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25.11.2022

EPAKIS LOOKING FOR HOME COMFORTS

Perth Glory will play their first home game of the season at their new venue on Sunday afternoon when Alex Epakis’ Womens side host Adelaide United at Macedonia Park. (Kick off 4pm). The home of NPLWA club Stirling Macedonia has been revamped and Glory will play both Isuzu Ute Men and Liberty Womens A-League games at the venue.

Epakis, who side only played once on home soil last season, is looking forward to playing in front of the supporters, and looking to build on their good start to the season at Canberra United, when goals from Liz Anton and Gabriella Coleman gave them a well-deserved 2-2 draw last week. “It’s hard to put it into words,” he said. “I really believe that the one home game we played at Macedonia Park last season, that late win, there was certainly an element of that which was down to the energy that the crowd was able to create and which our players were able to feed off. We’re hoping that the support of the Members and fans will be an important factor. I’m excited at a personal level and I know the players are too.”

Glory showed great determination to twice come from behind to secure a point from last weekend’s season-opener, but the coach feels that his side have plenty more improvement in them. “The message in training this week has been that we played well enough to get a result last weekend, but we are also very aware of where we can be better,” he said. “We’re really excited to go and execute that now against another good team in front of our home crowd. “We believe that if we’re a little bit more focused and tidier in what we’re doing, we can expect a much-improved performance.”

Epakis knows the challenge that is ahead of chargers, with Sunday’s visitors reaching the Finals last season and opened their new season with an impressive 1-0 home win over Sydney FC. “Canberra and Adelaide share some similarities in that they both have good attacking players across the front three and they have players who can hurt us in transition moments,” he said. “But I also believe that one of Adelaide’s strong points over recent seasons has been their physicality all across the field.”

The coach happily confirmed that he had no fresh injury concerns from the Canberra trip, and he has added three to the squad for Sunday’s home opener, and he is looking forward to the challenge. “When we played them last year, we spoke about matching their energy and physicality with and without the ball and we have to do that again this week,” he explained. “We’re all good (injuries), if anything, we’re probably hoping to bring one or two players back in this week who will potentially be in contention for the game.”

Glory have not managed to beat Adelaide on home soil since January 2016, when a brace from Vanessa Di Bernardo gave them a 2-1 at Ashfield Reserve. Last season the two sides claimed a win apiece, in round four Glory were beaten 4-2 by the Reds in Adelaide, this after goal from Cyera Hintzen and Alana Jancevski had drawn them level early in the second half. Then in the next round Glory reversed the result in Gosford, when a goal from Mie Leth Jans gave them a 1-0 win. It should be an entertaining game, and hopefully a big crowd will be on hand to witness the first game at Macedonia Park, tickets are still available and you can pay at the gate on the day.

Perth Glory Squad: GK Sarah LANGMAN, GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 6 Tijan MCKENNA, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 9 Demi KOULIZAKIS, 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 11 Rylee BAISDEN, 12 Sofia SAKALIS, 13 Sarah CAIN, 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 17 Abbey GREEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO, 23 Alana JANCEVSKI, 42 Gabriella COLEMAN - Ins: 6 MCKENNA, 9 KOULIZAKIS, 18 LAWRENCE - Unavailable: 22 Claudia MIHOCIC (injured), 24 Milan HAMMOND (injured)

24.11.2022

DAVIES WINS STIRLING MACEDONIA F&B

Stirling Macedonia returned to NPL football last season, after two-years in the wilderness, and Ian Ferguson’s side hit the ground running, finishing third, and their season officially came to an end last month when they held their Presentation Evening at Macedonia Park. The club will be in the spotlight during the A-League season, with Perth Glory holding their home games at the ground, and a lot of hard work has gone into making the ground up to A-League standards, and the club should be congratulated on their approach to the upgrade.

Back to the awards night, and it was a great evening, well presented by Donna Giuffre (Head of Media and Operations Australia for DT38) and it was Gyles Davies who was the big winner on the night, winning the clubs Fairest and Best, beating defender Luke Palmateer to the top award, while Palmateer also won the Coaches Award. Davies joined the club in 2020 from Olympic Kingsway, helping them to promotion back to the NPL, and last season fought back from a serious injury, to help the club into the Top Four Finals.

The midfielder was honoured to win the award. “Individually, it was a great honour to be Stirling Macedonia’s player of the year in a team full of great characters and players,” Davies explained. “There were a number of very worthy recipients of such an award and I am humbled to have received it in a season which was personally quite difficult for me as I carried the lingering effects of breaking my leg late in the 2022 Night Series.

“It was my first season in the NPL with the club, and it was definitely an enjoyable and successful one. As a collective the players and coaches had very clear goals and expectations of each other throughout the entire year. We had our chances to be league winners however we were not able to capitalise due to a range of factors, but we’ll be back bigger and stronger next season.”

Stirling assistant coach John Lavery said Davies and Palmateer were both outstanding last season, and both deserved their awards. “I’m a big fan of Gyles, like most people at the club he’s a very honest hard-working player with a good level of ability,” he explained. “The fact that Gyles fractured his leg early in the season and it hampered him a little, so it shows how good a player he is to still win F&B. Luke was an ever present for us last year, and I don’t think he missed a training session either. He is a fantastic footballer with a great attitude and I don’t think he was out our top three players every week, so we’re glad to have these guys back onboard this season.”

In other awards on the night, Liam Price won the under 20s Fairest and Best, with Joshua Bosevski the runner-up, while Gordon Dau won the Coaches Award. In the 18s Oskar Patterson won the Fairest and Best and the Players Player of the Year, with Hussam Mohamedkheir the runner-up, while Harrison “Harry” Pallant won the Coaches, and Most Improved award.

23.11.2022

SOCCEROOS BEATEN IN WORLD CUP OPENER

Australia have started the 2022 Qatar Word Cup Finals with a 1-4 loss against current holders France at the Al Janoub Stadium on Wednesday morning. It started so well for the Socceroos with Adelaide United’s Craig Goodwin opening the scoring early, but it went downhill from there with France showing why they are the world champions, with Olivier Giroud scoring a brace, with other to Adrien Rabiot and Kylian Mbappe.

"An incredibly proud moment, obviously honoured to represent my country at the World Cup and to score is an amazing feeling, but you know mixed feelings because we lost the game in the end," Goodwin said post-match. "Pure elation - You know scoring any goal is a joy and almost indescribable in feeling, but to score in the World Cup against the reigning World Cup champions is a moment I'll remember for the rest of my life. But for now, it is still business, we've got two more games and we want to do the best we can and try and win those games.

"We regroup, we recover, we analyse the game on where we can do better. But this is a really short turnaround and we have to prepare for the game against Tunisia look at where we can possibly hurt them and do the best we can and it's again we have to go into with confidence. I think that first half we showed we can match it with them, but tactically perhaps we can do a little better in getting more pressure on the ball, but at the end of the day, it's that we have to prepare for the next game now."

France opened brightly, but Graham Arnold’s side grew into it, and on nine minutes they took the lead. Stoke City defender Harry Souttar, who was back in green and gold after a long-term knee injury, played a superb cross field ball which found Matthew Leckie down the right, he took it past Lucas Hernandez, and crossed to Goodwin at the back post, and his first time shot flew past Hugo Lloris and into the top of the net, much to the delight of the fans in the stadium and all-round Australia.

Hernandez was injured in the lead up, and limped off with what looked like a knee injury, he was replaced by his brother Theo. The Socceroos were pressing high and causing turnovers, and on 21 minutes Hernandez turned the ball over cheaply and it was pounced on by Mitch Duke, his long-range shot fizzed just wide of the post. But five minutes later the French restored parity, the Socceroos cleared a corner but switched off, and Hernandez’s cross picked out Rabiot, the Juventus midfielder lost his marker to head past Mat Ryan.

AC Milan striker Giroud headed over from a corner on the half hour, but two minutes later he added France’s second. The Socceroos gave the ball away in the middle of the park, and Rabiot cut the ball back to the striker, who finished into an empty net. The French were well on top and Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann saw a shot from the edge of the box flash wide, and just before half time it should have been 3-1. Griezmann ghosted in off the right and dinked the ball towards Mbappe, but the PSG winger couldn’t keep his shot down. But in first half stoppage time the Socceroos went close to levelling, Jackson Irvine found himself clear in the box from a Riley McGee cross, his header back across goal beat Lloris, but hit the post.

Didier Deschamps’ side continued to dominate after the break, with the Socceroos working overtime to keep them at bay, and Griezmann saw his shot cleared off the line by the alert Aziz Behich, but it was only a matter of time before France added a third. On 68 minutes Dembele’s cross to the back post found Mbappe, who headed home via the post. Then three minutes later the game was over for Graham Arnold’s side, Mbappe was the supplier, his cross picked out Giroud, who headed home, to tie with Thierry Henry as France's top goal scorer.

The Socceroos looked fatigued, and France went in for the kill, but Ryan stood tall to save from Hernandez, and Ibrahima Konate’s header, but at the final whistle it was France with the win, and the Socceroos will look to regroup ahead of their match against Tunisia on Saturday night (6.00pm WA time) “It’s a good experience, obviously it’s an eye opener. There’s a reason why he’s earning 200 million dollars a year and I am where I am,” Atkinson said of marking French talisman Mbappe.

“It’s good to come up against this calibre, you know what you have to work on and I know what to fix, I’ve played that scenario 50 times over and I could probably come up with 50 different solutions, but that’s football. I’m disappointed, I’ll take full responsibility for the second goal, but it’s time to move on from that and the beauty is I’ve got a game in three days to fix that. That’s the beauty of the World Cup and just tournaments in general, anything can happen, you’ve just seen what the Saudis did against Argentina.”

France: GK Hugo Lloris, 2 Benjamin Pavard (5 Jules Kounde 89'), 7 Antoine Griezmann, 8 Aurelien Tchouameni (13 Youssouf Fofana 77'), 9 Olivier Giroud (26 Marcus Thuram 89'), 10 Kylian Mbappe, 11 Ousmane Dembele (20 Kingsley Coman 77'), 14 Adrien Rabiot, 18 Dayot Upamecano. 21 Lucas Hernandez (22 Theo Hernandez 13'), 24 Ibrahima Konate – Subs not used: RGK Axel Disasi, RGK Raphael Varane, 6 Matteo Guendouzi, 12 Randal Muani, 15, Jordan Veretout, 16 Steve Mandanda, 17 William Saliba, 23 Alphonse Areola, 25 Eduardo Camavinga,

Australia: GK Mathew Ryan, 3 Nathaniel Atkinson (2 Milos Degenek 85'), 4 Kye Rowles, 7 Mathew Leckie, 13 Aaron Mooy, 14 Riley McGree (11 Awer Mabil 73'), 15 Mitchell Duke (25 Jason Cummings 56'), 16 Aziz Behich, 19 Harry Souttar, 22 Jackson Irvine (26 Keanu Baccus 85'), 23 Craig Goodwin (21 Garang Kuol 73'), – Subs not used: RGK Andrew Redmayne, 18 Danny Vukovic, 5 Fran Karacic, 6 Marco Tilio, 8 Bailey Wright, 9 Jamie Maclaren, 10 Ajdin Hrustic, , 17 Cameron Devlin, 20 Thomas Deng, 24 Joel King – Attendance: 40,875 - Referee: Victor Gomes

22.11.2022

NATIONAL A-LEAGUE SECOND TIER CLOSE

After months of discussion the National A-League Second Division is close to being finalised, but we’ve heard that before, haven’t we? This week Football Australia has earmarked March 2024 as its preferred start date for its proposed national second-tier competition, contingent upon the results of an EOI process its CEO James Johnson hopes to commence following its approval at a December meeting of the federation's board.

After previously declaring his intention to, lock in the participants for any new competition by 2023, it is hoped the EOI process will be completed by the middle of next year, with discussions underway surrounding the optimal timing -- pre or post -- of announcing the inaugural competitors in relation to the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, but many still believe it is a long way off. "If an EOI process went well that could be a date that we could start. The focus is more on if it is a summer or a winter competition, and that would fit in as a good start of a winter competition,” Johnson explained.

"We need to differentiate this competition from the A-Leagues, it needs to be a different offer to the market. This would have a focus on developing homegrown players. It would also be a competition that is deeply rooted in the community. And naturally, our community football is played during [winter], so if it's going to be a competition rooted in the community then it should be played at the same time community football is played."

Though the model of the competition ultimately will not be settled until the completion of an EOI process, and Johnson declined to give specifics, it is understood that a home-and-away league format is the preferred option of Football Australia. While explicitly declining to comment on the specifics of how many participatory clubs an Australian second-tier might contain, Johnson observed that 16 clubs generally served as a sweet spot for the majority of competitions around the world, with Perth SC and Bayswater City the clubs being touted from WA.

What the executive was clear on, though, was that any new competition introduced by his federation would feature a clear focus on the development of young players and a preference for home-grown player rules -- be they club or association-trained -- rather than foreign quotas. Individual clubs that have widely been tapped as potential entrants have already begun the process of capitalisation and preparation needed to earn the right to be tapped as a founding member. It's expected that there will be an annual licence fee associated with taking part in the competition.

The power to monetize a second tier, as well as what model it will adopt and when it will be placed in the calendar, rests solely with Football Australia, and Johnson believes his organisation will have plenty of suitors to parse through when the time comes. "There's going to be a lot of interest in the EOI process," he said. "That's the feedback that we've received from clubs directly through the AAFC and member federations. We're expecting a high number. I don't know exactly what that number will be but there is a lot of interest for this competition to go ahead. There's a lot of clubs that have many years of history and are competing at the national level and there's a lot of clubs that are ambitious and want to grow and compete at a national level."

The EOI process, however, will not just be restricted to existing NPL clubs. "We've had indications that there would be entities that would be set up for the sole purpose of competing in a second tier," Johnson said. "So there have been some inquiries made about that. "There'd be no restrictions; there would be principles that we would set that would talk to what we would be looking for, but there'll certainly be no exclusions, if you like, of who could apply for an EOI. Certainly, there'll be more weighting put on certain criteria but that's something we'll work on and release the time of the EOI."

The executive also confirmed that his federation is already in discussions with potential commercial partners of a proposed second tier and over how the competition would be broadcast. "The reality is that right now we're in the healthiest financial position that Football Australia has ever been in," he said. "And we're at a point where we can only sell so many Matildas and Socceroos sponsors. So, in order to continually grow as a business and grow the sport, we need to find new assets and invest in the future economy of the sport, and the second-tier competition is a new property, it's a new economy for the sport. Naturally, as this is being brought to life, we are putting commercial properties that would belong to the second tier into our discussions with potential commercial partners.

“We're debating [broadcast partners] at the moment. There's no fixed view. We're pretty open to traditional and new ways to broadcast this competition. What we've seen this year with the A-Leagues is a spike in interest, watching the competition, because of the A-Leagues All Access, which is a great consideration for us as a second tier to potentially look at. But nothing is off the table when it comes to broadcast, we're looking at both traditional and more progress means and, ultimately, we want the second tier to be successful. For it to be successful, the broadcast needs to work. So, we'll take our time to get that one right." – Watch this space!!

21.11.2022

IREDALE DREAMS OF SOCCEROOS RECOGNITION

Jack Iredale hopes playing for Bolton Wanderers and potentially one day in England’s Championship with the club will help to get him in the conversation to be called up for international duty with Australia. The 26-year old summer signing from Cambridge United has acclimatised well to life at Bolton where he’s been regularly involved in both in the heart of defence and on the far left of the pitch.

Iredale has represented Australia at Under-17 level, however, he is yet to receive a senior call-up. He is confident the move to Bolton can out him in the frame for Socceroos selection. “It was always my dream to play for Australia at a World Cup. I thought I might have had a possible chance, especially playing at a club as big as Bolton,” said Iredale, who has accumulated over 200 outings for Greenock Morton, Queens Park, Carlisle United, Cambridge and Bolton.

“I haven’t quite got recognised and scouted yet, but it’s definitely right at the very top of my goals list and I’m going to keep doing everything I can to try and hopefully get a call-up one day because it would be a dream for me. There were so many reasons why I chose to come here, but that was another massive reason, playing at a club as big as Bolton with the trajectory that the club is on, it’s only going to help me in terms of my personal goals as well.

“The under-17s was my last time. I’ve not had recently any contact in terms of being close to a squad or I’m going to be in a squad or anything like that. But I know there’s a lot of Australian footballers out there as well who are getting opportunities, so playing for a club as big as this consistently week in, week out, at the top end of League One and hopefully in the Championship very soon, it’s only going to be a good thing in terms of trying to get recognised.”

Australia have qualified for this winter's tournament in Qatar, where the Socceroos have been drawn against world champions France, Denmark and Tunisia for the group phase. Iredale is bullish about Australia's chances at the World Cup and, although the team is frequently written off they do always surprise people with their performances. He believes that id down to the national character.

“Australia get written off at every single World Cup and I feel like they go out and surprise people at every single one. They’ve got that Aussie diggers spirit and never ever are going to give up. Players will run themselves into the ground but also the technical level of Australian football is gradually increasing as well. I’ll be a fan this World Cup. I would love to be over there and involved in the squad, but I know a few of the boys in the team so I’ll definitely be watching.”

“There’s so many different national sports that you have to compete with. I think football youth-wise is by far the biggest, but I moved to Australia when I was 10 or 11, but even from that age I think just the mentality and the grittiness that Australians have. They’re stubborn and strong characters so when they get told that maybe they can’t do something, which is perhaps playing top flight football overseas, they’re going to do everything they can to get to the top.”

20.11.2022

BURGESS ON IPSWICH'S VICTORY AT EXETER

Ipswich Town’s masked man was delighted to mark his return to action with an excellent performance and a clean sheet at Exeter. Cameron Burgess was making his first league start in two months, after suffering a series of nasty facial fractures while playing Bristol Rovers in September.

Burgess was delighted to be back in action on the weekend. “It was good from a defensive point of view to get a clean sheet with a solid performance,” he said. “They are a top side but we were well prepared for what they were going to bring, so it was a pleasing result.”

“It was good to be out there helping the team after a bit of time out. The competition is strong and we work hard to make sure anyone can step in at any time. The fans can see it’s strong and there are no dips in performance when people change, which is testament to all the boys, how they train and how they go about things.”

The severity of Burgess’s injuries means he will need to play in a protective mask for the next few weeks, but the defender isn’t overly troubled by his need for extra equipment. “I’ve worn it for a while now,” he said. “I had a bit of a hand in how it was made and where my eyesight can go to, so that’s important because it can feel like it’s not even on my face.”

“After a couple of minutes you don’t even know it’s there. I was told it might be needed until Christmas time or something like that, but I don’t have any complaints because it’s comfortable. It was a freak injury so maybe the severity maybe hasn’t hit home yet and possibly never well, but that’s a positive because I can keep on doing my job and feel comfortable doing it.”

20.11.2022

KERR ON TARGET TO HELP CHELSEA BACK TO THE TOP

Sam Kerr has helped Chelsea back to the top of the English Super League table after a 3-0 win against local rivals Tottenham Hotspur in front of a huge crowd at Stamford Bridge. The 38,350 supporters were on their feet on 12 minutes, when the Matildas striker, and former Perth Glory skipper opened the scoring, and she went on to have another great game. Erin Cuthbert made it 2-0 before the half hour, and Guro Reiten added a third from the spot before the break.

Chelsea Head Coach Emma Hayes praised some of the individual performances behind it but also the ever-maturing play from her team overall, in her first game back on the touchline after a break for a medical matter. “For 45 minutes I saw the maturity and growth in our team in the way we circulate the ball, the rotations, the patterns, the movements, the chemistry, the symmetry - the things that come together with players who have been playing together for a long time,” Hayes explained.

“We've got better at being comfortable about the ball, especially in mid-blocks. We did that well first half. In the second half Tottenham improved in what they were doing.” With the Arsenal side of Aussie teammates Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley dropping points for the first time this campaign on Saturday, when they lost 3-2 at home to Manchester United, the path was clear for Chelsea to leapfrog them at the top, and Kerr, who is chasing a third successive WSL Golden Boot, ended any concern her fourth league goal of the season.

She seized on a clearance by England's Millie Bright, rode a tackle by Canadian Olympic gold medallist Shelina Zadorsky, and steered a shot past the keeper and three covering defenders. Scotland's Cuthbert adding a second after 26 minutes and Norway's Reiten converting a penalty ten minutes later, Chelsea had the points wrapped up before the break. Chelsea and Kerr then turn their attention to the challenge of Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Kerr started as Chelsea ran out 2-0 winners to go five points clear at the top of the table. It was a tight game, before Sophie Ingle opened the scoring for the hosts on 67 minutes. The points were wrapped up eight minutes later when Cuthbert added a second. It's a weekend off and a clear midweek for The Blues, before the next action, which is a WSL visit to Leicester. Kick-off there on Saturday 3 December is 3pm. Then it is the return match against Real with that game in Spain on Thursday 8 December.

21.11.2022

2022 QATAR WORLD CUP PREVIEW

The 2022 FIFA World Cup Finals kick off on Monday morning, and most of the talk leading into the tournament in Qatar has been off the pitch, but we take a look at the groups and give our predictions for the biggest sporting event on the planet. First in Group A we have hosts Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and Netherlands. The Dutch seem the one to beat, and after missing qualification for the last World Cup, the three-time losing finalists have landed in a fairly comfortable group and Louis van Gaal’s mix of experience and youth should be able to top it with relative ease, but will they?

The reigning African champions, Senegal have what it takes to impress in Qatar. Knocked out in the first round at Russia 2018, the Lions of Teranga have one ambition, and that’s to outdo the legendary side that reached the quarter-finals at Korea/Japan 2002. Twenty years on from that heady achievement, and the finals are back on Asian soil, which may well be a positive sign for superstitious Senegal fans who believe the current crop is the best they have had.

Very much the surprise package in South American qualifying, Ecuador looks more than capable of making their mark in the group. Boasting a squad that is packed full of promising talents, Gustavo Alfaro’s charges exceeded all expectations to land one of the automatic tickets to the Qatar showpiece ahead of other nations that, on paper at least, appeared to possess greater talent, they could surprise a few teams in the group.

Qatar may be a dark horse to get out of the group, but home advantage helped Russia get past Spain on penalties and into the quarter-finals four years ago. Qatar will have designs on doing something pretty similar here, and the defending Asian champions are used to the conditions and will have the whole Arab world behind them. Prediction - Group Winners: Netherlands – Runners Up: Senegal

In Group B we have England, Iran, USA and Wales. Many believe England are favourites to top the group, but they have gone off the boil since football almost came home at last year’s Euros. They have failed to win any of their last six games in the UEFA Nations League – their longest winless run heading into a major tournament. Semi-finalists in 2018, runners-up at EURO 2020, can England continue that upwards trajectory by topping the podium in Qatar, only time will tell. They certainly have the talent, with Harry Kane – adidas Golden Boot winner at the last FIFA World Cup, heading up a squad of largely young, gifted and, crucially, tournament-hardened players, Gareth Southgate’s side should top the group.

Iran will be hard to beat, and after a good showing in Russia last time out, we’re not betting against them getting out of the group. If one was to put a title to their 2018 campaign, 'so near and yet so far' would just about sum it up. They picked up four points from what had previously been deemed an impossible group, featuring 2010 world champions Spain and a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Portugal. Now, four years on, Team Melli are looking to restore the formula that took them within inches of making history and getting out of the group stage, may be this is their year.

Wales are determined to make the most of what will be their first FIFA World Cup in 64 years. Robert Page’s side made the finals via the play-offs. Wales took points from Belgium and Czech Republic to secure a play-off berth. A double from talesman Gareth Bale eased Wales past Austria in the semi-final, before the same player’s deflected free-kick saw off Ukraine to send Wales to a first World Cup since 1958, when a Pele goal undid them in the quarter-finals. The Welsh will give it a good go, but might fail to get out of the group

The dark horse in the group is the United States. They might have missed the last edition of the World Cup and struggled through qualifying to reach Qatar, but they have a crop of exciting youngish players like Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, Juventus’ Weston McKennie and son-of-a-gun Timothy Weah, who are building towards something. Now coached by Gregg Berhalter and boasting arguably their best-ever generation, USA are targeting a place in the knockout phase and beyond, and many believe they will. Prediction - Group Winners: England – Runners Up: USA

In Group C we have Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland. Bidding for their third title, Argentina and their iconic No10 (Lionel Messi) will arrive in Qatar as genuine contenders. Expectations are at a high amongst the fans, the 2021 Copa America win, secured on Brazilian soil at the Estadio Maracana, fired the dreams of a country that has but one objective on its mind - lifting a third World Cup Trophy. With Messi still leading the way in what will be his fifth and, quite possibly, last world finals appearance, there are many reasons why La Albiceleste are contenders for the most prized piece of silverware in the game.

Mexico have fallen in the Round of 16 at seven successive FIFA World Cups. Hirving Lozano and Co are determined to clear the barrier at Qatar 2022. Their first task will be to claim one of the top two spots in the group, which will not be easy, given the quality of the opposition. Clear that hurdle and they will have the chance to put their unwanted record to bed against one of the two qualifiers from the Socceroos Group.

Saudi Arabia qualified for Qatar 2022 in style. The task for head coach Herve Renard is to steer the nation beyond the opening phase for the first time since their debut appearance in 1998. There have been encouraging signs nonetheless in Saudi Arabia’s form as they begin their World Cup preparations in earnest. A 1-0 success against North Macedonia on 22 October was followed four days later by a 1-1 draw with Albania. Renard’s team have the unenviable task of opening their Qatar campaign against one of the tournament favourites Argentina.

The dark horse of the group is Poland, who are appearing in only their third Finals from the past nine World Cups, and on none of those occasions have they made it out of their group. The form of Barcelona’s red-hot Robert Lewandowski surely gives them a decent chance. Czeslaw Michniewicz side have been drawn in such a strong group, but Poland’s first aim will be to reach the round of 16 and consign the bitter memories of their early exit from Russia 2018 to the history books. Prediction - Group Winners: Argentina – Runners Up: Poland

The Socceroos are in Group D, along with France, Denmark and Tunisia, with many pundits naming it the ‘Group of Death’ Current World Cup holders France are the big favourites in this one, and have their sights set on retaining their title at Qatar 2022. A tough but far from impossible task, and with the talent at the disposal of Coach Didier Deschamps many believe they can. Led by their captain Hugo Lloris, who could become the country’s most capped player of all time in Qatar, France can count on several of the world’s best players, among them Kylian Mbappe, N’Golo Kante, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele.

The Socceroos will take on the French in the opening game, a daunting task, but one Coach Graham Arnold will be looking forward too. Arnold reflected after that “no-one in Australia had given us a chance”, in the play-off, and described his side’s qualification – at the end of a COVID-hit campaign in which they had to play 14 of their 18 preliminary matches overseas – as “one of the greatest achievements ever”. The grit shown in those play-offs has sparked a surge in self-belief among Socceroos fans, and with some of the youngsters and new faces having stepped up in recent games, and like all Australian teams they will ‘Have a Crack’ and don’t be surprising is they are pushing for a spot in the round of 16.

Denmark is another quality team, and are dark horses to win the tournament. Kasper Hjulmand’s side came close to glory at EURO 2020, having somehow recovered from the trauma of their star player’s on-field cardiac arrest in the opening match to enjoy a goal-laden run to the semi-finals. Even more impressive was their form in World Cup qualifying, with a place at Qatar 2022 secured with a couple of games to spare – and without a point having been dropped or a goal conceded. Add to that two UEFA Nations League wins over the world champions in the space of just four months, and it’s easy to see why the Danes are being discussed as potential title contenders.

Tunisia is gearing up for what will be their sixth FIFA World Cup. They are hoping that Qatar 2022 will be one to remember as they carry the hopes and dreams of 12 million Tunisians on their shoulders. The current Tunisian squad is a completely different proposition to that of Russia 2018. They are looking in good shape and have won plaudits for a string of impressive performances in recent friendlies against tough opposition, and expectations are high for Qatar. The road to the knockout stages, however, will not be simple in the slightest, with three good teams in the group. Prediction - Group Winners: France – Runners Up: Australia

In Group E, it will be Spain, Costa Rica, Germany and Japan, another group full of quality. It’s hard to split Spain and Germany, two powerhouses of world football, but Japan is an excellent side also, as Socceroos fans know all too well. And even Costa Rica have made a habit out of sneaking out of tough groups in the past, as they did in 2014 when they finished above England, Italy and Uruguay, so good luck picking the winners out of this one.

The favourites in this tough group would be Spain and Luis Enrique’s rejuvenated squad could spring a surprise in Qatar. The sun is shining again for a team with renewed belief. After two FIFA World Cup cycles that served up more than their fair share of frustration, controversy and disappointment, Enrique has got Spain back on track as they bid to bring back the glory years of 2008 to 2012, and the European powerhouse will be there or there about.

Hansi Flick will attempt to guide Germany to a fifth world title at Qatar 2022. The team’s quality, as well as their difficulties in finishing and maintaining their mentality throughout the 90 minutes was evident during Qatar 2022 qualifying and in the UEFA Nations League. That makes it all the more exciting to see whether Germany will transition into a tournament team – as is customary – or whether they will fail to live up to their own expectations, not many will back against them. When the chips are down the Germans usually pull out a surprise, and not many will bet against them reaching the round of 16.

Japan will be the dark horses in the group, and many Socceroos supporters know the quality the Samurai Blue have. They have lost only two of their past 13 games and have a squad packed with so much talent there was no room for Celtic stars Kyogo Furuhashi and Reo Hatate. They have fallen into an extremely tough group, but they are nonetheless confident of setting a personal best and reaching the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals for the first time. Most of the squad now are playing in Europe and competing at the highest level against quality opposition. And if they can develop into a completer and more effective team, their opponents could be in for a few surprises.

Costa Rica reached Qatar after a play-off win against New Zealand, and will find it tough to get out of the group, but they will once again hope to show what they are made of. Surprise quarter-finalists at Brazil 2014 and present at Russia 2018, Costa Rica looked down and out in the final stage of Concacaf qualifying for Qatar 2022, but managed to get into the intercontinental play-offs and beat the Kiwi’s. If a squad packed with legendary names such as PSG keeper Keylor Navas and Bryan Ruiz can negotiate that daunting hurdle of a tough group, however, the Tico fans might just start dreaming big again. Prediction - Group Winners: Spain– Runners Up: Germany

Group F is another tough one to pick with Belgium, Canada, Morocco and Croatia. Croatia were the beaten finalists last time around while Belgium won the third-place play-off, so they will be teams to beat in the group. Roberto Martinez’s has a squad brimming with talent, including the likes of Thibaut Courtois, who captured the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League crown with Real Madrid and was named The Best FIFA Goalkeeper in 2018. Also, Manchester City icon and four-time English Premier League champion, Kevin De Bruyne; adidas Silver Ball winner at the 2018 tournament in Russia, Eden Hazard; and Romelu Lukaku, who landed the adidas Bronze Boot last time round, they will take some beating.

A generation of talented Croatian players are primed for battle and intent on matching their superb showing in Russia last time out. After making it all the way through to final four years ago, Zlatko Dalic’s side will be keen to achieve something special in Qatar. After all, it is not every generation that brings together the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic, Ivan Rakitic and Dejan Lovren, to name but a few, and the prospect of fielding a side boasting such talent clearly strengthens the case of a national team that has made waves at the top table of international football in recent times.

Despite a solid performance at Russia 2018, Morocco failed to get out of their group, now, they are desperate to make amends. With the appointment of Walid Regragui as the Atlas Lions’ new coach less than three months before the start of the tournament, a lot of questions remain unanswered. Despite all the upheaval, there is a palpable sense of excitement around the new coach. But the questions on everyone’s lips is which Moroccan side will turn up at Qatar, only time will tell.

The dark horse in the group is Canada, who topped CONCACAF in qualifying and have some truly exciting young players ready to take the next steps in their careers, like Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and Lille’s Jonathan David. The last time they made the finals was in 1986, and Coach John Herman is excited about his squad, and he hopes they find a way out of the group stage and into the knockout phase this time around, and the coach believes he has the key players who could help him do it. Prediction - Group Winners: Belgium – Runners Up: Croatia

In Group G we have Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon. Many betting markets have Brazil as outright favourites to win the whole thing and add a sixth star to their famous badge, and rightly so. They have a new look squad filled with Premier League stars, and Head Coach Tite, who wasted little time in bringing the new generation into the fold. With so much talent at his disposal, he now has the difficult task of deciding who will start. His side have just put together the best ever campaign in the South American qualifiers, recording 14 wins, three draws and no defeats and scoring 40 goals in total and conceding just five. Their aim now is to go all the way in Qatar.

Dragan Stojkovic’s Serbian side, with all its attacking panache, promises to be entertaining, but can they reach the Round of 16 for the first time in their history, we will have to wait and see. On paper Serbia look to be in good shape to compete in Qatar, with a squad of players, rich in talent. The likes of Vlahovic, Mitrovic, Kostic and Tadic all have goals in them and, should they click, Serbia will be hard to stop. With two impressive victories at the end of September; against Sweden (4-1) and Norway (2-0), Serbia arrives in Qatar on a five-game unbeaten run – and want to keep the momentum going.

Switzerland is about to embark on their 12th World Cup, and Murat Yakin’s side have always demanded respect, and unafraid to mix it with the supposed favourites and upset the form book. One stand-out statistic underlines how the Swiss back line has long been the spine of the team. Back at the 2006 World Cup, when they lost out on penalties to Ukraine in the last 16 following a goalless draw, they became the first team to be eliminated from a World Cup without conceding a goal. A record that still stands today. They have a talented squad, led by veteran Granit Xhaka, while striker Noah Okafor is one to watch.

Rigobert Song is steadily giving Cameroon football fans something to shout about again. The tough former defender oversaw a nerve-shredding but successful FIFA World Cup qualification campaign and is readying his team for a tricky group in Qatar. Following a dramatic qualifying campaign that culminated in a wafer-thin play-off victory over Algeria, Cameroon will take to football’s greatest stage for the eighth time in their history, a record for an African country. With captain Vincent Aboubakar and his team-mates fully intend to follow in their predecessors’ footsteps by making a significant mark on the competition. Prediction - Group Brazil – Runners Up: Serbia

Finally in Group H, Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and Korea Republic do battle. This is probably the most even group in the tournament, but Portugal will be favourites to top the group. Cristiano Ronaldo will put all the off-field problems behind him, as he heads to his fifth FIFA World Cup, as part of a squad that spans several generations and is a product of Portugal’s prolific conveyor belt of talent. They have quality in every department and players who know what it means to win trophies on the international stage, namely UEFA EURO 2016 and the 2019 UEFA Nations League. It is for those reasons that they are capable of taking on and beating any side.

Uruguay will also be in the mix for a place in the round of 16, and the South American’s trademark grit and determination, they are always a threat at the FIFA World Cup. Diego Alonso’s side showed that in spades, when he took over as coach towards the end of their faltering qualification campaign and promptly oversaw four wins in as many matches to take them to 28 points and third place behind the runaway top two, Brazil and Argentina. La Celeste now faces a challenging group, but their performance in the group phase will go a long way to revealing if they have the credentials for a serious tilt at a third world title.

The dark horse in the Group will be Korea Republic, who failed to progress past the group stage in the past two World Cups, but they will look to break that streak. Paulo Bento’s side finished second in Asian qualifying and they will look to get out of the group stage for the first time since 2010. The team are determined to make amends for those successive disappointments and perform with distinction once again. Tottenham Hotspur striker Son Heungmin is the talisman for the side, while youngster Jeong Wooyeong is one to watch. Prediction - Group Winners: Portugal – Runners Up: Uruguay

20.11.2022

GLORY SHARE THE SPOILS WITH CANBERRA

Perth Glory have opened their 2022-23 Liberty A-League Women season with a hard fought 2-2 draw against Canberra United at McKellar Park on Saturday afternoon. Grace Jale gave the hosts the lead early, but Liz Anton levelled on the half hour for Alex Epakis’ side. Vesna Milivojevic restored United’s lead before the break, but debutant Gabriella Coleman restored parity just after the hour mark. Both sides had chances to win it, with new Glory keeper Sarah Langman the busier, but both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.

“It was very much a Round One fixture, both teams had moments, we certainly had some moments where we weren’t good enough, especially when we were trying to play through the opposition centrally,” Epakis explained post-match. “But on the flipside of that, we also had some really good moments and some positive indications of what’s to come. [At half-time] we acknowledged that the intent of what we were trying to do was exactly what the gameplan was, but the execution wasn’t there. So, we put some solutions out there and credit to the players, they went out there in the second half and delivered.

“Especially the players that came on, I felt that they added to that lift in performance as the second half went on. G [Gabriella Coleman] worked extremely hard and I think the goal was a just reward for all the effort she put in both with and without the ball. She’ll gain a lot of confidence from today… there are signs there that she’s going to be an important player for us this season.”

Looking to secure their first ever win in Canberra, Epakis’ side went close early, Coleman was sent in on goal, but United custodian Chloe Lincoln was out smartly to save at the American striker’s feet. The hosts hit back and former Matildas striker Michelle Heyman fired wide from the angle, before Nickoletta Flannery’s effort was tipped over the top by the alert Langman. But on 13 minutes the hosts found the opener, Grace Maher’s corner picked out Jale, and the New Zealand debutant rose highest to head home.

They almost added a second moments later, Jale finding Heyman, whose shot hit the post and away to safety. Glory were almost level on the quarter-hour, Hana Lowry’s shot from the edge of the box was superbly saved by Lincoln. It was end-to-end football, as both sides looked to open the new season on a high, Flannery’s shot was saved low by Langman, before Coleman’s cross found former Melbourne City midfielder Sofia Sakalis, but her effort was cleared off the line.

Glory deservedly levelled on 34 minutes, Ella Mastrantonio, who has returned for a fourth spell in purple, delivered a corner to the front post and Anton’s glancing header went in via the far post. It was a perfect response from Glory, but four minutes before the break, all that hard work was undone as Canberra regained their lead. Maher was given far too much room in the middle of the park and she drove forward before sending Milivojevic in on goal, and the Serbian midfielder fired low past Langman.

The visitors opened the second half well but couldn’t create any clear-cut chances, but it was Canberra who went close to a third on the hour, Langman getting down well to deny Jale’s shot. But three minutes later Glory levelled proceedings again, substitutes Rylee Baisden and Cyera Hintzen combined, the latter getting to the bye-line and cutting the ball back to Coleman, who made mistake. Langman then produced another good save to deny Milivojevic’s long-range shot as Canberra lifted the tempo.

Langman was at it again seven minutes from time, as Canberra pressed for the winner, the former Western Sydney Wanderers keeper saved low to thwart Laura Hughes shot, and Flannery’s follow up shot from close-range crashed off the post. Coleman had a chance to seal a win for Glory late, but her effort was blocked, giving both sides a point to start the season.

Canberra United: GK Chloe LINCOLN, 5 Emma ILIJOSKI, 8 Sasha GROVE, 9 Chegshu WU (6 Laura HUGHES 70'), 10 Grace MAHER, 11 Grace JALE, 15 Madison MCCOMASKY, 16 Kennedy FAULKNOR, 17 Vesna MILIVOJEVIC (13 Sofia CHRISTOPHERSON 79'), 19 Nickoletta FLANNERY, 23 Michelle HEYMAN - Subs not used: RGK Keely RICHARDS, 4 Holly MURRAY, 24 Ellen GETT

Perth Glory: GK Sarah LANGMAN, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 12 Sofia SAKALIS (10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM 67'), 16 Isabella WALLHEAD (11 Rylee BAISDEN 46'), 17 Abbey GREEN, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO, 23 Alana JANCEVSKI (15 Cyera HINTZEN 57'), 42 Gabriella COLEMAN - Subs not used: RGK Morgan AQUINO - Referee: Casey REIBELT – Attendance: 1,263

18.11.2022

GLORY WOMEN HEAD TO THE CAPITAL IN WEEK ONE

After an impressive season in the 2021/22 Liberty A-League Women, Perth Glory will look to build on their fifth-place finish when they begin the new season with a trip to McKellar Park on Saturday to take on traditional rivals Canberra United. (Kick-off at 12.00pm WST). Alex Epakis’ side missed out on the Top Four on goal difference last campaign, pipped by eventual champions Melbourne Victory, and the Head Coach believes his squad could be in no better place ahead of Saturday’s season-opener.

The club have been active in the transfer market, and have had an intense, six-week pre-season, and they are raring to go and fired up to secure what would be the club’s first ever win against United on the road, and Epakis is quietly confident that they can do exactly that. “I don’t say this lightly, but this is the best team environment that I’ve had the opportunity to work in,” he said. “Every single player is committed to what we’re doing and every single player is putting the team above themselves and it’s a real joy to come in and be a part of it.”

“There’s a fantastic energy and vibe about what we’re doing and I enjoy every day. I think this season, all the games are going to have fine-margin results, so we’ve got to make sure we’re doing the best that we can in every game for 90 minutes. We can put some value into what the opposition are doing, but we’re really focusing on what we’re doing and our job at hand. I think if we do that, anything is possible.”

When asked about his thoughts for the season ahead, Epakis feels his squad has the capacity to make a major impact as they seek to improve upon last year, their fifth-place finish was really impressive, as they had to play every game, bar one, away from home. “We’ve got a fantastic group and I really believe in what we’re doing and I really believe in the players,” he said. “Last season we did really well… and hopefully this season we can continue to grow and progress as a team.

“I wouldn’t be silly enough to put some outrageous claims out there, but what I do believe is that if we’re at our best every game and we stick to what we’re trying to achieve internally, I don’t want to put a limit on what that might look like. We’ve had a look at how we can manage things to work in our favour and use the momentum when it’s not with us, but we’re in the lead. It’s just about developing game intelligence and experience.”

That experience within the group has been bolstered by a number of the off-season recruits, including US import Rylee Baisden, Matildas midfielder Ella Mastrantonio and goalkeeper Sarah Langman, all of whom are expected to feature on Saturday. American forward Gabriella Coleman is also in line to make her debut for the club, while the only confirmed injury absentees are Claudia Mihocic and Milan Hammond.

Glory have won just two of their previous 23 meetings with Canberra, but last season’s two fixtures both ended all square. Last season the teams fought out a six-goal thriller in the Capital City, Grace Maher giving the hosts the lead, but Glory hit back with a Cyera Hintzen brace and another to Grace Anton to give them a 3-1 lead. But United scored two late goals, with Chelsee Washington and Lauren Keir scoring, giving both sides a share of the spoils.

Njegosh Popovich will take charge of the home side for the first time having succeeded Vicki Linton following the end of her two-season tenure. There’s plenty of firepower in this Canberra side, with Grace Jale, Nicki Flannery, Michelle Heyman, Grace Maher and Chinese international Wu Chengshu, who is in the mix for her Liberty A-League debut. The game can be watched live and free on 10 Play and Paramount Plus.

Squads - Canberra United: GK Keeley RICHARDS (GK), 2 Emily ROACH, 3 Grace TARANTO, 4 Holly MURRAY, 5 Emma ILIJOSKI, 6 Laura HUGHES, 8 Sasha GROVE, 9 Chengshu WU, 10 Grace MAHER, 11 Grace JALE, 13 Sophia CHRISTOPHERSON, 14 Chloe MIDDLETON, 15 Madison McCOMASKY, 16 Kennedy FAULKNOR, 17 Vesna MILIVOJECIV, 18 Chloe LINCOLN, 19 Nicki FLANNERY, 23 Michelle HEYMAN, 24 Ellen GETT - Unavailable: Ellie BRUSH, Hayley TAYLOR-YOUNG

Perth Glory: GK Sarah LANGMAN, GK Morgan AQUINO, 3 Kim CARROLL, 4 Natasha RIGBY, 6 Tijan MCKENNA, 7 Liz ANTON, 8 Hana LOWRY, 9 Demi KOULIZAKIS, 10 Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 11 Rylee BAISDEN, 12 Sofia SAKALIS, 13 Sarah CAIN, 15 Cyera HINTZEN, 16 Isabella WALLHEAD, 17 Abbey GREEN, 18 Sadie LAWRENCE, 21 Ella MASTRANTONIO, 23 Alana JANCEVSKI, 42 Gabriella COLEMAN - Unavailable: Claudia MIHOCIC (injured), Milan HAMMOND (injured)

17.11.2022

DUNN TAKES HOME INGLEWOOD F&B

Inglewood United skipper Alex Dunn ended a great season on a high after winning the clubs Fairest and Best at the Pan Pacific Hotel last month. Dunn, who missed a number of games due to injury last season, said he was delighted to take out the award. “From a personal perspective it’s a great honour to be recognised for my performances during the year and join a pretty good list of best and fairest over the years at Inglewood,” the keeper explained. “I have been working with Dave Whalley for a number of years and one thing we work on is being consistent week in and week out. Last year I was plagued with some long-term injuries so it was good to get back to my best and looking forward to more of the same in 2023.”

Inglewood Head coach Andres Oliveira said Dunn was a deserved winner of the F&B. “Alex was well deserved winner of the award,” he said. “His consistency of brilliance was outstanding and lead us to great victories and also keep us in the game for long periods.” Dunn beat midfielder Anthony Bafobusha to the award, while striker Manase Abandelwa won the Players’ Player of the Year and the Golden Boot (8 Goals), and Oliveira said he will be a big loss next season after signing for an NPLVIC side. “Manase had a great attitude and I praise his efforts on/off the field and came up with some ripper goals as well,” he explained. “His efforts are the reason why he was snatched up by Bentleigh Greens, and we are all going to miss him.”

In other awards on the night Ibere Kasukulu won the first team Rising Star Award, while in the U20’s Stefan Poposki won the F&B, ahead of Ben Harrison. Kasukulu won the Golden Boot (8 Goals), with Poposki won the Players’ Player of the Year. In the U18’s Luke Radis was the star, winning the F&B ahead of Dylan Di Toro, while he was also joint winner of the Golden Boot with Luke Dixon (7 Goals), and Players’ Player of the Year.

17.11.2022

PERTH GLORY LEGENDS IN CHARITY MATCH

Perth Glory former players will be action on Sunday, when they take on the Perth Children’s Hospital All Stars at Balcatta Etna FC’s Grindleford Reserve (2.30pm kick-off). It was a great event last season at Sorrento, and all the money raised will go to support the fantastic work carried out by the PCH Foundation and Breast Cancer Research Centre-WA.

The Glory legends will be led by former skippers Jamie Harnwell and Gareth Naven, while Chris Harold, Kenny Lowe, Branko Jelic, Marc Wingell, Vince Matassa, Sarah Carroll, Caitlin Doeglas and many more will be among those who will be representing the club once again. The Legends Game, which began in 2020, has raised thousands of dollars for charity as well as providing public acknowledgement of the incredible efforts put in on a daily basis by the consultants, doctors and nurses who make up the PCH squad.

In addition to the on-field action this year, there will be plenty happening around Grindleford Reserve courtesy of the sensational Sambozzy Brazilian Samba Band and the fantastic dancers from All Star Dance and Performance. A special thanks to Balcatta FC for hosting the game, and food and drink will be available from the fully licensed bar and there will be free balloons for the kids. Gates open at 1.30pm and admission is via a gold coin donation – Get along and support the day!!!!

15.11.2022

A WASTEFUL MATILDAS BEAT THAILAND

The Matildas have defeated Thailand 2-0 at Central Coast Stadium on Tuesday evening, with goals either side of half time from Sam Kerr and Hayley Raso. The win on the back of the big win against Sweden on Saturday, finished the year on the longest winning streak in the coaching tenure of Head Coach Tony Gustavsson, confirmed positive signs ahead of next year’s World Cup on home soil. The final score line did not reflect the Matildas’ dominance of a game, but missed opportunities cost them, having 31 shots to the visitors five, but a win is a win, and Raso said it ended a good run of form.

"We had a lot of chances, we need to be a little bit more clinical," the Manchester City winger explained. “But in the end, it's the result that counts.” Head Coach Gustavsson was delighted with the start, but knows there is still room for improvement. “We started off the game phenomenally, in fact it was one of our best starts to a game in a very long time," he said post-match. “Especially in those first 10 minutes, we were really flying, but we need to give credit to the Thailand goalkeeper (Waraporn Boonsing), I think she had a phenomenal game.”

The Matildas were on the front foot from the whistle, in front of another healthy crowd in Gosford (11,271), and Kerr’s shot early was saved by Boonsing. The skipper was in again moments later, her shot crashed off the crossbar and away to safety. The Chelsea striker headed wide from a Courtney Nevin cross, before Claire Polkinghorne then headed wide as they continued to dominate.

It was one-way traffic after waves and waves of Matildas pressure, but the Thai keeper and her defenders were working overtime to keep the hosts at bay. Kerr was then sent clear, but the striker tried to find two goal hero from the Sweden game Caitlin Foord, but her shot was blocked. Moments later Raso was denied by Boonsing and Polkinghorne headed inches wide.

Thailand went close to the lead on the half hour, in their first attack, but Orapin Waen-Ngoen shot drifted wide of the far post. Moments later Raso beat Boonsing, but the post came to the rescue of the Thai custodian, it looked like being one of those nights for the Matildas, but five minutes from the break they found the opener. Katrina Gorry’s corner picked out Kerr, who lost her marker and headed home and send the hosts into the break with the lead.

They doubled their advantage two minutes into the second half, half time substitute Emily van Egmond’s through ball sent Raso in on goal, and the winger finished clinically. Many thought the floodgates would open, but to Thailand’s credit they battled for everything, as they prepare for the qualifying play-offs for next year’s World Cup. Waenngoen almost pulled one back on 50 minutes, but Teagan Micah made a smart save.

Mary Fowler blazed over when sent into goal, before Raso saw an effort hit the woodwork again. Cooney-Cross was then denied by Boonsing, who was having a great game, before Fowler headed wide. Larissa Crummer then had two opportunities she failed to take, and at the other end Jiraporn Mongkoldee headed over the top, but it was the Matildas celebrating with their supporters at the final whistle.

It was a huge night for some of the squad, defender Clare Polkinghorne made her 151st appearance for the national side, joined Cheryl Sainsbury as the most-capped Matilda of all time. Also, Elise Kellond-Knight made her return from a two-and-a-half, year injury lay-off that pre-dated the Tokyo Olympics, coming off the bench late, while Gustavsson handed Matilda McNamara her debut.

“I’m so happy for KK and the team is so happy,” Gustavsson said. “What a journey. What she’s been going through could have been a career-ending crossroad moment for her and now she’s back with the national team. I get emotional talking about it.” Australia have now won their last four games and are undefeated in nine clashes with Thailand.

Matildas: GK Teagan MICAH, 2 Courtney NEVIN, 4 Clare POLKINGHORNE, 5 Cortnee VINE (10 Emily VAN EGMOND 45’), 7 Stephanie CATLEY, 9 Caitlin FOORD (11 Mary FOWLER), 16 Hayley RASO (29 Matilda MCNAMARA 89’), 19 Katrina GORRY (8 Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT 85’), 20 Sam KERR (27 Alex CHIDIAC 62’), 22 Charlotte GRANT (24 Larissa CRUMMER 46’), 23 Kyra COONEY-CROSS – Subs not used: RGK Lydia WILLIAMS, RGK Jada MATHYSSEN-WHYMAN, 3 Aivi LUIK 6 Chloe LOGARZO, 26 Clare WHEELER, 28 Amy SAYER

Thailand: GK Warapom BOONSING, 2 Kanjanapom SAENGKOON, 7 Silawan INTAMEE, 8 Nipawan PUNYOSUK, 11 Chatchawan RODTHONG, 12 Nutwadee PRAM-NAK (20 Irravadee MAKRIS 84’), 15 Orapin WAEN-NGOEN, 17 Taneekan DANDGA (14 Saowalak PENGNGAM 84’), 19 Panittha JEERATANAPAVIBUL (4 Supaparon INTARAPRASIT 71’), 21 Kanyanat CHETTABUTR (16 Jiraporn MONGKOLDEE 84’), 23 Sudarat CHUCHUEN (13 Pattaranan AUPACHAI 38’) – Subs not used: RGK Chotmanee THONGMONGKOL, RGK Nutruja MUTHTANAWECH, 3 Tipkritta ONSAMI, 5 Sangrawee MEEKHAM, 6 Ploychompoo SOMNONK, 9 Kanchaliya PHIMPHABUT, 10 Sunisa SRANGTHAISONG – Referee: Anna-Marie Keighley

13.11.2022

GARDINER INDUCTED INTO FOOTBALL AUSTRALIA HALL OF FAME

Matildas great Collette Gardiner (nee McCallum) has been recognised for her standout contribution to Australian football as one of six inductees into Football Australia’s Hall of Fame. Gardiner was a Matildas midfield mainstay for 11 years and is regarded as one of Australia’s finest footballers of all-time.

Gardiner was inducted prior to the Matilda’s 4-0 friendly defeat of Sweden yesterday. Also welcomed into Football Australia’s Hall of Fame were fellow Matilda Moya Dodd, former Socceroos’ coach Ange Postecoglou, players’ union pioneer Brendan Schwab, Tasmanian media personality Walter Pless and former Socceroo Ted Smith.

“The Football Australia Hall of Fame is the highest honour bestowed upon players and participants who have served the game – either on or off the field – with distinction, with no better demonstration of this than our Class of 2022,” said Chris Nikou, Football Australia Chair in announcing the new inductees.

“These six highly regarded figures of the Australian football community have not only made significant contributions at a local and national level but in the case of Moya (Dodd), Ange (Postecoglou), and Brendan (Schwab), their impact and influence has been felt on the global stage.”

“With Australia to co-host the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year, it’s timely that one of Australia’s greatest female footballers in Collette Gardiner is acknowledged for her pioneering feats, along with former Socceroo Ted Smith who continues to play an important role with our men’s national team, and Walter Press for his unwavering dedication to the promotion of football in Tasmania.”

Born in Scotland, Gardiner played an integral role in the Matildas midfield between 2005 and 2015. She initially made her mark at youth level, featuring at two Under-20 World Cups and, following the 2006 tournament, was named in the FIFA All-Star squad.

At senior international level, Gardiner played 81 games and scored 13 goals. She started every game of Australia’s 2007 and 2011 Women’s World Cup finals campaigns and was a key part of the engine room when the Matildas lifted the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2010.

Since the initial Football Australia Hall of Fame induction of 84 players and participants in 1999, more than 250 male and female players, coaches, referees, administrators, and media representatives have been recognised for their outstanding contributions to our game.

12.11.2022

BOLTON'S IREDALE ON CAMBRIDGE RETURN

Win, lose or draw, Jack Iredale won’t be checking his social media on the team bus on his way back from Cambridge United this evening. Returning to the Abbey Stadium for the first time since his summer switch to Bolton Wanderers, the West Australian defender is keen to restore some of the consistency which has been lacking in recent performances.

Iredale admitted his own performances had dipped in a message to Bolton fans a fortnight ago – but believes he is getting back to the type of form which helped him become a regular under Ian Evatt almost immediately. Despite the Whites still sitting in a play-off spot with the division’s joint-best defensive record, the mood among supporters has been tetchy, not least since last weekend’s FA Cup exit against Barnsley.

Trying to absorb all the different opinions which will inevitably be swirling around after the final whistle would be a waste of time, says Iredale. “If you want to ignore it, you can,” Iredale said. “I personally don’t go on social media to find out if I have had a good or a bad game, I can probably tell what is being said without looking.”

“It is important what we are getting told by the coaching staff is what we have to do on the pitch, that is the best way to go about it. You get told about it all the time in football – don’t get too high with the highs and low with the lows. You just have to reset, forget about the previous game, then hit the best level possible.”

Iredale expected a culture shift when he agreed a three-year deal to move to Bolton in May, and the opportunity to challenge for Championship football was one of the biggest factors in his decision. It has been very different but then Bolton is a massive club and the fans expect success,” he said.

“I knew coming in that it is a big club and that it was one that wants to get back to the top level, albeit in the right way with what is going on behind the scenes as well. I didn’t expect anything less from Bolton’s supporters. As a team we want to be winning games consistently but I think over time we have kept in touch with the boys at the top.”

Iredale appreciates the role Cambridge and their young manager, Mark Bonner, played in his own career – which may well have continued outside the UK had it not been for their offer in the summer of 2020. “I hope that there was no hard feelings,” he said of his departure. “I had a really good two years there, I was in no man’s land after Covid.”

“I was back home in Australia, didn’t have a contract, I’d left Carlisle, and then Cambridge came out of the blue and gave me that opportunity to get back to UK football. I was talking to clubs in Asia and Australia as well. I thought I was probably going to have to stay a bit closer to home, especially with what was going on.”

“No one knew what it was going to be like for football, but when the opportunity came up, my girlfriend is still over here as well and it was even more of a reason to get myself back over here and playing football. Now here I am and I’m thankful that I did. I’m looking forward to going down and seeing a lot of old friends and I’m lo

12.11.2022

MATILDAS STUN SWEDEN

Former Perth Glory duo Caitlin Foord and Sam Kerr starred as the Matildas continued preparations for a home World Cup next year, with an emphatic 4-0 win against World No.2 ranked Sweden at AAMI Park on Saturday. Kerr opened the scoring, before Foord doubled the advantage early in the second half with a stunner. Substitute Mary Fowler added a third, before Foord added a fourth with a superb team goal that capped off a great performance, although it was an understrength Swedish outfit.

In front of a packed house of over 22,000, Tony Gustavsson’s side produced a slick performance, in only their second ever win over the European powerhouse, the team that beat them in the semi-final of last year’s Tokyo Olympics, and the big crowd finished the match clapping along to choruses of Waltzing Matilda. The coach was pleased with the display, but knows there is a long way to go. “Am I happy about this performance, yes but I’m not over the moon,” the Swedish coach explained.

“I’m very humble about where we are, this is one game. I thought we struggled for 30 minutes in the first half and were lucky not to be down 1-0. But we started off the game very well in the first five minutes, pressed high and were aggressive and could’ve scored. But after that, we got way too stretched and passive in our defending. We did a tactical adjustment with 15 minutes remaining and it worked out well. I thought the second half was one of the better halves we’ve played against a top opposition but I have to say our first half against Canada was just as good.”

It was the visitors who dominated early, with the woodwork coming to the rescue for the Matildas custodian Teagan Micah on 12 minutes. Chelsea midfielder Johanna Rytting Kaneryd shot on the run crashed off the post and away to safety, before Stina Blackstenius’ effort was saved by Micah. Steph Catley went close for the host 12 minutes later, her free kick from the edge of the box was saved low by Swedish goalkeeper Zecira Mušovic. But 13 minutes before the break the Matildas found the breakthrough. Foord sent Hayley Raso down the left, and her low cross was finished smartly by an alert Kerr at the front post, ending a four-game goal scoring drought for the striker for the Green and Gold.

The Matildas were on the front foot early after the break and they doubled their lead six minutes in. Kyra Cooney-Cross sent Foord down the left channel, and the Arsenal striker cut inside Elin Rubensson and finished superbly, curling past Mušovic despite the keeper getting a hand to it. Raso went close to a third on the hour, her shot from the edge of the box was saved low by Mušovic. Kerr headed inches wide, then Raso saw an effort flash wide, before at the other end Filippa Angeldahl’s long-range shot was saved at full stretch by Micah.

But on 73 minutes it was the hosts who found a third. A diagonal ball from Katrina Gorry sent Kerr down the left, she played in Fowler, whose shot on the run deflected off Linda Sembrant, wrong-footing Mušovic and finding the net. The icing was added to the cake five minutes later, with the goal of the game. Foord started the move finding Kerr, who played the ball inside to Emily van Egmond, whose slide rule pass sent Foord in on goal, and she finished with aplomb to make it 4-0, much to the delight of the Matildas faithful.

Foord picked up the Player of the Match, and she said it was a good win, and she is loving football for club (Arsenal) and Country. “I’m just enjoying myself at the moment, enjoying my football... I just love playing with these girls,” she said post-match. “I feel like we’ve finally come together, found that sweet spot. We want to be an attacking team, want to be aggressive, and we play our best when we’re like that. We want to be aggressive, and we want to take it to teams no matter who they are. That's what we did today and the results showed. We do feel good and we're playing the style of play that we want to play.”

Matildas: GK Teagan MICAH, 2 Courtney NEVIN, 4 Clare POLKINGHORNE, 5 Cortnee VINE, (11 Mary FOWLER 64’), 7 Stephanie CATLEY, 9 Caitlin FOORD (24 Larissa CRUMMER 82’), 16 Hayley RASO, 19 Katrina GORRY, 20 Sam KERR, 22 Charlotte GRANT (3 Aivi LUIK 83’), 23 Kyra COONEY-CROSS (10 Emily VAN EGMOND 75’) – Subs not used: RGK Lydia WILLIAMS, RGK Jada MATHYSSEN-WHYMAN, 6 Chloe LOGARZO, 8 Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 26 Clare WHEELER, 28 Amy SAYER, 29 Matilda MCNAMARA

Sweden: GK Zecira MUSOVIC, 2 Jonna ANDERSSON, 3 Linda SEMBRANT, 7 Madelen JANOGY (9 Matilda VINBERG 71’), 10 Sofia JAKOBSSON, 11 Stina BLACKSTENIUS (15 Rebecka BLOMQVIST 57’), 14 Nathalie BJORN, 17 Emma KULLBERG (13 Amanda ILESTEDT 84’), 19 Johanna Rytting KANERYD (22 Olivia SCHOUGH 57’), 20 Hanna BENNISON (16 Filippa ANGELDAL 71’), 23 Elin RUBENSSON (18 Julia Zigiotti OLME 56’) – Subs not used: RGK Cajasa ANDERSSON, RGK Emma LIND, 4 Hanna LUNDKVIST, 6 Magdalena ERIKSSON – Referee: Anna-Marie Keighley (New Zealand)

11.11.2022

SUBIACO YOUNGSTER SELECTED IN YOUNG MATILDAS SQUAD

Subiaco young keeper Zara Board has been selected in the Young Matildas squad for the upcoming three game series against Solomon Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea. Coach Leah Blayney named a 23-player squad to participate in the 2022 Pacific Women’s Four Nations Tournament in Canberra and Queanbeyan from 8 – 13 November 2022.

The youngest said it’s been a great season at Subiaco and that’s help her gain selection. “It has been a lot of hard work to get to this point trying to find my own pathway has been difficult sometimes but I wouldn’t change it and this is only the beginning,” Board explained.

“This season at Subiaco has helped me improve greatly with it being my first full season of NPL. Greg (Farrell) managed to assemble a good side together which managed to win some games and establish a new playing style Subiaco will look to continue into the next seasons.”

Board started playing for Melville from 2016-2021 including playing the start of the season with MUMFC due to the first team keeper being injured and also played at the NTC program, until she was offered a first team position at Subiaco in 2022. The young keeper has had many highlights in her football and hopes this tournament will be another.

“I’ve had many highlights, the best would probably be the junior matildas trip to Indonesia which was amazing playing my first international game,” the keeper explained. “Also being nominated for WNPL keeper of the year in my first full season of NPL was a great achievement for me.

“I’m looking forward to the Pacific Nations Tournament, which is a great opportunity for this new group of players to come together ahead of the qualifiers. It gives us an opportunity to show the national staff what we have and to hopefully make our spots for the AFC tournament.”

These matches will be the next step in the CommBank Young Matildas’ preparations for the AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2024™ Qualifying Round 1. Head Coach Blayney said: “This is a fantastic occasion for this group of players as they begin their international journey at the U-20 level. It will be a good opportunity for many to learn more about themselves as they take on some of the best teams in the Pacific region.”

“We always welcome international competition and the exposure it provides to different environments, playing styles and cultures. For the CommBank Young Matildas to have the ability to take on senior teams at their age, it will be invaluable to their future development. Following the first camp of this cycle last month, we have continued to keep watch over players and the squad selection has been based on performances at various talent identification tournaments held recently, application back in their home environments at state National Premier Leagues competitions and Liberty A-League Women’s clubs.

In the first game Board was on the bench as Australia beat Solomon Islands 2-1. Avaani Prakash gave the Young Matilidas the lead, but Jemina David levelled before half time. They won it with Ella O'Grady scoring after the break, and while Australia dominated possession and territory, the Solomon Islands stayed in touch the entire match, and they went close to equalising late when David dragged her shot wide in stoppage time. Prakash and Shay Hollman were very impressive for Australia while David and Ileen Pegi were instrumental in Solomon Islands' strong performance.

11.11.2022

GLORY READY TO BOUNCE BACK AFTER WORLD CUP BREAK

After a poor start to the Isuzu Ute A-League Men’s season, Perth Glory will be hoping early season break for the World Cup can help them reset their campaign. After a tough start with five games on the road, and the walk out of star striker Bruno Fornaroli, the club will use the break as an opportunity to reset and launch into the second part of the season.

The Glory will start their pre-World Cup hiatus a week earlier than the rest of the ALM, with Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Melbourne City their final game until December 10. Ruben Zadkovich side, who won the wooden spoon last season, sit second bottom on the ladder, having only won one game this season, 2-1 win at Central Coast Mariners, a result many Glory fans, thought was a turning of the corner, how wrong they were.

With their home ground (HBF Park), unavailable until March due to delayed renovations for the Womens World Cup, they will play their home games at a revamped Macedonia Park, starting on Saturday December 10 – kick off 7.30pm against bottom of the table western United. The Head Coach said it’s been tough on his players, but he is confident his new look group can turn things around.

“When you have away game, away game five times in a row, there’s a cumulative loading as well for the players - mentally, physically, emotionally. It starts to take its toll,” Zadkovich said. “We’re in the infancy of what’s going to be a very big rebuild and for us to have our government put us in a position where we have to start the season with five away games, it just makes it really difficult.”

Zadkovich said he planned to give his players and staff a week off to freshen up and then have a mini pre-season, and he admitted a lack of competitive games would pose a challenge but hoped a run of home fixtures, as well as regaining Mustafa Amini, could turn things around. “We go into a period where there’s a lot of home games and then the advantage is on our side and get a couple of players back and things can change really quickly,” he said.

“This league, it seems like it’s all doom and gloom, when you lose a couple and you can win a couple and jump the table pretty quick, so we’ll stay really positive. “We know how early we are in this process. Like I said before the season, it will take a couple of (transfer) windows, more than likely, to rebuild a team from bottom of the barrel in the league, to back to where we want to be and where we deserve to be.”

Perth’s start to their season was also overshadowed by Fornaroli’s messy departure, but Zadkovich hoped to keep getting minutes into young strikers Stefan Colakovski and Giordano Colli but admitted filling Fornaroli’s scoring boots would take time. “We lost Bruno, he was our marquee striker, he was our highest-paid player,” he said. “So, the focus is who replaces Bruno and that’s the reason why I’m saying it will take time, it will take windows.”

10.11.2022

LOWRY LOVING HER FOOTBALL IN THE WEST

Perth Glory midfielder Hana Lowry is one of the young stars in the Liberty A-League Women, and with the new season starting soon, she sat down with Neil Bennett from Beyond 90 to chat about life, football and playing for NTC, Glory, Blacktown Spartans in the NSW NPLW and the Young Matildas, and her hopes of selection in the Women’s World Cup next year. Lowry will embark on her fourth season for Glory, and the 19-year-old has already made 32 appearances, and she was also part of the Young Matildas squad at the U20 Women’s World Cup, and many believe see is on the radar for full national honours.

First the youngster was asked how preparations for the season were going, her experiences at the U-20 World Cup and life in NSW, where she plays her NPLW football, and about her early days and first influences. “My Dad played and so did my brother, so I was just kind of born into football, watched football and I just fell in love with it straight away. My local club was Cockburn City SC and I played with the boys until U13’s and I loved it there,” Lowry explained. “NTC tries to create as professional an environment as they can, and you start to get a glimpse of what a professional lifestyle is like. You’re training more regularly than you would at club level, and you also have the national championships which are where you can be identified and you might get asked to attend camps etc.”

Lowry’s path to selection for the Junior Matildas followed this route, and she was part of a squad that travelled to Laos for 2019 AFC U-16 Championship qualifiers. They qualified for the finals in Thailand and earned a creditable fourth spot, with Lowry scoring three goals during the tournament. She was also part of a Junior Matildas squad that travelled to the Solomon Islands, and was clearly very proud about being involved in the national set-up. “It was a dream (being part of the Junior Matildas) and it was something I always wanted since I was really young,” Lowry said. “So, when I got the call up all the hard work had paid off and it was a special moment for me to step on the pitch and represent my country.”

The growing exposure of women’s football has meant that players such as Lowry are now becoming more well-known. She is well on the way to becoming a role model for young players herself, and she spoke about who she looked up to when she was growing up. “My family were all huge Liverpool fans and we all loved Steven Gerrard and how he played,” she said. “I loved watching the Premier League and also when the Matildas were on. Watching Sam Kerr and Lisa De Vanna as players from Perth being able to make it sort of made my dreams more realistic.”

With the growing movement of senior Matildas going overseas to play in the European leagues, Bennett asked Lowry if this was something that would inspire more young players. “Yeah definitely. A few years ago, before Sam made the move to Chelsea, it wasn’t a common thing for female footballers to go over to Europe,” the midfielder explained. “But since she has moved you can switch on the television and watch and I think that’s a really big thing for young players, knowing that they can follow those steps.”

Lowry is now a part of the Future Matildas program, having joined it in 2021 when she moved to Sydney, and she now plays her football for Blacktown Spartans in NSW. She spoke about the program, offered some thoughts on the possible reasons players in WA are moving to other states, and the differences between the NPLW in NSW and WA. “Moving interstate across to Sydney was a big step for me, but I love the program. It was a real eye-opener regarding the sort of standards expected and the intensity of the training,” she said.

“You’re training every day and sometimes twice a day. You may be playing twice a week and I think that has really helped me build some more robustness. It’s a great program for players because a lot of the drills are a replica of those used by the Matildas. The quality is there in the NPLW in WA, and I really enjoyed playing in the league. The biggest difference playing in Sydney would be there are a lot more W-League players playing in the league. In nearly every team there are half or more of the players who have played W-League. Also, Perth is very isolated and being in Sydney you are a lot closer to the Future Matildas program and things like that but, at the same time, the Perth NPL is a great league.”

The highlight of her year so far has undoubtedly been the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica. Lowry shared her experiences about the tournament and provided some insights into where she feels the game needs to grow, in order for our junior sides to become more competitive in the future. “I had to travel to Mexico on my own because I had COVID a few days before the team flew out (to Costa Rica), which was pretty big for me as I hadn’t travelled on my own internationally,” she said. “The quality of the players was an eye-opener, but even though we didn’t get the results we still competed with teams, especially Spain in the last game where there were glimpses of us being on top and that really proved to ourselves that we can compete with the best young players in the world.

“We were quite surprised by the Costa Ricans who were all in right from the start. We conceded quite early on and they went in with so much confidence with a massive crowd backing them and you could see they had a big belief in themselves and that they could get a result. They were competitive and had some really technically good players. Costa Rica is not a team that many Australian players have played against and it was really good for us to see their style as we’re only used to playing against Asian teams. (Playing against the Spanish) it was pretty crazy as they had players playing for Barcelona and those sorts of clubs and we had just been playing for our NPLW clubs.”

Lowry felt that pushing for full-time professionalism would be key to helping bridge the gap between the top national sides and Australia. She had this to say about the future of the league and a possible move overseas to further her career. “When you look back to what some of the older players were dealing with when they started, you can see how much it has changed and in 10 years’ time if it changes by as much then, you are looking at a really good league and players overseas will look at it and want to be in it,” she said. “I’m really happy here and I love playing in the league and I think eventually a goal of mine would be to go overseas, but right at the moment I’m happy here.”

For the immediate future Lowry is concentrating on the season ahead. She was upbeat about the way things have been going in pre-season and is looking forward to seeing what she and her teammates can achieve, especially as Perth Glory will be able to play genuine home games and have their supporters cheering them on. She was also asked if the 2023 World Cup Finals and a possible Matildas callup were in the back of her mind. “We’ve retained a lot of key players and we’ve added some really good American attacking players which I think is really exciting, and building on last season when we missed out on finals by goal difference, we’re all really eager to push and improve,” Lowry said. “I think (the World Cup) is in the back of the mind of all young players. It’s a big year and anything can happen, but whatever happens, I’m just so excited to be able to witness such a special occasion for Australia.”

10.11.2022

GLORY HOPING TO LURE TAGGART HOME

Perth Glory are hoping home comforts will help them lure Socceroos attacker Adam Taggart back to Western Australia for a third stint at the club. The 29-year old was a surprise exclusion from Graham Arnold’s squad for this months’ World Cup in Qatar and is spending time at home in Perth after the conclusion of his season in Japan.

Taggart is contracted to J-League club Cerezo Osaka until the end of next season, which concludes in November 2023. Glory would jump at the chance to sign him before that deal expires, but only if Taggart approached them about a move home. It is understood Taggart and Glory coach Ruben Zadkovich are close friends from their time playing together with the Newcastle Jets.

“We’d love Taggs to play for us and he’d help fill the huge hole Bruno (Fornaroli) has left behind,” Glory owner Tony Sage said. “He’s still under 30 and he is one of the best Australian strikers. All of the A-League clubs would be looking at him, but his love of Perth will bring him back here. We don’t want to break any rules with his contract though.”

That would mean Sage and Taggart putting their differences aside, with the long-time owner launching a social media tirade against the player when he left to play for Brisbane Roar in mid-2018. “Even though we had that big stoush many years ago, I still think he is one of the best strikers in Australia and I was very surprised he wasn’t in the squad to go to the World Cup,” Sage said.

Taggart had limited opportunities in Osaka’s starting eleven this season but still scored five goals from 20 appearances for the fifth-placed side. A product of the Glory’s academy set-up, he had chalked up 230 first team appearances in Australia (Glory, Newcastle, Brisbane Roar), England (Fulham), Scotland (Dundee United), South Korea (Suwon Bluewings) and Osaka (Japan).

9.11.2022

ARMADALE ADD NEW COACHES

After last season’s seventh place finish in the NPLMWA, the best the club have ever finished in the league, Armadale have added some experience to their coaching panel for 2023. Head Coach John O’Reilly retains his place, after guiding the club to the State League Cup Final and the Round of 32 of the Australia Cup. “Delighted to continue my role at the club, and I’d like to thank former President Ken Madeley for his support over the years, and I’m looking forward to working with new President Chris Bates,” he explained.

“The club has grown in the seven years I’ve been involved, and the hard work behind the scenes from everyone here has been fantastic, it’s like a family, and yes, we have our ups and downs, but it’s great to be involved. Last season was a great ride, we brought some players back to the club, and played some of the youngsters, and they never let me or the club down, the whole squad was outstanding, and we will look to add to that in 2023.”

Joining O’Reilly in the first team set up is Salv Todaro and Sam Hutchings. “I’m really excited about joining Armadale at such an exciting time, with a new President and committee bringing in a new vision and new goals for the club,” Todaro explained. “I’m looking forward to being part of that and helping John (O’Reilly) build on the success that he has achieved over the last couple of years and helping the club wherever I can. There is a certain buzz around the place and it’s good to be involved in that. The club enjoyed its most successful season in the NPL and made the cup final, lots of planning is going into making next year an even better one.”

“Last season we raised the overall bar having accumulated the highest points total in our NPL history. We gave some good performances throughout the league and again a promising cup run. However, we fell short at the last hurdle in the State Cup, were well beaten in the round of 32 and lost focus on the league,” Hutchings explained. “For these reasons I have very mixed emotions regarding last year, we had what most viewed a successful season but we must be more ambitious and we will push on again this time around. On to next season, I welcome Salv and look forward to working with both himself and John again this year. Salv brings great league knowledge and experience to the coaching group and will no doubt benefit the club/team this year. I am pleased and excited to return and relish the opportunity to continue the positive journey with the club.”

The club also announced Lee Taylor has the new U20s coach, who was Head Coach at Rockingham City and assistant Head Coach at Gwelup Croatia in the last two seasons. Taylor said after talking to the club, he can’t wait to get into it. “I’m really looking forward to being a part of the club, when I met John and the committee it was really exciting to hear what plans they have to help develop the club over the next few seasons,” he said. “So, I’m really pleased that they were happy to bring me into the club to help be a part of those plans. We are still building the 20’s squad, but so far there is a nice mix of players that have already committed to the club for next season so I am looking forward to working with them.

“Some of the players who have stayed with us have already been able to earn some first team minutes last season, so my job will be to make sure that we provide an environment for all the players in the group to develop further to aim to be regulars in the first team squad in the future. If the players earn the right to get promoted to the first team squad, John has shown in the past that he will give opportunities if they are deserved so I will be looking forward to seeing which players take them opportunities this season.”

The U18s coach this season will be Mike Hartley. He has a superb record as a development coach, and has recently coached the WA State under 15s at the Football Australia national youth championships, and he can’t wait to get started at the club. “Everyone at the club has made me feel really welcome and I’ve had a chance to meet some of the potential players, and I’m really excited to be working with a new group of players,” he said. “I've coached at a number of clubs in Perth but have still been looking for that club I can call home and look to make an impact. I am a UEFA and FFA A Licensed Coach, and I also work for Football West as a coach educator and coached the WA State 15s team at the NYC, I can’t wait to get started.”

9.11.2022

ARNOLD NAMES HIS WORLD CUP SQUAD FOR QATAR

Socceroos’ Head Coach Graham Arnold has named his 26-man squad to represent Australia at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, and he left out a number of experienced players. WA-born Trent Sainsbury and Adam Taggart both missed out, while Tom Rogic and keeper Mitch Langerak were also not selected, while teenage Roma midfielder Cristian Volpato, who can also play for Italy, declined a place in the squad.

Goalkeeper Mathew Ryan will captain the side in Qatar at what will be his third FIFA World Cup, with Mathew Leckie the other player in the squad selected to represent Australia at a FIFA World Cup for the third time. This year’s tournament will be the second FIFA World Cup for Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Jackson Irvine, Jamie MacLaren, Aaron Mooy and Bailey Wright, with seventeen players selected in a FIFA World Cup squad for the first time.

Head Coach Graham Arnold said the Socceroos go to Qatar full of pride and belief after a challenging four years. “It’s been a unique and difficult qualification campaign and we now arrive in Qatar with an exciting squad which will do everything to make Australia proud on the world stage,” Arnold said. “Over the past four years, 32 players have made their debut for the national team. I want to thank every player who has helped the team over this journey. “We have called upon 68 players during the qualifying campaign and every one of them has played a part in getting us here. The make-up of our team reflects Australia’s multicultural landscape. Our boys come from all over the world, they all have different journeys, but we are united by one jersey.”

After securing qualification for the fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup, sixth appearance in total, the Socceroos will be looking to progress through the group stages for the first time since 2006. The squad features nine members of the Tokyo 2020 Olyroos’ squad in Nathaniel Atkinson, Keanu Baccus, Thomas Deng, Cameron Devlin, Joel King, Riley McGree, Kye Rowles, Harry Souttar and Mitchell Duke as the overage player, while speedster Garang Kuol was the surprise inclusion, the youngster recently signing for English Premier League Club Newcastle United.

“We have worked hard to give younger players an opportunity over the campaign, to expose them to international football, to test them against the best,” Arnold said. “I’m thrilled with the development and maturity of this group who now get a chance on the biggest stage possible. The Socceroos kick off their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ campaign against defending champions France at Al Janoub Stadium on Tuesday, 22 November at 10.00pm local / Wednesday, 23 November 6:00am AEDT.

Australia’s World Cup squad: Mat Ryan (capt), Nathaniel Atkinson, Keanu Baccus, Aziz Behich, Martin Boyle, Jason Cummings, Milos Degenek, Thomas Deng, Cameron Devlin, Mitchell Duke, Craig Goodwin, Ajdin Hrustic, Jackson Irvine, Fran Karacic, Joel King, Garang Kuol, Mathew Leckie, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren, Riley McGree, Aaron Mooy, Andrew Redmayne, Kye Rowles, Harry Souttar, Danny Vukovic, Bailey Wright.

8.11.2022

WORLD CUP SNUB FOR SAINSBURY AND TAGGART

There will be no West Australians in the Socceroos’ World Cup squad after defender Trent Sainsbury and striker Adam Taggart were omitted from the travelling party for Qatar. The pair will watch the tournament from home after being axed by coach Graham Arnold, despite featuring regularly in qualifying.

Speaking from Qatar, Arnold said the decision to leave both Sainsbury - his son-in-law - and Taggart out of the squad was tough. “I spoke to Trent about where he’s at at this moment in time, he hasn’t played for a number of weeks,” said Arnold. “But overall, I’ve gone for players like Harry Souttar and Kye Rowles who have done exceptionally well and continue to do exceptionally well. Trent was very understanding of the situation.”

“(Taggart) was one of the last phone calls I had to make. It was a decision that we decided to go for three number nines. Adam has obviously done a lot for the Socceroos in the past and again, it was just one of those decisions that that I’ve made and I truly believe in those three nines that we’ve got in (Mitchell) Duke, (Jamie) Maclaren and (Jason) Cummings and it’s one of those 50-50 calls.”

Sainsbury, one of the Socceroos’ best at Russia 2018, moved to Al-Wakrah in Qatar in August and managed just seven appearances before the league went on break. That was two months ago and he has not played a league game since, while his patchy performance against New Zealand in Australia’s last home game before the World Cup would also not have helped his cause.

Taggart, who played for the Socceroos at the 2014 World Cup, has scored just five goals in 20 appearances for J-League side Cerezo Osaka this season. He managed 61 minutes in the Socceroos’ last home game against New Zealand, but has struggled for minutes at club level and did not even make the bench for Cerezo on the weekend.

Mitch Langerak was also left out despite the Japanese-based goalkeeper recently returning from national team hiatus. Tom Rogic did not do enough to win back his spot in the side after sitting out the final phase of qualification in June due to personal reasons. And teenage sensation Cristian Volpato turned down the chance to play for Australia at the World Cup.

Australia, ranked 38th in the world, open their Group D campaign on November 23 by taking on World Cup trophy holders France. Four days later they face world 30-ranked Tunisia before rounding out the qualifying round against Denmark, 10th in the world, on November 30.

The Australia squad for the 2022 World Cup finals tournament is Nathaniel Atkinson, Keanu Baccus, Aziz Behich, Martin Boyle, Jason Cummings, Milos Degenek, Thomas Deng, Cameron Devlin, Mitchell Duke, Craig Goodwin, Ajdin Hrustic, Jackson Irvine, Fran Karacic, Joel King, Garang Kuol, Mathew Leckie, Awer Mabil, Jamie Maclaren, Riley McGree, Aaron Mooy, Andrew Redmayne, Kye Rowles, Mathew Ryan, Harry Souttar, Danny Vukovic and Bailey Wright.

7.11.2022

BURGESS ON RETURNING TO ACTION FOR IPSWICH

Cameron Burgess is a potential starter when Ipswich Town travel to Bracknell in the FA Cup tonight. And, if named in manager Kieran McKenna’s eleven, it’ll be the first time the defender is truly tested after suffering multiple facial fractures a little under two months ago.

Should he take to the field Burgess will be in a protective mask and with more than 30 screws still in his face. He underwent surgery to repair a broken cheekbone and eye socket following a clash with Harvey Saunders of Bristol Rovers, but there will be no shying away and no backing down.

“It was good to be back out on the pitch after a little while out,” said Burgess, who recently featured briefly from the bench at Port Vale. “I was hoping to be out for as short a time as possible. It’s not like some of the lads, who have knee injuries or something and need to be careful, and it was more about making sure the bones are healed properly.”

Burgess will play in a mask for several weeks but insists it doesn’t distract him from his game. “I have to wear it until Christmas time,” he said. “I had a bit of an input into where abouts on my face it would go to help my vision, although there were obviously some requirements too. You quite quickly forget it’s on your face after a couple of minutes.

“The metal pins will be there forever now to be honest, so that’s me now. “I think there are more than 30 in there but it’s not too noticeable. The severity of it probably still hasn’t hit home, really, but that’s probably a good thing as I get back to playing again. The injury was a freak one so it’s not one I think about too much.”




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