Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Sydney FC sign Reza Ghoochannejhad

Sydney FC today confirmed the signing of former Iranian international Reza Ghoochannejhad, on loan from Cypriot side APOEL.

"Gucci" scored 17 goals for Iran in 44 caps, including their sole goal at the 2014 World Cup. Australians may remember him well from the 2015 Asian Cup however, when he scored 2 goals for his nation.

I think this is an excellent signing, and it is very refreshing to see the club use their Asian +1 spot for the upcoming Champions League campaign.

With 27 goals in just under 70 appearances for SC Heerenveen in the Eredivisie, this looks to be a great signing. One would suspect Siem de Jong, Jop van der Linden, and Jordy Buijs all put in a good word for him, with them all having played against him in the past.

I'm interested to see how he fits into this team. I'd imagine he'll play a core part in the line-up, but it remains to be seen if the tactics will change much with his introduction. It's safe to say on paper it will remain a 4-4-2, but will it change Adam le Fondre's role?

Also worth noting how many Iranians came to watch Team Melli in 2015 - wouldn't mind betting we'll see a bump on attendances for the remainder of the season. They're incredibly passionate, and were a great bunch to sit around during the Asian Cup in 2015.

In other Sydney FC news, I have been informed that Sydney are lining up one more player in this transfer window to be announced tomorrow.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

MATCH REVIEW: Melbourne Victory 2-1 Sydney FC (A-LEAGUE)

Sydney succumbed to defeat in Melbourne, after two class strikes from Victory left the Sky Blues with all the work to do.

Sydney started slowly and without much organisation. A stellar free-kick from the Swedish Chef Ola Toivonen put the Vuck ahead - a fantastic strike which Redmayne and the wall could do nothing about. 

Sydney went into half-time a goal down, and with a very poor performance overall. 

After the break, Luke Ivanovic was introduced for Danny De Silva who didn't have one of his best performances in Sky Blue. 

James Troisi gave Victory breathing room with a strike from outside the area which took a deflection as it went in. 

A near immediate reply as Milos Ninkovic received the ball from Aaron Calver and had his initial effort save before converting from a tight angle. 

Despite a flurry of chances and a lot of woodwork being hit Sydney just couldn't get an equaliser. Both Ivanovic and le Fondre came close, and Lokolingoy nearly got himself a goal but was held back before he could reach the ball for a potential tap-in

Full time 2-1 to the home side in a tough match.

But what did we learn from tonight? 

1) Ivanovic is still a gun

Luke Ivanovic's introduction just after half-time was the catalyst for change, with the 18 year old winger putting in a top performance. He was full of running, smart on the ball, powerful, and positive. I can't recall many 18 year old players putting in a shift that good for the club since the days of Brendan Gan or Rhyan Grant. Definitely think he should start next week. 

2) Too predictable

The first half was very frustrating to watch. A lot of hospital balls around the midfield and a lack of potency on the wings. Zullo in particular was very poor overall, and struggled to get any decent balls into the box. Every attacking move down the left flank was slow and sideways. Ninkovic and Zullo constantly exchanging the ball with each other without feeding le Fondre in the box meant he was starved of service. 

3) Dumb fouls costly 

The foul which lead to the free-kick Toivonen scored off was one that didn't need to happen. There was very little need to bring down the man and it smacked of lack of discipline. Throughout the match Sydney committed dumb fouls in areas they didn't need to. I think this stems from the formation feeling so open. Victory's front three had pretty much no issues getting past our midfield duo or our full-backs. 

4) The Chain

It seems like matches against our greatest rivals has lead to some of our poorest moments. From inability to defend in that fateful semi-final last year to the poor defending in the match at Kogarah - it feels like we're in a chain. Muscat has the wood over Corica, whose inexperience really shows in matches like these. It was not a terrible, awful, disgustingly bad performance but it felt like there was no fight or drive at times. Buggered if I know what the game plan was meant to be in that opening 45. 

5) Lack of leadership

Without our bearded captain Alex Brosque there was little leadership up front, the place which is so vital to our typical playstyle. I've said in the past how vital it is for us to have a captain playing up the front end of the pitch. They dictate the style and also with how offensively we like to play, keeps opposition defenders fearful. Alex Wilkinson is a much quieter leader, and from the heart of defence doesn't do the job for me. He's not having his best season but so often I felt like he just didn't organise the players around him. 

Full player ratings

Even with glimpses of hope in that second half, I just feel like we aren't at the level of Melbourne Victory or Perth Glory - neither of whom had their best XI on the pitch when we played them. Next up is Melbourne City at home, in our final A-League match at Kogarah. Having watched 50 odd minutes of their match against Nix, they are beatable. 

Apologies if this came off as really negative, but seeing us struggle in matches against our biggest rivals is a real dampener. I'm sure the lads will be able to bounce back next week.

On a personal note, I will be having surgery on the 4th of February and will likely not be able to put out much content in the coming weeks as I recover. If you're interested in writing for ASOTH over the next month please let me know. 

Final score: Melbourne Victory (2) def. Sydney FC (1)
MOTM: Brandon O'Neill

Thank you to everyone who has supported me on ko-fi. It means a lot to me. 

Follow me on twitter at @VuvuZuvela 

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

MATCH REVIEW: Wellington Phoenix 0-1 Sydney FC (A-League)

Sydney proved they could do it on a windy night in Wellington, with a narrow 1-0 win.

The Sky Blues started fairly organised, with a lot of smart pressing and strong defending. Sydney got a perhaps surprise lead, when a deep free-kick from Brandon O'Neill met the feet of Calver who squared it for Siem de Jong to score. The Dutchman was caught late as he scored, with him being forced off immediately for a knee injury. Very unlucky and downright heartbreaking, he had been playing very well as of late and really started to show how good he is.

The second half was mostly defence vs attack, with Nix desperate to grab an equaliser. Sydney stood firm and defended well. Warland, Wilkinson, and O'Neill all putting in terrific shifts for the away side.

Late in the match, a dubious penalty was awarded to Wellington Phoenix, as Steven Taylor got tripped up by Michael Zullo - however there are questions to be asked about him committing a foul on Zullo before he got tripped.

Roy Krishna stepped up, and had his penalty well-saved by Andrew Redmayne. The Sydney #1 has been very impressive in recent weeks, with a lot of clutch saves which have really saved some points.

The match ended 1-0 to the away side, with de Jong bittersweet effort grabbing the victory.

But what did we learn from tonight's action at Westpac Stadium?

1) Like he never left

Ben Warland put in a great performance on his first start since return from injury. The Baller from Gawler worked very well alongside Alex Wilkinson in the heart of defence. Having a left-footed player at the left centreback position was good to see and it made a difference. I believe he is now surely the first choice centreback. 

3) Good preparation 

A major positive in how Sydney performed was it proved to me they can really do the backs-to-the-wall defensive football needed in the Asian Champions League later this season. Adam le Fondre and Alex Brosque both defended well from the front, and Danny De Silva and Milos Ninkovic both put in good performances. I thought O'Neill and Brillante both had very strong matches and they looked much more comfortable. O'Neill is incredibly consistent we're quite lucky to have him around, and I'm hopeful we can keep him on for a few more years. 

4) What is handball anymore?

I usually don't like the talk about refereeing decisions, but this is more of a rant. What exactly is a handball penalty anymore? Does it need to be deliberate? Arm in unnatural position? Any time it hits the arm? It's very confusing watching football sometimes. I sympathise with the on-pitch referee but his calls for both penalties were quite confusing. I'm eager to see the explanation for his decisions. 

5) Redders = Brick Wall?

Andrew Redmayne has been the difference in a lot of matches this season. He's been really great when we absolutely need him, and has been reliable. Exactly what you'd want in a goalkeeper. The boo boys have been forced to eat their words in recent weeks. In the immortal words of Jacob Tratt - thank f*ck for Redders. 

Full player ratings
A strong performance from a travelling Sydney FC side who clearly set up well tactically. Next is the Australia Day Big Blue at AAMI Park. A big test and a chance to solidify the 2nd spot on the table before we head into February.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my ko-fi page. It is very much appreciated.

Final score: Sydney FC (1) def. Wellington Phoenix (0)
MOTM: Andrew Redmayne

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Stop Your Damn Hot Takes

Alen Stajcic was sacked as Matildas manager on Saturday morning but we are far from hearing the end of the issue. In the wake of not truly knowing what the story is behind Stajcic's sacking the hole of story has been filled with endless hot takes on social media.

Unfortunately, it's hard to feel like many of them come from any place of wisdom or experience but instead are based on vitriol towards Football Federation Australia. Due to past incompetency many are struggling to believe that the FFA have perhaps made the right call, or that there might truly be deeper issues at play.

Over the weekend we've seen endless tweets from notorious women's football expert Ray Gatt. Yeah, the guy who is so well known for his knowledge of the women's game. Unfortunately due to his large audience, his half-baked opinions and conspiracy theories have reached a large section of the Australian football community.

I'm not going to outright say Ray Gatt doesn't deserve an opinion on this, but his opinion should not be viewed as validly as people who are more involved in the game. People who are constantly talking about the Matildas and the W-League should in my opinion have amplified views on this story.

Due to generational, and societal issues it feel like some people are very willing to force down the idea that women cannot be trusted, that they're "over emotional" or that they're too delicate to know what is best for them. There is a history of blaming women for a lot of things, and that is clearly on show in this story.

After a Dom Bossi article in the Sydney Morning Herald which went into reasons why players allegedly felt uncomfortable in the dressing room - which included homophobia, body shaming, bullying, and harassment from staff - a lot of people said they just needed to toughen up, that they're too soft, and they should be coping with pressure better.

This sets a dangerous precedent in my view. Mental health amongst sportspeople has been a longstanding but very rarely adequately discussed issue. Women in football have an extra layer of pressure on them with lower pay, needing to play more matches in a year leaving less personal time, and normal daily concerns.

I was reminded of an article from a decade ago about Hungarian footballer Zoltan Gera who talked about how with the help of coaches and senior figures he weened off drugs as a young man and dedicated himself to his craft. A lot of his story went into how when you're young it can be very hard to have the right people around you and sacrificing a lot of time to better yourself at football - with family often taking a backseat.

It's not hard to imagine that current younger players in the Matildas set-up feel like they do not have a good senior figure in the dressing room to discuss mental well-being. The manager of the team needs to take responsibility in my view to establish a good culture of being able to speak up - and that also means staff.

According to an ABC article about the alleged reasons why he got the sack it does seem to point to the team not feeling comfortable and having high levels of stress which lead to a culture of fear. Football is a tough sport, but when your livelihood feeling threatened by the idea of speaking up - there is clearly an issue.

The FFA's inadequate statements definitely have not helped this situation. In my joke article I poked fun at David Gallop's hastily arranged and poorly done press conference. The FFA definitely deserves some blame for how they've managed this situation - but do not let past FFA issues frame your view on this entire story. I highly, highly doubt they would have sacked a successful, mostly well-liked manager such as Stajcic for no reason.

Of course, I don't know what happened. I cannot call myself an absolute expert on anything - I write about Sydney FC and watch as many A-League, W-League, and national team matches as possible.  I am not an expert on the Matildas and I cannot claim to be. I simply hope to offer a point of view which could help people in how they view this situation.

I ask that people instead of staking blame at people already instead wait until we hear further, and remain open-minded about this situation. There is room for meaningful discussion of Stajcic's tactics, performances on the pitch, and the future which I haven't seen discussed well or at all.

The Matildas were not a favourite to win the World Cup this year - they are a very capable squad however and Stajcic's sacking doesn't change in my view how good this group of players can play together. People who believed the Matildas to be favourites were often not particularly well-versed in the discussion I find.

The future remains bright for women's football in Australia. With the W-League broadcast deal, the increasing pay for players, and the deserved recognition of skill we could be set for a great near future. These are the parts of the foundation for the future. We can improve, and I'm sure we will.

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Thank you for reading this ramble-y opinion piece on the situation. I hope you've enjoyed the read or come away thinking something.

As always, thank you to everyone who has supported me on ko-fi. It is very much appreciated and I'm very happy with the progression of this blog.

Follow me on twitter at @VuvuZuvela

Monday, 21 January 2019

What We Learnt From Gallop's Press Conference


2018/19 Half-Term Report

We're now halfway through the 2018/19 A-League season, and it's been a pretty engaging year thus far. Lots of quality football, some great "only in the A-League moments" and plenty of good stories. Today I want to write about how Sydney have gone in the opening half of the season.

The Good

Let's start off with the good...

1) Adam le Fondre 

Adam le Fondre has proven to be a terrific signing so far, with 11 goals in his first 14 A-League appearances. The Englishman has just been such a reliable player for Sydney, with an admirable workrate and a level of fitness that puts him streets ahead of nearly every A-League player. A good combination of pace, good finishing, and effectiveness on the ball makes him a perfect fit in a 4-4-2 system. 

2) Skipper resurgence

Not many would have expected Alex Brosque to have played as many games as he has this season. The inspirational captain has been just superb for the Sky Blues, and leading from the front like we know he can. It's very pleasing to see Brosque play at such a good level at the age of 35 - I can't praise him enough for how well he keeps himself fit, motivated, and at such a high performance level. He's been giving his all in every match and has really dragged us over the line a few times.

3) Thank F*ck For Redders

In the wise words of Jacob Tratt - 'thank f*ck for Redders'. Redmayne has been the difference between points won and lost this season. The #1 continues to prove himself as a valuable part of the team, and has saved our bacon quite often. From a brilliant penalty save against Brisbane, the clutch save at the death of the Adelaide home match, or the often forgotten massive saves against Victory, Jets, Mariners, and Glory. 

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The Bad

Now the not so good....

1) Defensively not good

A lot of the goals Sydney have conceded this year have been incredibly soft goals - and there's been a lot of issues with the back four this season. Zullo has been a bit prone to committing to far up the pitch, and not tracking back in time, Wilkinson hasn't showed the levels of leadership you'd want from your vice-captain and normally defensive rock. Jop van der Linden was quite a disappointment overall from his appearances but he wasn't solely at fault for all the dumb goals conceded. Calver has stepped in in place of Jop and done... okay? He's not quite sharp enough on the ball and his passing isn't quite good enough. 

2) Ninkslowvic

Milos Ninkovic is pretty much wasted in the current formation, sadly. He's best suited to playing as centrally as possible and going out wide when necessary - not playing almost exclusively in wide areas. Ninkovic out on the left wing is just not a good use of such a talented player. A player who won the Johnny Warren Medal playing centrally as an attacking midfielder shouldn't be pushed out wide - it's just bizarre to me. I have really high standards for Milos and him just not performing well enough really disappoints me - he's one of my favourite players I've had the pleasure of seeing live.

3) Brillante not so brilliant

Josh Brillante and Brandon O'Neill's partnership over the last three years at defensive midfield has been the bedrock for how the team has played - and when they were played out of a match usually we lost or at least failed to score. O'Neill has been much more consistent this season and less likely to straight up dumb moments, unlike his partner in crime. Brillante has been almost lost looking this season, partly due to the new 4-4-2 formation I'm sure. Going forward I think Paulo Retre or Anthony Caceres would be a better choice to start alongside O'Neill.

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Grade: B-

I think Sydney can still definitely continue to challenge for the Premier's Plate, however I fear it is nearly out of reach if they fail to win the matches against Victory and Wellington coming up shortly. A lot of points dropped earlier in the season which have already started to bite us in the backside. 

Never fear though, we still have an exciting Asian Champions League campaign coming up and I'm surprisingly optimistic ahead of it. Our young guns like Ivanovic, Devlin, Lokolingoy, and Joel King all have a good chance of making a name for themselves during the rotation in this period.

Thank you for reading this half-term report, and I hope you've enjoyed the article. I'd like to thank those who have donated to my ko-fi page. It is very much appreciated and helps me create more content. 

Apologies for lack of match report after Saturday, but have had a weird weekend - normal service will resume on Wednesday. 

Follow me on twitter at @VuvuZuvela

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

EDITORIAL: How To Fix Australian Football (Part 2)

Welcome to part 2 of the "How To Fix Australian Football" editorial. Today's topic is about Australian sporting culture. Read part 1 here.

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Australian Sporting Xenophobia

One of the A-League's most iconic players - Besart Berisha

Australians love sport we’re told. ALL sports. I’m not so sure. It’s more that Australians love winning at sport – especially at a national level. Somehow it proves that Australia is fabulous and superior to all others. If we look at the predominant football codes enjoyed in this country the one thing they have in common is lack of competition.

Australia is the king of AFL. It’s only played in one country. It even makes up an alternative set of rules so that it can play an Irish Gaelic Football team once a year. Recently AFL discovered Asia (well China) and Women – AFLW. AFL owns the media and has amazing attendances. It also has the same old teams playing year in year out without ever facing the risk of playing any foreign teams and being found out. It is a great white shark in a fishpond.

The height of Rugby League is arguably the State of Origin. When a World Cup happens it is made up of countries who acquire players of other nationalities to help make up the numbers. A test match team – Great Britain – is split into its component countries to flesh out the numbers. In Britain the game is mainly the preserve of two counties – Yorkshire and Lancashire – to the extent that southerners know nothing about it.

Generally, Australia expects to win the Rugby League World Cup. It is one of maybe four decent teams in the world and delivers a mild frisson of international excitement to middle Australia without any prolonged expectations of failure.

Then we have Rugby Union – a code on the run in Australia as it faces a crisis of failure on the World Stage. Of course there are still probably only eight countries that might expect to win the World Cup but Australia can be assured of at least a quarter final every time.

Football, though is a different issue. There are probably up to 100 countries that are genuinely competitive and the nature of the fine margins in the game dictate that in a one off, there is a chance that anyone can beat anyone else. This threatens the local view of Australian sporting superiority and challenges middle Australia to the extent that it runs back to its comfort zone once Australia has been eliminated.

What’s worse is that this xenophobia drives the sporting cultural cringe.

Sporting Culture Cringe

When I first took up coaching, I was astonished to discover the existence of the “Finals Series” concept in Australian football. This, I was assured, was the Australian way. It’s not the global football way – appearing in some forms in only a handful of other places. I believe it fuels mediocrity and drives conservatism.

This can occur at grass roots level where previously free scoring teams (and I am talking under 10-14’s) suddenly find it hard to score as teams become determined to minimise the damage by negative play – hoping to steal a win against the run of play.

Extend this to the A-League where mysteriously 6 out of 10 teams qualify and we recently saw the fourth place team win the “championship”. That this came about due to VAR failure hides an issue that has been prevalent in the A-League for years. This is that once the finals start everything changes. Teams don’t want to over commit, they commit more fouls (helped because referees are more lenient), and it becomes a war of attrition. In other words, there is more conservatism, cynicism and defensiveness. Sounds like an Australian World Cup Campaign.

What’s the point of a 27 game season when it all comes down to a bizarre sudden death knock out ritual? The hype around the NRL and AFL Finals series is laughable. Do those sports truly believe that the best team ISN’T the one that came top?

The other codes may be more forgiving. Certainly, my experience of Rugby Union (I do follow Union) is that the best team is more likely to win a match. I believe this is true of the other codes. Obviously, AFL’s lack of a full home and away season can excuse this a little – except when you understand that even this is skewed by the outcome of the previous season. This makes football’s use of the finals series concept an even more significant cultural cringe as it uses a process adopted by other sports to counteract the lack of competition.

The finals series concept is just not football. Clearly football fans don’t buy in to it that much as they are largely poorly attended except for the final. What it is, is an Australian Football Code system fuelled by isolation, few teams (fuelled by low population density), a subsequent lack of promotion and relegation and now a modern media desire for extra games and ratings. The other codes benefit because their nature leads to the best team usually winning. Football’s fine margins dictate that this is not often the case – further adding to the risk of highly conservative mistake avoiding football.
So why do we have final series? Because it is expected in Australian Sporting culture and not because it is Football culture.

Australian football needs to find a way to move away from the concept. Football culture is about first past the post and promotion and relegation. We need to get these special elements in to the game as quickly as possible and broaden the geographical appeal of the game. Let’s get Tasmania involved, or Canberra. Let’s not expand with another Sydney team. That’s an NRL thing. Leave them to it.
We should also embrace the FFA Cup. This was started due to fan pressure and whilst it’s developing slowly is becoming another key differentiator for the game. The idea of amateur teams competing with the professionals is not found in AFL or NRL. Those codes feature just the same old teams year in and year out.

Then there is a public’s apathy for the Asian Champions League. It gets no coverage and attendance are very poor, yet it encapsulates the path to glory that football uniquely offers. From Local, to National to Regional to the World. Yet it seems that Australians just want another trip to Port Adelaide or Wigan if they’re lucky.

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Thank you for reading part 2 of this piece. It's a massive project and I'm hoping people reading this have started to think more about the Australian sporting landscape and how it has affected football.

The next part will be published within the week, and so far all the feedback has been very much noted and I'm hoping you're still interested.

Follow my dad on twitter at @Keith28761064.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

MATCH REVIEW: Sydney FC 2-1 Adelaide United (A-League)

A determined Sydney FC came out on top against Adelaide United on Sunday evening thanks to goals from Siem de Jong, Jacob Tratt, and a wonderful last ditch save from Redmayne.

Sydney started fairly bright, with some good use of the ball and lots of smart passing to try and get some killer balls in. Eventually one of those attempts led Ninkovic to be tackled outside the box and a free-kick was awarded to Sydney.

Siem de Jong stepped up and scored an absolutely beautiful free-kick, which goalkeeper Izzo had no chance of saving. His second goal off a free-kick this season.

Going into the break, the Sky Blues looked a bit more sloppy on the ball and lots of questionable passing around the back four. Calver was lucky several times to have Tratt and O'Neill covering for him.

After the break, a corner was played in by Brandon O'Neill which was met by a powerful header from Jacob Tratt. The 23 year-old has been phoenix-like in his return to Sydney.

However, almost immediately after the goal Calver conceded a sloppy penalty. Goodwin stepped up for the Reds, and buried his penalty past Redmayne who was nearly equal to it.

The Sky Blues hung on in for a long time, and showed serious resilience and character to secure the win - with Andrew Redmayne popping up with a vital save at the death to secure all 3 points.

But what did we learn?

1) Siemply better

Excuse the horrid pun. Siem de Jong proved he is very capable and useful to this team. After 3 months of being played out of position on the wing the Dutchman returned to his preferred second striker role. He was quite brilliant on the ball and already seems to have got some chemistry with le Fondre up front. It was great to see him up front, with him winning so many headers and really working hard all around. 

2) Tratt SZN

Jacob Tratt has been simply superb since his return to the harbour city. His workrate was great and reminded me of Grant - albeit much taller. His presence in that right flank really made Adelaide scared, as he was smart with the ball and capable of a great tackle. At set pieces he is just a menace. He's not afraid to get stuck in and expertly headed past Izzo for the match winner. 

3) Redder's Wall

Andrew Redmayne cops an incredibly unfair amount of flack from Sydney supporters. But each time he answers the call when we've really needed him I feel. Against Brisbane he came up with a great penalty save when we needed all three points, and again came up big at the death to secure another win. Is he Vuka level? No. No goalkeeper in the A-League will ever reach of the heights of Danny Vukovic in 2016/17. He was as good as they come. Redmayne isn't Vuka and that's fine - because he's our Redders and he's a different beast. He's won us points, and he's done cock-ups - that's the life of a goalkeeper. Let's make sure our players get the appreciation they deserve from fans - relentless negativity does absolutely nothing. Big ups to the birthday boy for his performance. 

4) Brosque factor

Alex Brosque came on in the second half and really did well I feel. His workrate and speed was great and he caused a lot of problems for Adelaide's tiring defence. Going forward I think I'd prefer we have Brosque as an impact sub because he's clearly great for that role. Danny de Silva, whilst a bit lazy defensively did a fine job overall. He's a bit more unpredictable and wins fouls in good areas.

5) Blood, guts, determination, grit

I really think that was one of our best performances this season for one big reason - the determination. In the final 15 they looked absolutely determined to get the three points and even with a few defensive mistakes - still got the job done. Winning pretty is nice, but sometimes seeing your players truly battle it out till the death is more impressive. 

Full player ratings

A hardworking and workmanlike performance from Sydney. Up next is Newcastle Jets at home next Saturday which will be an interesting encounter. O'Donovan is back for Jets, and Sheppard looks good for them but they're making a lot of defensive mistakes.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my ko-fi page. It's really appreciated and I'm very happy to know people are willing to read my nonsense.

Final score: Sydney FC (2) def. Adelaide United (1)
MOTM: Siem de Jong

Follow me on twitter at @VuvuZuvela

Saturday, 12 January 2019

How To Improve The W-League

I've been thoroughly enjoying this W-League season, with it being incredibly tight and exciting as well as finally being able to watch the majority of matches. But there are some things that definitely need a fix or upgrade, let's discuss those things.

1) Full home/away season

In the current format, there are 14 rounds with each team taking two bye rounds in a 9 team competition. 12 whole rounds of actually playing isn't good enough for the premier competition of football that's supplied nearly every single Matilda from the last decade. Hell, it's round 10 right now and the season is pretty much over! So how to you improve the season length?

There's two ways to go about this - 

1) Expand the competition, put West Melbourne or Macarthur Rams into the competition immediately to make it a 10 team competition, meaning no more bye rounds and possibly a 27 round season just like the A-League.

2) 18 game season. One home match, one away match and two byes per season still if it's remaining at 9 teams. 

I think it is very clear that for a competition that wishes to be seen as the best women's sport in Australia they need to upgrade the season and its length. The best way as well to develop players is to give them more games to play in, this seems fairly obvious to me. Australia qualified for the Women's World Cup, are considered dark horses to win it, and don't even have a full home/away season. Imagine how good this national team could be if there was a full season for them to play in at home?

2) Get more games on free-to-air

Fox isn't actually broadcasting every match of the W-League season, with quite a few of them ending up only available on their website to stream in terrible quality. I'd be giving the rights out to ABC, SBS, or current A-League FTA partner Channel 10. Kids need to be able to see players like Sam Kerr without having to have their parents pay for Foxtel. 

I'm of the opinion that all national team matches, both Matildas and Roos should be available on free-to-air. It's about putting football into the public's view. With the highest grassroots participation number in the country, football from Australia isn't in the view of the public much. You're more likely to see a cheap Messi or Ronaldo jersey than to see any Australian club or national team jersey and that needs to change. Free-to-air coverage would definitely help.

3) Be smarter with double headers 

I really enjoy double headers as a fan because watching football is great and I'd love to do it all day if I could. The idea of watching two matches back-to-back in a stadium is really appealing. W-League / A-League double headers just haven't been utilised as well as they could be, in my opinion. 

In the height of summer our best players are forced to play in extreme heat on incredibly sunny days which highly impacts the quality of the match. Instead of the W-League kicking off before A-League matches in the height of summer, put them on after. Let the players not have to roast in 35 degree heat. This also ties into my next point...

4) Treat the players with respect

It's hard to think that the FFA care much about the W-League when they let matches like Perth vs Sydney to go ahead in 35 degree heat on a 3pm Friday afternoon. They don't show the players enough respect with stuff like this and seriously risk player welfare. 3 times this last month the referee has had to be subbed off at halftime due to suffering from dehydration and the scorching sun.

Water breaks seem to be a bandaid over a giant, massive crack. If you're at the point that you feel a need to have water breaks up to twice per half, shouldn't you just push the match back by 20-30 minutes? In the A-League Sydney Derby there was a massive downfall of rain which would have seriously affected quality of football and player welfare. They delayed that match by an hour. Why don't we treat the women with the same respect? 

In addition, continue to increase the wages of players and the cap. These are proper athletes who put in just as much dedication and hard work as the men, and should be paid sufficiently to match that. If the A-League's CCM who are yet to win a match this season are getting paid more than the top team of the W-League there is a big issue. 

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Thank you for reading this article, and I hope you've enjoyed this fairly short read. I'm very excited about the Matildas at the upcoming World Cup and you feel that if they perform as good as they can they have a decent shout of getting far into the competition. 

I'd like to thank everyone who has donated to my ko-fi page. It is very much appreciated and I'm working on creating more content constantly. 

Follow me on twitter at @VuvuZuvela.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

MATCH REVIEW: Sydney FC 3-0 WS Wanderers (W-League)

A solid Sydney Derby performance from the Sky Blues saw them win 3-0 at Leichhardt Oval.

Wanderers looked more likely to score for the majority of the first half, with Bledsoe forced into a terrific save from a Servet Uzunlar dipping volley from outside the box. 

Sydney took the lead before half-time, after Sofia Huerta drove inside the area and fired a powerful shot at the near post - her second goal of the season.

After the break it continued to be a case of the Wanderers holding the ball for large periods, surmounting to almost nothing. Each attacking move looked threatening until the final third. 

Caitlin Foord doubled the Sky Blues' advantage after a terrific run, beating several players, before a terrific shot from outside the box hit the back of the net. 

Wanderers soon found themselves down to 10, after Princess Ibini broke into the box before being nudged in the back resulting in a penalty. Caitlin Foord scored off the resulting spot-kick to round off a 3-0 win. 

But what did we learn from tonight's match?

1) Scrappy will do

It wasn't the most beautiful football on display at Leichhardt but it got the job done. Sydney remained solid all around for the 90 minutes, with both Kennedy and Ralston putting in fine performances at the back. Bledsoe was reliable when called upon, as per usual. 

2) Injury issues?

Taylor Ray and Savannah McCaskill were both taken off for injuries in the match, which could prove to be fairly serious losses for Sydney going forward depending on the severity of the knocks. McCaskill has really started to find form again after some invisible weeks in the early parts of the season. As for Ray, she started in place of Colaprico who is off on national team duties and had done well in her previous few matches for Sydney - incredibly disappointing to see her pick up what looks to be a knee injury. Nat Tobin will likely step in at the CM spot next week.

3) Opposition were crap

It's hard to judge the performance considering just how toothless Wanderers were. Sydney really didn't get out of second gear for the match and ultimately rarely had to worry. It was one of those matches that WSW could have played for another 3 hours and still not have scored. Teresa Polias was really solid at defensive midfield for the Sky Blues, leading by example and constantly getting blocks in and effective tackles. 

4) Leichhardt looking good

It was a pretty nice night out at Leichhardt Oval, with the pitch looking immaculate and a fairly decent Thursday night crowd of 1111. As an Inner West based Sydney supporter I was pretty pleased when I saw this match pencilled in for Leichhardt. It's a great little ground and the walk out of the stadium along the bay is really special at night. Looking forward to the A-League matches there. 

Full player ratings

That win sees Sydney rocket into third spot ahead of the final run-in. Big congratulations to Shay Evans who made her debut tonight for the Sky Blues. Next week they are away to Brisbane Roar at Lions Stadium in Queensland. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my ko-fi page. It's really appreciated.

Final score: Sydney FC (3) def. WS Wanderers (0)
MOTM: Teresa Polias

MATCH REVIEW: Perth Glory 3-1 Sydney FC (A-League)

A quickfire early brace from Joel Chianese put Sydney to bed before 11pm. Whilst full credit to Perth Glory for penetrating our soft back four, there is a lot to be said about Sydney's complete lack of performance.

I just can't summarise the performance or the goals. It was pathetic. Chianese made the most of two massive defensive brainfarts to score two nice goals, before Santalab completed the rout before half-time. 3-0 was a massive compliment to how poor Sydney were. Perth were just terrific and should have been ahead by more at half-time.

The damage had already been done and Perth were happy with what they produced. Sydney got a goal back through a moment of stupid from Perth, but brilliance from Adam le Fondre. The striker picked up a loose pass and just banged one in from 20 yards out.

1) Defensively WTF?

Zullo had a mare of a match, at fault for the first two Glory goals, both time failing to do his defensive duty to a good degree. He lost the ball and his marker more times than I can count. Throughout this season he has shown continuous issues with pacy wingers running at him. During the FFA Cup matches he struggled against any sort of speed.  Wilkinson failed to show any sort of leadership at the back, with him organising his fellow defenders so poorly I'm wondering if he'd played with them before. Retre looks incredibly out of place at rightback, and left a square mile of space for Jason Davidson to put in a cross for goal #1. He's great at right wing as discovered earlier in the season, but you can't expect him to slot just as well at RB against the best wingbacks in the league.

2) Corica-Tron 9000

Corica is already becoming a bit predictable. Same starting XI, same tactics, and same issues. A big issue to me is that he didn't make any subs at halftime. There was zero change after half-time. Nothing. No subs until the 65th minute when you're down 3-0 is painful to see. If I were Corica, I'd have just chucked two subs on at half-time. Give youngsters Ivanovic and De Silva adequate game-time. Hell, they might just change the flow of the match. 

3) Talent wasted

de Jong is a class player, as is Ninkovic but neither are being utilised well in the current formation. Ninkovic isn't a right midfielder. He's an attacking midfielder who won the Johnny Warren Medal playing as a central attacking midfielder. Corica seems dead-set on this 4-4-2 which doesn't bring out the best in his players. de Jong in previous clubs has played as an attacking midfielder, and during his best spell with Ajax, as a second striker. Why not employ them in their best positions? Change the formation to suit your best players, this seems obvious to me. 

4) Nix deja vu

The opening half hour was all too similar to that horror show against the Wellington Phoenix. Undone by pace, and long balls over the top. A bit like a dog chasing its tail, you wonder when they're going to learn. If I (an absolute idiot) can spot these issues how can Corica and Ufuk Talay not?

5) Going forward

Going forward, I think Sydney NEED to make changes. Brilliante has underperformed all season long, and has been more prone to defensive howlers leading to goals than goals scored or stopped. I'd take him out of the equation, and place Paulo Retre at CM, pushing Tratt to starting RB until Grant returns from international duty. de Jong is quality but out of position, so I'd chuck De Silva on to start. I'd be heavily in favour of giving Ivanovic a start against Adelaide, kid has talent and isn't afraid to take on his man. 

Full player ratings

Just abysmal in truth. The coaching staff should know better, and the players should be doing better. Perth were class but we were the architects of our own downfall to such an amazing degree. Next match is home to Adelaide on Sunday. I'll be at tomorrow night's Sydney Derby at Leichhardt Oval, feel free to say g'day.

On a personal note, I've been incredibly grateful for all the donations over the last week on my ko-fi page. It means the world to me, and I'm delighted that you're all interested in what I have to say.

Final score: Perth Glory (3) def. Sydney FC (1)
MOTM: Adam le Fondre

Monday, 7 January 2019

EDITORIAL: How To Fix Australian Football (Part 1)

Jamie here. Over the last 5 years the Roos and Australian football has been put under scrutiny for its failures and missteps. However, there are certainly issues we forget or lies we continue to perpetuate to comfort ourselves in failure - and issues much deeper than just on the pitch.

I'm the son of an Englishman who has been around long enough as a supporter in both England and Australia to see the issues, and perhaps how to fix them. As you may know by my "This Season In Travel" blog piece from last year, we spend a lot of time together and a lot of time talking football.

Here are my dad Keith's opinions and takes on how to fix Australian football. This will be a series split up into multiple parts, as it discusses many issues and potential fixes. He's been working on this for a long time, since I put him to task to put his opinions into a productive piece.


- - - -

Oh Robbie...

After another heroic World Cup failure™, by the “Socceroos” in 2018 and with the Asian cup underway, I thought it was time to offer my view on just where football in Australia is going wrong, why under the current system it can never succeed at the World Cup and how to fix it.

These are bold statements, so what are my credentials? I am Englishman who has lived in Australia for 26 years. I have followed Fulham and Sydney FC as well as England to one European Championship and one World Cup. I am familiar with abject disappointment and have relished some wonderful highs. I have been a follower of the Australian National team and have been keen for it to be successful – enjoying the Asian Cup experience of 2015 immensely. Luckily, I am just removed enough to have a slightly dispassionate view. I should say that I cannot call them the Socceroos as I feel this is emblematic of the problem. I will adopt Simon Hill’s nomenclature – “The Roos”.

Additionally, I have been involved in community football as a licensed coach for 11 years. I acknowledge that my credentials are no different to many people though strangely, many people I know with similar experiences have similar views to those that I am about to espouse.

Over the years I have watched successive Australian World Cup performances – whether failed qualification campaigns or Finals, I feel that there have been many similarities in the journey to the outcome. Craig Foster, that SBS commentator with whom I often vigorously disagree does, in my opinion, offer one absolutely correct assertion on the National team – though not perhaps in the way he intends.

Foster often talks about a failed performance as not following Australian Football culture, citing some mythical moment when Australia somehow had the background of Brazil, or Argentina or even England that can be traced back to the dawn of time. I should point out that the Roos have won two games in the World Cup Finals – ever. This hardly constitutes a culture – more a burgeoning underdog fighting its way to mid table obscurity.

No, when I think of Australian Football Culture, I think more of the problems that beset the game and believe that the only way forward is to abandon any current perceptions of culture and reinvent – much like Germany did after its disastrous Euro 2000 campaign.

My assertion is that Australian football culture owes too much to the current popular local codes and has become a victim of a cultural cringe to those codes. Worse, the constant belief that the Roos have performed magnificently in defeat and are punching above their weight emanates from a public perception that Australia is basically no good at football and that we shouldn’t expect much. This is a narrative that is undone by the slightest of scrutiny. Australia has over 500,000 registered players – or more players than Iceland has people. We have a population of around 25 million, where Denmark has around 6 million, Uruguay has 4 million and Sweden has 10 million. Ultimately, football is only eleven a side plus substitutes…

1) Underdog syndrome

This leads me to the first key issue in Australian Football – the underdog syndrome. The 2018 World Cup is just one in a long line of tournaments where the team has lost narrowly, have had lots of possession and not conceded many goals. The issue here is that this has been historically constant with plenty of near misses. The reason in this World Cup was that it was the way the team played. It played in an ultra-conservative style with no ruthless striker and the constant threat of Tim Cahill coming off the bench. That’s right 38 year old Cahill with around 65 minutes of competitive game time in 2018, who represents a disciplinary liability having been suspended by the English Football

League for elbowing a player in the face on his last appearance for Millwall. He was clearly along for the marketing (CahillTex – really?) and to appease non-football loving middle Australia.

Make no mistake – he was past it and should not have gone. His place could have been taken up by McLaren who is at least a promising finisher and young. The price being paid six months later is a total absence of a fit and lethal striker.

In Russia, the team was set up to limit the damage. It passed the ball interminably like a low rent Spain in all of the areas where teams don’t get hurt. The lack of striker impacted the approach play and the good fortune in winning two similar penalties hid the general ineptitude in front of goal. The Roos never really looked like scoring.

Then, to compound the heroic failure we have the generally accepted wisdom of all fans that the team was robbed by the referees. We had this in 2006 (it WAS a penalty – not to mention incredibly sloppy defending) and in 2018 when the “harsh“ penalty against France was discussed ignoring the generous one won against Denmark. Bang up to date after the game against Jordan, Mabil was complaining about the referees. This culture of blame deflection needs to end and I hope that Arnie addresses it under his “no dickheads” philosophy. I had the pleasure of chatting to Graham Arnold at the start of the 2017/18 season and this was a clear factor in Sydney’s Double Success.

Roos bolter?

This feeds the culture crisis in Australian Football, because every four years middle Australia takes a break from AFL, NRL, Swimming, tennis or whatever to cheer on the Roos in a competition they don’t fully understand. When Australia doesn’t win – and it appears they were unlucky with referees, cheating, diving foreigners or the general rub of the green they walk away back to their safe sports which Australia wins at. This plays into the xenophobia of Australian Sport.

I remember trying to explain the away goals rule after the Roos loss to Argentina in 1993. This wasn’t easy as I was talking to someone who didn’t follow any football at all.

- - - -

That concludes part 1 of this long piece. The next part will be published by the end of the week.

I'm interested to hear the thoughts of the public, as well as hopefully spark some good discussion in #SokkahTwitter circles. You can follow my dad on twitter here.

Thank you for reading.

Follow me on twitter @VuvuZuvela

Saturday, 5 January 2019

The Jubilee Experience

After watching 4 A-League and 2 W-League matches at Jubilee Oval in Kogarah, I've fallen in love with the ground - but it isn't without its problems.

Jubilee Oval prior to Sydney vs Brisbane

I was fairly skeptical about the choice of Jubilee as our main stadium, especially after seeing Sydney play at Leichhardt in the FFA Cup to a very good atmosphere and general feel. My only previous experience with Jubilee had been the infamous 2-0 win over Brisbane Roar in 2011.

First game at Jubilee I saw this season was the W-League Big Blue between Sydney and Victory, which was a cracker of a match despite the result and allowed me to get an early feel of the ground. Good view from the grandstand, and an immaculate pitch.

The A-League match was a sell-out - our first non-derby match sell out I can recall. The atmosphere was brilliant too, maybe the best atmosphere I've experienced in an A-League match outside of a Sydney Derby or final.

A boutique stadium is just so clearly the ideal place for any A-League club to play at. Instead of quarter-full soulless 50,000 seat stadiums, why not more 20,000 local grounds being used? Kogarah as an area seems to have really embraced Sydney FC - I feel like we're setting a footprint which could be invaluable for the future.

However. There are definitely a few things which need an improvement, some of which I think could realistically be done by the time we're scheduled to return to Moore Park and create headaches for SCG Trust.

1) Set up some food stalls, maybe a beer garden outside the stadium

On the corners of the land, particularly Park Street and English street there is green area which is at the moment empty but should be converted into another food outlet. Set up a small bar, some seats and tables, and make it another option to get a drink closer to the ground. Call it "Emerton's", as it's the corner Emerton scored that freak goal at Jubilee back in 2011. Creates a bit of authenticity to the game day experience. 

During the Asian Champions League the club set up some Asian food trucks on Kippax Lake which were well received by supporters. Something as simple as this would add so much to the experience of going to a Sydney FC match - especially for those who aren't 100% sold on attending every home match yet

2) Upgrade the big screen, add another one.

On the grandstand side of the stadium, trying to look at the pop-up screen is really hard. The screen is very small, and very far away. Over the next two years, I'd be asking the council to upgrade that screen, or add another screen. With all the VAR nonsense in the A-League it'd be terrific if when you're in the stadium you could see what they're taking 5 minutes to decide. 

3) Get the council to hire a better food/drink supplier

This is another one ultimately Sydney as a club have very little say on, but the food/drink available at Jubilee has been pretty uninspiring and overpriced. I know it's cliche to complain about stadium food but it must be said. Nearly $6 for a Coke is ridiculous, I recall SFS being cheaper which is no mean feat. 

Better food and drink would be brilliant. At the moment I end up eating after the match or before the match which is fine, but I think it's key that it be something improved. 

4) More seats! 

Would be great if over the next year or two the council could slowly introduce some more seats. Some more near the hill, perhaps some temporary seats added just around the ground in general. Speaking of seats, upgrading the facilities around the stadium I feel can surely be done over a 3 year period as well. 

Should we even go back to Moore Park?

Moore Park is the spiritual home of the club, and it's always frankly not been the world's greatest stadium but as a supporter of Sydney FC that didn't matter. I was there to see football not marvel at architecture

SFS was also pretty horrible to get in and out of. Getting in from central? Well you have to wait in a line outside central to board the shuttle to the ground, which was never particularly reliable. Driving in? You have the choice of Sydney Boys / Sydney Girls, the Entertainment Quarter car-park, or the hectic looking Kippax Lake green land turned into a parking lot. 

If you wished to get the train out, you'd have to wait 20 minutes for the bus queues to empty up / for them to open more gates then get your respective service . Want to drive out? Good luck - they've engineered several bottlenecks to get out of the precinct. 

The SFS precinct is also kind of a dump. To get anything near decent food wise you're heading into the Entertainment Quarter with its fairly uninspired design and weird ghost town feel.

The brilliant design of the old SFS allowed for maximum rain

I'll always have fond memories of Sydney Football Stadium, but sometimes you have to let the past die. I don't see how or why us moving back to Moore Park will be any good for crowds, atmosphere, or gameday experience. We'd never sell it out, either. Apart from the thrill in the opening 3 matches on return to Allianz we'll never get anything more than 17k on average. 

SFS also presents the issue of the pitch being torn to shreds when the NRL and Rugby Union starts up again every year. With the club's ambitions to be playing consistently in Asia, we cannot be playing on such a subpar and overused pitch which feels like is rarely in good nick. Nearly every Sydney based NRL team plays their games at Moore Park and it really shows. Then you add in the Waratahs and it's even more of a mess. 

Jubilee long-term only has one issue - the Dragons in the NRL. However, that is one team compared to four who use SFS and rip it up. The quality of Jubilee's pitch is easy to see as well, no more is the awkward six-yard box bobble. If SFC start positive relations with the Dragons it could really stop the horrors you see at SFS by March annually. 

If the club, council, and most importantly supporters continue to enjoy the time at Jubilee, and if my suggestions are implemented I'd see no reason to return to SFS bar derbies - and even then I'd be fine with derbies at Kogarah. 

Scarcity creates demand. Back in the old Parramatta Stadium, getting an away ticket for the derby was tough and required you to be organised. Getting the ticket itself was a minor victory. We need to replicate that. Make derbies actual sell-outs again. Make the supporters proud that they got a ticket. 


Thank you for reading this, I know the stadium rebuild itself is such a controversial topic I can't adequately do it justice in a piece about Jubilee. I'm loving it out at Kogarah. I really am. It seems like a perfect fit for Sydney FC at the moment. 

I'm very willing to hear from those in Sydney's north about this situation who definitely have a bit more of a trip to get to Kogarah but I'd feel like the brilliant matchday experience makes up for that journey. I'm lucky in that I live in the Inner West. My journey to both SFS and Jubilee is easy as, and to get to Leichhardt Oval is realistically in walking distance. 

In a dream scenario, we'd continue playing at Jubilee, with 2-3 matches held at Leichhardt Oval every season - perhaps that as our designated FFA Cup home ground. 

I'd like to thank those who have donated to my ko-fi page, where for the price of a coffee you can donate to me and ASOTH. I'm working hard on more diverse content and hopefully to make my passion for the club seen in what I do. 

Follow me on twitter at @VuvuZuvela

MATCH REVIEW: Sydney FC 5-2 Mariners

Sydney produced a second half to remember against a 10-man Mariners team, scoring 5 in the second half following a slow start.

Mariners scored an opener through Connor Pain, who danced past Sydney players like they were witches hats before nailing his shot into the near post. Matt Simon involved heavily in the build up for the Coasties.

Kalifa Cisse got himself sent off after about 25 minutes, following two yellow cards. I have no clue what he was thinking - but it gave Sydney a way back into the match.

At half-time it remained 1-0 to the club from Gosford.

After the break there was an immediate bit of urgency to how Sydney played, with Alex Brosque scoring a cheeky back-heel goal on the stroke of 50 minutes after a good cross by Siem de Jong

Adam le Fondre got the Sky Blues ahead minutes later, following a lucky penalty call. The Englishman buried his penalty - he really gives the ball some violence from the spot.

le Fondre was directly involved in the Sky Blues' third goal, providing the assist for Alex Brosque. Brosque's initial header was saved by Ben Kennedy but he had no answer for the follow up shot. The captain scoring his first brace in the league since 2016/17.

Not too long later, Brosque netted a career first hat-trick, with a delightful chip over Kennedy's head. The skipper displayed the best of his abilities tonight, with a lot of pressing and great finishing.

Mariners pegged one back after Millar beat Zullo for pace down the wing, before squaring it to Aidan O'Neill.

Aaron Calver scored his first career goal when O'Neill played a corner out to Brilliante, who put a diagonal ball into the box which the centre-back volleyed into the net.

A 5 star second half performance, but what did we learn from tonight's match?

1) Slow starts

It's concerning how slow we've started matches, and how directionless they look for the opening 45. Mariners are not as bad a side as their position on the table suggests - they looked very well organised until Cisse got himself sent off. I'd wager if it weren't for the red card, Mariners would have scored another goal by half-time. What exactly is the cause for these slow starts? I think some of it is complacency - they might go in expecting to win each match - but they don't play like winners from the word go. 

At half-time I was bemoaning the negative football offered up by Corica's starting XI, with so much time spent passing it around the back and very little time making the most of the man advantage. Credit where credit's due - Corica clearly saw what was wrong and had them playing well in the second half. 

2) Brosque will tear you apart. Again.

At 35 years-old, few would have expected Brosque to be starting matches and playing 70 minutes - least of all himself. The captain has done a very good job leading this team, and also working alongside le Fondre. Each of his goals showcased his experience and ability, and he cannot be praised enough for how well he leads the philosophy of defend from the front. Six goals this season is more than he scored last year in the A-League (only four). 

3) Ivanovic = gun?

I was very impressed by the cameo of 18 year old Luke Ivanovic. He was positive on the ball, direct with his running, and showcased serious strength to ride challenges. Unlucky not to get on the scoresheet, but it's so encouraging to see a young player as exciting as him. I don't think a Sydney youth player has made such a big impression on me in a long time. Definitely one to keep an eye out for. 

4) Going in for the kill

Another impressive part of the second half display in my opinion was how they weren't satisfied with 4 goals, or 5 goals. They continued to push for more, with Adam le Fondre a great attacking outlet for his teammates. Always available for a pass, and chased after every ball which is admirable. His Championship experience has set him up well for the A-League - I don't think I've ever seen him look fatigued during a match and he's played every minute of the season. 

Full player ratings

Whilst not the biggest game of the season, nor the best opponents, Sydney finally started to show some of that deadly finishing they've been showing glimpses of all season. Next up is Perth away (again) - which should be a tricky match and I think they'd be lucky to get a point out of. 

Final score: Sydney FC (5) def. Central Coast Mariners (2)
MOTM: Alex Brosque