31 August 2007

Season 3: Wellington


Goalkeepers: Mark Paston, Glen Moss, Jacob Spoonley

Defenders: Karl Dodd, Tony Lochhead, Cleberson Souza Santos Gois, Steven Old, Steven O'Dor

Midfielders: Ahmad Elrich, Daniel Lins Cortes, Tim Brown, Ross Aloisi, Felipe De Souza Campos, George dos Santos Paladini, Richard Johnson, Michael Ferrante, Jeremy Christie

Forwards: Shane Smeltz, Vaughan Coveny, Royce Brownlie, Costa Barbarouses, Greg Draper

Vacancies: Squad complete


Key Man: Smeltz - looks to be pretty much in the form of his career with goals pouring down in pre-season and for the New Zealand national team.

High Expectations: Daniel - another attacking midfielder from Brazil who looks like a brilliant pick-up - here's hoping he can eeep his composure and execute his natural flair judiciously and lethally throughout the duration of the season, rather than in patches.

'X' Factor: Felipe & Paladini - who knows?

Young Gun: Barbarouses - based on reputation, could be the best prospect in New Zealand football for quite some time. Brings good vibes for the club too, as a local lad.

Consistent Performer: Dodd - arguably Queensland's best stopper before giving it a bash in Romania and Scotland - ought to have an excellent year if he's in similar or superior form to season one.

Problem Child: Aloisi - we'll see how the team responds to (a) his captaincy and (b) hysterical antics on the pitch when things start to get pear-shaped. On the plus side: no Ange Costanzo to rile-up his (lost) brotherly affectations. Bombing free kicks help too.



Yes, they're going to surprise teams and they may go close to making the final four in a tight finish - but Phoenix is probably not going to win the league. The odds just don't stack up: new team needing time to gel, several unknown quantities, a handful of discards that might do something positive at their new club, an audience and media that will be satisfied with a solid run, a midfield that looks a bit long in the tooth and short on a productive passing game. I'd love to be proved wrong, and like I intimate - the league may be so close that the whole season could come down to one or two big moments or tests of character and skill. Only time will tell.

Season 3: Perth


Goalkeepers: Tommi Tomich, Tando Velaphi, Jason Petkovic

Defenders: Hayden Foxe, David Tarka, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Dino Djulbic, Jamie Coyne

Midfielders: Simon Colosimo, Leo Bertos, Stan Lazaridis, Nick Rizzo, Blagoja Celeski, Naum Sekulovski, Mitchell Prentice, Anthony Danze, David Micevski, James Downey

Forwards: Mate Dragičević, Nikita Rukavytsya, Jamie Harnwell, James Robinson

Vacancies: 1

Player Movement

In: Foxe, Dragicevic, Topor-Stanley, Rizzo, Velaphi, Celeski, Djulbic, Rukavytsya, Prentice, Danze, Robinson, Downey

Out: Bobby Despotovski, Ante Kovacevic, Stuart Young, Adrian Webster, Jeremy Christie, Alex Vrteski, Luka Glavas, Mark Robertson, Mislav Saric


Key Man: Colosimo - had a fantastic rebound last year after a lacklustre season one affected by his disappointment at failing to break back into the national team, but with Glory struggling to surround him with talent could find the going tough again.

High Expectations: Dragicevic - hmm . . . not really a prolific goal-scorer during his career in Croatia and Russia, but a quality threat and obviously a far superior acquisition than Brian Deane.

'X' Factor: Rizzo - everyone who's heard his sob story (signed by Liverpool, moved to Crystal Palace at Terry Vanables' advice, broke his leg, never quite the same player since) wants to see Nick succeed in the A-League.

Young Gun: Celeski - back in the A-League after strangely finding himself out of favour at the end of Perth's inaugural season; seem to have found his feet again quick smart.

Consistent Performer: Bertos - one of the surprise packets of last season will have to do it all again and more from his right flank, but will be all the more dangerous if Rizzo manages to turn it on.

Problem Child: Harnwell - does he still want to be with this team?



It's sad to see the national league champions of not so long ago struggling to keep up with the likes of Melbourne and Adelaide, yet last season Glory found themselves having to stave-off a challenge from an improving New Zealand Knights outfit just to hang on to 7th place - the worst-finishing team in Australia. Internal squabbling bubbling over onto the pitch just indicated the frustration being felt in the change rooms. So, the big question: has enough changed? Early signs are actually looking quite promising, but it's still very difficult to see this team - on paper - convert recent successes over the long-term. I hope I'm wrong - for the sake of the league, a strong team is needed in the west.

30 August 2007

Season 3: Central Coast


Goalkeepers: Danny Vukovic, Matthew Trott, Andrew Redmayne

Defenders: Dean Heffernan, Alex Wilkinson, Tony Vidmar, Nigel Boogaard, Paul O'Grady, Andrew Clark

Midfielders: Andre Gumprecht, Tom Pondeljak, Greg Owens, Mile Jedinak, John Hutchinson, Matthew Osman, Damien Brown, Brad Porter, Ian McAndrew

Forwards: Sasho Petrovski, Nick Mrdja, Adam Kwasnik, Matthew Simon

Vacancies: 1

Player Movement

In: Heffernan, Petrovski, Owens, Redmayne, McAndrew

Out: Stewart Petrie, Noel Spencer, Wayne O'Sullivan, John Crawley, Jamie McMaster, Vuko Tomasevic


Key Man: Petrovski - suddenly, with the acquisition of Sasho and the re-emergence of Mrdja, the Mariners are scoring goals again. Petrovski was clearly disgruntled so at Sydney that he seemingly allowed his form to dip. We know better: he's a proven goal-scorer, something the Mariners have lacked since Petrie's was successful in their inaugural season.

High Expectations: Mrdja - it's been so long, but we haven't been prompted to forget about Mrdja, who has always managed to remain conspicuously absent with his long-term injuries - now all that's behind him, it's time to bang-in some goals and see if Andrew Durante has forgiven him for breaking his leg.

'X' Factor: Heffernan - can he get close to the goal-scoring heroics of yesteryear? Probably not, but his blazing pace will still cause problems for sluggish right-sided fullbacks in the league (Alagich? Coyne?)

Young Gun: Boogaard - after only just managing to clinch to a new contract, has recently turned in some excellent performances to cement his position in the starting line-up.

Consistent Performer: Wilkinson - a manager's dream stopper: week-in, week-out, he's there for you because he's rarely caught out, hardly ever gets cautioned (just 4 yellows in over 4,000 minutes) and remains healthy. (Of course, as I write this he's just been listed as out injured.) Over-shadowed amid the rise of Michael Beauchamp, but could be a better long-term prospect.

Problem Child: Nobody - okay Petrovski is a tad smug, Heffernan has already pulled a few wild man antics, but really there's no conflict or bizarre behaviour worth reporting on (yet).



Now this is a balanced squad, and what remarkable depth in midfield. Easily the most under-rated team heading into this season, which is quite amazing considering the extent of their success in season one and at consecutive off-season Hong Kong 7s tournaments, the Mariners will have every chance to make a championship tilt. They've improved up front with the signing of Petrovski and the belated return of Mrdja. They've brought back Heffernan from Germany, immediately giving them a most dangerous attacking fullback to keep up with Adelaide's (Cassio) and Melbourne's (Keenan) new signings in the same position. Fit-again Pondeljak, Hutchinson, Vidmar and Boogaard are all big boosts. The only question mark is probably in defence, which like any other team in the competition will be tested by the big striker partnerships of other squads. Vukovic anchoring the backline helps an awful lot. Can go all the way.

Season 3: Queensland


Goalkeepers: Liam Reddy, Matt Ham (inj.), Griffin McMaster (inj. replacement)

Defenders: Craig Moore, Sasa Ognenovski, Seo Hyuk-soo, Andrew Packer, Stuart McLaren, Ben Griffin, Josh McCloughan

Midfielders: Matt McKay, Marcinho, Danny Tiatto, Massimo Murdocca, Chris Grossman, Michael Zullo

Forwards: Reinaldo Elias da Costa, Ante Milicic, Simon Lynch, Robbie Kruse, Tahj Minniecon, Mitch Nichols

Vacancies: 2

Player Movement

In: Moore, Marcinho, Tiatto, Grossman, Kruse, Minniecon, Nichols, Ham, Zullo, McMaster

Out: Dario Vidosic, Spase Dilevski, Chad Gibson, Remo Buess, Marcus Wedau, Tom Willis, Yuning Xhang


Key Man: McKay - super fit and fast, he's the heartbeat of the team. Continues to improve and will benefit enormously from the sudden emergence of Marcinho. Is a regular call-up to the home-based national squad on the horizon?

High Expectations: Marcinho - injured at the start of the season after scintillating pre-season form; looks to be the show time player the Roar require to bump themselves into the top four.

'X' Factor: Reinaldo - now that he's had a couple of seasons to settle in and adjust to conditions in Australia, the league's least spoken of Brazilian could emerge as a bonafide scoring threat . . . or he could have another frustratingly inconsistent season.

Young Gun: Ben Griffin - showed he's capable of stepping up when given a taste last year, but may be asked to continue to provide a utility service off the bench

Consistent Performer: Murdocca - alongside (now) Juninho Paulista, an inspiration to slightly built midfielders across the country.

Problem Child: Tiatto - with sparks already flying, what's it going to be like when Roar take on Victory?



With the arrival of Moore, Tiatto and Marcinho, Queensland ought to have what it takes to finally push for a spot in the top four. The loss of Vidosic was a bit tragic, considering his outstanding rise, but they rolled on after the loss of Brosque the previous year, almost making the finals without their star forward from season one. The only element missing is a gun striker, but you get the feeling that if one of Reinaldo, Milicic or Lynch goes on a spree, Roar'll run all over an opposition that exhibits a defensive frailty. Reddy as well will need to keep himself out of mischief, since the departure of Willis and season-ending injury to Ham has alarmingly reduced the goalkeeping stock.

29 August 2007

Season 3: Sydney


Goalkeepers: Clint Bolton, Ivan Necevski

Defenders: Tony Popovic, Mark Rudan, Iain Fyfe, Jacob Timpano, Nick Tsattalios

Midfielders: Juninho Paulista, Steve Corica, Mark Milligan, Ufuk Talay, Robbie Middleby, Terry McFlynn, Ruben Zadkovich, Michael Enfield, Adam Biddle

Forwards: Alex Brosque, Brendon Santalab, David Zdrilic, Patrick Roberto Daniel Da Silva, Adam Casey, Ben Vidaic

Vacancies: 1

Player Movement

In: Juninho Paulista, Popovic, Santalab, Patrick, Casey, Enfield, Necevski, Tsattalios, Biddle, Vidaic

Out: David Carney, Alvin Ceccoli, Sasho Petrovski, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Jeremy Brockie, Justin Pasfield


Key Man: Brosque - so much potential and yet so much waste - he was just about the biggest disappointment in the league last year, yet showed glimpses at times of his brilliance. Seems to respond best to being sat on the left wing, but needs to be freed mentally from the challenge of having to score often. If someone rises to the occasion and tucks some of his quality crosses and through balls away, then maybe we can talk about a top four finish.

High Expectations: Juninho Paulista - what can you say, the guy's a champion; if he fires, Sydney will create a lot of chances, but can they finish them?

'X' Factor: Santalab - returning home from Europe where he enjoyed some quality pitch-time in Belgium before a lay off in Hungary. Nobody's seen him for a while; perhaps he's learned something; clutching at straws.

Young Gun: Casey - given the weakness of the striker talent ahead of him, possibly has a chance to make an impact up front this season.

Consistent Performer: Corica - how he adjusts to a new role in support of Juninho will be most interesting - he ought to remain the incisive key supplier from last season and profit from the extra attention being given to the Brazilian, but is he gets pushed too wide his effectiveness might diminish.

Problem Child: Zdrilic - it's the bane of so many teams slumped in mediocrity: a highly paid striker who can't score. With talk of shunting Zdrilic to stopper, his confidence must be at an all-time low. His quite reasonable performances for the national team now seem hazy memories. A shame.



Maybe this is too low, considering the fact that Sydney did rather well in the Asian Champions League and has plenty of star attractions to keep them in with a chance for most matches. But over-reliance on those stars could prove a major issue, with quality a massive problem in attack, depth an issue at fullback and the effects of age likely to take their toll on a midfield orchestrated by two guys in their mid-30s. In fact, there doesn't appear to be very good balance in the team at all, with players already being featured out of position in the first round. If a goal-feasting striker doesn't materialise soon or if Bolton has a bad patch, things could get very bleak real fast.

22 August 2007

Season 3: Newcastle


Goalkeepers: Ante Covic, Ben Kennedy

Defenders: Jade North, Stephen Laybutt (inj. replacement), Matt Thompson, Andrew Durante, Adam Griffiths, Steve Eagleton, Craig Deans

Midfielders: Stuart Musialik, Jorge Drovandi, Noel Spencer, Denni Rocha Dos Santos, Paul Kohler, Adam D'Apuzzo, Tarek Elrich, Jobe Wheelhouse

Forwards: Mark Bridge, Joel Griffiths, Mario Jardel, Scott Tunbridge, Troy Hearfield, Jason Hoffman

Vacancies: 1

Player Movement

In: Jardel, Drovandi, A. Griffiths, Spencer, Denni, Tunbridge, Hoffman

Out: Nick Carle, Milton Rodriguez, Paul Okon, Ivan Necevski, Labinot Haliti, Tolgay Ozbey, Tony Faria


Key Man: Bridge - primed for a fantastic year after setting a high standard for himself on Olyroos duty, Bridge could benefit enormously from Jardel's tutelage.

High Expectations: Jardel - he may be somewhat overweight and pretty much unfit, but Jardel comes to the league with a long history of scoring bags of goals - if he can harness only half his quality from yesteryear, he'll be a star.

'X' Factor: Prieto - can he fill the massive playmaker gap vacated by Carle? (Update: Obviously written before Prieto did a runner. Probably Denni now to fill Carle's boots.)

Young Gun: Musialik - this will probably need to be a break-out season for the rudder man if the Jets are to improve on last year's third place.

Consistent Performer: Thompson - something of a workaholic on the pitch, who can always cause disruption with his commitment and range.

Problem Child: Deans - simply because he doesn't really belong in this squad.



The Jets might have brought some outstanding quality into the club and the league, but it's still too early to tell. One can imagine them having another slow start and late burst like last season, but without Carle pulling the strings and pulling off the miraculous (e.g. that goal versus Adelaide), it might not - after a very close call - be enough.

21 August 2007

Fantasy A-League 2007-2008

*bump* - now with details of another league (yes, another)...

21 August

FourFourTwo is also offering a Fantasy A-League competition this year. The two systems are not substantially different, but they do offer yet more action for the fantasy addicts (I think this includes me, but honestly I can't imagine keeping up - we'll see).

I have created a mini-league for anyone who wishes to join.

Simply join and create and name a team (yeah, it does take a while to tweak) and join the league. For convenience here is the link to join a custom league (it can take a while to find).

League name: Redimensionalised

Password: vincenzo

15 August

I know I've hardly made a peep since the Asian Cup disappointment, but with the A-League starting shortly I'm hoping to find the strength, time and mental conditioning to get back in business. First up will be a series of reports evaluating the off-season activity of each team.

At the moment, though, my attention has turned to the Fox Sports Fantasy A-League offer for 2007-08.

If you would like to join a private league but have few friends who follow football in Australia let alone who would wish to join an online fantasy game about said subject, then please feel free to come join the little party being established in the "Redimensionalised" league, named in honour of Vincenzo Grella's flair for the English language.

Just enter the following code to enter: 9491-1355

See you all there, or back here within a few days, promise.

18 August 2007

Season 3: Adelaide


Goalkeepers: Robert Bajic, Daniel Beltrame

Defenders: Angelo Costanzo, Michael Valkanis, Cássio José de Abreu Oliveira, Richie Alagich, Robert Cornthwaite, Isyan Erdogan, Milan Susak

Midfielders: Travis Dodd, Jonas Salley, Bobby Petta, Jason Spagnuolo, Diego Walsh, Kristian Sarkies, Lucas Pantelis, Shaun Ontong, Matthew Mullen

Forwards: Paul Agostino, Nathan Burns, Bruce Djite, Dez Giraldi

Vacancies: 1

Player Movement

In: Agostino, Salley, Cássio, Sarkies, Erdogan, Susak, Ontong, Mullen

Out: Fernando, Carl Veart, Matthew Kemp, Greg Owens, Ross Aloisi, Shengqing Qu, Kristian Rees, Aaron Goulding, Adam vanDommele


Key Man: Dodd - runs a bit hot and cold, but if he can get on fire on a more consistent basis Adelaide is going to bring serious intensity through to the final whistle with their speed, strength, fitness and depth in midfield.

High Expectations: Agostino - with the Reds mobile service platform looking incredibly strong there's a clear and patent need for an experienced big man up front; nobody expects Agostino to create 15 goals for himself, but his presence and running could be huge.

'X' Factor: Cassio - perhaps opposition teams will learn to deal with his dangerous free kicks and long-range bombs, but the crossing game and natural adventure of the fullback will still have to be dealt with; he could be instrumental for the Reds.

Young Gun: Djite - it's take your pick really, with Burns, Sarkies, Cornthwaite, Giraldi and, at 24, the somewhat mature Spagnuolo all hoping to make major impacts this season, but Djite may be the greatest beneficiary of the half-eyes being kept on strike partner Agostino.

Consistent Performer: Salley - an awesome pick-up, probably the best of the intra-league off-season acquisitions; brings gravity to the holding position rather than the pent-up aggressive mayhem of Aloisi.

Problem Child: Bajic - still hard to fathom why he thought he could get away with lashing out at Fred last season, a bizarre How Do You Do side-kick that effectively ended his productive stint as the No. 1.



They have been the quiet achievers of the A-League, which all too often - and I realise I'm a culprit of this myself - is focused on the east coast and particularly on Sydney and Melbourne. There're a few reasons why I think Adelaide will do very well again. They were slammed in the final last year, but will be the better for it mentally. They have excellent depth and competition for places all over the park, even in goals and especially in midfield. The Asian Champions League experience has kept the players in touch during the off-season, as have the Olyroos excursions - both competitions have fast-tracked the development of the younger lads in relation to the other A-League teams with a bit of a youth focus. Finally, the recent pre-season victory indicated all of the above.

Season 3: Melbourne


Goalkeepers: Michael Theoklitos, Eugene Galekovic, Mitchell Langerak

Defenders: Ljubo Milicevic, Rodrigo Vargas, Joseph Keenan, Matthew Kemp, Daniel Piorkowski, Steven Pantelidis, Sebastian Ryall

Kevin Muscat, Grant Brebner, Carlos Hernandez, Kaz Patafta, Leigh Broxham, Evan Berger, Daniel Vasilevski

Archie Thompson, Daniel Allsopp, Adrian Caceres, Leandro Love

Vacancies: 2

Player Movement

In: Milicevic, Hernandez, Keenan, Patafta, Kemp, Love, Vasilevski, Berger, Langerak

Out: Fred, Adrian Leijer, Kristian Sarkies, Alessandro, Mark Byrnes, Simon Storey, James Robinson, Claudinho, Michael Ferrante, Vince Lia, Geoffrey Claeys


Key Man: Brebner - it's Muscat, of course, who dictates the mental and emotional approach of the team on the pitch, but Brebner increasingly seems to be the guy setting the tempo and marshaling the play.

High Expectations: Hernandez - the current Costa Rican international is largely regarded as a one-for-one replacement for Fred and he will be expected to perform accordingly.

'X' Factor: Keenan - has looked one of Victory's best in warm-up matches and could provided much needed delivery from the flank for Allsopp.

Young Gun: Patafta - will hopefully see healthy time on the pitch eventually, but for now may have to warm the bench for Muscat, Brebner and Hernandez.

Consistent Performer: Vargas - considering the departure of Leijer and the loss of depth players like Byrnes, another superb season like is probably required from Vargas if Victory are to repeat.

Problem Child: Milicevic - who knows what Melbourne is going to get from Milicevic, who has to prove on the field - not in the press or the locker rooms - that, to rejoin the national team, he has the mental fortitude to complement his natural ability; a little work on his ponderous acceleration might help as well.



While it's hard to see Melbourne not making the final four, I'm not convinced they are well-placed in terms of depth to take out the Minor Premiership again, especially given their enormous player turnover (although I do see the argument that maybe it's a tremendously positive thing to have replaced players like Lia, Ferrante and Storey). All the key elements from last season remain in place, however, including one would assume the massive home crowds. There's also the question of if not Melbourne, then who? That, I'm still mulling over.