Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Chance to Impress

Uruguay has sent a full-strength team to play against Australia at Telstra Stadium this Saturday night, in the past we've had problems with attracting international teams to this country, especially ones that will field strong teams. We get a good opportunity, with Uruguay looking to give it's side a strong test before the Copa América and this time it is our side who doesn't feel motivated to put our best team on the park.

Players who will be missing for the Socceroos on Saturday include Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Tim Cahill, Mark Bresciano, Vince Grella, Mark Schwarzer, John Aloisi, Scott Chipperfield - read's like a who's who of Australian football. Tim Cahill and John Aloisi are legitamately injured - this was also the reason behind Harry Kewell not playing, although you would think at this stage of his recovery this would be a great opportunity for him to get some more match time under his belt.

Meanwhile most of the other big-guns not taking part are being rested. Granted, many of our players have had long seasons, and with the World Cup last year they have had little rest since 2005 (even then many were involved in the Confederations Cup) - however it wouldn't hurt to spend some time with the squad, and play even a small amount of football against Uruguay.

Although this lack of big-name players has prehaps meant this game is finding it difficult to attract as much media attention as it would have otherwise - I still think it will be a very interesting game to watch, and I think the team that will be out on the park will still be able to compete very strongly. Many players will be looking to put themselves into contention for a place in Australia's Asian Cup squad - but personally I am hoping to see a performance that will leave me optimistic about the future of our national team.

There are players in this squad, that haven't had much of an impact at this level in the past, but need to step up - in order for us to win this game, in order for us to perform well in the Asian cup and in order for us to qualify and do well in South Africa 2010.

A few I will be watching closely: Michael Beauchamp, Patrick Kisnorbo, Brett Holman, Matthew Spiranovic, Carl Valeri as well as Brad Jones between the sticks. I would not be suprised if all of these players are in the squad that eventually goes to South Africa 2010 - and Saturday will be their first chance to play a big international, against a strong side, at home in front of a big crowd.

I was recently very encouraged by the Olyroos, and the way they smashed Iran in Adelaide - a good performance on Saturday night and I'll be pretty confident about the future. Good luck guys!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Good games, Unfortunate results.

Urawa 0 - 0 Sydney FC
AC Milan 2 - 1 Liverpool

Sydney can't do enough to score against Urawa, they certainly put in a good performance though and could have won it with a bit of luck. Urawa didn't play that well - I was hoping for a nice attacking game, but they ruined any chance of that. Great atmosphere though and they probably do deserve to go through.

Devastated that Liverpool lost this morning, they were playing some fantastic football - especially in the first half, and had chances to score. Milan got a lucky free kick and as soon as they went ahead it was always going to be tough for the Reds. Milan's theatrics in the second half were shameful - the ref didn't do anything to stop it either, which just made things worse. Some poor defending by liverpool and it's 2-0 with 10 minutes to go. When Kuyt scored it made things interesting, but unfortunately this was one final Liverpool couldn't grab an amazing win - mind you I was annoyed that the ref stopped the game 50 seconds early (including the 30 seconds he should have added on for the substitution) - that's just plain cheating - and with Liverpool, you never know what might have happened in those last seconds.

Yes, I'm bitter about it, even as an Everton fan - on a brighter note, Harry Kewell looked sharp when he came on, didn't have any space to work with though and couldn't make a real impact on the game, but I still think he's looking better than he has for years.

In fairness, I think Liverpool deserved to win this game, but let's be honest - it was the other way around in 2005.

PS. Well done to Adelaide United on their 3-0 win last night in their last Champions league game for the season, and well done to Carl Veart who's had a great career. Travis Dodd scored a nice hat-trick, I might just take some credit for that as I wished him luck last week when I saw him at the Olyroos game (see profile photo). Unlike Sydney we have next year's competition to look forward to - hopefully we can make the most of it next time around.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Two Years On...

May 25, 2005. I awake around 5am, turn on my tv and see that Liverpool are 3-0 down to AC Milan in the Champions league final. I'm a little disappointed, after suprising everyone by getting this far it looks like it's an anti-climax for Liverpool fans in the final. I was considering going back to bed when Steven Gerrard pops up with a goal - the look on his face said it all - game on. An hour later and Liverpool are champions of Europe, in one of the greatest football matches I have ever seen.

Two years on and the same two teams are again facing off, this time Liverpool is no longer a suprise packet, and look a much better side than two years ago. Having said that Milan deserve to be favourites after their impressive semi-final win over Man United. I think anyone will agree, if the game delivers anything like the excitement of two years ago it will be great to watch.

As I compare this game to the match in 2005, I compare my feelings and passion for football and there is one big difference. Two years ago, the A-league was only being talked about, as was Australia's potential entry into Asia. Now, the A-league is a massive success, and Sydney FC are looking forward to their own big, continental match. Finally Australian football has something to compare to what the big clubs of Europe are going through.

Tonight, Sydney FC travels to the Saitama Stadium in Japan, 60 thosand fanatical Urawa Reds fans will be on hand for effectively a knockout tie. The atmosphere in Japan will rival that of big European matches. It strikes me as amazing, that only two years ago, this was a pipe dream. It begs the question - where will we be in 2009?

Unfortunately I don't think Sydney will be good enough to win, their lack of match fitness is going to hurt them, and they need to be at their very best to beat Urawa. Let's hope they put in a good performance though, as that would at least promote the A-league as a high quality competition.

As for the European Champions league... I think this one could go either way, if Liverpool is to win, Steven Gerrard will need to fire - without him, Milan are too classy. I also expect Harry Kewell to play a part, hopefully off the bench, as he could make a big impact in my opinion. Over the past few years he's made several comebacks, and he's always taken a lot of time to get back into decent form. This time is different, already he looks fast and in form.

Good luck Sydney, Good luck Liverpool, Good luck Harry. It's going to be an interesting 12 hours...

PS. For now, here's a reminder of 2005

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Hey, welcome to my football blog.

Whether or not there is anyone reading this doesn't really bother me as I am doing this to record my own feelings and thoughts on the matter of football....

Having said that, if you are reading this then thankyou and I hope you enjoy reading what I have to say and invite you to comment whenever you agree/disagree or have an opinion on what I've written.

Firstly, let me introduce myself:

My name is Matthew Winter, I'm from the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. I'm 18 (at time of writing) and I'm a uni student doing computer systems engineering at the University of Adelaide.

And yes, I'm a football fan.

My passion is really the national team, the Socceroos - however I'm also a big fan of Adelaide United and I watch a lot of football from England and Europe. My favourite club in England is Everton, I had been a Chelsea fan for around 8 years, however I don't agree with how Chelsea are approaching football and have hence adopted a new club.

Part of the reason I chose Everton is that they remind me of the Port Adelaide FC - my favourite Australian rules football side, both sides have a very proud history and both are smaller clubs in a city where there are only two large clubs. Also one of my favourite players in Tim Cahill plays there...

Anyway, I look forward to writing about many football topics, of course the Champions League final between Liverpool and AC Milan is this week, and that will probably be the topic of my first 'real' post. As we build towards the Asian Cup I will be focusing on the Socceroos, as I really think this is a good chance for us to win a significant piece of silverware.

I plan to also write a lot about rumors involving football, and speculation about the future - as the future is what everyone is talking about in Australian football these days. In the mean time you might like to check out some of my football-related photos...

Bye for now,

PS. Just briefly on last night's FA Cup final, well done to Chelsea for winning, but it really was an awful game - something about FA Cup finals tends to make the quality of the matches poor - unless there's an early goal in which case it can be a classic. However Chelsea deserved this piece of silverware, and Man United can have no complaints, although they will no doubt complain about Giggs' goal being disallowed - It was clear to me that Cech was pushed over the line.