Sunday, July 16, 2006


My Name is Luka

Every player has "his day". One of those games where everything goes right; every shot, every pass, every half-hearted backheel finds its mark. And every player earnestly hopes that "the day" will coincide with a game of some importance, one which is the subject of considerable attention and competitive relevance.

That hope was realised today for young Sydney United striker Luka Glavas.

In a final which provided some fine football if little genuine drama, Glavas was magnificent, scoring four well-taken goals and never allowing the Blacktown defence a moment's respite.

Glavas is slightly built, with the frame of Marco van Basten and the chiselled looks of Gianfranco Zola. His performance at Marconi Stadium bore comparison with either of those two great strikers of yesteryear.

His and United's first goal arose from an error by Blacktown's right-back Paul Karbon, later exacerbated by the keeper Necevski, whose maladroit attempt to tackle Ben Vidaic left him in no-man's land. Glavas managed to get on the end of Vidaic's curling cross from the left.

The second was an absolute beauty. Glavas released Peter Markovic on the right; it looked as if the United winger had been forced too wide, but his cross was a good, low one, and Glavas applied a sublime close-range finish by the near post.

After Mitchell Thompson had been quite needlessly upended in the Blacktown box early in the second half, Glavas completed his hat-trick with a powerfully-struck penalty, Necevski's dash off his line proving fruitless. Then, after Blacktown coach Aytek Genc had thinned out the defence in a desperate bid for late goals, Glavas again made space for himself in an advanced position, and coolly blasted the ball past Necevski for number four.

His was certainly not a faultless display; his goals were interspersed with a couple of wild misses, and he does still have a tendency to be bundled off the ball too easily. But a little more experience should see him improve in this area. He significantly favours his right foot, but he can score with his left as well, as Marconi can testify.

One would have expected the other highly-rated young striker on display, Blacktown's Tolgay Ozbey, to have lit up proceedings at some point. But apart from a good opening twenty minutes, in which he gave Milan Bosnar a torrid time on Blacktown's left flank, Ozbey did disappointingly little. This was partly due to poor service; United's Mile Jedinak, utterly dominant in the air, did a fine job stifling Blacktown in midfield.

Mention must also be made of Ante Juric, who turned in a magisterial performance in central defence, reminiscent of his finest days at Olympic. As is so often proven in football, the ability to read the game can compensate for a lack of pace, and Juric's anticipation was exemplary.

But the afternoon belonged to Glavas. With many A-League squads not yet filled, the young frontman's Midas match could not have arrived at a better time.

His name is Luka. He is now well and truly in the shop window.

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