Friday, January 12, 2007
The injury curse, already covered in some detail here, has hit them once again…with a vengeance. They have badly missed the creativity of Tom Pondeljak in midfield lately, not to mention the experience of Tony Vidmar at the back; however, the most serious loss has been the chronically absent Nik Mrdja.
Some rumblings emanating from Gosford have suggested that there is an element of malingering involved in Mrdja’s continued spell on the sidelines, but whatever the cause, he has been irreplaceable up front (now that Damian Mori has gone on his way).
Not least because Lawrie McKinna’s side has relied largely on Adam Kwasnik for goals. And the bustling young attacker has been woefully off-beam recently.
Watching Kwasnik’s progress through this season has been enormously frustrating. With his driving runs, intelligent off-the-ball movement and fine close control, he looks one of the most accomplished young forwards in Australian football. Until he gets the chance to shoot, that is.
Not only did he send an embarrassing number of shots several feet wide of goal against the Kiwis, but in at least two cases he had far better options available. On one upfield run, Kwasnik could have quite easily played in Andre Gumprecht, who had taken up a perfect position on the left as the defence backed off. And the German would have been a very good bet to score.
Instead, Kwasnik scuffed another one wide of the mark.
Genuine, dependable finishers are quite rare in Australian football. Damian Mori is still the best of the bunch, even at his advanced age. But is Kwasnik merely suffering from stage fright, in his first season as a genuine first-teamer in a genuinely professional (pace Northern Spirit) side?
In this year’s pre-season, he was scoring regularly; against Perth in the first pre-season cup game, I saw him combine smoothly and effectively with Stewart Petrie up front, and he scored a fine goal. The occasion, however, was decidedly pressure-free.
I still believe that he has much to offer, whether as a winger or a central striker. But how exactly does he get his confidence, and composure, back?
The A-league very quickly descended back to the NSL level of not taking shots early or too much passing when in front of goal.
Call me superficial but more shots at goal would make me happy.