SOCCEROOS MANAGER VACANCY – THOSE IN CONTENTION
Failure to regenerate an aging squad, the hunger and soul non-existent in the dressing room and being decimated in their last two friendlies by an aggregate of 12 goals to nil ultimately lead to the dismissal of Socceroos coach Holger Osieck on the weekend. With the World Cup only 10 months away, FFA Chief Executive David Gallop has been quoted as saying that the long-term preference would be to have an Australian take over as manager. This has only fuelled speculation surrounding A-League coaches Graham Arnold, Ange Postecoglou and Tony Popovic as the likely front runners for the job. Arnold and Postecoglou have recently stated that they would be interested in taking on the role and it will be interesting too see whether the FFA take this road over more high profile foreign targets such as Guus Hiddink and Gerard Houllier.
DEL PIERO FOR ITALY WORLD CUP SQUAD
Alessandro Del Piero reminded us all on Friday night that his 38-year-old legs still possess the necessary talent that propelled him to the heights of world football during his career with Juventus. Struggling with the pace of the young Newcastle Jets defence, Del Piero used his intelligence as he nutmegged Zenon Caravella and finished brilliantly into the far corner past Mark Birightti for the opening goal. The Italian maestro then added an assist to his name as his clever no-look pass found Joel Chianese who made it 2-0 for the Sky Blues. Can Del Piero extend this rich vein of form in the hope that he can reignite his dormant international career? The Azzurri topped Group B in World Cup Qualifying, six points clear of Denmark, so the need for replacing the likes of Mario Balotelli and Pablo Osvaldo may not be required just yet. However, with a World Cup winners medal in his trophy cabinet, Del Piero may be able to offer his invaluable experience come next summer in Brazil.
OPENING ROUND PROJECTS GREATEST EVER A-LEAGUE SEASON
Over 100,000 fans entered through the turnstiles in last weekend’s opening round of the 2013/14 Hyundai A-League season. It was the highest attendance in a single round in the competition’s short history. The attendance numbers weren’t the only record broken over the weekend. SBS broadcasted the first ever free-to-air A-League match as Friday night’s clash between Sydney and Newcastle garnered 243,000 viewers and 115,000 on FOX Sports which equated to the largest ever TV audience to tune in to watch our premier football competition. Are these numbers an indication that this season of the A-League could be the best yet? It certainly looks like it with the quality of football throughout the round’s five matches living up to, if not exceeding the standard of football, which we have come to know over the past nine years. It is now being recognized as a growing fan and viewership base in Australia which hopefully will play witness to an electrifying season in the Hyundai A-League.
MELBOURNE DERBY PRODUCES PLENTY OF HEADLINES
A record-breaking Melbourne Derby crowd of 45,000-plus people turned out at Etihad Stadium to watch what we all hoped would be an exciting and fierce encounter between the Victory and the Heart. The majority would have left the stadium disappointed though as there was an evident lack of attacking flair, sloppy passing and most importantly no goals. It was now what we would have come to expect with both sides basically looking to avoid defeat in the opening game of the season. Victory boss Postecoglou faces numerous questions before his side’s clash with Adelaide United this week. Mark Milligan is still doubtful to return, the impressive Pablo Contreras suspended for two games following his stray elbow on Mate Dugandzic behind play and Victory’s lack of a true ‘No.9’ showing its constraints on its goal scoring production. For Heart, coach John Aloisi’s counter attacking tactics nearly paid off on Saturday however he will be ruing the loss of Harry Kewell in the second half who came off following a head clash with Adrian Leijer. They will look to bounce back with or without their star this weekend against last year’s champions, Central Coast Mariners.