Minister for Transport, Planning, Ports Rita Saffioti and Football West Chairman Sherif Andrawes with Gold Medal winners Calvin Whitney and Tia Stonehill. Photo by Football West/FotoEnzo

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22.10.2021

STONEHILL AND WHITNEY WIN THE 2021 GOLD MEDAL

The NPLWA Gold Medal night was held last week at The Westin Perth, and it was Murdoch University Melville’s Tia Stonehill and Perth SC’s Calvin Whitney who took out the major award. The pair received their awards from Minister for Transport, Planning and Ports, the Honourable Rita Saffioti MLA, who joined Football West Chairman Sherif Andrawes on stage to present the awards.

Whitney helped Perth SC to the title and he said he was honoured to win the award, and capped off a great season for him. “I thought I had one of my better seasons and to top it off with the gold medal, I couldn’t ask for anything more,” the midfielder explained. “It was a great season from the boys, but I thought it was getting away from us at the half way mark but slowly started to catch up and took out the league. I haven’t won a league before so I can tick that off the list, and for Ramon (Falzon) to win the double and Coach of the Year, there is no better send off for him.”

Whitney, who was a member of the Gold Fields WA State Team that beat Perth Glory, said the 1-0 win capped off a great season for him. “It was very enjoyable and to win was even better,” he said. “I was very surprised how well we played after only a couple of training sessions together, but there were some quality players in the team which made it easier - all in all my favourite footballing year to date.”

The Gold Medal capped off a fantastic season for Stonehill, who has been a key part of MUM FC’s treble-winning season of NPLWA – Women’s title, State Cup and Top Four Cup. She also shared the Golden Boot with Northern Redbacks striker Larissa Walsh, but she said it was a huge surprise for her, and she also spoke on the night of her ball date with Whitney when they were in high school. “Very overwhelmed right now … I did not expect this. We’ve had an amazing season,” she said. “Also, a big shout-out to my boy Calvin … we’ve been best friends since we were like 11 … I’m blessed to share a stage with him.” Whitney replied: “We were actually ball dates as well at school …” to which the besuited Stonehill chipped in: “First and only time I’ve worn a dress!”

Football West Chief Football Officer Jamie Harnwell was quick to praise the pair and a great season. “Congratulations to Tia and Calvin, they are deserving winners and have enjoyed terrific seasons,” he said. “They also both play the game the right way, competitive with a lot of flair but also with a smile on their faces.” In other awards on the night Inglewood United’s Steve Sokol won the Men’s Golden Boot, NPLWA – Men’s Goal of the Season went to Ndumba Makeche of Bayswater City, while Monique Prinsloo of Hyundai NTC took the NPLWA – Women’s Goal of the Season.

Full list of awards: Life Members: HANS MEYER and RICHARD KREIDER, David Cantoni Disabilities in Football Achievement: CHRIS BARTY, David Schrandt Administrator and Volunteer of the Year: RADMILA POPOVIC (Port Kennedy) - Golden Boots - Men’s U18: PHOENIX LEE (Sorrento), Men’s U20: DAVID ZIVKOVIC (Perth SC), Women’s U23: JAZZMYN BLANKENDAAL (MUM FC) and SIENA CREVACORE (Northern Redbacks), Women’s first team: TIA STONEHILL (MUM FC) and LARISSA WALSH (Northern Redbacks) - Young Players of the Year Dylan Tombides Male Young Player of the Year: ADAM ZIMARINO (Perth Glory), Female Young Player of the Year: ZOEE SPADANO (Perth SC)

Coaches of the Year - Ron Tindall Male Coach of the Year: RAMON FALZON (Perth SC), Female Coach of the Year: DANIELLE BROGAN (Perth SC) - Goalkeepers of the Year - Men’s: RYAN MONTGOMERY (Perth SC) and JASON SALDARIS (Floreat Athena), Women’s: MARISSA PIDGEON (Subiaco) - Players of the Year - Men’s Under 18 Troy Bernard Player of the Year: PHOENIX LEE (Sorrento), Men’s U20: DAVID ZIVKOVIC (Perth SC), Women’s U23: NIKITA STRICKLING (Curtin University) - Fair Play Awards - Men's: PERTH SC, Women's: CURTIN UNIVERSITY

21.10.2021

HARGREAVES TAKES OUT GWELUP’S F&B

Gwelup Croatia officially ended their 2021 season on Saturday evening as the club held their awards night at the Croatian Sporting Complex. The Wishart Street club were only formed in 1988, and last season saw them play their second season in WA top flight football, and things didn’t go quite to plan, and they finished a disappointing tenth place on the NPLWA table. But one player stood out for the northern suburbs club, and Declan Hargreaves’ outstanding season was rewarded, with him winning the clubs Fairest and Best Award.

The midfielder edged out skipper Blair Govan to the top award and said he was delighted to receive the trophy. “I’m delighted to have received the clubs Fairest and Best trophy, and I’m very proud to have won it especially with the quality of players we have at our football club,” he explained. “Unfortunately, the season wasn’t what the players, and the club were looking for, but we will look to hit back next season.”

Gwelup’s Football Operations Manager, Dejan Vilic said the midfielder was a worthy winner of the award. “Declan has had an outstanding season for us and has probably been our most consistent player since he signed for Gwelup from Bayswater last year,” he said. “Standing up in midfield in what was a very difficult season for the club really shows the measure of a man and what a solid player he is. The award is the least he deserves.”

Youngster Oli La Galia won the Young Player Award, while Sam Mitchinson won the Coach’s Award, and Vilic said the pair were excellent. “Oli has come on in leaps and bounds and if it wasn’t for an unfortunate ankle injury, definitely would have seen more first-team minutes towards the end of 2021. He even chipped in with his first ever NPL First Team goal away to Rockingham which was great for the young man’s confidence,” he explained. “Sammy received the coach’s award as he was a mentor to our younger guys and was always there when they needed him. His experience really helped some of our Under 20s along, which was great to see.”

In other awards on the night, Jon Stynes won the first team top goal scorer, bagging ten goals. Dejan Lewis won the Best and Fairest Award in the 20s, beating Freeman Nyatsambo to the top award. Lewis also won the Players’ Player of the Year, while Nyatsambo won the top goalscorer with eight goals. In the 18s Kieran Ross won the Fairest and Best, with Dylan Fernandes Lewis runner up. Lewis also won the top goalscorer, with 11 goals, while Edward Wilcock won the Coach’s award.

20.10.2021

MATILDAS SET FOR BRAZIL TEST

The Matildas return to home soil on Saturday, for the first time in 19 months, when they host Brazil at CommBank Stadium in Parramatta. It will be the first of a two-game series against the South Americans, the other game will be played next Tuesday (26.10.21) also a the CommBank Stadium. The last game at home was against Vietnam in the Tokyo 2020 Women’s Football Tournament Qualifiers.

Head Coach Tony Gustavsson has locked in Australia’s 23-player squad to take on world number seven, and with the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India less than 100 days, both game is invaluable preparation as Gustavsson and the team continue to build towards the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023. “Preparation is number one,” Gustavsson said. “I said that going into the September camp when we played against Ireland, we changed from ‘performance mode’ from the Olympics to ‘preparation mode’ [ahead of India 2022 and Australia/New Zealand 2023].

“That doesn’t mean that we are going to step on the field not trying to win – we are always going to try and win when we play every game – but we are not going to try and win at the expense of our preparations. We can’t shy away from tough challenges and tough games. We need to look at this as a long run towards the World Cup in ‘23.” The squad will feature the return of fan favourites including full back Ellie Carpenter, midfielder Emily van Egmond, and strikers Kyah Simon and Caitlin Foord. Midfielder Chloe Logarzo has been sidelined due to a long-term knee injury, while injury has also ruled Elise Kellond-Knight (knee), Hayley Raso (shoulder) and Emily Gielnik (toe) out of selection contention.

Several new national team players have retained their place in the squad including Angie Beard, Charli Grant, and Clare Wheeler. Meanwhile Western Sydney product and Young Matildas forward Bryleeh Henry has received her first call up to the senior national team. “We need to be patient,” Gustavsson said. “We can’t expect a debutant coming into the camp to be ready the first time they come in, but we need to expose them to the Matildas’ environment to get them ready for ‘23 and to scout them in our environment, to see who bounds and thrives under that high international tempo that we have in the Matildas.

“We are going to keep looking for new players, and either invite them to the training environment to see them there, or for some players that make a good impression in the training environment, also make sure that they get some game time. It is all about now who can reach their full potential come ‘23. It’s not just about who is the best, it is about who can become the best, so we are looking at ‘23 in all the decisions that we are making right now,” he said.

Former Perth Glory defender Alanna Kennedy is in line to become the 11th Australian woman to join the 100 Club, Kennedy would join current Commonwealth Bank Matildas’ Clare Polkinghorne (136), Elise Kellond-Knight (113), Emily van Egmond (108), Kyah Simon (101) and Sam Kerr (100). Kennedy would be the fourth player this year to reach the century milestone, with captain Sam Kerr reaching the milestone in our last game against the Republic of Ireland. Kennedy made her debut for her country in 2012, in a friendly against Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand at WIN Stadium.

Matildas Squad v Brazil

GK Lydia Williams (Arsenal, UK), GK Mackenzie Arnold (West Ham United, UK), GK Teagan Micah (FC Rosengård, Sweden), Angela Beard (Fortuna Hjørring, Denmark)), Ellie Carpenter (Lyon, France), Steph Catley (Arsenal, UK), Emma Checker (Melbourne City, Kyra Cooney-Cross (Melbourne Victory), Caitlin Foord (Arsenal, UK), Mary Fowler (Montpellier, France), Charlotte Grant (FC Rosengård, Sweden)), Bryleeh Henry (Western Sydney Wanderers), Alanna Kennedy (Manchester City, UK), Sam Kerr (Chelsea, UK), Courtney Nevin (Melbourne Victory), Clare Polkinghorne (Vittsjö GIK, Sweden), Jamilla Rankin (Brisbane Roar), Karly Roestbakken (LSK Kvinner, Norway), Remy Siemsen (Sydney FC), Kyah Simon (Tottenham Hotspur, UK), Emily van Egmond (Orlando Pride, USA), Clare Wheeler (Fortuna Hjørring, Sweden), Tameka Yallop (West Ham United, UK)

19.10.2021

CHANGE AT THE TOP OF FOOTBALL WEST (Courtesy of Football West)

Football West has announced that CEO James Curtis will be stepping down from his position after more than five years in the role and has commenced succession planning as he transitions from the position. Football West Chairman Sherif Andrawes praised Mr Curtis’ strong leadership and commitment to delivering a long-term legacy for football in Western Australia since commencing in the role in 2016. “James has been an outstanding CEO and his focus on driving long-term growth, investment and community benefit have contributed to a bright future for football,” Andrawes said.

“His commitment to working with all parts of the WA community and government to engage with football and being a leader driving diversity, inclusion and engagement has ensured football is positioned well for the future of the game. With significant achievements including funding for the long-awaited WA State Football Centre, securing the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in WA and establishing the Football Futures Foundation, there have been many successes during his tenure.”

Curtis said it is the right time to step down from the role and to transition leadership, with Football West strongly positioned for leveraging record growth. “We have built a great team across Western Australia that is well positioned to continue building on our strong foundations. After more than five years in the position and rebuilding from the impact of COVID-19, we are ready for a new CEO to implement and deliver our future strategy," Curtis said.

“I have enjoyed working closely with our Board and our valued partners across government, corporate and the football community to deliver major milestones for the game in WA and establish strong partnerships across Asia for WA football. We have a vibrant and passionate football community that will continue to grow on the back of strong clubs and volunteers and our dedicated Football West team.” Curtis will continue his involvement with football as a Non-Executive Director of Football Futures Foundation, chaired by Nick Tana, and supporting the transition to the new CEO. Football West has commenced an internal and external search for the company’s next CEO.

19.10.2021

HERD SPEAKS ABOUT HIS UPS AND DOWNS IN FOOTBALL

Former ECU Joondalup and Bayswater City Academy product Chris Herd lived the Premier League dream, scoring at Anfield, winning a Man of the Match award in one of his first appearances, the sky was the limit for the defender. But his career did not hit the heights many expected, and the 32-year-old spoke to Optus Sports, and reflected on his career at the top level and why he never fulfilled his full potential.

It was late August, 2011, the opening weekend of the season. It’s Aston Villa v Wolves and a 22-year-old West Australian is handed a shock starting XI place at right-back. It would be one that reaped a man of the match performance and effusive praise on Match of the Day that evening from one of the greatest that English football has seen in that position, Lee Dixon.

It was also meant to be the start of a long and fruitful career at the top for a young player who seemed to have all the defensive attributes one would need to stay there. But despite 19 Premier League appearances in that season including a classy finish against Liverpool in front of the Kop, it hasn’t quite panned out that way for Herd as he reflects in depth on ‘things he would have done differently’. After leaving Perth in 2010 and graduating through the Villa academy with his good mate and fellow West Australian Shane Lowry, Herd spent seven seasons in total at the West Midlands club.

Since leaving them in 2014 though, he has been to nine others in just seven years. That’s included a trail through the English lower leagues, a short stint back in the A-League and diverse journeys through Thailand, Bangladesh, India and most recently Malaysia where he’s just finished up a stint playing at centre-back for Terrengganu FC. While those experiences may have dulled the passion of many, that’s not the case for the Perth product, for a game he says he ‘still loves and gets great enjoyment over’ and has a strong desire to keep on playing professionally.

Still only 32, Herd is adamant he can still excel in the A-League and is open to a move back home after a brief 12-game spell with Western Sydney four years ago. “I think I could play in the A-League very easily but something needs to come up and then I’ve got to think about my wife, who has her own career here in the UK, with kids in school. It’s got to work for everyone but I’d never say no to anyone at all. The A-League is a good league and I’m always open to it,” he said.

The pertinent subject when it comes to Chris Herd though are the reflections on his time at the top and why it didn’t last as long as his early displays indicated it would. Why a young player who was gifted aerially for his size, blessed with pace and tenacity and the versatility to apply those attributes at right-back, centre-back and defensive midfield didn’t carve out several years of sustained Premier League football, and of his memories of that breakout performance in the first game of the 2011/12 season at Villa Park.

“I remember Luke Young was sold on the Friday before the game. We had signed Alan Hutton but the deal didn’t go through in time so I got the call to start at right-back and was literally chucked in the deep end. It was an amazing feeling mixed with plenty of butterflies in the stomach but thankfully it went well,” he reflected. “When I look back, my time in the Premier League is never going to be topped. I’m never going to feel that again. But hopefully I can have other enjoyments in the game at whatever level.

“But I’m never going to replicate that because that’s what I worked at from four years old, with my old man, with different teams. That was the dream, playing in the Premier League. And then when you do it, you can’t explain it. “I remember after that first full game, I was still living in the club digs and I remember lying down and I was just like ‘bloody hell, what just happened’ it’s a crazy feeling.”

It was a performance that would lead to a string of starts that season, mainly at defensive midfield, against some of the game’s finest players and in the grandest of arenas, like Anfield. Where his time in football’s showpiece league was punctuated with a sumptuous sweeping right foot finish from just inside the 18-yard box and past goalkeeper Doni, to put Villa 1-0 up. “I’ve got the goal somewhere; my kids are too young to understand it but when they’re older I’ll get it out for them,” he said. “I’ve watched it a few times, people still tag me in it on socials and obviously it brings back a lot of good memories when you see it and I’m proud and privileged to have done that.”

Shortly after that peak point however, problems started to surface in Herd’s career. In the month that followed that goal against Liverpool he was fined by the club after being embroiled in a nightclub brawl along with teammates James Collins and Fabian Delph. And with a litany of injuries starting to take their toll on Herd’s Villa tenure over the next two seasons, he was then made unavailable for selection by the club due to ‘personal reasons’ which coincided with his withdrawal from a Socceroos camp in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup. “I would do things differently,” he conceded. “I always gave my all and trained hard but you’d look after yourself a little better, wouldn’t be going out to a nightclub for example.

“If you could look back and see things with the head that I’ve got on now, I would do things differently to prolong my time at the top. When you’re young you don’t have that knowledge. I’m comfortable in my own skin and can accept certain things that happened in my career. Obviously, I’m not happy with certain things but that’s just part and parcel of living and making mistakes and learning from them. Sometimes it’s frustrating when you think ‘I should have done this differently or that’ but everyone would have those thoughts, not just footballers.”

Herd’s rollercoaster run after that superb start to his professional career translated to the national team as well. It’s easily forgotten that he was a member of the squad for the Socceroos’ biggest triumph, the 2015 Asian Cup, but was forced to leave the tournament early when injury-hit him yet again. In total, he has managed only three caps. It’s a return that belies the talent he possesses and the level he played at but one Herd feels has a lot to do with a run-in with former Australian boss Holger Osieck.

“When I was at Villa, Holger was the manager, I was playing every week and getting overlooked. That was frustrating and I kept thinking what do I have to do to get a game?” Herd recalled. “Then he called me up for a camp in Germany and I think it stemmed from that. I had a falling out with Osieck at that camp and I think he went off me after that. Playing in England, the game is hard and fast. We played a friendly against a local team and I was playing at right-back and got stuck into the winger with my first tackle, as I’ve been taught to do.

“He didn’t like it, we had a disagreement at half-time and he took me off and that was literally the end of it, I didn’t hear from him for a while. I only felt he called me up near the end of his time in charge because he felt forced. But when Ange came in, he was great and fantastic with me, I’ve got nothing but good words to say about Ange. He came to see me at Villa, had a coffee with me and he was great. I think I could have done a lot more with Australia, but you’ve just got to move on with it really.”

Moving on is what Herd has seemingly done pretty well for a player who has endured his fair share of setbacks over the last decade. Pushing on through the knocks both physically and mentally, to carve out a professional career in six different nations. And he’s adamant it’s only enhanced his ability to contribute on the field in the latter years of his time in the game. “When you go through all the situations in these countries and difficult experiences in football it does help you mature as a person and therefore be able to deal with certain situations. It’s shaped me into a better person, definitely,” he said.

“It’s been an advantage playing through Asia. It’s been different, overall enjoyable but I’m 32 now so I want to settle and enjoy the last period of my career. I still think I’ve got a lot to offer on the pitch and off it when it comes to being a leader for young lads and hopefully transitioning into a coaching role.” Whether he is afforded that opportunity or not remains to be seen, but either way, Chris Herd will always have those special memories of his time at the top, and with that goal at Anfield, an Australian Premier League moment to treasure.

15.10.2021

GLORY STRENGTHEN SQUAD WITH LOCAL TRIO

Perth Glory have added West Australian trio Trent Ostler, Daniel Walsh and Mitch Oxborrow to their A-League squad for the coming season. 19-year olds Ostler and Walsh are products of Glory's youth development system while Oxborrow, 26, returns to the club after a four years absence.

Ostler and Walsh have agreed terms with Glory on scholarship contracts. "It's great how the club has supported me and I'm really excited to be given the opportunity to continue my career here," said Ostler, who represented Australia at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup alongside Walsh.

Walsh, a central defender, celebrated his 19th birthday by putting pen to paper with Glory. "I'm really looking forward to taking the next steps in my career with my hometown club," said Walsh. "It's fantastic to be playing my football in such a positive environment."

Oxborrow, who played 26 games for Glory between 2015 and 2017 prior to spells with Newcastle Jets and Brisbane Roar, has put pen to paper on a one-year deal. "It's (re-joining Glory) something very special to me and I'm very grateful to be involved with the club and the squad that we've got," Oxborrow said.

Coach Richard Garcia is delighted to have the local trio on board for 2021/22. "Trent and Daniel have shown great determination to overcome serious injuries over the last 12 months," Garcia said. "It's fantastic to see them closing in on a return to full fitness and being in a position to fulfil their huge potential."

"Mitch is someone who understands what Perth Glory is all about and his signing further strengthens our midfield options." Glory's 2021/22 campaign will get underway on Saturday 20 November when Adelaide United provide the opposition at Perth Oval.

14.10.2021

GREGORY TAKES OUT THE NPLWA REFEREE OF THE YEAR

The 2021 NPLWA season began in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown, and many in the game, players, coaches and officials alike, were all unsure what was to happen, but we managed to get a full season in. Like the players the officials had to train under covid restrictions, and they all came through with flying colours, and last Saturday Football West held the All-Flags Referees Awards at Dorrien Gardens, with Steven Gregory taking out the major award, the 2021 All Flags Referee of the Year.

The 38-year-old had an outstanding season and he said it was a great season by all the panel in the NPLWA and he was honoured to take out the award. “It’s good to be acknowledged amongst your peers and a bit of reward for effort. Anyone of the elite panel members could have taken the award home, so for it to be me it was a proud moment having won it 12 years ago,” Gregory said.

“The award night was good fun as we don't always get to see each other throughout the season so to be able to catchup with current and former referee's is great. The award night recognises all levels of competitions so to see some of the younger referees and amateur referees you may not have met before is also a benefit of these events.

Gregory was on the national panel a few years ago, but took a break from the game, but he has come back stronger and rejuvenated and is enjoying the game again. “Yes, I had a break a few years ago due to personal reasons, and being on the national panel at the time, which I needed at the time to rejuvenate given the all-year round commitments those duties required,” he explained.

“I think that the break has definitely changed the way I approach games. This year I think some of the success was a result was in my preseason training. Whilst I have been consistently at the top half of the panel for many years perhaps that change led to a better year than last. But as I explained, all the guys on the elite panel are great referees and people and anyone of us could have taken home this award this year.”

The whistle blower started early, and has had many people help in his rise to the top, and he said their help has developed his game. “I started at any early age nearly 20 years now, and having been around for such a long period of time at the elite level I have been fortunate to have many great influences and people support me,” he explained. “It's hard to single out a particular person but they would defiantly know within themselves that they were part of my development and got me to where I have got both previously at the national level and more recently locally at the NPL level.”

Gregory had a taste of the national panel and said there are a number of younger referee’s pushing for a spot on the panel now, but if it came his way again, he would have to think about it. “You can never rule anything out but I'm very happy with my work-life balance and my current arrangements suit me and my family perfectly,” he said. “I have been very fortunate to have been in the national setup previously and been lucky enough to travel internationally and round Australia as a result. I know what the commitment and drive to get to that level takes and I think that the current and younger group of referees are in a better position to show the high standard of referring WA has to offer.”

Caleigh Ormerod was named NPLWA Women's Official of the Year, State League Referee of the Year for 2021 was Stephen Knight, while the Assistant Referee of the Year award went to Arvin Shanmuganathan. It’s been a big couple of seasons for Arvin Shanmuganathan, who has been a regular running the line at Perth Glory A-League games, and he was delighted to win the award.

"It's very honouring to be recognised by your peers and assessors to win this award. There's not a cat's chance in hell I would win something like this as an NPL referee, so it was awesome to be recognised as an AR,” he explained. “We were very fortunate here in WA to have a relatively undisrupted year despite a couple of lockdowns, so that in itself made it a great season. To top it off, being appointed to such an enthralling Top Four final, and to witness what can only be described as a 'worldie' by Kristian Santich was the 'icing on the cake'."

In other awards on the night, State League Assistant Referee of the Year was won by James Webb, State League Youth Referee of the Year was Michael Nguyen, Amateur League Referee of the Year was Ammar Timour. Stephen Quinn won the Community Competitions Referee of the Year, Chloe Smith the Junior League Female Referee of the Year, Joshua Throssell the Junior League Male Referee of the Year, and Jared Maunder the Referee Encouragement Award.

“We value the contributions of all our referees and the All-Flags Referee Awards last night gave us the opportunity as a group to celebrate the achievements of those who have excelled,” Football West Referee Co-ordinator Simon Hicks said. "Congratulations to all our deserving winners and thanks to All Flags for their continued support of Football West referees.”

14.10.2021

CASTRO’S GLORY DAYS ARE OVER

Perth Glory have confirmed the exit of midfield maestro Diego Castro, ending the Spanish veteran's successful six year stint with the club. Castro’s fate was sealed following Glory’s signed of former England striker Daniel Sturridge, who filled the club’s fifth and final visa spot.

Castro, 39, had been non-committal as to whether he would be returning for the 2021/22 season. Glory owner Tony Sage patiently gave the Spaniard several months to make his decision but when the opportunity to sign Sturridge arrived the A-League club could not wait any longer.

Sage said he was sad to lose Castro, a player who had a huge impact on the club and the A-League. “Diego has been phenomenal since day one of wearing the purple,” Sage said. “In my opinion he has been the greatest visa player to visit Australia. I am personally very sad that he is leaving and wish him and his family all the best in their future.”

Castro joined Glory in August 2015 with immediate impact, winning the Johnny Warren Medal as the A-League’s best player and named in the PFA Team of the Year following his debut campaign. He was again named in the PFA Team of the Year in 2016/17 and 2018/19.

Castro played 146 league and cup games for Glory, scoring 49 goals across six seasons. He took out three Most Glorious Player awards (2015/16, 2016/17 and 2018/19) and was a key part of the side that claimed the 2019 Premiership. While his future is unclear, it understood his wife Eva wants to return to Spain.

14.10.2021

ASHWOOD TAKES OUT ARMADALE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Armadale midfielder Kevin Ashwood had an outstanding season at Alfred Skeet Reserve in 2020, and he was rewarded by taking out the Armadale SC Player of the Year at the clubs' presentation night at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle. The 33-year-old, who joined the Reds in 2019 from Ashfield, this after a two-year stint at Western Knights, has fitted in well, and was honoured to be voted Coach’s Player of the Year. “Obviously it’s nice to be recognised and was an absolute privilege to be given the award,” he said. “I was able to sort some niggling injuries out early on which allowed me to focus on my football and enjoy a run of games, after a stop start 2020 NPL season.”

Ashwood said the atmosphere at the club is first class, and they will be looking to push up the table next season. “I’m really enjoying my football at Armadale, there is a really good group of players, coaches and people behind the scenes,” the midfielder explained. “All of who are starting to share a feeling if we stick together while other clubs are chopping and changing, we can have a real crack at that top four next season. We have flirted with it in the last couple of seasons but unfortunately just fallen short towards the business end. Hopefully that changes in 2022 and I’m already looking forward to getting going again.”

Armadale Head Coach John O’Reilly said Ashwood was a deserved winner and is great to have in the squad to help his young squad. “Kevin has been a fantastic leader within the group,” he said. “His experience has been an asset for the learning curve of the youngsters in the team.” The coach also praised youngster Pieter Jacobsz, who won the Players player of the Year. “Pieter is an Armadale player that loves playing for the club,” he said. “He grows in strength every year and we look forward to watching him for years to come.” In other awards on the night Eddie Garrido won the under 20s Coaches Player of the Year, with Daniel Cummins winning the Players Player of the Year. Meanwhile in the under 18s Angel Andres Diaz won the Coaches Player of the Year, with Marley Kay winning the Players Player.

14.10.2021

A-LEAGUE REFEREES SET TO SIT OUT FFA CUP GAMES

The new A-League Men’s season is two months away but the leagues officials are yet to sign contracts for the new season, and they have made themselves unavailable for upcoming trial matches and FFA Cup games as the stand-off with the FA continues. Professional Football Referees Australia (PFRA) released a statement on Tuesday saying they had informed Football Australia on Monday their referees would not officiate the games after "more than three months of discussions and efforts to resolve several topics".

The PFRA said referees were without contracts for the upcoming season and added the A-Leagues leadership and coaching department did not have their contracts renewed when the leagues unbundled from Football Australia in July. They said this meant referees had been given "no direction, coaching/instruction and no fitness coaching" over the past three months. "We are now just weeks out from the start of the season, and the referees find themselves in a position without any form of coaching and/or preparation," the statement said.

The PFRA also took issue with the announcement of the A-Leagues refereeing panels, saying "members were unfairly removed from their position without any due process or warning". Adelaide Olympic FC, who beat ECU Joondalup in the round of 32, are due to host Adelaide United, who beat Floreat Athena in the same round, in the FFA Cup this Sunday with Lions taking on Brisbane Roar the Sunday after.

It is unclear what, if any, impact the referees' action will have on the upcoming top-tier seasons. The A-League Men season kicks off on November 19 with the A-Leagues Women's competition commencing on December 3. "The PFRA A-Leagues referees sacrifice an enormous amount for football in the country and it seems staggering that we find ourselves in a position without basic items such as leadership, coaching staff, fair processes for changes to panels, and a standard contract," PFRA president Paul Cetrangolo said in a statement. "The PFRA remains committed to solving these issues but will not officiate further matches while these items remain outstanding."

Football Australia (FA) said the matches will go ahead as scheduled and that referees "have and will be appointed for these matches". FA said the arrangements for elite referees "represent the final changes that need to be implemented" in response to the new governance model in relation to the professional leagues. "Football Australia recently confirmed a new structure for referees and today advertised for several new positions, including a Head of Refereeing to lead the new department," the statement read. "Football Australia can confirm that it is also holding discussions around contractual terms with A-League referees."

12.10.2021

NEWCASTLE SIGN BABALJ

Newcastle Jets have continued their A-League squad overhaul with the signing of twice-capped Socceroos striker Eli Babalj on a one-year deal. The 29-year old has been training with Newcastle in the pre-season, after his return from a spell in Thailand, and becomes their 12th new arrival.

"I'm really excited to join a team that will play a very exciting and attacking brand of football," Babalj said. "I believe we will be successful and give the fans in Newcastle something to be proud of. The biggest reason I came here was to work under (coach) Arthur (Papas) again. I know his teams play great football, and he's building something special here."

Papas was delighted to add another attacker to his arsenal as the revamped Jets attempt to climb up the ladder after a disappointing past few seasons. "Having first coached Eli when he was 16, I know the person and the player, and we've signed a man with a fantastic mentality," Papas said.

"He is technically outstanding, physically imposing at 6-foot-4, and is clinical in the box. "He has earned this opportunity and in return we are signing a player who has played for Australia at every level, as well as at the top tier of football in Europe and, importantly, has a point to prove."

Babalj returns to the A-League for the first time since 2019, when he played with Brisbane Roar. His senior career started at Melbourne City in 2010 before moving abroad to join Red Star Belgrade. He then then played for Dutch Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar, from where he was loaned to Adelaide United and PEC Zwolle. The striker also played in the Czech Republic, India and most recently Thailand.

12.10.2021

MATILDAS RESPOND TO DE VANNA CLAIMS

Sam Kerr and her Matildas teammates have broken their silence and issued a strong statement after allegations of sexual harassment and bullying within Australia's international women's football team. WA’s Lisa De Vanna, one of the country's most decorated footballers who has 150 caps for her nation, and has played football in Australia, America, Sweden and Italy in a stellar career, revealed bombshell details inside the 'toxic culture' of the Matildas last week, claiming she'd been sexually harassed and humiliated by other players.

'Have I been sexually harassed? Yes. Have I been bullied? Yes. Ostracised? Yes. Have I seen things that have made me uncomfortable? Yes,' De Vanna told News Corp. The current playing group responded on Monday afternoon, with each senior member issuing a comment on De Vanna's revelations. “We empathise with her for not feeling like she could come forth earlier,” the Matildas statement read. “We will work with Football Australia, the PFA and Sport Integrity Australia to ensure that all current and future players feel comfortable, safe and able to report instances of inappropriate behaviour, in a timely manner.”

De Vanna, now retired, revealed last week there had been an extremely harmful culture within the team that left her ostracised from the other women. The 36-year-old, who had a glittering 15-year career for the Matildas and won five W-League titles, said the culture was still prevalent in the current side. “In any sporting organisation and in any environment, grooming, preying and unprofessional behaviour makes me sick,” she said. “As a youngster and a player, I didn't know how to address this ... but it is still happening across all levels and it's time to speak up.”

Socceroos’ legend Robbie Slater last week accused Kerr and her teammates of 'hiding' from the issue in a sternly worded column, saying their silence on the matter was 'deafening'. The Matildas finally responded on Monday, acknowledging there was improvement needed within the team's culture. “As a team, we have spoken at length about the allegations and are all hurt by what has occurred,” the combined statement reads. “We hold this team close to our hearts and for many, this team has been a safe haven. It has given us strength and purpose throughout our careers.

“We are together like a family in this, from our oldest to our youngest player, and the difficulties we've faced in the last week have only made us stronger as a group.” The players also released individual comments on De Vanna's words, with star striker and captain Kerr saying the team had provided her a 'safe haven'. “I have been a part of this team for 12 amazing years, from 15 years old to now. Throughout my career the Matildas have been a safe haven for me and allowed me to grow into the player and person I am today,” she said. “I count myself lucky to be a part of this amazing group of athletes and people.”

Elise Kellond-Knight, who was the first member to hit back at De Vanna's comments only to quickly delete her tweet after receiving backlash, said she was 'proud' of the team's culture. “The Matildas are a large part of my identity. I have dedicated a lot of my time to help grow the culture and professionalism of this team and it's been a fantastic journey that we are all proud of,” she said defiantly. Other members including Mackenzie Arnold and Ellie Carpenter said they 'supported' the team statement but also reiterated their confidence in the current setup.

In a statement released late on Tuesday, FA said it takes a “zero-tolerance approach to any conduct which breaches the standards and values expected of people involved in the game”. FA said it had met with De Vanna and was aware of her “grievances”, but the specific allegations made public on Tuesday were not raised during that meeting. “We have no knowledge of what steps, if any our predecessor organisation, Soccer Australia, undertook in 2001,” FA said. “In the event that Lisa chooses to lodge a formal complaint through the appropriate channels, we will be in a position to investigate and, if appropriate, act accordingly.”

Meanwhile, FA is seeking to create an additional process to independently investigate allegations of historical abuse brought forward by former players or staff in a joint initiative with Sport Integrity Australia. Details of that initiative are yet to be finalised. Professional Footballers Australia’s co-chief executives Beau Busch and Kathryn Gill said they were “deeply concerned” about the players’ allegations. “All players should feel safe, included and respected,” a statement read. “It is critical that the sport provides a safe and inclusive workplace and, importantly, the players are supported to come forward. The PFA has reaffirmed all support and reporting mechanisms available to players and will continue to ensure that the full resources of the PFA are available to all current and former players.”

12.10.2021

JAPAN END SOCCEROOS WINNING STREAK

The Socceroos’ record winning streak has come to an end, as an own goal from Aziz Behich five minutes from time gifted Japan a 2-1 victory in their World Cup qualifier at Saitama Stadium. Ao Tanaka had given the hosts the lead early, after a defensive error from Behich, who had a game to forget, but it looked like the Socceroos had won a point when Ajdin Hrustic curled home superbly from the edge of the box. But it wasn’t to be and the unfortune Behich was in the wrong place at the wrong time after the ball hit the right post and bounced off him and into the back of the net for the most heartbreaking of finishes.

The loss to the Samurai Blue continued Australia’s horror streak against their continental rivals, and the defeat meant Graham Arnold’s side has won just the solitary game against Japan in their last 11 encounters, and it was also Australia’s first loss in 12 games. “I thought it was a great spectacle to watch. I thought both teams had a go at each other, it was an exciting game,” Coach Graham Arnold said post-match. “The positives where we played some great football, but at the end of the day it wasn’t meant to be. We’re on nine points from four games. It’s one game at a time.”

The hosts were sitting six points adrift of the Socceroos at kick off and coach Hajime Moriyasu was under a great deal of pressure, but they began lively. The warning signs were there early, as Japan constantly made inroads down Australia’s left-hand side in the opening minutes of the game, but it was a deflected cross from Japan’s Takumi Minamo on Australia’s right flank that led to the opener.

Behich misread the Liverpool midfielders cross and the ball fell perfectly for Ao Tanaka, who finished clinically past Mat Ryan to give the hosts the lead. Graham Arnold’s side looked for a quick response and Tom Rogic’s volley deflected over the top before Trent Sainsbury header at the back post was tipped over the top by Shuichi Gonda. The Japanese keeper was required again moments later, this time palming away Hrustic’s effort.

But it was in the middle of the park where Arnold’s side were struggling, coughing up possession in dangerous areas on numerous occasions. They were lucky not to concede a second on 34 minutes, Hrustic’s lost possession and it gifted Yuya Osako a golden opportunity to extend Japan’s lead, but he fired wide of the post when well placed. The Socceroos were dangerous down the flanks with Martin Boyle a constant threat, and they went within inches of the equaliser six minutes later.

Boyle played a clever ball over the top of the Japanese backline for Adam Taggart, who played a delightful give-and-go with Tom Rogic to put the striker through on goal, but his shot was pushed onto the post by the alert Japan goalkeeper Gonda. Socceroos’ custodian Ryan was also called into action to snuff out numerous crosses and had to be alert to get down smartly to his left in order to keep out a low shot from the dangerous Minamino.

Japan continued to frustrate Australia in the second half, but Arnold’s side were creating chances. First Aaron Mooy fired wide, before Rogic fired over the top on the hour. But six minutes later they were level. Boyle made space down the right and he cut the ball back to Hrustic, who was brought down by Hidemasa Morita and referee Abdulrahman Al Jassim pointed to the spot. Boyle stood over the spot kick but after a lengthy VAR review, the decision was overturned and a free-kick was awarded on the edge of the area.

It mattered little as Hrustic produced a stunning free kick that beat Gonda and went in via the crossbar to level things up. That goal opened the game up with chances at both ends. the game exploded into life as both teams began to throw caution to the wind and left themselves vulnerable to counter-attacks. The Socceroos almost gift-wrapped Japan a second goal, giving the ball away in the middle of the park and Junya Ito was in on goal, but Ryan stood tall to save, and he was back up superbly to save Wataru Endo follow up shot.

The Real Sociedad custodian was at it again moments later, this time getting down well to deny Asano, but despite Ryan’s best efforts, he could do nothing to prevent the winning goal four minutes from time. A cross deflected off of Fran Karacic, which Ryan managed to get a glove to, but it wasn’t enough as the ball hit the right post and bounced off Behich and into the back of the net. Even with the loss, Australia still sits in first place of Group B with nine points, but Japan’s victory gave them a much-needed boost as they find themselves on six points.

“First of all we’re devastated, we did drop three points here. I don’t think we deserved it... if we would have come off with a one-one draw we would have copped it,” goalscorer Hrustic said. “We’re going to continue, and we’re going to keep going. I’m 100 per cent sure we’ll finish on top if we keep going the way we have been.” Captain Mat Ryan added. “With how it played out, obviously it hurts. It always hurts when you lose. We feel a little bit hard done by the amount of bad luck for that second to go in, but for sure we’ll continue to get better.”

The Socceroos next meet Saudi Arabia in a home game on November 11, and Football Australia are in advanced discussions with the NSW Government regarding hosting the match in Sydney under a Quarantine Management Plan. To qualify for a fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup™, Australia must finish either first or second in Group B, which includes ten matches to be played from September 2021 to March 2022, to qualify directly. A third-place finish would send the Socceroos to a play-off against the third-place team from Group A, followed by an intercontinental play-off.

Australia: GK Mat RYAN, 2 Fran KARACIC (4 Rhyan GRANT 89’), 19 Harry SOUTTAR, 20 Trent SAINSBURY, 16 Aziz BEHICH, 22 Jackson IRVINE, 10 Ajdin HRUSTIC, 13 Aaron MOOY, (11 Awer MABIL 61’), Tom ROGIC, (7 James JEGGO 80’), 6 Martin BOYLE, (17 Chris IKONOMIDIS 89’), 9 Adam TAGGART (15 Mitchell DUKE 61’) – Subs not used: RGK Lawrence THOMAS, RGK Danny VUKOVIC, 3 Callum ELDER, 5 Ryan MCGOWAN, 8 Bailey WRIGHT, 14 Kenneth DOUGALL, 21 Riley MCGREE

Japan: GK Shuichi GONDA, 5 Yuto NAGATOMO (20 Yuta NAKAYAMA 85’), 6 Wataru ENDO, 10 Takumi MINAMINO (18 Takuma ASANO 78’), 13 Hidemasa MORITA (7 Gaku SHIBASAKI 85’), 14 Junya ITO, 15 Yuya OSAKO (11 Kyogo FURUHASHI 61’), 16 Takehiro TOMIYASU, 17 Ao TANAKA, 19 Hiroki SAKAI, 22 Maya YOSHIDA – Subs not used: RGK Eiji KAWASHIMA, RGK Kosei TANI, 2 Naomichi UEDA, 3 Sei MUROYA, 4 Ko ITAKURA, 8 Genki HARAGUCHI, 9 Daichi KAMADA, 21 Ado ONAIWU - Referee: Abdulrahman Al Jassim

11.10.2021

TAGGART'S INSIDE VIEW OF JAPAN RIVALRY

As one of two Socceroos currently playing their club football in Japan, Adam Taggart has been the centre of attention in the lead up to tomorrow's World Cup Qualifier. The Cerezo Osaka frontman has been an essential part of the Socceroos squad which chalked up its eleventh consecutive victory last week against Oman.

Taggart provided an insight in what it is like to play his club football in a nation that will this week be considered enemy territory for the Socceroos. “Growing up as a kid and watching all of these big games with Australia and Japan, it’s always been pretty clear to everyone the rivalry and competition between the two nations,” he said.

“After being there as well, particularly in the last couple of weeks leading up into this game, there’s been a lot of questions and talk about it and the Japanese have always mentioned people like Tim Cahill and how tough Australia has been for them.”

“In all of those chats and interviews, I’ve always said how much everyone’s looking forwards to it because it’s a massive game and everyone’s buzzing for it. It’s a great opportunity for a massive match, and another one we expect to win and give our all. We’re confident in what we can do.”

With Japan having only picked up three points in as many games in the third qualifying round, there is certainly pressure on the Samurai Blue to perform against the Socceroos on home soil. But Taggart and his teammates are determined to give everything they’ve got as they approach a fixture that has historically sprung up its fair share of challenges for Australia.

“They (Japan) are a top opposition,” he said. “They’ve got some great individual players, and a lot are doing really well over in Europe at the moment. I know there’s a lot of pressure on them with these poor results they’ve had, and for us, as I said, we’ve got a winning mentality where we’re confident in what we can do even if we don’t play so well.”

Taggart attributes the Socceroos’ hot run of form to the team spirit that Graham Arnold has grown within the squad. “It goes to show our winning mentality,” he said. “The whole mental and attitude side of things here is massive with Arnie, and it works.”

“Even in games like against Oman, where it wasn’t so pretty, we’re still able to get the result and that’s the main thing. We’ve got a great group and a close bunch of mates really, so we’re looking forward to a big game and can’t wait to get stuck in.”

10.10.2021

STURRIDGE REVEALS GLORY MOVE IS THE ‘RIGHT FIT’

Perth Glory recruit Daniel Sturridge has revealed coach Richard Garcia’s optimism and desire to play attacking football was key to his signing for the A-League club. The 32-yaer old striker said he had a “gut feeling” that the move was right after knocking back lucrative offers from Europe and Asia.

“(Garcia) gave me a great feeling and that’s the most important thing,“ said former England and Liverpool player Sturridge. “How he saw me playing within the framework of the club, how he sees my role, how he wants to set the team up. I’m quite relaxed about everything.”

“Speaking to the coach, the hierarchy and the players I feel like it was the right fit for me. Everything that was said was what I needed. I go off my gut quite a lot and sometimes things just feel right. At the end of the day it felt right. It was a football decision. It’s not about the lifestyle.”

Sturridge’s one-year deal is a massive coup for Glory. The striker made 26 appearances for England, scoring eight times, while playing in the English Premier League for Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool. Along the way he twice won the UEFA Champions League and FA Cup as well as collecing an English Premier League champions medal.

Sturridge last played for Turkish club Trabzonspor, scoring seven times in 16 appearances, before his three-year contract was terminated when he received a four-month worldwide ban for breaching betting rules. He chose not to take any immediate offers after the ban ended but has been training with La Liga club Real Mallorca.

“I’ve had a lot of opportunities and a lot of offers over the last 19 months but I didn’t feel like any of them were the right fit’,” he said. “It was a hard decision to stay out of the game. Watching games there was an element of ‘I want to get out there’, but it was about choosing the right place and making the right decision.”

“The decision had to be right for me, to play football in a competitive team and be happy. This is what I was born to do. I don’t think I can ever fall out of love with the game. This game has given me so much and I’ve learned so much, not just from a footballing standpoint, but as a human being. I’ll always have the drive, the ambition to want to play.”

9.10.2021

KERR NOMINATED FOR BALLON D’OR

After another outstanding season for country and club, Australian striker Sam Kerr has been shortlisted for the most prestigious award in world football, being named one of the 20 contenders for the Ballon d'Or. The annual award from France Football has been awarded to male footballers since 1956, and was first given to female players in 2018.

Norwegian star Ada Hegerberg won the inaugural award, before American Megan Rapinoe claimed the prize in 2019. It was not awarded last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kerr, who had two stints at her home club Perth Glory, also played a season at Sydney FC, before stints at American clubs Western New York Flash, Sky Blue FC and Chicago Red Stars, before joining Chelsea in 2019, and has earned 100 Matildas caps. The striker finished the 2020/21 campaign as Chelsea's top scorer with 28 goals in all competitions, reached the semi-finals at the Olympics with Australia, and will lead the team out in historic friendlies against the USA later this month.

Kerr's Chelsea teammates Magdalena Eriksson, Jessie Fleming, Pernille Harder and Fran Kirby were also among the 20 finalists. Women's shortlist: Stina Blackstenius (BK Hacken, Sweden), Kadidiatou Diani (PSG, France), Christiane Endler (Olympique Lyonnais, France), Jennifer Hermoso (FC Barcelona, Spain), Marie-Antoinette Katoto (PSG, France), Ashley Lawrence (PSG, France), Lieke Martens (FC Barcelona, Spain), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal, England), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage, USA), Sandra Panos (FC Barcelona, Spain), Irene Paredes (FC Barcelona, Spain), Alexia Putellas (FC Barcelona, Spain), Wendie Renard (Lyon, France), Christine Sinclair ( Portland Thorns, USA), Ellen White (Manchester City, England), Magdalena Eriksson, Jessie Fleming, Pernille Harder, Sam Kerr, Fran Kirby (All Chelsea, England)

8.10.2021

RAWLINS FEATURES IN 'NEXT GENERATION 2021'

Perth Glory defender Joshua Rawlins has been selected in 'The Guardian' newspaper's top players of "Next Generation 2021", a list featuring 60 of the most talented players in the world born in 2004. Adelaide United's Mohamed Toure is also featured on the list which identifies the top players of each age group annually, providing updates on the career progress made by all 60 players as the years go by.

Rawlins, 17, was praised for his intelligence and versatility after making 12 appearances in his debut A-League campaign in 2020/21. The full-back will be eager to increase his minutes under coach Richard Garcia this season and continue to prove why he's rated as one of the most promising players in his age group worldwide.

It's been three years since an A-League player last featured in 'The Guardian' newspaper's list, with then Perth Glory midfielder Jacob Italiano was selected as one of the top 60 players born in 2001. Noah Botic (formerly of Hoffenheim and currently signed for Western United) is the most recent Australian to make the cut, named as part of the "Next Generation 2019".

8.10.2021

SOCCEROOS BEAT OMAN TO MAKE IT 11-STRAIGHT WINS IN WORLD CUP QUALIFIES

The Socceroos maintained top spot in Group B in FIFA World Cup qualifying after a 3-1 win against Oman at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on Friday morning. Goals from Awer Mabil, Martin Boyle and Mitchell Duke secured a crucial three points and maintain top spot, on goal difference from Saudi Arabia. The win saw Australia become the first nation to register 11-straight wins in a single FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.

“We got dragged into an erratic game at times and Oman threw a lot at us,” Socceroos’ coach Graham Arnold said post-match. “We got, we were a bit erratic, but once we got the boys in at half-time and calmed them down and we focused more on keeping the ball and moving them side-ways and making them chase the ball and I felt that we took over the game.”

The green and gold made a perfect start to their home game, and they were ahead on nine minutes. The Omani defence failed to clear a Jackson Irvine cross into the box, and Mabil pounced on the loose ball to fire home clinically. But Oman went close to levelling moments later, a slip from Irvine in midfield allowed the ball to be played out to Zahir Sulaiman Abdullah Al Aghbari on the edge of the penalty area, whose shot was acrobatically tipped over the bar by the alert Mat Ryan.

It was the Socceroos who started to take control and Tom Rogic forced a smart save from Faiz Al-Rushaidi, and moments later the Celtic striker was in again, Aziz Behich slipping him into the penalty area but his shot was well saved by Al-Rushaidi. However, Oman hit back as Al Aghbari pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the penalty area and his low shot was palm away at full stretch by Ryan. But Australian custodian could not do anything about Oman finding the equaliser just before the half an hour mark.

The Socceroos' seven-and-a-half-hour streak without conceding was broken by Al Mandhar Al Alawi, who showed composure in the box to touch the ball away from Australia’s defenders and rifle a shot past Ryan. Then two minutes after being instrumental in Oman’s goal and first-half chances, Al Aghbari was stretchered off after a clash with Irvine looked to have seriously damaged the left-winger’s shoulder. Both teams probed for a late goal before the break, but it was not to be and the first half ended all square.

With all to play for in the second half, the Socceroos once again claimed an early lead. Boyle continued his fine goalscoring form as he bravely headed home a parried Adam Taggart shot from close range. Five minutes later, Boyle was in the action again as he was brought down in the box with a push in the back but the referee and VAR waved away Australia’s claims for a penalty. Just after the hour mark, Ryan was called into action by Al Alawi, who nearly doubled his tally and with another equaliser.

The Omani midfielder managed to get in behind Harry Souttar in the penalty area after a long ball, but he was not afforded enough time to pull the trigger and Ryan smothered the chance. Mabil almost found his second goal of the match on 70 minutes, as he found himself unmarked at the back post, but he could not direct his header goalward. Another header went begging ten minutes later, this time it was Duke, who rose above his defender and directed his shot to the wrong side of the post after Fran Karacic expertly found the Fagiano Okayama striker with a superb cross from the right.

However, the missed opportunity did not break the confidence of Duke, who with minutes remaining, secured the three points for the Socceroos with a tidy finish inside the six-yard box after he was again picked out by Karacic. Australia travels to Japan for their next match on Tuesday night (AEDT) with the opportunity to seal six huge points that would go a long way towards securing passage to our nation's fifth-straight FIFA World Cup Finals.

Australia: GK Mat RYAN, 4 Rhyan GRANT (2 Fran KARACIC 80’), 6 Martin BOYLE (17 Chris IKONOMIDIS 86’), 9 Adam TAGGART (15 Mitchell DUKE 63’), 10 Ajdin HRUSTIC, 11 Awer MABIL, 16 Aziz BEHICH, 19 Harry SOUTTAR, 20 Trent SAINSBURY, 22 Jackson IRVINE (7 James JEGGO 80’), 23 Tom ROGIC (13 Aaron MOOY 63’) – Subs not used: RGK Lawrence THOMAS, RGK Danny VUKOVIC, 3 Callum ELDER, 5 Ryan MCGOWAN, , 8 Bailey WRIGHT, 14 Kenneth DOUGALL, 21 Daniel ARZANI

Oman: GK Faiyz AL RUSHEIDI, 2 Mohammed AL-MASLAMI, 6 Ahmed AL-KHAMISI, 7 Khalid AL-HAJRI (9 Abdulaziz AL-MUQBALI 66’), 8 Zahir Sulaiman AL AGHBARI (4 Arshad AL-ALAWI 35’) (10 Mohsin AL-KHALDI 82’), 12 Abdullah FAWAZ (16 Omer AL-FAZARI 65’), 17 Ali AL-BUSAIDI, 19 Al Mandhar AL ALAWI (11 Issam AL SABHI 65’), 20 Salaah AL-YAHYAEI, 21 Abdulaziz AL GHEILANI, 23 Harib AL-SAADI – Subs not used: RGK Ahmed AL RAWAHI, RGK Ibrahim AL MUKHAINI, 3 Fahmi SAID, 5 Juma AL HABSI, 13 Khalid AL-BRAIKI, 14 Ahmed AL KAABI, 15 Jameel AL YAHMADI - Referee: Nawaf Shukralla

8.10.2021

STURRIDGE READY FOR NEW CHALLENGE (By Neil Sherwin)

Daniel Sturridge is fit and raring to return to football having signed Perth Glory last week, ending a 19-month absence from competitive action. The 32-year-old striker has been making headlines Down Under since agreeing to join Glory for the 2021/22 A-League Men season and says that he is excited about the new challenge. “I’m not there for a holiday, I’m there to play football, I’m there to perform to the best of my ability,” he told the media on Friday. “Outside of the game, of course it’s nice to have things to do and I’ve heard great things about the city but that being said, it’s a football decision for me.”

The former Chelsea and Liverpool man played his last game of football for Turkish giants Trabzonspor in March 2020, but his contract was terminated when he received four-month ban for breaching gambling regulations. The striker, who has 26 England caps to his name, spent the last few months training with La Liga side Real Mallorca and there has been no shortage of offers for his services, but his love for the game had never waned during his spell on the sideline, Sturridge insisted that would never be the case.

“I had a lot of opportunities and a lot of offers over the last 19 months, but I didn’t feel like any of them were the right fit, so we made the decision to come to Perth,” he explained. “This is a game I’ve enjoyed and loved playing since I was in my front garden at home as a three, four-year-old kicking a ball around. Even when I’m old and grey I’ll still be playing keepy-uppies with my grandkids or whatever it may be. This beautiful game will remain with me forever, this is what I was born to do.”

The opportunity to make a move for Sturridge came about quickly and with clubs allowed five foreign players, he fills the spot vacated by Spaniard Diego Castro. Ex-Liverpool players Robbie Fowler and Brad Jones, a Perth native who also joined Glory this offseason, played a role in the signing with glowing references for both the club and the competition. He is currently in England saying his goodbyes to family and friends before heading to Australia. Glory are hopeful of having him in the country shortly and out on the training pitch by the end of October once he has completed his mandatory quarantine. That will give him three to four weeks to prepare for the season opener at home to Adelaide United on November 20.

Injuries have been a big problem throughout his career, but Sturridge says the break has been helpful in that regard and he is fit, working with a trainer following the conclusion of his time at Mallorca. “This is the longest time I’ve ever had not playing competitive games, but in terms of training I’ve been training the whole time,” he said. “I’ve not let myself go, had time off or had month stretches or anything like that where I’ve not been training. I haven’t really lost any fitness. In fact, I’ve lost weight, I’ve got probably more in shape.”

The Sturridge acquisition is a massive coup for both Glory and the A-League Men as a whole, and the club’s owner Tony Sage has told of unprecedented demand for replica shirts baring the player’s name. Australia’s top league has attracted some big names over the past decade, including Alessandro Del Piero, David Villa, Emile Heskey, Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill and Keisuke Honda, but two-time Champions League winner Sturridge is right up there with them all in terms of ability and hype. With football down the pecking order in Australia’s sporting hierarchy, Glory will be keen to maximise Sturridge’s impact both on and off the pitch in an attempt to draw attention from some of the other codes.

While he admits to not knowing much about Glory’s history and supporter dynamic, Sturridge is looking forward to learning once he gets out and about in the community. “I’m very fan friendly, I like to integrate with the fans,” he said. “I like to think I’ve had a great relationship with the fans at every club I’ve played with really, and that’s important too. Sometimes players ostracise themselves and feel that it’s best to stay away and not engage sometimes. For me, I’m the opposite. I like to engage with the fans, I like to have banter.” Sturridge’s signature goal celebration is well known to football supporters across the world and if he can find the net on a regular basis, it will be hard to keep Perth Glory off the back pages.




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

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