FFA Cup Update

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Qualifying for the inaugural FFA Cup is coming to it’s conclusion in Brisbane this week, with Peninsula Power, Olympic FC, Brisbane Strikers and Lions FC all just 90 minutes away from being in the main draw. Power hosts Olympic tonight, while Strikers host Lions tomorrow. Here’s an update of how qualifying is going all around the nation.

Queensland:
4 spots total
0 qualified

Brisbane:
Brisbane Strikers vs. Lions FC
Olympic FC vs. Peninsula Power
*Winners into the FFA Cup.

Regional:
Northern Fury 1-4 FNQ Heat
*FNQ Heat plays Magpies FC for a spot in the FFA Cup.

Palm Beach vs. Caloundra FC
*Winner into the FFA Cup
———————————————————————————————————
New South Wales:
9 spots total (7 Sydney based NPL NSWPL + 2 Regional)
4 qualified (Sydney Olympic, Blacktown City, Manly United, South Coast Wolves)

Sydney:

Playoffs:
Sydney United vs. Parramatta FC
Hakoah Sydney City vs. Northern Tigers
*Winners into the FFA Cup, losers play off for another spot in the FFA Cup.

Regional:
Round 6 qualified teams:
Northern: Boambee Bombers, Lismore Workers, Urunga FC, Inverell Joeys.
Southern (Interdistrict): Cooks Hill United vs. Kotara South + New Lambton
Southern (NPL/Newcastle): Broadmeadow Magic, South Cardiff

*All 8 sides move into round 6, with two sides moving into the FFA Cup.
———————————————————————————————————–
Victoria:
4 total spots
0 qualified

Round 6:
Bulleen Lions vs. Bentleigh Greens
Dandenong Thunder vs. South Melbourne
Fawkner Blues vs. South Springvale
Green Gully vs. Melbourne Knights
Werribee City vs. Northcote City
Richmond SC vs. Sunbury United
St. Albans Saints vs. Eastern Lions
Springvale White Eagles vs. Hume City.

*To be played week of May 27-28.

Two rounds away from FFA Cup qualification.
——————————————————————————————————
South Australia:
1 total spot
0 qualified

Adelaide City vs. West Adelaide.
Game to be played May 31st
*Winner into the FFA Cup
———————————————————————————————————
Western Australia:
2 total spots
0 qualified

Round 7:
ECU Joondalup vs. Stirling Lions
Subiaco AFC vs. Bayswater City
Games to be played June 2nd
*Winners progress to the FFA Cup
——————————————————————————————————–
Tasmania:
1 total spot
0 qualified

Round 7:
Tilford Zebras vs. South Hobart
Game to be played June 9th
*Winner to qualify for the FFA Cup
————————————————————————————————————
Australian Capital Territory:
1 total spot
1 qualified (Tuggeranong United)

Tuggeranong United 3-2 Cooma SC

* Tuggeranong United have qualified for the FFA Cup

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Former Players Update: 20/05/2014

*Im bringing this back, however with less detail than before. Rather than including every player, I’ll just include the headlines. This will probably be just a semi-regular feature as opposed to a weekly one.

The European seasons have just concluded- here’s a brief summary of some of the more noteworthy players:

-FC Utrecht finished the season in 10th place. Tommy Oar made 31 appearances -1 goal-, while Adam Sarota made 15 after returning mid-season from an ACL injury. Both are in with a good chance of going to Brazil.

-Fortuna Düsseldorf enjoyed a solid end to the season, finishing 6th in the 2.Bundesliga. Halloran eventually won himself a regular spot in the side, and went of a late season scoring blitz with an impressive 6 goals in 18 games. He too is in with a good chance of going to Brazil.

– Dario Vidosic ended up having a solid first season in the Swiss Super League, with 6 goals in 29 games for FC Sion. Sion ended up finishing 8th in the 10 team league.

While European seasons are predominantly over, the Asian Leagues are just warming up:

– Mitch Nichols has struggled for playing time since his January move from Melbourne, making just the six appearances to date. Cerezo currently sit 13th in the J-League.

– Luke DeVere appears to have won back his spot in the Gyeongnam side after an injury riddled 2013 season. DeVere has made 6 starts this season for the club, scoring once for a side sitting 10th in the K-League.

– Finally in Asia; Mohamed Adnan has moved from Al Arabi in the Qatari Stars League, to Bahraini side Al Hadd.

Issey Nakajima-Farran:
Issey, who was signed by Toronto FC in January, has been traded to fellow Canadian MLS side Montreal Impact. Issey was traded for a combination of player Collen Warner and cash. Issey scored two goals in five games for Toronto and is yet to play for Montreal.

Charlie Miller:
Charlie is now retired and according to his twitter runs an academy for youngsters in Glasgow, however he’s now facing some legal troubles. According to STV News, Miller has been charged with public urination and failing a breath test. Miller, who scored 8 goals in 30 games for Brisbane has been retired since 2011 after a 5 game spell with Scottish lower league club Clyde FC. He has plead not guilty to both charges and will face court again in September.

Bob Malcolm:
Another ex-Scottish import –and one were all trying to forget- Bob Malcolm has spent the latter part of the European season as an assistant coach to ex-Rangers teammate Barry Ferguson.

Big Bob doing what he does best.

Big Bob doing what he does best.

Malcolm proceeded engage in an argument substitute Steven Dobbie before slapping him in the face. Unsurprisingly he was sent off and given a touchline ban for his actions. Blackpool finished 20th in the English Championship, and Ferguson –and Malcolm- were dismissed at the end of the season. It was Malcolm’s second coaching stint after being a player/assistant manager at East Fife last year.

If you haven’t seen it yet- here it is:
https://vine.co/v/M1r06gjuHva

Alex Brosque:
Brosque and his Al-Ain teammates won the UAE Presidents Cup over the weekend with a 1-0 win over Al-Ahli in the final. Brosque however was released earlier today from the club after his contract expired, and he’s been linked with a return to the A-League with Sydney FC.

Rocky Visconte:
Finally, Rocky Visconte is back in his native Adelaide playing for Croydon Kings in the South Australian NPL. Visconte’s previous club was Thai outfit Suphanburi FC.


Rumour: 1860 striker Benjamin Lauth linked to Brisbane

(The new Berisha?)

(The new Berisha?)

A report on German website merkur-online.de has suggested that German striker Benjamin Lauth could be the man to come in and replace departed striker Besart Berisha. Earlier this season Lauth confirmed he would not be renewing his contract with the Bavarian club.

Lauth, 32, spent last season in the 2.Bundeslia at 1860 Munich where he scored 3 goals in 28 appearances this season. All up since 2008 he has scored an impressive 62 games in 184 games for the club with previous stints at Hannover, Hamburg and Stuttgart. Lauth also has been capped 5 times by his country about a decade ago, with his final appearance in 2004.

It’s well known that Mulvey is currently in Europe conducting discussions with a range of players for next season, however this is the first time a name has emerged. It doesn’t mean he’s been signed however, just that talks have, or will take place.

A translation of the report (in broken English is)

Munich – Benny Lauth could remain a lion even after his departure from the 1860 – however, at the other end of the world . Supposedly he is trading at an A – League club

On Sunday ran Benjamin Lauth (32 ) the last time in a league game for the Munich Lions on . 20 minutes he was allowed to storm again , a goal (1:1) However, it was in the game no longer permitted at the 1 FC Union. Thus, his career ended at 1860 on May 11, 2014 at 17.20 clock in Berlin- Köpenick .

It is no secret that Lauth his career still wants to continue . Only where this is not yet certain . ” Benny finds that the U.S. is an amazing country are ” revealed Lauths consultant Robert Schneider already the end of April . The Major League Soccer has seen many players are attracted to the end of her career.

But Benny Lauth is http://www.theroar.com.au a report of the online portal also traded at the other end of the world . Supposedly, the Australian champion Brisbane Roar is interested in him. In their ranks a native of Munich already playing with Thomas Broich in the squad. After Brisbane will lose his star striker Besart Berisha, you are on the search for a successor .

Asked about the rumors said Lauths advisor to Schneider tz : ” Excluded is nothing But there is neither a specific request from Brisbane still a tendency , where Benny will play in next season That will certainly go on for a few weeks . . second-division season is yes just finished . ”

End of career in the Australian A -League – that sounds sensible. And yet another point , albeit a rather more emotional , speaks for Brisbane : The logo of the club is decorated with a big lion …


Solórzano sticking around for 2 years

(Getty Images: Mark Metcalfe)

(Getty Images: Mark Metcalfe)

It was confirmed today that striker Jean Carlos Solórzano will be sticking around in Brisbane for a further two seasons, extending his stay in Brisbane through the 2015-16. Solórzano returned to the club in January after almost three seasons away and became the default attacking substitute off the bench late in the season and the finals making a handful of late cameo appearances along with one start away to the Wanderers.

It’s difficult and perhaps a tad unfair to judge Solórzano on his play this season since his arrival in January, given his relative lack of game-time since he left Brisbane in 2011. Just to give a bit of perspective on his lack of football since his time in Brisbane, he made 14 appearances for Victory, a handful for Alajuelense, the club who owned his rights and four for Puntarenas. That goes a long way to explaining the fitness issues he had upon his return, and also suggests why Mulvey has been cautious and limited his involvement to cameo’s off the bench to this point. The shackles should be off next season however with a full pre-season under his belt.

It’s unlikely that Solórzano will be the only #9 to sign for Brisbane this off-season, and with that in mind he’ll be facing some strong competition for a spot at the top of Brisbane’s formation, with youngsters Brandon Borrello and Jai Ingham also likely to get their shot in the pre-season. Still, when he was healthy he showed he’s got the ability to be a consistent threat in this league, scoring 11 goals in his only full campaign to date.

The signing takes the squad to 19 players, which becomes 22 when you include the full-time NYL trio of Borrello, Litfin and Theodore. There are also four visa players currently – Henrique, Miller, Broich and Solórzano-, which means that one more may be signed to compete in the A-League. A goalkeeper and a new striker appear to be the two pressing issues as I mentioned yesterday, while another utility defender may also be on the agenda.

Currently signed:

Goalkeepers: Michael Theo.
Defenders: Matt Smith, Shane Stefanutto, Ivan Franjic, Jade North, James Donachie, Jack Hingert, Corey Brown.
Midfielders: Steven Lustica, Liam Miller, Julius Davies, Matt McKay, Luke Brattan, George Lambadaridis, Devante Clut, Ben Litfin (FT NYL), Patrick Theodore (FT NYL).
Attackers: Henrique, Jean Carlos Solórzano, Thomas Broich, Dimitri Petratos, Brandon Borrello (FT NYL).


An early look at next season

Brisbane won their third Championship 8 days ago now, however now that the season is over, it’s time to take a look forward to the next. This will all be about the squad and where Brisbane may need to strengthen to prepare for their title defence and ACL tilt. For starters; here’s the list of contracted players, and a bit of a depth chart as things stand.

Contracted through 2014-15: Matt Smith, Shane Stefanutto, Liam Miller (fgn), Julius Doe, Matt McKay (Aus Marquee), Luke Brattan, George Lambadaridis, Corey Brown, Brandon Borrello (FT NYL), Ben Litfin (FT NYL), Patrick Theodore (FT NYL).

Contracted through 2015-16: Ivan Franjic, Steven Lustica, Henrique (fgn), Jade North, Jean Carlos Solórzano (fgn), Dimitri Petratos, Devante Clut.

Contracted through 2016-17: Michael Theo, James Donachie, Thomas Broich (fgn) (Marquee).

Out of contract: Diogo Ferreira.

Moving on: Besart Berisha (Melbourne Victory), Matt Acton (TBC).

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Obviously the big need area to address right now is upfront with the recruitment of a #9 who can

Replacing this man is essential

Replacing this man is essential

contribute to the team is the undoubted no.1 priority, even with Solórzano reportedly sticking around for another two seasons and youngsters Brandon Borrello and Jai Ingham scoring for fun in the youth team. Recently the media have linked German striker Mike Hanke, who played with Broich at Borussia Monchengladbach and was a part of Germany’s 2006 WC squad to the role. Mulvey is apparently headed to Europe this week to begin discussions and negotiations with three unknown players.

The news over the weekend however has surrounded the back-up goalkeeper role with Brisbane confirming that Matt Acton would not be offered a new contract after 5 years with the Roar. It was fun watching Matt progress from a young keeper right back at the start of the NYL to making his debut this season, but ultimately the form of Theo made it impossible for him to get regular playing time. While it has no bearing on signing a new striker, Brisbane also have a decision to make regarding Kofi Danning, who’s been regaining fitness in the NPL this season.

In terms of a replacement there were reports over the weekend that Brisbane born, England based keeper Jamie Young is going to be signed on as a replacement. It’s not confirmed as yet, but it does make a bunch of sense given what Brisbane are looking for. There’s also the fact he played in goals for in the Albany Creek pre-season game this past year so he’s already had at least some time playing for Brisbane. If Young isn’t the man, other options could be former NQ Fury and Blackburn Rovers keeper Sebastian Usai –who also trained with Brisbane for some time over the past season- and NYL keeper Fraser Chalmers. For mine, there probably isn’t a great deal between Young and Usai, while Chalmers is better off sticking around as the teams NYL keeper, and hopefully he gets more time this season now that Acton isn’t playing down taking most of the playing time.

Another potential issue to consider for Brisbane is a potential log-jam in the middle of the part with a host of central midfielders under contract. Having that sort of depth is fantastic, however including Julius Doe –who I listed as a left winger on the depth chart-, and FT NYL duo Ben Litfin and Patrick Theodore, Brisbane have up to nine options in the middle of the park. Given the fact he made a grand total of four appearances in the Youth League this season just gone, isn’t playing in the NPL side and wasn’t at the parade last Tuesday im starting to think he’s not going to be around next season. That would make some sense given Lambadaridis will be back fit again by the time pre-season gets underway, and youngster Devante Clut was locked up on a first team contract.

Just to wrap this up, here’s a little list of what areas of the team Brisbane may be looking to strengthen over the coming weeks.

Goalkeeper: A back-up goalkeeper is clearly on the agenda after the departure of Matt Acton over the weekend. Jamie Young seems to be the odds on favourite for the role, while other options may include Sebastian Usai, Justin Pasfield and youth keeper Fraser Chalmers.

Utility Defender: Im calling this the Diogo Ferreira role, and there’s a good chance it ends up being that Ferreira sticks around next season. Regardless, with only seven defenders under contract, having an extra body in the squad capable of covering multiple positions in the defensive third would be a bonus. Former Adelaide and Brisbane youth defender Daniel Bowles was linked in the press a couple of weeks ago after he was released by Adelaide and he would be a reasonable option. Bowles is more of a RB/CB by trade as opposed to the RB/LB/CM that Ferreira has filled in at this past season. Either way somebody to provide competition and depth is important. There is also youth centre back Lachlan Jackson, whose improved gradually every season waiting in the wings.

Attacker: A replacement striker is essential if Brisbane are going to make a successful title defence next season and replacing the goals scored by Berisha isn’t going to be an easy task. Still, Brisbane did play well even without him this season, and nobody is irreplaceable. Who it will be is anyone’s guess, however it seems the rumoured Stein Huysegems and Shane Smeltz won’t be the answer. There is also little depth on the wings, especially if injuries do hit so there is a chance that someone – possibly Ingham?- may be signed on to provide depth n that role.


Report: Perry Park to become Brisbane’s home

Brisbane's 'Home of Football', and now home of the A-League Champions (Wikipedia)

Brisbane’s ‘Home of Football’, and now home of the A-League Champions

Perry Park has long been considered the ‘home of football’ here in Brisbane and as of next season the Bowen Hills facility will become the home of the Brisbane Roar. The clubs training and administrative offices will be moving from their Ballymore home just down the road, however there’s a chance that the team may still start pre-season training at the Herston venue due to the upgrades set to take place at Perry Park. It’s a topic that has garnered much discussion and debate in the three years this site has been in operation, and now that a decision has been made it’s a good time to re-visit the topic.

Back in late 2011 when I first broached this topic on the site, I analysed a host of local football bases with Perry Park amongst the best options for a host of reasons –along with QSAC and Richlands-. Perry Park ended up being rated second by myself at the time due to it’s location, history and facilities, just behind QSAC. Here’s what I said about the idea of Perry Park back in 2011:

Pros:
– Central Location
– Has a reputation as ‘Brisbane’s home of football’
– Already has a stadium to host Youth/Women’s matches
– Potential to turn it into a clubhouse for supporters

Cons:
– Pitch quality not always the best
– Stadium is now owned by the Local Government, and leased back to the Strikers making it challenging to alter the setup.
– Stadium used for QSL games by the Brisbane Strikers
– Stadium is a bit run down and would require significant upgrades to the pitch, the stands and the equipment required for a pro team
(gym, rehab pool, ect)

Since then there has obviously been significant improvements to the area, including the YMCA indoor Gym, workout and training facilities at the northern end which has been a massive boost. There have also been significant upgrades to the dressing rooms bringing them up to modern standard. The pitch is still more often than not less than desirable however there seems to be some plans in place to take better care of the surface, -including limiting the amount of traffic on it- with the venue to also be considered a potential training base for teams in next years Asian Cup. In addition to the playing field needing to be brought up to standard, the creation of the required off field facilities for video analysis and the like are also still concerns.

In terms of the upgrades expected and required, the main field is expected to undergo a massive transformation, and in all likelihood will see the turf relayed in order to provide the best quality of surface possible for both Brisbane and the Strikers to play on. In addition to that Field 2 -over on the Eastern side- will be fully transformed into a field that is up to training standard for Brisbane’s A-League and NYL sides, as well as the Strikers NPL side. There’s no word as of yet where the W-League side fits into the equation, however it’s likely they’ll play their home games at the venue at least. Pitches aside, work will also be done on the administrative and office facilities to make sure they are up to the standard required, while the grandstand will also undergo some refurbishments. Finally- the back room areas will also be addressed with Physio and treatment facilities, video analysis facilities, dressing rooms and other general facility upgrades are all also reportedly on the agenda.

Brisbane are likely to move into the facility before the start of the 2014-15 season when pre-season training gets underway in early June, however due to potential time constraints in upgrading the facilities in time that may be put on hold for a few weeks. From the Strikers side of things, their junior base has already relocated south to Logan’s Meakin Park, while their NPL side and senior administrative base will remain at Perry Park. However in the paper today it was suggested the admin base would not remain at Perry Park, rather it would move to Logan. Time will tell I guess. All up this is a positive development and outcome which will see Brisbane once again basing themselves at a football specific venue rather than the back park of a rival code.


Champions!

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Brisbane Roar 2 (Berisha 85’, Henrique 108’)
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Spiranovic 56’)
51,153 @ Suncorp Stadium

They’ve done it again! Brisbane Roar are the A-League Champions for a record breaking third time with last nights 2-1 win over the Western Sydney Wanderers, and in typical Brisbane Roar fashion they did it the hard way.

Yet again in the title decider Brisbane conceded the first goal of the game, a lapse in concentration saw Spiranovic free at the near post and giving the visitors the lead in what was a tight battle up until that point. Topor-Stanley going off with an injury was a problem for Popovic however, and despite La Rocca being able to play both at CB and DM/CM, moving him from that midfield role created more space for Brisbane’s attacking players who were taking more and more risks at that stage.

The equaliser once again came late on, and just like 2012 it was a Broich cross –in this case FK- meeting the head of Berisha who beat Covic in the Wanderers goal. It was Polenz who kept Berisha on side. Speaking of Berisha, in his final game I thought he was fantastic- he worked hard looked to create chances and was running at their backline constantly. The gestures to the crowd and the post-game interview should put to one side any doubts people had about his passion and his desire to go out a winner.

If the equaliser was a case of Deja-vu from 2012, the winner came right out of the 2011 final with a cross from the right hand side –Solórzano then, Donachie now- before Henrique finished. It was poor marking from a clearly tired Wanderers side, with La Rocca both losing a header to Henrique (!) and then failing to mark him just seconds later.

Three Championships in four seasons- wow. Im sure most, if not all fans never thought we’d see that, especially in the dark days of 2009-10. A couple of interesting little facts to end on- that was Brisbane’s 7th comeback win of the season yesterday, giving them roughly a 50% winning ratio after conceding the first goal. They have also won three Championships now despite conceding the first goal in all three games, and never having scored before the 84th minute. That goes some way to show you the character of the team we’ve all enjoyed watching for four seasons now.

Stats:
Screenshot_2014-5-5 15.0.57

Up next: The off-season. Pre-season fixtures should be happening around early-mid July but there’s plenty of football between now and then- not least a certain tournament in Brazil a couple of Brisbane Roar players will probably be featuring in.

Tomorrow however is the Champions parade through the City, winding it’s way to King George Square at around 1.30.