Monday, August 20, 2012

Brawl bother down under

Football Federation Australia today finds itself dealing with an altogether different headlines and an inquiry into an ugly brawl between Newcastle Jets and Wellington Phoenix at Weston, while new A-League chief Damien de Bohun might have hoped for a gentler introduction to life in his new role.

There can be no condoning the nasty exchange that cleared both benches in front of 2,000 fans but a slap on the wrist is all that is required here.

The powder-keg moment arrived when Manny Muscat reacted badly to a heavy challenge from Tiago Calvano - the pair were both sent for an early bath, while Ben Sigmund was also given his marching orders.

Wellington captain Andrew Durante would later be sent off by rookie referee Tim McGilchrist for retaliating to a tackle from Scott Neville.

Jets coach Gary van Egmond called it right when he told news soccer networks: "I would hope there is no repercussions".

Fartoo often there is a rush from pundits and experts to take the moral high-ground when, actually, the referee called it right in any event.

There has to be an acceptance that at the highest level there is every chance games will go off because of the intrinsically competitive nature of the players and compared to, say, the NRL, this was nothing more than a robust exchange of handbags.

True, the timing was awful off the back of the much more serious incidents between rival supporters which marred a Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers – two sides with AFC Champions league aspirations - trial match in Campbelltown but the two do not go hand in glove.

Instead of rushing to play judge, jury and executioner, justice should be allowed to run its course.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fergie admits RvP frustration

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed his frustration in his attempts to sign prolific Arsenal striker Robin van Persie.

The Netherlands international has entered the final year of his Gunners contract and has declined an offer to extend his stay at Emirates Stadium.

Ferguson has revealed he has made an approach for last season's Premier League top goalscorer. It is understood Arsenal are demanding a fee in excess of £20million.

"We've made a bid – they [Arsenal] have been trying to negotiate with other clubs. I don't have a gut feeling about it. We can't get a breakthrough with Arsenal," said the experienced manager.

Van Persie, who moved to Arsenal from Feyenoord in 2004, has suggested he would favour a move away from the club during the close season in his quest for silverware.

Football betting news reports than reported that Arsenal were considering resisting offers for the Dutchman and risk losing him on a free transfer next summer. Ferguson admitted he does not know their current stance.

"I don't know what Arsenal's thoughts are because they're not giving anything away. It's difficult to say why they're operating this way. I can't give you any more information," he added.

"We just have to persevere. We are trying our best and hopefully it will come our way but there's no progress at this moment in time."

Van Persie scored 41 goals in 53 games for club and country last term and picked up a number of personal accolades, United’s premier league odds would rapidly improve if they snapped up the talented forward.

United face competition from Turin giants Juventus for the 29-year-old, but Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has revealed the Premier League champions are out of the running.

Van Persie is likely to line up for the Gunners in their season opener at home to Sunderland on August 18, should a suitable bid fail to materialise.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Great Britain and South Korea Ready for Olympic Quarterfinal

Great Britain football team's 1-0 win over Uruguay has given their confidence a major boost and they now seem determined to finish at least on the podium, if not as the gold medal winners.

They enter the knockout stage as the winners of Group A and their first opponents in the sudden death round are South Korea, with whom they will clash at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

The team that had started off with a lacklustre performance against Brazil in the pre-Olympic warm-up has slowly raised their level of performance.

"It's difficult for teams that have been put together to all of a sudden play together and try to have some form of connection on the field,” explained Team GB striker Daniel Sturridge.

“But we're all good players and as the days and weeks have gone by we have made a connection and made partnerships with each other. There are no divisions between us and everyone gets along."

Their opponents, South Korea, have so far failed to get their attacking game going in the competition and are being considered as outsiders in London 2012 football odds against the hometown boys. However, GB coach Stuart Pearce has warned his players not to take the Koreans lightly.

In a recent interview, the trainer nicknamed 'Psycho' told the press: "I've watched South Korea once and they are a workmanlike side. We had a situation where we didn't know exactly who we would be playing, but we had a feeling it would be them, so we will be prepared and we won't underestimate them.

"Their preparation has been fantastic coming into this. They are a good side, well prepared, well organised - everything you would expect from a side in the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games. They offer something different each time, technically and tactically."

The British team's hopes have increased in the past few matches but Pearce insists that Brazil still are the hot favourites for the gold medal. While the former Manchester City manager has taken the pessimistic route to relieve the pressure off his players, his Korean counterpart has Myung-Bo Hong is full of positivity.

"Our players have been playing well. I do not know what the British team think of the Korean team, but if there is any overconfidence then we will use it to our advantage. Many people think the Great Britain team is superior to the Korean team, but anything can happen. We will put everything into this match," Hong told the press.