Thursday, December 1, 2011

Aussies Abroad Month In Review November

Compiled By Damian Davies

On the pitch, a lot of Aussies are seeing game time at club level, while the Socceroos also played several games during November. A busy month for transfers with a high number of players changing clubs across Europe and Asia.

Club Level:-    
England (Premier League) – Chris Herd’s Aston Villa have had an inconsistent month but are now in the top half of the table with Chris making another few starts in the midfield.  Everton has won the last two games to climb back to ninth, but are still missing the goals of Tim Cahill who is yet to break his duck for the season.  Mark Schwarzer is having yet another outstanding season as Fulham stay just clear of the relegation spots.  The same can’t be said for Blackburn Rovers.  They sit bottom of the table as Vince Grella remains on the sidelines.  Could the departure of Brett Emerton be having a big impact!!

England (Championship) – despite dropping a few points over the past few games, Middlesbrough currently sit third, but are now eight points shy of the automatic promotion places.  Rhys Williams is possibly in career best from, while Scott McDonald scored three times during the month.  A return to the starting eleven by Patrick Kisnorbo has coincided with a good run of form that sees Leeds into the playoff positions.  Good form has also seen Adam Federici’s Reading climb into play off contention with several valuable wins.  The opposite can be said for Crystal Palace, as Mile Jedinak’s team have dropped back to mid table however an extra time win over Man U in the Cup may provide a boost.  Finally in the Championship, the form of Neil Kilkenny has been a bright spot as Bristol City have gone undefeated in their last six games.

England (League One) – the Aussie presence is strong at Oldham Athletic.  Starters Alex Cisak and James Wesolowski have now been joined by short-term signing, Dean Bouzanis.  A frustrating month as the string of wins required to move into the top half of the table still allude them.  Continuing poor form has seen Chesterfield move to last on the table with Aaron Downes in and out of the team.

England (League Two) – Shane Cansdell-Sheriff starts every week for a Shrewsbury team that find themselves a point shy of the automatic promotion places after a great month. 

Italy (Serie B) – Carl Valeri’s Sassuolo have been patchy this month but still sit a point adrift of the automatic promotion places.  Carl has missed a fair chunk of game time with international commitments.

Italy (Serie C2) –Francesco Stella (Borgo a Buggiano) continues to play great minutes and managed to open his scoring account during November. The same can be said for Christian Esposito (FC Catanzaro) as they currently sit third on the table.

Spain (Segunda division) – Alcorcon are sitting mid table with Dave Carney making his debut during the month.

Germany (Bundesliga) – Nikita Rukavytsya finished the month back in the starting eleven at Hertha Berlin.  Their results have been inconsistent though as they are currently mid table.  Matthew Leckie has returned from injury, but can’t get back into the senior side who have moved to second in the Bundesliga. Mitch Langerak’s Dortmund have returned to be the league leaders, but only by goal difference.  

Germany (2. Bundesliga) –Fortuna Dusseldorf continue their stay at top of the league. Robbie Kruse has been a squad player of late, particularly with national team duties taking him away, meaning he only saw 15 minutes of action during the month.

Netherlands (Eredivsie) – AZ also remain top of the league in Holland.  Brett Holman is back from injury, and can’t stop scoring at both club and national level. On the world stage, he has possibly been the most prominent so far this season. FC Utrecht continue to slide down the table with Michael Zullo appearing to be making the most progress in terms of game time.  Both Adam Sarota and Tommy Oar are in the match day squad most games but are getting limited minutes.

Scotland (Premier) – from an Aussie perspective, a little more to get excited about with Matt McKay making a few appearances for league leaders Rangers.  A few dropped points of late has seen their lead stripped back to four points. Ryan McGowan has started the past few games for Hearts as they remain mid table.

Scotland (Second division) – former Fury defender Beau Busch (Arbroath) is a regular starter as his side are behind leaders Cowdenbeath only on goal difference.  Matthew Park (East Fife) is certainly justifying his loan move given he has started 13 of 14 fixtures so far this campaign and is getting much needed game time.

Greece (Super League) – a quiet month for both Nathan Burns (AEK) and Apostolis Giannou (PAOK).  AEK have climbed to second after three straight wins while PAOK remain fifth.

Greece (Football League) – having recently commenced the season, Billy Konstantinidis’ Pierkos have started reasonably with Billy coming off the bench most weeks.

Turkey (Super Lig) – James Troisi (Kayserispor) had an interrupted month with Socceroos duties, but did manage to get of the scoring charts against Trabzonspor earlier in the month.  His side continue their inconsistent form and currently sit just out of the relegation places.  

Croatia (1. HNL) – Hajduk Split are struggled to catch leaders Dinamo Zagreb, however Steve Lustica has now made eight starts for the season along with scoring his first goal for his new club.  The strong form of Tomi Juric has seen him earn a starting eleven place at Lokomotiva during the month.

Portugal (Liga de Honra) – Atletico CP (Caleb Patterson-Sewell) remain top of the league with their lead reduced to two points. Caleb has played every minute of the season, fair to say he has been instrumental in his team’s success.

Russia (Premier League) – as the league goes into the long winter recess, Dinamo are third on the table.  Luke Wilkshire is a main stay of his team, so much so that rumours are swirling that several clubs are looking to poach him in the January transfer window.

Switzerland (Super League) –Basel are also top of the league.  Veteran Scott Chipperfield has started to get some more game time across league, Cup and Champions League fixtures.  .

Hungary (NB II) – Sasa Macura (MTK) has started the Cup games played in November.

Denmark (Superliga) – Nathan Coe has played every minute for Sonderjyske who remain near the bottom of the table but well clear of relegation. Brondby are in a similar place in the league with Brent McGrath having now made thirteen appearances (from 17 games) this campaign.

China (Super League) – the season has come to an end with Beijing Guoan (Joel Griffiths) and Liaoning Hongyun (Dean Heffernan) gaining places in the Asian club competitions for next season.  Chengdu Blades (Salley and Santalab) were relegated but not without last day drama.  They went ahead with a penalty in the 90th minute, only to concede an equalizer in injury time.  One point was not enough, three points would have avoided relegation…
Joel Griffiths (Beijing) – 2232 minutes, 26 appearances and 11 goals
Dean Heffernan (Liaoning) – 1846 minutes, 24 appearances
Adam Griffiths (Hangzhou) – 979 minutes, 15 appearances and 1 goal
Dino Djulbic (Shaanxi) – 2168 minutes, 26 appearances and 3 goals
Brendon Santalab (Chengdu) -  689 minutes, 11 appearances and 5 goals
Jonas Salley (Chengdu) – 2173 minutes, 25 appearances

Japan (J League) – with one round to go, one point separates leaders Kashiwa Reysol and Nagoya Grampus (Josh Kennedy).  A further point back sits Gamba Osaka, with all three teams playing away in the last fixture and Nagoya having clearly the better goal difference, will go down to the wire.  To make matters more interesting, Josh leads the Golden Boot by two goals, will be an interesting last day. During November, Nagoya went on a run of five consecutive victories with Kennedy scoring in his last three starts. Shimizu S-Pulse did drop off the pace a little but the contributions of Eddy Bosnar were huge with the big defender scoring twice during the month.  While not scoring, Alex Brosque continues to start for the same team. Interestingly, Spiranovic has dropped out of the starting eleven since going away on national duty earlier in the month.

Japan (J2 League) – Jade North started several games for Tokyo as they secured the title and promotion back to the J League.  Mark Milligan had an interrupted month courtesy of his second red card in a month.  To be fair, the first was rescinded, but Mark has racked up a few yellows of late as well.  With the last fixture yet to be played, JEF could climb to sixth if results go the right way, but failure to gain promotion will mean some interesting choices for Mark in the off season.

U.A.E. (UFL) – the season is now underway with the Aussies making an impact.  Lucas Neill Al Jazira’s lead the league with Lucas not missing a minute and scoring the winner away to Ajman.  Richard Porta has made a few appearances as Al Wasl are third.  Mark Bresciano’s Al Wasr have won their last two but particularly pleasing is Mark’s two goals in his three appearances

India (I-League) – the new season is now a month old. Most of our Aussies are seeing good game time and are well placed on the league table. Daniell Zeleny’s Mohun Bagan are second, closely followed by Antun Kovacic (Churchill Brothers) and Tolgey Ozbey (East Bengal).  Interesting Ozbey recently hit a hat trick however still trails by four in the race for the Golden Boot.

New Zealand (Premiership) – leading the Golden Boot is Aussie George Slefendorfas (Canterbury United).  Early in the season, but his side are third on the table.  Tyson Holmes (Team Wellington) has played every minute of the season so far.

Injuries:-    Not many players getting out of the medical room with Garcia (knee), Ireland (thigh), Tombides (cancer treatment), Gulum (knee), Grella (hip), Milicevic (back), Leach (Ankle) and Milovanovic (leg) all still missing from their club teams.  Up the upside, Brett Holman is back without missing a beat.  Aaron Mooy, Adrian Ucchino and Theo Markelis are also back in match day squads after long injury breaks.

Club Competitions:-
(UEFA Champions League) Scott Chipperfield started once and came off the bench in the other fixture for Basel, while Mitchell Langerak remained on the bench for Dortmund’s only fixture.
(UEFA Europa League) Nathan Burns (AEK) played the first half in the home loss to Lokomotiv Moskva.  While Mark Schwarzer (Fulham) was in goal for the 4-1 win against Wisla Krakow.  Brett Holman started in both draws for AZ during November.
(AFC Champions League) No Aussies remain.
(AFC Cup) No Aussies remain.

Youth:-    During the month, at the “NextGen Series”, numerous Aussies saw game time; Massimo Luongo (Tottenham), Jackson Irvine (Celtic) and Reece Caira (Aston Villa). In terms of some of the progress by youngsters, Costa Andricopoulos (Anorthosis) is a regular in the U21’s and getting closer to the senior team. Keeper Alex Baird (Newcastle) has got to the reserves squad, Kearyn Baccus has been playing for Le Mans II and Mike Urwin (Koblenz) seems to have cemented his spot in the senior team

National level :-     A mixed bag in the World Cup qualifiers with a 1-0 loss away to away, however a 1-0 away win to Thailand secured progression to the next stage courtesy of Brett Holman.  The next fixture will not be until February.  The Olympic team could only manage 0-0 draws in both their fixtures, meaning away wins will become crucial if we are to qualify for London.  No problems for the U19’s in Malaysia, coasting through undefeated and amassing 20 goals in four games.  Great to see the names of the future on show.

Transfers :-    Seemingly all one way traffic this month with many Aussies heading to a variety of destinations.  The leagues in Greece have kicked off, so a bit of movement there. The loan window has just closed, a few Aussies caught up in that.  Football in Indonesia is still a little confusing, but some games have been played and a few Aussies have new homes. With foreigners now being permitted to play in Malaysia, some Aussies are venturing there for the new season.

Additions/changes to database: -      
Michael Baird (1 Aug 1983) – transferred to Sabah, Malaysia
Dean Bouzanis (2 Oct 1991) – transferred to Oldham Athletic, England
Corey Gameiro (7 Feb 1993) – loan to Hayes and Yeading United, England
Brendan Gan (3 Jun 1988) – transferred to Sabah, Malaysia
Robbie Gaspar (7 Feb 1981) – transferred to Persib Bandung, Indonesia
Mario Karlovic (29 May 1984) – transferred to Persebaya Surabaya 1927, Indonesia
Doug Lindberg (27 Mar 1988) – loan to Sleaford Town, England
Shane Lowry (12 Jun 1989) – loan to Millwall, England
Andrew Maclean (1993) – transferred to Hamilton Academical, Scotland
Nikodin Matic (28 Aug 1992) – transferred to Farnborough, England
Sean Rooney (1 Mar 1989) – transferred to Deltras Sidoarjo, Indonesia
Jonas Salley (16 Mar 1982) – loan to Gold Coast United, Australia
Peter Skapetis (1995) – transferred to Birmingham City, England
James Stojcevski (1995) – transferred to Karlsruher SC, Germany
Chris Sullivan (3 Nov 1988) – transferred to Apollon Kalamaria, Greece
Christos Tomaras (14 Jan 1989) – transferred to Paniliakos, Greece
Daniell Zeleny (19 Oct 1988) – transferred to Mohun Bagan, India

Removed from database:-   
Marc Villascusa (21 Aug 1991) – released by Cittanova Interpiana, uncontracted

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Celtic and Aussie midfielder Jackson Irvine Interview

Here is an interview i did with young Aussie Jacskon Irvine.

first published on 442 Aus website

Can you give us a rundown on your time in the Scotland? 
I have been fortunate to play in many European tournaments, in many countries, against many of the worlds biggest teams. I’ve been lucky enough to play against teams such as Borussia Dortmund, Boca Juniors, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Sunderland, Wolfsburg, FC Basel, Real Mallorca, Ajax and Tottenham Hotspur. 
I was also involved in the Scottish Youth Cup Final in May. A Celtic-Rangers Old Firm final attracted a crowd of 10,000 at Hampden, Scotland’s national stadium. We won 2-1 after extra time, an amazing experience.
The most exciting opportunity I’ve had is to be a part of the NextGen Series, a youth Champions League style tournament including the best of the best of Europe’s elite. Our group consists of Marseille, Manchester City and world champions Barcelona. If we manage to qualify through our group we will be joining the winners of the other groups in Abu Dhabi in January for the finals.

You are a former Endeavour United and Knox City junior and had a short spell with Richmond’s youth team. You also played for Southern Blue Tongues in the Victorian Champions League summer competition. What was it like playing youth football for those teams?
My times at Knox and Endeavour were really great for me and the stage of my development I was at.
I was at Knox City from the ages of 10-13 and Endeavour at 14 and 15 and the most important thing for me at that point was that I was enjoying myself and that I had a good group of boys in my team as well as trying to learn about the game.

A big step for me was playing in the summer league with Southern. Was lucky enough to be captain of the under 18s at the age of 15 and we managed to make it to the final. My time at all of these teams was greatly beneficial to me.

Richmond was not a great time for me, I was 15 trying to get a spot in the under 21s which was a difficult task and I found myself on the bench and sometimes not even in the squad for most games. At such an important age it’s not about what league you play in, it’s just important to be playing regularly. So just before my 16th birthday I made the switch down a division to Frankston.

2009 was the big year for you.  You joined Frankston Pines in Victoria’s State League Division One. You were coached by Tommy O’Halloran and after just one game in the reserves against Northcote you were promoted to the first team and then won the club’s best and fairest award and the players’ player-of-the-year trophy. What was that year like? 

My year at the Pines was the biggest step I made in football. Tommy signed me and gave me my first game in the first team just a week after joining the club. A full season of playing against men, many of which had played at the highest level in Australian football, was a massive step for me and I was fortunate enough to gain the rewards at the end of the season.

After your great year with Frankston Pines you got a trial with Melbourne Victory and after one game you were off to a trial with Celtic. What was it like trialling with Celtic and what was the pressure like?
The Melbourne Victory coaches came to watch one of our games against Bentleigh Greens and I was lucky enough to get a phone call later that week inviting me to come and train with the youth team.
Unfortunately due to some FFA rules involving age restriction and players that haven’t been developed in state academies like the VIS, I was only able to make one appearance. It was actually my Frankston coach Tommy who organised my trial at Celtic.

I was there for 10 days in December 2009 where I did four or five training sessions and played in two friendly games, after which I was fortunate enough to get offered my first contract. The pressure was actually not something that worried me, because I was just one of many trialists all I could do was try and show something a bit different. I wasn’t expecting any miracles, just wanted to take the opportunity to train with some of the best players and coaches in Europe.

What is it like living in Scotland and how do you quell the homesickness?
I really like it here in Scotland, I have been living for quite a while now so I am used to this way of life. It isn’t as different from Australia as some people might think, at least they drive on the same side of the road!
Homesickness was very hard to begin with, especially after only a month of football I found myself with and ankle injury that had me on the sidelines for nearly four months. I’m lucky enough to be able to have my parents over here for a two or three months a year and I get to come back to Melbourne for Christmas so that is always good.

How did you get used to the professorial environment in Scotland and what were the differences to level you faced in Australia?
The difference in the standard of football was probably one of the toughest changes I faced when I made the move. The tempo of the training and games was something it took me months to get used to.
Considering the majority of players at the club are full Internationals for their respective countries, you can imagine how the first few weeks were for a kid from state league one in Melbourne trying to keep up!

What do you hope to achieve in your football career? 
I’ve been very lucky to achieve many of my short term goals for this season already, including securing a new contract and playing International football. By next season I’d like to either be in and around the Celtic first team or be out on loan playing first team football at another club in the UK or Europe. In the long term I’d like to continue being included in the International scene and try and establish myself at a high level club as a regular first team player.

There are a lot of young players like yourself that are going straight to Europe and bypassing the A-League.  What advice do you have for young players who want to follow your path?
In my opinion the most important thing for young players in Australia that want to establish careers in Europe is to stay focused and committed, and don’t believe that the only way you will obtain such an opportunity is through FFA-based academies and select squads.
I was never selected for any state teams and I was turned down by the VIS at a young age. Just keep trying to play regular football, and if you are committed and have the talent you will get your opportunity at some point.

How do you relax away from football?
Most of my time away from football is spent playing my guitars, watching movies, reading, going to the driving range or hanging out with the boys playing PlayStation!

What kind of person are you?
I’d say I’m a pretty laid back and outgoing person, a bit shy at times as well. I’m a bit of an individual as well, the boys aren’t massive fans of my clothes and my music!

What is a usual week for you at Celtic?
A usual week consists of training in the morning and going to the gym in the afternoon on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, with our games on Saturdays and usually a pool recovery session on a Sunday. Wednesdays we go to college.

You can play right back and as a midfielder what position do you play at Celtic and what do you prefer to play?
I was always a centre midfielder from a very young age until my time at Frankston where I played most of my football at full back, right and left. After I returned from injury at Celtic I began to play a lot of football at centre half.
I then made the switch to right midfield and eventually got my chance at centre midfield and I have managed to keep that spot since then. Although some injuries and suspensions this season have meant I’ve played a few games at centre half. Overall I see myself a midfielder and that is where I like playing my football the most.

How is it watching the first team train and what do you have to do to make it in the first team?
The first team has some terrific players, we have Internationals for Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Greece, Wales, Israel, South Korea and Honduras. I’ve been fortunate enough to train with the first team several times, and they have been some excellent experiences. The pace of the game and their passing and movement is truly another major step above even youth level.

Which Celtic players have impressed you?
We have some extraordinary players in our youth team this season. Some players that have stood out for me since I have been here include Filip Twardzik, Marcus Fraser, Paul George and Callum McGregor.
Filip has made several first team appearances in friendlies, is a full Czech International at U19 level and is one of the most technically gifted I have ever played with or against. Paul just recently made his full first team debut in the Scottish Cup, he is also a full International for Ireland at U19 level and is one of the most skilful players I have seen.

Marcus and Callum both played with me in the U19 European championships for Scotland and are both truly gifted footballers. These are 4 names I would keep an eye out for!

Has anyone at Football Federation Australia contacted you about playing in Youth Tournaments?
I have been contacted several times by the FFA asking me to play for the U18 and U19 national teams. It has been a complicated situation for me as before I was approached by Australia I was approached by Scotland, who I am eligible to play for through my Scottish father.

I jumped at the chance to play International football and I travelled to Slovenia to play against Wales, Belgium and Slovenia in the European Championships. One day I would love to play for Australia and I hope they continue to invite me to be a part of their International set up as it is something I have always dreamed of doing.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Generation Next: Steven Lustica Interview

First published at 442 click for original link

You have had a pretty eventful start to your football career in Europe, scoring on your playing debut, facing teams like  Barcelona, playing in the Europa League and experiencing a fierce local derby Derby tell us about your European odyssey so far?  It’s a far cry from playing in front of a dog and an esky at the Gold Coast?
Playing for Hajduk Split is a dream come true.Playing against my other favourite club Barcelona in Hajduk’s 100 year anniversary game was a fantastic feeling.

The derby against Dinamo was something else. I now know what the word derby really means. Each corner of the city of Split was covered with Hajduk banners and flags, nothing else matters here.

There was a media conference held every day for the entire week before the game. The print media coverage of the game would fill the entire edition of the Gold Coast Bulletin.

Match day was something i have never experienced in my life.The choreography in the stadium set up by the ‘torcida fans’ is indescribable. For the full 90 mins they did not stop singing and chanting.
When we scored, I thought the place was going to explode. You need to go on youtube to fully understand the atmosphere of the derby.

You made headlines in Australia when you signed for Hadjuk Split.   Particularly   The “who is Miron (Bleiberg) ”  comment about your former  coach obviously you have moved forward but you must feel like you have proved some of your critics wrong?
My aim was always to play football at the highest possible level. For me its not about proving anyone wrong, I set my goals high and believe in my own ability.

Not a lot of young players who go overseas are able to make such a great start to their career how did you view the challenge of making into the first team and what goals did you set yourself this season?
My goal was always to break into the first team. It probably happened sooner than i expected, but now the challenge is even greater, and that is to maintain my starting position in the team.

Soon after you signed, you were caught up in a club vs country battle that saw you miss out on the youth World Cup. Did you see any of the games and what did you make of the team’s performance and results?
I watched all the games on TV here live. Unfortunately we did not make the second round. However i know all the boys gave their best and there were some good performances.

How have you viewed Hadjuk’s Start you are in second place behind Zagreb at the time of  writing?  Have any team mates impress you so far?
Our start to the season has been good and we are still currently second behind Dinamo Zagreb.
Our team is very young and there are some good Croatian youth international players. Our Captain Srdan Andric and vice captain Ljubo Milicevic have great experience and leadership qualities.

Have you spoken to FFA Technical director Hann Berger or anyone at the FFA about the comments he made about your decision to miss the Youth World Cup? When asked if it would affect your national team chances now or in the future he said: "I think so. Holger gave a clear indication of that by not selecting them for the Serbia and New Zealand (Socceroos) games recently. They are young players and it's difficult for them. What will happen for the future, we will have to discuss internally." What do you think of those comments and have you had any contact from Holger since then? 
I have not had contact with anyone at FFA after my decision. I can understand their disappointment with my decision, but im sure they also understood the position I was in at the time.

Brent McGrath and Mathew Leckie were in the same situation as you and all three of you have made great starts to the season. I’m sure all three would have loved to have played for Australia at the Youth World Cup. What were your feelings at the time?
Not electing to go to the World Cup was the hardest decision i have had to make so far. I set myself that goal many years ago, unfortunately the timing of the tournament was not right.

How do you feel about representing the Socceroos? Playing regularly In Europe must give you confidence of a call up sooner rather than later.
It would fulfil another goal of mine to be selected for the Socceroos, however I would need to be performing consistently well at a very high level before that would happen.

My teammates have accepted me as part of the gang, but offcourse they remind me I am a ‘klokan’(kangaroo in Croatian) at times.Being a player born of Croatian background have you had any offers from the Croatian FA to play for Croatia?
No, I have had no offers from the Croatian FA.

Has having Croatian background helped you settle in easier? Do your teammates view you as a foreigner or one of the gang?
Yes, my Croatian heritage has helped me settle in well. I speak Croatian and understand the culture and this has enabled me to feel at home.

How is fellow Aussie teammate Ljubo Milicevic doing? He hasn’t played much in the last few weeks - what’s he like on and off the pitch?
Ljubo has played in the last two games including the derby against Dinamo and was captain in the last game against Cibalia. This shows how highly he is regarded by our coach Balakov.
On the pitch he is a leader, off the pitch he is well liked by everyone.

Who are your friends in football and would you say is your major influence in your career?
The major influence on my career has been my parents. My family is very important to me and without their support and guidance i would not be where i am now.

Tell us your thoughts on the A-League. Even though Miron did not use you often, did the experience playing in the Youth League with Sydney FC and then with Gold Coast United help you in getting a chance with Hadjuk Split?
Obviously my time at Sydney FC and Gold Coast United assisted in the development of my game.
I believe my time with the under 20s was also beneficial as it exposed me to international football and some of the best players in the world from my age group.

What is a usual week for you? Can you give us an insight into a week as a player for on and off the field for Hadjuk Split?
Training is either once or twice per day depending on match day. Times of training vary. After morning training we have a team lunch and if we have training in the evening we have dinner together.
Our training schedule can also vary between home games and away games. For the derby against Dinamo we went into camp on the island of Brac four days before the game even though it was a home game.

On other home games we go into a hotel on the day before the game and stay as a group until match day.
Usually we only have one day off during the week and i use this time to relax with friends and go to the beach which is walking distance from my apartment.
 I have also had a lot of friends visit me from Oz this year and i have used my days off to meet up with them.

What kind of person are you? Describe yourself in a few words?
Ambitious, determined, loyal.

What are the main qualities you have as a footballer?
My fitness, willingness to learn and commitment to the game.

What part of your game are you always trying to improve on?
I am always trying to improve myself on all aspects of the game.

Canberra journalist Eamonn Flannagan would kill me if I don’t ask you about the effect that Canberra had on your footballing education. And what about an A-league team for Canberra - what do you think?
Without an A league team in Canberra there is no future for young players there.
I had to leave home at 17 to chase my football dream. It would have been so much easier if Canberra had a team.
My club Canberra Deakin had a massive influence on my football education. It exposed me to the technical aspects of the game from age 6. It is where i fell in love with the game and began dreaming of a life in professional football.

Canberra Deakin fully supported my move to Hajduk Split and were the first club to sign off on my transfer to Europe. I will never forget that.

Position: Midfield
Player: Luka Modric
Team: Hajduk Split
Music: I like listening to Croatian Music.
Film:  Green Street Hooligans

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sydney FC where for art thy Striker?

According to a wise friend themes are up there in the Sky where the Gods live and issues are here on earth with us humans. And if you focus too much on the themes the Gods have a way of throwing you back to earth.

During the launch of Sydney FC’s 2011/12 season the club went all touchy feely by announcing that they had found five core values that would help unite Sydney FC and the football communityThey were: Courage, Inspire, Be Passionate, Excellence, and Family 
For the sake of this blog and the rather tenuous angle I am going for let us say that values are the same as themes. They live in the sky.

 Rather than seeking out values here are five core players that Sydney FC should have announced that would of and could have helped unite Sydney FC and the football community
A striker, a second striker, a fake number nine, a striker with goals in them, a striker who can pass into the net, and a left sided midfielder.

New Sydney FC CEO Dirk Melton should concentrate on getting a new striker and a left sided midfielder instead of trying getting his name in the media every second day. What is it with the cult of the CEO when it comes to A-League clubs anyway? Sometimes more focus is put on them rather than the players, coaches and fans. Seriously who gives a fuck about these people?  Most of them are Sociopaths that speak in a language only a robot can understand. They use corporate speak to hide a vicious compassion free personality. And I’m pretty sure some of them are also Lizard people from space who devour on the flesh of humans and rely on high quality zipper face mask to hide their true identity.

So back to Sydney FC.  What have they been doing for ten months, where for art thy Striker and left sided midfielder? The last time a left sided midfielder was at Sydney FC he has hanging at with Dwight Yorke. David Carney was his name. For those who like numbers since Carney left Sydney FC in 2007  he has played 52 club games in four years and for the Socceroos club he has played 39 times.

Remember the days when two strikers were on the pitch from the start of a game? They would pass to each other, flick on headers and ground passes, they would often cross for each other and give each other high fives even if they gave each other a bad pass.

This aversion to not wanting strikers is just not football, its anti football, its Mabo, it’s all about the vibe of not wanting to score goals.

Also all of a sudden Brett Emerton’s best position on the park is still unknown? Ten years in Europe playing as a right back, right midfielder or right winger and then he comes back to the A-League and all of a sudden no-one knows his best position?

But to put the gloss on Sydney FC issues is to take away from Brisbane Roar. I say Ange Postecoglou for the Socceroos!! He surely is the best coach in Australia by miles. He knows how to recruit has a great eye for talent and he is not scared of strikers.

Anyone know the core values of Brisbane Roar? Just look at the way they play, they value the ball, scoring goals and winning. They look to play on the earth while Sydney FC looks to the Sky. That is a theme for you right there.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Generation Next: Bernie Ibini -Isei

Here is an interview I did with Central Coast Mariners Star Bernie Ibinie - Isei. 

 Last A-League season you were the top scorer for the Mariners inthe Youth League and then finished the season by playing in the Grand Final against Brisbane Roar. Tell us your thoughts on your performance. Did it surpass your expectation?
Bernie Ibini-Isei: Yeah last season was a great season for me and I certainly surpassed all expectations for the season. To have started off in the youth team and by the end of the season be coming on in the Grand Final it was a dream but certainly not what I was expecting at the start of the season.
Tell us about your football journey so far. How did you get to the Mariners?
Well I was at Blacktown City playing 20's and 1st grade there as well as at Westfield Sports High School with both of them having links with Mariners which helped a lot, where I joined Mariners youth team half way through the season 2 seasons ago and I have continued since then.
Tell us what went through your mind when during the Grand Final when late in the game you where through on goal and the referee blew the whistle before you had the chance to shoot?
To be honest not much I was just thinking about how I was going to finish the chance but then the referee blew the whistle and I was devastated, so there wasn't much I could do but get ready for extra time.

Mustafa Amini, Oliver Bozanic, Sam Gallagher, Mathew Ryan and Trent Sainsbury were also in that camp. It must be a comfortable feeling having your Mariners’ teammates with you?
It definitely helps having so many boys from Mariners there; it makes it a lot easier to fit in straight away.
The Mariners have really got an exciting group of youngsters at the club. What it like being part of the young Mariners crew?
Yeah as you can see throughout the past season he believes in youth which is really encouraging because u know if you work hard and perform you will get your chance, Graham Arnold has been great his brought a lot of professionalism to the club which has helped us young boys mature a lot more quicker.
Graham Arnold has a lot faith in youth what has been your impression of the former Socceroos coach?
It’s been great and it’s good to have so many young boys around, we definitely cop the stick off the older boys though.
Who was your junior team that you played for growing up and your most important influences in your football education?
Earlwood Wanderers, there has been a combination of coaches but the number one influences would have to be my parents they were always pushing me to strive for the best.

What do you hope to achieve in your football career?
I hope to have a long successful career and eventually play in one of the top leagues in Europe.
What was the best piece of advice a coach or anyone has given you?
Best advice was, not matter how tough the situation is you just got to keep working hard and it will happen for you at the right time.
Tell us about your experiences growing up in Australia how did you choose football? The AFL has been targeting African immigrants, did you ever think of playing the oval ball shaped sport?
Well I just started playing soccer at lunch times at primary school and loved it so just continued from there really, no never but I did do athletics when I was younger though and loved basketball.