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Updated: 31 min 43 sec ago

Disrespectful Cassio has zero chance of playing: Gombau

13 hours 13 min ago
Speaking at the Reds’ final training session before heading to Newcastle to face the struggling Jets, Gombau said he was disappointed with Cassio’s conduct after the club’s historic win. “Honestly no (room for Cassio),” Gombau told The Advertister. “Cassio had something that I don’t like. “He don’t come before pre-game (FFA Cup final) to support the players to say ‘good luck’. “He don’t come after the game to celebrate with the players. For me this is disrespectful ... no chance. “No chance ... I don’t know ... for me, after he did this, no chance ... zero.” The 34-year-old has not featured for the Reds this season after missing almost 11 months with a hamstring injury and has less than six months remaining on his contract. Gombau wouldn’t be pressed when asked whether Cassio would be released during the January transfer window but said he no issue with the club legend. “It’s not my problem - I don’t have any problem with him (Cassio),’’ Gombau said. “He don’t have the problem with me. “Now he have the problem with his teammates for not coming to say ‘congratulations’. “I can understand that he don’t like me or he thinks that I am not a good coach or he thinks that the club ... but his teammates? “For a player that is playing with them every day he don’t shake hands and say ‘come on, we can win’ or ‘congratulations’ because we won. “Are we happy for this? Come on.”
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Injury cruels Mitch Nichols Asian Cup hopes

Thu, 18/12/2014 - 16:58
Nichols was named in Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou's provisional 46-man squad last week. But with Asia’s premier tournament kicking off on January 9, even the best prognosis has the creative mid sidelined for six weeks. Nichols was subbed off in last weekend's 2-0 win over Newcastle Jets and failed to make the park in Glory's 1-0 loss to Adelaide United in the inaugural FFA Cup final on Tuesday. After a solid season so far, Nichols said he was disappointed to have been hit by the injury. His absence has opened the door for Ruben Zadkovich to return to the starting eleven. "It's frustrating to say the least and I really wanted to be part of the FFA Cup final and help the boys out,” Nichols said. “However the medical team has assured me I should be back on my feet soon after the January break. "I wish the boys the best of luck against the Mariners this Saturday and hope we can get a bumper crowd at nib Stadium and another three points to extend our lead at the top of the league.” Glory are enjoying their strongest start to an A-League season and sit three points clear at the top of the ladder.
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Moss signs new deal with Phoenix

Thu, 18/12/2014 - 10:05
At 31, the Kiwi international said his “body is in the best shape it has ever been” and likewise for the club. Phoenix currently sit fifth on the A-League ladder, just one point off Sydney FC. “Lee Spence (strength and conditioning coach) and Rob Lee (physiotherapist) have helped me get so fit, but they haven t had to look after me too much this season as I’m feeling really good,” Moss said. A foundation member of the club, Moss returned to Phoenix in 2012 after spells with Melbourne Victory and the now defunct Gold Coast United, and despite other options had no hesitation in signing on again. “There was interest from outside the A-League I could have pursued but at the end of the day when I was weighing up the options there was only one way it was going to go,” he said. “The people at this club – players, football management and office staff – are fantastic and even at this early stage have been helping me with my ambition to work in the media when I finish playing. “I have also been impressed with the direction the club is taking. I was here at the start and the future has never been as clear as it is now. “The way we have worked on our culture and values since Ernie arrived has been impressive, and it is just as important to pay attention to that as it is to how we play. “The way Ernie has got the team training and playing is exciting and that’s why I wanted to be here in the longer term. “I believe this club is going to go places in the future because it is getting stronger all the time and I want to be part of it. “Now there is a reserve side, youth team and academies, there is a pathway for ambitious young footballers to follow. “When we visit schools and talk to the kids now they say they want to play for the Phoenix when they grow up where it used to be the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea.” Moss said it was also nice to have the hard work he had put in since returning to the club rewarded. “I’m pretty passionate about the Phoenix and feel a responsibility as a leader in the team to lead by example so I put my heart and soul into training every day. For the club to offer me another two years is rewarding.”
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Pics: Western Sydney Wanderers v ES Setif

Thu, 18/12/2014 - 08:14
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Guillermo Amor: From football royalty to Reds revolutionary

Wed, 17/12/2014 - 23:39
Amor’s football resume reads: Barcelona legend, ex- Spanish international and former Director of Barca’s famed youth academy - La Masia. It was the promise of a new adventure after his tenure at La Masia, and the prospect of reuniting with Adelaide coach Josep Gombau, that prompted the Barca icon to join the Reds’ Latin invasion. “I wanted to live a new experience,” Amor said. “ Josep (Gombau) and I talked about the possibility of coming here. After working with the Barcelona youth academy, I wanted to be involved in professional soccer.” After spending some time in Adelaide and seeing what the world game is like Down Under, the former Barcelona star says his perception of Australian football has changed. “Before coming here, people told me that soccer in Australia was very physical” he said. “Now, after four months here I realised that it is also very competitive and technical. There are top quality players, especially here at Adelaide United. “I am grateful to be part of this team and I hope to be able to make my contribution to achieve the best results. “ Amor added: “Our goal is to do a good season and try to win always, every match. To achieve these goals, we have to play well. The players have to believe what they’re doing. “ With Adelaide United winning their first piece of silverware in eight years, Amor’s influence is already starting to be felt at the club. Sergio Cirio, the scorer of the winning FFA Cup goal, says having a former player who had such a high football pedigree like Amor at the club has given the Red’s players some quality direction. “Guillermo (Amor) has a really big influence on all of us because he played with Barcelona during one of the best moments of the club. “He won everything that one player can win, he played for the (Spanish) national team in many games, so when he speaks we listen. “We give him a lot of attention because we know that he has a big experience as a player and his advice is very important to us.” Amor made his debut for Barcelona under world football iconoclast Johan Cruyff and then went on to make 421 appearances for Barcelona from 1988 through 1998, making him the sixth most capped player in Barcelona’s history. During his time with the Blaugrana the 47-year-old won four consecutive La Liga titles and was part of Barcelona’s history making team that won the 1991-1992 European Cup. Amor’s team mates in the winning squad were global football luminaries like Michael Laudrup, Hristo Stoichkov, Josep Guardiola Ronald Koeman and Andoni Zubizarreta. Amor says that his most beloved recollection with Barcelona was: “Having the opportunity of playing with the team of my life. “I have been linked to Barcelona half of my life. I have many good memories from Barcelona.” The ex- midfielder was one of the first graduates of La Masia first opened in 1979 and, after his playing career, Amor became Director of the same famed youth academy from 2003 to 2007 and again from 2010 to 2014. It was during the earlier period he worked with youth academy coach Gombau. Players that came through the youth systems during Amor reign included: Thiago Motta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Lionel Messi, Giovani dos Santos and more recently Adama Traore, and wunderkind Munir El Haddadi. “My responsibility as the Director of the Youth Academy of Barcelona was to watch over the kids’ integral training,” Amor said. “If I had to write everything we did, it would take me a whole day. “We must take into account that we are talking about one of the best youth academies in the world, with an excellent structure. The style and the philosophy is a fact, which took a lot of years to improve and we always look for the excellence.” Amor was Pep Guardiola’s partner in midfield during his successful playing career at Barcelona. And while he was mainly involved in the day-to-day activities of the youth team, he was still was able to experience the glory of the Xavi, Iniesta and Messi era when Barcelona won three consecutive La Liga titles and a Champions League trophy. “It had a great influence on us because he (Guardiola) has a wide knowledge about Barcelona and football,” Amor said “We have a good relationship because we both arrived at (Barcelona) at a very young age. It was a happy moment for us and for the supporters. “We try not to interfere much and be involved in the professional team. Usually they (senior team) train during the morning and the academy in the afternoon. “For us is a pleasure to see them in the professional team because each one of them were formed at the youth academy. They are awesome players and nice people.” Amor’s international playing career included 37 caps for Spain with the highlights being Euro96 in England where he scored to help the team reach the quarter finals, and playing in the 1998 World Cup in France. “Playing in all these competitions with your national team is an achievement and happiness for every football player,” Amor said of his time with La Furia Roja. “There are a lot of good memories, but the most important is being chosen to participate in these important competitions to represent your country.” Amor blames a lack of motivation against some high quality opposition for Spain’s poor showing in this year’s World Cup in Brazil. “When a team wins everything, then it’s very difficult to win again,” he said of the 2010 World Cup champions. “Netherlands and Chile are good teams, and they surprised us. In those types of competitions such as the World Cup, every single detail plays an important role.” So what is the secret to being a good footballer and coach? Amor says for a player it’s endeavour and for a coach it’s simply taking delight in the profession. “The mentality is essential for being a good player,” he said. “I believe that with hard work and sacrifice, it would help you to be a better player. “I’ve seen some players that have reached being in a professional team without being as good as others because they worked hard. “For being a good coach, it’s very important that you enjoy your job, to be responsible and respectful. You also need to be clear the way you want to play and that the players understand and believe in what you say.” Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Check out Episode Three of his latest A- League Football Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.
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Perth Glory deny cap rort

Wed, 17/12/2014 - 20:16
The A-League leaders issued a brief statement on Wednesday regarding media reports they failed to declare player accommodation and sponsor-provided vehicles to players. Player agent fees totalling $50,602 were not included in the club's 2012-13 salary cap report, according to Fairfax Media, who said Football Federation Australia is now poised to launch an inquiry into alleged irregularities by the WA club. Fairfax media quoted A-League boss, Damien de Bohun, saying he had been in contact with Glory. "FFA has noted the allegations raised about Perth Glory and we've spoken to the club today," de Bohun said. "FFA is looking into these matters in line with the usual salary cap compliance practices." But Perth CEO Jason Brewer said: "The club is compliant with the Hyundai A-League cap. “Furthermore, Perth Glory FC has not received any notice from Football Federation Australia in relation to any inquiry involving the club." Perth, who were beaten 1-0 in Tuesday night’s inaugural FFA Cup final and are enjoying their best start to an A-League season, could face fines and point deductions if found to have breached the cap. Sydney FC were fined and had a one point penalty deduction suspended for falling foul of the cap in 2005-06.
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A-League Preview: Berisha crucial for Milligan-less Victory

Wed, 17/12/2014 - 16:36
Victory will take on Melbourne City in round 11 of the A-League on Saturday looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the Australian domestic league, although captain Milligan will be unavailable after receiving a three-match ban on Tuesday. Milligan was suspended by the A-League's Match Review Panel for a wayward elbow to the head of Terry Antonis during Victory's 3-3 draw with Sydney FC on Saturday. Since the versatile midfielder joined Victory during the 2011-12 season, the Melbourne-based club have won 59 per cent of games with Milligan in the line-up, while that statistic has dropped to just 29 when he has been absent. As Victory look to maintain the pressure on leaders Perth Glory over the next three weeks, coach Kevin Muscat will have to find a way to pick up points without Milligan and utilising striker Besart Berisha more may be critical. Berisha has scored six goals in nine league matches since joining Victory from reigning champions Brisbane Roar but four of them came in his first three games, including a hat-trick against City in round three. After the treble, Berisha injured his groin in an FFA Cup fixture and missed Victory's next league game, while the Albanian forward has appeared less involved since. In his first three games in navy blue, Berisha averaged over 42 touches per game, while in his six appearances since, he only averages 30. Victory will enter their derby with City 13 points ahead of their local rivals, while John van 't Schip's men have only won one of their past four games, although that did come last week. City defeated Roar 1-0 at home and will hope they can carry some momentum into Saturday's clash. If Victory win they will join Perth on 25 points and edge ahead on goal difference before Glory host Central Coast Mariners in Saturday's later game. The Mariners are winless in 10 games in all competitions and should provide Perth with the ideal opportunity to bounce back from their 1-0 FFA Cup final loss to Adelaide United on Tuesday. Glory have won their past seven at home in the A-League and have scored two or more goals in all five matches at nib Stadium this term. Adelaide will look to build on picking up their first piece of major silverware since the 2005-06 Premiership when they visit second-bottom Newcastle Jets on Friday, while Sydney FC will face Wellington Phoenix in the final match of the weekend on Sunday. Brisbane Roar's clash with Western Sydney Wanderers has been postponed due to the latter's FIFA Club World Cup commitments.
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Goal hero Cirio hails Reds FFA Cup win: This is the big one

Wed, 17/12/2014 - 12:26
Cirio's consistently sharp skills and movement from his right wing vexed the visitors' defenders all evening, while his superb 67th-minute goal proved the difference. Often touted as the A-League's premier import, Cirio scored in all five of United's Cup fixtures, finishing with a competition-best six goals in five games and was a deserved recipient of the inaugural Mark Viduka Medal as the final's best player. "I've known him for a long time," Gombau said of his fellow Catalonian. "I tried to sign him at my last club and bring him to Kitchee in Hong Kong, but I couldn't. "He's always been a player I've liked because he can play in different positions. And as a person - he's an excellent person." Adelaide generally bossed the contest despite Perth's gallantry and resolve in defence. The Glory were reduced to 10 men after Josh Risdon was sent off in the 58th minute for tugging Marcelo Carrusca's shirt, the young right back's second booking of the night for an infringement on Carrusca. This made the Reds' job easier and Cirio pounced accordingly with a fine goal, but Adelaide's path to the final was anything but a breeze, having to navigate past a quality field of Wellington Phoenix, Western Sydney Wanderers, Brisbane Roar, Sydney FC and the Central Coast Mariners. "We played against five A-League sides and won every single game," Gombau said proudly. "I think we deserved it (Cup). "Perth is a very good squad and had a good game. "They are on top of the A-League and don't allow you to relax for a second. "To win the first FFA cup is very important." Cirio agreed with his coach's sentiments. "This is the most important trophy I've won in my own career," he said. "I'm very happy because we got it in front of our supporters. "As the coach said, we deserved this trophy because we played against (all) A-League teams." Gombau is a fan of the 32-team, FFA Cup knockout concept and believes its prestige will only advance in future tournaments in line with the growth he has noticed in the sport in Australia. "The first year is like a trial," he said. "Next season for sure the clubs will take this very seriously. "It's a big trophy because it's not just involving the A-League teams, but the leagues from every single state. "We got more people (in the FFA Cup final) than in a league game. "For sure it's growing, not just the Cup, (but) football in Australia is growing a lot."
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Lowe down on really soft send-off

Wed, 17/12/2014 - 12:06
The young defender was initially yellow-carded just before half-time for going in late on Marcelo Carrusca before being given his marching orders in the 58th minute for what appeared a small tug of Carrusca's shirt. Lowe felt his side, after a testing but deadlocked first half, was gaining some decent post-interval momentum before Risdon's exit swung the pendulum squarely back in United's corner. "I'm so far away, I'm going to say no," Lowe replied when asked if Risdon's second booking was justified. "I don't know whether it was a tackle or he pulled his shirt, I couldn't see from over there. "It looked really soft from where I was - I couldn't see anything. "In the second half we were starting to get a feel of the ball and we were getting a bit of momentum then obviously that (red card) happened. "We were quite organised and we made it difficult for them. "We made them rush things, play a bit long ... they didn't get out the back and play like Brazil like they normally do." Despite his clear disappointment, Lowe was effusive in his praise of his team which, despite being restricted to 10 men for more than half an hour, made Adelaide earn their fighting victory. "We've come a long way," the English-born mentor said. "We've come to a cauldron here and put a performance in. "Our players have been magnificent. I think they were absolutely top notch. "You could see out there we didn't feel inferior, we didn't look inferior, we weren't less fit, less committed ... I'm ever so proud of the players." Lowe, who during his playing career represented the likes of Birmingham City and Stoke City - both of which can claim FA Cup final berths in their respective histories - believes the FFA Cup will one day enjoy a similar profile to England's legendary knockout competition. "In Australia it will have the hype and that (FA Cup equivalent) profile, eventually," Lowe said. "You saw tonight, it was a fantastic spectacle. I've certainly enjoyed the journey. "It's a great concept - it's huge. "Everybody looks at it like that as well, especially the non-league teams. "I think it will grow even more at grass-roots level, to see what (semi-finalist) Bentleigh have done, what Adelaide City have done. "It's going to touch the whole nation which is fantastic."
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WIN! Sydney FC 4-Game Pack - Feb 2015

Wed, 17/12/2014 - 09:58
Sydney FC face some tough competition in a short space of time, and they have bundled four big games together for a great package, with savings of over 30% on single game ticket purchases. Melbourne Victory come to town on Valentine's Day, Saturday 14 February, four years after Sydney FC defeated Victory to claim the Premiership. A wonderful opportunity to relive the feeling of the first time we held aloft that trophy. Central Coast Mariners will be looking for revenge on their Round 4 loss, but do Sydney FC now have the upper hand with the Mariner's former coach Graham Arnold? A 5pm Saturday kick-off leaves the night free for celebrations. Brisbane Roar visit on Sunday 15 March. The current Hyundai A-League Champions have had a terrible start, including a 2-0 loss at home in Round 3 to Sydney FC. Can Sydney FC keep the pressure on them? Melbourne City visit on Friday 20 March, and without David Villa, Sydney FC will be keen to claim the three points they deserved in Round 1. You can purchase online here If purchasing this 4-game pack, you will also receive: · 10% off Sydney FC Merchandise (online and at Stadium Merchandise outlets) · 10% off additional Sydney FC tickets through Ticketek FFT have been given 2 pairs of this 4-game pack offer to give away. To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is answer the following questions and enter your details. Open to all Australian residents aged 18 and over. Entries close: 8 January 2015 8:59am AEST Prize is as stated. No cash alternative. Prizes are non-transferable. One entry per person. Transport to the venue is at the winners expense. FourFourTwoterms and conditionsapply
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Pics: Adelaide win inaugural FFA Cup

Tue, 16/12/2014 - 23:21
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Kennedy eyes championship glory with Melbourne City

Tue, 16/12/2014 - 23:15
“I hope to win a championship, whether it’s this year or next year or the year after we’ll see,” Kennedy said on Tuesday. The hero of the Iraq qualifier in Sydney that propelled Australia into the 2014 World Cup said he was excited by the prospect of lifting City up the table. “I want to fit in as quick as possible and start winning games and then in finals anything can happen. “I want to play my part to make the team the best that it can be.” PICS: KENNEDY HITS THE TRAINING PADDOCK WITH CITY Kennedy has begun training with City ahead of his 18-month deal beginning next month. The 32-year-old, who has scored 17 times in 33 caps for the Socceroos, is still working his way back to full fitness after an injury-riddled time in the J-League with previous club Nagoya Grampus. He hasn’t played a competitive match since August due to a back injury which also ruled him out of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Kennedy is unlikely to be fit to play until after the Asian Cup break in February, with City boss John van’t Schip confirming his marquee man has lots of work to do to get up to speed. "He's (Kennedy) behind," van't Schip told reporters on Tuesday. "He didn't play for a while, he came from injury. But he's getting treatment now." While he needs match time, the tall striker has the potential to be a hit in the pacy City team, which should excite the club's fans. “The way the coach wants to play with the guys out wide and getting a lot of balls in the box, that’s really beneficial for the way I play,” Kennedy said. “Hopefully I can slot in there and finish things off. I want to come in and fit I the team as quick as possible, do my job on the pitch, score some goals and send team back on winning ways.” Kennedy, who last played domestically with Carlton in the old NSL almost 15 years ago, believes this is the perfect time – and place – to head home. “The club’s heading in a really exciting direction with the City takeover and this team, this club definitely has the ability to become the biggest and best in Australia,” he said. “For me it was a no-brainer this is the place to come and re-start my career in Australia. “The team has had some ups and down (this season). A few results were unlucky not to go our way but in general we’ve played some good football. “It’s just that little bit is missing to turn those games into winning results but once we do that we’ll be on a good path.” Kennedy had a successful time of it in the J-League, winning the championship with Nagoya in 2010 and finishing as the competitions top scorer in two successive seasons. In all he scored 64 times from 128 appearances in the J-League. City meanwhile have a Melbourne Derby to play this Saturday.
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Reds-letter day: Adelaide lift first ever FFA Cup

Tue, 16/12/2014 - 21:21
PICS: CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE MATCH ACTION Sergio Cirio, as he has been throughout the Reds' triumphant Cup campaign, proved the hero with a superb 67th-minute goal, taking advantage of Josh Risdon's dramatic send-off nine minutes earlier, which left the visitors undermanned and, ultimately, out of puff. Despite their disadvantage, Perth were gallant to the end and never threw in the towel but it wasn't enough to prevent United claiming South Australia a first piece of football silverware since claiming the A-League's first premiership plate in 2005-06. GOALS 1-0 (Cirio 67') Capping a characteristically sweet chain of passes, Marcelo Carrusca, on the edge of the box, played in Cirio with pinpoint perfection. The Spanish superstar, a firm favourite of victorious second-year coach Josep Gombau and deserved Mark Viduka medallist, danced past Perth skipper Michael Thwaite and threaded home the title-clincher with a classy finish from a tight angle around Danny Vukovic. Cirio scored in every one of Adelaide's Cup outings, finishing with a competition best six goals in five games. KEY MOMENT Josh Risdon's careless 58th-minute shirt tug of Carrusca earned the Glory defender his second yellow card and an early shower. Booked just before half-time for going in late on Carrusca, Risdon was given his marching orders before a hour was up, again infringing on Adelaide's Argentinean star, allowing the home side to further press its swelling advantage. HIGHLIGHTS REEL Cirio was the man of the moment but fellow Spaniard Isaias provided plenty of highlights. He racked up 90 passes, generally of high quality, and also came oh so close to cracking the Reds' second goal when he forced Vukovic to leap for a high deflected stop in the dying minutes. COACH KILLER Risdon was doing a lot of things right in the decider, defending stoutly and passing nicely. But he will unfortunately be remembered for his two sloppy bookings and expulsion cost Perth big time. It was a bad case of timing too, as the potential Socceroo did it on a big stage in front of Ange Postecoglou. BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD Rostyn Griffiths had possession muscled off him around halfway in first-half stoppage time which gave Bruce Djite the all clear. Bursting forward, the Reds striker found Awer Mabil with a pinpoint pass, but the youngster, with acres of space to work and only Danny Vukovic to beat, blazed high, wide and not so handsome, a huge let-off for the visitors just before the interval. THE FINAL WORD Exalted United have barely three days to relish their Cup triumph before reverting back to league mode and tackling the winless Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium. Glory will be keen to turn this one around quickly and maintain their winning A-League ways when they host the Central Coast Mariners on Saturday. TEAMS Adelaide United: Galekovic (c), Marrone, Boogaard, McGowan, Isaias, Cirio, Carrusca (Pablo Sanchez 80'), Djite (Watson 86'), Mabil (Ferreira 59'), Jeggo, Elrich Perth Glory: Vukovic, Griffiths, Djulbic, Zadkovich, Keogh, Marinkovic (MacLaren 79'), Garcia, Risdon, De Silva (Sidnei 45'), Jamieson, Thwaite (c) Scorers: Cirio (67') Red cards: Risdon (58') Yellow cards: Garcia (32'), Risdon (42', 58'), Isaias (69') Conditions: 19°C, windy Attendance: 16,142
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Pics: Kennedy hits the training paddock with City

Tue, 16/12/2014 - 19:40
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Milligan cops a three-match ban

Tue, 16/12/2014 - 19:00
Milligan led with the elbow in a challenge for the ball during the 23rd minute of Saturday’s Big Blue which was somehow missed by the referee. But not the Match Review Panel who cited the player, and despite submissions from Victory, the Socceroo was found guilty of “serious foul’ play against Antonis. The MRP rules Milligan should serve "a sanction of three matches, being the Mandatory Match Suspension plus two additional matches". The decision rules the influential midfielder out of a string of key matches including this weekend’s Melbourne Derby against City. Milligan will aslo miss the game against Newcastle Jets and a potential top of the table clash with Perth Glory. Meanwhile, Wellington Phoenix will lose veteran defender Manny Muscat for two matches after an incident in their 1-1 draw with Central Coast Mariners in Auckland on the weekend. Muscat trod on the calf of Mariners midfielder Glen Trifiro and was found guilty of assault on a player by the MRP. He will miss Sunday’s clash with Sydney FC and the following match against the Western Sydney Wanderers.
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Carrusca: This is the best moment of my career

Tue, 16/12/2014 - 18:10
Adelaide United were without influential playmaker Marcella Carrusca, who was struggling with a calf muscle injury, when they went down in a surprise loss to Brisbane Roar. The Reds coach Josep Gombau and their fans will be hoping the Argentinean import will be fit for tonight’s home FFA Cup final against Perth Glory. Before his injury Carrusca spoke to FourFourTwo about the inaugural final and said it was the Reds most significant game of their lives. “We train all year to be in the final and we arrive now, we have one game left we have to do everything do our best and try to win the trophy,” Carrusca said. “This is the objective that we have, so we’ll see what happens I’m very excited for that.” Adelaide United have already played and beaten Perth in round two of the A-League but the Argentinian denied it would give the Reds the edge going into tonight’s final. “No of course not, every game is different – they are improving also, if we compare that last game that we won so it will be different of course. “It will be very difficult we know that they have good players, and are a good team. I think it will be an equal game and difficult and I hope we win. The 31-year-old is happy with Adelaide’s start to the A-League season both on a team and personal level as he fulfils his playmaker role with aplomb. “I feel really, really well, we are playing well and getting results and we are scoring many goals,” he said. “We are happy that the results are good for us, I hope we can carry on for the rest of the season. I feel good, I am scoring, I make some assist also this is my job, to assist to the strikers and wingers and try to help the team this way, I am happy more because the team is playing well.” The Buenos Aires local has played almost 50 games for Adelaide United and says that his family is settled in Australia and with a new addition to the Carrusca household on the way, moving Down Under was the best decisions he’s ever made. Carrusca added: “I feel really well in this club and in the city, also my life here outside football is fantastic, now we are waiting for my second son in January he will be Aussie so with my family we are very happy here. “The club help me a lot when I arrive here so I’m very grateful with the club, with the coach with my teammates also. “I think it’s my best moment in my career because I am playing in every game, because I don’t have a big injury that doesn’t let me show how I can play.” On his decision to play in the A-League Carrusca said: “My agent told me that there was an opportunity to come here – I spoke with family, with my wife. We don’t know much about the football here, we know very well how the life (in Australia) is so we came here for another experience. “Now of course we are happy here, we try to enjoy every day. The reason is because when I see my family I see that they are very happy. This is the main thing – the most important for me is family so if they are happy I’m happy also.” Carrusca revealed it was the advice of former Argentinean Youth international teammate and ex- Mariner that helped prepare him with right mindset to play in the A-League. “To be honest I didn’t know how hard (the A-League) was,” Carrusca said. “Before I came here I call Patricio Perez who played for the Central Coast three years ago. I play with him in the Under-20 national team. “I call him to give me his feelings, and he told me if you want to go there don’t think it will be easy, it is a very difficult league, a very physical league, so you go there you do your best because it’s not easy to play there. “And what he told me it was like this, exactly the same. When I came here I tried to do every day my best, to improve every day. I think it’s working because I have the results. I have the chance to be in the A League All Stars team the last two years I’m here, and I’m so glad for that.” In 2003 Carrusca played at the Under-20 Youth World Cup in the United Arab Emirates where Argentina made the semi-finals. His teammates included some big names in football that play for some of the world’s biggest teams. “When I start to play, I play in the first division (of Argentina) when I was 18,” he said. “After my first game the national team coach of the Argentina under- 20 called me for training with them and after one year we play in the under- 20 tournament to qualify for the World Cup and we won the tournament. “We won almost every game. In this time I play with fantastic players who are now playing in the most important league like (Carlos) Tevez (Juventus), (Javier) Mascherano (Barcelona), (Pablo) Zabaleta (Manchester City), Maxi Lopez (Chievo Verona), (Fernando) Cavenaghi, (River Plate) many players that now play in big teams. It was a very good experience.” Estuduiantes in Argentina has had a massive influence on Carrusca. He spent a total of 15 years at the club from youth to senior level. He played for the club twice during two different stints. One of those stints saw Carrusca take part in the pinnacle of club world football where he played in a game that involved fellow Argentineans Lionel Messi, and Juan Sebastian Veron. “(Estuduiantes) this is my second home,” he said. “I started there when I was 11-years-old, and after seven years I start to play in the first division. I feel it’s like my team, I learnt my football education there, I played many years there, and this experience was amazing. “When I leave I went to Turkey (Galatasaray) for a couple of years, then I come back to (Estudiantes) where I played in the World Club Cup, we play in the final and we lost to Barcelona (2-1) it was another very good experience.” Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Check out Episode Three of his latest A- League Football Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.
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Safros Sydney: The Good, the Bad and the Big Blue

Tue, 16/12/2014 - 13:52
Melbourne Victory had every reason to feel superior going into the Big Blue at Etihad on Saturday night. Unbeaten in the league, playing great attacking football and facing a Sydney side that has faltered in recent weeks, most home fans expected three points. There was more than a touch of concern prior to kick-off. The loss of Corey Gameiro hurt the Sky Blues up front while Ali Abbas’ long term injury made the team vulnerable on the left. And Sash Ognenovski’s inability to recover from his hip complaint has left Sydney shy of a genuine defensive leader. Last week I asked the question – will Graham Arnold send his team into Etihad to soak up pressure, or will he surprise by going on the attack? The line-up that gave it away. With two ball playing midfielders in Terry Antonis and Milos Dimitrijevic lining up behind Alex Brosque at #10 and Marc Janko partnering Shane Smeltz up front, this was not a side sent out to contain. We were going for it. Sydney’s domination of the first half, punctuated by two well-taken Archie Thompson sucker punches and a lovely bit of interplay between Janko and Smeltz, was all but complete. The scoreboard may not have reflected Sydney’s dominance going into the break but our football was superb. Arnie said post-match that this was the best football Sydney has played all year. Early this season we were rampant against Brisbane Roar up at Suncorp but this was better. And more impressive again given that we were playing a confident Victory instead of a Brisbane side in the middle of a crisis. The Sky Blues were not as dominant in the second half as in the first but still produced plenty of chances and should have taken all three points. Instead, our inability to finish up front and a lack of concentration at the back cost us dearly. What happened? The Negatives Left side Every A-League coach knows now: “attack Sydney on their left”. This isn’t a criticism of seventeen year old Alex Gersbach. When he is lining up for the Socceroos in a few short years, we’ll be able to say that it was Sydney that turned him from a raw kid with potential into a left back of international pedigree. But Gersbach needs protection and the way we are lining up, it appears as if Arnie is hoping the problem takes care of itself. It won’t. We need Rhyan Grant in front of Gersbach to provide cover. The Socceroos were highly successful at the Asian Cup four years ago, playing Matt McKay on the left in front of the attack-minded but defensively suspect David Carney. Carney overlapped and McKay covered and dropped inside, linking with midfield and attack and opening the channel for Carney to exploit. It worked a treat and a similar approach can help Sydney fix its left-sided vulnerability. Instead we had the floating Antonis and attack minded Brosque nominally patrolling the left side and suddenly Sydney were finding themselves in 1 v 2 situations. Substituting Grant for Gersbach hardly solved the problem as Grant found himself facing the same 1 v 2 dilemma. The problem is structural and needs addressing pronto. Concentration lapses Two weeks in a row Sydney have conceded late goals that we never should have. While Seb Ryall does a fantastic job in the middle of the backline, Ognenovski’s organisational abilities are irreplaceable and his absence is beginning to tell. Not only have Sydney failed to keep focus for the full 90 minutes in two matches but one or two players have failed to track their man in key moments. I would venture to say that the big man’s absence has cost us three goals in two games. Inability to finish Brosque has played great football in recent weeks but his finishing has let him down badly. Hitting the post in the first half was forgivable but his second half decision to cross inside instead of taking the shot betrays a striker in the middle of a confidence crisis in front of goal. The Positives All round football The Sky Blues played their best attacking football of the season on Saturday night. Antonis and Dimitrijevic were superb as Sydney won the midfield battle with guile and skill, leaving opposition Socceroos Mark Milligan and Carl Valeri chasing shadows time and again. On his performance at Etihad, Antonis is a shoe-in for the Asian Cup squad. Attack Bernie Ibini has been excellent and his early season travails are a thing of the past. He is unlikely to make the Socceroo final cut but is definitely a player on the rise. Meanwhile, the Janko-Smeltz partnership promises to be a most potent one and their interplay was worthy of two experienced, senior international strikers. More is to come from them. In other positives, Seb Ryall held the fort admirably while Nikola Petkovic’s was solid and consistent. And our relatively new tactic of playing low hard crosses to strikers’ feet at the edge of the box worked a treat, yielding two goals. The keeper Vedran Janjetovic’s save off Besart Berisha in the last minute of play was the kind we have come to expect from Sydney’s excellent shot stopper but he may have done better in Thompson’s first two goals. In the first goal he should have pushed the ball over the bar or around the post rather than batting it back into his six yard box. Could he have done a touch better for the second? Two key moments. That’s all it takes. Goalkeeping is a brutal and thankless task. Controversies The Elbow Despite being positioned five metres from the attack that split Antonis’ head and required 10 stitches, Peter Green failed to red card Milligan. The whistle blower clearly lost his concentration at a key moment and will not look back upon the incident with a great deal of pride. There is no doubt whatsoever that Milligan led with his elbow, deserving a straight red, and while it is a lay down misere that he will miss at least a fortnight for his awful action, it is Melbourne City and Newcastle Jets who will benefit from his absence rather than Sydney FC, who should have played against 10 men for over an hour. Sydney’s two goals The more I hit “replay”, the less certain I am whether or not Janko was offside at the point that Smeltz flicked the ball to him. And if a dozen replays have been inconclusive, the linesman’s decision to allow the goal should surprise no one. There is also no evidence that the whole of the ball had crossed the whole of the sideline in the build up to Sydney’s third goal. The replay makes things no clearer while Rhyan Grant’s foot partly obscured the linesman’s vision so once again, his decision not to raise the flag is justified. Nicky Carle and where to from here? It breaks my heart to see the Sydney midfielder out for the season. Eerily reminiscent of Paul Gascoigne’s rash challenge on Gary Charles in the 1991 FA Cup Final that cost the England ball wizard a year of his own career, Carle’s flying tackle was unnecessary and deserved a yellow. But the resulting prognosis that Carle is out for the season with knee damage is depressing for fans and player alike. Those of us who have had the fortune to meet and chat with Carle know what a gentleman he is. A family man, always up for a football discussion and terrific with kids, the former Socceroo may now have played his final game for Sydney FC. It is my fervent hope this isn’t the case and we see him again in Sky Blue. If it is not to be, I hope to see the breathtakingly talented playmaker out on the field once again, even if in opposition colours. I was an unabashed fan before he came to the club five years ago and remain so to this day. Carle’s contribution to the Sydney cause was at its finest in 2011 and 2012. Playing in his preferred #10 role, he was a leading light and his combination with Bruno Cazarine was outstanding, the highlight being a piece of audacious interplay between the two attackers culminating in Carle’s diving header over the head of the helpless Tando Velaphi at NIB Stadium. Get well soon Nicky. And if this is the end for you at Sydney FC, thanks for the memories and best wishes in the future. It seems callous to look at the upside of Carle’s injury, but his limited playing time this season means that he will not be missed as much as one would think. Meanwhile, his high wages allow Sydney to go to market and sign a high quality injury replacement player. It is no secret that we are chasing reinforcements and while it is heartbreaking to see good Sydney footballers out for the season, the show must go on and the cavalry will be arriving in January. What price Tom Rogic? We are back home on Sunday to host a resurgent Wellington Phoenix. A win will put a four point buffer between the Sky Blues and the Kiwis and possibly move us up into third spot while a loss will see Sydney slip out of the four. Sydney FC are not quite down to “bare bones” just yet but squad depth is being tested. The Sky Blues have four matches to play until the start of the Asian Cup and the three-week international break will be most welcome. I suspect that we did not approach the Perth match with the intensity it deserved and paid the price accordingly. There is no doubt Arnie will be doing all he can to shake out any complacency in the run- up to Wellington’s visit to Allianz Stadium. The match will be a tough one – this isn’t the Phoenix of recent seasons – but if Sydney play the way they did at Etihad on Saturday night, three points will be ours.
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Will FFA Cup be Risdons passport to Asia?

Tue, 16/12/2014 - 12:35
After Glory’s storming start to the season, Risdon was last week named in Ange Postecoglou’s provisional 46-man Australia squad for the tournament – and while that list will be halved by kick off next month, Risdon wants to be one of the Socceroo survivors “It’s definitely a good start to the season and to be included in a squad of 46 for the Socceroos is really good on a personal level as well,” said Risdon. “The goals I set for myself: I just wanted to be playing my best, week in week out for my team and getting into the national team was a big goal of mine, getting selected for that national team squad was definitely rewarding. “Hopefully if I keep playing well then more things can come from it.” A product of the Football West National Training Centre that also turned out Eli Bablaj, Daniel De Silva, Trent Sainsbury and Adam Taggart, Risdon is excited by Perth’s early season form, but it’s tonight’s FFA Cup final against Adelaide United that has the 22 year old most enthusiastic. “Glory haven’t won anything for about ten years,” said Risdon.“So we’re very excited to bring back the trophy. “I think it will be a tough game. Adelaide have shown that they’ve played some good football this year. I think we need to be on our best game but I think we should do well.” Even though the Reds are playing at home Risdon thinks that Glory’s recent form could give them the upper hand tonight after the Reds suffered a surprise defeat against Brisbane Roar at the weekend. “We come off a couple of good wins against Sydney and Newcastle, so our confidence is definitely sky high,” said Risdon. “They lost their last game and hopefully that gives us more of a boost going into the game.” With the final being played in Adelaide there was some controversy surrounding the kick off time of the final. The 7.00pm kick off time in Adelaide coincided with rush hour in Perth, denying many Glory fans the chance to see the start of the game. “It’s not ideal the way it’s been sorted out but we’re not letting that worry us,” said the Bunbury local. “We are just going to go out and try and play our best and not let things like that worry us. We are just looking forward to it. “It’s great that we’ve got a cup to add to the league now and we definitely didn’t take it lightly. Every game we’ve had, we’ve taken quite seriously and prepared well for. It’s something we have worked towards.” A win for Perth tonight could be the first step for a potential history-making treble as the side aims to return to their Glory days of old. “That would be awesome but we are just focusing on the FFA Cup final at the moment,” Risdon said. “I’m sure if we win it, we would have a lot of confidence going into the season. That would be great winning the treble; it’s the first time anyone has done it, to be able to do that it would be great. “I don’t think many people expected us to be where we are at this stage of the season. We’re going into each game believing that we can win and obviously we want to stay on top of the league as long as we can and hopefully we can be there at the end of the season.” Like his team-mates, Risdon hails head coach Kenny Lowe – who is still in just his first full season as top boss – and his new signings as key to the team’s success. “This season he’s brought in a few players of his choice which is ideal for him, he’s great, he believes in all the boys and he wants the best for us and you can see that on the sideline how passionate he is,” said Risdon. This is Risdon's fourth season in top flight football since joining Perth at17 and the Olyroo nurtures dreams of one day playing overseas. “I think I’m playing quite well at the moment, the players around me have definitely helped, we’ve got a stronger squad this year so that’s helped me,” said Risdon. “I just want to keep playing the way I’ve been playing so if anything amounts overseas then that would be great. “Hopefully if I keep playing well then more things can come from it.”
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Gallop flags ACL spot for 2016 FFA Cup winner

Tue, 16/12/2014 - 10:18
The FFA CEO was bullish about the Cup's futureahead of tonight’s historic inaugural Westfield FFA Cup Final between Adelaide United and Perth Glory. Gallop said the FFA have taken a proposal to the AFC to have the Cup winner get a spot in Asia’s biggest club competition. “We want to ensure that the FFA Cup winner gets one of the ACL slots — not possible for 2015 but something we have taken up with AFC for 2016,” Gallop told the Adelaide Advertiser. Most other countries in Asia offer a spot in the ACL not only to their league champions but also cup winners and Gallop believes the success of this year’s competition deserves a greater reward. The current system awards spots in the ACL to the Hyundai A-League grand final winners as well as winners of the Premiers’ Plate. A third spot in a qualifying round goes to the team that finishes third in the league. Gallop was also open to the idea of the FFA hosting a Super Cup final which would see the winner of the previous season’s Westfield FFA Cup and Hyundai A-League grand final play – probably to launch the start of the following season. He also hinted some fine-tuning to next year’s Westfield FFA Cup, which would give state league clubs better chance of making it deeper into the competition. “The FFA Cup has captured the imagination of football fans and general sport fans. A sell out (final at Coopers Stadium) says it all,” Gallop said. “One of my favourite moments was when Thomas Love scored for Adelaide City, showing the David and Goliath nature of the competition in true fashion. “Next year we will do some fine tuning. The state comps will be rebranded to be called the FFA Cup allowing 600 clubs to be part of the action and the dream. “It is the “no second chances” cup so we will move to a weekend grand final in November with the quarter-finals played before the A-League starts so as to maximise the chances of the non A-League teams.”
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Breakdown FFA Cup Final: Style versus attitude

Mon, 15/12/2014 - 22:49
The acclaim for Josep Gombau's side stems from an acknowledgement of his long-term project to give Adelaide a clear identity, a job few could argue has not been achieved. Everyone now knows Adelaide will dominate possession, play short, neat passing football and attack down the flanks - it's 'Barca-lite', but it also has a distinctively Adelaide feel to it. They sit third in the ladder, but in terms of the praise from both media and fans, they're top of the league. The real league leaders, though, are Perth, who haven't undergone as much of a stylistic revolution as simply an attitude overhaul. Kenny Lowe's mantra throughout pre-season was about signing "blue collar players," ones that will "work hard and give their all for the shirt". It sounded somewhat cliche, but it seems to have worked. Perth have been defeated only once so far this season - that, as fate would have it, was against Adelaide. Perth v Adelaide is a fascinating tactical battle because both sides are very good all-round sides capable of multiple types of football. For example, Adelaide aren't as patient as last season, and are capable of quick, ruthless counter-attacking, breaking forward from one end of the pitch to the other in two or three passes. Perth, too, can play direct or methodical football. They're not afraid of hitting long passes into Andy Keogh, but in equal measure, distribute the ball from the back and work it forward calmly into advanced positions. In these situations, Rostyn Griffiths is key - he varies his position vertically in holding midfield, sometimes dropping in between the centre-backs to allow the full-backs to push higher up. Therefore, while Adelaide will inevitably control the majority of possession, it's actually difficult to ascertain where this final could be won. In the previous fixture between these two sides, Lowe made the mistake of fielding Jamie MacLaren and Andy Keogh upfront together in a 4-4-2. As a result, Isaias went free because Adelaide had a 3v2 advantage in midfield, and the Spaniard dominated the game, knocking penetrative forward passes and providing a fine assist for the opening goal. Lowe learnt his mistake from that game and hasn't played a 4-4-2 since, instead now preferring a 4-1-4-1 formation where the four behind Keogh have great freedom to roam. The narrowness of Daniel De Silva and Richard Garcia on the wings means there's often lots of space for the full-backs to get forward into, and one of Perth's great strengths is simply how many numbers they sometimes push forward into attack. Can Adelaide cope with that? One key area for both sides will be pressing. Both have very deliberate structures to try and win the ball high up the pitch. Perth, for example, position Keogh between the two centre-backs so he's in a position to counter-attack if they win the ball high up, while the midfielders stick tight to their direct opponents. That could cause problems against an Adelaide side that are sometimes shaky when playing out; then again, sometimes Adelaide are devastatingly effective in tight situations, and could be able to get out past Perth's press. Gombau, meanwhile, instructs Djite to arc his run when closing down so that the centre-back in possession cannot pass across to his partner. The winger on the side closest to the ball pushes up to prevent the pass to a full-back, while in midfield, Gombau is a fan of man-marking - doing it against Melbourne Victory, Melbourne City and Brisbane Roar - all sides that use three central midfielders together, as Perth now do with Griffiths, Nebojsa Marinkovic and Mitch Nichols. Therefore, if the Perth midfielders are to find space, they may have to drift away from their direct opponents. This benefits Nichols, who often floated out towards the right-wing against Newcastle, helping create overloads that allowed Perth to repeatedly attack down their right-hand side. If the same pattern is repeated again, Adelaide left-back Tarek Elrich could be vulnerable to the forward running of Josh Risdon, who gets forward purposefully and whips in dangerous crosses. There are so many issues to consider here, and multiple reasons why either side could win it, which is why this final is so promisingly unpredictable. Tim Palmer writes extensively on A-League tactics
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