JELICIC RETURNS TO COCKBURN
After a disappointing ninth place finish in the NPLWA last season and coach Scott Miller and his assistant Dale Wingell moving on, things looked bleak at Dalmatinac Park. But President Heidi Lazzaro acted quickly to replace the pair by bringing in Mirko Jelicic for his third stint at the club. Jelicic first coached the senior side in the Premier League alongside Andy Thorburn on 2003, where they finished runners up to Perth SC, before returning in 2009 to work with Miller.
The 56-year-old said he was looking to step away from football after a long stint here and overseas, but when he was approached by the club, he jumped at the chance to return. “I initially had plans of having a break from football having spent the best part of the last 25 years involved professionally with football,” he said. “But upon speaking with the management at Cockburn it seemed like a good fit in light of the direction and vision they had for the club. The focus on younger and locally bred players was particularly appealing, with the vast majority of our squad players who grew up with the club.”
Jelicic coached in Uzbekistan for a number of years, and helped Lokomotiv Tashkent to back-to-back Super League titles, and he said it was a great club to work for. “Lokomotiv Tashkent was a great experience and learning curve. This was a new club, formed 10 years prior to my arrival who had potential but always seemed to fall short of expectations,” he explained. “So, it was a matter of reigning in all the fragments of the club into a coherent unit. In those three years we managed to win three titles and two cups as well as establishing a reputation as one of the better teams in Asia. We reached the 1/4 final of the Champions League in 2016, and it was an extremely busy three years having to cover many roles at the club aside from the head coaching position. That early success proved to be a double-edged sword as the expectations of the club grew way beyond what they were able provide and what I could deliver on an ongoing basis.”
The experienced coach has also been part of the Uzbekistan national team and he said some of the memories and friendships he made there will stay with him for life. “I had been involved on and off with the National Teams since 2005 in various capacities. The 2011 Asian Cup was a highlight reaching the semi-final (albeit losing 6-0 to Australia) and definitely been involved in numerous World Cup qualifying campaigns with all levels of the national teams, from 17's to the full national team,” Jelicic said. “You can't buy those experiences and they will live with me forever. The journey is always so rich on so many fronts, but most satisfying is been immersed in professional football and the characters and emotions that come with all that.”
Jelicic, who also worked as assistant coach at Perth Glory, Thailand’s BEC Tero Sadana and the Chinese National team with Sven Goran Erickson, returns to Cockburn ready for the challenge, and although he has been away from the club for a number of years, he knows how the club works and is looking forward to the new season. “Yes, a new season brings new hopes for all involved. There has been a big turnover of players at the club and perhaps it needed that refreshing. The bridge that links expectations to outcomes is a long and diligent one,” he explained. “We are focused on the daily process that brings change and improvement for the players and thus ultimately the hard-working people of the club. Not been involved locally for quite some time presents its own challenges but, in many ways, also gives you and the players a clean slate to work from.
“In essence none of us are good enough to reinvent football, but the goal is to strive to do what others are doing better. From my own perspective it's a matter of finding some balance from working with players who only play football to players who juggle a lot of different roles from day to day. As a club we have decided to not go down the road of major recruitment but give opportunity to boys already at the club and players who were previously at the club and spent the last year or two elsewhere and were keen on returning, but all of them will be major contributors to the ambitions of the club this coming year. “
GLORY LIBERTY WOMENS A-LEAGUE GAME POSTPONED
The Liberty Women’s A-League clash between Perth Glory and Canberra United has been postponed due to Western Australia's hard border. The match was originally scheduled to go ahead at Macedonia Park on Saturday, but with Canberra having played at home and in Adelaide over the opening two rounds, it meant they were unable to enter WA without quarantining. "A plan for both the Perth Woman's and Men's teams to manage the border restrictions will be communicated on Wednesday, 15th December." A-Leagues commissioner of football Greg O'Rourke said.
Glory have made a perfect start to the new season, after beating the Roar 2-1 in Perth and winning the return trip in Brisbane 1-0. Head Coach Alex Epakis believes that the latest twist in this season’s fixture scheduling could benefit his in-form side. While the postponement of Saturday’s game will prevent Glory from potentially returning to the top of the table, Epakis feels there is definitely a plus side for his squad.
“It’s a mixed blessing,” he told the Glory website, “because although we’re on a fantastic run with really good momentum and I know the players and staff just want to be playing week in, week out, we have picked up a few niggles in the last two matches and it just gives us time to overcome those and iron out any kinks in what we’re doing. So come our next match in early January, we’ll be in a better place.”
The coach felt that his side showed great character and resolve to grab late winners in both meetings with Roar and those were elements he emphasised when addressing the players after each game. “It was just about having absolute belief in what we’re doing and staying in the game for the whole match, competing and players coming off the bench and doing their job,” he said.
“It was a mix of all those types of messages and showing that once we do all of those things, we’re in every single match regardless of the opposition. Brisbane were a good team, but the fact that we were able to grind out two really important results late on gives us as a group so much confidence about what we’re doing and I think it sets a perfect foundation going forward.”
On the subject of what the future holds, Glory’s Head Coach is resigned to the fact that the squad will have to spend an extended period on the east coast until the easing of WA’s border restrictions comes into effect on February 5th, but he feels that a run of away games could further unite what is already a close-knit squad. “That togetherness and time away may prove to be even more powerful for this group than it would be if it was a normal schedule,” Epakis said. “We all know we have a job to do this year and to be all together in the same place really focusing on that might be even more beneficial for us all.”
GLORY HIT BY POSITIVE COVID TEST
Perth Glory’s Isuzu Men’s A-League Men season has gone from bad to worse after a player was tested positive to covid-19 on Wednesday evening. It’s been a major disruption so far with Glory playing on the road after the WA border restrictions prevented them playing at home, and having import Daniel Sturridge unavailable, as well as a number of first team players. The unnamed player, who is double-vaccinated, and tested positive to a regular rapid antigen test and PCR test on 15 December, is currently isolating in line with QLD Health directions.
No other members of the club’s playing, coaching, medical and operational staff have presented symptoms, but all have undergone PCR testing and are isolating as per the health directive. As a result, the scheduled Round Five game between Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory (Saturday 18 December) and the scheduled Round Six fixture between Adelaide United and Perth Glory (Thursday 23 December) have been postponed until early 2022.
The club advised members that all A-Leagues players and coaching staff undergo daily screening processes including daily rapid antigen tests. The squad had its previous test on Saturday 11 December and all received negative results. The A-Leagues is working closely with the relevant health authorities, the PFA and Perth Glory to work through the impact of these challenges on the players and staff involved and their families.
Glory Head Coach Richard tweeted ‘Free one minute, locked up the next’, while Glory owner Tony Sage told 6PR Radio said. “They are distraught,” he said. “They saw light at the end of the tunnel and that light now has just turned off.” If the rest of the players are casual contacts, they’ll only need to isolate until they return negative PCR tests, however, if they’re close contacts, they will be required to isolate in their hotel for 14 days from the date of their exposure.
Not only would that mean they will be isolating across Christmas, it could have a cascading effect on the A-League season. The Glory are due to face Sydney FC at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on January 2 - but if players are unable to train during their quarantine period, the fixture would be in serious jeopardy. Sage was left fuming about the situation, and spoke out on his Facebook feed. “There is no sanity - one player only tested positive and the game gets cancelled. One player from Sydney FC was positive and the team still played. Two from Jets also. Let’s hope the WA authorities let the team back and quarantine here for Xmas.”
The requirements in Queensland will change on January 1, when close contacts who are double-vaccinated will only need to isolate for seven days rather than 14. The Australian Professional Leagues had been determined to play as many matches as possible despite the sudden spike in positive cases across the A-Leagues this week. More than 99 per cent of A-Leagues players are fully vaccinated, while those at clubs in NSW and Victoria are subject to daily rapid antigen testing. Although they are no longer living in a bio-secure bubble as they once did, sources say multiple clubs have told players to avoid mixing with the public to prevent any risk of infection that could disrupt their season.
TAGGART’S MESSAGE TO ARNOLD: ‘I’LL BE READY IF YOU NEED ME’
Striker Adam Taggart has handed Australia coach Graham Arnold an early Christmas gift by declaring he’s on track to return to action early in the New Year after recovering from knee surgery. The target man has missed the Socceroos last two World Cup qualifiers with his absence keenly felt at the pointy end.
Though in the midst of a mini-goal drought himself before suffering a torn meniscus six weeks ago while playing for Japanese club Cerezo Osaka, Taggart’s calmness on the ball and ability to hold possession while bringing teammates into play made him a key figure for Arnold. The 28-year old has declared the operation a success and a January return to action a realistic target.
“I’m looking to make myself available in January - it just depends what Arnie is thinking. But I’ll be as ready as I can be,” said Taggart. “I’d have had a couple of weeks of pre-season (before the next qualifier against Vietnam on January 27). I’m starting to get going now and by then I should be fairly fit. Whatever happens I’ll be ready for it.”
Australia are in danger of missing out on automatic qualification for the World Cup after slipping to third in Group A, five points behind leaders Saudi Arabia and one adrift of Japan. “We have two massive games coming up (against Vietnam and Oman),” Taggart said. “I want to be a part of it as this group of Socceroos are special ... any game means a lot to me especially these big ones coming up.”
With 12 qualifying points still up for grabs, Taggart believes Australia can still pip Japan for the second qualifying spot. He acknowledged that in addition to his the absence, being stripped of orchestrators Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy for the last two games - plus the devastating ACL suffered by defender Harry Souttar - has dealt a hammer blow to Arnold.
“These players are massive for us and you’re always going to miss them,” he said. “We had that great run of 11 successive wins, whether it was doing it ugly or nice, and we’ve lost that little bit over the past couple of matches. But I’ve got all the confidence in the world we will bounce back.”
“Arnie has an unbelievable mentality and he instils that in everyone. For me, he’s an unbelievable gaffer. Yes we’ve had a rough couple of games but everybody loves him and have the upmost respect for him. He always gives us a clear game plan we just have to carry it out. It’s always hard in camp when you have so little time to prepare - but that's no excuse. We just need to concentrate on performing well.”
“There are huge matches coming up also against Japan at home and Saudi away (in March) but that’s what you want as a footballer. As difficult as it is there are opportunities for special moments to be had. We have keep a strong mentality and make sure we win at all costs. There are still plenty of chances to make sure we finish in the top two. The ball is still in our court. Of course there’s pressure because the whole country is watching. It means a lot to everyone.”
JANCEVSKI LEAVES IT LATE FOR GLORY
Perth Glory have made it back-to-back wins to start their Liberty Womens A-League season, with substitute Alana Jancevski’s deflected shot securing a 1-0 against Brisbane Roar at Perry Park. For the second time in six days, a late goal secured Glory three points against the Roar, and the win moving Alex Epakis’ side temporarily to the top of the table. The coach was pleased by the character his side showed for 90 minutes, and to once again finish strongly and collect maximum points.
“It was very similar to last week, we competed for 90 minutes, players did their jobs whether they started or came off the bench and did what they needed to do for the team and I think when you’re competitive for 90 minutes, you always give yourself an opportunity to win the game,” he said post-match. “It was a fantastic end to the game and Alana’s goal was obviously a case of being in the right place at the right time. The group is so happy. The best part about it is that we know we’re not exactly where want to be yet in terms of performance, but we’re doing enough to get the result and it’s a really good foundation that we’ve laid.”
It was a tight opening with both sides creating half chances. First Mariel Hecher’s long-range shot flashed wide for the visitors, before a surging run from Glory’s Sofia Sakalis, saw her race into the penalty area, but as she was about to pull the trigger Roar’s Jessie Rasschaert got back with a last-ditch tackle. Glory went even closer on 11 minutes, great work down the left by Lisa De Vanna, saw her pull the ball back to Gemma Craine, whose first-time shot was well saved by Georgina Worth.
Worth then got down well to save Craine’s low cross, before the Roar custodian was almost embarrassed by Hanna Lowry’s cross shot, but she got back to save on the line. Both sides had late chances, and Morgan Aquino produced a smart save to deny Anna Margraf on the half hour, before Liz Anton volleyed inches over the top after good work by Lowry. Glory suffered a blow just before the break with De Vanna limping off, she was replaced by Susan Phonsongkham.
The chances were few and far between after the break, but the hosts started to press and the woodwork came to the rescue of Aquino, Margraf’s cross shot hitting the bar. Both sides had penalty appeals turned down by referee Rachel Mitchenson. First Hecher fell in the box, before Lowry’s cross hit the arm of Ayesha Norrie, but both were waved away. It looked like the points would be shared, but it was a case of déjà vu with Glory winning it late.
A corner was only cleared to the edge of the box and Jancevski’s volley took a wicked deflection off the unfortunate Hecher, the ball looping over Worth and into the net, for the Junior Matildas’ first goal for the club to seal the three points. “Such a good feeling,” the teenager said post-match. “It was a hard-fought win, and I was really grateful that I was able to be the difference. “I just saw it in the air and thought ‘why not’. Luckily it deflected and went in. We dug really deep, we didn’t play our best football, we know that, were still good enough to get the win and that just shows the heart that this team has.”
In the other Friday evening game Newcastle Jets thrashed Wellington Phoenix 5-1 at McDonald Jones Stadium. Tara Andrews bagged a brace, with others to Kirsty Fenton, Marie Markussen and Sophie Harding, while Ava Pritchard scored a late consolation goal for the Phoenix. Sydney FC have won the ‘Sydney Derby’, with two goals from Remy Siemsen giving them a 2-0 win against Western Sydney Wanders 2-0.
Melbourne Victory have won the ‘Melbourne Derby’ beating City 2-1 at AAMI Park. An Amy Jackson own goal had given City the lead at the break, but second half goals from Catherine Zimmerman and Lyn Williams secured the win and moved them to the top of the table, although they had Jackson sent off late. In the final game Adelaide United won for the first time this season after a 2-1 win against Canberra United at Marden Sports Complex. Former Matildas striker Michelle Heyman gave the visitors the lead early, before Nanako Sasaki levelled before the break, but the home side won in stoppage time when Emily Condon scored.
Brisbane Roar 0 Perth Glory 1 (Jancevski 86')
Brisbane Roar: GK Georgina WORTH, 2 Anna MARGRAF (23 Meaghan MCELLIGOTT 84'), 3 Jessie RASSCHAERT, 5 Jamilla RANKIN, 6 Nia STAMATOPOULOS (10 Katrina GORRY 55'), 7 Ayesha NORRIE, 8 Mariel HECHER, 9 larissa CRUMMER, 12 Shea CONNORS, 18 Annabel HAFFENDEN, 22 Cannon CLOUGH – Subs not used: RGK Mia BAILEY, 14 Rie KITANO, 24 Ellen GETT
Perth Glory: GK Morgan AQUINO, 2 Sarah CARROLL (5 Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE 61'), 3 Kim CARROLL (13 Sarah CAIN 61'), 4 Natasha RIGBY, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 11 Lisa DE VANNA (10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM 45'), 12 Sofia SAKALIS (23 Alana JANCEVSKI 55'), 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 24 Gemma CRAINE, 26 Mie LETH JANS – Subs not used: RGK Courtney NEWBON - Referee: Rachel Mitchenson
LATE GOAL SINKS GLORY
Perth Glory have conceded a late goal to go down 1-0 to defending Champions Melbourne City in round four of the Isuzu Men’s A-League at AAMI Park on Wednesday evening. It looked like the heroics of young keeper Cameron Cook had secured a point for Richard Garcia’s side, but a late header from Nathan Atkinson gave the hosts the points.
Glory Head Coach Richard Garcia was pleased with the fighting performance “It was a very gritty, gutsy performance from a bunch of guys that were noticeably fatigued,” he said post-match. “They dug in for each other and that reflects on what a solid unit they are and what a good team they are. It’s a new group, virtually, with a lot of young players in there, so I’m very pleased with the progress the group is making.”
Garcia kept the same starting side that beat Melbourne Victory at the same venue on Saturday, while on the bench midfielder Callum Timmins made a return from injury. The hosts, who were beaten at home by Western United last time out, were on the front foot early and Cook got down well to save Connor Metcalfe’s effort. Moments later Aaron Calver’s header flashed just wide, after a perfect delivery from Kosuke Ota.
Then on 14 minutes it looked like City had the lead after Andrew Nabbout’s low cross was turned into his own net by Ota, but after a VAR check the goal was disallowed with Nabbout inches offside in the build-up. City were dominating and Cook saved well to deny former Glory striker Jamie Maclaren, before the Glory custodian produced a fine stop to thwart Metcalfe. Curtis Good should have given the hosts the lead on the half hour, the defender losing his marker but headed inches wide of the post.
Skipper Bruno Fornaroli fired wide early in the second half, and the game started to get physical, and after a tackle from Antonee Burke-Gilroy on City skipper Scott Jamison, which saw him yellow carded, a melee ensued, with Jaison and Fornaroli both being shown yellow cards. Glory were defending in numbers as City lifted and Nabbout shot on the run flew wide of the target. Nabbout turned provider moments later, teeing up Marco Tilio, but the former Sydney FC youngster couldn’t keep his shot down.
Jack Clisby then stung the palms of City keeper Thomas Glover, but City were creating the better chances and Cook produced the best save of the night to deny French substitute Florin Berenguer-Bohrer on 75 minutes. The Glory were hanging on, but Cook was finally beaten on 83 minutes by Good’s header, but the woodwork came to his rescue. Glory introduced Giordano Colli late, the former Bayswater City midfielder coming on for his A-League debut.
It looked like Glory would leave with a share of the spoils, but two minutes from time City found the winner. Good’s searching ball found Metcalfe in the box, he headed back across goal to the unmarked substitute Atkinson, who headed past Cook to win for the hosts. Glory will be back in action on December 18 when they take on Brisbane Roar at Moreton Daily Stadium – Kick off 4.45pm.
In other games this weekend Newcastle Jets thrashed Wellington Phoenix. Beka Mikeltadze opened the scoring on the half hour, and the Georgian international striker doubled the hosts advantage seven minutes into the second half. Dylan Murnane added a third, before Daniel Penha wrapped up the scoring ten minutes from time. A goal early in the second half from Connor Pain gave Western United a 1-0 win against Brisbane Roar at GMHBA Stadium, before league leaders Macarthur FC came home from Commbank Stadium with three points, after second half goals from Tomislav Uskok and Jake Hollman saw them runout 2-0 winners.
Melbourne Victory bounced back from their loss against Perth Glory last week, beating Adelaide United 2-1 at Coopers Stadium. Italian Francesco Margiotta gave Tony Popovic’s side the lead on the hour, but an own goal from former Glory defender Matthew Spiranovic levelled things up ten minutes later. But eight minutes later Victory won it when substitute Nishan Velupillay scored. The visitors finished the game with ten men when Jason Davidson was sent off. In the final game Sydney FC’s poor start to the season continued when they were beaten 2-0 by Central Coast Mariners in Gosford. Costa Rican striker Marco Urena opened the scoring on 13 minutes, before an own goal from Adrian Caceres three minutes later sealed the points.
Melbourne City 1 (Atkinson 88’) Perth Glory 0
Melbourne City: GK Thomas GLOVER, 2 Scott GALLOWAY, 3 Scott JAMIESON, 4 Nuno Perreira REIS, 7 Matthew LECKIE (10 Florin BERENGUER-BOHRER 68'), 8 Aiden O’NEILL, 9 Jamie MACLAREN, 15 Andrew NABBOUT (13 Nathaniel ATKINSON 79'), 18 Connor METCALFE, 22 Curtis GOOD, 23 Marco TILIO - Subs not used: RGK Matt SUTTON, 5 Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 17 Stefan COLAKOVSKI, 34 Jordon HALL, 39 Anthony LESIOTIS
Perth Glory: GK Cameron COOK, 2 Aaron CALVER (22 Josh RAWLINS 69'), 4 Luke BODNAR (19 Callum TIMMINS 69'), 5 Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 7 Adrian SARDINERO ( 26 Giordano COLLI 87'), 8 Kosuke OTA, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 14 Jack CLISBY, 18 Daniel STYNES (38 Ciaran BRAMWELL 59'), 21 Antonee BURKE-GILROY, 29 Darryl LACHMAN - Subs not used: RGK Nicholas SORRAS, 24 Pacifique NIYONGABIRE, 32 Aidan COYNE - Referee: Ben Abraham
SHADES OF EUROPE: ‘FIRST THING’ JONES NOTICED AT GLORY
Brad Jones has noticed it throughout every successful spell of his career spent at clubs from around the world. Whether at English clubs Liverpool and Middlesbrough or Dutch giants Feyenoord, at the core of each experience one factor remained the same: an unbreakable spirit within the squad; a togetherness that stood the test of time.
It was the first thing born-Perth Jones noticed after walking through the doors at Perth Glory. “The team spirit was the first thing I saw,” Jones told keepup.com.au. “That is sometimes very much underestimated in how a team goes. I’ve been fortunate to have those sort of dressing rooms in the past and it definitely bodes well over a long season.”
Jones sat out the weekend win over Melbourne Victory with a calf injury. In his absence came Cameron Cook, who clinched a clean sheet on his league debut whilst the Glory frontline fired with goals from Antonee Burke-Gilroy, Ciaran Bramwell and Bruno Fornaroli to earn a 3-0 win.
Jones watched on as Glory displayed just how dangerous a side can be when everyone buys in to the same cause. “The group togetherness has been fantastic,” he said. “I had periods of it at Middlesborough. We had a great group the year we won the League Cup, everyone was just enjoying being around each other both at training and away from it... I think that showed at that point what a team spirit can be.”
“I think Liverpool certainly the year we finished second (2013/14), not so much at the beginning. That was noticeable when I first arrived in 2010; the club was going through a bit of change and that was something that developed over the time. Definitely that year when we were so close to winning it, the group was amazing... It was a great place to be and great place to work.”
“At Feyenoord we had a younger group. It helps when you’re winning, it makes it a bit easier but again, when people want to be around each other off the pitch I think that makes the difference, and that’s what I’ve seen here as well. The boys have been together, going to grab lunch, going to have dinner, things like that... people enjoy being there and working hard for each other. It makes a massive difference.”
“Richie (Garcia) has mentioned it. What they’ve done and the players they have brought in have definitely fit that mould. It just makes people want to work harder for each other, when you’ve got everyone pulling in the same direction it makes things a hell of a lot easier.”
While the likes of big-name players such as Daniel Sturridge and Fornaroli who grab the limelight, Glory have an abundance you talented youth on board in Cameron Cook (20), Daniel Stynes (23), Callum Timmins (21), and Ciaran Bramwell (19) to name a few. Jones has been sharing stories of his career in Europe with the youngsters in an effort to get the best out of them.
“As players, we’re always curious about how things work in other places,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the players that I have, people are always curious to know how those players worked, and what it was that made them so good. Especially for the younger boys, when I’m able to tell them about the likes of a Steven Gerrard or a Luis Suarez or whoever, the work ethic, the mentality, the drive that they had.
“Sometimes living far away watching on TV you can kind of be a bit naive to think these guys just had god-given talent. But when you’re working with them day in, day out, you realise that it’s just pure work. These guys are at their best every day. It’s not a coincidence they’re at the top. These guys, yes they have talent, but they’re maximising it all the time.”
“Being in that situation for me was brilliant because it just makes you lift to that next level and understand that every day has to be at the top, you can’t get away with having a down day. The level has to be constant, otherwise you’ll be found out. I’ve definitely passed on a few stories and a few tips here and there if the players are asking.”
“We’ve got to also say to these players: ‘Where do they want to end up? Where do they want to be?’ I think to show them where some of them could go, and give them that push to reach for the top. Why not? That should be the aim for every player, is to reach as high as possible, win as many trophies as you can and play at the highest level that you can.”
“Some of these guys maybe need that kind of push and that confirmation that they’ve got the chance to go and do it. Hopefully us being around and trying to help them as much as we can will see that happen.”
GLORY SET FOR NEXT PHASE OF ROAD TRIP
With their three-game stint in Victoria complete, Perth Glory will hit the road again as they prepare to take the next steps on their long route home. Wednesday's loss at Melbourne City followed a win over Melbourne Victory and defeat at Western United, with Glory now having a 10-day break to get to Brisbane for their next game on December 18.
"We've got to get out of Victoria as soon as possible to be out of Victoria for 14 days," coach Richard Garcia said following last night's 1-0 loss to Melbourne City, who snuck the deciding goal with just two minutes of regular time remaining. "So we're away tomorrow. We then go into Adelaide I believe and then off to Brisbane."
Doubts remain over whether the Glory players and staff will be able to make it home for Christmas with their families, as originally planned, given Western Australia has now put a hard border in place with South Australia. Glory are meant to play at Adelaide United on December 23 before heading home.
"It changes every day, honestly, so it's a difficult one. It's a hard one to take because you have different scenarios every day," Garcia said. "But we're hoping to be able to get home for Christmas, whether that be in quarantine, which is more than likely, we probably will have to do. But I think people would just like to get home and see their families at some point."
While captain Brandon O'Neill is still in Perth awaiting the birth of his first child and Andy Keogh remains home rehabilitating a calf injury, star recruit Daniel Sturridge is among those who could benefit from the extended lead-up to the Glory's next game on December 18. "We're definitely going to have to rest," Garcia said.
"We'll give them a little bit of a break and set them up again and hopefully by that time Daniel's ready for some minutes, Cal Timmins can maybe play a bigger part because he played 20 minutes today. It gives the guys like (Adrian) Sardinero and (Aaron) Calver a bigger break.
"They probably went longer than we wanted them to tonight but due to circumstances and probably depth, you don't want to put a young boy in a situation that is too tough. You've got to be wary of that. So I think we'll probably be in a better place with that 10-day break."
RISDON COMMITS TO WESTERN UNITED ON MULTI-YEAR EXTENSION
Defender Josh Risdon will spend at least another two years with Western United after signing a contract extension with the A-League club. The 29-year old has started the A-League season in fine form, playing every minute of his teams opening four games.
“Being one of the first to sign at the club and now being more of a leader around the group it was a big decision for me to stay, and that was obviously a big factor,” said Risdon, who played just three games last season due to injury.
“Not many clubs would offer an extension off the back of someone not playing for 12 months. I am grateful for that, they supported me a lot last year when I was injured. I am very settled in Melbourne with my family, so I’m delighted.”
“As a team, we want to do the best we can. We want to be making finals every year ... I think we have the squad for that this year. We are still a young club, people forget that, but I think we have the ambition, the facilities and everything at the club to be successful.”
Bunbury-born and raised, Risdon became Western United’s first Australian signing ahead of its inaugural season. His professional career began with 142 games for Perth Glory and continued with 28 outings for Western Sydney Wanderers across two summers.
In mid-2019 the defender joined Western United, where he's chalked up 29 games. He has 14 Socceroos caps to his name, a tally which includes three appearances at the 2018 World Cup where he all three of Australia’s group games.
BURKE-GILROY SOAKING UP ALL HE CAN FROM STURRIDGE
Few people had heard of him before Sunday night but the kid once nicknamed “Sturridge” put his name up in lights with a stunning goal in Perth Glory’s 3-0 win over Melbourne Victory. Antonee Burke-Gilroy became an instant fan favourite with his second-half screamer and pinpoint cross for Ciaran Bramwell to head home the second.
And life could not be any better for London-born Burke-Gilroy who is rubbing shoulders with the hero he was once nicknamed, former England and Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge. “Funnily enough I used to get called Sturridge with the hair cut I used to have when I was younger,” Burke-Gilroy said. “It’s pretty surreal to have him in the team. It’s crazy.”
The real Sturridge has taken Burke-Gilroy under his wing. “I’m close to Daniel Sturridge. Honestly, it just happened organically,” he said. “We were at the training ground, just had small talk and went from there. I’ve learnt a lot of stuff on the park but also off the park.”
“Him telling me about life and stuff which is definitely a help and what I can look forward to in the future. We’ve been hanging out a fair bit. I’ve been picking his brain a little bit. He seems like an older brother to me right now which is good. It feels like we have a really good connection going on.”
Coach Richard believes 24-year old Burke-Gilroy has a big future. “He’s a fantastic young guy, really good attitude, wiling to learn, constantly pushing himself,” the former Socceroo said. “He’s an explosive little player. The boy has got a bright future.”
Burke-Gilroy is well travelled having played with Newcastle Jets, oversea in Portugal and the US and re-igniting his A-League career with Brisbane last season before making the move to Glory. “I’ve been waiting for this opportunity,” he said. “I think it’s only the beginning. Hopefully I have a promising season ahead.”
GARCIA DEMANDS ANSWERS FROM A-LEAGUE
Furious Perth Glory coach Richard Garcia says his team cannot continue to live with the uncertainty of life on the road. Garcia said the unknown is playing on the minds of players and staff and he is demanding answers from the A-League with the club living in limbo.
Glory play reigning champions Melbourne City tonight in the middle of a gruelling five-game road trip. They must leave Victoria the following day to have any chance of being back in Perth for Christmas, but still have to play Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United, and with Western Australia’s border shut to South Australia they will need to quarantine at home.
The club are exploring several options including staying in the Eastern States and having their families join them for Christmas or returning to the east with their families after the celebrations when they are scheduled to play three more games on the road. Garcia has campaigned constantly for families to be included.
“Having our families with us is something we’ve always wanted,“ Garcia said. “We were thinking about having different accommodation, not being in a hotel, but maybe having serviced apartments. It would be nice to have a normal life. Players want to have a regular life and this isn’t a regular life.”
“Guys have been tremendous but it’s the uncertainty of ‘where do we go from here - what’s next?’ playing on their minds. It’s hard to leave home and not know when you are going to return. There’s a lot in the player’s heads. I hope we can resolve something quickly. It can’t keep going down the same road with us not knowing where and what we’re doing.”
Garcia said a decision on Glory’s destiny should have been made weeks ago. “It’s something that should have probably been done at the start of the season,” he said. “There needs to be a solution. It’s something I hope we can resolve quickly. It all depends on how much the APL want to commit to the group and what happens with the border.”
A-Leagues Commissioner Greg O’Rourke said they were in constant talks with Glory. “Together we are working to find solutions to ensure its teams are able to compete in the leagues,” O’Rourke said. “As State Government restrictions evolve across the country we are supporting all clubs to ensure minimal disruption to the competition and to player schedules.”
STURRIDGE ON PATH FOR FULL GAME IN JANUARY
Perth Glory coach Richard Garcia hopes Daniel Sturridge will be ready for a full game by mid-January, but a timeline for skipper Brandon O'Neill's return still hangs in the air. Sturridge hasn't played since making a nine-minute cameo off the bench in the opening round home draw with Adelaide United.
Garcia wants to take a careful approach with Sturridge given he hadn't played a professional match in 21 months before joining Glory. The former England international will miss Wednesday's match at Melbourne City, but is on track to return off the bench before the month is out against either Brisbane Roar or Adelaide.
If all goes to plan, Sturridge will be back to full fitness in time for a series of home games for Glory in mid-January. "We are planning on in the next few weeks giving him 15, 20 minutes here or there," Garcia said.
"Hopefully he can build up and not come out of it with any problems, and once we do that we'll keep pushing forward from there on. We're hoping that we build him up to the full 90 minutes in mid-January. That will be fantastic if we can get to that stage and have him ready for that home run that we've got."
CHELSEA COACH HAILS KERR 'A CREDIT TO AUSTRALIA'
Samantha Kerr has been described as "a credit to Australia" by Chelsea manager Emma Hayes following her match-winning performance in the Women's FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium. The Matildas captain scored twice and was named Player of the Match as Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-0 on Sunday.
"So many wondered how Sam would cope in the English game. As far as I am concerned she is the best striker in the world," said Hayes. "She is courageous, she is full of confidence. She's a superb athlete and an amazing human. And she can do that after getting off a plane from Australia on Thursday."
"She did not have a good night's sleep last night but she just brushes things off. Champions do not make excuses, or become victims, or look for anybody else to manage them ... Sam takes responsibility. She is in control of making sure she sets the standards for herself and that's what I admire about her."
"There was no way she was going to be on the losing team today. She sets the tone in such a way that I've rarely seen. She is a huge credit to Australia, and we are extremely lucky to have her here at this football club."
GLORY FACE TOUGH ALM SCHEDULE, UNCERTAINTY
Coach Richard Garcia admits the uncertainty of life on the road can creep into the minds of Perth Glory's travelling party but he'll attempt to keep his players focused on a gruelling playing schedule.
Glory are in the midst of a three-game stint in Victoria and are meant to travel to Brisbane and Adelaide to allow them to return home in time for Christmas, before departing for Sydney in the new year.
But those plans could be thrown by Western Australia introducing a hard border with South Australia. "The borders to South Australia have now closed so it becomes a little more difficult with our route away to get back home," Garcia said. "So that's something that can also play on the players' minds."
"The uncertainty of what happens and being able to return to WA plays a massive part on players' minds, on staff's minds. So it's a difficult situation and the club are trying everything in their power to be able to navigate a safe passage home to get these guys in a position where they are comfortable.
"Whether that be back in Perth for Christmas or whatever that may be, whatever the solution is. The most important thing is that these guys are given high priority on the list of things to do."
Garcia hailed his undermanned side's resilience after Sunday's breakthrough 3-0 win over Melbourne Victory but they face a tight turnaround at Melbourne City on Wednesday and Brisbane Roar on Saturday. "The guys are gonna have to back-up quickly and that's part of sport. You've got to back-up," he said.
Captain Brandon O'Neill remains in Perth while goalkeeper Brad Jones will be out for "an extended period" after scans on his calf showed a worse injury than expected. "The other guys that are back there (WA) like Andy Keogh (calf) are doing well in their rehab," Garcia said.
"Now it's just about finding solutions to keep this group in a good place and try and eventually bring those guys over, or how we manage our pathway throughout the next three, four weeks."
Star recruit Daniel Sturridge didn't feature for a second consecutive game and Garcia conceded he likely wouldn't play against City. "That's our focus. To get him fit for that Brisbane game and give him some minutes off the bench," he said.
DE VANNA SPARKS DRAMATIC WIN
Perth Glory coach Alex Epakis is confident Lisa De Vanna will be fit for Friday’s return A-League women’s clash with Brisbane Roar after hobbling off in their dramatic weekend win over the Queensland side.
De Vanna, a former Matildas captain, was lively in the first half of Saturday’s match at Macedonia Park before pulling up from a sprint in the 55th minute and heading to the change rooms for ice on a hamstring.
However, Epakis expects De Vanna to be ready come Friday despite hobbling after the game. “That’s just Lisa being Lisa,” Epakis said. “She’s fine. She’s walking around now. That’s her normal walk. We knew at half-time she had about five or 10 minutes left in her. She’s fine.”
Epakis said De Vanna had produced a “vintage” performance in her first appearance for her hometown club in eight years. “This meant something for her,” he said. “She is possessed, motivated. I’m so happy to have her.”
De Vanna, who considered walking away from the game earlier this year, was a constant threat. She almost opened Glory’s account with a neat effort that deceived goalkeeper Georgina Worth only for the ball to rebound off the crossbar.
Roar looked like picking up three points before a remarkable final two minutes. Glory substitute Susan Phonsongkham equalised in the 88th minute before Worth blundered dealing with a back pass and was left stranded as the ball went over the line for an own goal.
Epakis was confident they were going to pull the result out of the fire. “I knew once we brought the fresh legs on they would have an impact on the match,” he said. “The pressure they brought when they came on was enough to create those opportunities. They have worked so hard in pre-season to finish matches like that.”
However, Epakis is not so confident Glory will make the trip to Queensland for Friday’s game with uncertainty surrounding that state’s COVID outbreak. “...that’s if there is a next week,” he said. “It’s a bit unclear. We’ll re-asses when more information comes through.”
SORRAS JOINS GLORY AMID KEEPER INJURY CRISIS
Perth Glory have been required to sour the National Premier Leagues for a back-up goalkeeper after injuries to Liam Reddy and Brad Jones. In their search they have found and signed Sydney Olympic 'keeper Nicholas Sorras to an injury replacement contract.
While Sydney Olympic did have the majority of their NPL season cancelled, the 23-year old has played recently in Olympic's FFA Cup Round of 32 clash against Sydney FC. He has also previously played for Rockdale Ilinden and represented Australia at Under-17 level.
The move by Glory to sign a player less than 48 hours prior to Sunday match against Melbourne Victory came after Jones picked up a calf injury earlier this week. Veteran shot-stopper Reddy is currently in rehabilitation following a shoulder surgery.
At present this leaves 20-year old Cameron Cook as the number one 'keeper at Glory. Cook made his senior debut last month in Glory's FFA Cup play-off against Melbourne Victory. He could once again face Victory in his A-League debut tomorrow, should he be selected to start.
GLORY STUN LEAGUE LEADERS FOR FIRST VICTORY
Perth Glory secured their first win of the new Isuzu Ute Men’s A-League season after a stunning league leaders Melbourne Victory 3-0 at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon. Without a host of first team regulars, Richard Garcia’s side put in a fighting performance to kick start their season. They were helped after Victory’s Spanish midfielder Raimon Marchan was shown a straight red card after a high kick on Jonathan Aspropotamitis just before half time. But after the break, Glory took control with a stunning strike from Antonee Burke-Gilroy, before youngster Ciaran Bramwell doubled their advantage. Skipper Bruno Fornaroli added a third to seal the win, and youngster Cameron Cook, who was making his A-League debut, helped secure their first clean sheet of the season.
Garcia was delighted with his sides’ performance and the three points. “I’m very, very pleased for a group of guys who are going through an impossible situation and tonight showed their selflessness and the trust they have in each other and they played like that, which was great to see,” he said. “We defended very well in the first half and I can’t really remember too many open chances, so that was very pleasing.
“In the second half, we had a lot of the ball and took our chances, which is great. We’ve always said that we wanted to bring young guys into the squad and, especially with the situation we’re in, they’ve been very mature about it. It’s fantastic that we have leaders within the group that are such shining examples not only on, but also off the park.”
Garcia was forced into one change to the side that lost against Western United last week, with 20-year-old keeper Cameron Cook, making his A-League debut, after his first appearance for the club in the recent FFA Cup game, also against Victory, replacing the injured Brad Jones. He was soon in the action, former Glory duo Jake Brimmer and Nick D’Agostino combined, the later heading wide, before Cook down well to save Gbenga Folami cross shot on 20 minutes. But it was the Glory who were creating the better chances and went close themselves four minutes later, Adrian Sardinero finding Daniel Stynes on the edge of the box, his curling effort was heading for the corner of the net, but Victory keeper Ivan Kelava got down well to save.
Aspropotamitis and Darryl Lachman were working overtime to keep Victory at bay as they ended the half well. Aspropotamitis produced a superb last-ditch tackle to deny D’Agostino, after Cook had parried away Brimmer’s long-range shot. But in the final minute Victory were reduced to ten men, after Marchan was sent off for a high challenge on Aspropotamitis. Having initially been shown a yellow card by referee Kurt Ams, after checking with VAR he sent the midfielder off.
Glory looked to make their numerical advantage count early in the second half, and Fornaroli should have done better nine minutes in, heading Aaron Calver’s cross from the right wide of the target when well placed, before Stynes’ deflected shot was saved low by Kelava, at the second attempt. But on 66 minutes the Glory pressure was rewarded with the opener. Jack Clisby picked out Burke-Gilroy, whose curling shot flew into the corner of the net. It was what they deserved, and 16 minutes from time they doubled their lead.
Burke-Gilroy’s pin-point cross from the right picked out Bramwell, who lost his marker to head home from close-range to bag his second senior goal. The icing was put on the cake late, with Glory adding a third, Fornaroli firing home from the edge of the box. The hosts were awarded a penalty late when Jason Davidson fell in the box, after a tussle with Stynes. It looked a little harsh, and VAR agreed eventually overturning referee Kurt Ams’ decision, allowing the visitors to secure a first clean sheet of the campaign. The action wasn’t over there, with Glory assistant coach Steven McGarry sent to the stands.
Former Glory defender Jason Davidson said the sending off turned the game. “That’s football. Red cards happen in games. It happened. I didn’t really see it from my point of view, and I don’t think Rai saw the player, but it’s the ref’s decision,” he said. “It’s a long season, those kinds of decisions go your way sometimes, they go against you sometimes and unfortunately tonight it wasn’t our night. We went into half-time saying we’ll keep a clean sheet and let’s battle, we knew it was going to be a tough second half and unfortunately once that first goal went in, it was a tough night for us after that.” The Glory are back in action on Wednesday evening at the same venue, when they take on Melbourne City (Kick off 4,45PM WA Time).
In other round three games Western Sydney Wanders beat Wellington Phoenix 2-0 at Win Stadium on Friday evening. Former Phoenix striker Tomer Hemed gave Wanderers the lead just after the hour, before John Koutroumbis secured all three points scoring in stoppage time. Then on Saturday Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United fought out a 0-0 draw at Moreton Daily Stadium, while Newcastle Jets came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Sydney FC at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium. Adam Le Fondre gave the host the lead from the spot early, before Elvis Kamsoba doubled their advantage on the half hour. But a second half doubled from Valentino Yuel secured a point for the Jets. In the late game on Saturday, Champions Melbourne City were beaten 1-0 at home by Western United at AAMI Park, with Dylan Wenzel-Halls scoring the winner. In the early Sunday game Macarthur FC moved to the top of the table after a 1-0 win against Central Coast Mariners at Panthers Stadium. The only goal of the game was an own goal by Oliver Bozanic.
Melbourne Victory 0 Perth Glory 3 (Burke-Gilroy 66', Bramwell 74', Fornaroli 89')
Melbourne Victory: GK Ivan KELAVA, 2 Jason GERIA, 3 Jason DAVIDSON, 4 Raimon Marchan VIDAL, 6 Leigh BROXHAM, 8 Josh BRILLANTE, 11 Gbenga FOLAMI (9 Francesco MARGIOTTA 68'), 17 Brendan HAMILL (16 Stefan NIGRO 12'), 18 Nick D’AGOSTINO (24 Noshan VELUPILLAY 68'), 22 Jake BRIMMER ( 26 Lleyton BROOKS 82'), 23 Marco ROJAS (10 Robbie KRUSE 82') - Subs not used: RGK Jerrad TYSON, 5 Matthew SPIRANOVIC - Red Cards: Marchan 45’
Perth Glory: GK Cameron COOK, 2 Aaron CALVER (22 Josh RAWLINS 59'), 4 Luke BODNAR, 5 Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 7 Adrian SARDINERO (38 Ciaran BRAMWELL 68'), 8 Kosuke OTA (24 Pacifique NIYONGABIRE 61'), 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 14 Jack CLISBY, 18 Daniel STYNES, 21 Antonee BURKE-GILROY, 29 Darryl LACHMAN - Subs not used: RGK Nicholas SORRAS, 26 Giordano COLLI, 32 Aidan COYNE, 41 Chris DONNELL - Referee: Kurt Ams
STATE GOVERNMENT TO BID FOR SOCCEROOS WORLD CUP QUALIFIER
The State Government wants to bring the Socceroos’ blockbuster 2022 World Cup qualifying clash with Japan to Optus Stadium. Tourism WA has held talks with Football Australia ahead of preparing a bid for the match on March 24 next year.
It is understood discussions are at an early stage and Tourism WA is waiting for the bid documents to be released, but having missed out on any Matildas games in the 2023 Women’s World Cup schedule, senior West Australian figures are anxious to land the crucial Socceroos fixture.
The State Government is tight-lipped regarding the bid, but has admitted a desire to attract as many blockbuster international events to the State as possible. "Due to the competitive nature of the events industry, we don't comment specifically on potential event discussions, decisions or negotiations," a spokesperson said.
"We're always looking for new events to be hosted in WA to show off our wonderful State, world-class sporting facilities and vibrant city and will be boosted with the announcement of an additional $9 million to attract blockbuster international events to Perth and WA."
Optus Stadium is no stranger to hosting football blockbusters. Perth Glory played the 2018/19 A-League Grand Final at the ground, which has also featured international friendlies featuring English clubs Chelsea, Manchester United and Leeds United.
GLORY ROAR BACK TO OPEN SEASON WITH THREE POINTS
Perth Glory produced a stunning late comeback to beat Brisbane Roar 2-1 in their opening Liberty Womens A-League game of the season at Macedonia Park on Saturday evening. Roared on by over 1,000 supporters Alex Epakis’ side found themselves 0-1 down late in the game after Anna Margraf had given the visitors the lead in the first half. But second half substitute Susan Phonsongkham levelled on 88 minutes, and moments later the big crowd were on their feet again when a back pass from Jessie Rasschaert was missed by Roar keeper Georgina Worth, the ball rolling into an empty net to seal the three points and secure their first W-League win since round 14 In season 2019-20.
Epakis said the refusal of his side to give up was pleasing, but admitted the victory was a little unexpected, and also praised to the contribution of goalkeeper Morgan Aquino, who made some telling saves. “I’m so, so happy for the players. We stayed in for the whole 90 minutes of the match and you get your rewards sometimes and, in this instance, we were very fortunate to get the result,” he said post-match. “She (Aquino) knows that she made some really important saves at a really critical time so she certainly did her bit tonight.
“I think it was a typical Round One performance; there were ups and downs, but we got opportunities like today where we had a little bit of luck. It was just enough to get us over the line, but we’ll improve as we go forward. The crowd was as good as the win. I’m so grateful for everyone that came out and I think we did a good job in marketing the group, the game and the new venue. I really, really enjoyed their support and I know the players did as well; it was a special feeling.”
Lisa De Vanna was included in the starting line-up, in her third stint in purple, while 16-year-old Poppie Hooks was on the bench after signing in midweek. It was a tense opening with clear cut chances few and far between, but on 21 minutes it was the visitors who opened the scoring. Shea Connors found some space in the box, before the American sent Anna Margraf in on goal, who finished past Aquino to score her first-ever A-League goal.
Glory looked for a response and went close to finding the equaliser ten minutes before the break. Alana Jancevski almost capped her debut with a goal, but the strikers free kick flicked the bar on the way over the top. But moments before the break, the Roar went close to doubling their lead, the lively Connors shot from the edge of the box was heading goalward, but Aquino produced a smart save to deny her.
Glory lost De Vanna early in the second half, with Hooks replacing the former Matildas striker, to make her debut for the club. Moments later Margraf saw here effort crash off the post, as the Roar looked to take control. But it was the hosts who ended the game the better and the tireless Gemma Craine was instrumental, her long-range shot on 85 minutes failed to find the target. But three minutes later Glory did find the equaliser, and it was Craine again who was the provider.
The English striker raced down the right and her low cross was turned home by Phonsongkham, much to the delight of the home faithful. But they had only just sat down when the Glory won it. There looked little danger from a Kim Carroll long ball but with Craine chasing, Rasschaert was forced to play the ball back to keeper Worth, who mis-controlled the ball and let it into the unguarded net, triggering scenes of wild jubilation among the Glory faithful.
Despite not coming away with the win in their season opener, Brisbane Roar coach Garrath McPherson was proud of his team's efforts. "It sucks not being able to get back on the plane with three points in the bag, being that close. I think that one will sting with the player group," he said. "I think as athletes they will be angry and a little bit upset about losing and not winning points. But the message that we shared in there, is don't let three minutes define 93 minutes." The two teams are due to face off again in Brisbane next Friday, but Queensland's growing COVID crisis has the potential to alter those plans.
In other round one games, Wellington Phoenix first game in the competition saw them draw 0-0 with Western Sydney Wanderers at Win Stadium on Friday evening, while in the late game a late goal from Holly McNamara saw Melbourne City beat Canberra United 1-0 at Viking Park. In Saturday’s other game Sydney FC beat Newcastle Jets 3-1 at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium. Remy Siemsen and Princess Ibini gave the hosts a 2-0 lead, before Lauren Allan reduced the margin just after the hour.
But Cortnee Vine added a third for the hosts, and the Jets ended the game with ten men after Tiana Jaber was sent off. In Sunday’s game Melbourne Victory thrashed Adelaide United 5-1 at AAMI Park. The hosts lead 4-0 at half time, with goals from Lia Privitelli, Kayla Morrison, Claudia Bunge and Catherine Zimmerman. Fiona Worts pulled one back for the visitors after the break, but American striker Privitelli added her second to seal a comprehensive win for the hosts.
Perth Glory 2 (Phonsongkham 88', Worth (o.g.) 90+2') Brisbane Roar 1 (Margraf 22')
Perth Glory: GK Morgan AQUINO, 2 Sarah CARROLL (13 Sarah CAIN 73'), 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 11 Lisa DE VANNA (19Poppie HOOKS 56'), 12 Sofia SAKALIS (5 Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE 73'), 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 23 Alana JANCEVSKI (10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM 73'), 24 Gemma CRAINE - Subs not used: RGK Courtney NEWBON
Brisbane Roar: GK Georgina WORTH, 2 Anna MARGRAF (24 Ellen GETT 84'), 3 Jessie RASSCHAERT, 5 Jamilla RANKIN, 7 Ayesha NORRIE, 8 Mariel HECHER, 9 Larissa CRUMMER (10 Katrina GORRY 68'), 12 Shea CONNORS, 14 Rie KITANO (V 68'), 18 Annabel HAFFENDEN, 22 Cannon CLOUGH - Subs not used: RGK Mia BAILEY, 20 Lanni MCDOUGALL - Referee: Rebecca Durcau
MELBOURNE VICTORY v PERTH GLORY – ISUZA MENS A-LEAGUE RD 3 PREVIEW
Perth Glory will go in search of their first win of the new Isuzu Men’s A-League season when they take on league leaders Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon. (kick-off at 3.45pm WST). After last week’s narrow loss against Western United Head Coach Richard Garcia will again be without skipper Brandon O’Neill, the midfielder missing again with wife Nicole due to give birth any day now. The coach will also be without striker Daniel Sturridge, and the injured Andy Keogh, while keeper Brad Jones is also in doubt with injury. The club have acted quickly to fill the void with Jones’ injury, signing 23-year-old Sydney Olympic goalkeeper Nicholas Sorras on an injury-replacement contract.
Despite missing these players, Glory Head Coach Richard Garcia is backing his side to maintain their positive start to the season, against a Victory side coached by his predecessor at Glory, Tony Popovic. “It’s been a decent start to the road trip under difficult circumstances,” he said. “The group has a great bond and has been having a good time together and that’s been pretty pleasing. The squad is a bit thin, but I thought the guys coped very well against Western United, did a great job and grew from the first game. They are definitely growing in stature and we’re continually seeing improvement as individuals and as a group.”
In addition to Popovic in the dugout, there will be a number of former Glory players in the Victory squad on Sunday, with Jason Geria, Jason Davidson, Matthew Spiranovic, Chris Ikonomidis, Nick D’Agostino and Jerrad Tyson, all in the Victory squad. But Garcia does not believe that the familiarity of the personnel will have a significant impact on the nature or outcome of the contest.
“They know us as well as we know them and I don’t think it gives you an advantage,” he said. “Maybe for the players there is a mental advantage as far as what to expect from those [opposition] players, but it’s still going to be a very tough game. They [Victory] look good because they’ve got results, but they’re still a team that is new to each other as well, so we’re definitely in the right mindset to be able to go there and get three points.”
Garcia said Sturridge is not match fit and will not be rushed into the side, while Jones picked up a knock in training. “We want everyone to see the best of Daniel Sturridge and not see him for a week and then not see him for another month,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we do the right thing by Daniel and make sure we get him fit. There’s been a lot made of it and I don’t see why. It’s the normality of an athlete trying to get fit and that’s where we sit with it. We’re confident that he’s doing well in the program so far and heading in the right direction.
“Brad picked up a little knock and is not travelling too well, but other than that, we’re all pretty good. We’ll give him every possible opportunity [to prove his fitness], but at the moment he’s touch and go.” Glory have won two of their last three games against Victory at AAMI Park, while in their two clashes last season, the sides shared a win apiece. The hosts come into the game having taken six points from their opening two games of the current campaign against Western United and Brisbane Roar.
Extended Perth Glory Squad: GK Brad JONES, GK Cameron COOK, GK Nicholas SORRAS, 2 Aaron CALVER, 4 Luke BODNAR, 5 Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 7 Adrian SARDINERO, 8 Kosuke OTA, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 14 Jack CLISBY, 18 Daniel STYNES, 21 Antonee BURKE-GILROY, 22 Josh RAWLINS, 24 Pacifique NIYONGABIRE, 26 Giordano COLLI, 29 Darryl LACHMAN, 32 Aidan COYNE, 38 Ciaran BRAMWELL, 41 Chris DONNELL
PERTH GLORY V BRISBANE ROAR - LIBERTY WOMENS A-LEAGUE RD 1 PREVIEW
Perth Glory head into their Liberty Womens A-League season-opener against Brisbane Roar at Macedonia Park on Saturday (kick-off at 7.05pm), looking for their first win in the league since round 13 in 2019-20, when Bobby Despotovski’s side beat Sydney FC 2-1. But new Head Coach Alex Epakis said there is an air of quiet confidence ahead of the opener.
There will be a new look to the Glory squad following a busy off-season, with the likes of Alana Jancevski, Sofia Sakalis, Mie Lath Jens, Sarah Cain, Aideen Keane, Courtney Newbon and Susan Phonsongkham in the frame to make their club debuts and Lisa De Vanna set to begin her third spell at the club, and the coach believes that his charges have what it takes to enjoy a successful campaign. “I don’t want to put a ceiling on what this team is capable of, the expectation is more on ourselves, and that we have a really strong performance in every match and that we prepare as best we can,” Epakis said.
“If we do that, there’s no need to put a ceiling on what that can look like in terms of results. With the players, in particular those that were involved last year, there’s a particular steel about what they’re doing and they’re extremely focused and hungry to ensure that we get off to a better start. Success is something that this group certainly deserves after the pre-season and also last year’s difficulties. It’ll be a fantastic start to the season if we can secure the three points.”
Last season the squad was hit hard with the COVID-19 restrictions, but the squad has enjoyed a full pre-season this time around and Epakis believes it has shown in training. “This season we’ve had the opportunity to ensure that every session is planned and prepared well in advance and the squad has been together for longer,” he said. “We’ve got a very clear understanding of how we’re going to play and have built a strong team environment, so it’s completely different to last year and I’m really hoping that come Round One, the performance shows that.”
In terms of squad news, Epakis confirmed that Demi Koulizakis will unfortunately be sidelined for anything up to eight weeks after sustaining a knee injury and neither Claudia Mihocic or US import Cyera Hintzen will feature on Saturday for quarantine reasons. But he will have former Matildas’ striker Lisa De Vanna available for the Roar game, and he backing the Matildas legend to make a major impact. “She’s a fantastic addition and we’re very privileged to have her joining us this season,” he said. “She brings a lot of experience on and off the field and she’s a larrikin as well, which lightens up the mood at times. She’s almost a perfect addition.”
Brisbane will arrive in the west off the back of an impressive 2020-21 campaign in which they secured a second-place finish, losing just once during the entire regular season. Saturday will mark Glory’s ninth home meeting with Roar and the hosts will be seeking to claim a fourth win, while Glory will look to Christian their new home with three points.
Perth Glory Squad 2021/22
GK Morgan AQUINO, RGK Courtney NEWBON, 2 Sarah CARROLL, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY (C), 5 Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE, 6 Tijan MCKENNA, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 9 Demi KOULIZAKIS, 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 11 Lisa DE VANNA, 12 Sofia SAKALIS, 13 Sarah CAIN, 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 17 Abbey GREEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 19 Poppie HOOKS, 21 Aideen KEANE, 22 Claudia MIHOCIC, 23 Alana JANCEVSKI, 24 Gemma CRAINE, 26 Mie LETH JANS
CARROLL READY FOR GLORY SWANSONG?
The new Liberty Women A-League season kicks off this weekend, and for Perth Glory defender Kim Carroll it could be her last. The veteran defender has played over 150 A-League games in the 13 years since the competition’s inception, and made her debut for Brisbane Roar back in 2008, spending six seasons at the club before making the move west to Perth Glory in 2015.
Now in her second spell in the west, Carroll sat down with The Football Sack to chat about the upcoming season, and said she is enjoying her first pre-season under coach Alex Epakis, and the decision when to hang up the boots can be a tough decision for many players, however, she is sure she will know when the time is right. “It’s been pretty difficult, but that’s like any pre-season. We’ve been training hard together as a team and as a squad,” the defender said.
“It’s often a thought that potentially it is the last pre-season, but I’ve always said, as long as I’m enjoying it and my body can keep up, I’ll continue. As I get older, it’s definitely harder to continue to play at such a high level. The older you get, the body reacts different, recovers differently. Outside of that, I’ve got work and everything else that also becomes more demanding.”
Off the football pitch, Carroll works as an operations manager for Veritas Engineering, and while balancing these professions can be a challenge, she has found ways to manage, and managing her body has also played a key part in prolonging her career. “I think I probably try to just relax a bit when I can nowadays, when I get a second to,” she said. “The staff as well are good at helping us manage. We do daily check ins, and they check how we’re feeling, how we’ve recovered. There’s a lot more sports science than there was when I initially started playing.”
She made over 60 appearances during her first spell at Glory, including the heartbreak of two grand final losses in 2017 and 2019. This experience will be invaluable for a Glory side that features Young Matildas Hana Lowry, Tijan McKenna and Isabella Wallhead, and guiding these players and providing leadership will be key to Glory’s success this season. “I think just talking at training and trying to guide players while on the field is my role. Trying to get an understanding of how Alex [Epakis] wants us to play and then sort of being that voice on the field,” Carroll said. “The young girls have got their own talent individually, and then it’s sort of just trying to give them some guidance around that.”
HOOKS GETS GLORY OPPORTUNITY
Perth Glory have added teenager Poppie Hooks to their Liberty Womens A-League squad as an injury replacement for Demi Koulizakis. The Striker, who joined the Glory from Canberra United this season, is expected to be sidelined for up to eight weeks after sustaining a knee injury in training.
Hooks is a former Women’s NPL Under-23 Player of the Year, and the 16-year-old enjoyed another standout season with Murdoch University Melville FC earlier this year, helping the club to the league title and the Top Four Grand Final win against Perth SC. Glory Head Coach Alex Epakis is confident that Hooks can successfully make the transition to A-League football.
“It’s obviously very disappointing to lose Demi,” he told the Glory website, “but her injury is not as serious as we initially feared and she is working hard to be back in action at some point next month. Her absence has created an opportunity for Poppie which I’m sure she will seize with both hands.
“She is a very talented young prospect who has been training with us throughout pre-season and we are all excited to see her taking the next step in her development.” Glory’s 2021/22 Liberty Womens A-League campaign gets underway on Saturday when they host Brisbane Roar at Macedonia Park (kick-off at 7.05pm WST).
DE VANNA REDISCOVERS SPARK AT GLORY
Perth Glory coach Alex Epakis says Lisa De Vanna has a glint in her eye and is back to being a larrikin ahead of the start of the A-League Women season. The 37-year-old rocked Australian soccer last month when she aired allegations of historical sexual harassment, abuse and bullying she suffered during her glittering international career.
De Vanna was also left disheartened at missing out on a spot at the Olympics, and she considered walking away from soccer. But the Matildas legend has rediscovered her love for the sport since rejoining the Glory last month, and Epakis is expecting big things from the star striker this season.
"In our professional sport you go through so many emotions all the time and unfortunately Lisa was in a bit of a rut," Epakis said. "We're just really grateful she felt this was a great environment for her to step foot in and just feel more focused on football and not worried about the other issues outside of that.
Epakis said De Vanna was in fantastic shape, but was tight lipped about whether he would hand the veteran a starting berth in Saturday night's clash with Brisbane Roar at Macedonia Park. "She does so well to maintain her level," Epakis said. "She's extremely professional with her preparation. There's no issues there."
"She's a fantastic addition. We're very privileged to have her this season and she brings a lot of experience on and off the field ... She's got a nice little glint about her eye and I think we're going to see a really rejuvenated Lisa De Vanna."
Glory were winless last season but they have enjoyed a much smoother lead-in this time around and they harbour hopes of making the finals. American import Cyera Hintzen is still in quarantine and will miss Saturday's game while versatile forward Demi Koulizakis is still sidelined by a knee injury.
WA FANS MISS OUT IN WORLD CUP FIXTURES
It will be the biggest event to hit Australia since the successful 2015 Asian Cup, but the WA football family have missed out on the chance to watch homegrown superstar Sam Kerr lead the Matildas in the 2023 Women’s World Cup. The blow comes despite the State Government committing $35 million to upgrade HBF Park to ensure games can be played at the stadium. Better lighting, a pitch upgrade, better player facilities and temporary infrastructure including additional seating for players are part of the HBF Park upgrade.
The venue will host just five group fixtures, none of them with drawcard top seeds like current champion USA or Olympic champion Canada, reducing the potential of the tourism dollar. The Matildas will play exclusively in the eastern states, with their group games in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. If they advance as expected they will play their Round of 16 game and possible quarter and semi-finals in either Sydney or Brisbane with the final at Sydney’s Stadium Australia.
Sports minister Toni Buti said: “We love Sam Kerr and the Matildas as much as anyone and will support them wherever they play,” he said. “We know at some stage she’ll return home and we’ll get to see her play in WA.” Football West outgoing chief executive James Curtis said the fans will get behind the games played in the state. “Football West would have loved for Perth to host the Matildas and we are very confident Sam Kerr and the rest of the team will be coming to WA in the lead-up to the tournament,” he explained.
“After WA missed out on previous events such as the 2015 Asian Cup, we know the WA public are right behind this tournament and they will be out in force.” Perth Glory women’s captain Natasha Rigby said she was disappointed not to have Matildas in Perth. “But we’ll be so happy to have any of the games here,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for WA and for women’s football. We have to leverage that in terms of participation.”
EPAKIS CONFIDENT OF SUCCESS
When Alex Epakis took charge of Perth Glory women last season he knew he had a big task ahead. Quite how big it was came as a shock. Almost the entire squad had already been signed before he took charge, he had just a couple of weeks to get them ready and they went winless in the tough COVID-battered campaign.
But before the season ended Epakis was already on a recruiting mission. And on the eve of the 2021/22 season, which kicks off with a home fixture against Brisbane Roar this weekend, Epakis has bdefore him a new-look squad with a balance of youth and experience from overseas and interstate, coupled with local talent.
“We needed good players but also ones that have a certain level of character, certain values, certain personalities and a level of resilience because of what COVID could bring again,” Epakis said. “We built momentum with early signings. That was a key part of the strategy. I knew other players would look at us and say they wanted to be part of what we were building.”
Glory have made a radical change off-field, signing several players on multi-year deals, a rarity in the Australian women’s game. “We needed to make fundamental changes and think outside the box,” Epakis said. “The W-League has been a circus, every year players moving club to club. We want to invest in a nucleus of players coming from national teams at youth level for two, three, four seasons, to build a foundation for success.”
Epakis said the club has created a good environment for young players leaving home and moving interstate for the first time. “I admire and respect what they’ve done, the decisions they’ve have made at such a young age, but I knew they had the character to do it,” he said. “They were waiting for opportunities, to get out of their comfort zone and embrace the challenge. A lot of these girls are 17, 18 but they are serious about their development.”
Epakis is quietly confident of a successful season. “I’ve got a very clear picture of where I believe Perth Glory can be,” he said. “I don’t want to put a ceiling on what we can achieve this year. We’ll certainly surprise a few people. We won’t surprise ourselves.” Glory women open the new season on Saturday by welcoming Brisbane to Macedonia Park.
MATILDAS HIT BACK TO DRAW WITH WORLD CHAMPIONS
In their final game of 2021, the Matildas were aiming for some revenge against World Champions USA, after their heavy loss in the first game on Saturday. But they had to settle for a 1-1 draw on Tuesday night, in front of a record-breaking crowd of 20,495 at the McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle. The visitors were ahead early again, with Ashley Hatch scoring after only four minutes. They could and should have scored more, but the Matildas rode their luck, and created chances of their own and were rewarded two minutes from time when Kyah Simon saw her shot deflected home.
"Last game we talked about what wins and loses your games and I said, it's going to be in the 18 players," Head Coach Tony Gustavsson reiterated. "Some of the stats tonight was actually not as good as last game, in terms of possession final third entries, box entries. "But we said after that game that it's the conversion rate in and around the box. Last game, their goalkeeper kept them in the game and tonight our goalkeeper [Lydia Williams] kept us in the game.”
"In terms of what changed [since Saturday's game] it was the game-changers we've talked about. It's not just about the starting line-up, it's about the finishing line-up, and the game-changers actually changed the game for us, but also the tactical change to go to double line, as we call it. That had a huge effect positively tonight. The number one thing while we changed the game is to never say die attitude that Ellie (Carpenter) and all the players stand for. That's the DNA of this team and I'm so proud to be part of a team that has this attitude."
Gustavsson made three changes to the side from Saturday, with Lydia Williams, Hayley Raso, Kyra Cooney-Cross coming into the starting line-up, with Teagan Micah and Jessika Nash dropping to the bench with Caitlin Foord missing out. The World Champions were on the front foot early, and Lynn Williams effort was straight at the Matildas custodian. But moments later they found the opening, some neat lead up play ended with Midge Purce, who cut the ball back from the bye-line to Hatch who finished low past Williams.
The Matildas hit back and Casey Murphy denied Tameka Yallop moments later, after being found by a neat Sam Kerr back heel. They went even closer on 21 minutes, Steph Catley’s corner picked out Cooney-Cross, her volley was touched onto the post by the alert Murphy, before Courtney Nevin’s long-range shot failed to find the target. The visitors had chances of their own and Lynn Williams fired wide, before Lydia Williams saved low to deny Margaret Purce. Kerr went close just before half time, but the skipper couldn’t keep her header down from Carpenter’s cross.
Gustavsson’s side opened the second half well and Raso found the lively Kerr, whose shot flashed wide. Rose Lavelle then fired wide, before Lydia came out on top again against Lynn, in the Williams duel, saving low to her right. With time ticking down and the game looking like it was going to end at 1-0, but the Matildas had other ideas. A ball up to Kerr from substitute Clare Wheeler, was well controlled by the skipper, and she lay the ball off to Simon on the edge of the box, and her first time shot deflected off a USA defender and found the bottom corner, much to the delight of the big crowd. But in stoppage time it looked like the USA had won it when Horan fired home, but the assistant’s flag was raised for offside, the game ending 1-1.
"I think for us as a team, the most important thing about a game is the two boxes and we need to be clinical enough in the final third, but then also aim for those clean sheets every game," Ellie Carpenter said post-match. “Obviously, this was a good test against the world number one and we've seen in the last few games that we can't switch off or have lapses in concentration, especially in the final third in our backline. So, I think we just need to tighten that up. The first game we said, this is kind of like a World Cup final, to experience putting that pressure on ourselves. We obviously didn't execute how we wanted to in the first game, but tonight, it was good to get the draw and build our confidence going into the Asian Cup."
Australia 1 (Simon 88’) USA 1 (Hatch 4’)
Australia: GK Lydia WILLIAMS, 3 Courtney NEVIN, 7 Steph CATLEY, 10 Emily VAN EGMOND, 11 Mary FOWLER, 13 Tameka YALLOP (6 Clare WHEELER 85’), 16 Hayley RASO (15 Emily GIELNIK 71’), 17 Kyah SIMON, 19 Kyra COONEY-CROSS (14 Alanna KENNEDY 71’), 20 Sam KERR, 21 Ellie CARPENTER – Subs not used: RGK Teagan MICAH, RGK Mackenzie ARNOLD, 2 Angela BEARD, 5 Karly ROESTBAKKEN, 8 Charlotte GRANT, 22 Bryleeh HENRY, 23 Remy SIEMSEN, 24 Jessika NASH, 25 Charlize RULE
USA: GK Casey MURPHY, 3 Sofia HUERTA (14 Emily SONNETT 87’), 5 Alana COOK, 6 Lynn WILLIAMS (8 Ashley SANCHEZ 83’), 7 Ashley HATCH (13 Morgan WEAVER 70’), 10 Lindsey HORAN, 11 Margaret PURCE (22 Kirstie MEWIS 70’), 12 Tierna DAVIDSON, 16 Rose LAVELLE, 17 Andi SULLIVAN (4 Becky SAUERBRUNN 86’), 23 Emily FOX (19 Imani DORSEY 77’) – Subs not used: RGK Jane CAMPBELL - Referee: Sejin Park
KERR FINISHES THIRD IN BALLON D’OR
Australia captain Samantha Kerr has placed third in the prestigious Ballon d’Or Feminin award, which recognises the world's best female footballer. The 28-year old striker came in behind winner Alexia Putellas and runner-up Jenni Hermosoas, both who play for Barcelona and Spain.
Kerr scored 29 goals in all competitions for Chelsea last season, 21 of those earning her the English Women’s Super League Golden Boot, before netting six times for Australia at the Tokyo Olympic Games. It was the third time she has been nominated for the Ballon d’Or after finishing 5th in 2018 and 7th in 2019.
Putellas helped Barcelona win the Spanish league and cup double before guiding her club to the Champions League title. She ended ther 2020/21 season as the highest-scoring midfielder in Europe with 26 goals and was also named UEFA's Women's Player of the Year and Midfielder of the Year.
Barcelona team-mate Hermoso came second after finding the back of the net 40 times in all competitions to claim a fifth golden boot from the last six league seasons. Kerr took third spot ahead of Dutch pair Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal) and Lieke Martens (Barcelona), who placed fourth and fifth respectively.
The Ballon d’Or Feminin was inaugurated in 2019 when Norwegian international Ada Hegerberg (Olympique Lyonnais) collected the prize. United States star Megan Rapinoe claimed the 2019 honour and last year's ceremony was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
GLORY’S SEASON FURTHER COMPLICATED BY BORDER CHANGE
Perth Glory’s nightmare start to the A-League season has been thrown into further turmoil with West Australia slamming shut the South Australian border following recent COVID-19 cases and the elevated threat of the new Omicron variant overseas. Glory are already criss-crossing the country on a 9000km, four-state, five-game, 33-day road trip but plans have been thrown into disarray by the move.
Glory opened with the controversial 1-0 loss to Western United last Friday and must leave Victoria after games on December 5 and 8 against Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City to allow the 14 days needed to be home for Christmas. They are then due to play Brisbane Roar on December 18 but because the Victoria-Queensland border is currently shut they plan to stay in Adelaide before heading to Brisbane.
They are due to head back to South Australia to play Adelaide on December 23 before arriving home on Christmas Eve. But WA’s move to change the border arrangement with SA to “low risk” now means travel from that state is only permitted for approved, doubled-vaccinated people who complete 14 days of self-quarantine and testing.
Glory chief executive Tony Pignata is in urgent talks with WA police, health authorities and A-League bosses. “It’s a mess. We are juggling a lot of balls at the moment,” Pignata said. “The first thing we have to ensure is getting out of Melbourne in time to get the 14 days out of Victoria to be allowed home for Christmas.”
“The borders between Melbourne and Brisbane are shut until December 17 at the moment so we can’t go there without quarantine. If they open earlier we might be able to go there but we have to leave Melbourne by the 9th of December regardless. We are not sure whether we will miss the Adelaide game, go straight to Brisbane and stay 14 days out of Melbourne if and when that that border is lifted, or do we just go to Adelaide?”
Glory are due to fly to Sydney after Christmas for three games in six days but that plan is now in jeopardy. Premier Mark McGowan said there was uncertainty about the recently-emerged Omicron variant, making it important WA had strong protections in place for States which have relaxed their international borders.
MATILDAS HUMBLED BY USA
Despite the biggest crowd ever to watch the Matildas in Australia, 36,109, Tony Gustavsson side we’re humbled 0-3 by the USA in the first of their friendlies at Stadium Australia in Sydney. It wasn’t the best of starts for the hosts, the visitors hitting the front in the opening sixty seconds, with Ashley Hatch scoring. But missed chances hurt the Matildas and second half goals from Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan secured a comfortable win for the USA.
“We didn’t let it get to us, especially the young ones - they grew into the game,” Gustavsson said post-match. “It can go downhill really quickly if you’re not strong mentally, so I’m really happy with that. “We need depth in the backline and we need to be brave enough to get them into these types of games. I’m not blaming any players and I take all the responsibility for our defending. We’ve tried different formations … but we’ve also done some different type of defending.
“We’re trying to look at defending strategies from our ‘9’ (centre forward) all the way down to our backline. Our defending issues aren’t just about our backline, it’s about co-operation as a team defending. We’re trying to look at how we can get the most out of this team with the players available, so we can still have that attacking mindset. As long as I have the trust to coach this team. I’m going to be very attacking minded. We just need to get better at what we do … that’s what we’re going to do.”
Gustavsson made the gamble of playing two teenagers in the heart of defence against the world champions, starting Courtney Nevin alongside debutant Jessika Nash, and it didn’t start that well. Nash was caught ball watching as Hatch calmly struck the ball past Teagan Micah to put the visitors in front. They went close again four minutes later, Rose Lavelle effort flashing wide.
The Matildas pressed for the equaliser and Kyah Simon shot was saved by Casey Murphy, and Sam Kerr’s follow up flashed wide. The had a gilt-edged opportunity to level on 38 minutes, a cross picked out Simon, but with the goal at her mercy the Tottenham Hotspur striker blazed over the top. So at the break it was the visitors with the lead.
Gustavsson reshuffled his defence in the second half, but it began in much the same way as the first half, with the US scoring a second four minutes after the break. Lavelle finding the net after an excellent run and cut-back from Margaret Purce to double the visitor’s lead. Kerr came close to pulling one back for the Matildas, but her header went straight into the arms of Murphy, the US keeper having a superb debut between the sticks. Horan added a third goal from the spot when the US were awarded a dubious penalty for an innocuous foul by Ellie Carpenter. The Matildas now look ahead to Tuesday night’s second encounter in Newcastle to give a better account of themselves.
“Disappointing not to get the win but I think it’s pretty clear that the clinical moments, what happened in the final third and the back third, they were just clinical with their finishing and we obviously weren’t clinical,” Foord said. “These moments define games. It’s us learning and growing as a team and learning from these mistakes. I guess it’s about finding the best combinations as well because at the end of the day, we have to be solid all over the field and that’s something we are definitely working on and trying to find the best fit and the best structure and team to put out there.”
Australia 0 USA 3 (Hatch 1’, Lavelle 49’, Horan 68’ pen)
Matildas: GK Teagan Micah, 3 Courtney Nevin, 7 Stephanie Catley (2 Angela Beard 81’), 9 Caitlin Foord (23 Remy Siemsen 80’), 10 Emily van Egmond, 11 Mary Fowler (6 Clare Wheeler 81’), 13 Tameka Yallop, 17 Kyah Simon (16 Hayley Raso 46’), 20 Sam Kerr (19 Kyra Cooney-Cross 63’), 21 Ellie Carpenter, 24 Jessika Nash (8 Charlotte Grant 46’) - Subs not used: RGK Lydia Williams, 5 Karly Roestbakken, 25 Charlize Rule
USA: GK Casey Murphy, 5 Alana Cook, 6 Lynn Williams (8 Ashley Sanchez 84’), 7 Ashley Hatch (13 Morgan Weaver 74’), 10 Lindsey Horan, 11 Margaret Purce (15 Bethany Balcer 78’), 12 Tierna Davidson, 14 Emily Sonnett, 16 Rose Lavelle (22 Kristie Mewis 84’), 17 Andi Sullivan (4 Becky Sauerbrunn 84’), 23 Emily Fox (3 Sofia Huerta 46’) – Subs not used: RGK Jane Campbell – Attendance: 36,109 - Referee: Hyeon Jeong Oh
GLORY EDGED OUT BY UNITED
Perth Glory’s first game on their arduous eight-game road trip ended in a 0-1 defeat against Western United at AAMI Park. The only game of the game controversially from substitute Dylan Wenzal-Halls 12 minutes from time, the striker tapping home Connor Pain’s cross, but the ball looked to have crossed the bye line before Pain got his cross away, but after a short VAR check the goal stood, much to the disappointment of Glory coaches and players alike. Glory had chances to take something from the game, but without skipper Brandon O’Neill, Andy Keogh and Daniel Sturridge, they couldn’t take them.
Glory Head Coach Richard Garcia praised his side’s display, but questioned the VAR’s decision to allow United’s goal to stand. “It was a massive step in the right direction,” he said post-match. “There were some very good individual performances, but as a team as well, it was a great performance, especially with some of the young guys coming in and having to fill some roles that they’re not used to. “I thought they were exceptional tonight… we just probably needed to be a bit more patient when we got into their half. I’ve seen the still now [of the cross from Pain for the goal] and I’ve seen that the ball is out. “What do I say to this? We can’t even talk about this anymore, and it’s an ongoing battle and we either fix the system or we don’t use it all because this is continuously happening in games over and over again. At the moment, we don’t seem to be getting the right decisions at the right times.”
The coach also explained the absence from the matchday squad of ex-Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge. “We always had a plan for Daniel to build through,” he said. “Last week was a hello to our fans, but he needs to be able to continue to build his fitness. He’s looking good, but we want to make sure that we have him at the right time. We don’t want to bring him back at the start and then lose him for a long time and we’re trying to do that with a lot of the guys that are coming back from injury or who have been overseas. We’re conscious that we need to make sure we have all our guns firing at the right time.”
It was the visitors for had the first effort on goal, Bruno Fornaroli found Jack Clisby, who shot was deflected wide. Then Alessandro Diamanti tried his luck from long-range, but his audacious lob was claimed by Brad Jones. Glory went close again on the half hour, Daniel Stynes slipping Spanish import Adrian Sardinero in on goal, but United keeper Jamie Young saved his shot with his feet.
Both sides had late chances first United’s Alexandar Prijovic’s low cross was only inches away from former Glory defender Josh Risdon, before in the final minute the best chance of the half fell to Fornaroli. A neat through ball from Sardinero sent the Uruguayan in on goal, but he dragged his shot wide of the target, and at the break it was scoreless.
The game opened up after the break and Jones saved Prijovic’s long-range effort early, before Young got down well at his near post to deny Fornaroli, after being sent clear by Stynes. Risdon then got back to block Fornaroli’s effort on the hour, before Jones saved well to deny second half substitute Wenzal-Halls on 75 minutes. But three minutes later the hosts found the opener, Pain took the ball to the by-line and his low cross hit the far post, the rebound falling to Wenzel-Halls, who scored from close-range. But replays showed the ball was out when Pain crossed, and you have to think why didn’t VAR see that. Glory pressed late looking for a goal that their performance merited, but they were unable to find one. United will face defending champions Melbourne City next week, while Perth remains in Melbourne to face Victory on Sunday.
United midfielder Steven Lustica praised the work of his teammates in securing the Club’s first win of the new Men’s A-League season and said everyone is behind the project and the systems that Aloisi and his coaching staff are implementing. “Great character from the boys to get the result, especially when we didn’t have our best performance. Overall, we’re very happy to get our first win of the season,” he said post-match. “It’s been so positive since the first day he (Aloisi) came in. We’ve worked on our structures, the way he wants us to play, and everyone’s bought into it, everyone’s on board. It will take a bit of time but every game is hard. Every game is going to be a battle and we’ve got to be on top of our game if we want to be up there winning games.”
Western United 1 (Wenzel-Halls 78') Perth Glory 0
Western United: GK Jamie YOUNG, 4 Leo LACROIX, 6 Tomoki IMAI (44 Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY 46'), 8 Lachlan WALES (5 Dylan PIERIAS 71'), 10 Steven LUSTICA, 11 Connor PAIN (27 Jerry SKOTADIS 90+2'), 17 Benjamin GARRUCIO, 19 Josh RISDON, 23 Alessandro DIAMANTI, 88 Neil KILKENNY, 99 Alexandar PRIJOVIC (9 Dylan WENZEL-HALLS 71') - Subs not used: RGK Ryan SCOTT, 26 Nicholas MILANOVIC, 34 Christian THEOHAROUS
Perth Glory: GK Brad JONES, 2 Aaron CALVER (24 Pacifique NIYONGABIRE 46'), 4 Luke BODNAR (22 Josh RAWLINS 79'), 5 Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 7 Adrian SARDINERO (38 Ciaran BRAMWELL 46'), 8 Kosuke OTA, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI, 14 Jack CLISBY, 18 Daniel STYNES, 21 Antonee BURKE-GILROY, 29 Darryl LACHMAN - Subs not used: RGK Cameron COOK, 26 Giordano COLLI, 32 Aidan COYNE, 41 Chris DONNELL - Referee: Jonathan Barreiro
INJURY KEEPS WILLIAMS SIDELINED AT COVID-STRICKEN OXFORD
Ryan Williams is expected to miss Oxford United's weekend game with his former club Rotherham United due to injury. The winger injured his thigh in last weekend’s FA Cup loss to Bristol Rovers and failed a fitness test before the mid-week win over Fleetwood Town.
Williams’ absence will be a blow for Oxford, who have seven players in isolation after returning positive tests for COVID-19. That has left coach Karl Robinson with just 13 senior outfield players available for the clash with League One leaders Rotherham.
Oxford are particularly light in defence, where Williams has already featured at right back this season. “He got a knock on his thigh, he’s struggling,” said Robinson. “He’ll be a big miss for us because he’s almost our only other defensive cover. He can play right or left back ... it really limits the opportunities we have with that defensive cover.”
GLORY HIT THE ROAD AND FIRST UP WESTERN UNITED
Perth Glory hit the road this weekend, when they begin eight consecutive games away from home, when they take on Western United in week two of the Isuzu Ute Men’s A-League at AAMI Park. (kick-off at 4.45pm WST). Richard Garcia’s side started their season with a 1-1 draw against Adelaide United last week at a packed HBF Park, but it will be the last time the home faithful will see them for a while.
Head Coach Richard Garcia said they have to embrace the situation and get on with it, and he has been encouraged by his squad’s physical and mental response to Saturday’s opening-round draw, and he believes they will be fired up and desperate to claim all three points. “I think the guys felt a bit undercooked at the first game and started slowly,” he said.
“But you can tell that they want to come into this period with the mentality that we want to win every game. The guys are even more hungry, especially after almost taking the game out at the weekend. I think they felt hard done by that they didn’t take all three points at home. The mentality has been fantastic in the week, the training has been good and now it’s about us going out there and doing it on Friday night.”
The coach went on to confirm that Andy Keogh has been sidelined by the calf injury which forced him off against Adelaide, but that we can expect to see more of new signings Daniel Sturridge and Adrian Sardinero in Friday’s game. “We’ve got to be ready to build Daniel up and make sure that he’s ready to play a full game,” he said. “That’s going to be done in the coming games, so we’ll give him a bit more time come Friday and then build up from there.
“We’ve got an opportunity to be able to train a little bit more while we’re over here, so that’s going to be a great opportunity for us to get even more fitness into him and get him to a point where he can participate more and more every week. With Andy probably missing these three games in Melbourne, it opens up our thinking of how we want to play and opportunities for Adrian to come in. “I thought he was fantastic when he came on last weekend. He’s another one who’s slowly building and in the short time that he played last week, he showed glimpses of his quality and we’re expecting more of that come Friday.
“He’ll take a more active role in the team and will slowly build up on the same path as Daniel. Daniel Stynes [also] did very well when he came on the other day and made a real push for a starting spot. The squad at the moment, with the injuries that we’ve got, is pretty self-explanatory, but the good thing is we still have guys pushing for starting spots.”
Jon Aloisi’s men began their 2021/22 campaign with a narrow defeat at the hands of Melbourne Victory in Geelong last weekend, and on Friday Neil Kilkenny will come up against Glory for the first time as an ex-Perth player. Kilkenny played two and a half seasons at the Glory, registering 12 goals and 19 assists in his time across A-League and Asian Champions League matches.
But now in Green and Black he will come up against some familiar faces on Friday, but he took an opportunity to reflect on his time in Western Australia. “I got on with all the lads there. The boys were a good group of boys,” he said. “It was an unfortunate season last year which was frustrating, but obviously my first two seasons there were fantastic. To be part of most successful season in our history was an honour.” Kilkenny said he built a “fantastic rapport” with the fans at HBF Park, but all his focus is now on Western United and finding a way to take three points off his old employers.
DE VANNA HEADS HOME FOR MORE GLORY
After a year of controversy, former Matilda’s striker Lisa De Vanna has put retirement on hold after heading back to Perth Glory for the new Women’s A-League season. The 37-year-old spoke out recently about her alleged sexual harassment, abuse and bullying during her Matildas career and said she would walk away from the game, but De Vanna, who has had two spells at her home club, has had a change of heart after training with Alex Epakis’ side recently.
De Vanna, a Perth local is the second most-capped Matildas player of all time having made 150 international appearances, during which she scored 47 goals. She had two previous spells with Glory, in 2008-09 and 2012-13 and played for a number of clubs around the world including Sky Blue FC, Orlando Pride and Washington Spirit in the USA, Fiorentina in Italy and AIK and Linkoping in Sweden.
Also on her glittering resume are W-League Championship titles with Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City, Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar. De Vanna is now looking forward to writing a new chapter in her remarkable career with a club that has always remained close to her heart. "I only very recently decided to get back on board," she told the Glory website. “Alex has created a safe, supportive environment and Tony Sage showed me great respect by going out of his way to meet me in person, which I really appreciated and am grateful for.
"Alex has put no pressure or expectation on me; just for me to fall in love with the game again. I started my career here and now I want to give back to the family, friends and fans who have supported me all the way along my football journey. I’m focused on being a good influence on the young players and helping bring the best out of them, and that was a real game-changer for me. A winning mentality never dies and that’s why I’m committed to doing everything I can to bring a first ever Championship to my hometown club."
Epakis, said he is delighted that De Vanna will be donning the famous purple once again this season. "Lisa is a proud West Australian and I know she is valuing the opportunity to represent her hometown club as part of what is shaping up to be a very dynamic and exciting squad to work with," he said. "She has a proven track record at every level of the game, is extremely motivated to succeed on a team level and will provide even further x-factor to our attack.
"Lisa has been involved with the team for over a month now, has fitted in extremely well into our environment and culture and is focused on working hard to ensure the team has a competitive campaign. I look forward to coaching her this season and am eager to see her combine with the other fantastic players we currently have in the team." Glory’s A-League Women season gets underway on Saturday 4 December with a home game against Brisbane Roar.
KEOGH OUT FOR THE NEXT GAMES
Perth Glory have been dealt a blow on the eve of a month-long, A-League road-trip with key forward Andy Keogh rule out of action for at least three matches. The striker will miss Friday’s game at Western United and the following clashes with Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City due to a calf injury suffered in last weekend's home draw with Adelaide United.
Coach Richard Garcia revealed Keogh had been struggling with the injury for some time. “It was something that had been playing at him for a few weeks and slowly started to deteriorate,” Garcia said. “It’s minor but it’s not worth him coming on the trip. We’re hoping he comes back to fitness to possibly take part in the last two games of the tour.”
Garcia does not expect many changes without Keogh but star signing Daniel Sturridge is likely to get a more game time than the nine minutes he played last Saturday. “It’s a slow build, we’ve got to build Daniel up and make sure he’s capable of playing a full game,” Garcia said. “We’ll give him a bit more time come Friday and then build up from there.”
Spanish import Adrian Sardinero and local talent Daniel Stynes, who both came off the bench against Adelaide, can also expect more minutes. “It (Keogh’s loss) opens up our thinking on how we want to play,” Garcia said. “Adrian was fantastic when he came on. He’s another one who is slowly building ... Daniel Stynes did very well when he came on and made a real push for a starting spot.”
Garcia said it was crucial to get early away points. “If you do well on the road you’ve got a fantastic opportunity to win the league,” he said. “That’s something we’ve been focusing on since we’ve been made aware of the fixtures. We want to start this run of games with the right mentality and mindset. The guys are in a great state of mind.”
Garcia was full of prise for the young side beaten on penalties in the FFA Cup qualifying game by a strong Melbourne Victory. “I thought they were fantastic. They really stepped up,” he said. “They seemed to be a lot more mature than the average age of about 18, and we had guys that are 16 come off the bench. That’s a fantastic thing for the club.”
PENALTY HEARTBREAK FOR GLORY YOUNGSTERS IN FFA CUP
A young Perth Glory side have been edged out of the FFA Cup after losing 4-3 in a penalty shoot-out against an experienced Melbourne Victory side in the Play-Off at Marden Sports Complex in Adelaide on Wednesday evening. Forced to play the game in Adelaide due to border restrictions, and Victory refusing to travel to Perth, the youngsters, all who played for the clubs NPLWA side last season, conceded in the first minute with Lleyton Brooks scoring a long-range strike. But Glory rallied and Josh Anasmo levelled on the half hour, and the youngsters, with an average age of just 18, dominated for large periods but couldn’t find the winner, and missed twice in the shoot-out to bow out.
Nonetheless, there was plenty to like about a spirited Glory performance which saw them go toe-to-toe with a significantly more experienced Victory outfit, with many players giving head coach Richard Garcia some food for thought. They couldn’t have made a worse start, with Victory, coached by former Glory coach Tony Popovic, scoring after 36 seconds, a shot on the run by Brooks dipped over the head of Cameron Cook.
But Glory grew into the game and were rewarded when Anasmo bundled home Giordano Colli’s free kick, after seeing his initial header parried by former Glory keeper Jerrad Tyson in the Victory goal. Moments later former Socceroo Robbie Kruse headed over the top when well placed, before Tyler Vecchio fired wide after good work by Adam Zimarino. Then just before half time Vecchio tried his luck from long-range, his shot whistled just wide of the post with Tyson scrambling, but at the break it was 1-1.
After the break, it was Victory who opened the better and New Zealand international Marcos Rojas fired over the top when well-placed early. The lively Joseph Forde then saw and effort whistle wide for Glory, before Cook got down well to deny Victory substitute Nishan Velupillay. Forde had a chance to win it deep into injury time, but his shot on the run was straight at Tyson, so it was off to extra time. Clear cut chances were few and far between in extra time, with fatigue understandably starting to creep in.
The best chance fell to Victory, but Cook was forced to make a fine save to deny Velupillay, however it would be penalties to determine the winner in this one. Ciaran Bramwell and Chris Donnell found the net with the first two spot kicks, but Aiden Coyne saw the third saved by Tyson. Tyson then missed his spot kick to bring the sides level again, and Josh Rawlins scored the fourth. But Colli saw his well saved by Tyson, to seal the tie for Victory, who will face Adelaide City at the same venue next week.
"It was a really good effort from all the boys, obviously going into the game as heavy underdogs and with such a young squad, and going down early didn’t help us, but the boys showed great character to stick together and get back on level terms and go on top for periods in the first half," Glory midfielder Chris Donnell said. "It’s always a cruel way to go out on penalties, but I think we can all be proud of ourselves and each other for the performance we put in."
Perth Glory: GK Cameron COOK, 26 Giordano COLLI, 32 Aidan COYNE, 35 Will FORMSTON, 36 Joseph FORDE, 37 Jacob MUIR (2 Judd MCDOUGALL 97'), 41 Chris DONNELL, 42 Josh ANASMO (39 Matthew GEORGE 76'), 43 Adam ZIMARINO (38 Ciaran BRAMWELL 97'), 45 Aidan EDWARDS (49 Jayden LEADER 97'), 47 Tyler VECCHIO (22 Josh RAWLINS 66') - Subs not used: RGK Sam REILLY
Melbourne Victory: GK Jerrad TYSON, 9 Francesco MARGIOTTA (24 Nishan VELUPILLAY 68'), 10 Robbie KRUSE (32 William WILSON 68'), 13 Birkan KIRDAR, 14 Jay BARNETT, 15 Aaron ANDERSON, 16 Stefan NIGRO, 23 Marco ROJAS (25 Luis-Lawrie LATTANZIO 68'), 26 Lleyton BROOKS (33 Ryan LETHLEAN 89'), 27 Zaydan BELLO, 37 Edmond LUPANCU - Subs not used: RGK Marko BULIC - Referee: Daniel Elder
GRANT DENIED AS AL-HILAL LIFT ASIAN TITLE
Alex Grant has finished on the losing side in the Asian Champions League final after Pohang Steelers were beaten 2-0 by Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal. Herd's club were clear underdogs, missing key players and forced to play the final in front of around 50,000 opposition fans in Riyadh.
Pohang's challenge quickly became even harder when they conceded after just 16 seconds, Nasser Al-Dawsari unleashing a fierce shot from outside the area. "When you concede a goal that early in the game, you are always going to be against it," Grant said.
After that early shock Pohang settled and nearly levelled 10 minutes later when midfielder Sin Jin-ho hit the bar from range. But Al-Hilal controlled most of the game and secured the trophy on 63 minutes when Moussa Marega scored after being released by Gomis.
Pohang rarely looked like finding their way back into the game as Al Hilal clinched a record fourth Ascian Champions League title. "They were the better team," commented Grant. "We knew coming into the game that it was going to be tough as they have great quality players."
KERR NOMINATED FOR FIFA PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Former Perth Glory skipper Sam Kerr has been short listed for the 2021 FIFA Player of the Year, as the striker continues to find the net for English Women’s Super League club Chelsea. In her last match the Matildas striker bagged a first half hat trick as the Blues beat Birmingham City 5-0 at Kingsmeadow to move within one point of league leaders Arsenal, while Birmingham City remain winless. Chelsea will face Arsenal in the FA Women's Cup final next month.
Kerr first found the net on 18 minutes, before added a second on the half hour. She then nodded in a simple header for third in the final minute of the half, to take her tally to 23 goals across the WSL calendar year. The 28-year-old celebrated her third goal with a trademark backflip and she said the team are enjoying their football at the moment. “I'm really enjoying it. It shows in the way we're playing, we're all playing with a smile on our faces,” she said. "Scoring a lot of goals is always fun... it's an amazing club and an amazing team. I'm enjoying it a lot."
She also confirmed her backflip celebration was requested by her teammates, who had been giving her "stick" for not celebrating enough. "I haven't [been practising the backflip]," she added. "The girls have been giving me stick, saying I don't celebrate that I hadn't done the backflip since however long ago. The girls always give me stick that I haven't [backflipped] at Kingsmeadow, so I thought I would bring it out."
Meanwhile it's the fifth-straight year Kerr will be considered for the FIFA Player of the Year, and it comes just days after Kerr signed a contract extension with English giants Chelsea, which will keep her at the club until 2024. She won last year's golden boot in the Women's Super League, scoring 21 times in 22 appearances. Kerr in 2020 finished seventh in the voting for Best FIFA Women's Player award with 20 points, in what was the closest she has ever come to taking out the honour.
Other nominees in Kerr's category include four players from Barcelona's historic treble-winning team (Aitana Bonmati, Caroline Graham Hansen, Jenni Hermoso and Alexia Putellas), two from Manchester City (last year's winner Lucy Bronze and Ellen White), and one each from Swedish Champions BK Häcken (Stina Blackstenius), the NWSL's Portland Thorns (Christine Sinclair), and Arsenal (Vivianne Miedema).
RADINOVIC WINS PERTH SC FAIREST AND BEST
Perth Soccer Club won their 24th Premier League title last season, and they will go into 2022 with a new man at the helm, after Marc Wingell replaced Ramon Falzon. But before they head into the new season they celebrated their title at the club’s presentation night, and it was skipper Bojan Radinovic who took out the Fairest and Best. The defender had an outstanding season and he finished ahead of midfielder Calvin Whitney, who recently won the Football West Gold Medal as best player in the NPLWA. Wingell said Radinovic improved each week and played a major role in the club’s success.
“Bojan had a great season for us, and he continued to improve over the season, and he played a huge part of the club’s success,” Wingell explained. “We had a few long-term injuries early in the season and we brought some of the younger players into the squad and they never let us down, but the likes of Bojan, Ryan Montgomery and Calvin led from the front to help the youngsters settle in the side.”
One of those youngsters was Lachlan Byrd who won the Robert Giorgi Memorial Award on the night, the defender didn’t look out of place, and Wingell said he grew in to the role. “Like I said we did have injuries and we brought Lachlan into the squad to cover, and he showed straight away he could play at this level,” he said. “He had his ups and downs during the season, like all youngsters do, but overall, he had an outstanding debut season in the senior side. It’s a shame he is moving on to Dandenong Thunder in the NPL Victoria, but we wish him all the best in the future, and he knows he is always welcome back at the Gardens anytime.”
In other awards on the night Carl Morgan won the Under 20s Fairest and Best, ahead of keeper Adrian Sinagra. In the under 18s Zayn Bukhari won the Fairest and Best, ahead of Cody Tana, while Daniel Zivkovic won the Youth Development Award. Zoee Spadano won the Fairest and Best in the Women’s first team ahead of Nadia Harvey, while Safyr Iriks won the under 23s Fairest and Best, ahead of Katie Ritchie. Finally, congratulations to club photographer Rob Lizzi who won the Peter Giorgi Club Person of the Year Award.
NPL CLUB AWARDS WRAP
All NPLWA clubs have wrapped up their season, with most of them holding their Presentation/Awards night’s recently, and we give you a wrap of all the rest of the club’s award winners. First at Balcatta it was Jon Corness who won their Most Valuable Player Award ahead of Jack Leech, and the midfielder said it was an honour. “I'm very proud to win the award in a very challenging season,” he said. “There was lots of ups and downs but when things got tough, we managed to do what was needed to stay up. We’re looking forward, the team will be eager to have a more successful season in 2022, and that starts with a lot of hard work in pre-season.”
In other awards at the club Nick Walsh won the Coaches Award, while Calum O’Connell won the Club Captain Award. There were joint winners of the under 20s Most Valuable Player Award, with Michael Scafetta and Luke Alessandrino sharing the top honour, with Nicholas Burmei taking the runners up, while Coby Sutton won the Coaches Award. In the 18s Joshua Bosevski won the Most Valuable Player Award, ahead of Ben Ford, Sean Paterson won the Coaches Award. Scafetta capped off a good season by being awarded the Luke Beyer Rising Young Star Award.
At Cockburn City it was Ali Gholami who won the Fairest and Best Award ahead of Jesse Lazzaro. Gholami also won the Players Player, while Daniel Robinson was the top goalscorer. In the under 20s it was Callan Baker who won the Fairest and Best Award, with Alex Basto the runner-up. Baker was also voted the Players Player, while Michael Lino was the top goalscorer. In the 18s Ben Henley won the Fairest and Best, ahead of Anton Guarino, while Luke Caceres won the Players Player, with James Toth the top goalscorer. Finally, the Jacob Richards Memorial Award was won by Sam Cook.
Inglewood United striker Steve Sokol swept the board at their awards night, winning the Fairest and Best Award, ahead Robert Petkov, and he also won the Players Player and top goalscorer, while Ajak Riak won the Rising Star Award. “It was well deserved, Steve put in a lot of hard work on his own and in training,” Inglewood Head Coach Andres Oliveira said. “You could see the talent just needed to be more consistent, which he raised to the challenge over the season.” In other awards Darko Ristoski won the 20s Fairest and Best Award, ahead of Liam Alderson, and Ristoski also won the Players Player, with Toby Robertson taking out the Golden Boot. In the 18s Gordon Perkins also swept the field, winning the Fairest and Best, ahead of Daniel Radeski, and the Players Player and Golden Boot.
At Sorrento it was Dean Cummings who won the clubs Best Player Award, ahead of Jordan Brown. Scott Witschge won the Golden Boot, while Jordan Pokler was awarded the Most influential Goal/Save of the Season. “Obviously happy to receive a personal award but overall disappointed we never won anything after being written off at the start of the season,” Cummings explained. “We have a decent squad of players now so hopefully we add another couple and build on last season and go one better and win something.”
In other awards at Percy Doyle Reserve Ethan Banks won the 20s Best Player Award, with Thro Gilsenan the runner-up, while Banks also won the Golden Boot. In the 18s it was Nial McKeon who won the Best Player Award, ahead of Zech Dabbs, with Phoenix Lee winning the Golden Boot. Finally, Victor and Gil Guidicatti won the Club Persons of the Year.
At Rockingham City it was Feisal Zaw who the Fairest and Best Award, Hamish Van Dieken won the Players Player, while Harry Bolan won the Coaches Award. Van Dieken also won the Outstanding Senior Player of the year (The Mike Tetlow Award) while Robbie Duckmanton won the Golden Boot. Eli Holdsworth won the 20s Fairest and Best Award, with Luke Trower winning the Players Player and Roy O’Neil winning the Coaches Award. In the 18s Dylan Bale won the Fairest and Best, Jack de Groot the Players Player, with Jack Corp winning the Coaches award. Unfortunately, we didn’t receive conformation of the Floreat Athena award winners, while ECU Joondalup have cancelled their awards night with their striker Danny Hodgson still in a critical condition hospital.
YOUTHFUL GLORY TO TAKE ON VICTORY IN FFA CUP
Perth Glory start their FFA Cup campaign on Wednesday evening when they travel to Adelaide to take on former Coach Tony Popovic’s Melbourne Victory. The game was scheduled for Perth, but with covid restrictions it was switched to the Marden Sports Complex, and with Glory in Isuzu Ute A-League action on Friday against Western United, the club will send a youthful side for the tie.
Glory Head Coach Richard Garcia is looking forward to seeing how they acquit themselves, as a number of the PGFC Academy First Team will get an opportunity to impress. “It’s going to be hard juggle between this game and our A-League game against Western United which, taking into account the time difference, is less than 48 hours later,” he told the Glory website.
“There are going to be at least four or five players that will play in Adelaide and then have to back up on the bench in Melbourne as well. It’s not a great situation and we’ve got quite a few injuries to contend with as well. We have five or six players out who are potential first-team candidates and we had Andy Keogh picking a knock up at the weekend as well.
“But the flip side is that these games provide a massive opportunity for some of our younger players to play at the next level and see where they’re at. Giving youngsters that opportunity is something we are firmly committed to as a club and it will be exciting to see how those players adapt to the challenges that they’ll face on both Wednesday and in some cases, Friday as well.”
Victory Coach Popovic also stressed the importance of managing his players throughout the coming weeks, especially after a pre-season that had no competitive action, due to border restrictions delaying the FFA Cup match. "We have five players that had played 60 minutes in a match prior to today," he said. Whether they can back up Wednesday and then back up again on the weekend, I doubt.
"We'll have to see who pulls up well tomorrow at training, we've got recovery tomorrow. We'll train Monday and Tuesday before we decide who will travel. But I'd like to think that a lot of the young players will get an opportunity on Wednesday. "What I'd like to see is that we take confidence from today into that match and the young players amongst the senior players can show their worth."
The last time Glory played Victory in this competition was in 2018 when the visitors ran out 1-0 winners at Dorrien Gardens, with Popovic in the Glory dugout. The game can be seen on 10Play, and on the FFA YouTube channel, with kick-off at 5pm WST (7.03pm Local Time).
GLORY HOPING FOR MORE ‘FULL HOUSE’ SIGNS
Perth Glory hope to put out more ‘full house’ signs after fans flocked to Perth Oval for the weekend's 1-1 draw with Adelaide United. The crowd of 17,198 fell just short of Glory’s all-time record regular season attendance of 18,067 for the National Soccer League game against South Melbourne in November 1998 at the same venue.
Glory need to sell 7000 match-day tickets to top up 7000 members and corporates to break even. They struggled in the last two COVID-hit seasons, averaging just 4777 last year and 7716 in 2019/20. They notched a 13,700 average in their 2018/19 premiership season, boosted by 56,371 at the Optus Stadium Grand Final.
Chief executive Tony Pignata was pleased with the crowd and is now hoping for more. “It’s the first time for a long time that we can say we made a profit,” Pignata said. “It was fantastic. The noise was unbelievable, the atmosphere was electric. That’s what we want to see each week.”
Glory now face the task of getting fans back with the next home game not scheduled until mid-January after eight away matches. “It is tough but Saturday shows the supporters are there,” Pignata said. “We want them to come back week-in-week-out so we can be the biggest-supported club in the A-League.”
YOUTH TO BE GIVEN A CHANCE IN FFA CUP
Perth Glory will be stretched to breaking point this week, playing two games in three days. Coach Richard Garcia must juggle sides to play in Wednesday's FFA Cup qualifier against Melbourne Victory in Adelaide and the A-League clash two days later against Western United in Melbourne.
Garcia's squad is already battered, with several players injured and others on restricted game time. He is committed to sending a second-string side to Adelaide with those first teamers making the that trip expected to be given limited minutes so they can be on the bench in Melbourne.
“There won’t be many senior players, if any, going to Adelaide,” said Garcia, who has prioritised league football over the knock-out Cup. “It’s more about us preparing for Friday. It’s pretty tough, we are a little thin at the moment. It’s a balancing act.”
Striker Andy Keogh has joined the injured list which also features Osama Malik, Callum Timmins and Carlo Armiento. Daniel Sturridge and Adrian Sardinero will have limited minutes after quarantine while captain Brandon O’Neill will not fly to Melbourne with his wife expecting a baby.
FORNAROLI EAGER TO FORGE PARTNERSHIP WITH STURRIDGE
Perth Glory striker Bruno Fornaroli hopes he can form a special partnership with Daniel Sturridge when the pair finally get on the park together. The former Liverpool star trained with the team for the first time last Monday, and was limited to a 9-minute cameo in the weekend draw with Adelaide United.
Sturridge replaced Fornaroli late in the game and he won't be handed a start any time soon as the club attempts to slowly build up his training loads. It means It means Sturridge and Fornaroli will have to bide their time before being able to play significant game time together.
"The opportunity will come," Fornaroli said. "It's always great to play with the good players. Everyone knows him and knows his abilities and what he can give for us. I'm excited, I can't wait. You can feel the connection straight away when he has the ball."
Fornaroli started the season in fine fashion, scoring with a 30-yard thunderbolt in the first half against Adelaide. Glory will now embark on an arduous stretch of up to nine consecutive away games if the club is unsuccessful in its attempt of switching two of those to Perth in early January.
The road trip begins with an FFA Cup match against Melbourne Victory in Adelaide on Wednesday, before Glory takes on Western United in Melbourne on Friday. The club will send a second-string squad to Adelaide for the FFA Cup clash so that their first-choice team will be fresh for the weekend's A-League Mens fixture.
O’NEILL SAYS A-LEAGUE PLAYERS ‘VERY, VERY LUCKY’
There's no doubt it has been a rough 18 months for Perth Glory captain Brandon O'Neill. The midfielder was in Korea when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and struggled for regular game-time at the end of 2020 at Pohang before making a switch to Thailand with Buriram United.
While that was going on his father Myles was battling lung cancer, before sadly passing away in June this year. With the death of his father and expecting a baby on the way with his wife, the 27-year old decided the time was right to return to his hometown and his hometown team.
With the new A-League season kicking off, O'Neill is happy to be back where he made his first-team debut in 2012. "It’s good to be home. I haven’t had that feeling in a while, even in Sydney," he said. "To be able to come home, buy our family home, start moving things into where we see our future being – it’s pretty cool."
"Obviously, to be back playing for my hometown club, it was a decision that just felt right. It’s been well-publicised what my family and everyone close to me has been through, also my wife is expecting our first bub, and someone somewhere was pointing me in the direction of coming back home and settling here in Perth."
O'Neill says his family's loss and being away overseas has "put things into perspective". "In life you have to make decisions based on feel, and whatever feels right I back myself into," the one-time ECU Joondalup junior admitted. "It came to a point in Asia where there was a lot going on, both football-wise and obviously in our family life."
"And it just came to a point where we thought look lets make a decision that’s going to make sure we’re happy for our future looking forward, but also address how we’re feeling at the minute. To be at this stage now I know me 'Da' would be very proud, and I know I’ve made the right decision because every morning I’m waking up as happy as Larry."
O'Neill has no regrets about his time in Asia, heading north at the start of last year after five trophy-laden seasons with Sydney FC. "I loved it, I absolutely loved learning and the experience over there," he said. "I got to experience and grow so much as a person."
"As a footballer growing up in Australia we are very, very lucky and when we go overseas we really see the cut-throat nature of life as a footballer, and what it takes in these ruthless countries to be there, to succeed and do it year in, year out."
Now back in WA, O'Neill is excited about his future and what Perth Glory can achieve in the years ahead. Glory have never won an A-League title and the club is yearning for success, yearning for its National Soccer League days when it was a powerhouse of Australian football. "That’s the magical question, everyone wants to be a powerhouse," O'Neill said.
"What separates sustained success and a very good footballing club is you have a process-driven approach to your day to day, your week to week and your month to month. I think the outcome will always be there. If you focus on the process, rather than the outcome, that’s where you find fulfilment. That’s the journey that we’re on."
O'Neill earned his first and only Socceroo cap in 2019 and adding to that tally is another of his goals. "That’s one of the main decisions really why I needed to sit down with my wife and make this decision moving forward, as in order to get the best out of myself I need to be the best person I can be," he said.
"Being at home I have no doubt I can channel everything I need and more to be the best footballer I can be. I’ve had a little taste of it, and by jeez I want more. Throughout this year and next year it would be an absolute honour to represent my country again, but that’s out of my hands. All I can do is make sure I’m ready if and when that time comes."
BIRIGHITTI TIPS CENTRAL COAST TO PUSH FOR A-LEAGUE TITLE
Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Mark Birighitti expects his team to pick up where they left off last season as they travel to take on Newcastle Jets in their A-League Men season opener. Central Coast finished third in 2020/21, ending a seven-year finals drought after claiming the wooden spoon the year prior.
Birighitti hopes the standard set under departed manager Alen Stajcic will be continued under new boss Nick Montgomery from the get-go in today's F3 derby. "The boys are raring to go and what a game - a derby in Newcastle against my old mob," Birighitti said of the club he played for between 2012 and 2016.
"The boys are confident and really looking forward to getting going again. I harped on a little bit about last season, and that was a fantastic year. But that's forgotten about now, that's the benchmark we've set. We need to do better, we're pushing for finals football again and if not winning the competition."
Montgomery has looked to stamp his mark on Central Coast by bringing in Frenchman Beni Nkololo, former Tottenham youngster Cy Goddard and Brazilian striker Moresche, all of whom played in last week's FFA Cup win over Blacktown.
GLORY ORIGINALS CELEBRATE CLUB’S MILESTONE
Twenty five years ago a bunch of footballers carved their names in West Australian sporting history when Perth Glory made their debut in the National Soccer League. They went down down 4-1 to powerful UTS Olympic in front of a huge 9639 crowd at Perth Oval but brought a new dawn for the game.
On the eve of Glory’s 25th anniversary season kick-off against Adelaide United at HBF Park on Saturday “The Originals” were back together for a reunion. The side was captained by Gareth Naven and coached by Gary Marocchi who said they were proud to be part of WA sporting folklore. “We were part of history,” Marocchi said.
“Everyone was working virtually full-time. They were training four nights a week and then travelling interstate. “They sacrificed a lot for the club to be where it is today. We went from local games with a couple of hundred spectators to 5-6000 people. At one game there was just under 18,000. “It was something never seen before in Perth.”
Glory’s historic first goal was scored in the 89th minute by Alan MacKenzie but Marocchi said the result was not a true reflection of the game. “We got beaten but it was a lot closer than 4-1 suggests,” said the former Socceroos captain. “It wasn’t a true reflection of the game. We should have scored a couple more.”
Glory needed victory in their last game of the season against Melbourne Knights to make the finals but lost and finished seventh. “Most pundits thought we would finish last in the first year,” Marocchi said. “They thought WA was the minnows of the game in this country. We changed that.”
Naven, who captained Glory from inception through to 2002 and along the way made 143 appearances for the club, said it was an era that transformed WA football. “Really good times, the atmosphere, the passion, the commitment,” he said. “It was a time that transformed everything in regards to football, culture, diversity and inclusion.”
“It was about making everyone proud. As players we couldn’t have had the opportunity to represent WA in the first national competition without everyone being involved, the supporters, our families, the whole state.”
Striker Bobby Despotovski, four times club Most Glorious Player, inaugural Johnny Warren medallist and leading scorer with 13 goals in the first season, had returned home from Melbourne club Heidelberg United. He has mixed emotions about that first game after missing a penalty and hitting the crossbar when the side was 1-0 down.
“The massive crowd took us by surprise. We didn’t know what to expect,” Despotovski said. “But we never looked back and now 25 years later here we are. Not many people in the Eastern States liked us back then. It was a revolution for soccer in Australia. We put the Eastern States to shame in so many respects.”
The Perth Glory XI that played IUTS Olympic in their first ever national league game was Tommy Maras, Doug Ithier, Gareth Naven, Gavin Wilkinson (Dale Wingell 67), Vinko Buljubasic, Paul McVittie, Paul Strudwick (Vladimir Beretovac 70), Slobodan Despotovski, Alan MacKenzie, Scott Miller, Craig Naven. The coaching team were Gary Marocchi and Mickey Brennan.
GLORY SETTLE FOR A POINT IN SEASON OPENER
Perth Glory had to settle for a draw in the first Isuzu Ute A-League game of the season after an entertaining 1-1 draw with Adelaide United at a packed HBF Park on Saturday evening. The sold-out stickers were out before the game with the limit at the ground capped at 18,000, but they fell silent when Kusini Yengi gave the visitors the lead midway through the first half, before Bruno Fornaroli levelled with a stunner just before half time. Glory had the better chances after the break, while both sides had goals disallowed, but they had to share the spoils.
“It was a difficult game and we looked like a team who hadn’t had a competitive game since last season,” Glory Head Coach Richard Garcia said post-match. “But they worked their way into it. I thought that they were a bit nervy at the start, probably a bit apprehensive about not having had a competitive game, but I thought they grew fantastically and towards the end of the first half, started to find their feet. I thought it was a fantastic effort tonight and a step in the right direction.”
Garcia had seven players in the squad making their debuts, with Brad Jones, Antonee Burke-Gilroy, Pacifique Niyongabire all starting, Jack Clisby and Brandon O’Neill made a return to their former club, with O’Neill skippered his hometown club for the first time. While on the bench they had former England and Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, Aaron Calver and Spanish import Adrian Sardinero.
The visitors opened brightly and went close on six minutes, Stefan Mauk’s header from Josh Cavallo’s free kick flashing wide of the post. Moments later they were almost handed the lead when Jones delayed a clearance, the ball deflected straight to Yengi, who should have done better from close-range. It was one-way traffic as Adelaide pressed for the opener, and they went within inches of that on 17 minutes, Ryan Kitto’s shot smacking the post.
But on 23 minutes they did find the opener. Ben Halloran eased past Kosuke Ota, before squaring the ball to Yengi, who finished clinically past Jones. Glory players were left furious after believing Halloran had bowled over Ota in the lead-up, but after a VAR check the goal stood. That seemed to lift the home side and the lively Burke-Gilroy’s effort brought the best out of Adelaide custodian James Delianov.
Then on 34 minutes there was a minute’s applause in the ground in memory of lifelong Glory fan Sam Peters who sadly passed away earlier this year aged just 34. R.I.P. Sam - gone but never forgotten. But five minutes from the break Glory levelled, and what a strike it was. Luke Bodnar found Fornaroli just inside the Adelaide half, the Uruguayan raced forward and had Andy Keogh and Niyongabire with him, but he didn’t need them firing home a screamer from 25-yards, going in off the post.
Adelaide had the ball in the net early in the second half, but referee Adam Kersey had already blown for a foul on Clisby. Then on 55 minutes the home faithful thought they had the lead when Burke-Gilroy finished low past Delianov, but Fornaroli was ruled offside marginally by VAR, a decision that took an age, but ultimately denied the young defender a goal on debut. The visitors weren’t out of this one and Jones had to produce a stunning save low to his right on the hour to deny Adelaide substitute Craig Goodwin.
Burke-Gilroy was a constant threat all night and his low cross was turned goal wards by Fornaroli, but Delianov got down well to save. Moments later Burke-Gilroy was in again, this time cutting in from the right, but his effort flew wide. The biggest cheer of the night from the 17,198 came five minutes from time, when Sturridge was introduced, but he didn’t have enough time to lift Glory to victory, and at the final whistle the points were shared.
“We’re disappointed to come away with a point,” Adelaide Head Coach Veart said post-match. “I thought our boys were tremendous tonight. The style of football they played is what we want. We just couldn’t get the ball in the net – we did everything but that. We created some great opportunities and pretty much had control of the game for large parts of the game. Coming to Perth it’s a very difficult place to come to, especially with the crowd that they had here tonight. So full credit to our boys, they worked extremely hard and very proud of them.”
In the other games this round, Champions Melbourne City opened their campaign with a 2-1 win against Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park on Friday night. Curtis Good gave them the lead five minutes before half time, and Connor Metcalfe doubled their advantage three minutes later. Luke Ivanovic pulled one back for the visitors 19 minutes from time, but they couldn’t find the equaliser. Then on Saturday a goal from Roderick Miranda gave Melbourne Victory a 1-0 win in the local derby against Western United at GMHBA Stadium, before Western Sydney Wanderers drew 0-0 with Sydney FC in the Sydney Derby.
On Sunday Central Coast Mariners won the F5 Derby 2-1 against Newcastle Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium. Joshua Nisbet and Jacob Farrell gave the visitors the lead early in the second half, and despite Valentino Yuel reducing the margin, the Mariners held on. In the final game Macarthur FC drew 1-1 with Wellington Phoenix. Gary Hooper gave the Nix the lead from the spot in the first half, before Lachlan Rose levelled on the hour.
Perth Glory: GK Brad JONES, 4 Luke BODNAR, 5 Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS (2 Aaron CALVER 85'), 8 Kosuke OTA, 9 Bruno FORNAROLI (15 Daniel STURRIDGE 85'), 10 Andy KEOGH (7 Adrian SARDINERO 54'), 13 Brandon O’NEILL, 14 Jack CLISBY, 21 Antonee BURKE-GILROY, 24 Pacifique NIYONGABIRE (18 Daniel STYNES 54'), 29 Darryl LACHMAN - Subs not used: RGK Cameron COOK, 22 Josh RAWLINS, 38 Ciaran BRAMWELL
Adelaide United: GK James DELIANOV, 4 Nick ANSELL (23 Jacob TRATT 46'), 6 Louis D’ARRIGO (31 Bernardo OLIVEIRA 76'), 7 Ryan KITTO (11 Craig GOODWIN 50'), 8 Stefan MAUK (28 JUANDE 65'), 9 Kusini YENGI (17 Mohamed TOURE 76'), 10 ISAIAS, 21 Javi LOPEZ, 22 Michael JAKOBSEN, 26 Ben HALLORAN, 27 Josh CAVALLO Subs not used: 4RGK Joe GAUCI - Attendance: 17,198 - Referee: Adam Kersey
SOCCEROOS LET IT SLIP AGAINST CHINA
The Socceroos 2022 FIFA World Cup hopes took a hit on Wednesday morning after being held to a 1-1 draw by China at the Sharjah Stadium in the UAE in their latest qualifying fixture. Mitch Duke had given Graham Arnold’s side the lead on the first half and they looked on course for a vital three points, but a penalty from Wu Lei twenty minutes from time secured a draw for the hosts. With Japan beating Vietnam 1-0 in the other group game, it meant the Socceroos slipped out of the automatic qualification spot and made it three games without a win, which has made their Qatar 2022 quest a little bit harder.
“We were a bit sloppy at times but until the penalty, there was pretty much one team in the game and that penalty gave them energy,” Arnold said post-match. “Dukey's done a great job and he works tirelessly upfront. He had a knock, which was the reason he came off, but Dukey is always a danger in front of the goal. We moved the ball well, and we created some decent chances and we've just got to be positive and move forward."
Eager to bounce back from last week's 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia, Arnold made two changes to the side, with Milos Degenek coming in for the injured Harry Souttar, while Duke replaced Awer Mabil, who dropped to the bench. The Socceroos were quick to put pressure on China and created two excellent chances early. First Jackson Irvine sliced his opportunity wide after he was found inside the box by Aziz Behich before Mathew Leckie stung the palms of keeper Yan Junling.
While China always looked to pose a threat on the counter-attack, it was Australia who continued to create the most threatening goal-scoring opportunities. Ajdin Hrustic was next to test the keeper, with his powerful free-kick into a crowded penalty palmed to safety by the alert Junling. But Australia's dominance of possession and territory was eventually rewarded seven minutes before the break. The dangerous Martin Boyle was the architect, swinging in a pin-point cross from the right, Duke lost his marker and his downward header from close range gave Junling no chance.
It was the strikers fifth goal for the Socceroos this year, including his late strike in the 3-0 win over China earlier in the qualifying phase. Leckie almost capitalised on a Hrustic cross soon after, but he was quickly closed down by Junling to keep China in the contest heading to the break. While scoring chances proved more difficult to come by after half time, Australia looked in control until China were given a lifeline back into the match midway through the second half.
After a lengthy VAR review, the referee adjudged a handball against James Jeggo in the box, with Wu Lei converting the penalty with 20 minutes to go. It looked like the midfielder was pushed in the incident, but the goal stood and the Socceroos had it all to do. Arnold brought on the likes of Jamie Maclaren, Awer Mabil and Riley McGree in the closing stages to try and find a winner but China held on.
"The qualifying campaign I've been a part of to get to Russia, we had results like Iraq away and Thailand away with a draw that were disappointing as well," keeper Mat Ryan said. “It's all part of it, you're wanting to try and get to the World Cup, that's the big prize, and everyone's giving all that they can take to try and get there.
“Obviously at this international level it's the little details, the little moments that decide those sorts of things and unfortunately tonight they didn't go our way. But the momentum's a funny thing. We had that winning run where a lot of things went our way, and now we have had a couple of times where it hasn't gone our way. But it's on us to change that around again, and I have full confidence we can do that moving forward."
China: GK Yan Junling, 3 Wang Shenchao, 5 Zhang Linpeng, 6 Jiang Guangtai (20 Wang Gang 46’), 7 Wu Lei (18 Zhang Yuning 93’), 9 Ai Kesen, 11 Alan (16 Ba Dun 80’), 13 Xu Xin, 14 Zhu Chenjie, 15 Wu Xi, 21 Aloísio (17 Wu Xinghan 80’) – Subs not used: RGK Liu Dianzuo, RGK Wang Dalei, 2 Li Ang, 4 Li Lei, 8 Hao Junmi, 10 Zhang Xizhe, 19 Chi Zhongguo, 22 Yu Dabao
Australia: GK Matt Ryan, 2 Milos Degenek, 4 Rhyan Grant (5 Fran Karacic 83’), 6 Martin Boyle (13 Nikita Rukavytsya 83’), 7 Mathew Leckie (Awer Mabil 77’), 8 James Jeggo, 10 Ajdin Hrustic (21 Riley McGree 76’), 15 Mitchell Duke (9 Jamie Maclaren 71’), 16 Aziz Behich, 20 Trent Sainsbury, 22 Jackson Irvine – Subs not used: RGK Lawrence Thomas, RGK Danny Vukovic, 3 Callum Elder, 14 Kenneth Dougall, 17 Denis Genreau, 19 Ryan McGowan, 23 Gianni Stensness – Referee: Adham Mohammad Makhadmeh (Jordan)
KERR A BLUE UNTIL 2024
Matilda’s striker Sam Kerr will remain at Chelsea for another three seasons, after putting pen to paper on a new contract at the English Super League club. Following a stellar debut full season with the club, Kerr has become an integral part of the squad since joining midway through the 2019/20 season, with 39 goals and 56 appearances to her name. The former Perth Glory skipper said she is excited to extend her stay in London.
“It’s really exciting. I’m really happy at the club. We’ve had good success, being at a club like Chelsea is an amazing opportunity,” Kerr explained. “‘The time was just right. I feel really comfortable being here, and I think the club gives me every opportunity to succeed as a player.
“I can’t see myself going anywhere else in the world or leaving Europe, having what I have at Chelsea. The time was right, honestly, I didn’t feel like I wanted to rush into anything, just like signing here the first time, it just happened naturally.”
The Matildas captain also told the Chelsea website what drew her to stay at the club. “The team speaks for itself, every day at training playing with world-class players, getting challenged every day and winning trophies at the same time,” she said. “I hadn’t won much when I came here and after last season, I think it’s just a no-brainer for me to stay.’
Blues General manager Paul Green said Kerr is a huge part of their plans moving forward. “We are absolutely delighted that Sam has extended her deal with the club. Sam is quite simply one of the world’s best strikers and goalscorers,” he said. “We look to continue to build on our recent successes, and Sam will play a big role in achieving those targets in the future.”
The 28-year-old is no stranger to winning awards, having scooped the Golden Boot for the Barclays Women’s Super League 2020/21 season with 21 goals in 22 matches. It is an accolade she received two previous times as top scorer in the US and Australia, making her the first player to ever win it across three different leagues, in three different continents.
Looking back at the achievement, Kerr said you don’t win those awards without the player around you, but said she has worked hard on her game since heading to the club. “I don’t go out there to win golden boots, I just go out there to give everything I can to the team and help the team to succeed and win trophies,” she said.
“I'm not going to lie, it’s nice when I do win them but that’s not my main goal at the start of the year. It’s a nice reward, but if I won golden boot after golden boot and no trophies, it wouldn’t be that rewarding to me. So that’s why last season winning the golden boot and winning the league was really rewarding because finally it meant something.”
As well as the Golden Boots, during her time at Chelsea Kerr has also secured back-to-back league and Continental Cup wins and last season also came out top in the Community Shield, as well as reaching the final of the Women’s Champions League for the first time in the club’s history. The forward is also on the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or for the third time in her career and most recently, was nominated for BBC’s Footballer of the Year for the fourth time.
Kerr has also enjoyed a successful international career, mostly recently captaining the Matildas to their best-ever Olympic placing, at Tokyo 2020, and she sent a message to the club’s supporters saying it’s great to have them back in the stands this season.
“I’m just excited, especially after the Covid year and now welcoming them back to Kingsmeadow. It’s been such a buzz having them back,” she said. “I’m really proud to play for Chelsea and I feel our fan base at Chelsea is special. You see the same faces around Kingsmeadow, so for me I just want to make up for lost time. More goals and more trophies!”
KNIGHTS STEALS THE SHOW AT STIRLING AWARDS NIGHT
Gavin Knight was the big winner at the recent Stirling Macedonia presentation night, the striker winning the clubs Fairest and Best and top goal scorer. He bagged 20 goals in his second season at Macedonia Park, and his goals helped the club to the Division One title and a return to the NPL after a two-year absence.
Football Operations Manager Keegan Ashley said Knight was a great contributor to their success. “Gavin had an exceptional season and with his experience led the way in front of goal for us,” he said. “We wish him all the best at Joondalup United next season.”
Knight said to win the award was special and it was a tough decision to move on. “Winning the fairest and best was an honour,” he said. “I had a good season at the club, but there were many other players who could have won it, so to hear my name read out was a huge. “It was a tough decision to leave, and they have been great to me and my family. But with the club being in NPL next season my game time would be limited as they are getting a few more players in to boost the attack, but I wish them all the best next season.”
In other awards on the night Sam Wynne was voted the first team player of the Year, while in the reserves Ben Eilff won the Fairest and Best with Matt Corrigan winning the Players Player, with Reece Corrigan winning the top goalscorer. In the 18s Alex Zaecis won the Fairest and Best with Taher Kelly winning the Players Player, while Galana Eba was the top goalscorer.
ALL THINGS GO AT KINGSLEY WESTSIDE
Things are getting better on and off the park for State League club Kingsley Westside. Their fourth placed finish last season was the clubs best finish in State League football and they also made the promotion play offs for the first time. Meanwhile off the pitch the clubs proposed new club rooms at Chichester Park was confirmed by the City of Joondalup council this week, and President Chris Brady said it was a great day for the club.
“As a club we're delighted to finally see the construction works finally given the green light to start in 2022, after a five-year journey to get there,” he said. “As anyone who's visited or played at Chichester Park over the last few years would confirm, the existing 30-year-old facility is no longer fit for purpose and requires a complete rebuild. The new facility will feature four large unisex changerooms, large storage areas, modern kitchen facilities and a large meeting space, as well as more parking bays, so it's very welcome news for Kingsley Westside as the primary tenant, as well as the user groups and the wider community.”
It didn’t go all to plan and Tuesday’s meeting could have gone either way, but Brady said all the clubs hard work has come to fruition. “It was quite a tense Council meeting on Tuesday night with arguments put up for and against the award of the tender. The main sticking point really came down to costs, as the final price had come in over the pre-tender estimate, which would be no surprise to anyone given the current cost issues being experienced in the WA construction industry,” he explained.
“Ultimately, the Council agreed that any further delays would likely see the project costs increase further, and after five years of consultation and design, it was time to take the leap and get Chichester built. We have a great relationship with the City of Joondalup, so I'd like to give a big thanks to the admin staff for their continued engagement with our club, as well as the leadership shown by Mayor Albert Jacob, Councillor Christopher May and the Member for Kingsley Jessica Stojkvovski MLA for their continued advocacy for the project, as well as the other Councillors who voted in favour. From a club perspective, a big thanks to former Presidents Ben Fowler and Rob Andrews for their hard work and advocacy to get to this point, as well as all our committee and club members who helped get this over the line.”
Brady said they will look to build on last season, and it just wasn’t Steven Dimitrovich’s first team that impressed. “The club is very proud of what our State League squads achieved this year. Steven and his team were given the challenge of improving on last year's disappointing league placing and push for a top four finish, and they responded very strongly to sit in the top two for most of the season before just missing out on promotion through the playoffs.
“On top of that, the State Reserves won the league while the 18s narrowly lost the Top 4 Cup Final, so all up it was an all-round great performance from our state set-up. We are a small club competing with some very well-resourced outfits, but we are a club with a big heart and we'll always challenge our lads to make sure the club keeps punching above its weight. When the new Chichester Park opens in 2023, it will provide a platform from which the club can push for further State League success into the future.”
The club also held their presentation night at the Empire Function Centre, and it was midfielder Lewis Flatt that took out the Best and Fairest and Players Player of the Year Award. “It was well deserved for Lewis,” Head Coach Steven Dimitrovich said. “He was very consistent throughout the year and it showed with him winning both major awards on the night.”
In other awards on the night, Simone Sichel won the first team top goal scorer while Owain Thomas won the coaches award, Dimitrovich said the youngster made a big impression in his first season in the first team. “Owain came into our senior squad mid-way through the year and cemented his spot at centre back,” he said. “He showed a lot of maturity beyond his age and is a very classy defender and one we have high hopes for in the future.” Jamie Kane took out the Reserves Best and Fairest and the Players Player awards, Lucas Farley the Coaches Award, while Ilya Nebylytsya won the top goalscorer. In the 18s Louis Henriques won the Best and Fairest and Noar Leasor the Players Player. Ryan Steel won the coaches award, while Daniel Airns and Cameron Delvin were joint top goalscorers.
GRANT LOOKING FOR AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE MEDAL
Former Perth Glory defender Alex Grant is eyeing off an AFC Champions League medal after rollercoaster year for his South Korean club Pohang Steelers. The 27-year-old said it has been the hardest year of his life, but claiming the biggest prize in Asian soccer would make it all worth it. The ECU Joondalup product turned K-League defender could become the first ever West Australian to win the AFC Champions League when his side takes on Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Hilal in the Final next Wednesday (12am).
It comes after the centre back etched his name into club folklore in the semi-final, scoring the type of goal played out in the imaginations of kids around the world. With Pohang down 1-0 in the 89th minute against fellow Koreans and reigning champions Ulsan Hyundai, Grant connected with a free kick, looping a header over a stranded goalkeeper and into the net to send the game into extra time, with the Steelers eventually triumphing on penalties.
While Grant still holds fond memories of the Glory’s 2018-19 Premier’s Plate-winning season, he admitted the header was probably his personal best moment on a field. “To score the way I did, late into a game against a strong Ulsan team, and the game itself is classed as a local derby over here, so to nick the equaliser at the death was such a good feeling,” he said. “There’s been some challenging periods throughout my year whilst I’ve been in Korea, so it was kind of nice to have such a big moment, kind of a reward for the work and what I’ve put in throughout the season.”
The challenges Grant alluded to have been mainly off-field, as he faced not just a language barrier and adapting to a different culture, but also raising his 18-month-old son with his partner, away from family and friends. “It was extremely difficult coming over during a pandemic and it was kind of a bit nervy for the family, my partner Lauren and my son Lenny,” Grant said. “It’s been definitely challenging without family and not really knowing anyone here or having anyone to support us.”
Grant sympathised with every other Australian who found themselves stuck overseas at the moment with the covid restrictions, and he hopes to return to Perth soon, and hopefully with a winner’s medal. “It has been a really big challenge and probably one of the hardest years of my life I’d say in that respect, but it has been for many other people,” he said. “We’ve been looking to come back to Perth at the end of the season and we just feel in limbo because of the borders, it’s just making it very difficult. We’re one of thousands of Aussies who are in a similar situation and it’s just the way it is unfortunately.”
However, Grant said the Pohang’s Champions League run proved every cloud had a silver lining and he was relishing the chance to take on Al-Hilal. They will be underdogs against the three-time Champions League winners in a game to be played at the Saudi side’s stadium. “There’s not many (Australians) who have played in it, so it is an honour and something I’m extremely proud of going into the game,” he said. “I just hope I can be lifting the trophy at the end of it.”
On the field, Grant has overcome an ankle injury, which forced him out for three months, and has had to adjust to the K-League and its rigorous schedule, an issue compounded by Pohang’s deep run in the Champions League. “It’s a lot more physically more demanding, having to back up every three days,” Grant said. “The way you train is completely different because of the schedule, there’s a lot of recovery days. The squads don’t chop and change that much because it’s hard for players to break in and play well, it’s generally only if someone gets injured or suspended a new player will come into the team and I’ve found that a bit of an eye-opener. The pace of the game is a bit quicker as well, the Koreans are technically very good and they generally never seem to give up as well.” – Good luck Alex we’re all behind you!!!!
GLORY HOST REDS IN SEASON OPENER
Perth Glory begin their 2021/22 Isuzu UTE A-League campaign on Saturday evening, when they host Adelaide United at HBF Park. (Kick-off 7.05pm) A bumper crowd is expected to see the Glory take on the Reds in a fixture which has produced plenty of fireworks and goals in recent years. The off-season arrival of a former Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has brought an air of optimism amongst the supporters, and the club is confident of resurfacing in the Finals Series after a one-season absence.
Sturridge, who only came out of quarantine at the weekend, will be part of the squad, but Head Coach Richard Garcia said they will not rush him in to early, as it’s a long season, but the player said he is ready, so we will have to wait and see. The club have been busy in the transfer market with new skipper Brandan O’Neill returning to the club, as well as Jack Clisby and Mitch Oxborrow, while former Liverpool and Socceroos keeper Brad Jones, Aaron Calver and Spanish import Adrian Sardinero, gives the squad a new look.
Garcia believes that the Glory supporters will have a key role to play in Saturday’s eagerly-anticipated season-opener, and he is adamant that those supporters can give his charges a significant boost in their bid to repeat their victory over the same opponents in the corresponding first-up fixture last season. “They [the supporters] have a massive, massive role to play,” he said. “Having not had a lot of match practice, it’s something like the crowd that actually takes you over the line and gets you that extra bit of energy that you need to push through.”
Not that Garcia is expecting his squad to be lacking in fitness following a very lengthy pre-season. “We’re confident that we’ve prepared in the best way possible, but you can’t prepare for something that you haven’t done. I feel that once we get out there, the adrenalin will take over and the boys will be pumped for it,” he said.
“They’ve been hungry for this for the last 16 weeks; it’s been a long pre-season, so for us to have a competitive game and especially in front our home crowd, is going to be fantastic. I feel like we’ve done everything possible to get that to that point [full fitness]. Of course, it’s the first game for them and that’s always going to be difficult, but we have a good enough bench for players to come on and make an impact.”
Adelaide United will head west looking to end a winless run at HBF Park which dates back to the 2017/18 season and Garcia is expecting the South Australians to ask plenty of questions. “In all their competitive games that they’ve had, they’ve looked pretty strong, especially going forward,” he said. “They’ve got some good attacking threats and we’ve got to be mindful of that, but at the same time we’ve got to focus on us and us being at home and playing in front of our home supporters in the big crowd that we’re going to have there [at HBF Park] on the weekend.”
Adelaide United Captain Stefan Mauk is looking forward to the prospect of facing ex-Liverpool star Daniel Sturridge, and he believes his signing will only benefit in building the Isuzu UTE A-League’s profile. “It’s massive for the league, he’s probably the biggest name since a (Alessandro) Del Piero,” Mauk said to the media on Monday. “He’s come at a younger age and if he gets himself right, he’s going to be one of the best players if not the best player in the league.”
The 26-year-old went on to add that he was happy to begin the season on one of the tougher away journeys in the calendar. “It’s probably the hardest road trip of the year,” he said about travelling to Perth. “But to do it first up I think is the best and we’re just excited to go. It’s a tough first up game. We always have good games against Perth Glory and it’s exciting just to be playing.”
MACARTHUR MOVE FUELS DE SILVA'S ROOS AMBITION
Long touted as a top prospect for Australian football, Macarthur FC recruit Danny De Silva is hoping his latest A-League club can finally give him the platform to reach the international stage. De Silva burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old in 2013, making his professional debut for Perth Glory, and was part of Ange Postecoglou's initial longlist of players for the 2015 Asian Cup squad.
Despite that early promise however, De Silva arrives at the Bulls at a crossroads in his career. Now 24, the midfielder has made over 100 A-League appearances but appears to be a long way from Socceroos coach Graham Arnold's plans with young talent such as Riley McGree and Denis Genreau having emerged as national team regulars in the past 12 months.
Despite that, De Silva hopes Macarthur's footballing philosophy under Ante Milicic will give him the environment to force his way into Arnold's plans ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. "Any Australian player would want to play for the Socceroos," said De Silva, who helped Macarthur cruised into the FFA Cup Round of 16 with a 3-0 win over Newcastle Olympic on the weekend.
"I've had a few tastes and been on a few camps and stuff like that but definitely it's something that I would love to be able to achieve. The coach (Arnold) obviously is always watching the A-League boys, watching new players, things like that and players that he's got his eye on. If we have a good year, be able to score some goals and make some assists and things like that, hopefully, I'll be in the mix."
Having spent time at Glory, Central Coast Mariners and Sydney FC as well as a loan stint in Holland with Roda JC, De Silva is excited about what can be achieved in 2021/22. "We have great players all around us but definitely in the attacking third," he said. "We've got a lot of good, exciting players and hopefully we'll be able to show that on the field. Once it really clicks it'll be really exciting time and something good to watch as well."
SYDNEY TEAMS AGREE ON EARLY TRIP WEST
Perth Glory owner Tony Sage has struck a deal that will see the A-League Men's club host two games in early January - but only if the Western Australia State Government comes to the party. As it stands, Glory will play their season opener against Adelaide United in Perth this Saturday night, before playing their next nine matches on the road, one of which is an FFA Cup fixture.
But Sage has negotiated a fixture swap with the owners of Sydney FC and Western Sydney that will allow Glory to ease the travel burden. Under the deal, Glory will host the Sky Blues on January 2 and Wanderers on January 8 - games that are currently scheduled for New South Wales. In return, Glory will play Sydney FC and Western Sydney in NSW later in the season instead of in Perth.
But with WA not due to open its border until late January at the earliest, Glory's hopes of hosting early January games now rests with the State Government. Sage is hopeful a deal can be struck to allow the games to go ahead in Perth under strict quarantine protocols. "The protocol would be they (the opposing team) get tested, they leave their state on a plane, come straight to a hotel and they're not allowed to go out," Sage said.
"In our case (they will be here) just for a night. They will go straight to the ground, and then straight back to either the airport or the hotel. That's the protocol we've put forward, and it's being reviewed by the WA Health. Hopefully that happens, because it wasn't easy convincing the owners of Sydney FC and Western Sydney to give up home games in early January. But they see our plight."
NBL outfit Perth Wildcats and BBL team Perth Scorchers are among other Perth-based sporting outfits attempting to convince the WA State Government to relax its restrictions so games can be held in Perth in December and January. The fifth Ashes Test, scheduled for January 14, is almost certain to go ahead in Perth
STURRIDGE READY TO MAKE HIS A-LEAGUE DEBUT
Star recruit Daniel Sturridge says he is ready to make an impact in his Perth Glory debut despite spending the past two weeks in hotel quarantine. Glory have vowed to do everything they can to unveil the former England and Liverpool striker to fans when they face Adelaide United on Saturday at Perth Oval.
Sturridge, who has signed a one-year deal with Glory, said he went into isolation in the best shape he had ever been. He admitted it was tough training in a cramped hotel room and was “very excited” to be out in the fresh air. “It wasn’t easy to train but I managed. It was a long two weeks,” Sturridge said. “It wasn’t easy but everybody has been through it. It’s not just me.”
“Any player who has come into a state that they have to quarantine in, is in the same position as I was in. People who aren’t training are in the same position I was in. I’m not any more special than anyone else. You have to follow the rules and have to do what is necessary to make sure the country is safe.”
The two-time Champions League winner is likely to make an appearance from the bench in his first game but said coach Richard Garcia would make his decision in the best interests of the team. “It’s about whatever the manager’s plans are. I’m not in control of those things,” he said. “I’m just excited to get going see what happens ... Hopefully we can start in a successful way.”
Sturridge make clear what his intentions are following a quickfire tour of Perth by club owner Tony Sage on Thursday. “I’m not here on holiday. I’m here to play football and help the team be successful.” Perth Glory kick-off their 2021/22 A-League season on Saturday, 20th October, by welcoming Adelaide United to Perth Oval.
SOCCEROOS HELD IN THE RAIN
The Socceroos return to home soil didn’t go as planned, after drawing 0-0 with Saudi Arabia at a rain soaked CommBank Stadium in their FIFA World Cup qualify. Playing their first home game in over two years, Graham Arnold’s side were unable to stamp their authority over a well-drilled Saudi Arabia team playing their first game outside of the Gulf since the beginning of the pandemic.
Frustrated both by the conditions caused by incessant rain as well as spoiling tactics from their guests, the Socceroos could not send the majority of the 23,314 fans home happy, although the 3,000 or so Saudi fans were ecstatic at the final whistle. Saudi Arabia remain top of the group, three points ahead of the Socceroos, with a draw neither helping nor hindering either side's chances of finishing in the top two and qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
"Overall, we played well," Socceroos’ coach Graham Arnold said after the match. "We created the chances but they didn't go in tonight. "We're in a great position still, 10 points in five games. If we beat China [on Tuesday] we are in a fantastic position." It was a frenetic start to the match with the Socceroos pressing high and dominating possession in the Saudi half. Despite Australia’s positive start, it was the visitors who had the first real opportunity to open the scoring on 13 minutes.
They broke down the Socceroos left through Salem Al-Dawsari, who found Salman Al-Faraj unmarked in the box, but Stoke City defender Harry Souttar produced a great block to deny him. Following that opportunity, the Socceroos were largely comfortable in possession as they looked to break down a resolute Saudi defense. With minutes remaining in the first half, Boyle found himself free at the back post as he threw himself towards Mathew Leckie’s cross from the left, but it proved to be too far out of his reach and the half-chance fizzled out.
The Socceroos started the second half much like they started the first. Within minutes of the restart, Souttar found Boyle on the right, who took advantage of a slip from the Saudi fullback and drove towards the by-line to fire in a cross that deflected towards goal. While the deflected cross did not trouble the Saudi goal, minutes later, Awer Mabil registered the first shot of the match with a tame near-post effort from the edge of the box.
On the hour mark, two quick-fire chances for the Socceroos went begging. After using his strength to see off the defender, Leckie found himself with time to have a free shot on goal from the left, but Mohammed Al-Yami was able to palm it away. Moments later, Jackson Irvine found himself unmarked on the penalty spot after Mabil squared the ball from the left, but he could not get clean contact as he fired wide.
Pressure really began to mount for the Saudis as Australia smelt blood. After pawing away Mabil's long-range free-kick, Al-Yami sprung to his feet and blocked a goal-bound shot from Boyle. The hosts then lost Souttar on 78 minutes, with a knee injury, and it was the visitors who started to get on top, and Al-Faraj burst into the penalty area after beating Trent Sainsbury to the ball, but Matt Ryan was up to the task, saving low.
Saudi Arabia looked to have turned the screw as they had another two opportunities within quick succession. The best of which came from Saleh Al-Shehri as his glancing header narrowly brushed past Ryan’s far post. The Saudis ramped up their late game pressure and again, forced another fantastic save from Ryan. This time it was Al-Dawsari, who forced an impressive, one-handed save from Australia’s number one. Despite an onslaught of late chances, the match finished all square as both sides held their positions at the top of Group B. The Socceroos are back in action on Tuesday, against China in Sharjah.
"I think a little bit of frustration set in with the time-wasting and the tactics from the Saudis," Arnold added. "We have to learn to be better with that. I think that was when they got a couple of their chances. "It is what Matty [Ryan] is there to do, save those goals. I was proud of them." Striker Matthew Leckie said they had their chances. "I think the boys, we had a great performance today. It was just the centimetres that stopped us from scoring a couple of goals," Leckie said post-match. "They defended well as well. And that double opportunity after the free kick, the keeper pulled off a great save."
Australia: GK Matt Ryan, 4 Rhyan Grant, 6 Martin Boyle (21 Riley McGree 87’), 7 Mathew Leckie (17 Andrew Nabbout 78’), 8 James Jeggo, 10 Ajdin Hrustic (14 Kenneth Dougall 87’), 11 Awer Mabil (15 Mitchell Duke 66’), 16 Aziz Behich, 19 Harry Souttar (2 Milos Degenek 78’), 20 Trent Sainsbury, 22 Jackson Irvine – Subs not used: RGK Lawrence Thomas, RGK Danny Vukovic, 3 Callum Elder, 5 Fran Karacic, 9 Jamie Maclaren, 13 Denis Genreau, 23 Gianni Stensness
Saudi Arabia: GK Mohammed Al Yami, 2 Sultan Al-Ghannam, 5 Ali Hadi Albulayhi, 7 Salman Al-Faraj, 8 Abdulelah Almalki, 9 Feras Al-Birakan (11 Saleh Al-Shehri 73’), 10 Salem Al Dawsari, 13 Nasser Al-Dawsari, 17 Abdulelah Alamri, 19 Fahad Al Muwallad, 23 Mohamed Kanno – Subs not used: RGK Nawaf Alaqidi, RGK Zaid Al-Bawardi, 3 Ziyad Al Sahafi, 4 Ahmed Sharahili, 6 Mohammed Al-Burayk, 12 Saud Abdulhamid, 14 Ali Al Asmari, 15 Ali Al-Hassan, 16 Sami Al-Najei, 18 Abdulrahman Ghareeb, 20 Abdulrahman Alobud – Attendance: 23,314 - Referee: Hyung-Jin Ko
SAMSON SWEEPS THE BOARD AT OLYMPIC KINGSWAY
After winning the Division One title last season, it was a season of transition in 2021 for Olympic Kingsway, and although seventh place finish was disappointing the club will look to hit back next season. The club recently held their end-of-season awards night at Kingsway Reserve, and it was former Gwelup Croatia youngster Josh Samson who stole the show winning the clubs Fairest and Best ahead of Harry Edwards, and also taking out the Players Player of the Year.
The 20-year-old was honoured to win the awards and was delighted to re-sign for the ‘Green Machine’ for next season. “I was very proud and honoured to take out both awards on the night, and I’m thankful to Kingsway for providing a platform for me to perform at my best during the season,” the talented midfielder said. “I really enjoyed the year at the club, and playing under Toughy, allowed us to play the kind of football that I love.
“The club has been very good to me during the time I’ve been there and it was a no brainer for me to stay again for another season. Both the club and I are aligned in our goals for winning titles and getting this club back where it belongs, into the NPL. I am looking forward to the new season and playing for the Green Machine in 2022.”
Gary Williams left the role at the end of 2020, with Michael Janssen taking over, but only a few games into the new season he was replaced by David Tough, and the former Wanneroo City and ECU Joondalup coach said Samson was a worthy winner. “Josh was a standout performer last season, and he was rewarded winning the Fairest and Best award, and being voted as player of the year by his team mates,” he said. “We’re also delighted he’s committed to club for the 2022 season, and we will look for him to continue where he left off this season.”
The club have been very active in the transfer market, bringing in some experienced players to add to their young squad. This week they added WA State defender Shane Cassidy from NPLWA side ECU Joondalup, while they also added the Division One top goal scorer Ciaran Byrne from Western Knights. The duo has been joined at the club by Tyler Garner (Bayswater City), Nik Koefler (Joondalup City), Cian Hirrell (Quinns) and Jamie Gardiner (Joondalup United).
Tough, who won the Division One title in 2013 as head coach at Wanneroo, and was part of the ECU coaching staff that won the NPLWA title in 2020, said he has been delighted the way the club have backed him with the players coming in. “The club have been great to me and Ross (Edwards) since we’ve come here, and it’s great to see the confidence that they have shown in me to bring in players who I believe can move us forward,” he said. “We finished seventh, which isn’t where we want to be, but I’m looking forward to working with this squad in 2022 and the title and promotion is our aim.”
In other awards from the club’s presentation night Tommy Trajkovski win the reserves Fairest and Best, ahead of Stan Kindness, while Gino Hampshire won the Players Player. In the 18s Dan Pereira won the Fairest and Best, ahead of Dinel Babic, while Pereira also won the Players Player. The clubs Amateurs celebrated a wonderful League double, the club honoured two Green Machine greats. Uli Purwien was awarded the Uncle Harry Clubman of the year for his outstanding contribution to Masters Football and the creation and running of the Trandos Cup. While Glenn Garbin’s phenomenal achievement of 40 consecutive seasons of football for Olympic Kingsway was celebrated with a touching presentation.
MCDONALD WINS F&B AS JOONDALUP SIGN DUO
After winning the State League Division One Top Four Cup, Joondalup United wrapped up their successful season holding their Awards Night at the Woodvale Reception Centre, and it was midfielder Brad McDonald who swept the board, winning the Players Player, ahead of Jay Lang, and the Managers Player of the Year. “I think speaking for most players winning any sort of award is pretty special but personally winning an award voted on by your peers is truly humbling. It kind of leaves you a bit speechless being held in that regard and all the only thing to say is thank you,” McDonald explained.
“Getting managers player was probably a little icing on the cake. In the end everyone needs the backing from their coaches and to receive the award leaves me with a lot of confidence going into next season. The season was a little up and down, we definitely didn’t have the best of starts which affected our league position in the end. Winning the top four made all the hard work and effort from the boys through the season pay off, especially after knocking off the league winners and then my former club. Winning medals never gets old and long may it continue.”
United Head Coach Nick Jennings said McDonald deservedly swept the board. “Brad was a late signing only joining the club two weeks before the season opener, but from day one he set individual standards for others to aspire,” he said. “He played every minute of every competitive fixture, league, FFA and Top Four Cup and never missed a training session. He’s a winner and this year even managed to add a few goals to his game. A great year from a great man.”
The club also announced this week the signing of duo Gavin Knight and Daniel Corbett, and Jennings said it’s a great signing for the club. “At times last year we struggled in front of goal, and didn’t put sides away when we had the opportunity, drawing too many games,” the coach explained. “In Gavin and Daniel, we’ve signed two boys with bags of experience and with proven goal scoring records at this level. They add quality and depth to our squad, and both are good characters who have bought into the ethos of the club.”
Corbett, who bagged six goals in only 12 games for Forrestfield last season, said he’s looking forward to the new challenge. “It’s a great club with rich history,” he said. “I’m looking forward in being part of it and getting in blue.” Knight helped Stirling Macedonia to the NPL this season, taking out the clubs top goalscorer, and he said it was a tough decision to leave, but he’s happy to be back at his former club. “It was a tough decision to leave Stirling as I have had two great seasons with them and they have been great to me and my family,” he said. “But with the club being in NPL next season my game time would be limited as they are getting a few more players in to boost the attack, but I wish them all the best next season.
“Joondalup is a great club, and it was the first club I played for when I moved over here in 2010 and I always said when I left that I will play for the club again and then retire from state league. I also want to help get them promoted and get them back in the NPL with the big boys.” In other awards winners from the presentation night Alessandro Loi won the Reserves Players’ Player, with Devin Rindel runner-up, while Joshua Casella won the Manager’s Player of the Year. Julian Bian won the 18s Players’ Player, ahead of Alex Wheelhouse, while Ben Niles won the Manager’s Player of the Year.
RANDAZZO TAKES OUT UWA NEDLANDS B&F
In his first season back at UWA Nedlands Luke Randazzo was rewarded for a stellar season by taking out the clubs Best and Fairest Award at the club’s presentation night at the Duxton Hotel Perth. The midfielder said it was great to be back at the UWA Sports Park, and is looking forward to next season.
“I was very pleased personally to have pieced together a consistent season after missing large portions of 2019 and 2020 with injuries,” he said. “It was also great to be back playing with my friends at UWA in a positive environment, and delighted to win the Best and Fairest Award. Unfortunately, we finished ninth with too many soft performances and hoping to bring in some important players and retain our core to improve on this for 2022 and be more competitive.”
UWA Head Coach Ale Carciotto said Randazzo was outstanding for the season. “Luke had a great season playing in the heart of our midfield and was often the player that gave balance to the midfield with his impeccable positioning and ability to place himself in space to receive passes and in the defensive phase cutting opposition passing lines and holding up opposition players on the counter attack,” he explained. “His professional conduct on the pitch and in the changing room was an example for all of the younger player was really great to have Luke in our club.”
In other awards Sam Moffat won the first team top goalscorer, while Alex Moffat won the reserves Best and Fairest, with Tyron Torre top goalscorer. In the 18s Raymond Sales won the Best and Fairest, with Arthur Baker winning the top goalscorer.
NJEGIC TAKES OUT DIANELLA WHITE EAGLES MVP
Dianella White Eagles celebrated their promotion to Division One at the clubs Presentation Night at the Lallah Rookh Bar, and it was Sasa Njegic who took out the clubs Most Valuable Player of the Year and the Players Player of the Year. “It was an honour for both the coaching staff and players to select me for the respective awards but individual rewards are only achieved through team work,” he explained. “I can’t put into words how great the boys were last season both on and off the pitch, the chemistry was built and it was evident in our performances.
“Everyone bought into the culture of the club and it was a pleasure to lift the trophy with the boys. Having said that a lot of the merit should be given to both the coaching staff and committee as they have made our achievements possible through their hard work, many behind the scenes jobs which often go unnoticed. As for next year I expect the same mentality from the boys as we chase our end goal which is to make it into the NPL. This year will prove to be tough and we are under no illusion that it will be otherwise but I believe with the group that we currently have and the players that we are recruiting, this will be a very successful season for us once more.”
Dianella Coach Stewart Moses said Njegic was a worthy winner. “We had some good contributors this season, but I thought Sasa was a worthy winner, as he won the best player in Division Two,” he said. “It was a close thing with David Heagney coming in a close second in both awards, but delighted for Sasa and we’ll be looking for the same from him next season in Division One.” In other awards on the night Heagney won the top goalscorer, while Daniel McKenzie won the Rod Banjac Award.
Nikola Zmukic won the Reserves MVP, with Bojan Stefoski Players Player Award, and Zmukic also won the reserves top goalscorer. In the 18s Milos Ivancevic won the MVP, with Luka Drljan winning the Players Player of the Year, and Martiin Jazreen was the top goalscorer, while the best clubman of the Year was won by Veljko Zabrdac. The club also announced the signing of Harry Blunt, Lewis Tucker, Jordan Rowe, keepers Peter Pilkadaris and Nemanja Jankovic for next season, while a number of last season's squad have also recommitted for next season.
KERR AT THE DOUBLE FOR CHELSEA
Sam Kerr continues to shine in the English Super League, bagging two goals and having a hand in two others as Chelsea thrashed Servette 7-0 in the Women's Champions League. The former Perth Glory skipper, who is also on line to win the BBC Womens Footballer of the Year, took out the player of the match in a great all-round performance.
After Melanie Leupolz opened the scoring for the Blues inside eight minutes, Kerr then assisted Fran Kirby for the team's second goal eight minutes later. Leupolz then turned provider for Kerr as the Matildas star made it 3-0 two minutes later as she tapped home from close range. Chelsea couldn't stop scoring with Kerr bagging a two-minute brace when Kirby found the Australian, who poked the ball home moments later.
Kerr went close to claiming one of the fastest hat-tricks in football when just moments after her second goal she took a shot from a tight angle that went just wide. While the Matildas star wouldn't score again, she did claim another assist for the Blues seventh and final goal in the 49th minute.
"It's a special night. This is my first time coming here and it was very special. It will be a night most of us won't forget for many reasons," Kerr said post-match. "It was a good performance, good crowd and Maren (Mjelde) is back. It's nice as a player to walk off the pitch knowing you did everything possible to win the game and tonight, we can do that. There's only positives we can take from it and hopefully we can take that into the weekend."
Coach Emma Hayes was also full of praise for her side as Chelsea made light work of the Swiss champions.
"The details in the pass, the movement, the finishes and execution in the actions. It could have been 7-0 at half-time, we missed a few chances," she said. "Credit to the players. They decided they wanted to go up a level. It is my job to put the challenge to them. I thought we were outstanding." Chelsea is currently top of their Champions’ League group after three games and have now won five straight games in all competitions.
EPAKIS LOOKING FOR BIG IMPROVEMENT FROM GLORY WOMEN
Alex Epakis is hoping the new A-League campaign can be played without the COVID disruptions that brought concern for player welfare last season. The Perth Glory women coach was worried about his players when they were forced into long stretches away from home and short turnarounds.
Epikas said he was pleased with the new season fixtures, which were released today. “It’s a step up from last year,” said Epikas, who has rebuilt the team that was winless in last year’s daunting schedule. “If the fixtures stay as they are, where we play and who we play, I don’t really mind. But we are looking for a big improvement, a step forward.”
Epikas will not have a full squad training together until close to the December 4 season start. Four players who arrived from Sydney on Monday - Deborah-Anne de la Harpe, Demi Koulizakis, Susan Phonsongkham and Courtney Newbon - are in quarantine while their two international signings - Cyera Hintzen and Mie Leth Jans - don’t arrive in Perth until Friday.
The first four rounds will be played in a conference system, with the five New South Wales-based teams in one group with Glory facing Brisbane Roar, Canberra United and Adelaide United. The draw will open up in the New Year with the relaxation of border restrictions when Glory have a return clash against Adelaide ahead of trips to Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets.
They have back-to-back home games against Western Sydney Wanderers and league newcomers Wellington Phoenix. The first of four February fixtures start in Canberra followed by home dates with Melbourne City and Sydney FC either side of a trip to Melbourne Victory. The final game of the season is a trip to Wellington.
Of the 70 regular-season women’s games, 32 will be double-headers played on the same day at the same venue as their associated men’s teams in an attempt to maximise broadcast and venue quality. However, because of the Glory men’s schedule and their long opening stretch away from home it is not known whether the club will have any double-headers.
The regular season will be held across 14 rounds with the finals system expanded to include a preliminary final. The first and second placed teams will play off to progress directly to the grand final, with the loser facing the winner of the elimination final between the third and fourth-placed teams in the preliminary final.
SHAME SHAME HALL OF FAME (by Louis Prospero)
In November 1996 was the first induction night held at the Novotel Langley when 46 worthy recipients were first inducted into the Football Hall of Fame WA.
The last function was held on the 26th November 2016 at the Crown Perth on the 20th Anniversary of the Hall of Fame, a further 32 deserving members of the Football community were inducted into various Halls. A record number of attendees with high profile guests and presenters.
Last year, a date being 20th November 2021 was set aside for the 25th Anniversary of the Hall of Fame when more deserving football community members would be inducted.
The Committee early last year was on track in organising this year’s event, until September 2020 when there was a change in leadership which was taken by Elizabeth Re.
Since taking on the role, there has been no progress and no events organised, in fact over $7,000 of member funds have been spent. These funds took many years to raise and to have it spent without any consideration shows a lack of respect to the former Committee and current members.
Currently shown on the website that there are 2 sponsors of the organisation with one of them, allegedly who have not contributed any funds, is using the website to promote their show which is totally misleading.
It has been stated that the Induction night is not being held this year because of COVID, which is absolute untrue. Many organisations have had events all over Perth. If that is the case, then all research for the next nominations for the next deserving list of inductees should be ready to be endorsed, however there is no list and there has been no research, nothing.
The real reason is that the President has spent the end of last year and most of this year campaigning for either a seat in the WA State Election unsuccessfully on numerous occasions or seeking re election into Local Government.
A cynic would be thinking, was the aim to become a leader of a prestigious organisation, was to lift their profile to gain more votes? Obviously the tactic didn’t work.
The culture in the current Committee is unorganised, toxic and has no direction. Meetings are not held regularly, cancelled not postponed and the meeting times constantly changing.
This needs to stop immediately before the creditability, integrity and reputation of the organisation deteriorates any further. The current inductees and the Football Community deserves respect and a lot better treatment than they are getting. Shame on you. 4.11.2021
WILLIAMS NAMED CAPTAIN OF WESTERN SYDNEY
West Australian Rhys Williams has been appointed Western Sydney Wanderers captain for the upcoming A-League Men season as they aim to end their finals drought. The 32-year old defender brings with him wealth of experience gleamed from a 14-professional career that saw him play in England, Australia and Saudi Arabia as well as represent Australia on 14 occasions.
Williams, a former captain of English side Middlesbrough and Saudi club Al Qadisiyah, has played a significant role on the field during Western Sydney's pre-season in the heart of defence. While off the field has been a vocal leader in the group, setting an example to the next generation of Wanderers.
Williams said he was honoured to lead the club into the summer of 2021/22. “It is a privilege and an honour to be named the captain of this great club,” said Williams, who joined Western Sydney in July. “I would like to thank head coach Carl Robinson and the club for giving me this honour and opportunity to lead the club in their historic tenth season.
“Having only been at the club for a few months, it feels like I have been here for years and I feel at home at the Wanderers. This is a major milestone in my professional career and I hope to make not only my family, but the people of Western Sydney proud.”
Western Sydney coach Carl Robinson praised Williams’ contribution to the club in the short time he has been on board. “It was a difficult decision (selecting the team captain) because this year we have so many talented senior players, who all have excellent leadership qualities in very different ways,” said Robinson.
“Rhys is a very good person both on-and-off the field and has values that align with the people of Western Sydney. He is the epitome of a good teammate and leader, he is very vocal but detail orientated in his communication. He also supports the young players that we are trying to develop here at the Wanderers and has the respect of our key senior players.”
GLORY FORCED TO PLAY ‘HOME’ CUP GAME IN ADELAIDE
Perth Glory have lost the battle to keep their long delayed FFA Cup qualifying play-off match against Melbourne Victory at home. There were calls for Glory to be handed a forfeit win with club owner Tony Sage vowing to refuse to play the game away from Dorrien Gardens. But the forfeit calls fell on deaf ears and Football Australia have forced Glory to play at a neutral venue.
The match was due to have been played in Perth almost four moths ago but the competition was thrown into chaos because of COVID-19 border closures. Although the game will be played in Adelaide, on November 24, it remains a Glory “home” tie. It comes four days after Glory open their A-League season with a home match against Adelaide United and just two days before the first of a rugged 33-day, five game road-trip against Western United.
Glory chief executive Tony Pignata said the club was disappointed to lose the home game. “Unfortunately the border restrictions currently in place have made it effectively impossible for this game to be played here in WA,” Pignata said. “Therefore, in order to uphold the integrity of the competition, we have agreed to play against Melbourne Victory on neutral territory in Adelaide.”
“This is obviously very disappointing for everyone associated with Perth Glory, but we hope that our members and fans will understand that the club’s hand has been forced by circumstances beyond its control.” The winner of the Glory-Victory clash will then face National Premier Leagues South Australia side Adelaide City in the Round of 32.
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This page was last updated on the 28th October, 2021