Tuesday, January 16, 2007


The Crunch, Part 1

So it has come to this, as Ned Kelly said. Four A-League teams still have a chance of clinching second place going into the final round, although Newcastle’s chances of doing so are remote.

Apart from the New Zealand v. Perth dead rubber, all of the games have some significance. But the real crunch game is:

Queensland Roar v. Sydney FC

The two sides come into the game in contrasting form; Queensland have defeated the top two away from home in Rounds 19 and 20, while Sydney FC have lost their way, stumbling to 1-0 losses against New Zealand and Adelaide. So, a preview of what we can and/or should expect from both teams. First:


Although the Roar’s achievement in clawing their way back into the top four has to be saluted, the truth is that they were outplayed for long periods against both Adelaide and Melbourne. Damian Mori, belatedly returning to form, has been crucial to their impressive run.

I feel that Frank Farina has yet to find a truly effective combination. Spase Dilevski continues to drift here, there and everywhere, and Dario Vidosic, in and out of touch, has been similarly maltreated. Andrew Packer continues to be employed, bizarrely, on the left side of defence. Of the strikers, Mori is the only ever-present.

At least Farina has had the sense to make Hyuk-Su Seo a fixture in the holding midfield role, where he has gone about his business quietly and most efficiently. The suspension to Matt McKay, a driving force in midfield all season, will hurt, but the recovered Massimo Murdocca should slot relatively neatly into McKay’s shoes against Sydney FC.

Josh McCloughan is also suspended for the final regular season game. It will be a tough choice for Farina between Remo Buess and Stuart McLaren in central defence; given the deficiencies Buess has occasionally shown in the role, I would plump for McLaren. But I suspect Farina might go the other way.

As for the goalkeeping position, despite Tando Velaphi’s outstanding debut effort against Melbourne, Liam Reddy must surely return. For one thing, Reddy was magnificent against Sydney in the Round 14 game.

With Mark Milligan out for Sydney, there is a need for pace in the Queensland attack; Mark Rudan and Jacob Timpano will be able to deal with strength and height, but Alen Marcina’s efforts for New Zealand at Aussie Stadium showed quite clearly where Sydney’s deficiencies in defence lay.

For that reason, Farina might be best advised to bite the bullet and play Vidosic as a supporting striker. Although Reinaldo too possesses considerable pace, his main attribute is his physical power, and he is likely to be matched in that department.

In the next instalment, my suggestions for Sydney FC’s embattled manager.

If I were Farina, I'd go out with a bang, play 4-3-3 against Sydney's 4-5-1.

Why not? A draw ain't good enough? Get a goal early, get another, then revert to 4-5-1 and crash their party on the break.

Of course, Newcastle may make this entirely moot, but I hope not. They deserve to be there at the end.

It's a pleasure to see a league going into the final round of games: can't really remember this kind of situation. Then again, I support Spurs, so it's probably got something to do with the fact that playing for tenth place comes with minimal disruption to your frontal cortex.
Top-half of the table finish beeds, lot riding on the line.
Top-half of the table finish beeds, lot riding on the line.
Very looking forward to sydney vs roar. a lot of other people are too, i couldn't get sideline seats yesterday.

the big question for me is, which roar will show up? this has to be the most jekyl and hyde team in the league.

looking forward to your sydney analysis. keep up the good work.
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