider themselves fortunate to have taken maximum points over amateur side Fremantle United, the games deciding goal coming in the final few minutes. It was a similar story for Balcatta who overturned a two goal deficit with twenty minutes remaining to defeat Floreat Athena amateurs 3-2. Queens Park, relegated from the semi-professional ranks last year, scored twice in the final ten minutes to upset eastern corridor rival Gosnells City 3-2. The weeks’ other match saw Morley Windmills make light work of Rockingham City for a 3-0 win.
Canning City registered a scrappy 3-2 win over Fremantle United. The port side was rewarded for their early enterprise with the games first goal that resulted from a corner on 25 minutes. Shortly before the break Canning equalised when Simon Versaico’s effort was tipped onto the crossbar by the goalkeeper and Shane Laing put away the follow-up. Paul Van Dongen made the most of hesitant defending to edge Canning ahead early in the second half. Some top notch passing was complimented with clinical finishing from Rocky Vasile who levelled the game. With just minutes left on the clock Michael Van Dongen delivered a superb cross from the right which twin brother Paul put away to snatch maximum points.
Tuesday’s late game ended 3-2 in favour of Balcatta who had to come from behind to beat a stern Floreat Athena amateur side. Played in driving rain and stifling humidity, Floreat looked to have the game in the bag when they lead two-nil with just twenty remaining. But it was then that Balcatta finally found their goalscoring boots and two goals from Anthony Toutountzis and another from Basil Vlachou gained them a somewhat fortunate victory.
The surprise result of the week was Queens Park’s 3-2 defeat of Gosnells City in Wednesday’s late game. Queens Park went ahead on 15 minutes when Scott Reinsma lashed the ball home following a mix-up between the Gosnells custodian and one of his defenders. This only fired Gosnells up and not long out from the break Stewart Indge’s long ball found it’s way to Artur Majewski who equalised. It looked as though pre-match expectations would be realised when Darren Ingham scored Gosnells second of the night from the penalty spot. However, Queens Park had other plans and Reinsma latched on to a through ball from Alex Seed to make it two-each. In the closing moments a defence splitting pass allowed Reinsma to complete his hat-trick and register his club a hard-fought three points.
Morley Windmills cruised to a comfortable 3-0 win over Rockingham City earlier on Wednesday evening. The first goal in a scrappy match that yielded few opportunities came via the penalty spot from where Simon Messenger converted following a foul on Ray Rose. Soon after Rose doubled the margin when he was sent through on goal and expertly chipped the oncoming goalkeeper. Rockingham came out after the break determined to get back into the game only to meet with stiff resistance from a Morley rearguard underpinned by Messenger and Wayne Culverwell. At the opposite end Flavio L’Abbate and Scott McIlroy was denied Morley’s third goal by an alert ‘keeper, but there was little he could do in the final minute as Rose secured victory.
DESPOTOVSKI EYES GOLDEN BOOT (courtesy Perth Glory)
It is more than two months since striker Bobby Despotovski scored for Perth Glory but the deadly finisher still has a chance to finish as the A-League's top scorer. Despotovski is currently second in the scoring charts with seven strikes, just one behind Archie Thompson, who left Melbourne Victory for Dutch club PSV Eindhoven recently. Having not scored since the 3-0 home win over New Zealand Knights on 11th November, the Glory number ten knows he is due a goal and a return to his early season form could make the 34-year old the competition's top scorer.
Despotovski is keen to rediscover his goalscoring boots this weekend at home against Sydney F.C. "I would usually get a goal at least every three or four weeks but it has been a long time since I last scored. We did have three weeks off but I am definitely due to score and I will be trying my best to score this weekend," Despotovski promised. "If you look at the games against Newcastle, Sydney and New Zealand I hit the post or the crossbar in each of those games so I have been very close so it is about time one of them hit the net."
While Despotovski has twice been the club's leading goalscorer and holds the record of the most goals scored for Glory's, he is quick to point out that his own tally always comes second to team performances. "For me it's never about being top scorer, if there is someone in a better position then I will pass them the ball. If the team gets three points and I don't score then I am happy, I don't care if it is Jason Petkovic who scores!"
With Archie Thompson now in Europe, Despotovski is amongst a handful of players who will fancy their chances of overtaking the Socceroo striker in the remaining two rounds of the regular season. "Archie Thompson is on eight goals and the rest of the players, like Ante Milicic, are on seven," said the glory veteran. "With Archie being in Holland now it could be one of those players on seven who scores a couple in the last two games to finish as top goal scorer."
VOGT OFFERS GOALKEEPERS UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY
If you're a goalkeeper looking for that extra advantage over your club rivals ahead of the new season then Martin Vogt may just have the answer. Vogt, a former State custodian and currently coaching at Cockburn City, has developed a pre-season programme specifically for goalkeepers. "I have a great program for 'keepers who live south of the river and are interested in training independently of their teams on weekends as a build up to the coming season. Any 'keepers keen to hone their skills, improve their fitness demands of goalkeeping and the preparation required to avoid unnecessary injuries will benefit from the programme." Players interested in either attending individual or groups session are asked to contact Vogt on 0417 273 117. Coaches are also invited to attend sessions to assist in including 'keepers with their training needs.
FINALS NOT BEYOND US SAYS GLORY CAPTAIN
Jamie Harnwell insists Perth Glory's home date with Sydney F.C. this weekend is a must win affair for the club. Glory need to collect maximum points on Sunday in order to keep in touch with Central Coast Mariners and Sydney, and stay in the hunt for a finals berth. With two regular season games remaining Glory sit just outside the top four position, two points adrift of the Mariners and trailing Sydney by four points.
Sydney have not won in their past four outings and Harnwell is confident his side can record victory in their last home game of the campaign. "We need to win both of our next two games and if we do that we have a good chance of making the finals," Harnwell said. "Sydney seem to have lost their way a little bit recently but they still have some very good players. If we beat them this weekend we will be just one point behind them and they have to go to Adelaide on the last day of the season so anything could happen."
Sunday's game at Members Equity Stadium will be the fourth meeting between the clubs in eight months. Glory accounted for Sydney 1-0 in the semi-final of the pre-season Cup courtesy of a Nick Ward strike. The first A-League meeting was held at Members Equity Stadium in October when Sydney claimed all three points by a 2-1 scoreline. And while Glory dominated the return match they had to settle for a scoreless draw.
"We have played well against them so far and should have got a win last time we played them so the boys are pretty fired up to get a result," Harnwell insisted. "Sunday's game will be like a final for us and it will probably be the same for Sydney too because there is so much at stake. Our boys are confident after the last couple of performances and everyone is hungry for finals football so we will give it everything we have got."
Harnwell admits Glory have been disappointed with results at home so far this season and are determined to produce something special for the hometown fans this weekend. "This could be our last game of the season and we want to make sure the club's fans have something to be proud of," he said. "We know that our performances at home have not always been what they should this season and everyone in the changing room wants to show what we are made of."
W.A. IN THE MIX TO HOST ASIAN CUP QUALIFIERS
The state's governing body wants to cash in on Australia's move into the Asian Football Confederation by becoming a regular host of international fixtures. Football West chief executive Michelle Phillips said it was essential that Perth took advantage of its proximity to the Asian region by bringing in world-class matches to further enhance the game's profile in Western Australia. Perth is already considered as an ideal destination for training camps by many Asian nations, and bringing quality international fixtures to the state is the next logical step.
For more than a decade Perth was overlooked as a host of senior international fixtures until Football Federation Australia brought a low-profile clash between the Socceroos and Indonesia to Subiaco Oval in March last year. The response to the friendly fixture was disappointing with fewer than 14,000 fans filing into the 43,000-capacity Subiaco Oval. But Football West has not been deterred and are working closely with the FFA and local authorities to ensure Perth was in contention to regularly host internationals.
Phillips said Football West had already expressed their interest to FFA in hosting Asian Cup qualifiers against Kuwait (August), Lebanon (September) and Bahrain (October). "We've got our hand up for all three games after the World Cup," said Phillips. "I see it as a priority that we bring international games to Perth. Building strong relationships with Asia is a key for us." Phillips went on to say Members Equity Stadium, which as a capacity of the 17,000, would be the ideal venue for an international fixture and said it could be easily modified to meet international requirements.
MICEVSKI REMAINS FOCUSED
Perth Glory's most recent signing, David Micevski, may only be 19 but the versatile midfielder is quietly confident that the club can secure a finals berth in the inaugural A-League season. Having risen rapidly through the local ranks with Perth S.C. the teenager is thrilled about the prospect of helping Glory fight for a play-off in his debut season. Micevski, on loan to Glory until the end of the present season, only completed his second season of senior football last year when he played a pivotal role in the Blues' League and Cup double success.
However, it was his quick time elevation to the Perth first team that Micevski considers his greatest achievement so far. "Going from the Under-18s side one year to first team the next was huge and then I took out the Best and Fairest award that year too," he said. Even after an outstanding couple of years at Perth, Micevski didn't think he'd be playing for Glory at such a young age. "I didn't expect to play at all for them this season but it just happened so quickly." It was Micevski's hard work and commitment during trials that earned him a short-term contract following the retirement of Matt Horsley in December.
Glory's technical director Mich d'Avray had been monitoring the young midfielder through the Pathway to Glory programme which is designed to give the state's best young players a route to A-League football. Micevski was pleased with his progress at training but says the contract offer still came as a surprise. "I'm just surprised it happened so early, I was hoping to push for a chance next season," he admitted. His chances of gaining one of the club's three under-20 contract for next season are looking good following some impressive performances in recent outings against Queensland Roar and New Zealand Knights.
There wasn't much time for Micevski to contemplate his Glory debut after being told just an hour before kick-off that he'd be starting against Roar. "I was just expecting to be on the bench at the most then Vesty and Damian came up to me and asked how I felt about starting tonight!" Micevski revealed. He describes the feeling of walking out onto Members Equity Stadium as the biggest buzz of his career to date. "It was just a great experience, I always used to come here as a kid and watch some of the boys. I was a bit nervous to start with but once I had a few touches I felt alright," he added.
Micevski still harbours dreams of playing professionally in Europe but for the time being is focusing on becoming established with his hometown club. "I'm just happy to be where I am right now, I would like to prove myself here before heading overseas," he said. Having tasted national league football Micevski wants more and has set his sights on securing a longer term deal with Glory. "I'm just pursuing that contract for next season but I feel I'm ready to take that next step," he insists.
SOUTH AFRICAN'S LIKELY TO BUY OUT TANA
Nick Tana's ten-year reign as Perth Glory's chairman could be over within a month. It's understood a South African consortium that includes David Rodwell, the club's deputy chairman, and board member Orlando Fernandes will shortly buy out Tana's majority shareholding. The deal, which is likely to exceed $1 million, could see Glory's technical manager Mich d'Avray also buy into the club. Rodwell revealed late last week his desire for d'Avray to succeed Alan Vest as coach next season.
Rodwell, Fernandes and d'Avray met Football Federation Australia head of operations Matt Carroll in late December to discuss the takeover. Carroll will continue talks with Rodwell and chief executive Jeff Dennis this week. "We're very supportive of David and Orlando because they've been involved with Nick along the way and they understand what Glory's about and they want to take it on and take it to the next level," commented Carroll. "Nick Tana was wanting to ensure whoever it was sold to had the best interests of Perth Glory and football at heart, so I'm sure if terms will be agreed it will be a great outcome."
'ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN' SAYS VEST
Following Perth Glory's emphatic 4-1 win against the New Zealand Knights, coach Alan Vest insists that 'anything can happen' in the race for the A-League finals. Glory's chances of finishing in the top four looked slim after they lost to Adelaide United in the previous round but, with three points on the board Glory are now just a point outside the play-offs. The Perth side face second placed Sydney F.C. at home and are away to Newcastle United Jets, who are third, in their last two games and victories in both would give them every chance of playing in the finals.
Vest admitted that his players had been boosted by the result in Auckland. "I thought we started off shaky, we were a bit slow out of the blocks and we went a goal down early on but we got back in it pretty quickly and went on to dominate the first half," Vest said of his first win at the helm. "They (New Zealand) came into it a bit more in the second half but we got the goals we needed and Jamie's (Harnwell) goal at the end put a lid on it."
Asked about Glory's chances of reaching the finals, Vest said he would be watching the remaining games in the present round with intent. "We will just have to sit back and see what unfolds, you just wonder if Adelaide will take their foot off the gas a bit now but anything can happen," he stated. "Whether we finish in the top four or not this result has set us up well for the game against Sydney next week so hopefully we will have a good crowd for that game."
The inflammation of an injury to full back Jamie Coyne, who scored one and provided another goal for Naum Sekulovski, has the coach concerned. Coyne has been suffering with a chronic groin problem for the past few months and was replaced by debutant Ryan Townsend just after the hour mark in New Zealand. "It has been tough because Jamie Coyne came off and he could be out for the rest of the season now. Danny (Hay) is not 100% match fit but he came in and did very well."
There were certainly a number of very promising signs to come out of the win over the Knights. "The young lads in midfield, David Micevski and Nick Ward did very well and Naum (Sekulovski) did better, scoring two good goals so there were a lot of positives to take from the match," Vest commented. "It was a continuation from last week because I felt we played well against Adelaide but didn't get the result we needed because we gave two bad goals away."
Another bonus was Bobby Despotovski's return from injury as he was instrumental, providing two set plays from which Coyne and Harnwell scored. Vest insisted that it was a difficult decision to replace Stuart Young in the team after his impressive first start the previous week. "Bobby and Damian know each other well and that is why I decided to put them in together," the coach explained. "I thought about how I could squeeze three strikers into the team (with Stuart Young) but with the players we had it just wasn't possible and you have to go with what you think is going to be most effective."
FIFA APPOINTMENT FOR NARDI
Local whistle blower Angelo Nardi has taken another giant step forward in his career with his inclusion on FIFA's Referee Panel. Nardi is one of only seven Australian's selected by the world's governing body to officiate games at international level. "It is a great honour for Angelo and also Western Australia," commented Eddie Lennie. "Angelo has worked hard in both the State League and national league since he first joined us eleven years ago and deserves this opportunity. I hope all our young members will see this achievement and spur them on to maybe receiving the highest qualification as a referee." 36-year old Nardi has been a familiar face on the local scene for many years and was a popular recipient of the 2004 Referee of the Year award. In addition, he's rule the rule over numerous games at national league level and in November 2003 was in charge of Iraq's exhibition match against the State team.
IT'S A COLLECTORS DREAM
Plans are under way to hold a football programme and memorabilia fair during the second half of February. The concept of such an event is well established in the United Kingdom where displays of football programmes, books, photographs, tickets and other items of memorabilia are regular. It is envisioned the Perth equivalent will cover all aspects of the world game, from the local level up through the national competition to the game abroad. Anyone interested in either displaying or selling items at the upcoming fair, and who is willing to spend a few hours at the chosen venue, is invited to contact Bob Brown on 9446 3338 or via firstname.lastname@example.org no later that 31st January.
BOLTON, HUDDERSFIELD TRACK FLOREAT TEENAGER
There's an extra spring in the step of Floreat Athena teenager Luke Walsh as he prepares for the coming season. The talented 16-year old is back in Perth having spent the past month on trial with English clubs Bolton Wanderers and Huddersfield Town, both of whom were impressed with what they saw. "The coaches at both clubs were happy with how I went," Walsh said of his time abroad. "The feedback I received was that I didn't look out of place amongst their current squad, and that both clubs said they'd monitor my progress with the view of me returning to England in the future."
Walsh admits the nerves were jangling when he commenced training alongside players who'd been hand picked by some of England's best coaches. "I was a little nervous at first," he commented. "I felt a bit isolated as I didn't know anyone and the cold was hard to get used to - at one point it got down to minus five. But once we started to train and knock the ball about a bit I got more confident and gained the respect of the other players. By the end of the first session they were wanting to know which club I played for in Australia." Walsh will further enhance his game and fitness this coming winter with Floreat's Youth team.
GLORY PICK UP VALUABLE POINTS IN AUCKLAND
Perth Glory's chances of participating in the A-League play-off series were given a major boost by a 4-1 victory over New Zealand Knights this evening in Auckland. Despite going a goal down in the seventh minute, the visitors worked their way back into a highly entertaining match to wrap up a vital win and move within touching distance of fourth placed Central Coast Mariners. The match at North Harbour Stadium fizzed into life with an action packed opening period which saw Neil Emblen head a terrific cross from Noah Hickey to the bottom corner of Jason Petkovic's goal on seven minutes. However, the balance of power was to quickly swing in Glory's favour as Jamie Coyne delivered an inch-perfect cross from the right wing which Naum Sekulovski volleyed in from 9-metres. And with 14 minutes played Coyne slammed the ball over the line from close range after Damian Mori and Danny Hay both had shots cleared off the line following a corner.
The Knights looked dangerous when channelling play down the left. Emblen beat the offside trap to cross into the area where Jason Petkovic claimed the ball under pressure from Jeremy Brockie. The margin should have blown out to three goals just after the half-hour when Mori found the net after goalkeeper Glenn Moss parried a Despotovski effort from inside the 18-yard box. Mori was clearly onside when his strike partner played the ball but the assistant referee raised his flag to disallow the goal. Coyne sent a fine long-range strike skimming just wide of the far post on 38 minutes as Glory threatened the goal with every attack. Their reward came five minutes from the interval when Sekulovski latched on to a long diagonal forward ball which he expertly clipped first time over the advancing goalkeeper and gleefully watched as it dropped just inside the top corner of the Knights' goal.
The second half began with the Knights showing a greater sense of purpose but a lack of quality in the final third all too often brought their attacks to an end. A rare mistake from Jamie Harnwell should have been punished by the home team but Jeremy Christie fluffed his effort from 10-metres with only Petkovic to beat. Glory very nearly added a fourth goal when a fierce Despotovski free-kick crashed off the underside of the crossbar and hit Moss in the back before the 'keeper took possession. A fine shot on the run by Nick Ward curling narrowly the wrong side of the post, while at the opposite end substitute Xiaobin Zhang shot high after good lead-up work. With twelve minutes remaining the result was put beyond doubt when Despotovski curled a free-kick into the area where an unmarked Harnwell powered his header underneath a badly exposed 'keeper. However, the Knights refused to give up and in the closing minutes Joshua Rose twice called Petkovic into action and Emblen rifled just wide.
LIONS AGGRESSIVE ON RECRUITMENT FRONT
Stirling Lions are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to become re-established as a major force on the local scene. The club have invested heavily to sign some of the state's best emerging young talent and at the same added considerable depth with the recruitment of a few of the games more experienced heads. "The lads are all players who have the character which coaches Michael Lyons and Paul Simmons are looking for in bringing together a tight, no-nonsense unit," said Lions president Don Evans. "Competition for the starting places will be fierce this season and our depth will be stronger than we've had for many years."
In the past fortnight the Lions have unveiled seven recruits who they see playing key roles in re-kindling the glory days of the 1980's and 1990's that produced six Premier League titles. Topping the list of newcomers is former Liverpool trainee Steve Porter and one-time Charlton Athletic youth team player Jordan Rhodes who played last season at E.C.U. Joondalup and Mandurah City respectively. Phil Arnold, recipient of the 2005 Youth Best and Fairest award, also arrives via Joondalup along with Andy Mason and Andrew McMurdo. Goalkeeper Phil Straker and nuggety midfielder Tom Straker have been picked up from Fremantle City.
DESPOTOVSKI URGES GLORY TO MOVE ON CONTRACT TALKS
Bobby Despotovski has voiced his concerns over Perth Glory's decision to postpone recruitment plans for next season until a new owner is found. The veteran striker is adamant the club should immediately look to the future and commence negotiations with members of the current player group they wish to retain. At the current time only six players - Jason Petkovic, David Tarka, Ante Kovacevic, Hiroyuki Ishida, Simon Colosimo and Stuart Young - are contracted for the 2006/07 season. Amongst those coming out of contract are Despotovski and Australian youth international Nick Ward who are believed to have attracted the interest of Queensland Roar and Melbourne Victory respectively.
Despotovski says his preference is to stay with the club he's called home side 19996. "I don't want to leave the club - I want to stay. But, at the end of the day, if I'm not required then I need to look at my options," said Despotovski. "I need to know if Glory want me for next year or not. Players need to know. The club must have an idea of who they want to bring in and who they want to keep. If they leave it until the last minute everybody is going to be signed up. Clubs already planning for next year know who they are going to target and they've already started talking to players."
AMATEURS LEAGUE FORMAT CONFIRMED
Football West have finalised the format of the amateur league for season 2006. The Premier League will consist of sixteen teams who have been split into two groups of eight teams. The top ranked side from each conference will meet come the end of the season to decide the championship. Sitting underneath this will be four further divisions of twelve teams each which will operate on a 'two up, two down' basis.
The top flight of Sunday competition will consist of sixteen teams in two conferences. Reigning champions Colo Colo are located in Group A alongside Fremantle United, Lynwood Colts, Queens Park, Shamrock Rovers, South Perth United, Spearwood Dalmatinac and Suburbs United. Group B consists of CN Canning International, Hamersley Rovers, Murdoch University, Olympic Kingsway, Perth Azzurri, Stirling Panthers, Subiaco United and University of WA.
Teams in each conference played each other twice and those from the other conference once for a twenty-one week regular season. Each conference will have it's own table and at the conclusion of home and away fixtures the top ranked team from each conference will play-off for the title of Premier League champion, and the opportunity to gain promotion to the State League competition. The bottom ranked team from each conference will be relegated to the amateur First Division for 2007.
The amateur First to Fourth Divisions consist of twelve teams who'll meet each other twice on a home and away basis. The top two sides from each division will be eligible for promotion to the next highest division, subject to meeting pre-determined criteria, come seasons' end. Similarly, the bottom two teams from each division will be relegated to the next lowest division. For more information on the format of the 2006 amateur league structure visit the Football West website
TIME TICKS ON SQUAD SELECTION (courtesy Perth Glory)
Alan Vest has been forced to rush his squad selection with concerns over the fitness of several players as Perth Glory prepare to embark on an arduous journey to New Zealand. Although first team regulars Bobby Despotovski and Scott Miller will travel for the match against New Zealand Knights, some of those in the fifteen-man party are not fully match fit. Glory marksman Despotovski has sat out the last two matches with an ankle strain but should be fit to start the match on Thursday evening. Miller also returns from a one-match absence with a hamstring problem. Both players trained on Saturday and Monday ahead of the squad's departure this morning.
Vest would have liked more time to decide on his travelling squad but due to the long journey and recovery times had to decide on final numbers three days ahead of the game. "The unfortunate thing about a few of the players is that they're not 100% fit," Vest stressed. "Danny Hay is a bit underdone but is going to have to play, Scotty (Miller) is a bit underdone, Adrian (Caceres) and Bobby (Despotovski) have both had injections recently but we have to take them. I would have liked to have waited until Tuesday to make decisions on a number of our players but I couldn t do that so we have to take a chance on some of them."
Hay, who made late appearances in Glory's past two outings, had not played for almost two months before joining the club from the Knights earlier this month. With Simon Colosimo and Billy Celeski suspended Hay is likely to start in central defence, although promoting 20-year old Ryan Townsend is another option Vest may consider. David Tarka was close to making the squad but, with some doubt remaining over his hamstring problem, the Glory coach decided to leave him in Perth along with Ante Kovacevic (calf) and Steve McMahon Jnr (groin).
Fourth placed Central Coast Mariners weekend draw with Sydney FC means Glory are four points outside a play-off berth with nine points to play for before the end of the season proper. Central Coast face A-League leaders Adelaide United in the next round while Glory take on a Knights side stumping up the table. And despite the odds being against Glory to make the top four Vest is demanding that his players give their all to make the finals. "We need to win the game if we are going to progress further and we would want to win anyway," Vest said. "It is up to the players and they have to put the effort in, give everything to try and secure us a spot in the top four, they need to give 150%."
PETKOVIC IN SOCCEROOS MIX
Michael Petkovic's chances of playing in this year's World Cup are alive and well. Although Petkovic hasn't featured for Australia since their early exit from the Confederation Cup last June, goalkeeping coach Tony Franken says Petkovic is still very much in the frame. "It's all about taking your chances when they arrive and there's three or four keepers vying for that third position," said Franken, Australia's goalkeeping coach. While Mark Schwarzer and Zeljko Kalac are virtually guaranteed of making the trip to Germany the remaining goalkeeper spot is still wide open with Petkovic up against Brad Jones (Middlesbrough), Ante Covic (Hammarby IF) and John Filan (Wigan Athletic).
The last time Petkovic wore national team colours was in Australia's 0-2 loss to Tunisia at the Confederation Cup. While the result was something of a surprise for the Socceroos Franken denies Petkovic had been made a scapegoat for the surprise loss. "I've always been a huge fan of Michael, so he's definitely not out of the picture. We're monitoring that third position all the time," said the goalkeeping coach. "It wasn't one of his best performances, but I have a high regard for Petka and he was always one of my favourite keepers in Australia and he was considered before the World Cup qualifiers, but injury ruled him out."
Of the upmost importance to Franken is that whoever gains the third goalkeeping shirt for Australia is playing regularly at club level. This certainly isn't an issue for Petkovic who has been in red-hot form in his first season with Sivasspor. The club are currently placed fifth and possess the second best defensive record in Turkey's top flight. Prior to joining Sivasspor the 29-year old 'keeper spent three very successful years at Trabzonspor, playing close to one hundred senior games and gaining two Turkish Cup winners medals.
GLORY STAND BETWEEN COLOSIMO AND EUROPE
Perth Glory are likely to knock back a loan offer for midfielder Simon Colosimo to play in Europe for the next four months. Greek club Kallithea have put the loan deal on the table for Colosimo and want him immediately. Glory received the request on Friday, but technical manager Mich d'Avray said the club planned to retain Colosimo until the finals. "We'd like to help Simon out, but we've also got to think of the club and we still believe we're a chance of making the finals, which is very important to the club, so we're not in a position to let him go."
"It's an open-and-shut case," added d'Avray. "If a club wanted to buy Simon then it's a different situation. I don't see Glory standing in his way. It would be a win for the Greek club, helpful for Simon, but the only loser would be Perth Glory. If the situation changes in the next few weeks we would probably look at it differently." Glory are an outside chance of playing in this year's final series. They are currently placed sixth and sit four points outside play-offs with only three regular season games remaining.
INACTION MAY SEE WARD MOVE ON
Perth Glory's reluctance to engage players in contract talks could see them lose the majority of this seasons' squad, including Young Socceroo midfielder Nick Ward. The 20-year old, one of Glory's stand-out players, fears he may be forced to consider overseas and interstate opportunities come seasons' end because of the club's refusal to offer new deals to out of contract players. Ward has his heart set on another season with Glory but says he has little option but to start looking elsewhere soon. "I would definitely like to play another season with the Glory because getting games under my belt is important," he said. "But I don't know when they are going to start approaching players. You've got to look after your future."
Glory have made it clear they will refrain from negotiating with players until after the club finds new investors to take on chairman Nick Tana's 75% stake. But the delay could prove costly as rival clubs prepare to swoop. Ward will be top of the list while fellow Australian youth international Billy Celeski has enhanced his prospects of earning another A-League contract after some eye-catching performances. Striker Bobby Despotovski has already indicated he would consider joining a rival A-League club if Glory does not offer a new deal. Glory has lost Andre Gumprecht, Tom Pondeljak and Nick Mrdja amongst others in previous seasons while management pondered recruitment options.
Next season's start date is expected to be pushed back from the inaugural campaign's August kick-off, which clashed with the finals of rival football codes, leaving uncontracted players in limbo. "I'm going to have to look at doing something in the break (between seasons). It's going to be too long to do nothing at all," Ward said. "Whether it's going to be Asia for a few months or looking in Europe, I'm not sure." Glory chief executive Jeff Dennis said planning for the new season would start next month. "The first thing we need to do is address the ownership structure of the club. (And) we are working towards a smooth transition in ownership in the next two or three months."
FRANKEN BACKS JONES
Australian goalkeeping coach Tony Franken has lent this support to Brad Jones' inclusion in the Socceroos World Cup squad. Franken believes Jones represents the Socceroos' long-term future and regular first team football for Middlesbrough could put him in the frame for a trip to Germany. "At the age of 23 he is the future of the Socceroos, even though he's still around fifth in the pecking order. If he's playing regularly in the Premiership that could change very quickly."
Franken is confident Jones would do well for Middlesbrough should manager Steve McLaren give him the opportunity. "If I was Steve McClaren I'd give Brad a run because he's good enough to do a great job for them. When he's come in he's done really well and I think given the opportunity he could go from strength to strength," commented the Socceroos coach. "If he does well for Boro, then it would create a big chance for him to cement a place in our World Cup squad for June."
Jones is widely regarded as the natural successor to Australia's current number one Mark Schwarzer and his back-up Zeljko Kalac. Franken worked closely with the Perth-born 'keeper during the 2004 Olympic Games campaign where, although first choice leading into the tournament, Jones had to play second fiddle to Eugene Galecovic. "He's improved about 30% since then," said Franken. "He's a good shot-stopper with excellent reflexes and he also sweeps the backline very well."
HOUSTON EXICTED BY SCHOOLBOYS TRIP
The number of West Australian's to represent the nation will grow by five when the Australian Schoolboys commence a whirlwind tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland next week. The quintet of David Houston, Scott Paterson, Andy Pomfret, Brendan Ross and Wes Ryder have been called up for duty in recognition of their efforts at the National Schools Championships and the subsequent two-game friendly series with New Zealand last year. A sixth local lad, Goce Dilevski, was also named in the squad but withdrew for personal reasons. Former State Schoolboys coach Damon Atthowe will also make the trip as assistant to national coach John Romeo.
Houston, who played a key role in West Australia claiming the silver medal the national championship in August, is looking forward tot he trip. "I was very excited when I found out I was in the Australian squad," said the 19-year old who plays his club football at Sorrento. "Playing for the Schoolboys was the first time I'd represented WA, and now I'm being given the opportunity to play for Australia and hopefully to further my playing career. There are some very good players in the Australian squad and it's going to be a good experience playing alongside them."
With the Schoolboys playing out of season, Houston expects the Schoolboys will meet stiff opposition in the UK and Ireland. "The games are going to be extremely tough," he commented. "It's the middle of the season over there and the teams are going to be very fit and competitive while we are in our close season and have not had much time together. That said, I'm confident we'll do well and come home with some positive results. I'm particularly looking forward to the games against Glasgow Rangers and Scotland. I follow Rangers and my family are originally from Glasgow so there will be quite a few of my family and friends there to watch these games."
The Schoolboys play ten games in twenty days in five countries. The squad jets out on Monday with their first game against Northampton Town on Thursday 19th January. This is followed by friendlies with Welsh Colleges (20th January), Northern Ireland Schools (23rd January) and the Republic of Ireland Schools (26th January). The head south to play England Schools (28th January), England Colleges (30th January) and Everton (31st January) before three games in Scotland against Glasgow Rangers (3rd February), Scotland Schools (6th February), and Hamilton Academicals (7th February). The Perth contingent arrive home on 10th February.
Heading overseas to represent the 2006 Australian Schoolboys are Ben Cheyne (Australian Capital Territory), James Alcorn, Ben Gough, Stephen Kayes, James Kerr, Matthew Nemes, Ben Spruce, Jason Trifiro, Daniel Wilkinson (New South Wales), Ramone Close, Reece Veenhoven (Queensland), Ersan Gulum, Peter Kotsopoulos (Victoria), David Houston, Scott Paterson, Andrew Pomfret, Brendan Ross and Wes Ryder (Western Australia). The support team consists of John Romeo (senior coach), Damon Atthowe (assistant coach), Christos Karameros (team manager), Rod Bathe (trainer), Richard Beazley (tour manager) and Chris Conti.
HARNWELL VOWS TO FIGHT ON
Club captain Jamie Harnwell admitted Perth Glory's finals hopes are looking slim after last night's 1-2 loss to A-League leader Adelaide United. Glory's injury woes have been compounded by the suspension of key midfielders Billy Celeski and Simon Colosimo who'll now miss next weekend's clash with New Zealand Knights. Absent from last night's game through injury were Bobby Despotovski (Achilles), Scott Miller (hamstring), Hiroyuki Ishida (back), Ante Kovacevic (calf), David Tarka (hamstring) and Steve McMahon junior (oesititus pubis).
Despite the obstacles that are continually trying to send Glory's season off the rails Harnwell vowed to fight out the rest of the season in an attempt to scrape into the top four. :The club is used to success, I'm used to success," he said. "To have to swallow the fact that we may not make the finals this year is a bitter pill but there are three games to go and if nothing else you're playing for your own pride. It's times like this that shows character. For the next couple of games it's going to sort out who wants to be at this club and who wants to try and take this club up to where it used to be."
FINALS HOPES FADE FOR GLORY
Perth Glory's chances of playing in the inaugural A-League finals series took a nosedive when beaten 1-2 by competition pacesetter Adelaide United at Members Equity Stadium this evening. The loss leaves Glory in fifth place and two points behind Newcastle United Jets who can increase the gap with a win over bottom side New Zealand Knights on Friday. Coach Alan Vest said the result put a huge dent into the team's top four aspirations but he still won't rule out finals action. "We've still got three games to play," he said. "It depends if we can get a win next week then we are back in it in terms of points." At the opposite end of the table Adelaide now require just a single point from their last three games to secure the regular season title. Adding salt to Glory's wound was the paltry turnout of just 5,033 spectators, the club's lowest for a home game in their ten year history.
Adelaide were given the ideal start as Qu Shengqing cut in from the right to go past Simon Colosimo before rifling a brilliant shot into the top corner of Jason Petkovic's goal with just 3 minutes gone. Glory slowly got into rhythm as Stuart Young's glancing header from a Nick Ward cross was palmed wide by Robert Bajic. With Adelaide content to sit back the hosts attacked through all avenues. They should have equalised on the half hour when a Jamie Coyne's cross from the right was met by Ward but his header was straight at the goalkeeper. A superb counterattack almost produced Adelaide's second but Travis Dodd was dispossessed by David Micevski but before he could pull the trigger. The visitors were left fuming just minutes from the interval when Michael Valkanis's header clearly crossed the line before Petkovic stuck out his right-hand to clear it from underneath the crossbar, and with the linesman ruling the ball had not crossed the line play continued.
Although a goal down, Glory had dominated the first half and picked up where they left off when play re-commenced. Micevski pounced upon a poor clearance but his snap from the top of the 18-yard box fizzled high. Young continually found himself in the thick of the action as Glory pressed to open their account but few clear-cut opportunities presented against a very well organised Adelaide rearguard. A Billy Celeski corner on the hour was helped on by Jamie Harnwell before deflecting toward via a defender, but an alert Lucas Pantelis cleared off the line. A corner at the opposite end in the 72nd minute killed off the game as Carl Veart chested the ball down to Ross Aloisi who half-volleyed it low past Petkovic. Glory rallied late and with six minutes remaining substitute Danny Hay laid the ball off to Ward who drilled it into the net from the top edge of the penalty area. And although Glory pushed forward in numbers in an effort to snatch a share of the points they just couldn't find an avenue to goal.
SWAN PUT FAITH IN FORMER PLAYERS (courtesy Swan I.C.)
With the new Premier League season just around the corner Swan I.C. have announced their coaching structure for 2006. The black and whites have put their faith in some familiar faces by appointing Carlo Scali as head coach and Michael Di Fulvio assistant. Scali helped the first team climb clear of the relegation zone after taking over the reigns in the middle of last year while Di Fulvio steered the Reserves to fifth in his first season of coaching. Swan have named former player Paul Lincoln, who retired at the end of last season, to the helm of the Reserves with the Youth team to be looked after by Mick Da Re and Greg Scali.
Swan board member Tony Scali is pleased with the coaching team. "The club believes that all the coaches have the right credentials to lead us into the future," he said. "All are well known, respected by past and present players and have good knowledge of the game. We are of the opinion that Carlo and his team will be able to communicate with, and get the best results from the young players on whom the club is planning its' future. The fact that all are inexperienced can be mitigated by the acceptance of a board position by Gary Marocchi who will be available to offer guidance if and when required, and has accepted a role in assisting with the planning for the clubs' future."
FFA ASSIST WITH COACHES DEVELOPMENT
The game's development in West Australia received a major boost with confirmation that two of Football Federation Australia's coaching staff will attend the up-coming FFA State License Course. Mark Boyd, a senior education and development instructor with FFA, and national technical manager Ron Smith are to assist State education and development manager Andrew Bettell in delivering the coaching course. "We are happy to have secured the services of both Mark and Ron as the experience and knowledge will benefit us all," commented Bettell. "It also outlines the FFA's commitment to developing both coaches and young players here in WA." Amongst the eighteen local candidates taking the first Senior License Course to be conducted in Perth in four years are former Everton star Mick Lyons and Western Waves duo Nicola Williams and Jessine Bonzas.
VEST DEMANDS SPIRIT FROM 'GLORY OF OLD' (courtesy Perth Glory)
As Perth Glory head into their must-win home clash with Adelaide United coach Alan Vest is demanding his players show the same fighting spirit displayed by the Glory sides of seasons past. The South Australian side head to Members Equity Stadium nine points clear at the top of the A-League and fifteen points above their host. Glory need a positive result in order to stay in contention for the finals and, although they registered a 4-2 victory last time the two teams met, Adelaide are coming off six straight wins while Glory have struggled for consistency.
Vest sees parallels between the Adelaide side currently sitting atop the A-League table and the Glory squads that won back-to-back Premierships in the old national competition. "They are a good solid side, not exceptional in terms of tricks and stuff like that but they are very competent. They have a good shape about them and they have a good spirit," he said. "Basically, Adelaide are very similar to the Glory of old and, if we're going to get back to the Glory of old, with wins, then we have got to get that spirit back. Everyone gets down when you've got injuries and troubles like that but that's the game and everybody's got to get out there and give more than 100%."
Glory's preparation for tomorrow evenings' game has been hampered by injuries. Hiroyuki Ishida is unlikely to feature due to a back complaint while serious doubt has been cast over the availability of club veterans Bobby Despotovski and Scott Miller. A late assessment will be made on Despotovski but Vest admits the signs are not good. "It looks as though he's out but he's going to wait to get the results of a scan and we'll make a decision from there. At the moment he looks very doubtful." Miller is also likely to miss the game due to a hamstring problem relating to the calf injury that had kept him out of action before Christmas.
Danny Hay, although short on fitness, is expected to feature against Adelaide as it new signing Ryan Townsend whose international clearance has now been received. Having experimented with a change of formation against Queensland Roar, Vest says Glory will have a more familiar look tomorrow night. "We will play how we've normally played, with the 4-4-2," he said. "The thought behind last weekend's formation was to support Damian a little bit. But the wide men didn't get in to support him when the ball was on the other side of the field and that caused us a lot of problems.
The Glory coach was impressed with David Micevski's national league debut and hopes the young midfielder will have a greater impact against Adelaide. "He's done quite well, obviously he's only learning at the moment and it is a big learning situation for him but he acquitted himself very well last week," commented Vest. "David is not quite ready for the A-League, we threw him in at the deep end. He was very nervous last week and we tried to protect him a little bit by sitting him in front of the back four so he didn't have to do a lot of running. Now he has got to come in and make a difference in midfield in a more normal role."
ON THIS DAY ... 1948
Well-travelled Ray Ilott enjoyed a chequered career of which the highlights were winning the 1974 Gold Medal, playing for Western Australian and making a handful of senior international appearances for Australia. Ilott was born in London on 11th January, 1948, and by the time he was fifteen years of age had represented Middlesex Schoolboys and signed with the English Division Two side Leyton Orient. Within a year he'd represented Essex County Boys, and by 1970 Ilott would count Walthamstow Avenue, Leyton Orient and Cheshunt as amongst his clubs.
Ilott arrived in Western Australia in 1970 and joined Ascot (now Forrestfield United) at what was to be the start of a very successful period for the club. During the seven seasons that followed Ascot established themselves as a mainstay of the top flight with their crowning glory coming in 1974 when the club lifted the Night Series trophy and were proclaimed League champions. For Ilott it was also a season of personal triumph with the attacker taking out the Gold Medal as the league's best and fairest player.
It was during this time that Ilott made the first of 34 appearances for the State team. Undoubtedly the highlight of Ilott's time in State colours was scoring the winning goal in 2-1 defeat of Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers in 1975. On the international front, Ilott made four 'A' appearances against the U.S.S.R. side which toured Australia in late 1975. He also represented Australia in the 'B' international against Velez Mostar of Yugoslavia.
As is often the case when a player who leaves a club after a lengthy stay, Ilott found it hard to settle and played successive seasons with Rockingham (1977) and Floreat Athena (1978) before signing for Forrestfield in 1979. Following his first season at Hartfield Park he took on the added responsibility of player/coach and in 1981 deprived Perth Azzurri of a clean sweep as Forrestfield defeated the Blues 2-1 to take home the Top Four Cup.
By the start of 1983 Ilott had transferred to Balga where he'd play three seasons before joining Wanneroo for the final year of his playing career. Having hung up his boots Ilott turned his hand to coaching at Stirling Macedonia (nee Stirling Lions). The move brought instant success as Macedonia won the 1987 League championship along with the Night Series in 1988. Ilott was amongst the inaugural inductees of the WA Football Hall of Fame in 1996, and eight years later was honoured as one of the State's all-time greatest one hundred players.
YOUTH LEAGUE GETS NEW SPONSOR
Football West is pleased to announce that the Youth League for the coming season will be sponsored by Perth Glory, the state's representative in the national competition. "The partnership underlines Perth Glory's commitment to the football family and provides us with a unique bond to youth footballers," said Jeff Dennis, chief executive officer of the A-League side.
Michelle Phillips, chief executive officer of Football West, sees the sponsorship as "a perfect way to raise the profile of the youth game and also retention of youth players to our game is key and we believe Perth Glory will inspire our young players to stay with the world game." The Youth league provides a conduit between the junior game and the states senior leagues for all teenager players.
As way of promoting the announcement of the Perth Glory Youth League players of Perth S.C. and Armadale will showcase their talent in an exhibition match before this Thursday's A-League clash with Adelaide United at Members Equity Stadium. As part of the agreement all Youth League players will receive five tickets to Glory home games next season.
NEW GROUP LOOKS AT GLORY OFFER
A second consortium of local businessmen is preparing to launch a bid to buy out Nick Tana's majority stake in Perth Glory. Just a week after former Glory co-owner Paul Afkos was heading a syndicate to purchase Tana's 75% share, a separate bidding group has emerged. The group of six businessmen is spearheaded by David Schrandt, a former Morley Windmills player and one-time chairman of the now defunct Soccer Administration of WA. "If he isn't interested in letting us take it over then we'll just walk away," Schrandt told Jonathon Cook of the "West Australian" newspaper. "It's as simple as that. But these guys have a lot to offer ad they can make it work." The make-up of the group will remain anonymous until such time that negotiations commence.
Co-owner Dennis Rodwell, who currently owns 25% of the club, has indicated to Football Federation Australia that he is willing to double his stake should the circumstances be right. Should Tana not come to an agreement with potential new shareholders and still insist on selling his majority share then FFA will step in an assist the club. "The FFA would take over the license, all the players and all the commercial contracts, and the other things associated with Perth Glory Football Club," said federation's head of operations Matt Carroll. "FFA would then be the owners and until such time as other owners were found." FFA helped Melbourne Victory, Central Coast Mariners and Sydney F.C. through some financial difficulties earlier this year.
JONES TO STEP INTO SPOTLIGHT
The impending departure of Mark Schwarzer will provide Brad Jones with the opportunity to establish himself in the English Premier League with Middlesbrough - and stake a claim for World Cup selection. Jones, who left Perth to join 'Boro seven years ago, has temporarily taken on the main duties at the north-east club with Schwarzer expected to leave before the end of the month. Schwarzer, widely considered one of the best shot-stoppers in the English game, requested a transfer late last week stating he'd become disillusioned at the club and was in need to a new challenge. And while the club may seek a senior replacement Jones has been impressive for the club whenever he's been called up for first team duty.
Manager Steve McClaren has already shown faith in the former State junior representative who's been promoted to the starting eleven on several occasions, including Saturday's 1-1 FA Cup third round draw away at non-league Nuneaton Borough. "Brad has always done well for us," McClaren told the Middlesbrough website, before adding that Schwarzer may not leave the club this month despite his request to move. "A lot would need to happen for Schwarzer to leave this month. If he does go then we'll have to look at alternatives, but we have some very good goalkeepers already at the club," said the 'Boro boss.
Although Middlesbrough also have England youth internationals Ross Turnbull (21) and David Knight (19) on their books it's been Jones who's been the preferred back-up to Schwarzer at Middlesbrough. Such has been the Perth born 'keeper's progress that none other than Schwarzer himself sees the 23-year old as his natural successor. "I believe the club has a readymade replacement in Brad Jones," said Schwarzer. "Jonesy has been at the club six or seven years. We've formed a great relationship in that time and he's a very good 'keeper in his own right. I think the time is now ripe for him to prove his worth."
Jones, who's already made six appearances for Middlesbrough this season including two in UEFA Cup competition, said he had not spoken to club officials about the possibility of him taking on the main goalkeeping duties. "I haven't spoken to anyone about it and as far as I'm concerned nothing's happened yet," said Jones, who indicated that Schwarzer had been a positive influence on his career. "Schwarzy has given me a lot of support and has been very positive with me over the years. All I can do is try to perform and then see what happens."
WILL INJURY UPSET GLORY'S APPLECART?
The clock is ticking on Perth Glory's A-League finals aspirations as the club's injury crisis shows few signs of abating just days before a showdown with high-flying Adelaide United. Star striker Bobby Desptovski is no certainty to be fit for Thursday night's match after he missed the home loss to Queensland on Saturday because of a painful Achilles problem. "I'm struggling - I'm probably 50-50 at the moment," Despotovski said yesterday. Several other players will carry niggling injuries into a match that fifth-placed Glory need to win to keep alive their finals hopes. David Micevski and Henry Fa'arodo were replaced midway through the second half against Roar suffering cramp and Scott Miller also found it tough going in the heat after a six week absence. Midielder Nick Ward (hip), Jamie Coyne (groin) and Hiroyuki Ishida (back) have persistent minor injuries, while ongoing hamstring problems are likely to rule out David Tarka.
MOUTTET HEADS HOME (courtesy Swan I.C.)
Rory Mouttet has been unveiled first new signing of the year by Swan I.C. The versatile 27-year old makes a welcome return to the club he first played for senior football at in 1994 and helped gain promotion to the Premier League five years later. "I'm really looking forward to the new challenge," he said. "It was nice to have a good lay off over the past few months and now my focus is on the up and coming year."
Mouttet, who spent the past five seasons at Inglewood United, will bring add experience to Swan's relatively young squad. "My goal is to bring another attacking option out wide as well as experience and a passionate, aggressive and ambitious dimension to the quality line up that we already have," he said. "Obviously I hope to help reach the finals this year and bring home some silverware."
The decision to leave Inglewood after such a lengthy period was difficult for Mouttet. "It was an extremely tough decision to make after five years with the club," he said. "I was always looked after by Ziggy Kramer, the coaching staff and all of the people at Inglewood. I made a lot of very good friends there and a lot of fond memories that I will never forget. But at the end of the day I felt that it was time for a change and a new personal challenge."
QUEENSLAND ROAR LOUDEST AS GLORY FALL
Perth Glory stumbled to a 0-2 loss to Queensland Roar in a lacklustre match at Members Equity Stadium this evening. The crowd of 11,087 left bitterly disappointed as the home side mustered just a single clear-cut chance on goal as they struggled to find rhythm in the absence of striker Bobby Despotovski who was a late withdrawal due to an achilles injury. Roar's three-man attack made it clear what their intentions were and coach Miron Bleiberg has to wait just 11 minutes for the ploy to play off. A Spase Dilevski shot was turned wide by Jason Petkovic, and Glory's failure to clear the resultant corner allowed Reinaldo da Costa to somehow fire the ball home through a crowded area. Glory could have levelled on 20 minutes when Henry Fa'arodo's crisp pass found Damian Mori but his shot wasn't much trouble for Tom Willis. Other than that there wasn't a great deal to thrill the fans although Roar would have felt hard done by when the referee awarded an indirect free-kick rather than a penalty after Jamie Harnwell's high kick caught Reinaldo in the face just before the break.
It was more of the same after the break as the humid conditions took their toll on both teams. Glory continually found their attacks blunted by a well-organised defence while at the opposite end Roar were limited to shooting from distance as the home rearguard began to assert themselves. Even so, the Queenslander's went close in the space of a few minutes as Alex Brosque's fine strike from 25-metres was touched onto the upright by Petkovic who collected the loose ball, and substitute Michael Baird rifled narrowly wide on the counter attack. Glory failed to heed the warning and with ten minutes to go Baird killed off the game by Baird burying his shot into the net after receiving the ball from Brosque. The remaining minutes belonged to Glory but it was simply too little too late. Roar will be hoping the win, their first in six games, rejuvenates what's been a luckless season for the club who's finals dream stays alive. However, Glory must now beat A-League leader Adelaide United at home on Thursday night in order to stay in touch with the top four.
DAY OF HIGH DRAMA IN FA CUP
The third round of the English FA Cup provided plenty of thrills and spills for the four West Australian's who featured in this afternoon's action. Richard Garcia's Colchester United came from behind to shock Championship high fliers Sheffield United. Brad Jones had to be on top of his game as Middlesbrough drew with by non-League outfit Nuneaton Borough. There was heartbreak for Chris Coyne as Luton Town threw away a two-goal lead to crash out of the Cup to Liverpool. And Stan Lazaridis had played a full game as Birmingham City battled out a scoreless draw with lowly Torquay United.
Colchester booke their place in the next round courtesy of a 2-1 defeat of Sheffield United. The Blades got off to a bright start when Steve Kabba found the back of the net after 5 minutes, but the remainder of the half belonged to the visitors. Colchester drew level on 34 minutes when Garcia, under pressure from two defenders, squeezed the ball to Neil Danns who slotted in from close-range. Unfortunately for Garcia his afternoon came to an end on 52 minutes when replaced suffering a hamstring injury. The deciding goal arrived midway through the second half via Gareth Williams' powerful header from a Mark Yeates cross.
Middlesbrough were held to a 1-1 draw at Nuneaton who earned a trip to the Riverside Stadium courtesy of a dramatic final minute penalty. The game was 15 minutes old when Gaizka Mendieta swung a superbly struck free-kick past the defensive wall and inside the far post. But despite their early goal the Teessiders never comprehensively dampened Nuneaton's boundless spirit and it was Jones who their blushes with a series of fine saves. While 'Boro created several second half opportunities but far the productive play came from the home side whose reward came with seconds remaining when Gez Murphy slotted a low shot to Jones' left, earning Nuneaton a replay.
Luton were left devastated as Liverpool pulled off a remarkable comeback to triumph 5-3 in a pulsating Cup tie at Kenilworth Road. The visitors drew first blood as captain Steven Gerrard netted after 15 minutes. Steve Howard levelled on the half-hour, and just before the break the home fans erupted when Steve Robinson put them ahead. It became 3-1 in the 51st minute when Kevin Nicholls converted from the penalty spot. A Sinama Pongolle double and another goal from Xabi Alonso inside eleven minutes of eachother swung the game back in the Reds favour. Coyne was yellow carded for 'unsportsmanlike behaviour' in the 75th minute with Alsono sealing victory in stoppage time.
Birmingham avoided becoming high-profile Cup casualties as Torquay battled their way to a goalless draw on home soil. Torquay outplayed their top flight opponents who had goalkeeper Maik Taylor and the width of the post to thank for the 0-0 scoreline. The Gulls had an early Tony Bedeau strike disallowed and saw Steve Woods fierce strike minutes into the second half cannon back off the upright. Taylor kept the Blues in the game with ten saves - three more than his opposite number - on an afternoon when Torquay's 61% of possession belied their dominance. Even so, Birmingham almost snatched victory in the closing minutes when Walter Pandiani's strike was held by Andy Marriott at the second grab.
TANA KEEN TO SELL UP
Perth Glory chairman Nick Tana expects to sell his stake in the club within the next few months. Tana spent millions to prove that a club free of ethnic ties could be a mainstream success during his ten-years as Glory chairman. "I've done what I had to do in terms of changing the league for the benefit of football in Australia," Tana told the "West Australian" reporter Jonathon Cook. "People can say whatever they want (but) Perth Glory was instrumental in overhauling the whole league in Australia. " It's been reported Tana's net loss during his term as chairman could be as much as $6 million.
"We are at the precipice of a substantial growth in our game," said Tana, who believed the club would turn a profit in three years. "There is a huge benefit to anybody that has business connections in Asia because football is a universal language. Football is a door opener, an ice breaker." Tana says he's identified potential new investors in the club, though he is yet to receive an offer from a consortium lead by co-founder Paul Afkos. David Rodwell, who took a 25% stake in the club in the wake of Afkos' departure, met with FFA chief executive John O'Neill and head of operations Matt Carroll last week and confirmed his commitment to Glory.
VRTESKI BOUND FOR AIS
Promising young goalkeeper Aleksandar Vrteski will be heading to Canberra shortly to take up a scholarship offer from the Australian Institute of Sport. Vrteski, who's been training for the past few weeks with Perth Glory, accepted the offer following trails in late November. "At this stage my plan is to stay at the AIS for around six months after which I'll consider my options. I'm hoping that I'll be able to build a foundation that will help me become a professional footballer. Training twice a day and having access to excellent facilities such as a gymnasium and specialist training programs can only help me take my game to the next level."
The opportunity to attend the AIS was the icing on the cake of what has been an outstanding twelve months for Vrteski who's star has been on the rise since making his State League debut for Sorrento at the age of 15. "Football wise, this has been the best year of my life," he said. The teenager commenced 2005 with an extended stay at English Championship club Wolverhampton Wanderers who were all set to sign Vrteski only for the deal fall to through due to difficulties obtaining a working visa. "Going to England and working with Wolves for six weeks was unbelievable but playing in England has been put on hold until after I've turned eighteen."
Shortly after his return to Perth the strongly built 'keeper was called up for duty with the Australian Under-17 squad that went on to win the Oceania qualifying series of the World Youth Championship. Over the months that followed he donned the gloves for Premier League side Stirling Lions which kept him in the picture for further national honours. "I have to thank Mick Lyons and Don Evans at Stirling for giving me the chance to play first team football as by playing week in week out I was able to hold on to the No.1 jersey for the Australian Under-17's."
The pace continued through August and September as Vrteski kept goal for the national youth team on a tour of South America and in all three games at the subsequent World Youth Championship in Peru. Last month he linked up with A-League outfit Glory where he's determined to make the most of training in a full-time setting. "It gives me an insight as to where I have to be if I want to play at the next level," he said. "Training with Glory has sharpened my skills and working with Jason Petkovic has helped me improve my technique - he's arguably the best 'keeper in the country so who better is there to learn from?"
Having spent his junior days in the ranks of the Kings Academy, Vrteski shot to prominence with a string of stand-out performances for Future Glory's youth team in 2002. The following season he played regularly for Sorrento's youth team and gained State Under-15 honour. Vrteski's star continued on the ascent when he made his first team debut during the 2004 Night Series. Later that year he was part of the State Under-19 squad which made a clean sweep of their two-match series with the Victorian Institute of Sport, and turned out for the State Under-16 side at the National Talent Identification Championship where he first caught the eye of national selectors.
NEW SEASON BLUEPRINT
Form has been given to the coming season with the release of Football West's season planner. The men's semi-professional program commences with opening weekend of Night Series fixtures on Friday 27th January. The annual pre-season tournament reaches fever pitch with the decider at Litis Stadium on Sunday 2nd April. The day previous to that, Saturday 1st April, has been set aside for the opening round of the 2006 association Cup which concludes with the season finale on Saturday 7th October. Sandwiched between those Cup dates are the 22-game home-and-away series which starts on Saturday 8th April and ends with the crowning of the League champions on Saturday 23rd September. The complete Season Planner (xls, 25kb), which includes details of the men's (semi-professional and amateurs, women's and junior seasons, is available from the Football West website.
HAY COMES ON BOARD
New Zealand international Danny Hay has become Perth Glory’s third signing in two days. Hay, who played two seasons with Glory before joining English side Leeds United in 1999, will comes into the squad for Ante Kovacevic who is likely to be sidelined for at least a month due to a calf injury. “It was a pleasant surprise when Mich (d’Avray) called me about coming over, it was out of the blue but I am really happy about the opportunity to come back to Perth,” Hay said. “Playing with the Glory previously was one of the best times of my career to date and resulted in my move to Leeds so it’s great to come back.”
The 30-year old central defender made a handful of A-League appearances as captain of New Zealand Knights before falling out of favour with the club hierarchy. With his most recent outing being some six weeks ago Hay admits his fitness needs improvement. “I was thinking that I would have to find a club side in New Zealand so I am pleased to be able to continue in the A-League. I have not played for a while so I am not match fit but I have been doing a few road runs to keep my fitness up and will be willing to do whatever the gaffer asks of me,” Hay insisted.
Glory coach Alan Vest suggested Hay was more likely to start on the bench this Saturday for the visit of Queensland Roar. “It is no secret that things have been a bit critical at the back with all the injuries we have had to defenders, so we are happy to be able to sign Danny for the next four weeks. He knows the club well and I am sure he will be a useful addition to our squad,” Vest said. “Saturday will probably come too soon for Danny and I expect to start him on the bench but he will certainly help strengthen our team’s chances.”
CUP DRAW SUITS AUSTRALIA
Australia have been handed a dream draw in the qualifying campaign for the 2007 Asian Cup by avoiding all of the continent's heavyweights. Australia, ranked 48th in the world, have been grouped alongside Bahrain (52), Kuwait (72) and Lebanon (125) and need only to finish in the top two to qualify for the 16-team Asian Cup which is to be played next July. The draw is ideal from a travel aspect because the Socceroos, who are virtually all based in Europe, will face seven-hour flights to the Middle East rather than longer trips to Iraq or Iran. Australia's historic first match as an Asian team is scheduled for 22nd February away at Bahrain, with the next qualifier being on home soil to Lebanon on 1st March 1.
MICEVSKI AND TOWNSEND EARN A-LEAGUE CALL-UP
Perth Glory has confirmed the signing of two of the state's bright young prospects. Australian youth international Ryan Townsend and 19-year old midfielder David Micevski will spend the remainder of the season wearing Glory colours after agreeing terms with the club this week. Micevski takes the place of recently retired midfielder Matt Horsley while the departure of Daniel Vasilevski has opened the door for Townsend’s recruitment. Both players will be in the running to make their A-League debut on Saturday when Glory host Queensland Roar.
Townsend has been training with Glory since his departure from English Championship side Burnley last year. Born in Manchester but raised in Perth, Townsend spent three seasons in Burnley's youth system, captaining the side to the final of the Youth Alliance Cup last season and featuring regularly for their Reserves. The tall central defender has made three appearances for the Australian Under-20 side and scored in the 1-1 draw with Japan at the recent World Youth Championships in the Netherlands.
Released by Burnley in mid-2005, Townsend found it difficult to secure a new club after a development and training fee was requested by his three junior clubs. “Ryan was at Burnley and the only reason he is not there now is because his previous club demanded a development fee for him but I understand that issue has now been cleared up,” explained Glory boss Alan Vest. “He is an Under-20 international for Australia and he has been training with us off his own bat for some time now so we feel this is a good opportunity for Ryan to show us what he can do for Perth Glory.”
Glory’s second new addition is Micevski who spent the winter months helping Perth S.C. win the Premier League and association Cup double. The versatile midfielder is on loan from Perth until the end of the 2005/06 A-League season after which Glory will consider him as a possible under-20 signing for next season. Micevski, a regular for Perth over the past two seasons, was identified by Glory technical manager Mich d’Avray as one of the best young prospects in WA and has been in the club’s Pathway to Glory development program for the past five months.
Vest holds Micevski in high regard and describes the youngster as “a young lad who’s got a lot of skill, a good physique and a lot of energy.” The Glory coach has been impressed with Micevski’s versatility on the training track and tips a bright future for the teenager. “He’s got a good chance to do well in the game and only time will tell but he is certainly an exciting prospect,” Vest said. “I would have thought he could play anywhere along the middle of the park, even at fullback,” he added.
Glory’s chief executive officer Jeff Dennis said it was a “natural progression” up the ranks for Micevski and the club is excited about furthering the career of both talented Western Australians. “We’re proud to continue to present strong young Western Australian players opportunities to play in the Hyundai A-League,” Dennis said. “We would like to thank Perth Soccer Club for providing the opportunity for David to play at Perth Glory under a loan agreement. It reinforces the strong relationship between Perth Glory and Football West.”
VASILEVSKI LEAVES GLORY
Midfielder Daniel Vasilevski has left Perth Glory after agreeing by mutual consent to the termination of his contract. A former Australia Under-20 international, Vaseilevski signed for Glory ahead of the inaugural A-League season but has not made an appearance in the competition due to a series of injuries. "It is disappointing for Daniel and we certainly have nothing against him but it has been unfortunate that he has had injuries that have restricted him to virtually being a passenger," said coach Alan Vest. "We wish him all the best for the future." Vest added that allowing Vasilevski to leave now would increase the 24-year olds chances of finding another club.
WANNEROO FINALISE COACHING STAFF
Gerry McEwan and Willie McNally have been teamed to lead Wanneroo City into their first season of Premier League football. Their appointment is seen as the first step towards ensuring Wanneroo's top flight future. "The club is currently undergoing a massive regeneration aimed at building a platform for the next few years," commented club secretary Kirk O'Connor. "As part of our re-building program, the coaching staff have changed bringing long term stalwart Gerry McEwan to the position of head coach and the popular Willie McNally as his assistant." The new coaching team takes over from Stuart Currie who recently accepted a coaching role with northern neighbour E.C.U. Joondalup.
In a lengthy playing career McEwan turned out for Joondalup, Inglewood United, Bayswater City and Wanneroo amongst others. The 37-year old has previously coaching in an assistant capacity at Wanneroo as well as with several State junior teams. A former State goalkeeper, McNally played six seasons of national league football with Adelaide City during the mid-1980's. On the local front he wore the colours of Kingsway Olympic, Perth S.C., Stirling Lions, Floreat Athena, Sorrento, Wanneroo, Swan I.C. and Bassendean Caledonian. Dave Anderson retains the Head of Football position with Wanneroo, Ron Harrison and Mike Haigh will once again coach the reserves with former player Nicky Edwards in charge of the youth team.
HARNWELL REFUSES TO GIVE IN TO INJURY
Less than an hour after hobbling out of training Perth Glory captain Jamie Harnwell has declared he'll be right to take on Queensland Roar on Saturday. The imposing centre half refused to join Glory's lengthening injury list after rolling is ankle during a training drill this morning. "We definitely can't afford another injury at this stage so regardless of how serious it is I'll be playing," said Harnwell. Although they'll be minus Ante Kovacevic and David Tarka, the Glory captain remains upbeat about his teams' chances of getting a result this weekend. "We've had a lot of bad luck, I can't remember an injury list like this ever before. But we have a lot of players who can step up and do a job which we proved in the game against Queensland last time so hopefully we can do it again."
2005 ANOTHER RECORD BREAKER
Thanks to the continued support of the West Australian football family the past twelve months was another record breaking year for www.footballwa.net. The state's only totally independent football website continued to go from strength to strength by logging a grand total of 305,463 hits were registered for the twelve month period commencing 1st January 2005. That figure by far eclipses the previous record of 224,418 hits scored in 2004 - not to mention the 4,889 hits received in 1998, our first full year online.
A number of other record highs were also achieved over the course of last year. A new 'monthly' best was registered in May when 37,236 visitors called by the website. 9,030 hits were recorded for the week commencing Monday 9th May to set a new 'weekly' high. And the 'daily' record was broken on several occasions with the most successful single day being Monday 2nd May when 1,794 visits were logged. We would like to thank all readers of www.footballwa.net for making 2005 such an outstanding success.
With season 2006 drawing ever nearer we ask and encourage all clubs to regularly contribute news and information to the website. www.footballwa.net relies heavily upon the input of local clubs, coaches, players and supporters. Whether it be general news (eg player signings and departures), details of events and functions, match reports or whatever, we would like to hear from you. All contributions can be sent to Brett via email@example.com
MILLER TARGETS THIS WEEKEND FOR COMEBACK
Experienced Perth Glory defender Scott Miller will resume full training today for the first time in six weeks. Miller's return is a much-needed boost for injury-plagued side ahead of this weekend's clash with Queensland Roar at Members Equity Stadium. Sidelined since November with a calf problem, Miller is confident of putting himself in contention for the Roar fixture. "I'd lost so much fitness because with a calf you just can't do anything," Miller said. "I've just been trying to make sure it's strong enough to get through. Every day it felt stronger and stronger. We did a lot of short, sharp stuff to make sure it could handle it. I'll join in with the lads (today) for the first time in six and a half weeks, so I'm looking forward to it and, hopefully, it will hold out."
The importance of the Roar match is not lost on the 33-year old who is prepared to face a Queensland side desperate to prevent its season slipping away. Thumped 4-2 by runaway A-League leader Adelaide United yesterday, Roar are five points adrift of a finals place. "Next week is going to be all or bust for them so we don't want to be limping in there," Miller said. "Hopefully we can get as many boys up and going as we can to help Vesty out a bit." Coach Alan Vest will assess the extent of his casualty today and tomorrow before deciding the best way to tackle the club's growing list of walking wounded. Amongst the coaches options are offering short-term deals to defenders Ryan Townsend and Adrian Madaschi, both former Australian youth internationals, who've returned to Perth following time abroad.
AFKOS IN BID FOR GLORY TAKEOVER
Perth Glory co-founder Paul Afkos is heading a five-man consortium which is planning to make a $1 million takeover offer for the A-League club. Afkos, who sold his 25% share in Glory in 2002, confirmed yesterday that his consortium wanted to buy the 75% share held by chairman Nick Tana. But Afkos, whose consortium includes Driftwood Winery owner Tom Galopoulos, said he feared the ill-will between himself and Tana could prevent the deal proceeding.
Part of Tana's reason for selling stems from his desire to get a position with either the A-League or Football Federation Australia, both of which would require him to be free of club ties. It is understood South African businessman David Rodwell, who owns the remaining 25% of Glory, wants to retain his stake. "I've spoken to a number of people who have shown interest before and our biggest concern is Nick would be reluctant to sell to me and a group of people that I will be involved with," Afkos said. "I see that as my obstacle."
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This page was last updated on the 28th February, 2006