Tuesday, November 21, 2006

ACL Aussies

It was this week confirmed that the Minor Premiers and Grand Final Champions from LAST season will be Australia’s Asian Champions League representatives for NEXT YEARS competition. That’s right, the teams that qualify could finish dead last the next season and would still compete in the ironically named “Champions League.”

Now in Australia we are different to everywhere else in the fact that we play our season as a summer comp rather than a more traditional winter time slot. This means we end up out of whack with everywhere else, hence why the problem with who qualifies for the ACL arises only for us.

Surely the smart and rational thing to do would be to just simply have “Australian team A” and “Australian team B” for the draw with the teams to be advised once the season here has been finished. This is what the FFA has been pushing for but the AFC stood stubbornly firm and would not budge.

As a Sydney fan I am struggling to say this but in all seriousness, they don’t deserve to be there yet. If they go on to win the Grand Final again then the FFA and AFC should breathe a sigh of relief but the big loser in all of this will be Melbourne. They are runaway leader in this year’s regular season and the way they play reflects the table.

Sunday’s game between Sydney and Adelaide once again continued the trend of exciting and skillful encounters which shows both teams have not dropped off too much from last season. This will at least save the FFA from an embarrassing situation where one of Australia’s ACL representatives has lost half their team or are languishing at the bottom of the domestic table.

Both Sydney captain Mark Rudan and Adelaide coach John Kosmina have declared that early acceptance will make them lift rather than slacken off but even so, justice has far from been done with this situation.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Foster vs Postecoglou....

Above is part of the interview between SBS football analyst Craig Foster and Australian national youth coach Ange Postecoglou which appeared on yesterdays The World Game program on SBS.

Now as I have said before, I think it is time for Australia to look to someone else to lead our youth teams forward and heck, I even agree with a lot of Fozzie’s rambles but I think he lost a lot of credibility with this so called “interview.”

He let his individual emotions take over and it turned into personal attacks. I actually thought that Postecoglou was winning the battle and I thought he held his head high in what was clearly a set up against him.

SBS and Foster himself have not done themselves any favors with this interview. It was an embarrassment and I can now see the FFA not allowing SBS to conduct interviews or do certain stories. For us with no Foxtel, this would just leaving us even more in the dark than we already are. Thanks Fozzie....


Friday, November 10, 2006

vs NZK

Tonight the New Zealand Knights come to town to play Sydney and I like many others find myself thinking “why am I going to watch a rubbish team bring their rubbish football to town?”

The usual mate I go with has bailed on me (he kind of has a real excuse though J) so I have to find another friend to go with. With my season pass I got 2 free general admission tickets so I thought I could give those out and get a bit of a group going. Everyone I asked was up for comeing until they realised they were going to see New Zealand and that right there is seeing first hand why wherever New Zealand go to play the crowds are down.

The hapless team from across the Tasman, which is actually made up of 90% old poms or the reject Aussie players such as Jonti Richter, actually only have 3 Kiwis on their books to start with! For 2 seasons now these League 2 “superstar” poms have failed to not only win but play any sort of attractive football. Surely a younger team made up of Kiwi player picked up from both the New Zealand national league as well as a few signings of the various Kiwis scattered across the Aussie A-League teams would be 10 times more competitive and satisfying for a crowd to come and watch even if they are still losing!

I laughed to myself when I was watching the A-League highlights show the other night and they interviewed Paul Nevin after the win against Queensland. He said “We are an honest team, we know we can’t play the football that they can. I think it was about stifling them and making them play the long ball.” In other words, he is saying we are shit, our whole playing philosophy is to play shit football and then try to make the other team play even shitter than us. No wonder no one is interested in watching them play!

I just hope for the whole leagues sake that the FFA does something about the Knights. They have had 2 seasons to show that they are serious and that they want to get their act together but the lack of support from the New Zealand FA, the lack of Kiwis on the books and the care factor of zero shown from the New Zealand public will surely see the FFA say enough is enough and it cant come any sooner for me!


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

U20's Out!

Flicking on SBS World Sport tonight I was devastated to see Australia bowing out of the U20 World Youth Championships qualification tournament. The world cup for the under 20’s has produced most of our senior national team stars and this crop of players has been described as the best group since.

Being Australian you’d think that I would be used to the heartbreak of being kicked out of tournaments before we have even begun but no, it still hurts just as much as the famous ones I have at least been alive for. Those being Iran 97 and Uruguay “Chapter 1” in 2001. This feeling however has never been felt at a youth level. With past youth teams gaining automatic qualification by breezing through the Oceanian confederation and always being at the youth world cups, I just assumed a move into Asia would be no different. We are a football powerhouse now right? Seriously the answer is we are nowhere near the level we need to be at to challenge the top nations at big tournaments.

Reports that Australia’s play has been far from impressive not only in this tournament but for years now will surely finally see the axe that has been hanging by a thread above coach Ange Postecoglou’s head finally fall. Could this be the age of a new direction and style for youth football in Australia? Could the youth team be finally developed into the same style that we want our senior national team to play in?

A football technical director should certainly be looked at being employed by the FFA right now to overhaul this whole situation with the coaching positions from under 17 all the way up to the senior side sure to be overhauled in the not too distant future.

Youth development and lower levels of the football hierarchy is the next pieces of the puzzle that needs to be addressed otherwise we run the risk of falling even further behind. It all starts with the youth and I strongly believe the system and directions are not in place to get the best out of the talent that is clearly there. Over to you FFA....