Ron Smith joins Brisbane backroom staff.

New Brisbane assistant coach Ron Smith (The Football Centre)

New Brisbane assistant coach Ron Smith (The Football Centre)

Brisbane Roar have confirmed that experienced coach Ron Smith will join the clubs backroom staff for the 2014-15 A-League season. Smith was present this morning running the drills at the clubs first training session of the new season, and was the only new face at Ballymore. Smith’s appointment fills the gap created when former assistant coach Luciano Trani joined Melbourne City in the off-season as John van’t Schip’s assistant.

The 65 year old has a host of experience to his name with a lengthy spell at the AIS under his belt helping to develop many of Australia’s ‘golden generation’ of players. Smith also was a video analyst at the FFA from 2005 til 2010 providing assistance to Guus Hiddink, Graham Arnold and Pim Verbeek. Smith has experience coaching in Malaysia with Sabah, Johor and most recently Pahang where he was released after a short and ill-fated three month stint. In addition to his coaching in Malaysia, Smith had a year long stint as head coach of Perth Glory back in 2007 where he failed to get them into the finals.

While he’s largely been a failure as a head coach, Smith is renowned as one of, if not the best video analyst in Australia and will be a valuable addition to the clubs backroom staff. Brisbane’s coaching staff now consists of Mike Mulvey (Head Coach), Ron Smith (Assistant Coach), Jason Kearton (Goalkeeping Coach) and Tim Oostenbroek (Physio).


Brisbane Roar to face Stirling Lions in FFA Cup round of 32

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Brisbane Roar’s first game in the FFA Cup will see them travel across the country to take on West Australian NPL side Stirling Lions. The date is yet to be set- but the game will take place on one of the following dates: July 29/30, August 12/13 and August 19/20. So- what do we know about Sterling Lions?

The club was founded as Macedonian Soccer Club in 1958 as a means to bring the community together- much like the way most of the local clubs around the country were. They first made the top league in Perth in early 80’s and won their first State Championship in 1983, before winning the following two in 84 and 85. Success was to continue in the 90’s with two more championships in 1994 and 95, before the club changed its name to the Stirling Lions Soccer Club. All up the club has won 6 state titles (83, 84, 85, 87, 94 and 95) along with six cup victories (80, 92, 96, 2006, 07, 2010).

Stirling Lions compete in the newly formed Football West NPL and they’re currently fifth in the competition after 14 rounds, 9 points off the top of the table. Their top scorer is ex Glory midfielder David Micevski- with 6 goals in 10 games. The club is also the former junior club of now deceased West Ham United striker Dylan Tombides- who passed away earlier in the season after a long bout with cancer. The club still retains a partnership with the Hammers that has seen many young players head to England, including Dylan’s younger brother Tyler. Some of their players include former Perth Glory players such as goalkeeper Aleksandar Vrteski, Daniel Micevski and Hayden Doyle, along with striker Phillip Arnold who had a brief trial with Brisbane in the 2011 pre-season- having a brief cameo against Sunshine Coast and Peninsula Power. They also have defender Jovo Pavlovic who has had a brief stint overseas in Indonesia.

Stirling plays their home games at the relatively modest home of Macedonia Park, which from reports has a grandstand capacity of 1000 and an overall capacity approaching 5000.

Macedonia Park: Home of Stirling Lions. (Photos from Bayswater City FC Facebook)

Macedonia Park: Home of Stirling Lions. (Photos from Bayswater City FC Facebook)

The other Queensland teams in the final 32 are also by and large on the road- with Brisbane Strikers travelling to the Hunter to take on Broadmeadow Magic, while regional sides FNQ Heat and Palm Beach Sharks travel to Sydney to take on Sydney United 58 and Hakoah Sydney City respectively. The only Queensland team to draw a home tie is Olympic FC, who will welcome Melbourne Knights to Goodwin Park.

Full FFA Cup Round of 32 draw:

Newcastle Jets vs. Perth Glory
Melbourne City vs. Sydney FC
Wellington Phoenix vs. Adelaide United
Broadmeadow Magic vs. Brisbane Strikers
Sydney United 58 vs. FNQ Heat
Parramatta FC vs. St. Albans Saints
Olympic FC vs. Melbourne Knights
Manly United vs. Sydney Olympic
South Hobart vs. Tuggeranong United
Hakoah Sydney City vs. Palm Beach Sharks
South Springvale vs. South Cardiff
Blacktown City vs. Bentleigh Greens
South Coast Wolves vs. Central Coast Mariners
Bayswater City vs. Melbourne Victory
Adelaide City vs. Western Sydney Wanderers
Stirling Lions vs. Brisbane Roar


FFA Cup Round of 32 draw set

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The 32nd and final qualifier for the inaugural FFA Cup was confirmed this evening when Melbourne Knights beat South Melbourne to secure the final Victorian qualifying spot. The draw is set up so that teams 5-10 in the A-League will play each other, while teams 1-4 will play against one of the local sides, and given the competitions rules of the state league sides hosting when they draw an A-League team- Brisbane Roar’s first FFA Cup game will be on the road. The draw itself is on Friday morning, and can be seen live on Fox Sports news. Congratulations to the below sides who will be in the draw.

A-League clubs:

Adelaide United
Brisbane Roar
Central Coast Mariners
Melbourne City
Melbourne Victory
Newcastle Jets
Perth Glory
Sydney FC
Wellington Phoenix
Western Sydney Wanderers

Queensland:

Olympic FC
Brisbane Strikers
Palm Beach Sharks
Far North Queensland Heat

New South Wales:

Sydney Olympic
Blacktown City
Manly United
South Coast Wolves
Sydney United 58
Hakoah Sydney City
Parramatta FC

Northern New South Wales:

South Cardiff
Broadmeadow Magic

Victoria:

South Springvale
St Albans Saints
Bentleigh Greens
Melbourne Knights

Western Australia:

Stirling Lions
Bayswater City

South Australia:

Adelaide City

Tasmania:

South Hobart

Australian Capital Territory:

Tuggeranong United


Classy Spain outshine Australia in Curitiba

2014 World Cup- Group B- Match 34
Spain 3 Villa 36’, Torres 69’, Mata 82’
Australia 0

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Australia’s 2014 World Cup campaign has come to an end this morning with a 3-0 defeat to outgoing World Champions Spain in Curitiba. Goals from soon to be Melbourne City striker David Villa, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata ensured the deposed champions leave on a high. For Australia the scoreboard reads 3 losses from 3 games, but that doesn’t begin to tell the story of a team on the rise.

Impressive start:
Australia started much the better side against a Spain side who seemed to be lacking confidence in the early stages, with the Socceroos applying a high defensive press strategy along with quick ball movement keeping the Spaniards on the run. Unfortunately for the Green and Gold it was to come to nothing as young striker Adam Taggart had a tough time upfront on his own against Ramos and Albiol with Australia registering just the one shot in the opening half.

Spain shows up:
After an impressive opening 20 minutes, Australia’s ball movement began to slow slightly and the Spanish quickly capitalised and swung the game in their favour by altering the tempo to suit star playmaker Andres Iniesta and the rest of their side. Early on they peppered McGowan on the right side, but it was down the left where their opening goal came from with Juanfran getting in behind Jason Davidson who picked out Villa in the six yard box and there was only ever going to be one outcome.

Second half:
Australia tried to get a toe-hold in the game in the second half with the substitutions of Halloran and Troisi, but between Spain playing well and poor turnovers from the Socceroos the task proved difficult. Spain went on to ice the game with two late goals, the first of which was scored by Torres after some neat lead-up for on the edge of the box. Juan Mata then rounded out the scoring in the last 10 minutes when he was left free in the box.

Brisbane factor:
Matt McKay got his second start of the tournament and lasted the 90 minutes, while Tommy Oar started again, however he was forced off midway through the second half. Ben Halloran came on at half time while Dario Vidosic remained an unused substitute.

Group B:
Today’s win for Spain sees them finish in third spot in Group B on 3 points, with Australia finishing bottom of the section without a point. Netherlands 2-0 win over Chile in Sao Paolo in the groups other game sees them finish top of the group, with the South Americans finishing in second place thanks to two second half goals from Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay. Netherlands and Chile will now be watching the games later today from Group A to see who they’ll play in the last 16- with Chile likely to end up playing hosts Brazil, while the Netherlands will in all likelihood draw the winner of the Mexico-Croatia match.

Final Group B standings:
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Australia’s World Cup:
Despite today’s disappointing result, and slightly flat performance there will still be a lot to take out of this tournament for Ange Postecoglou and his men as they now eye success in the continental showpiece here in Australia early next year. A young team will be far the better for the experience in the Brazil and will have learned a heck of a lot from some of the greatest players in the world. The much maligned defence still has a bit of work, but they showed signs of being able to form a formidable unit, while the middle and front thirds created plenty of chances in the opening two games.

Up next:
According to the FIFA website, Australia have a friendly in London lined up for September 8th against Saudi Arabia, while will likely be the next hit out and an important step in the preparations for the Asian Cup next year where they will play Kuwait, Oman and Korea Republic in the group stage. They also apparently have friendly against the U.A.E in early October according to the FIFA website.


2014 World Cup Preview: Game 3- Australia vs. Spain

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After two first up losses for both teams, this game may not have a lot riding on it in the context of the group or the wider tournament, but im sure both teams will be looking to leave Brazil on a positive note. In almost any other scenario, the European and outgoing World Champions would be runaway favourites for this clash in Curitiba, however as this tournament has panned out the scales have evened out slightly.

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Venue: Arena da Baixada (Curitiba)
Capacity: 39,631

Australia:
The Socceroos put in an outstanding performance against the Dutch in Porto Alegre last week however it wasn’t enough as the Dutch came from 2-1 down early in the second half thanks to Robin van Persie and Memphis Depay to book their passage into the last 16. Selection wise Australian goal scoring hero Tim Cahill misses out thanks to two yellow cards, while it’s reported that Mark Milligan and Marco Bresciano will also miss the clash. Ben Halloran is expected to start wide on the right, which would see Matthew Leckie shift into a more central role, with Oliver Bozanic coming into the starting side after an impressive second half cameo. While they’ll still be the firm outsiders going into this one, there’s a growing sense that the Spanish are there for the taking tomorrow, and that Australia have been the better side so far in Brazil so hopefully they take it.

Expected Australian XI: Ryan, McGowan, Wilkinson, Spiranovic, Davidson, Jedinak, McKay, Halloran, Bozanic, Oar, Leckie.

Spain:
It’s been the worst title defence imaginable and im not sure anyone had Spain going home in the group stage, but that’s the situation two poor performances have put Vicente Del Bosque and his men in. The golden era of Spanish dominance or ‘tiki-taka’ appears to be at an end after three major tournaments in a row. In a worrying sign for Del Bosque despite making a raft of changes, his side looked little better against the Chileans, and while he will surely make more tomorrow, the focus is surely already on the inquest into where it all went wrong. Iker Casillas is expected to be dropped for this one, with Pepe Reina likely to get the chance in goals with David De Gea injured in training, while younger players like Juan Mata, and Athletico Madrid’s Koke are expected to start. Who pays the price for such a lacklustre showing is unknown, but here’s my rough guess at it.

Expected Spain XI: Reina, Azpilicueta, Ramos, Martinez, Alba, Busquets, Alonso, Koke, Mata, Iniesta, Villa.

Group B:
The group is rather simple really, Netherlands and Chile will go thru, and play off for top spot and the chance to avoid a likely round of 16 clash with Brazil, with a draw enough for the Dutch given their superior goal difference. Spain and Australia will battle for third, with a draw enough to ensure Postecoglou’s men finish in third. Kick-off is from 2.am on SBS 1, with the other game in the group simultaneously on SBS2.


Sensational Socceroos enterain, fall short against Netherlands

2014 World Cup Group B- Match 18
Netherlands 3 Robben 20’, van Persie 58’, Depay 68’
Australia 2 Cahill 21’, Jedinak 54’ (p.k)

Netherlands have come from 2-1 down to defeat Australia 2-1 in Porto Alegre in their second game of the 2014 World Cup. Despite the assertion of former Socceroos boss Pim Verbeek that Australia would get destroyed by an inform Dutch side, the Socceroos fought and arguably could have come away with at least a point from the game.

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Impressive start:
Australia seemed to suffer from a bit of stage fright in the opening clash against Chile, today however was anything but, with the Socceroos in control of the game from the start. Netherlands started off in a very timid fashion, with their 5-3-2 formation working against them giving them very few options playing out from the back. Despite that impressive opening, the Socceroos however fell behind once again after a swift counter attack saw Arjen Robben open the scoring. The goal came from a poor pass from an otherwise impressive Bresciano which left our defence exposed.

Cahill does it again:
Within seconds however, Australia were level and in truth had the goal they deserved, and what a goal it was. Ryan McGowan played a somewhat speculative 40 yard cross from wide on the right, finding Cahill inside the box, and the Australian talisman scored what will go down as one of the goals of the tournament on the volley. The goal was Cahill’s 5th in World Cup play, and his third in his last three World Cup games. He will be desperately missed in the final group game against Spain next week.

Netherlands respond:
The Dutch, and coach Louis van Gaal aren’t considered amongst the best for nothing, and when defender Bruno Martins Indi was forced from the field injured, van Gaal made an astute tactical change bringing on winger Memphis Depay. The change saw Netherlands change from a 5-3-2 formation to a 4-3-3 formation, and saw Australia make a counter move early in the second half with Bozanic coming on for Bresciano to offer more running in midfield.

Second half goals:
Remarkably, Australia took the lead in the game ten minutes into the second half when Jedinak converted a spot kick after Dutch right back Daryl Janmaat was adjudged to have handled in the box. That lead however lasted barely 5 minutes as sharpshooter Robin van Persie lashed a shot past Matt Ryan. It was an unfortunate time to concede, with Jason Davidson playing him onside. Memphis Depay then went on to beat Ryan with a long range goal from 25 yards proving the difference in the contest.

Brisbane factor:
With Ivan Franjic now back in Brisbane, the torch was passed to Matt McKay and the clubs Australian marquee player played 90 minutes at the heart of the midfield. Ex Brisbane winger Tommy Oar started and played about 77 minutes before being replaced. Halloran also came off the bench for another second half cameo.

Group B:
With two losses, Australia’s hopes of progressing now are slim to none, and they’ll be relying on a bounce back from defending champions Spain in the game currently on to keep their tournament alive. A Chile win or a draw eliminates Australia and puts Chile in the box seat to progress, a Spain win makes second spot a 3 way fight on the final matchday in group B.

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2014 World Cup Preview: Game 2- Australia vs. Netherlands

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After Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Chile in Cuiaba, Australia’s –albeit minimal- hopes of progressing to the last 16 go on the line tomorrow morning in Porto Alegre in their second game against the Netherlands. The Dutch romped home against Spain on the weekend, however it’s unlikely the score will be some one sided this time around. Despite being the massive underdog and suffering injury doubts, Australia do at least have the weight of history on their side as the Dutch haven’t beaten Australia in the past three meetings between the two sides.

Venue: Estadio Beira-Rio (Porte Alegre)
Capacity: 51,300
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Australia:
The Socceroos have got some injury concerns after their opening round loss to Chile, with Ivan Franjic on his way home from Brazil after sustaining a hamstring injury, while Mark Milligan will also miss the clash. Ryan McGowan is the obvious candidate to replace Franjic in the side, while Oliver Bozanic and James Holland are the likely replacements for Milligan, depending on how the Socceroos want to set up. It’s unlikely there will be any further changes, with the majority of the side who grew into the game in Cuiaba likely to get a second chance to impress. The Australian plan will surely be more of the same from the first game -opening 15mins aside- with crosses from Leckie and Oar aimed at Tim Cahill the expected order of the day.

Likely Australian side: Ryan, McGowan, Wilkinson, Spiranovic, Davidson, Holland, Jedinak, Bresciano, Leckie, Oar, Cahill.

Netherlands:
The Dutch produced the shock of the tournament to date with their first up demolition of defending champions Spain, and with that in mind it’s highly unlikely that Luis van Gaal will make any changes to his starting side. If he were to make a change, it may be to swap Swansea’s Jonathan de Guzman –who picked up a caution in the first game- with Feyenoord’s Jordy Clasie. Outside of that the defence which was solid should remain in tact, while the threat upfront will come from Robben and van Persie who both shone in the opener.

Likely Netherlands side: Cillessen, Janmaat, de Vrij, Vlaar, Martins Indi, Blind, de Jong, de Guzman, Sneijder, Robben, van Persie.

Group B:
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In Group B’s other match of the day, Spain and Chile play off with the reigning champions fighting to stay alive in the tournament, and you’d say that a win would almost be essential La Roja after their dismal showing in the first game. Reports suggested that David De Gea was likely to get a start at the Maracana, however with his injury in training it’s expected that Iker Casillas will get a reprieve for now at least. They may also look to make a change in the front third, with Diego Costa ineffective in the opener, while at the back Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique looked to be struggling as a pairing.

I have to say that im more confident in Australia getting a result against the Dutch than I was against the Chileans, however the way they picked apart the best side of the past 5 years was rather disconcerting. Hopefully they have a bad day and left their scoring boots in Salvador Kick-off between Australia and the Netherlands from Porto Alegre is at 2.00am on SBS1 with the pre-game show from 1.30am. Spain and Chile will follow from the Maracana from 5.00am.