A-League | W-League | Asian Champions League | Bert van Marwijk | Shane Smeltz
While Sydney FC aim to make it back-to-back in A-League, Melbourne City is aiming for a three-peat in the W-League12 February 2018 | FT Editor
Western Sydney Wanderers v Wellington Phoenix
- There may have been only 7,000 fans to see it but Ray Gatt says Western Sydney Wanderers seem to have found their mojo with a good performance and 4-0 win - albeit against the cellar dwellers, Wellington Phoenix - which saw some of Josep Gombau's new recruits beginning to make a difference, particularly 22-year-old Chris Ikonomidis. The win lifts the Wanderers into the top six.
- However, Tom Smithies cautions about getting too carried away with Wanderers chances. It's only their third home win of the season and their first in a month - and it was against Wellington Phoenix, whom both Smithies and Gatt describe as a "rabble".
- Dom Bossi says that Wanderers are on a path to the A-League finals, Wellington Phoenix is a mess, and Ikonomidis shone for the home side.
- Warren Joyce is keeping the faith. Despite the 0-4 result against his team on Saturday night at the hands of - who else? - Sydney FC, Joyce still believes that his team can match it with the Sydney team come finals time. Ray Gatt says the one bright spot for City was the appearance of Bruno Fornaroli for 26 minutes following a long injury absence.
- So overcome with emotion was Fornaroli, as he stood on the sidelines waiting to run on, that he says he was close to tears. Michael Lynch makes the point that Fornaroli is not just the club's best player but also their captain, leading scorer and "heartbeat".
- Graham Arnold's drive to keep breaking A-League (if not NSL) records is at least keeping official statistician, Andrew Howe, busy! Arnie tells Gatty that despite a long list of records already broken, there are still more to chase, such as winning successive Premier's Plates (in the bag) and the number of games lost over two seasons compared with Brisbane Roar. (Arnie does realise Ange is no longer in Australia, yeah?) And there's more too. Sydney FC supporters will enjoy the read; others, not so much!
- And here we are again. Sydney FC is the best A-League team ever, according to that one-man PR machine, Graham Arnold - stats or no stats - and they intend going all the way in the Asian Champions League.
- Melbourne City deemed Michael Zullo surplus to requirements 18 months ago, so he was happy to prove a point against them (three points, in fact) on Saturday night.
Melbourne City defeated W-League premiers, Brisbane Roar, 0-2 to make the grand final next week against Sydney FC. The match will be held on Sunday at Sydney FC's Allianz Stadium with a 5pm kick-off. Adult tickets range from $20 (for members) to $30.
The grand final gives Melbourne City the chance to make it a three-peat for the W-League title. Quite a record.
Asian Champions League
This year's Asian Champions League is bigger and better than ever writes David Davutovic, with increased prize money and a bigger cast of stars gracing the competition across the continent. Davutovic notes that the stars include Xavi (Al-Saad), Wesley Sneijder (Al-Gharafa), Oscar, Hulk (Shanghai SIPG), Diego Forlan (Kitchee), Omar Abdulrahman, Ali Al Habsi, Freddy Guarin and Obafemi Martins (Shanghai Shenhua). Although the AFC has not marketed the competition well, the broadcast numbers involve as much as 20 million people globally and 13 million in China alone. The winners will received USD$4 million, the runners-up USD$2 million, with USD$100,000 for getting out of the group stage.
Melbourne Victory have their first ACL match on Tuesday at AAMI Park v Ulsan Hyundai at 7.30pm. Kevin Muscat says he is looking forward to the challenge of having to be "tactically flexible" to deal with the different playing styles and tactics of Asian teams.
For Sydney FC, it's all about 'building the brand' for the club, the A-League competition and the city of Sydney. Sydney FC face Suwon on Wednesday at Allianz Stadium at 7.30pm.
Bert van Marwijk
Jonathan Howcroft weighs-in on the Bert van Marwijk appointment, writing that it shows a lack of long-term direction from FFA, 'outsourcing' arguably the most prestigious role in the game to a temp. Van Marwijk's only objective is to get out of the group stage at the World Cup, and he has no reason to care about, or invest in, the future of Australian football.
German-born, Gold Coast-raised, New Zealand international, Shane Smeltz has announced his retirement from professional playing after an 18-year career. He wrote on social media that he knew the time to retire has come, and he is looking forward to continuing in the game he loves as a coach.
a-league, w-league, asian champions league, shane smeltz, bert van marwijk, socceroos