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FFA muzzle Postecoglou after pay dispute criticism

Wed, 02/09/2015 - 12:02
Australia coach Ange Postecoglou has retracted his criticism of Football Federation Australia (FFA) and condemned Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) for playing out a pay dispute ahead of World Cup qualifying. FFA and PFA have openly criticised one another during the deadlocked negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement, with the players' union ordering Socceroos stars to withdraw from commercial promotional events during the national team camp in Perth this week. The war of words had been strongly condemned by Australia's Asian Cup-winning coach, who made no attempt to play down its potentially detrimental impact ahead of matches at home to Bangladesh on Thursday and away to Tajikistan five days later. "To me, the fact that both sides think that the best time to play it out is in the middle of a Socceroos camp, [it is] not good enough," Postecoglou was quoted as saying by News Corp. "I'm not happy it's being played in Socceroos camp. I don't have the players often and when I have them, that time's precious and I don't want a minute wasted. "Of course it is [a distraction]. Everyone knows what's going on. It's affecting me. "While the camps on, put everything else aside, lay down your guns, and pick 'em up as soon as it's over and go as hard as you want." Despite being an FFA employee, the coach had initially targeted both factions over their public comments during the dispute. "The fact that people think it's ok to play out, both parties, whilst I have the players for absolutely limited amount of time. Maybe everyone thinks these games are going to be easy. "I should be talking about team selection, team tactics, growth, qualifying for the next World Cup." However, it appears Postecoglou's pay masters have been quick to lean on the former Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory coach, prompting him to issue a retraction on Wednesday. "As a senior employee of Football Federation Australia I understand that my comments were inappropriate," he said in a statement. "I appreciate that I need to take sides on this issue. The commercial performance of the Socceroos brand directly affects the amount of investment in the match schedule, technical developments and sports science staff. "In this case, the commercial boycotts imposed by Professional Footballers Australia will directly affect commercial partners and will inevitably hurt the Socceroos program. "I made comments yesterday out of frustration. I acknowledge that the PFA initiated the regrettable situation that has distracted us in Perth. I understand that FFA was compelled to respond in order to explain its position to the game's stakeholders. "I call on the PFA to undertake that no future Socceroo camp will be targeted in this way."
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PFA hoping to avoid escalation of Socceroos boycott

Wed, 02/09/2015 - 10:52
On Monday night the PFA announced players would not participate in commercial activities on the FFA’s behalf while the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) dispute was ongoing. The action resulted in the cancellation of a store appearance in Perth. PFA CEO Adam Vivian told FourFourTwo that the players wanted to be taken seriously but was optimistic of a swift outcome. Gallery: Socceroos Fan Day and training “We hope it will be resolved in a timely fashion,” Vivian said. “From a players’ perspective they’re saying, ‘listen guys, we’re serious about this, we want to get everyone back in a room’. “You’d hope they wouldn’t have to take further action to drive the outcome because this is a meaningful stand by the players." The Socceroos face Bangladesh in Perth on Thursday followed by an international FIFA window in October when Australia is scheduled to play Jordan away in a qualifier. The national team is not scheduled to play at home again until November’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Kyrgyzstan in a yet-to-be-confirmed city. Vivian added that the players had “given it a lot of thought in terms of trying to protect the football community, which is why it’s purely focused on the FFA’s commercial relationships and not the fans. “It’s disappointing and hopefully it won’t cascade too much further down the track.” The issue revolves around the FFA’s decision to terminate the MOU with the PFA following the expiration of the CBA on June 30. The parties have been unable to reach an agreement on the PFA’s whole-of-game proposal, with the salary cap a key issue. “The fact we’ve come this far down the path and taken a stand like this is an indictment on the relationship – that’s really disappointing,” Vivian said. “Historically there’s been moments of vulnerability for the players, but to have their relationship document between the federation and players terminated, they’ve felt vulnerable and they’re taking a stand.” Negotiations are due to resume on Tuesday next week, with up to four meetings planned for September ahead of the start of the A-League season in October. There has been speculation of an A-League player strike, although the PFA were optimistic it wouldn’t come to that. Vivian said the upcoming meetings would be “vital in the process” of reaching an agreement after months of failing to find a resolution. Socceroo Mathew Leckie also scoffed at suggestions that national team players would boycott games. “Not at all,” Leckie said. “We’re representing our country and everyone loves representing their country, whether we get paid or not. “We’re here to win for our country, our fans and to make Russia 2018.”
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Bridge injury mars Wanderers Cup win

Wed, 02/09/2015 - 10:13
The A-League powerhouse ended Palm Beach Sharks’ FFA Cup run with a solid 2-0 win in the round of 16 at Cbus Stadium on the Gold Coast. Wanderers now face Perth Glory in WA in the Cup quarter finals. FFA Cup wrap Gallery: FFA cup action FFA Cup QF draw revealed “Full credit to our opponent, they did very well," Popovic told Fox Sports. "They made it very difficult for us. But in the end it was a comfortable win,” The only downside to the Wanderers win was an apparent groin injury to key forward Mark Bridge, who came off in the second half. “The doctors are checking him as we speak. We’re hoping for a favourable result. But when a player goes off it’s always a concern," said Popovic. Wanderers now will fly across Australia to face Glory in the FFA Cup quarter finals. After racking up hundreds of thousands of air miles last season during the ACL and subsequent CWC, Popovic was comfortable with the trip away as he beds in a large number of new faces in his reenergised squad. “With such a new squad experiencing going away to Perth is great for our squad and gives us another chance to bed in our new players and the way we want to play," he said. "And we’re delighted to go through.”
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Muscat predicts FFA Cup QF thriller

Wed, 02/09/2015 - 09:40
Victory narrowly booked their spot in the last eight with a pulsating 3-2win over a plucky Rockdale City Suns at Jubilee Oval on Tuesday night. FFA Cup wrap Young midfielder Jesse Makarounas made the most of a rare start with a goal in each half, with Besart Berisha grabbing the other. The Victory boss then watched the live draw on Fox Sports just after full-time as his side were given a home tie against the FFA Cup's defending champions. FFA Cup QF draw revealed “It wasn’t great tonight but we look forward,” Muscat told Fox Sports post-match. “Adelaide possesses a good game for us. “We’ve got them in the first game of the ( A-League] season, we’ll get a good luck at them and I suppose they’ll get a good look at us. “It should be an entertaining game and a little bit different now that both teams have something to lose. “There was only one team that had something to lose tonight and I thought we just hung on," he added. Gallery: FFA Cup action Victory were forced to work hard for their win against the PS4 NPL NSW outfit, who took the game to the A-League champions. It looked like being a comfortable night for the visitors when Berisha made it 2-0 early in the second half but the Suns roared back with Marko Jesic converting a penalty soon after. Makarounas then curled in a screamer before Rockdale responded again, halving the deficit four minutes from time via a Leigh Broxham own goal. It led to a frantic finish as Victory were forced to defend a series of corners and set-pieces but they held firm to avoid a potential boilover. “We are pleased that we are through another round but not with our performance,” striker Besart Berisha said. “I thought in the beginning we didn’t keep the ball and penetrate. We lost a lot of balls which we could have kept and have more possession. “We can play much better. But full credit to Rockdale, they played really good and respect for their performance."
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No Victory, but Reid proud of his Suns

Wed, 02/09/2015 - 09:26
Victory avoided what would have been a huge upset by holding off a gallant Suns to win 3-2 in a memorable FFA Cup round-of-16 encounter at Jubilee Oval in Sydney. FFA Cup wrap “I’m really proud of the boys,” Reid told Fox Sports post-match. .”We went into the game with a plan, we knew it would be tough but even in the first half, we went into half-time 1-0 down and I think we had the better chances.” “We conceded at a really bad time. At the end of the day we can take a lot of faith out of the performance tonight from the boys.” Gallery: FFA Cup action The final minutes of the match were exhilarating as the PS4 NPL Suns pushed Victory all the way with a series of corners. The crowd went wild, willing an equaliser as keeper Ivan Necevski made his way into the visitors' box, but somehow the Victorian powerhouse were able to hold on. And despite the loss the Suns fans were rapturous in their reaction to their heroes after the final whistle. FFA Cup QF draw revealed “They really stuck at it and didn’t give in," added Reid, a former Sydney FC player and NSL Championship winner with Wollongong. "I've a lot of confidence in the boys for next season and I’m really proud of them."
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Fulham confirm Taggart loan to Dundee United

Wed, 02/09/2015 - 00:53
The 22-year-old Socceroo joined the Cottagers from Newcastle Jets on a three-year contract in June last year but struggled with injury and has not made a competitive first team appearance for the club. #FFC can confirm that Adam Taggart has joined Scottish Premiership side Dundee United on loan #DeadlineDay Fulham Football Club (@FulhamFC) September 1, 2015 Taggart is currently inIstanbul with the Olyroos ahead of their upcoming match against Turkey’s U21 national team, in preparation for January’s Olympic qualifiers in Doha. The seven-times capped Socceroo and former A-League Golden Boot had a solid build up to the 2015/16 season with Fulham, and was on target for the English side during their tour of Austria. Manager Kit Symons had challenged the striker to take his chances in pre-season. "Tags' had a stinking season with injuries last term, it was really frustrating for him,” Symons told the club’s official website in July. "But he’s come back, worked hard and he’s been bright and aggressive. He’s been given an opportunity and we’ll have to see if he takes it." Dundee United were previously linked with the takeover of the Jets, currently under FFA administration.
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FFA Cup wrap: Victory defeat Suns in epic battle

Tue, 01/09/2015 - 23:26
Hume City 3 (Ingham 34’, Schroen 42, Markelis 83’) Sydney Olympic 1 (Hatzimouratis 63’) Hume City booked a place in the FFA Cup quarter-finals courtesy of a comprehensive 3-1 victory at home to Sydney Olympic on Tuesday night. The hosts took the lead at ABD Stadium in the 34th minute when Jai Ingham's driving run and shot was only parried by goalkeeper Paul Henderson, Daniel Clark arriving to poke home the rebound. Hume doubled their advantage three minutes before the break, Nick Hegarty advancing down the left flank and finding Marcus Shroen in the middle of the penalty area for the midfielder to tuck home a simple finish. The visitors from New South Wales refused to give up without a fight, Dimtri Hatzimouratis seizing on a rebound to beat Chris Oldfield from the edge of the area in the 63rd minute. The result was put beyond doubt though with seven minutes to go when Shaun Timmins found space down the right and cut the ball back to Theo Markelis, who dispatched an emphatic strike past Henderson, sending the Victorian outfit into the quarter-finals. Rockdale City Suns 2 (Jesic 53’, Broxham OG 86’) Melbourne Victory 3 (Makarounas 45’, 65', Berisha 50') Melbourne Victory avoided what would have been a huge upset by holding off a gallant Rockdale City Suns to win 3-2 away from home in a memorable FFA Cup round-of-16 encounter on Tuesday night. A first half of stout resistance and no little enterprise from Rockdale at Kogarah Oval was broken a minute before half-time when Daniel Georgievski exchanged a neat one-two with Fahid Ben Khalfallah before bursting into the penalty area and getting the ball to Jesse Makarounas, who picked out the far corner of the net expertly. The visitors made it 2-0 five minutes into the second half following a well-worked move from a set-piece, Ben Khalfallah's scooped pass finding the head of Besart Berisha, who made no mistake from close range. The Suns got one back from the penalty spot on 53 minutes, Marko Jesic stroking the ball home from the spot after Thomas Dengwas penalised - perhaps somewhat harshly - for handball. The hosts' hopes of a comeback took a big blow in the 65th minute when Makarounas curled home another well-taken finish from just outside the area, the attacker completing his brace and restoring Victory's two-goal advantage. The team coached by former A-League player Paul Reid refused to lie down, Nicholas Petrillo heading a deep corner back across goal and Leigh Broxham turning it into his own net to make it a nervy last four minutes for the league champions. MetroStars 0 Oakleigh Cannons 1 (Pavlovic 66’) A well-taken goal by Mirjan Pavlovic midway through the second half proved enough for Oakleigh Cannons to progress to the FFA Cup quarter-finals at the expense of MetroStars. With a strong breeze at their backs at Elite Systems Football Centre it was the home side that dominated the first half arm-wrestle, but they were unable to turn their dominance into a goal. Winger Rocky Callisto went closest to breaking the deadlock before the break, his close-range header superb clawed away by Cannons ‘keeper Lajos Hun. Whatever Arthur Papas said to his side at half-time worked as they Cannons came out breathing fire, with Pavlovic and Dean Piemonte both squandering great chances. But the breakthrough came on 66 minutes after shocking error by experienced MetroStars ‘keeper Daniel Godley. The gloveman came racing out of his box to deal with a hopeful long-ball but it bounced over his head, allowing ex-Hyundai A-League attacker Pavlovic to race onto it and slam it home from a tight angle. Despite a frenetic finish as the home side pushed for an equalizer, the Cannons held on for a superb victory much to the delight of the travelling fans on a fantastic night for the Melbourne club. Palm Beach Sharks 0 Western Sydney Wanderers 2 (Delgado 26’, Hamill 86’) The A-League powerhouse ended the Sharks’ FFA Cup run with a solid 2-0 win at Cbus Stadium on the Gold Coast. The Sharks started confidently but Wanderers settled and soon eased past the Sharks. New signing Mitch Nichols released Sotirio on the right side of the box, and the youngster shimmied then crossed to the far post for Delgado to head home unmarked on debut. Federico Piovaccari and Nichols had efforts on goal but the visitors weren’t able to add to their tally by the break. Brendon Santalab came on in the second half for Piovaccari while another substitute Josh McDonald came close to making it 2-0 in a tight second half. Jack Boxell, last year’s Cup hero for the Sharks, was introduced as the home side stepped up their efforts to equalise in front of the almost 1800 fans. But in the final minutes Wanderers saw off the Sharks with a second after a corner wasn’t cleared and Brendan Hamill guided it home low past the keeper to make it 2-0 and book the red and black an FFA Cup quarter-final spot.
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FFA Cup QF draw revealed

Tue, 01/09/2015 - 22:42
Victoria has bragging rights in the national knock-out competition with five of their clubs advancing to the final eight after Tuesday night's action. In a blockbuster match-up A-League champions Melbourne Victory will host the reigning FFA Cup holders, Adelaide United. The 2014 FFA Cup grand finalists, Perth Glory, get a home match and it will be last season's frequent flyers, Western Sydney Wanderers, headed to WA. Hume City enjoy their third straight home game of the competition when they take on Oakleigh Cannons While Heidelberg United will host A-League club Melbourne City. Dates and venues will be announced later in the week.
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FFA Cup Round of 16: Matchday 2

Tue, 01/09/2015 - 20:24
Who will join Adelaide United, Melbourne City, Perth Glory and Heidelberg Unitedin the quarter finals? Hume City 3 (Clark 38', Schroen 44', Markelis 83') Sydney Olympic 1 (Hatzmouratis 64') ABD Stadium, Meadow Heights (VIC) Two ambitious PS4 NPL clubs, two evenly matched sides, this has the hallmarks of a Westfield FFA Cup classic GOAL 38':Jai Ingham draws the save andDaniel Clark is on the spot to lash it home from close range to out Hume City's nose in front. GOAL 44':Marcus Schroen, one of the standouts for Hume in the Round of 32, pops up to score on the cusp of half-time to give the home side a two-goal buffer. GOAL 64':Dimitri Hatzmouratis claws one back for Olympic as he knocks the ball in off an initial save. GOAL 83': That will be enough for Hume. Former Melbourne Victory playerTheo Markelis puts it in the back of the net and ensures his side is through to the quarter-finals. MetroStars 0 Oakleigh Cannons 0 Elite systems Football Centre, Angle Park (SA) This FFA Cup encounter sees the dangerous South Australian outfit meet Arthur Papas’ entertainers from Victoria in an all-PS4 NPL clash. Palm Beach SC 0 Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Delgado 29', Hamill 86') Cbus Super Stadium, Robina (QLD) The Sharks have shown they are Queensland's FFA Cup Kings and are just 90 minutes away from another quarter-final appearance. But the Asian Kings’ new squad is gelling nicely, and rightly so the Wanderers are favourites against Grae Piddock’s semi pros from the Coast. GOAL 29': Dimas Delgado scores on debut with a clinical header off a Joshua Sotirio cross to put the visitors one up. GOAL: It was a long time in coming but Wanderers get their second and the match as Hamill scores his first for Western Sydney. Rockdale City Suns 1 (Jesic pen 53') Melbourne Victory 3 (Makarounas 45', 65', Berisha 50') Jubilee Oval, Kogarah (NSW) A massive FFA Cup challenge awaits Paul Reid’s Suns as the talented NSW NPL outfit tackle the reigning Hyundai A-League champions. This should be a fascinating Cup clash at Jubilee Oval in Sydney’s south. GOAL 45': The Suns have given as good as they've got but it's the A-League champions who go into the sheds one up after an unmarked Jesse Makarounas finds the back of the net with an assist from Daniel Georgievski. GOAL 50': A much slicker start from Victory and Besart Berisha brings up his fifth FFA Cup goal with a diving header off a well-worked header. PENALTY 53': Handball decision was dubious but Paul Reid's men won't care. Marko Jesic sends Danny Vukovic the wrong way to put Rockdale right back in it. GOAL 65': Makarounas building a case for a first XI spot as he brings up his brace.
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Transfer rumours: Where next for Jedinak?

Tue, 01/09/2015 - 20:05
The big news is the career direction taken by Socceroo James Troisi. As has been widely rumoured, the Asian Cup hero has signed a lucrative two-year deal with Saudi Arabian club Al Ittihad. Troisi after fielding offers from Europe while A-League clubs priced themselves out of the market. With Troisi joining current Socceroo Mark Milligan in the Middle East, it will be interesting to observe whether national coach Ange Postecoglou changes his stance on players plying their trade in that part of the world. Interesting times ahead. Meanwhile, there are rumours of a loan move by Socceroo skipper Mile Jedinak away to West Bromwich Albion, Stoke City or Watford FC. It is understood the midfielder and Crystal Palace club captain had his heart set on staying and fighting for his spot but new coach Alan Pardew has been engineering his move away from Selhurst Park. There is a cone of silence surrounding the future of the players at the National Centre of Excellence in Canberra. Currently on their European tour in preparation for the FIFA U17 World Cup, players have been warned not to go public with details of any impending moves, either to A-League clubs or abroad. A number of clubs have been interested in the services of headline acts Perry Fotakopoulos, Jackson Bandiera, Nicholas Panetta, Daniel Arzani, Daniel Maskin and Kosta Petratos but it is understood they have been forced into a waiting game as the squad’s management and coach Tony Vidmar, leave no stone unturned in their preparation to take on Germany, Mexico and Argentina in the World Cup in October. Striker Peter Skapetis, 20, is completing his rehabilitation from knee surgery and is believed to be almost back to full training. Skapetis, a member of Stoke City’s Under 21 squad, is working hard to put a horror 12 months behind him and is targeting a return to the Olyroos early next year. Forgotten man Nikita Rukavytsya is back home in Perth and remains clubless. The former Socceroo, whose brief stint at the Western Sydney Wanderers was considered unsuccessful by many, is a free agent, so not bound by the European transfer window as he continues to train on his own. It is believed that the striker’s preference is to sign for an A-League club but should this not eventuate, one of his options is the Israel Premier League, a possibility given that his Israeli wife’s family resides in Tel Aviv. Fulham FC’s Cameron Burgess has been an ever-present at the heart of the club’s Under 21 defence and has been assured that he is firmly in The Cottagers’ plans by first team manager Kit Symons, despite the club recently signing former Wolverhampton FC defender Richard Stearman. Burgess’ Olyroo teammate, Adam Taggart, meanwhile, may have a harder time convincing the boss that he has a future at the club but is being given every opportunity to press his case as he makes his return following a preseason hamstring strain. Taggart was given a start in the 0-3 loss to the Wolves U21s and performed creditably despite the result. As reported here in recent months, the stoush between the PFA and FFA was only going to escalate and the PFA have flexed their muscle by instituting Socceroo industrial action in the run up to their World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh in Perth on Thursday night. Players are boycotting sponsor appearances while PFA have assured the fans that the Socceroos will don the Green and Gold on Thursday. Public opinion remains divided and things are set to get uglier. Newly called-up to the Socceroos, Luke Brattan is exploring his options, having obtained a release from Brisbane Roar following the club’s failure to pay superannuation. Brattan is believed to be keen on testing himself in Europe and his selection to the national side can only strengthen his overseas appeal. It is understood that a Dutch club has already expressed interest in his services but nothing will be settled until after he completes his Socceroo commitments. Rumours of former Danish international goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen signing with Melbourne City proved true and the 39-year-old becomes only the third goalkeeping import in A-League history after Perth Glory’s Serbian Milan Jovanic and Wellington Phoenix’s Tony Warner from Trinidad and Tobago. The move has raised eyebrows among fans and commentators, many believing that using a visa spot on a goalkeeper is a waste. Time will tell. Finally, striker Andrew Nabbout, cut by Melbourne Victory in May, has been trialling with the Central Coast Mariners, with a decision due shortly. Still at the Mariners and Heidelberg’s Dan Heffernan, last week’s FFA goal scorer, is expected to be offered a deal by the Gosford club in a matter of days. Next week this column will be undertaking a research trip to Hayman Island to conduct a football feasibility study and as such will be unable to bring you your weekly serving of Australian football rumours, gossip and innuendo. The column will be back on deck the following week.
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From tackles to taking notes: Muscats learning curve

Tue, 01/09/2015 - 18:43
Kevin Muscat, renowned hard man of football, spent the last 18 months or so of his playing career as something of a shadow. Wherever then-Melbourne Victory (and current Australia) coach Ange Postecoglou went Muscat was right there behind him, be it team meetings, appointments with player agents, boardroom gatherings or at the back of press conferences. He would sit quietly, observing and taking notes for the apprenticeship he only recently finished. As he tells FourFourTwo, Muscat knew that as his playing days were drawing to a close, there was only one direction he wanted to head towards and in Postecoglou he was fortunate to have a master craftsmen at his disposal. “It started hitting me when I was around 30, that question of what to do,” Muscat recalls. “And when I had my mind set on coaching I started educating myself, taking more notice of things you may have otherwise overlooked, watching and listening.” The first two years of his spell as a playing assistant were under Ernie Merrick and, after a brief stint as caretaker coach, Postecoglou – as Muscat tells it – fell into his life at just the right time. “Things really started coming to fruition when Ange took over and that was when the penny dropped as to just how hard it was going to be. But knowledge is king and I basically just followed Ange around for a year.” Before he knew it, Postecoglou had ascended to the national team and, at the age of 40, Muscat had one of the toughest posts in Asian football at the helm of Australia’s largest club – and he knew he had to make it work. “You only get that one chance to do something for the first time and I knew with that first opportunity I had to set a very good standard. “So I went to Europe, I still do, and I spent a week with Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool, spent time with Frank de Boer at Ajax and also with the Barcelona youth set-up at La Masia.” Despite his stellar playing career, which featured 46 caps for the Socceroos, the former Wolves, Crystal Palace, Rangers and Millwall man admits he wasn’t totally sure if he had what it took to transition from the pitch to the dugout. “I’d been given the chance twice before to present to the board but I wasn’t really sure if I was ready or not. I mean everyone goes through the courses and I’d had a decent playing career so it’s easy to come up with a style or a philosophy, but the hardest part is actually implementing that. “I’m always surprised when I hear coaches talk about their vision, I mean you should be able to see my vision from watching my team play. But having said that it is hard at times to get players to implement what you’re trying to do.” The other initial problem that Muscat faced was the fact he was now the boss of many of those he had been training and playing alongside until just before his appointment. “All I could do in that situation was to be honest, speak openly and hope they respected what I was trying to do, but there were some difficult moments. “I mean I used to socialise with those players and then I had to go from that to dropping someone like Adrian Leijer who was a mate of mine and then the situation with Archie Thompson where we didn’t know if we were renewing his contract right until the end of the season.” With several of those tough decisions made, Muscat could then focus on football and success came perhaps quicker than either he or a legion of outside observers had expected – not that he’s ready to term it that just yet. A solid first season in which he led the Victory to third placed was bettered the following campaign as his team swept aside all-comers in claiming the premiership/championship double. It was a major factor in Muscat being named sixth overall in FourFourTwo’s recent naming of the top 15 managers in the ASEAN region. “I was so focused at the beginning that I didn’t map 12 or 24 months down the track, the first thing I wanted to do was just to survive,” Muscat, now 42, says. “You speak to other coaches and they say the same thing, that first thing when you come in is to bed things down and try to survive. Then when you survive you have the opportunity to win and then when you win and survive you think of success.” By any measure Muscat’s early foray into coaching has been an astonishing success but it does come with its distractions and the former defender is quick to note that there is an almost evangelical aspect to the sport in Australia that he didn’t experience in the UK. “You can’t compare things here in Australia to the commotion of the UK and I’m sure most coaches at bigger clubs over there don’t have to spend so much time with non-football commitments, with sponsors and so on, but that’s the state of where the game is in Australia at the moment.” The other state of the game is that the A-League presents one of the world’s longest off-seasons and while many officials and players throughout the league like to get away from it all, for Muscat there was hardly a moment of downtime. “It’s not in my personality trait to switch off. I did go to Europe with my partner and son but there’s not a single day that goes by without thinking of football, how I can improve myself and better the team. “I had to bring new players and new staff into the club so there’s always things going on, but I tell my partner that if I didn’t have this life I’d be a hell of a lot worse!” The challenge for now, with the new A-League season barely a month away, is to keep pushing the team to new heights and that starts with a good run in the Asian Champions League. “We want to be continually challenging for titles both domestically and in Asia. But we’ve still got a whole lot of history to write at this club. We’ve never been out of the group stage in the ACL, we want to do that and we want to go back-to-back in the A-League. Why put a ceiling on what we can achieve?”
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Sydney sign young Sharks defender

Tue, 01/09/2015 - 18:33
Tratt captained the Sky Blues side that lifted the National Youth League trophy in 2014. The 20-year-old scored seven goals in last season’s PS4 NSW NPL Men’s 1 competition as well as two in the Sharks FFA Cup campaign. Sydney coach Graham Arnold said Tratt had impressed in training “Jacob has the potential to go on and become an excellent defender,” Arnold said. “He has a lot of strengths to his game and has shown us already this year he has the ability to be a part of our first team squad. “I look forward to seeing his development over the next 12 months.” Tratt was ecstatic to sign his first professional contract. “It’s a fantastic feeling to have become part of the first team squad and I can’t wait to improve working under Arnie and alongside the boys,” Tratt said. “The step up will be big but I’m confident of making it and hopefully I can put some pressure on the defence and add some competition for places. "I am so grateful for everyone that has helped me along this journey to get to where I am now, especially my family who have given me so much support and commitment. “It's so rewarding to finally be able to give something back to them because they have worked so hard for me." Photo credit:
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FFA Cup preview: Palm Beach Sharks v Western Sydney Wanderers

Tue, 01/09/2015 - 16:17
Palm Beach SC v Western Sydney Wanderers FC Tuesday, 1 September 2015 Cbus Super Stadium, Robina (QLD) Kick-off:7:30pm local (7:30pm AEST) Referee:Alan Milliner Tickets:Click herefor ticketing details Online Broadcast:Streamed online Apple TV via FOX SPORTS Now Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag#PBSvWSW Palm Beach SC squad:1.Shane VIITAKANGAS (gk), 2.Matthew JONES, 3.Jason CAMPBELL, 4.Tim JACKSON,5.Martin VAZQUEZ, 6.Lochlan REUS, 7.Justyn McKAY, 8.Florian MATK, 9.Rees DUNCAN,10.Adam ENDEAN,11.Nikola MIRKOVIC, 12.Nikki FELIZATTO, 13.Joshua RIIS, 14.Ethan GRIMLEY, 15.Eoghan MURPHY, 16.Jack BOXELL, 17.Kristian REES, 18.Roman HOFMANN, 19.John COSTELLO, 20.Andrew PURNELL-WEBB (gk), 21.Ben LITFIN Western Sydney Wanderers FC squad:1.Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 2.Shannon COLE, 3.Scott JAMIESON, 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5.Brendan HAMILL, 6.Mitch NICHOLS, 7.Romeo CASTELEN, 8.Dimas DELGADO, 9.Federico PIOVACCARI, 11.Brendan SANTALAB, 12.Scott NEVILLE, 14.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 15.Kearyn BACCUS,16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 17.Alberto AGUILAR,19.Mark BRIDGE (c), 20.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 21.Jacob PEPPER, 22.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 32.Daniel ALESSI, 33.Josh MACDONALD,36.Liam YOULLEY BLUFFER’S GUIDE Home side the Sharks are back at Cbus for another major FFA Cup challenge, this time against the champions of Asia, Western Sydney Wanderers. The PS4 Queensland NPL club survived a penalty shootout in the last round, knocking out the highly-fancied Victorian outfit South Melbourne in the process at the same, eye-catching venue. Palm Beach young gun targets A-League Grae Piddick has shown he is a coach that has his side brilliantly organised and prepared. In some ways, he’s similar to Tony Popovic. Expect the home side to again be resolute at the back to try frustrate the Wanderers. And with a postponed game on the weekend, they could be just that bit fresher. And they’ll need it. After avoiding another embarrassing opening round Cup exit this year by beating Brisbane Roar, Tony Popovic’s side will now feel they can go deep into this year’s edition. Their remodeled squad is building nicely and their imports are getting more acquainted to Popovic’s style, their new team-mates and Australian conditions. It will take something special for the Sharks to get past the A-League powerhouse. You can be sure they will give it everything and more…but will it be enough? WHAT THEY SAY Eoghan Murphy (Palm Beach Sharks player) “We’re all buzzing. This is what the Cup is about, drawing a big team playing in a stadium and causing an upset. It's what we do best. Every match is tough when it comes to the FFA Cup it doesn't matter who you face.” Tony Popovic (Western Sydney Wanderers coach) “It’s a big game. To have this [the FFA Cup] helps, having a target during pre-season and we’re all really looking forward to the game. The preparation this week has shown that the message about not taking this game too lightly has been heeded. On paper we should win but football doesn’t work that way and we need to be at our best to go through.” WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW PALM BEACH SHARKS League:PS4 NPL Queensland Current ladder position:Fifth inPS4 NPL Queensland Latest result: League game versus Brisbane City postponed due to weather Who to watch out for:Justyn McKay WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS FC League:Hyundai A-League Current ladder position:Finished ninth in the A-League last season Latest result:Won 3-0 against Canberra FC Who to watch out for:GolGol Mebrahtu Support your local team playing in the FFA Cup. Tickets on sale now.
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FFA Cup preview: Rockdale City Suns v Melbourne Victory

Tue, 01/09/2015 - 16:01
Rockdale City Suns v Melbourne Victory Tuesday, 1 September 2015 Jubilee Oval, Kogarah (NSW) Kick-off:7:30pm local (7:30pm AEST) Referee:Katie Patterson Tickets:Click herefor ticketing details TV Broadcast:7:00pm (AEST) Live and exclusive on FOX SPORTS 503 Radio broadcast:ABC Grandstand Digital andonline Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag#RCSvMVC Rockdale City Suns squad:1.David BRADASEVIC (gk), 3.Steven HESKETH, 4.Hristijan TANOSKI, 5.Paul REID, 6.Takuya MURAYAMA, 7.Alec UROSEVSKI, 9.Dylan MACALLISTER, 10.Marko JESIC, 12.Idriss EL HAFIANE, 15.Nicholas PETRILLO, 17.Toufic ALAMEDDINE, 18.David DASCAL, 19.Patrick SAVOR, 20.Mitsuhiro IWAMOTO, 22.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 24.Nick SORRAS, 29.Isaac SAVOR, 31.Michael LOUPIS, 32.Matteo PANDOLFO, 36.Stefan DUBOCANIN Melbourne Victory squad:1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Leigh BROXHAM (c), 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Besart BERISHA, 10.Archie THOMPSON, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.Matthieu DELPIERRE, 18.Dylan MURNANE, 19.George HOWARD, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI, 22.Jesse MAKAROUNAS, 23.Keiran DOVER, 24.Thomas DENG BLUFFER’S GUIDE One of the eye-catching winners from the Round of 32, the Suns are now set for a David v Goliath battle against Kevin Muscat’s champions of Australia. Victory have been slamming home the goals so far this pre-season and will look to exert their suffocating pressure on the home side. It’s time to find out how good the Suns really are. But the slicker surface at WIN Jubilee Oval – as opposed tothe Suns’ regular home at the bumpy Ilinden Sports Centre – should play into Victory’s hands. The likes of Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Gui Finkler and Carl Valeri should be able to fizz their passes around to execute their high-tempo, offensive game-plan. Suns: Victory can be ours But Reid – while still learning his trade with the clipboard – has a clever football brain and will have his troops well prepared for Victory’s attacking arsenal. With their PS4 NSW NPL campaign done and dusted, Rockdale have been able to focus all their energies on one of the biggest nights in the club’s history. This promises to be another swashbuckling NSW v Victoria contest. And with NSW Premier Mike Baird offering words of support to the Suns, who knows? WHAT THEY SAY Mike Baird (NSW Premier) ‘Tuesday’s match against the defending A League champions, Melbourne Victory, will be an historic occasion for the club, players and the Suns’ passionate supporters. Taking on one of the country’s top teams on your own turf, and in front of a national TV audience, is a rare opportunity so leave everything you have out on the park.” Kevin Muscat (Melbourne Victory) "We're going to have a few players unavailable through international duty, so we looked at a few different things (against Port Melbourne) and I was pretty pleased. We're still a fair way off from where we want to be, it was a good step in the right direction for us.” WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ROCKDALE CITY SUNS League:PS4 NPL NSW Current ladder position:Finished sixth in the NSW NPL Latest result:Lost 4-0 to Bonnyrigg White Eagles in the final round of the NSW NPL a fortnight ago Who to watch out for:Toufic Alameddine MELBOURNE VICTORY League:Hyundai A-League Current ladder position:Finished 1stand won the Hyundai A-Leaguegrand finallast season Latest result:Beat Port Melbourne Sharks 4-0 in a friendly on Tuesday night Who to watch out for:Kosta Barbarouses Support your local team playing in the FFA Cup. Tickets on sale now.
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A-League: Squad changes

Tue, 01/09/2015 - 15:50
As clubs look to strengthen, and some rebuild, you can find all the ins and outs right here. ADELAIDE UNITED IN:Eli Babalj (AZ Alkmaar - on loan),Mate Dugandzic (free),Iacopo La Rocca (Western Sydney Wanderers), George Mells (free) OUT: Nigel Boogaard (Newcastle Jets), Paul Izzo (Central Coast Mariners), Awer Mabil (FC Midtjylland),Miguel Palanca (Numancia - end of loan) BRISBANE ROAR IN: Jamie Maclaren (Perth Glory) OUT: Jesse Daley (released), Kofi Danning (Oakleigh Cannons), Lachlan Jackson (Newcastle Jets), Andrija Kaluderovic (released), George Lambadaridis (released), Ben Litfin (Palm Beach), Adam Sarota (FC Utrecht - end of loan) CENTRAL COAST MARINERS IN: Harry Ascroft (free), Mitch Austin (free), Paul Izzo (Adelaide United), Roy O'Donovan (free) OUT: Zac Anderson (Sydney FC), Isaka Cernak (released), Brent Griffiths (released), John Hutchinson (retired), Travis Major (released), Hayden Morton (released), Dejan Pandurevic (released), Matt Simon (released), Tom Slater (released), Richard Vernes (Budapest Honved - end of loan) MELBOURNE CITY IN: Wade Dekker (City NYL),Bruno Fornaroli (free),Ivan Franjic (Torpedo Moscow), Corey Gameiro (Sydney FC), Aaron Hughes (free), Steve Kuzmanovski (Western Sydney Wanderers), Harry Novillo (permanent deal), Thomas Sorensen (free) Michael Zullo (free) OUT: Damien Duff (released), Mate Dugandzic (released), Jason Hoffman (Newcastle Jets), Kew Jaliens (released), Josh Kennedy (retired), Massimo Murdocca (released), Iain Ramsay (released), Andrew Redmayne (Western Sydney Wanderers), Rob Wielaert (released) MELBOURNE VICTORY IN: Danny Vukovic (Perth Glory) OUT: Jordan Brown (released), Nathan Coe (released), Mark Milligan (Bani Yas), Andrew Nabbout (released) NEWCASTLE JETS IN: Mark Birighitti (Varese - end of loan), Nigel Boogaard (Adelaide United), Andy Brennan (South Melbourne), Labinot Haliti (Western Sydney Wanderers), Jason Hoffman (Melbourne City), Lachlan Jackson (Brisbane Roar), Themba Muata-Marlow (Sydney FC) Mateo Poljak (Western Sydney Wanderers), Leonardo Vitor Santiago (free), Cameron Watson (free) OUT: Zenon Caravella (released), Travis Cooper (Adamstown Rosebud), Sam Gallagher (released), Andrew Hoole (Sydney FC), Edson Montano (Barcelona SC - end of loan), Scott Neville (Western Sydney Wanderers), Jacob Pepper (Western Sydney Wanderers), Taylor Regan (released), John Solari (released), Jess Vanstrattan (retired), James Virgili (released), Allan Welsh (released) PERTH GLORY IN: Ante Covic (Western Sydney Wanderers),Guyon Fernandez (free),Diego Castro Gimenez - international marquee (free),Hagi Gligor (Sydney FC), Antony Golec (Western Sydney Wanderers), Alex Grant (free),Gyorgy Sandor (free), Jerrad Tyson (Sun Pegasus), Marc Warren (free) OUT: Jack Duncan (Randers FC), Daniel De Silva (Roma), Rostyn Griffiths (released), Youssouf Hersi (released), Scott Jamieson (Western Sydney Wanderers), Andy Keogh (released), Jamie Maclaren (Brisbane Roar), Brandon O'Neill (Sydney FC), Danny Vukovic (Melbourne Victory), Riley Woodcock (Sydney FC) SYDNEY FC IN: Zac Anderson (Central Coast Mariners), Filip Holosko - international marquee (free), Andrew Hoole (Newcastle Jets), Ivan Necevski (free), Milos Ninkovic (free),Brandon O'Neill (Perth Glory), Matt Simon (free), Riley Woodcock (Perth Glory) OUT: Terry Antonis (PAOK FC), Nick Carle (released), Corey Gameiro (released), Hagi Gligor (Perth Glory), Bernie Ibini (Shanghai SIPG - end of loan), Marc Janko (released), Ivan Necevski (released), Sasa Ognenovski (released), Nikola Petkovic (KVC Westerlo), Peter Triantis (released) WELLINGTON PHOENIX IN: Blake Powell (APIA Leichhardt), Jeffrey Sarpong (free) OUT: Michael Boxall (SuperSport United), Tyler Boyd (Vitoria Guimaraes), Nathan Burns (FC Tokyo), Josh Brindell-South (released), Kenny Cunningham (released), Joel Griffiths (released), Jason Hicks (released) WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS IN: Alberto Aguilar (free), Dimas Delgado (free), Scott Jamieson (Perth Glory), Andreu Guerao Mayoral (Racing Santander), Scott Neville (Newcastle Jets), Mitch Nichols (Cerezo Osaka), Jacob Pepper (Newcastle Jets),Federico Piovaccari - international marquee (free),Andrew Redmayne (Melbourne City) OUT: Kerem Bulut (released), Ante Covic (released), Antony Golec (Perth Glory), Labinot Haliti (released), Tomi Juric (released), Nick Kalmar (released), Steve Kuzmanovski (Melbourne City), Iacopo La Rocca (Adelaide United), Adrian Madaschi (released), Yianni Perkatis (released),Mateo Poljak (released),Nikita Rukavytsya (released), Matthew Spiranovic (Hangzhou Greentown), Yojiro Takahagi (FC Seoul),Yusuke Tanaka (released),Jason Trifiro (released), Nick Ward (released)
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Suns: Victory can be ours

Tue, 01/09/2015 - 01:42
Rockdale and Victory meet at WIN Jubilee Oval tonight in the round of 16. The Suns booked their spot after defeating Perth Soccer Club 3-1 in the round of 32. “It was the first time Rockdale had been in the FFA Cup so to win the game, and win it quite comfortably, it was a really encouraging performance,” Reid told FourFourTwo. “We were up 3-0 and it was pretty comfortable really. To get to the next stage was something that the club was looking at and we’ve got a dream draw against Melbourne Victory.” Reid, a former Socceroo and A-League midfielder, is excited about playing the A-League powerhouse. “It’s a dream draw for the club and something that, not only the players are looking forward to, but the whole backroom staff, the board and the supporters,” he said. “Any team can be beaten. We’re the underdogs and rightly so. We’re in the NSW NPL and they’re the A-League champions, the best team in Australia. They’re definitely the favourites. But it’s 11 v 11. “We do have a really good team, we’ve got a mix of youngsters but also some experience as well, and that experience is in the A-League. “Playing against Melbourne Victory the boys are going to be nervous and we’re just going to go out there with nothing to lose and that’s the way our team best performs anyway.” The Suns have a host of ex-A-League players ready to take on Victory. Dylan Macallister and Ivan Necevski joined the club mid-season while former Newcastle Jet Marko Jesic has been in great form. “They’ve fitted in really well,” Reid said. “To be able to get in the likes of Dylan and Ivan to compliment what we already have – they’re they’re two really good signings. “Marko’s a player that should be playing at a higher level but obviously injuries, and very serious injuries, have stopped his progress. He’d be up there with one of our two best players this year.” While the Cup clash will be played away from Rockdale’s home ground, Reid is hopeful of attracting a big crowd. “Unfortunately it’s not going to be played at our ground,” he said. “We would have liked that but in a situation like this, being the main game on Fox Sports as well, our ground doesn’t comply with lighting. But hopefully that will attract a bigger crowd. “If we could get 8000 to 10,000 that would be great for the club and the players. There’s been really good interest from supporters and that’s the main thing. We were really disappointed we didn’t qualify last year.” Reid enjoyed a long playing career, starting with the Wollongong Wolves in the NSL in 1998 and including six years in the UK with Bradford City and Brighton Hove Albion. The 36-year old played for Adelaide United, Melbourne Heart (City) and Sydney FC in the A-League and now works as a community football officer for the Sky Blues. Reid took over as player-coach at the Suns after the departure of Branko Culina earlier this year. “It hasn’t been easy, I must admit,” he said. “But I’ve got a really great assistant coach in Matthew Ribarovski. It’s something that I’ve really enjoyed. At this stage I will play next year and also coach.” Photo credit: Rockdale City Suns Support your local team playing in the FFA Cup. Tickets on sale now.
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Sydney re-sign Necevski ahead of busy schedule

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 18:24
After seven seasons with the Sky Blues the 35-year-old has been lining up for Rockdale City Suns who are in FFA Cup action tomorrow night against A-League champions Melbourne Victory. Necevski made what was to be his final bow for the harboursiders in May's high profile friendly against Tottenham. But Arnold said a busy schedule of domestic and Asian football, plus the potential call-up of young goalkeeper Anthony Bouzanis, meant extra cover was required. “We let Ivan go at the end of last season but having looked at our fixture schedule, the travel in our Asian Champions League campaign and potential international duty for Anthony Bouzanis who has been excellent in pre-season, we felt we needed an extra pair of hands between the sticks,” Arnold said. “Ivan is the perfect choice as he knows the club well, he’s an extremely well liked and respected member of the dressing room and has been in great form for Rockdale City Suns in the FFA Cup and New South Wales Premier League. “With such a long season ahead it’s fantastic to have three quality keepers on our books challenging each other for their spots.” Sydney have re-signed Necevski to a one-year deal. “I’m very happy to be returning to this great club and to be back among my second family,” Necevski said. “I’m looking forward to continuing my relationship with the players, the coaching staff and those wonderful supporters. “I’ve always hoped that I would return to Sydney FC and have worked hard over the off-season. “I’ve felt really good playing for Rockdale this year and I’m looking forward to working under John Crawley and learning and improving with him.” Necevski will link up with the Sydney first team squad once his FFA Cup commitments with Rockdale are complete.
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Adelaide United unveil new kits

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 16:26
United’s new home kit again features the traditional red with the addition of state colours in the yellow and blue detailing. The new black away kit embraces the club’s classic red around the trimming of the collar and both sleeves. The third strip will be worn on away matches where both the home and away strips’ colours coincide with United’s opposition and will be a cobalt blue . The big reveal included his teaser... But what colours? 31.08.15 #ForeverUnited Adelaide United FC (@AdelaideUnited) August 30, 2015 It the first time the club’s outfield players will wear blue. Meanwhile Adelaide’s goalkeepers will have three differing kits. Similar to last season, one variation will be grey, whilst the new inclusions will be lime and lilac, but all three will have red detailing. Across all the shirts is a unique dotted gradient pulsating horizontally through the middle with Kappa’s iconic and classical ‘Omini’ logos, which sit upon each shoulder of the shirts’ ergonomic fit. The collars differ from last season with a more retro style. The club’s crest is embroidered over the Reds’ hearts. Other features include the club’s establishment date stamped onto the back of the collar. The 2015-16 Adelaide United kits. David Manuca (@davidmanuca) August 31, 2015 Photo:
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Sorensen signs for Melbourne City

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 16:02
Former Premier League goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen has signed a two-year deal with Melbourne City. The 39-year-old has barely played for the past three seasons at Stoke City but looks set to be City's number one gloveman for the 2015-16 A-League season after becoming the Australian club's fifth and final import on Monday. Sorensen played over 350 Premier League matches for Sunderland, Aston Villa and Stoke ending last season, where he failed to make a senior appearance ahead of Asmir Begovic, who is now at Chelsea. The 101-time Denmark international claimed he is looking forward to challenging for silverware having only an English Championship winners' medal from his time at Sunderland in his trophy cabinet. "I think for the club and for me personally the aim is to get to the top; we obviously want to win a championship and a Cup and that's one of the reasons why I wanted to come," Sorensen said in a statement. "Hopefully I can use my experience and help the club get where it wants to go; I'm here to do my utmost, I'm really looking forward to it; it's a fantastic challenge." City coach John van 't Schip underlined the importance Sorensen's experience will have on his squad, which has 13 players under the age of 25. "He will be an incredibly important figure for the development of our younger players and will act as the very finest mentor for all the goalkeepers in the club," the Dutchman said. Sorensen's signing looks set to consign Tando Velaphi - who ended last term as City's number one - to a spot on the bench for the majority of the season.
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FourFourTwos FFA Cup of Football Snacks

Mon, 31/08/2015 - 15:00
Hume City: Lamb Wrap Hume City have reached the Round of 16 after dramatically knocking out Brisbane Strikers in extra-time on their home turf. Fuelled by their famous lamb wrap, a sumptuous treat filled with meaty goodness, the Victorians are a tough side to beat. The ABD Stadium delicacy is one of the main delights of a trip out to Broadmeadows. Sydney Olympic – Souvlaki The former NSL giant heads south to meet Hume City after knocking off ACT’s Gungahlin United. Sydney Olympic do a mean souvlaki, a perfect food to snack on while you catch some local footy. Come to Belmore Sports Ground for the game, stay for the tasty souvlaki. Result: Olympic’s chicken souvlaki just edges it over Hume City’s lamb wrap. Both put up a strong showing but it is the Souvlaki from southern Sydney that gets the nod because of its nourishing power. Hume City 0-1 Sydney Olympic. Support your local team playing in the FFA Cup. Tickets on sale now. NE MetroStars – West End Draught South Australia’s North Eastern MetroStars booked their spot after upsetting Blacktown City away from home. The MetroStars, once known as the Metro Knights, are tough, traditional and strong-willed, just like a West End Draught. This blonde-coloured lager is best served cold and has a slightly bitter aftertaste. Oakleigh Cannons – Ouzo The Cannons’ first FFA Cup appearance rolls on after a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Far North Queensland. The club with Greek heritage is exotic and colourful, similar to a shot of ouzo. Coach Arthur Papas is a forward-thinker, bold and eye-catching, and his team plays a brand of football that gets the blood running like a taste of the anise-flavoured aperitif. Result: You can’t go past the Cannons and the ouzo, a powerful shock to the senses that is too strong for the South Australian beer. MetroStars 1-2 Oakleigh Cannons, although MetroStars have filed a protest and demanded a rematch after their marquee star Cooper's Ale, on draught at the stadium, was left out of the line up... Support your local team playing in the FFA Cup. Tickets on sale now. Rockdale City Suns – Tooheys New Rockdale City Suns have set their sights on A-League rulers Melbourne Victory after disposing of Perth Soccer Club. Originating from a working-class community just south of Sydney’s CBD, the Suns hold strong Macedonian links. For this game they’re off to nearby Jubilee Oval, home of NRL’s St George Illawarra Dragons, where the norm is sucking down a few cans of Tooheys New on the hill. Melbourne Victory – Fat Yak Double-winners Victory are the standout side on Australian soil right now. They smacked Balmain Tigers 6-0 in the round of 16 and want more silverware. Talented, classy, crafty, they are impressive just like Fat Yak from Port Melbourne. A typical Victory performance is refreshingly clean and effective, just like a bottle of this quality pale ale. Result: Tooheys signature offering is stout and difficult opposition but the premium nature of Fat Yak shines through and wins the battle. Rockdale City Suns 1-4 Melbourne Victory. Support your local team playing in the FFA Cup. Tickets on sale now. Palm Beach Sharks – Fish Chips The little club from the Glitter Strip that just keep on beating the odds. After making the quarter-finals last year, Palm Beach sneaked past South Melbourne to get this far. Like the rest of the Gold Coast, Palm Beach is beset by beautiful ocean, terrific scenery and glorious beaches. Fish and chips can’t be topped on the sunny Gold Coast, proper fare on offering at Cbus Stadium. Western Sydney Wanderers – Wanderdog Tony Popovic’s men pack a punch, renowned for their defensive strength and tactical solidity. But this season they’ve added a slice of Iberian flair to spice things up, the perfect foil to a Wanderdog. A hot dog with bacon is a Pirtek Stadium special and packs a wallop. Result:Salty and slippery, the Sharks’ fish and chips are good fodder. But two kinds of meat in one bun is a unique solution that takes the cake, pardoning the pun. Three points to the Wanderdog. Palm Beach Sharks 0-3 Western Sydney Wanderers. Support your local team playing in the FFA Cup. Tickets on sale now.
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