18 June 2007

Fantasy Football

Sad, depressed, lonely . . .? Looking for some fantasy action that doesn't come attached with an '000' telephone suffix?

The good fellows over at FourFourTwo have set up an Asian Cup Fantasy Football game that, while seemingly a tad buggy at the moment, promises some fine points-hoarding and transfer-wheeling action.

Sign-up for free here: http://fourfourtwo.fantasyasiancup.com.

Once you're set-up with a cool as Harry team name and you've selected a line-up (good luck getting Kewell, Viduko and Bresciano on the field in your chosen formation), you may feel a bit lost in the wilderness if you don't have a private league in which to compete. (Maybe your friends just don't get it, most of mine certainly don't - no, Mike, my brother in forgotten transfer deadlines and retrospective line-up re-engineering, not you.) So, feel free to join the league I have arranged for just such a possibility. Here's the info you'll need to join:

League name: A-League Junkies
Password: australia

Happy punting, whether you join or not!

9 June 2007

The Squad

Can this team win the AFC Asian Cup 2007?



Goalkeepers:

Mark Schwarzer (Middlesborough, England)
Brad Jones (Middlesborough, England)
Michael Petkovic (Sivasspor, Turkey)

Defenders:

Lucas Neill (West Ham, England)
Patrick Kisnorbo (Leicester City, England)
Michael Beauchamp (FC N├╝rnberg, Germany)
Michael Thwaite (Wisla Krakow, Poland)
Mark Milligan (Sydney FC, Australia)

Midfielders:

Harry Kewell (Liverpool, England)
Mark Bresciano (Palermo, Italy)
Tim Cahill (Everton, England)
Vince Grella (Parma, Italy)
Brett Emerton (Blackburn, England)
Jason Culina (PSV, Holland)
Mile Sterjovski (FC Basel, Switzerland)
Luke Wilkshire (FC Twente, Holland)
Carl Valeri (Grosetto, Italy)
David Carney (Sydney FC, Australia)
Nick Carle (Newcastle United Jets, Australia)

Forwards:

Mark Viduka (Mewcastle United, England)
John Aloisi (Alaves, Spain)
Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory, Australia)
Brett Holman (NEC Nijmegen, Holland)



Hell, yes it can.

While the absence of Moore and Skoko will be felt to some extent, there's really quite decent cover in the squad for both those veterans (Neill is such a giant these days, and, with the possible exception of Japan, we must have the deepest quality midfield in the competition).

The loss of Chipperfield's versatility will be more keenly felt. The big question is who will start on the left side of a back four or as the left wingback in a back three? Just about half the squad are potential options: Thwaite (at fault against Uruguay), Milligan (in what would be only his fourth-best position), Sterjovski, Carney, Carle, Culina or Kewell (all would be positioned much deeper than usual) or Wilkshire (about the most versatile player in the team after Chippers)? The warm-up match should give us some clues, but it seems that more than one player will be rotated through the role in order to impress before the latter stages of the tournament.

Some other questions:

Who will partner Neill, Kisnorbo or Beauchamp? Or both in a back three?

Who will be the backup 'keeper, Jones or Petkovic?

Unlike during the recent World Cup, will we find a way to get Kewell, Bresciano, Cahill, Grella, Emerton, Culina all on the park at the same time?

Will Cahill and perhaps even Kewell be ready in time or risked early on? (If not Sterjovski looks absolutely primed and good to go.)

Who, like Skoko in the World Cup, will be disappointed not to make it on the park?

Will someone like Sterjovski, Holman, Kisnorbo, or dare I say Nicky Carle emerge as a bonafide, match-winning top-drawer national team player for the next World Cup cycle? Or are those players still not even regular fixtures in the set-up at the moment (e.g. Spiranovic, McDonald, Vukovic, Bridge, Leijer, and the like)? (Or are those next generation stars even less visible for contention at the moment, like young whipper-snappers such as Bouzanis, Patafta, Burns, Troisi, Williams and so on?)

And some off-the-cuff tips:

  • Viduka to score four goals for the tournament.

  • Kewell to take penalties if Aloisi is off the pitch.

  • One of Neill, Bresciano or Sterjovski to earn player of the tournament honours.

  • Grella to miss a latter-stage match due to accrued yellow cards.

  • Cahill to escape worse offences than Grella, as usual. (How does he do it?)

  • Australia to be the most penalised team by at least a factor of two.

  • Kewell to play within himself until the semi-final, then have to contend with a double-teaming job in the final, which will free-up Bresciano, Cahill or Culina for a blinder and/or the winner. (Although it'd be nice to see Dukes score the goal to get us the Cup . . . yet that might make him consider stupid premature thoughts, like retirement. Don't do it Mark!)

  • Schwarzer to do enough to seal his position for the World Cup qualifiers and beyond.

  • Post-tournament, Carle to get what he wants and deserves: a contract in Europe.