Saturday, August 25, 2007


Blunt Beginning

It was hardly the opening to the competition that neutrals would have been hoping for, but there were a few hopeful signs.

From a Mariners point of view, it was good to see Nik Mrdja back in action and looking fairly sharp. In tandem with Saso Petrovski, he might provide the finishing they so patently lacked last term, when Adam Kwasnik had such a frustrating time of it in front of goal.

On the subject of Kwasnik, he cut a sad figure last night. Last season's disappointments appear to have sapped his confidence; apart from one fine shot on the turn, he had an evening of poor first touches, wrong turns and long faces.

Lawrie McKinna's men lack pace at the back, too. Alex Brosque's industry and occasional adroitness troubled them at times, and even Juninho came close to bursting through on a couple of occasions.

In midfield, though, they look good. Mile Jedinak had another excellent game, policing Juninho very effectively (if a little clumsily at times), and Andre Gumprecht was probably the player of the first half, prompting well and putting in a number of important challenges.

In the second half, though, the Mariners went badly off the boil. This was partly, I feel, due to the fact that Sydney were pressing far better and moving off the ball more after the break, but McKinna would surely be unhappy at his team's propensity to give the ball away so easily when under pressure.

Sydney FC's problems were those which most of the fans had already identified: the lack of a finisher up front (certain fans seem to be seeing Patrick da Silva as some sort of messiah in this regard), and the uncertainty in the full-back positions (Terry McFlynn and Iain Fyfe were both all at sea in the opening period).

On the upside, Steve Corica and Juninho worked surprisingly well together, combining in some pleasing one-twos and posing a genuine threat to Danny Vukovic's goal at times. Although Alex Brosque made a terrible hash of a good chance towards the close, he had a good game overall, getting through a pile of work in the lone striker role and often forcing the Mariners defence into errors.

Adam Biddle's A-League debut, on the other hand, was a wretched one. Sadly, he looked out of his depth, getting hassled off the ball regularly and succumbing to nerves in front of goal.

Branko Culina's switch to a back three in the second half was appropriate and welcome, and should probably become the modus operandi from here on. The signs were that Corica and Juninho are capable of working in tandem, so perhaps a 3-4-1-2 system of sorts, with Corica dropping a little deeper, is the go. The question is then who patrols the wings; on the evidence of last night, neither Iain Fyfe nor Robbie Middleby is really suited to the left. I still think that young Nick Tsattalios is worth a punt there.

As a neutral teh game was a little dissapointing

I dont know why the commentators keep saying the game had a good tempo in the first half. Yep tehre were times when the ball was being moved around nicely, but to me it seemed as though both teams were trying to get rid of it too quickly and were going for route one football... was this due to the conditions and possibly a heavy pitch?? I hope so

Furthermore is the roughness of the league, honestly at times its just stupid, some of those challenges even in the EPL woudlve been red carded. FFS heffernans shoulder bareg?? And what about those studs up challenges that didnt even get a yellow?

What are we trying to do here? Do we want the league to become like rugby?? Juninho was getting hacked left right and centre... honestly there has to be some authority put down....

Its no wonder we get so many cards in Asia..

Anyway i will give them the benefit of the doubt that it was poor conditions and the first game of the season..

I hope for the upcomign games we see teams that can actually paly out from the back and cut down on the over-physicality..
mike, nice wrap, i've just posted mine....

agree it wasnt the greatest spectacle, probably down to the heavy conditions a bit.

surprised you were surprised to see to juninho and corica combining well....they're very similar in style i have to admit, but generally when two quality players are on the same pitch, they do well casue they're on the same wavelength

agree about the problems out on the left, fyfe struggled last night as both a left back and wing-back.

brosque was busy but he's gotta score from those bread-and-butter sitters like the one in the first period.
Nice wrap Tony.

I just felt that Corica and Juninho would always be looking to take up similar positions (and it did happen once or twice in the first half). Actually I thought it was Corica who did the most to resolve the problem, staying a bit wider and allowing Juninho to make most of the thrusts through the centre.

One of the pleasing things to take away from SFC's performance in the second half (and there were a few) was that, despite the many thirtysomething legs, they seemed to have it over McKinna's guys in the fitness stakes.

It was a disappointing start, but I still think we'll make the finals again.
Of course da Silva is the messiah, if he's not we're screwed. Or perhaps Juninho can ignite some form in Zdrilic the way Fred did for Allsop.

I hope Juninho shoots and hits the target more after this game. To his credit he could have gone over and won a penalty early in the match but didn't. I'm looking forward to see how he operates with the rest of the team when the pitch isn't so soggy.
I agree with you that some SFC fans are looking to Da Silva with a little too much optimism. More than might be justified at this stage, most of whom having not even seen him touch a ball.

However, I think it's more a case of pinning hopes on "somebody else", than Da Silva in particular. We're basically willing to try anything and anyone at this stage in search of regular goals, and he's a convenient peg on which to pin our hopes.
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