Monday, July 28, 2014

Aussies Abroad June/July 2014 Review

Welcome back to the Aussies Abroad monthly review compiled by Damian Davies.  

Certainly a respectable showing by our Socceroos in Brazil, with a glimpse of the future.  Matt Leckie, Jason Davidson and Ben Halloran among those that we hope to see much more of in the coming years.  We have a busy few months internationally as we build towards the Asian Cup in January.  Plenty of transfer activity over the past two months as players search for new clubs as the European leagues start their new seasons.  Most of the Asian leagues are in progress, so a lot of our players have been in action.  Some fantastic pre-season stories with players like Chris Herd, Adam Federici and Robbie Kruse all playing in friendlies.  Also encouraging in the next generation of Chris Ikonomidis, Ryan Edwards, Cameron Burgress and Hyuga Tanner all making their senior debuts at their current clubs.

Transfers:-  the European transfer window remains open so plenty of movement for our Aussies Abroad. The Aussie interest in Italy has grown with several of our upcoming players bound to feature in both senior and Primavera teams throughout the year.  With Juventus owned James Troisi yet to confirm his next club as well.  Several younger names still looking for a club include Matthew Fletcher, Robbie Paratore, Connor Thurston and Kerem Bulut, some of those players are rumoured to be heading to the A League. Also now three Aussies at PTT Rayong in Thailand.

Additions/changes to player database:
Saka Adesodun (12 Apr 1990) - transferred from Hjorring IF to Hasle-Loren IL, Norway
Panos Armenkas (5 Aug 1998) - transferred from Watford to Udinese Calcio, Italy
Michael Beauchamp (8 Mar 1981) - transferred to PTT Rayong, Thailand
Josh Brillante (25 Mar 1993) - transferred to Fiorentina, Italy
Julius Doe Davies (30 Sep 1994) - transferred to Otelul Galati, Romania
Shane Lowry (12 Jun 1989) - transferred from Millwall to Leyton Orient, England
Andrew Marveggio (22 Apr 1992) - transferred from SC Telstar to Fortuna Sittard
Brent McGrath (18 Jun 1991) - transferred to Sisaket, Thailand
Dane Milovanovic (2 Dec 1989) - transferred to New Radiant SC, Maldives
Josh Mitchell (8 Jun 1984) - transferred to Liaoning Whowin, China
Tomislav Mrcela (1 Oct 1990) - transferred from NK Hrvatski Dragovoljac to NK  Lokomotiva Zagreb, Croatia
Justin Pasfield (30 May 1985)  transferred to Tampines Rovers, Singapore
Nikita Rukavytsya (22 Jun 1987) - loan return to FSV Mainz, Germany
Robert Stambolziev (26 Oct 1990) - transferred from AEK Kouklion to Niki Volos, Greece
Adam Taggart (2 Jun 1993) - transferred to Fulham, England
Matthew Thompson (18 Aug 1982) - transferred to PTT Rayong, Thailand
James Troisi (3 Jul 1988) - loan return to Juventus, Italy
Jerrad Tyson (21 Sep 1989) - transferred to Sun Pegasus, Hong Kong
Frane Vladislavic (9 Jan 1994) - transferred from Hajduk Split to NK Istra 1961, Croatia
James Wesolowski (25 Aug 1987) - transferred from Oldham Athletic to shrewsbury Town, England
Adrian Zahra (24 Sep 1990) - transferred to Valletta FC, Malta

Removed from player database: 
Luis Abadia (Kaya FC) - uncontracted, whereabouts unknown
Alex Brosque (Al Ain) - transferred to Sydney FC
Simon Colosimo (Dempo) - transferred to Goulburn Valley
Sam Gallagher (Hanoi T&T) - transferred to Newcastle Jets
Richard Garcia (Minnesota United) - transferred to Perth Glory
Brendan Hamill (Seongham Illwa) - transferred to Western Sydney Wanderers
Marko Jesic (Sun Pegasus) - transferred to Rockdale City
Dylan McGowan (Hearts) - transferred to Adelaide United
Nikolas Tsattalios (Kampaniakos Chalastras FC) - transferred to Sydney Olympic

Club Level:-

China (Super League) - the season has resumed and several Aussies doing well.  Jonas Salley (Guizhou Renhe) and Adam Hughes (Harbin Yiteng) continue to play 90 minutes each week for their respective teams. Daniel McBreen has just broken his own record for being the oldest scorer in the CSL at 37. 

Korea (K-League Classic) - with the rise and rise of Alex Wilkinson, playing at the World Cup and then the K-League All Stars, I would expect this league to get some more attention from Aussie followers in the future.  Not to forget, Sasa Ognenovski won the Asian player of the year while in Korea.  We also have Luke DeVere (Gyeongham) and Alex Jovanovic (Jeju United) playing each week.  Both aged in their mid-twenties now, we may see them feature in upcoming Socceroo squads.

Thailand (Premier League) - a surge in the Aussies in Thailand with veterans Michael Beauchamp and Matthew Thompson joining Trent McClenahan at PTT Rayong.  The club are sitting in the relegation zone so the hope would be for the Aussies to help the club pull some points together quickly.  Young striker Brent McGrath has also made the move to Thailand from the VPL.  He now has three goals in three appearances for Sisaket.

Cambodia (C League) - a brief stay in this league saw Adriano Pellegrino make 10 appearances and score 3 goals as Phnom Penh Crown won the league title.

Singapore (S League) - goalkeeper Justin Pasfield has made the move to Asia, now having made 10 league and cup appearances in 7 weeks at Tampines Rovers.

Iceland (2. Deild) - an amazing story.  Kile Kennedy is a goalkeeper who made the brave move to KF Fjardabyggd last season,who at the time were fourth division in Iceland.  His efforts contribted to his team gaining promotion.  Now this campaign his team sit top of the table as they again chase automatic promotion.  Having conceded 12 goals in 13 games, Kile is continuing his strong form.  A long journey from country Victoria.

USA (MLS) - Tim Cahill continues to tackle all before him.  He scored one of the goals of the tournament at his third World Cup.  He has received several individual ackolades at New York, prompting rumours of a return to England. An interesting dinner party discussion of who is the greatest Socceroo of the past 20 years?

Injuries:-   great to see the likes of Robbie Kruse, Trent Sainsbury and Mustafa Amini making their returns from injury ahead of the new season.  Still injury concerns with Josh Kennedy, Tom Rogic, Rhys Williams and Curtis Good as those guys try to get back on the park and see good game time ahead of the Asian Cup.  Terrible news with Michael Zullo doing his knee in training at Utrecht, a long stint on the sidelines for him I am afraid.

Club Competitions:-
(UEFA Champions League) – Adrian Zahra sat on the pine as Valletta were knocked out in qualifying. Neither Tom Rogic or Jackson Irvine appeared for Celtic as they progressed to the 3rd round of qualifying.
(UEFA Europa League) – several Aussies appeared in qualifying ties, but Mark Griffin (Dundalk), Oliver Bozanic (Luzern) and Aziz Behich (Bursapor) have all been eliminated.

South America
(Copa Libertadores) – no Aussies Abroad remain.

(Asian Champions League) - no Aussies Abroad remain.
(AFC Cup) - no Aussies Abroad remain.

Reserves and Youth:-
No report during European off-season.

International level:- the rejuventation of the Socceroos in a work in progress.  Some tough decisions were made in the lead up to the World Cup.  We then had the excitement of new faces appearing in Brazil.  With several friendlies arranged before next year's World Cup, we have a good 20-30 players that will be fighting for a place in the Socceroos squad with those that were in Brazil. A great period of education as we learn more and see more of players that were often perceived to be under the radar.

Socceroo (capped) of the month – on hold
Nov - Ryan, Dec - Jedinak, Jan - Jedinak, Feb - Ryan, Mar – Kennedy, Apr - Jedinak

Under the radar (uncapped)  - on hold.
Nov - Luongo, Dec - Mrcela, Jan - Giannou, Feb - Wright, Mar – Lowry, Apr - Halloran

Young player (U21) of the month – on hold.

Nov - Ryan Williams, Dec - Cooper, Jan - B.Smith, Feb - Grant, Mar – Tanner, Apr - Ugarkovic

Any changes please e-mail 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The 2014 Brazil World Cup Review

Even though the World Cup is over, if you squint hard enough, you can still see it's illuminating presence in the rear view mirror.

So let's do a World Cup review of all the moments that we came to know and love, the ones we mocked and ridiculed, and the times we applauded.

The Award for Bravery ( in the face of defeat, even though no-one gave the team a chance, and  it sure sucked losing, but what the hell, a narrow loss still felt like a victory.)

Obviously the award goes to the Socceroos. Australians love to romanticise international losses. Gallipoli is an example.

The Socceroos World Cup campaign has parallels with the landing at Gallipoli; mostly Australian young men, out of position and under heavy constant fire.

The Aussies narrow 3-2 loss to Holland was heartbreaking, but the way the team took the cold sword to the belly was inspirational for all the little kiddies (who were all probably fast asleep during the game).

The Netherlands game was football porn. From Arjen Robben's opening goal, to Tim Cahill's spectacular volleying equaliser.

The Aussies led for a brief time, but just like in a porn film the Socceroos were fucked by a black guy's penetrating shot.

Had it, Lost It, Team of of the Tournament

The Unifying Theory of Life, from the character Sick Boy in the film Trainspotting is the inspiration behind this award.

"At one point you've got it, then you lose it. The it's gone forever. All walks of life.  George Best, for example. Had it, lost it.

And Hot Dog! We have a wiener! Nice one Spain! The 2010 World Cup Champions couldn't recover from the Holland spanking in the first game.

Most Kreas (Meathead) Team

To qualify as the Kreas team of the World Cup, the qualification process is as follows.

Number of Kreas moments: this includes acts like hogging, diving and needless violence.

The Uruguayans are worthy winners of this award.

Uruguay had all the qualifying attributes in one player - Luis Suarez. His World Cup rap sheet is impressive.

Accused of diving. Guilty!
Accused of  hogging. Guilty!
Accused of needless violence. Guilty!

Ahh the bite that was heard around the world. CRUNCH. Tearing the kreas (meat) out of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini's shoulder meant that Luis Suarez probably had the 2014 World Cup's most defining moment.

It wasn't just Luis Suarez being a Kreas, his teammate Maxi Periera also got involved in some Kreas action, kicking out at Costa Rican attacker Joel Cambell in the group phase.

Oh Shit! we Farked it Up

There were a few contenders for this award. It was a strong selection of teams. Brazil, Italy, Spain, England, Portugal.

Sure all the nominees Italy, Spain, England and Portugal didn't even get out of the group stage.

But it doesn't compare to Brazil's history making 7-1 loss to Germany in the semi final.

It was the biggest semi-final fark up in World Cup history; as was my prediction of a Brazil win against Germany.

The Am I Bovvered?

The award goes to England. Well done England!

Garnering one point in the group stage was your lowest ever return in your World Cup history.

It was also the first time you have been eliminated from the group stage since 1958.


It's a toss up between Russian Manager Fabio Capello and Spanish Striker Diego Costa.

And we have a tie!

Capello, the highest paid manger in Brazil, has only won one of his seven World Cup games that he has coached.

Chelsea paid a whopping $58 million transfer fee to sign Costa from Atlecio Madrid.

They will hope he performs better than he did at the World Cup for Spain, as he only had one shot on target in 126 minutes of action.

Congratulations to both recipients, very overrated.


For me there is only one winner. It goes to Costa Rican goal keeper Keylor Navas.

Navas is a freak. With Navas in goals, Costa Rica beat England, Italy, Uruguay and knocked out Greece. All those teams ranked in the top 12.

Navas saved 21 shots out of 23. That's an impressive 91% of shots saved.

Ground Hog Day 

"What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?"

That Ground Hog day movie quote applies both to Mexico and Chile.

Poor Mexico, they can't get past the round of 16. Los Manitos have been knocked out at that stage during their last six World Cups.

Meanwhile Chile can't beat Brazil at a World Cup. La Roja haven't beaten the Seleção in four games and have been  knocked out by Brazil in the round of 16 during their last three World Cup appearances.

The Coach who looks like he's here to fix the pipes. 


The award clearly goes to Brazil coach Luis Felipe Scolari.

Not one for suiting and booting, Scolari  looked more like a Plumber than an international manager.

Worst Chant

This one was easy. The award goes to the USA. Even though funny man Will Ferrell added some celebrity to it, the USA's - "I believe! That we will win" was a weak and cringe worthy chant.

It didn't have any witty lines, it didn't share the melody of a famous song, it was arrogant, dumb and simple (should I be a bit prejudice/racist and say it's a perfect representation of the US population?

No I won't as there are some really cool Seppo's out there (umm my family), but c'mon guys, you can do way better!)

Best Chant

C'mon you should know it by now.

"Brasil decime que se siente" "Brazil tell me how it feels like"

It's the Argentina chant. It's ticks all the boxes of a great football chant. It's witty, it mocks their rivals Brazil it's got history and it uses the melody of a well known song.

It's sung to the tune of Credence Clear Water's Bad Moon Rising.

Here is the crowd singing it with English subtitles.

Here are the Argentine players singing it in their dressing rooms after a win.

So that's all folks, thanks for sharing this World Cup with me.
Yours in Football, Con Stamocostas

PS Germany was the best team. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Germany - Argentina World Cup Final 2014 Analysis

You can't get past the Germans. Die Mannschaft killed Argentina's and many neutrals (including this not very neutral Messi lover) World Cup dream. You can't be a neutral and support one team. That's not very neutral. When it comes to Germany and football, you can't be neutral! (As many countries during World War Two found out.)

Okay got the obligatory WW2 joke out of the way, time to praise Germany.

Praising Germany

Ahhh Ze Germans. They have the best beer, the best cars, the best war uniforms, the best chicken schnitzel I have ever tasted, they probably speak English better than you or I will ever be able to, they are the best at the back handed compliment, and after winning the 2014 Brazil World Cup, they now have the best football team. 

Judging by the post match celebrations, they even have the best looking girlfriends as well, just to top it all off.

The Germans may not have the best player in the world. They don't possess a star like Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar or Robben. Their players aren't the fastest, or the best dribblers. But they are the best at the basics.

At this World Cup they did have the best goal keeper, the best defence, the best midfield and arguably the best attack. If you beat Brazil 7-1 and Portugal 4-0 there's probably no argument! 

Their goal celebrations are nothing to write home about, Colombia wins that by a Tango and they definitely didn't have the best dance moves if you caught their hokey pokey dance moves after the game.

But you don't win World Cups by being the best at dancing or celebrating, you win by having the best team and best squad, and Ze Germans did have both of those.

Dear me, it's hard talking up Ze Germans. Almost as hard as knowing where to put the commas correctly in my blog entries. It's a trial I tell you. The grammar police are always on the lookout. I like to write like I talk, without breaths, and in long-winded sentences. Don't blame me: the education system in my day didn't really focus on grammar. Perhaps I was day dreaming during the grammar component.

Yes, yes yes, the Germans had the best team and all that, but they probably had the best luck as well. They were Nervous Nellie's against Ghana, the USA and Algeria. They had luck in the semifinal too! Sure they scored seven goals to one but what luck to face Brazil without Neymar and Thiago Silva. Who without that duo imploded and suffered brain explosions.  

Die Mannschaft were also fortunate to be facing a tired Argentina in the final. Who it must be said had a day's less rest to recover from. The Germans cruised in their match against Brazil while the Argies played a gruelling semi-final, where they were kicked by the Dutch for 120 mins.


Before the game I had a World Cup final discussion with my cousin Andrew. It centered on our desire for an eventful World Cup final. Usually the final of any major tournament is a drab affair. Some previous World Cups have been utter stinkers. 

For the perfect final, the ideal situation is a close game, with lots of goals and a last minute winner enveloped with plenty of football commentary segues.

Basically as my cousin Andrew pointed out, we wanted Football Porn!

The Final

Speaking of segues, the final wasn't quite football porn, perhaps it was more akin to a Rihanna music video,  

You have to put with some boring bits, but you were rewarded in the end with a bit titillation. 

Speaking of Rihanna, did you see her flash at the World Cup Final? 

Officer arrest that Streaker! 

(pic courtesy of  @rihanna Source: Twitter)

I totally farked up my final viewing by sleeping in. I woke up with 25 minutes of play left remaining. Lucky I recorded the game on Foxtel IQ, so after the game ended, I went back like a good football writer and watched the first 75 mins I missed. 

I don't want to fake it Dear Readers! 

Lucky I do have the option of recording because the first 75 mins apart from the goal were probably the most entertaining part of the final.

They Messied it Up

Argentina Messied up most of their chances during the final, I counted three clear cut opportunities. Argentine striker  Gonzalo " missed a great Gonzalo scoring opportunity Higauin " butchered a great chance in the first half. He wasn't on his own though, Rodrigo Palacio who replaced Higauin in the second half also missed a great chance. 

And of course we can't forget the most glaring miss of all that the Argentine's had. The one from Messi, the little genius butchered the Argies best chance early in the second half.

Some English commentators are digging in the knives saying Lionel Messialot and his coach Alejandro Saballa were not on best terms. Post match they were talking up a rift between the star striker and Saballa, because they saw Messi walk off early when the Argies were in the middle of a team huddle before the game. I sense some English commentators are still traumatised from the hand of goal in 1986 with regards to that talk I reckon.

Still Messi tried his best, they way he controlled the ball to set up the offside goal to Higauin midway through the first half was sublime. Messi is no Maradona, he couldn't dominate like his fellow number 10 did in 1986. 

Messi doesn't have the leadership qualities, anger, crazy and drugs inside him that Diego had. His genius is on the quiet, humble side rather than the crazy alien genius that lived in Maradona.

What a Göletze!

So Mario Göetze is better than Lionel Messi now? That's according to German coach Joachim Löw. Jogi Bear reckons that's the case after Göetze scored the winner. These abstract declarations are fair enough, the winners can write their own history. 

I'm glad it was a moment of quality that decided the final rather than a penalty shootout. That goal rounds out the top three goals of the tournament. It's been a volleyathon! Tim Cahill's volley against Holland is number one, James Rodriguez volley against Uruguay is number two and Mario Göetze's volley in the final against Argentina is number three.

Embedded image permalink

I've absolutely loved this World Cup. I love that band wagoners, casuals, purists and even the fame lovers come together to feast on football for a month.

Where else do you get an event besides a World Cup final that unites the world? 

The final involves more than a billion people around the world doing exactly the same thing, at exactly the same time as a collective.

(photo above by Ryu Voelkel  @toksuede)

Let's applaud Ze Germans for their triumph and skill in winning the 2014 World Cup. The rest of the world has four years to beat those great @ English speaking, funny dancing, back handed compliment giving, great at tournament football, bastards! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Oh my God Brazil! How World Cup 2014 Embarrassment

How embarrassment Brazil! You lost 7-1 in your home World Cup. I really don't think it's a good idea if you guys host World Cups anymore - it just doesn't seem to end well.

How World Cup 2014 embarrassment for me! My prediction of Brazil beating Germany in the World Cup semi final wasn't even Klose!

Forget that 200 million Brazilians were in tears for 81 mins (Muller scored in the 11th minute). Forget that the commentator's commentator Martin Tyler was taking the piss with five minutes to go with hilarious repartee like "there is five minutes left and Brazil only need seven more goals".

Forget that Brazilian football has been shamed and humiliated and a subject of world wide mockery.

Forget that efficient, pragmatic, humourless Germany were the ones playing Joga Bonito football and eased up on the Brazilians in the second half so as not to cause them further embarrassment.

I'm the one, readers who should be ashamed at my performance. I'm the one, who sat in a darkened room for two days hiding out of embarrassment. I'm the one, who should be pointing my fingers in the sky on my haunches, looking up at the heavens and asking - Whoa happened?

Because readers, I'm the one, who picked Brazil to beat ze Germans without a second of thought. 

In my previous piece I said that the Germans weren't that impressive. I thought they peaked too early after they beat Portugal 4-0 in their opening World Cup game.

I've been taking long hard looks in the mirror wondering if I should ever pick up a pen again. I have disgraced all of Bloggerdome. I have sullied the great oracle with whom  I fear shall never grace me again with her knowing wisdom and insight.

I keep on watching the game over and over again, when it gets to Oscar's consolation goal I rewind it, then play it again seven times in a row, so in some different realm or alternative universe the score ends up a respectable seven all and it goes into extra time and Martin Tyler says - " In all my years I have never seen such an amazing comeback!"

There are so many flies on the Brazilian team at the moment and those associated with them. They're like a tray of meat sitting topless on a hot summer's day at Gunnamatta Bay, Cronulla (you Wogs and ethnics know what I'm talking about!).

It's OK for the likes of Sideshow David Luiz and his teammates to be crying like babies. I'm sure once they start pre-season training at their various G8 clubs they'll be ok.

But what about me, Dear Readers? How can I be taken seriously again? Dear Readers, I beseech you! 

How can I bounce back from such a prediction humiliation?

Before the game I felt confident picking Brazil. No Neymar, No Thiago Silva, what could possibly go wrong? 

I felt confident like David Luiz did prancing in midfield carefree, with the wind blowing in his hair, patriotic tears streaming down his face as another German skipped and hopped past him with nothing but acres of space and a return pass in their mind's eye.

Brazil's shame is my shame. 

I felt real sorry for Brazil's coach Papou Luiz Felipe Scolari. He must have had that similar feeling that millions of Soccer Mums and Dads around the world feel when they  look upon their uncoordinated children on the sideline, as they are getting smashed by superior players and better coached teams.

 His heart bleeding for his children but at the same time his cheeks puffing with pride. 

'My boys may be unco's but at least they are participating."

The Final

"Never bet on the fairy-tale" Jeff from Newtown
So the dream match up between Brazil - Argentina, Neymar- Messi, Pele's Ego vs Mardonna's Mentalness is no more. 

Instead we probably have the next best thing. Argentina - Germany, a repeat of 1986 and the 1990 World Cup finals. 

It's at these World Cups that most of my Generation the X's fell in love with football.

Will it be a goal fest like 86?, Or a drab stinker like 1990?

Can Argentina find some energy after almost being Dutched to football death?

The Argentine penalty takers must have loved walking towards the box seeing only one Dutch goal keeper's outfit and not having to contend with seven orange shirts in front of it.

The Dutch almost Mourinho'd it with their defensive structure. Messi was quiet but can you blame him? 

Poor Messi he must be sick of being chased around at this World Cup like some sort of fugitive. If Messi drove a White Ford Bronco there would be a phalanx of police cars accompanying him. (that's an OJ Simpson reference for you Generation Me's)

So Messi to beat seven German players and win the World Cup one nil in the last minute? That would be some cool symmetry. But don't bet on me predicting that!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sign o' the Football Times, Cynicism @ Brazil 2014

Neymar's Broken Back and Brazil's Broken Heart

It's a Sign o' the Times. The antics of certain players and teams during the Quarter Finals of the 2014 Brazil World Cup has produced a darkness over the later stages of the tournament. Its shadow threatens to occupy the illuminating glow of the record breaking goal count and attacking football that the world went nuts for in the Group games and Round of 16 matches.

There is still some light at the end of tunnel though, with the prospect of a dream Argentina - Brazil final. Unfortunately that has been sullied by Colombian defender Mr Zuniga, when he broke Neymar's back and 200 million Brazilian hearts.

What a shame  the dream final between the South American rivals (and most neutral football fans around the world have craved) , will be missing the main draw cards of Messi vs Neymar. The football world has been robbed of a grand spectacle because of one cruel cynical action.

But perhaps I should listen to the strange random man I encountered on the bustling streets of Kingsgrove last Friday. A random man approached me and said: "don't judge, everyone makes mistakes, sorry I broke your heart". Tell that to the 200 Brazilians random man! Who I told three times- "It's OK I forgive you!", but still wouldn't leave me alone.

Sadly cynicism in sport is nothing new - winning at all costs is part of modern football. After all there are reports that kicking your opponent off the park occurred when Noah, his sons and some of the more talented monkeys played five a side in the Ark to keep fit in the mornings and afternoons.

Side Show Bob's (David Luiz) free kick brought some of the magic of the Group Stages back.

Perhaps instead of knockout games the whole World Cup could be a group stage?

The magic spray and Luiz's right footed, side foot, free kick kept the dark forces at bay for once.

Now with Neymar gone who will the Brazilians call on to step up against Germany? Only one of the most talented squads left in world football of course!

If home advantage and death threats isn't enough of a powerful motivational force to win the World Cup then nothing is. The home nation is still the favourites for the title in my opinion. They are still finding ways to win games without playing their best football.

If the Yellow, Green and Blue shirted ones can stop crying and play without fear of losing, the Seleção can still win the World Cup. They still have artists that can unlock defences.

But first Brazil have to get through the semi final. Playing a European team in Germany would suit the Brazilians much more than playing Colombia. The Germans haven't been that crash hot perhaps they peaked too early when they thrashed Portugal 4-0.

Plus Germany just love that third/fourth playoff game so much. Why ruin a good thing by playing in a World Cup final and potentially winning the World Cup for the first time in 24 years?

The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer

You should check this excellent article I found from the website It examines the painful memory of Holland losing the 1974 World Cup. The article says that the tragedy wasn't that Holland lost the World Cup to Germany. The greatest tragedy was that during the final minutes of the game, Holland thumped the ball long into the German area, seeking a miracle by abandoning their "Total Football philosophy."

Here is an interesting take on that game:

"July 7th, 1974 was a death knell for the freedom of expression that formed through the 60s. For the Dutch, their Summer of Love didn’t end on Altamont Speedway in 1969 but at Munich’s Olympic Stadium four and a half years later. Both incidents signaled the end of a counter-culture. Both incidents signaled the end of optimism, open-mindedness and new-wave. Both incidents signaled the start of pragmatism, cynicism and suspicion of anything different."

The article also quotes David Winner who wrote the book Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer. Winner tells the website that there is an undeniable cultural and social overlap that exists in society and football. He says the Dutch team of 1974 were a reflection of the zeitgeist.

So what are the current Dutch team a reflection of in terms of cultural and social overlap that exists in society and football?

The cynical actions of World Bankers? The failure of Governments around the world to stop the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer? Can we relate the pragmatism and cynicism of modern football with the world's current socioeconomic problems?

Of course we can! Look at the World Cup bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup and the greed and corruption that exists in FIFA.

The Dutch are so sick of being the Bridesmaid and never the Bride, thet have abondened the ideals of "Total Football". Making this current Holland incarnation the antithesis of the 1974 team.

Just like the movie Bridesmaids, I'm sure Holland Boss Louis Van Gaal would take a shit in the middle of the street wearing a wedding dress if it meant winning the World Cup.

The white socks and sandals wearing, non smiling Dutch coach made a big move substituting the goalkeepers before the penalty shootout against Costa Rica. It was a history making move by Van Gaal. That kind of choice has never been seen at a World Cup before.

Sure the move paid off and Krul guessed correctly on every shot, allowing his mullet two make two amazing saves, but to me it doesn't just justify how he acted.

Take Krul's antics before the Costa Ricans were about to take their penalty shots.

Talk about Neurotic Genius.

Krul's actions seemed to mirror the strange random man that came up to me in Kingsgrove. Like the random on the street (who walked up and down the street) Krul was walking up and down and side to side in his box aimlessly, then would pause so he could talk some unintelligible nonsense to the Costa Ricans (like the strange man did to me) before they took their penalties.

Question marks hang over the second penalty that Krul saved. Is it legal for a goalkeeper to grab the bar and have the net shake right before the penalty taker takes the spot kick? Cheat! Cheat! (allegedly, allegedly)

Everyone knows what Cruyff said after Holland lost the 1974 final – ‘We were very successful in a way because we were acclaimed for our style and everybody said we we were the best team."

No-one will say that about the Dutch if they win the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil. 

But who cares as long as you win right?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Greece World Cup Odyssey featured in Neos Kosmos

Hi There Yiasou and Opa!

Greece's World Cup Odyssey through my gonzo eyes got featured on the English version of the Neos Kosmos Newspaper Website. So you don't have to learn Greek to read it.

Check out the link here

Here are a couple of snippets:
"So close yet so far away for the Greeks, they should have won the Round 16 game against Costa Rica but the football gods tired of blessing them, cursed them in the end. Poor Theofanis Gekas now has to carry the boulder of World Cup failure on his shoulders for eternity."

"Since 1949 Costa Rica has had no standing army. Go you hippies! It's something the Greeks could learn from as they spend a shit load of their GDP on defence. Perhaps instead of having National Service the Greeks could use that time making their young men practice penalties."
Would love it if you clicked the link to read it. It's an amalgamation of the two Greece pieces I put on A Football Story during Greece's World Cup campaign in Brazil 2014.

Also a quick thanks for those who read any of my stories during the month of June it's been a record in terms of hits so thanks very much for reading my work and fighting through the bad grammar. I really appreciate it.

Con Stamocostas

Friday, July 4, 2014

Brazil - Colombia, Holland- Costa Rica WC Quarter Final Previews

Brazil - Colombia Side Show Bob vs Colombian Samba

"If we win the World Cup we can stay in Brazil, if we lose we will have to live in Europe"

That was Side Show Bob (David Luiz) from the Simpsons speaking to Gary Liniker in the excellent documentary "Lineker in Brazil" Of course the gift that is the internet has a picture of Sideshow Bob and David Luiz  ready for me.

The pressure on Brazil the home nation for the 2014 World Cup must by all synonyms of huge. Even though they have won five World Cup the Brazilians have a Word Cup history of buckling under the pressure. Losing to Uraguay in the last minute in 1954 and more recently The World Cup in France 1998 and the mystery of Ronaldo

That mystery was solved when during the aforementioned documentary "Lineker in Brazil the Potato chip spruiker Lineker, asks Ronaldo about what happened during the moments leading up to the 1998 World Cup Final against France. The strory goes after luch on the day of the final Ronaldo suffered a seizure and was unconscious for almost five minutes.

The Superstar Striker went to hospital and nothing was found to be medically wrong with him so after getting the all clear from the doctors and declaring himself fit to play the Striker went on to play the game whre he was poor impression of usual superstar self. History shows that France won the final against Brazil 3-0. Zidane scored two goals from corners with his head. Guess who was supposed to mark him at those corners? That's right Ronaldo.

Don't Cry for Me Brazil

The Brazilians have brought in a sports psychologist to ready the players minds before they take on Colombia. Tim Vickery the South American expert reckons the Jogo Bonito boys are crying before matches, during the game and after. Is it tears of relief or tears of joy?

It's well known before games the Brazilians turn up singing and dancing. I wonder what are they listening to before the games this time round. Enya? Cat Power? Andre Reus? I'd be crying before the game if the only strikers my team had were Fred and Jo. They are probably the worst pairing seen on a football pitch since Celine Dion and her Quebec accent played at Wembley Arena.

At the moment Neymar has the hopes of  200 million Samba botherers  on his shoulders. Hulk has been playing more like Bruce Banner and at times the the team looks more disjointed than Christoper Nolan's third Batman film the Dark Night Rises.

Still part of me wants Brazil to get their shit together and show us the real Brazil. It will make the party last longer.

Colombian Samba

Columbia meanwhile is doing really good business at this World Cup. They are taking apart every team that comes before them with football triumvirate of flair power and skill. I love watching James Rodriguez play he is an old school exponent of  Shoot Farken.  James with a H is upstaging the Brazilians in goals and in goal celebrations. I'm gonna learn me some Colombian Samba!

Will the South Americans produce a dour struggle were both teams cancel each other out because they know each other too well? You would love the cynicism and the pressure of a prospective semi final berth be put aside so the artist and football genius of Neymar and Rodriguez has time and space to shine.

Costa Rica - Holland Green vs Mean

To Paraphrase Kevin Keegan I would love it if Costa Rica beat Holland! Love it!

Those smug Dutch divers beat the Aussies and even serial flopper Robben has admitted to the world that he loves to to be vertically challenged, especially in the box. Along with their moments of thugness and smugness the Dutch have gone from exponents of  Total Football to Total Cheats.

The Dutch are a direct shadow of their former selves Their coach Van Gaal is not afraid to park the bus with five at the back and use the early release pass so Robben, Van Persie and Sneijder feed off the scraps.

But in saying that the Dutch do have quality running through their side. They are not a Kreas side by any means.

Costa Rica  could be in for one hell of a beating. The only weakness the Dutch posess is themselves. I only see them losing to the Tico's if they let their cynicism and arrogance beat them. Yes I'm going to say they are their own worst enemy but it's not just hubris that could be their downfall.

Tico Power

First they have to get through the Costa Rican Uber Keeper Keylor Navas. The Costa Ricans aren't shy when it comes to dangerous attacking threats themselves. Brian Ruiz who Fullham fans must be wondering why he didn't show his World Cup form when the team was being relegated form the English Premier League.

Joel Campbell the Arsenal squad member who Arsene Wenger like a strict parent only now loves because he is successful has the potential to scare the Orange out of the Dutch defenders.

Alas for lovers of Fairy Tales and triumphs of David's over Goliath's I fear the Costa Ricans and their "we aren't even supposed to be here today" mentality might be not be enough to win through against Holland.

The only authentic underdogs in the last eight probably have used up all their energy and luck during the Greece win. I forgive them for beating Greece and the Tico's can redeem themselves by beating the Netherlands. I would love it just love it if they can beat them!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Greece vs Costa Rica Analysis Round 16 World Cup 2014 Brazil

IN a previous piece, when the Socceroos got knocked out by Holland I used an old World Cup joke to lighten the mood. For this piece I'm using a pun. A joke is a sign that your team has not really done that well, but a pun aside from trophies is a sign of football progression.

So here is my Pun:

Greece Ruiz Gekas Penalty Miss

Got the Costa Rica scorer in there as well as the Greek Penalty Missee too. I give myself 7 out of 10.

After a couple of days to soak in the penalty loss to Costa Rica there is no point in looking for an escapegoat; ("cough" "Gekas", "cough" "Salpingidis").  Greece drawing with their Prothoti (Betrayer) namesake Costa (Rica) is no big shame.

But like the Socceroos in 2006 when they played against Italy against ten men, Greece will never probably get as good of an opportunity to get to the World Cup Quarter Finals. A date with smug Holland was so close. In the upcoming Quarter Final I'd just love the Costa Ricans to beat the Dutch and make the semifinals. What a great World Cup story that would be.

So close yet so far away for the Greeks they should have won that game but the football gods tired of blessing them and cursed them in the end. Poor Theofanis Gekas now has to carry the boulder of World Cup failure on his shoulders for eternity. ( Go the Myth of Sisyphus analogy! My Philosophy teacher would be proud or probably skeptical knowing her )

Talking Points 

  • Costa Rica Termatofilakas (Goal Keeper) Keylor Navas was on some Mexican beans, saving everything that came in his way. Just like the IMF Navas denied the Greeks time and time again. 
  • After Costa Rica's Group D win against Italy seven of their players were tested for drugs by FIFA. I'm not saying the the Tico keeper was on the roids but some of his saves were so good I would have asked him to piss in a small cup just to make sure.  
  • Since 1949 Costa Rica has had no standing army. Go you hippies! It's something the Greeks could learn from as they spend a shit load of their GDP on defence. Perhaps instead of having National Service the Greeks could use that time making their young men practice penalties
  • In 2012 Costa Rica was ranked Number One in the happiest nation in the World index. There must be heads exploding after they reached the World Cup Quarter Finals. By contrast it's no surprise Greece's happiness index has been falling rapidly due to their economic problems in recent times. At least they'll have the Ivory Coast game.
  • Athens also topped the ugliest people in the world index too. According to Old Bull Lee a character in the Jack Kerouac book "On the Road". Old Bull Lee or if you know the history of the book  is the famous writer William S Burroughs. In the book his character says that: "he used to look up from his Ouzo in Athens and see the ugliest people in the world" 
  • What's the reason of these two last points? Maybe it's the contradictions of teams and how they are perceived by the world. Maybe it's Greece were one of the unfancied teams in Brazil, who played "ugly" football but they did get further than a lot of many other fancied teams. To use one of my favourite Englishmen to paraphrase Winston Churchill: "Greeks don't play football like heroes; heroes play football like Greece" 
  • Take that Old Bull Lee at least no Greek footballer shot his wife in the head while trying to shoot an apple that was sitting on top of it (yet).

The Game

When Greece equalised in the last minute of play through Sokratis Papastathopoulos (say that name after a few ouzo's) it was a surreal moment in my house. I watched the game at my folks house, and because they have Foxtel IQ I was able to pause the game during the various toilet breaks. My mother was watching in the kitchen and in the other room were my two Brothers George, Phillip, Dad and myself .

With not much time in normal play to go we hear a loud shriek coming from the kitchen. It's my mother yelling "EEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIII,  EEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIII".  My mother is getting on in age and likes to yell at the top of her voice like most Cypriot mothers when they are in pain. At first we all thought she fell over or was reeling in pain due to a paper cut. But she came running into the room screaming "they put one in! Greece put one in!!". Then on we look up at the TV screen we were watching and Greece scored. Then the rest of the family realised what was gong on and we all EEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIII'd ourselves.

My mother was watching the game live in the kitchen but The Foxtel IQ was delayed in the other room hence the delay in reaction.

Such was the emotion of the penalties in our house my mother was crying as Gekas went to take his penalty. Thank goodness I only have The Socceroos and Greece to follow because having this much emotional involvement at the World Cup is too much. I got no more dodgy puns left in me.