Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Pim and the Parochials

I'm back...a little the worse for wear and still feeling the effects of jetlag, but not enough to keep me away from matters football.

And the issue that seems to be generating the most heat in Australian football at the moment is the old locals v. Euroroos chestnut, with Pim Verbeek stoking the flames with some perhaps ill-worded comments.

To my mind, the A-League v. European leagues argument has always been a pointless one. The real question is whether the European-based players can acclimatise in time for the game on February 6.

At the Asian Cup, we saw what can happen when a bunch of highly-rated European-based players are chucked into unfamiliar conditions. There was even fair warning with the game against Kuwait in September 2006.

I still maintain that the best general policy for the upcoming Asian qualifiers would be to retain a core of committed European-based players while drawing substantially from the A-League contingent for the home games (those that are played within the A-League season, at any rate). The A-League needs lengthening and we all know it, but while the season lasts, match-fitness in an Australian summer must count for something, considering that several of the Euro players would be enduring a temperature shift of twenty-odd degrees.

On the subject of parochialism, it's disappointing to see that Iraq's subtle, skilful playmaker Nashat Akram has become another victim of the British Home Office's draconian work permit regulations. The arbitrary "Top 70" cutoff is ridiculous (for the record, it would currently exclude an incoming Benni McCarthy, Dwight Yorke, Emmanuel Adebayor or Eidur Gudjohnsen from employment in the Premiership), but no more ridiculous than the "three-quarters of all international games" requirement, which has bedevilled countless fine players over the years.

The Premiership's loss.

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