Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Summer of Football incl Hyundai A-League Round 15 preview

As always here is my look at the Hyundai A-League which you will also be able to find on

A lot has happened in the short space of time between my last article and this one, the Hyundai A-League Summer of Football is in full swing and with it has come a fair swag of matches.  Round 12 which I mentioned in the last article seems like an age ago as it was just one of 3 short sharp rounds, with Round 13 & Round 14 occurring around the festive period and Round 15 fast approaching on the horizon.

Round 12 saw the Wanderers smash in form Adelaide 6-1, the Roar lost to the Glory 1-0, The Nix and Mariners drew 1-1, the Jets downed Sydney 2-1, while The Victory took out the Melbourne derby also 2-1.

Round 13 the “Christmas” round saw success for new coach Mike Mulvey as the Roar took a 1-0 away win over Adelaide, The Glory couldn’t subdue the visiting Wanderers and scraped a 1-1 draw.  The Nix came from behind as a Brockie brace gave the home side a 3-2 win over the Heart, While a late Brett Emerton header saw Sydney steal the 3 points out from underneath the Mariners 1-0, and the round ended on a high note for the Victory who survived a late Jets come back attempt to hold on 3-2.

Round 14 ended the year for some clubs, while for others it began 2013. The Mariners ended the year on a high after a controversial 1-0 win over the Glory despite replays showing the goal came after a blatant hand ball by Bernie Ibini.  Down the line Adelaide rounded out 2012 by demolishing Sydney 3-0.  2013 got off on the right note for the Heart who grounded the Jets 3-2, while in Sydney high flying expansion club Western Sydney downed the resurgent Victory 2-1.  The Roar then went back-to-back for the first time this season after downing the Nix 2-1 in what proved to be another controversial match with debut ref Tim McGilchrist losing the plot after Brockie had equalised, struggling to make many correct calls from the 36th minute onwards.  (Some Phoenix fans will remember McGilchrist from the preseason game against the Jets, that saw 3 Nix players see Red)

Round 15 sees the A-League back to weekend football with three games on Saturday and two on Sunday.  Saturday kicks off in the Hunter as Newcastle host Adelaide.  Both sides will be looking to this match to give them a much win.  Adelaide have started their rebuild with the win in R14 after the two quick losses while the Jets season continues to bumble along despite the fact they have found the back of the net 6 times in the last 3 matches.  Adelaide will again look to Dario Vidosic for their scoring opportunities, while the Jets will look to get their big man & import Emile Heskey into clear space and onto the score sheet.  I can see this match either ending in a draw or a 3-2 score line to Adelaide.

The middle game of the Saturday triple header is in Melbourne where the Victory play host to the travelling Phoenix.  The locals come into this match well placed despite the loss to the Wanderers, while the Nix will be battle scarred without the services of Boyd (red card suspension), Muscat will most probably be serving a suspension for his elbows in incident, while its possible that Leo Bertos will need a week to recover from the head knock that saw him leave the field early in Brisbane.  There will be one player the Nix will be on the lookout for and I expect there to be some fierce tackling on, Marco Rojas .  The young kiwi forward should be wary of his former side, but will also be looking to impress his national team coach with a strong performance.  Rojas is also likely to be the target of European sides with his contract expiring shortly, but he probably wont be moving during the January transfer window, but is likely to go at the end of the A-League season.  Im looking for this to be an easy win to the home side, with injuries and suspensions + the travel factor counting against the Nix.

The final match of the day sees Perth host Sydney.  The Glory will look to home form and left over resentment from the handball goal to spur them onto the win.  Sydney will travel over the Nullarbor looking to not only combat the locals, and the oppressive summer heat but also their own failings.  If Del Piero is fit to travel and to play this should give them a boost.  Both teams will be looking to improve with the Glory’s Kiwi striker Shane Smeltz looking to break his goal scoring drought.  Look for the heat to be a big factor in this one, if the day is another day well into the 30s or higher then expect the fatigue of travel to impact Sydney, giving the Glory another home win.

Sunday’s first match is also at AAMI park in Melbourne where the Heart will take on the resurgent Roar.  The locals are struggling towards the bottom of the table despite their 3-2 win on Tuesday, and will be looking to get back to back wins on the board.   A large shake up to the line up last week, including the shock elevation of former Roar back up keeper Andrew Redmayne, seems to have given the Heart the impetus they needed. The Roar come in on the back of two wins and will be looking to get another win under their belts as the try and rebuild their confidence and get back up the ladder, so they can get a shot at trying to defend their championship.  The away win monkey is now off their backs after the Adelaide win and with Berisha & Halloran having scored against the Nix look for the attacking confidence to return.  The Heart have the wood on the Roar this season but Im expecting this game to be a bit closer with a draw a likely outcome.

The round is rounded out in Sydney as the Wanderers host the Mariners in their Parramatta fortress.  The Wanderers have shown up the other former & current expansion clubs (North Queensland Fury, Gold Coast United, Melbourne Heart) not only with their on field performance, sitting 3rd at the half way point of the season but also off field with healthy turn outs in the stands.  The table topping Mariners will need to be wary of the newcomers but at the same time they have proven their worth in the last few rounds with injuries and suspensions testing the depth of their talents.  They were lucky to come away from their match with the Glory with the full three points and I cant see the Wanderers giving them the same opportunities that the Glory afforded them. Look for this to be a very tight tussle and if either side is to take the three points look to it being by just 1 goal.

The other thing about the Summer of Football other than the on field action, is the off field action associated with the January transfer window.  The Roar are known to be on the lookout for another striker and will be looking abroad having freed up a visa spot with the release of Yuji Takahasi from his loan deal.  Several other clubs may be on the lookout to fill gaps in their squad, and with the injuries to and loss of form of Paul Ifill I’d expect Ricki Herbert to have his eye out for another striker of centre forward.
Conversely the January transfer window is also the time that promising young Australian and New Zealanders, look to get picked up by European clubs. As previously mentioned there is speculation that Marco Rojas will depart the A-League either now or at the end of the season, while young Mariner Tomas Rojic is expected to move to struggling Premier League squad Reading as they look to fight the probability of relegation, while he is also being linked with several other lower division clubs throughout Europe.

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