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Updated: 16 min 40 sec ago
The Asian champions also confirmed the addition of Hayden Foxe to their coaching staff and the signing of midfielder Nick Ward. Bulut and Tanaka, signed on AFC Champions League contracts, replace Brendon Santalab (shoulder) and Shannon Cole (collar bone) in the A-League squad. Wanderers chief executive John Tsatsimas was delighted with all three additions, with Western Sydney Ward's fifth A-League club. "While there was some initial red tape in adding players to our roster following the departure of several players in January, to be able to secure our roster for the remainder of the season is very promising,” Tsatsimas said in a statement. “Yusuke is a fantastic player and we are very excited to see what Kerem will produce in the coming months. “Nick was a late inclusion into the squad following these injuries and brings a wealth of A-League experience. He has won both the National Soccer League and Hyundai A-League and his winning mentality will be a benefit to the squad."
Malik, sidelined for up to four weeks with ankle injury, sat out the Reds' 3-1 loss to Melbourne City in the A-League on Friday. But the 24-year-old, one of only a handful of Adelaide players out of contract at the end of the season, remains a subject of considerable interest. Last week Michael Marrone, Isaias and Marcelo Carrusca all agreed new deals, although Nigel Boogaard has opted to leave Coopers Stadium for the Newcastle Jets. The impending departure of the ball-playing centre-back brings ever greater scrutiny to bear on Malik's situation, with Gombau hoping for a positive development. "Osama ... I think will say something to us next week," the Spanish coach said. "It's important for me to keep as much players as possible, we're happy with them, they're happy with us, with the football that we are doing. The group is very close, this is important to keep the projecting working." Another player whose Adelaide future is in doubt is fleet-footed forward Awer Mabil, who went on trial at Eredivisie champions Ajax in January. It may still be too soon for the 19-year-old to try his luck in the big time, Gombau reiterating his belief the teenager must become a genuine A-League star before seeking to move on. "The next aim for him is to become one of the most important players for Adelaide," he said. "And after, if he (can) do this, he will have his opportunities to go to Europe." As for the disappointing loss to City on Friday, Gombau acknowledged John van 't Schip's men were worthy victors after mounting a stirring second-half fight-back. "In the second half they started better than us, were stronger than us, created more chances than us and they ... deserved to win," he said. The Reds were without injured duo Malik and Boogaard as well as the suspended Isaias at AAMI Park, contributing to a defeat that cost them a chance to move into top spot. "For sure this affected us a little bit but it's what we had," Gombau said. "We tried to prepare for the game in the best possible way and it's not an excuse."
MATCH DETAILS Saturday, 28 February 2015 nib Stadium, Perth Kick-Off: 6:30 PM (Local) (9:30 PM AEDT) SQUADS Perth Glory squad: 1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 3.Brandon O'NEILL, 5.Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 9.Andy KEOGH, 10.Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 11.Richard GARCIA, 14.Chris HAROLD, 15.Jamie MACLAREN, 16.Sidnei SCIOLA, 17.Mitch NICHOLS, 18.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 19.Josh RISDON, 20.Daniel DE SILVA, 21.Scott JAMIESON, 23.Michael THWAITE (c), 27.Dragan PALJIC, 28.Denis KRAMAR ***two to be omitted*** Ins: 3.Brandon O'NEILL (promoted), 20.Daniel DE SILVA (promoted) Outs: Nil Unavailable: 7.Youssouf HERSI (hamstring – season), 8.Ruben ZADKOVICH (1 week – hamstring), 13.Diogo FEREIRA (hip – 3 weeks) Brisbane Roar FC squad: 1.Michael THEO (gk), 2.Jerome POLENZ, 3.Shane STEFANUTTO, 4.Adam SAROTA, 5.Corey BROWN, 8.Steven LUSTICA, 9.ANDRIJA Kaluderovic, 10.HENRIQUE, 12.Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 13.Jade NORTH, 15.James DONACHIE, 17 Matt McKAY (c), 18.Luke BRATTAN, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22.Thomas BROICH, 23.Dimitri PETRATOS, 28.Brandon BORRELLO, 33.Luke DeVERE ***two to be omitted*** Ins: 10.HENRIQUE (return from injury), 23.Dimitri PETRATOS (promoted), 33.Luke DeVERE (promoted) Outs: 34.Shannon BRADY (not selected) Unavailable: Nil BLUFFER'S GUIDE Kenny Lowe and his Perth Glory team could be forgiven for feeling like a hunted animal this weekend. The Western Australian side's status as frontrunners is under threat from Melbourne Victory. Glory have been somewhat out of sorts in recent weeks, hardly ideal preparation for fending off the chasing pack. Last weekend they laboured to a 0-0 draw at Melbourne City. While that cagey display can perhaps be attributed to the needs of an away fixture, a considerable improvement will be expected in front of their own fans this weekend. Lowe's side is unbeaten in two meetings with Brisbane Roar this season. They served early notice of what have proven to be genuine title credentials by beating the reigning champions 3-2 at home in October. The most recent clash between the two was a 1-1 draw at Suncorp Stadium in November, when the hosts produced a better showing under interim coach Frans Thijssen. OPTA DATA - Perth Glory have won just one of their last six clashes with Brisbane Roar, though this was the most recent home game against the Queenslanders. - Brisbane have scored in all but one of their last six games against Perth. - Glory have conceded eight goals in their last three home matches. Prior to that, they had let in six in six home games this season. - No side has claimed more points on the road this season than Brisbane. ROUTE TO GOAL Glory have only bagged two goals in their last three matches, Nebojsa Marinkovic netting away to Adelaide in Round 17 and newcomer Denis Kramar scoring the only goal in a 3-1 loss at home to Sydney FC the previous weekend. Andy Keogh, arrested along with Josh Risdon after that draw in Adelaide, has been quiet of late. There is plenty of talent and no shortage of options for Lowe, with Richard Garcia, Chris Harold, Jamie Maclaren and recent arrival Dragan Paljic, as well as fit-again playmaker Mitch Nichols, all capable of mounting a threat in the final third. But Perth need to rediscover their goal-scoring touch soon if they are to hold off Victory and Adelaide. Brisbane had their own woes in front of goal on Wednesday, failing to break down 10-man Beijing Guoan before conceding in injury time to lose 1-0 at home in their AFC Champions League group stage opener. Prior to that disappointing defeat, Thijssen's men had been in good attacking form, bagging seven goals in three matches, three of those strikes supplied by Jean Carlos Solorzano. Serbian striker Andrija Kaluderovic opened his account with a penalty against the Mariners earlier this month, while Brandon Borello and Henrique are also dangerous. WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK? Roar midfielder Adam Sarota is likely to be nursing a colourfully bruised chest for the trip to WA after being on the wrong end of a stamp from Beijing Guoan's Erton Fejzullahu, who deservedly saw red for the ugly foul on the Gold Coast. FORM LINES Perth Glory: DDLDL In two successive away matches Glory drew 0-0 with Melbourne City and 1-1 with Adelaide United. Prior to that a 3-3 draw with Melbourne Victory was sandwiched between a 3-1 loss to Sydney and 2-1 defeat at the hands of Adelaide, all three of those games coming at home. Brisbane Roar: LWWWL The Roar went down 1-0 to Beijing Guoan on Wednesday night. Before that they had won three consecutive A-League matches, beating Central Coast 2-0 at home, the Newcastle Jets 2-1 away and Wellington Phoenix 3-2 at home. DID YOU KNOW? - No player has assisted more goals than Nebojsa Marinkovic this season (six). PREDICTION Perth Glory 2-0 Brisbane Roar This is the match when we expect the Glory to awaken from their recent slumbers and reassert themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Brisbane laboured without reward in the demoralising loss to Beijing Guoan, which, coupled with the necessity of flying across the country to Western Australia, will have left them at a physical disadvantage compared to their well-rested hosts.
MATCH DETAILS Saturday, 28 February 2015 Pirtek Stadium, Sydney Kick-Off:7.30pm (Local) 7.30pm AEDT) Squads Western Sydney Wanderers FC1.Ante COVIC (gk), 4.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY (c), 5.Brendan HAMILL, 6.Antony Golec, 7.Labinot HALITI, 9.Tomi JURIC, 10.Yojiro TAKAHAGI, 12.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 15.Yianni PERKATIS, 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 17.Romeo CASTELEN, 18.Iacopo LA ROCCA, 19.Mark BRIDGE, 20.Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 23.Jason TRIFIRO, 25.Sam GALLAWAY Ins6.Antony GOLEC (promoted), 15.Yianni PERKATIS (promoted), 16.Jaushua SOTIRIO (promoted), 19.Mark BRIDGE (promoted) Outs2.Shannon COLE (- 1 week), 13.Matthew SPIRANOVIC (suspended – 1 week), 8.Mateo POLJAK (suspended – 1 week), 11.Brendon SANTALAB (Shoulder) Unavailable34.Golgol MEBRAHTU (knee – indefinite) Sydney FC1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2.Seb RYALL, 5.Matt JURMAN, 6.Nikola PETKOVIC, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 11.Bernie IBINI, 13.Christopher NAUMOFF, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 16.Alex GERSBACH, 17.Terry ANTONIS, 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 21.Mark JANKO, 23.Rhyan GRANT, 25.Aaron CALVER, 26.Jacques FATY, 27.Mickael TAVARES, 34.Robert STAMBOLZIEV ***two to be omitted*** Ins2. Seb RYALL (promoted), 34. Robert STAMBOLZIEV (promoted) OutsNone Unavailable7.Corey GAMEIRO (knee – indefinite), 22.Ali ABBAS (knee – indefinite), 19.Nick CARLE (knee – indefinite), 3.Sasa OGNENOVSKI (hip – indefinite) BLUFFER’S GUIDE The last episode in this thrilling rivalry ended in recriminations with accusations by Sydney FC of Wanderers players “high-fiving” after an injury to Ali Abbas (which subsequently proved to be season-ending). It was just another bitter incident in the city's most captivating sporting derby. Wanderers boss Tony Popovic hit back saying the claims were disrespectful to him and the club. What does it all mean? We should be set for fireworks at Pirtek Stadium. The Wanderers will not only have to overcome scratchy form and the absence of a couple of key players but also possible fatigue from a tough trip to Japan this week for the ACL, only returning to Sydney on Friday. Although Popovic did spare Ante Covic, Iacopo La Rocca, Brendan Hamill, Nikita Rukavytsya and Romeo Castelen the trip to ensure they are right for the derby. Suspensions to Matthew Spiranovic and Mateo Poljak means there will be at least a couple of changes to the Wanderers side which lost to Adelaide last weekend. Given they had a tough trip to Japan midweek, Popovic is sure to freshen up his side but expect the five that didn’t travel all to start. Given Sydney FC’s good run of form, Arnold is unlikely to make many changes, although Sebastian Ryall’s return from injury could see him come in at right-back for youngster Aaron Calver. Rhyan Grant – who scored a screamer against the Mariners last weekend – is another option in that position. The Sky Blues head to Wanderland supremely confident, on a six-game unbeaten run and destined for finals football. OPTA DATA STATS -Western Sydney Wanderers haven’t won any of the last three derbies with Sydney, having been unbeaten in the previous four (D1 L2). -Sydney FC are the only unbeaten away team in the A-League (W4 D4). -Tomi Juric has netted twice against Sydney in the A-League, against no side does he have more goals. -Marc Janko has scored six times in his last four games for Sydney in the A-League. ROUTE TO GOAL The Wanderers' options up front have been dealt a blow with Brendon Santalab to miss the rest of the season with another shoulder problem. It means Juric should lead the line and he did grab the goal for the home side in the 1-1 draw at the end of last year. While the Wanderers have had their troubles in front of goal – scoring just 12 for the season – it’s raining goals for Sydney FC of late with 15 in their last four outings. Janko has shot to the top of the scoring charts – alongside Nathan Burns with 10 – and has found the back of the net six times in the last four games. WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK? Iacopo La Rocca. The Italian defensive midfielder has never endeared himself to Sydney FC fans, from his elbow on Terry Antonis a couple of years ago to his crunching tackle on Ali Abbas in the most recent derby in November which sparked controversy during and after the game. There was a war of words between the two clubs following that match and you can expect plenty of feeling in the first challenge involving La Rocca on Saturday night. With Poljak and Spiranovic both suspended, La Rocca will have even more responsibility on him in the middle of the park for the home side. Strap yourself in for what will be a crunching midfield battle. FORM LINES If current form is anything to go by then Sydney FC are deserved favourites. The Sky Blues have won three of their last four since returning from the break and would jump into the top four (for 24 hours at least) with a win here. Sydney have a win and a draw from the two previous derbies this season. The Wanderers remain bottom of the A-League after a heart-breaking injury-time loss to Adelaide United last weekend. But they did receive a huge boost midweek in the ACL, coming away from Japan with a huge 3-1 win over Kashima Antlers which will undoubtedly lift the mood around the club and amongst the playing group. DID YOU KNOW? Seven of Western Sydney’s eightA-League points this season have been won at Pirtek Stadium. They’ve also only conceded five times in seven home games. PREDICTION Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1-2 Sydney FC While there is a huge gap when it comes to form and ladder position, form really does go out the window in these cross-town battles. The Wanderers will be up for it and would love nothing more than to hurt the Sky Blues’ top-four hopes but will surely be affected by the long trip to Japan this week. Sydney are fitter, fresher and more confident which may just give the visitors the edge in what will be a typically hostile atmosphere at Parramatta’s Pirtek Stadium.
MATCH DETAILS Saturday, 28 February 2015 Hunter Stadium, Newcastle Kick-Off:5pm (Local), (5pm AEDST) Squads Newcastle Jets1. Jess VANSTRATTAN (Gk), 2. Scott NEVILLE, 3. Taylor REGAN, 8. Zenon CARAVELLA, 10. Travis COOPER, 12. Sam GALLAGHER, 13. Edson MONTANO, 16. Jacob PEPPER (C), 18. Allan WELSH, 19. Mitch COOPER, 20. Ben KENNEDY (Gk), 21. Ki-je LEE, 22. Daniel MULLEN, 26. Nicholas COWBURN, 27. Radovan PAVICEVIC, 28. Braedyn CROWLEY Ins10. Travis COOPER (promoted), 28. Braedyn CROWLEY (promoted) Outs5. Ben KANTAROVSKI (suspended – 1 week), 11. Andrew HOOLE (suspended – 1 week) Unavailable15. Joshua BARRESI (knee – season), 17. James VIRGILI (ankle – 6 weeks) Central Coast Mariners1.Matthew NASH (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Zac ANDERSON, 7.JohnHUTCHINSON (c), 8.Nick MONTGOMERY, 10.Anthony CACERES, 11.Nick FITZGERALD, 12.Liam REDDY (gk), 14.Travis MAJOR, 16.Liam ROSE, 18.Glen TRIFIRO, 19.Matt SIMON, 20.Anthony KALIK, 23.Isaka CERNAK,25.Eddy BOSNAR, 26.Fabio FERREIRA ***two to be omitted*** Ins19.Matt SIMON (promoted), 25.Eddy BOSNAR (promoted) OutsNil Unavailable17.Richard VERNES (shoulder – indefinite), 21.Michael NEILL (foot – indefinite) BLUFFER’S GUIDE TheA-League’s original derby promises to be a highlight of a huge round 19 of the A-League, despite both sides' struggles this season. The build-up has been dominated by a slanging match between the two clubs, and that only adds further spice to what should be a fiery encounter.Quite simply, these two clubs don’t like each other and that should make for a ripping contest. The Mariners have enjoyed bragging rights over their F3 rivals this season – with a win and a draw – but Phil Stubbins’ side have showed signs of life in recent weeks and can start to restore some love from their fans by knocking off the Mariners, especially after the hand grenade lobbed by Central Coast skipperJohnHutchinson this week, who slammed the Jets over a range of different issues. The Jets have lost Ben Kantarovski and Andre Hoole to suspension, with youngster Nick Cowburn, Mitch Cooper and Radovan Pavicevic all options to start. Matt Simon is back in the Mariners squad and is likely to start in attack if he can shrug off a slight injury concern. OPTA DATA STATS -Newcastle are winless in seven A-League matches against the Mariners (D3 L4). -Central Coast Mariners are unbeaten in their last three trips to Hunter Stadium to face the Jets (W1 D2) – they’ve never gone four without defeat against them. -Newcastle have kept just one clean sheet this season, anA-League low. They’re the only side yet to shut out the opposition at home this campaign. -Liam Reddy has made more saves than any otherA-League goalkeeper this season (62). ROUTE TO GOAL In just his third start for the club, Fabio Ferreira showed he will be an important player for the Mariners, scoring a classy brace against Sydney FC last weekend. The Portuguese flyer got in behind the Sky Blues' defence on countless occasions, something the Mariners have struggled to do all season. If he can continue to build on his combination with the likes of Anthony Caceres and Nick Fitzgerald, he promises to be a real weapon for the Central Coast. The Jets have relied on set-pieces to get their goals of late but will want to get more out of striker Edson Montano in this one. WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK? JohnHutchinson. The man Jets fans love to hate, this will be the Mariners skipper's last F3 derby before retiring at the end of the season. The only man left who was there right at the very start of this bitter rivalry, “Hutch” knows more than most just how much it means to both sides to taste success in this one and he’ll want his last derby memory to be a winning one. Hutchinson had some choice words for the Jets in the build-up and it will ensure a warm reception from the home fans. He will equal theA-League appearance record on Saturday, turning out for the 221sttime, equalling former Jets, Heart and Sydney midfielder Matt Thompson. FORM LINES The Jets have made themselves hard to beat of late with just one defeat from their last three – and that was only via a stoppage-time own goal. They pushed finals-bound Wellington Phoenix all the way last weekend, racing out to a 2-0 lead only to be pegged back late after Kantarovski saw red. The Mariners were desperately unlucky in going down to Sydney FC last time out, leading midway through the second half only to be overrun to lose 4-2. But it was easily their most eye-catching display of the season and they will hope to build on that. The two sides drew 1-1 when they last met at Hunter Stadium in November. DID YOU KNOW? The Mariners are the best side in terms of shooting accuracy in theA-League, with 54 percent of their shots calling the keeper into action. PREDICTION Newcastle Jets 2-2 Central Coast Mariners After difficult seasons for both of these clubs, there have been signs in recent weeks there could be a few more positive results to come for the rest of the campaign with performances improving. With finals football realistically out of reach for both sides, they can go for broke in this one which should make for a full-blooded, entertaining contest which looks too hard to split. Bring it on!
City hadn't won or scored in three matches going into their home clash with the Reds on Friday night, a run which had seen them slip out of the top six on goal difference. Trailing going into the half-time break at AAMI Park, the players and coach didn't dwell on potentially incurring the disapproval of watching City Group executive Brian Marwood, who was in town for the unveiling of the club's new state-of-the-art training facility. Instead they channelled their energy into producing an impressive second-half fight-back, with goals from Safuwan Baharudin, Josh Kennedy and Iain Ramsay sealing an important victory. "There's always pressure ... it's not because Brian is here, it's because of the position we're in," Van 't Schip said. "And the position we're in, we all know, is critical in that sense - we want to be in the play-offs. A win is important. "We showed that we're there, that we can compete with the best and even win. That should give the team a lot of morale for the coming games." The City coach stopped short of agreeing with suggestions the result could prove a certain catalyst for a strong finish to the regular season. "Every game you have to see as a different chapter," he said. "We're going to have a massive week ... when we play Central Coast, Western Sydney and Newcastle in one week. We have to make sure every player is fit and rested. Hopefully we get some players back. Mate Dugandzic and James Brown are close." Kennedy in particular was impressive again, notching his first City goal since joining as the club's domestic marquee, prompting Van 't Schip to praise the impact made by the experienced centre-forward. "Josh could maybe have had two today," he said. "His header was a trademark, we're happy he has the monkey off his back. "Josh is important, he keeps defenders busy. He's available when we play a high ball, he can control, he can bounce it to players coming underneath. "And also he showing going forward that he still has his awareness. He's only going to get fitter and better and helping the team more and more."
Melbourne City revived their A-League finals challenge and dealt Adelaide United's title hopes an unexpected blow by registering a surprise 3-1 win at AAMI Park on Friday. City were winless and goalless in three matches going into the clash and trailed at half-time against Josep Gombau's men, who could have claimed top spot ahead of Melbourne Victory and Perth Glory had they won. Pablo Sanchez applied a cool finish after he beat the offside trap to get on the end of Sergio Cirio's dinked pass. But John van 't Schip's makeshift side overcame a host of absentees to claim all three points and return to the top six at the expense of reigning champions Brisbane Roar. Safuwan Baharudin equalised seven minutes into the second half with his first for the club, Josh Kennedy headed home Robert Koren's cross and substitute Iain Ramsay made it 3-1 when he tucked away Massimo Murdocca's ball across the face of goal to seal the win.
City were winless and goalless in three matches going into this clash and they trailed at half-time against Josep Gombau's men, who could have claimed top spot ahead of Melbourne Victory and Perth Glory had they won. Instead it was John van 't Schip's makeshift side who overcame a host of absentees to claim all three points and return to the top six at the expense of reigning champions Brisbane Roar. GOALS 0-1 (Pablo Sanchez 32') Michael Marrone advanced down the right and came inside before feeding Sergio Cirio, who dinked a cute pass through to Sanchez. The Spaniard beat the offside trap and slotted a cool finish past Tando Velaphi. 1-1 (Safuwan Baharudin, 52') From Aaron Mooy's dipping corner, the ball was inadvertently steered by the head of Tarek Elrich into space at the back post, where Safuwan dispatched it into the roof of Eugene Galekovic's net to open his account for his new club. 2-1 (Josh Kennedy 55') Robert Koren, pressed into service on the left of the attack, swung in an inviting cross for expert aerial marksman Kennedy, who rose high to score his first City goal by powering a header past the outstretched fist of Galekovic. 3-1 (Iain Ramsay 87') The substitute was in the right place at the right time in the final exchanges, tucking home Massimo Murdocca's ball across the face of goal to seal the win and atone for some horrendous misses in recent weeks. KEY MOMENT With nine minutes to go Patrick Kisnorbo lunged in and substitute Miguel Palanca went down anticipating contact that didn't appear to be made. The Spaniard appealed for a penalty and on another day it might have been given, but referee Alan Milliner got it right by ignoring the claims. OPTA DATA KEY STATS The normally potent Reds forgot to pack their ammunition on Friday. City registered 19 shots to Adelaide's seven, with seven of the hosts' attempts on target compared to just two for the visitors. HIGHLIGHTS REEL In an otherwise innocuous passage of play midway through the first half, Marcelo Carrusca's 'roulette' to evade two markers in a tight area and create the space to play the ball off to a team-mate was a joy to behold. TREATMENT TABLE Jack Clisby was seen limping after being withdrawn at half-time, a seemingly enforced substitution that saw City switch from 3-5-2 to 4-3-3, with Kew Jaliens and Safuwan moving to right and left-back respectively. THE FINAL WORD Having missed a chance to move top ahead of Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory, Adelaide will have to steel themselves for a trip to New Zealand to face Wellington Phoenix, while City are also on the road next weekend, when they take on the Central Coast Mariners. TEAMS Melbourne City: Velaphi, Jaliens, Chapman, Kisnorbo, Clisby (Williams 46'), Paartalu (Ramsay 78'), Mooy, Murdocca, Safuwan, Kennedy (Retre 88'), Koren. Adelaide United: Galekovic, Marrone, McGowan, Elrich, Goodwin, Jeggo, Cirio, Carrusca (Kamau 86'), Sanchez (Watson 83'), Mabil (Palanca 59'). Scorers: Pablo Sanchez (32'), Safuwan (52'), Kennedy (55'), Safuwan (89') Red cards: None Yellow cards: McGowan (39'), Mabil (59'), Carrusca (66') Conditions: 22 degrees, dry Attendance: 7,345 @ AAMI Park
Watson, who has been with the Reds since 2010, has yet to be offered a new deal by the club. “As of I now, I don’t really know what is happening,” he told FourFourTwo. “I haven’t been offered anything as of yet. I have just been concentrating on staying fit and playing some games. I have to do what I think is best for my future.” Watson has played 100 games for Adelaide United but has been restricted to just five appearances this season. “My couple of injuries may have set me back this year but it’s the first season where I have been injured and it all started from a broken toe,” he said. "Then I just had a calf injury on the same leg as I broke the toe. The muscles were just deficient from being out for a while and because I was playing catch-up to get fit. I probably rushed the process a couple of times and re-injured the calf.” Watson, who went through the AIS and stints with Porto and VVV-Venlo as a youngster, has represented Australia at under-17 and under-20 level. The 27-year old said he has enjoyed his time at the Reds. “The club and team have been great here,” Watson said. “We play a style that everyone enjoys but at the moment I’m not playing and what every player wants is to play. I really don’t know what the club is thinking and, as I said, they haven’t said anything to me just yet.” Heading overseas may be an option for the defensive midfielder, as is joining another A-League club. Watson still has hope that he may stay on with Adelaide United. “Overseas is always a possibility but it makes it easier when you are playing,” he said. "In terms of other A-League clubs … there has been some interest, which is nice to know. Apart from this interrupted season the gaffer has been happy with me. Until they say we don’t require your services then I will be here. “And obviously on the flip side I need and want to play games, and if that means having to leave, then that may be the case."
Cole’s injury will put him out of action until mid-April, at the earliest, and the full-back may need surgery to repair his collarbone. The final round of the 2014-2015 A-League season is April 24-26, while the Wanderers' final AFC Champions League group stage game is on May 5. “It is devastating,” Cole told FourFourTwo. “I have been so excited for this busy period so to miss the majority of it is hard to take. The good news for the team is that we have a number of boys coming back to full fitness after injuries and they’re looking sharp. “I always tell kids they need to learn from setbacks and use the negative experience to improve you. Now I have to lead by example and come back stronger. When the team need me, I’ll be ready.” The Wanderers have signed midfielder Nick Ward as an injury replacement. Cole has been with Western Sydney since the club formed and he has featured in a variety of positions. The 30-year old has been a regular for the Wanderers this season, making 14 of a possible 18 appearances in the A-League. Cole will find out on Monday if he needs surgery. “The bone takes six weeks,” he said. “The good thing is my legs are in tact so fitness will come back easier.”
Players like Djite, who haven’t played for the Socceroos for a while, are now on notice. A decent run of form may get you a recall, just like Nathan Burns who got some game time in the Asian Cup and is a former Adelaide United team-mate of Djite's. “It’s fantastic to see so many of my mates there now,” Djite said. “To play for the national team is a massive thing, they are doing very well at the minute and any Australian player has to be aspiring to be in contention for that squad because that’s the pinnacle. "Ange (Postecoglou) has shown in the selections he’s made recently that if you are doing well and if you fit in his plans then he’s not afraid to give guys a shot - doesn’t matter about the age, doesn’t matter about who they are playing, he just wants the best for the national team, and that’s a good motivator not just for myself but for all Australian players playing all over the world. “If you play well Ange is the coach that is going to pick up the phone and invite you into a camp. If you’re doing well but other people are doing better than you, you are going to miss out. There is a lot competition there as there should be - it’s the national team." Djite was first picked for the Socceroos three days before he turned 21, touted as the next Mark Viduka as all young strikers are. Djite went on to make a further eight appearances for the green and gold and looked back on that high water mark of his career with reverence. “Just being in camp with that golden era of players was unbelievable," he said. “Being involved in those World Cup qualifiers, playing a bit part here and there, as a young player the Mark Vidukas, the Harry Kewells, the Brett Emertons, these names that we no longer have in the game, besides your Timmys ( Tim Cahill) and your Breshs (Marc Bresciano) that are still there playing. “It was just surreal at times having breakfast with guys that you’ve only ever seen on TV and going into camp regularly with that calibre player. It was the pinnacle of my short career at that time.” He added: “I loved getting the call up. I loved it when (Socceroos team manager) Gary Moretti sent the e-mail through, it was a fantastic moment and at the time to share it with Lucas Neill, Harry Kewell, Mile Jedinak, James Troisi, Michael Petkovic, who were all playing in Turkey at the same time was fantastic for us, travelling together. "They are the sort of moments that you cherish and no-one can take that away from you.” If Djite can continue to produce goals like the one he scored against the Western Sydney Wanderers in the last round of the A-League then a Socceroos recall may not be far off. Djite’s goal helped Adelaide United get their first win in three games, and it helped the Reds push up the A-League ladder, and the FFA Cup winners remain on course to record a history-making treble. “Winning the (FFA) Cup was step one,” said Djite. “Being the inaugural winners is something that no-one can ever take away from you, it was a fantastic competition and we were serious from the start, and I think we deserved the cup at the end of the day. “It’s great to have that competition. We need to applaud the FFA for creating the competition and implementing it and building such a great structure, bring those other clubs in, the Marconis, the Adelaide Citys the Sydney Olympics of the football world. “It would be great to win the league and the ultimate would be to win the grand final and we are in with a shot of doing all three of those this season.” Djite can speak three languages - English, French and Turkish. But it’s Spanish that Djite is looking to learn next due to the ever-growing contingent of Spanish players and coaches that are at Adelaide United at the moment. “There is a lot of Spaniards,” said Djite. “I have to go to training with them all every day, my Spanish is not too good. The music in the change rooms is in Spanish, my car ride is always in Spanish as well. “I’m speaking Spanish and they’re speaking English we’re learning off each other I guess." From the time Djite broke through on the Australian football scene he was a well-spoken young man and a bit more intelligent than your average footballer. Now at 27, Djite is an executive on the board of Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) and is studying a bachelor of business at university. And when he heads to Sydney he hangs out with his ”boys”, who are investment bankers from Merrill Lynch. “I think it’s important to educate one’s self and be intelligent,” said Djite. “I’m very interested in a lot of things; the media, I’m also interested in things to do with finance, my brother is an investment banker. “I’m someone who in all walks of life who wants to be the best. I wanted to be the best footballer I can be, and football doesn’t last forever right, so you've got to think, it doesn’t matter how much money you make in that game. I want to test myself with something else. “If there an opportunity in the media I would love to do that, work in an investment banking firm I would love to do that. “These are jobs where the hours are long and the work is hard and I like to work hard. I think it comes from my dad. Everybody in my family is quite successful and in their chosen field it all comes from hard work. “Picking up the pen is much easier than picking up a brick. It’s much harder work manual labour than some other jobs, I’m (also) interested in numbers. “It would be great to be a sports administrator for the Football Federation of Australia or at Adelaide United. I do harbour goals to do things when football is finished. It takes time but you've got to put the work in.” Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Check out EpisodeFiveof his latest Football Snobcast: The Asian Cup Experience with co-host Rob Toddler
Interest in Saturday’s F3 derby has been enhanced with Hutchinson, ahead of his record-equaling 221stA-League appearance, and Regan’s comments in the media. Hutchinson slammed the Newcastle Jets for failing to make the finals in the past four seasons. In response, Regan ridiculed the Mariners’ fans and the club’s plans to re-locate, while sarcastically claiming it’d be a shame Hutchinson would start on the bench for his record-equaling appearance. Moss moved in support of Hutchinson, before taking a pot shot at Regan. “'Reags' is a good guy,” Moss said. “I’m sure he’d give his right arm to have 221 A-League appearances in the first team. “Maybe there was a hint of envy in there. “ Moss continued: “A bit of advice for 'Reags', worry about his own team. He’s not picking our team.” The Mariners mentor also leapt to the defence of Hutchinson, insisting there was nothing false in his comments this week. “I’ve got no problem with that. Hutch is a died-in-the-wool Mariners man,” Moss said. “He bleeds yellow and navy. He spoke his mind this week. I don’t think he said anything that wasn’t true. “He’s sticking up for his club, which is what we have to do tomorrow night when we take to the pitch.” As for Regan’s comments regarding the Mariners' fans, who he said didn’t travel for away games, Moss said he was sure they’d show their support at Hunter Stadium on Saturday night. “That’s a nice little challenge for our supporters,” Moss said. “We’ve got a great loyal band of supporters who’ve made a great atmosphere at Central Coast Stadium this season, albeit with smaller crowds this season so far. “That’s a nice little challenge, a broadside from the Novocastrians towards our supporters, so I’m sure they’ll respond and come up the freeway to support the boys.”
Alivodic, 30, has spent most of his career in the Serbian Superliga – and he could face the Central Coast Mariners in the F3 derby on Saturday. The Jets said officials had worked hard through the night to have Alivodic's clearance ready and the player available for the derby. Jets coach Phil Stubbins said Alivodic was likely to play a part against the Mariners. “Enver has been with us a week now and he’s looking sharper every day,” Stubbins said in a statement. “He’s got the jet-lag out of his body now and given we’re minus Andrew Hoole for tomorrow’s match, there’s every chance we’ll call on him in some capacity to participate in the game. “He’s got great ability in wide attacking areas with assists and goals in his locker, so he’s someone that we’re delighted to now have over the line.” “I have to give a big pat on the back to Nick Deluca (Jets Football Operations Manager) for his diligent efforts to expedite Enver’s ITC from Serbia." Alivodic was at Vojvodina before his move to the Jets, with his last outing a friendly in January. He said a derby clash would be the perfect way to make his debut. "I am glad to have finally received my clearance," Alivodic said. "I have played in many derby matches in Serbia for my old clubs, including against Partizan Belgrade and Red Star Belgrade, so I would be very happy to make my debut in an Australian derby. “I have been here a week now and I feel sharp."
The City Football Group's commitment to the A-League club continues with new training pitches, medical and sports science facilities and new office space unveiled. The training facility is reportedly worth $15million. Melbourne City and City Football Group chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said the facilities were world class, as the club deserved. "These facilities have been built to exactly the same standard as those in Manchester because we fundamentally believe in the provision of a world-class environment for the training and development of young players and coaches," he said in a statement. "It’s something that we also believe can be a competitive advantage for all of our clubs. "The CFA Melbourne has been designed to help evolve, transform and sustain the sporting, commercial and community capabilities of Melbourne City Football Club while also serving as a strong centre of operations for the City Football Group in the Asia Pacific Region." Included in the facilities is a Desso GrassMaster pitch, the most advanced playing surface, which City's first team will train on. City chief executive Scott Munn said the club's needs had been met. "The establishment of the CFA Melbourne is great news for Melbourne City FC," he said. "It allows us to bring all of our football, commercial and administrative staff together under one roof for the first time in a space designed and built to meet the needs of a professional football club."
Griffiths has not played a first-team game for the Mariners in 2014-2015 after a succession of injuries. The centre-back injured his hamstring before the season started and has also faced ankle and groin issues. Griffiths has been back to full fitness for the past six weeks and spent time at the beginning of February on trial with MLS club Sporting Kansas City. The 24-year old has had no dialogue with the Mariners on his future as of yet but wants to remain at the club, which has been his home since 2012. “I haven’t spoken to other A-League clubs at this point as my main focus is the Mariners and finishing the season off in the best professional way I can,” Griffiths told FourFourTwo. “This has been the frustrating season to date. With having multiple injuries, from ankle and hamstring and groin, which were all unrelated and all came after returning from the other. “It has knocked me back mentally more than anything and tested me to come back stronger each time. Also watching the team from the stands or the side of the training pitch losing games. “Getting frustrated in training makes it difficult because you just want to help and be a team-mate to the boys by putting an arm around them and picking them up when times get tough. You can’t do that being injured it just doesn’t have the same effect for some reason." A junior with Blackburn Rovers and Perth Glory, Griffiths broke into the A-League in 2009 with the Glory. He has also spent time with Wellington Phoenix and Victorian outfit Heidelberg United. Able to play at left-back and in the centre of defence, Griffiths has made 26 appearances in the A-League and six in the Asian Champions League. “Getting back into the team has only been my focus for the last few weeks so depending on results and the coaching staff’s plans for me for the rest of the season will determine my immediate playing future,” he said.
Mariners skipper John Hutchinson lobbed the first hand grenade on Wednesday, blasting the Jets over their treatment of club legend Joel Griffiths and insisting the club continually lets down its fans and members. But Regan returned serve on Thursday and didn’t miss the mark. Asked directly about what Hutchinson had to say, Regan teed off: “Hutcho’s a well-liked guy around the league. He’s making his 221st appearance and that’s a record and congrats to him. “It will just be a shame if he’s on the bench for his record breaking game. “Young [Liam] Rose and [Nick] Montgomery did really well in the middle of the park … maybe it’s the end of an era [for Hutchinson].” Regan also took a pot-shot at the Mariners' supporter base and believes the derby will mean more to the hosts because a number of their players come from the Newcastle region. “You’ve got to be proud of the area and where you grew up. I’m not sure if they’re Central Coast or is it North Sydney now? I can’t even remember where they play,” he said. “What’s important is we go out there and play for our fans. We’re going to have the loyal ones in the stadium and hopefully they can make a lot of noise like in the last few weeks. “We’ve got an 11,000-strong membership base. I couldn’t even tell you theirs [Central Coast’s] but I’m sure we could count it pretty quickly. “You’ve got Hutchinson that’s playing the record game and it’s a shame because every time they come here they don’t bring any fans. Their fans don’t travel but ours do. “We go down there and Newcastle fans are a lot louder than the ‘Marinators’ as they call themselves. “They can say whatever they like about our club, we know what’s going on … we just keep fighting and worry about the game and try and get the chocolates.” The hard-nosed defender admitted the F3 derby had lost some of its "bite" in recent seasons but has promised fireworks at Hunter Stadium on Saturday afternoon. “We’ve got a few players that don’t mind getting stuck in and putting their body on the line and that will no doubt happen this weekend,” Regan said. “They need a result, they will come here and try and put one over us but the last few weeks we’ve showed that more than anything we’re willing to fight. “We owe our fans … we start on Saturday repaying their faith.” Regan said the absence of Ben Kantarovski and Andrew Hoole through suspension would be a big loss for the home side but was confident its recent performances would hold them in good stead to get a positive result. Despite just one win for the entire campaign, the Jets will move to within two points of the Mariners with a victory on Saturday.
Friday, 27 February 2015 AAMI Park, Melbourne Kick-Off: 7:40 PM (Local) (7:40 PM AEDT) SQUADS Melbourne City FC squad: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 4.Connor CHAPMAN, 5.Erik PAARTALU, 6.Aaron MOOY, 7.Iain RAMSAY, 8.Massimo MURDOCCA, 10.Robert KOREN, 13.Jonatan GERMANO, 15.David WILLIAMS, 16.Josh KENNEDY, 17.Jason HOFFMAN, 18.Paulo RETRE, 20.Tando VELAPHI (GK), 22.Jack CLISBY, 24.Patrick KISNORBO (c), 27.Kew JALIENS, 29.Safuwan BAHARUDIN ***one to be omitted*** Ins:7.Iain RAMSAY (promoted), 13.Jonatan GERMANO (promoted) Outs:25.Jacob MELLING (knee – 3-4 weeks) Unavailable: 3.Robbie WIELAERT (ankle 5-6 weeks), 11.Damien DUFF (ankle/calf – indefinite), 14.James BROWN (knee – 1-2 weeks), 19.Ben GARUCCIO (ankle – 9-10 weeks), 23.Mate DUGANDZIC (knee – 1-2 weeks) Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (GK) (c), 2.Michael MARRONE, 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 7.PABLO SÁNCHEZ, 9.Sergio CIRIO, 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA, 11.Bruce DJITE, 12.Marck OCHIENG, 14.Cameron WATSON, 15.Ben WARLAND, 16.Craig GOODWIN, 17.Awer MABIL, 18.Jimmy JEGGO, 19.Miguel PALANCA, 20.Paul IZZO (GK), 21.Tarek ELRICH, 24.Bruce KAMAU, 32.Nathan KONSTANDOPLOUS ***two to be omitted*** Ins: 12.Marck OCHIENG (promoted), 15.Ben WARLAND (promoted), 24.Bruce KAMAU (promoted), 32.Nathan KONSTANDOPLOUS (promoted) Outs: 5.Osama MALIK (ankle – 2 weeks), 8.ISAÍAS (suspended – 1 week) Unavailable: 3.Nigel BOOGAARD (knee – 1 week), 23.Jordan ELSEY (knee – indefinite) HASHTAG#MCYvADL BROADCAST COVERAGE TV Broadcast:Live and exclusive coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT), Live Coverage on SBS HD SBS One from 7.30pm AEDT and Sky Sport 2 (New Zealand) Radio Broadcast: 774 ABC Melbourne, ABC Local Radio VIC, Online/ABC Radio Mobile phone app. Referee:Alan Milliner Assistant Referee 1: Brad Hobson Assistant Referee 2: Ashley Beecham Fourth Official:Lucien Laverdure BLUFFER'S GUIDE There's a juicy reward on offer for Adelaide United this weekend. Playing first on Friday night, the Reds can go top ahead of Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory, at least until Saturday, if they beat City at AAMI Park. Last time out Josep Gombau's men left it late to get past the Western Sydney Wanderers, sealing a 2-1 win in injury time. There's still eight rounds of the regular season to go after this weekend, but with the race for the Premier's Plate and a top-two finish tighter than ever, none of the contenders can afford to drop points. Standing in Adelaide's way are the inconsistent City, who have drawn both of their last two matches 0-0. Van 't Schip has lost veteran forward Damien Duff for the rest of the season, while several other players - Robbie Wielaert, Mate Dugandzic, Ben Garrucio, James Brown and Jacon Melling - are all out, leaving the coach short of bodies to choose from as they seek to keep pace with the top six. The Reds have injury worries of their own. Newcastle Jets-bound centre-back Nigel Boogaard is still out this weekend, compounded by the news an ankle injury is likely to sideline the versatile Osama Malik for up to four weeks. OPTA DATA - Melbourne City have won just one of their previous 10 A-League games against Adelaide - Adelaide have been victorious in four of their six visits to Melbourne City - City have gone three A-League games without scoring. They last went four without a goal in November 2013 as Melbourne Heart. - Marcelo Carrusca has scored in three of his last four appearances against Melbourne City. ROUTE TO GOAL When City thrashed the Newcastle Jets 5-2 in December, with Robert Koren bagging a hat-trick, some optimistic supporters might have hoped a free-scoring second half of the season was set to follow. Instead Van 't Schip has watched his players claim just one goal in their last five matches and none in the past three. The arrival of striker Josh Kennedy as domestic marquee hasn't yielded a return yet and with Dugandzic and Duff out and Iain Ramsay badly out of form, there are limited options to supply the veteran Socceroo. Adelaide by contrast are the league's second highest scorers after Victory, with an array of attacking talent to choose from. Bruce Djite and Sergio Cirio were the men on target in the win over the Wanderers, while Pablo Sanchez and Awer Mabil have also netted in recent weeks. WHO'S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK? Utility player Osama Malik, equally at home in defence and midfield, has been under the microscope for two reasons this week. Adelaide fans face a nervous wait to see if the 24-year-old will join Michael Marrone, Isaias, Marcelo Carrusca and Sergio Cirio in signing a new contract. Regardless of where his future lies, Malik won't be out on the field until late March at the earliest after he sustained an ankle injury against the Wanderers. FORM LINES Melbourne City FC:DDLWL Successive 0-0 draws at home to Perth Glory and away to Wellington Phoenix were preceded by a 3-0 derby loss to Melbourne Victory. Prior to that City beat Western Sydney 2-1 at home and lost 2-0 away to Central Coast. Adelaide United:WDLWW The Reds saw off the Wanderers in a 2-1 home win last time out. Before that they were held to a 1-1 draw by Perth Glory at the same venue, lost 2-1 away to the Mariners, smashed the Newcastle Jets 7-1 at home and triumphed 2-1 at Perth Glory. DID YOU KNOW? - Melbourne City have had more different goal-scorers than any team this season (12) PREDICTION Melbourne City 1-3 Adelaide United City's goal drought can't go on for ever so perhaps with Malik and Boogaard missing the Reds will be a little more vulnerable than usual at the back this week. That being said, Adelaide have too much to play for and too much talent to come unstuck in Melbourne this weekend. We're going for a relatively comfortable away win, which will put the onus squarely on Glory and Victory to respond.
The Sky Blues head into Saturday night’s blockbuster Sydney derby against the Wanderers as the hottest side in the competition, peaking at just the right time for a title tilt. “I always try to strive for the best and highest possible position we can get,” Arnold told reporters on Thursday. “We’re in great form, we’re scoring a lot of goals and no doubt a lot of other teams will be fearing our attack. “We’ve got to tighten up our defence…but there’s a lot of twists and turns to go between now and the end of the league. “There’s another nine games and we’ll strive to finish as high as we can possibly get.” While the Wanderers are struggling in theA-League, sitting last with just one win for the season, Arnold is expecting a torrid battle at Pirtek Stadium. Tony Popovic’s side will be buoyed from a great result in the ACL on Wednesday night and would love nothing more than to halt Sydney FC’s finals charge. The last derby in November was a spiteful affair, with Sydney basically accusing Wanderers midfielder Iacopo La Rocca of intentionally trying to hurt Ali Abbas. It led to a war of words between the coaches and is sure to add further spice to Saturday’s clash, but Arnold is confident his players will keep their emotions in check. “The derby is for the fans - it's to give bragging rights and we have to make sure we remove all the emotion and focus on the game plan,” Arnold said. “We have to focus on how to win the game and go out there with the greatest respect for them because they are Asian champions at the moment and whatever their position on the table is doesn’t matter to us. “I’m not someone who worries too much about the opposition. We can only do what we can control and if we do that I’ve got confidence in the quality we’ve got we’ll win the game.” After conceding five goals in the last two weeks, Arnold says Sydney’s focus this week has been all about defence and ensuring they plug the holes at the back. Defender Sebastian Ryall trained strongly on Thursday and could return at right-back, with Rhyan Grant and youngster Aaron Calver also pushing for selection there. “Last week the Mariners surprised us a little bit…their wide boys didn’t really track back and defend and they hurt us on the break,” Arnold explained. “We have to be smart enough. The A-League has become a transitional league…teams defend with six and attack with four. “You have to make sure you have at least four guys behind the ball when you go forward otherwise you get punished.” Asked if the crowd will be a factor, Arnold couldn’t resist a little dig at his rivals' home base. “It won’t be a factor at all,” he said. “It’s a beautiful little stadium and we’re looking forward to getting out there."
Griffiths has signed with the Kiwi outfit for the rest of the season, with coach Ernie Merrick making it clear what he likes about the former Golden Boot. “He scores goals,” Merrick said. “Joel has a great work ethic and has scored goals wherever he has played. “He is just the type of player we need with the season entering a crucial stage and I am delighted he has agreed to join us.” In 128 games for the Newcastle Jets Griffiths scored 62 goals as well as finding the net regularly during stints in China and Japan. Within minutes of arriving in Wellington, Griffiths said he had a good feeling about the future after a messy departure from the Jets. The 35-year-old was one of five senior players shunted towards the exit until Professional Footballers Australia stepped in. “A lot of things had to be done to get this over the line and it is a credit to the club, the PFA and the FFA that it has happened,” Griffiths said. “I am looking forward to this next chapter in my career and I have a really good feeling about it. “I have been watching the Phoenix this season and it isn’t the team I used to know. “They are playing really good football, which I appreciate, and they have some X factor players in the team. “They have two of the most dangerous players in the league up front, have a talented midfield, and at the back have guys who have played together for a long time and are comfortable with each other.” One of those is captain Andrew Durante who is a long-time friend of the striker who rented his house in Newcastle until he bought a property recently. “Dura has told me some very good things about what is happening at the Phoenix, about Ernie Merrick and the staff he has around him,” Griffiths said. “I am very excited about the next three months and I want to contribute to what they are trying to achieve. “The last nine games in any league are crucial and I will be giving it everything I have. “It will be hard work and it was tough leaving a young family (wife Bianca, five-year-old daughter Jazelle and two-year-old son Billy) so I want to make it worthwhile. “I’ve never been one to cut corners and I am here to do a job. “It isn’t financial because I don’t need the money, but I love football and enjoy a challenge.” Phoenix are currently sitting fourth on the A-League ladder, just three points adrift of Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United, and five points off league leaders Perth Glory.