November 13, 2014 – 7:37PM
Sydney FC’s hopes of having Terry Antonis made available for Saturday night’s Big Blue against Melbourne Victory have been quashed after Football Federation Australia determined the midfielder was ineligible to play.
The FFA told Sydney FC on Thursday that because Antonis was originally called up for Socceroos duty, before pulling out due to injury, he was therefore unable to play this weekend. The governing body told the club that if they risked playing Antonis, the match would be forfeited 3-0 and the club possibly “subject to further sanctions.”
Antonis was involved in a car crash on his way to the airport to join the national team team for next week’s friendly against Japan in Osaka, and was subsequently ruled out of national duty. After being discharged from hospital with minor injuries, including concussion, Antonis began light training with his club teammates in the hope of being available for club duties.
Terry Antonis, left, trains with Sydney FC while skipper Alex Brosque, centre, leaves the pitch after suffering an injury. Photo: Peter Rae
Sydney coach Graham Arnold was adamant that because the Socceroos no longer required Antonis, he was available for the Sky Blues, but the FFA confirmed in a public statement that the midfielder would have to sit out the match.
“Following comments made by Sydney FC head coach Graham Arnold earlier today, Football Federation Australia would like to clarify that in accordance with the FFA statutes, players selected for international duty who are subsequently withdrawn due to injury or illness cannot play for their club during the period for which the player should have been released,” the statement read. “Therefore, FFA confirms that Terry Antonis is ineligible to play for Sydney FC against Melbourne Victory this Saturday.”
Mark Janko (Austria) and Corey Gameiro (Olyroos) are already sidelined by international selection and Alex Brosque appeared to re-injure his ankle at training after missing the match against Adelaide last week.
The ruling means that Melbourne Victory duo Mark Milligan and Scott Galloway are also ineligible after withdrawing from Socceroos and Olyroos duty (the under-23 side are playing in a four-team tournament in China) with injury this week.
Arnold had previously said earlier in the day that he would be asking his chief executive, Tony Pignata, to vigorously pursue the matter with the FFA and claimed the club would be naming Antonis in its match day squad.
“Our belief is that we released him on Friday night after the game to go and play for the Socceroos and he got injured – concussed – whilst on Socceroos duty, on the way to the airport,” Arnold said on Thursday morning. “We’re now looking after the player’s welfare. We’re getting updates every day from the doctor. He’s very good. The Socceroos staff have opted for him not to travel over on the Wednesday, so we don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be able to play [against Victory]. We wanted him to be playing for the Socceroos.”
However, the coach said the back-and-forth with the governing body over Antonis wouldn’t be affecting the team’s preparation.
“We’re preparing the team the same as normal,” he said. “We did a lot of work on the tactical side of things yesterday and today will be a good, sharp session. Tomorrow at Allianz, behind closed doors, we’ll just do the finishing touches.”
Before training, the coach said Brosque was some chance of playing but he lasted only five minutes of the session proper before collapsing in visible pain.
“‘Brosquey” will train for the first time today,” Arnold said before the players headed out. “He’s doing jogging and he said he’s pretty much over it but he still feels it on the twists and turns so we’ll have a look at him and see how he goes.”
But Brosque now appears unlikely, and with Janko and Gameiro away, Kiwi striker Shane Smeltz is almost certain to get his starting debut for his new club.
While the respective city derbies appear to have become the A-League’s grandest occasions, Arnold said this fixture would always represent something unique.
“Until Western Sydney came along, the Big Blue was the biggest game for Sydney and Melbourne Victory and in the past it’s always been a great occasion with great games,” he said. “I’m sure the fans will get a very exciting game on Saturday night. It’s a big game for both of us.”
Although Sydney have their own selection issues, Victory have been demolished by international duty and injuries – not that Arnold feels that makes them an easy target this weekend.
“We both haven’t lost yet and Kevin Muscat is doing a fantastic job down there. He’s recruited a fantastic squad, even though, like us, they’ve got some players out. The depth of both squads will be tested,” he said. “I think any team Melbourne Victory sends out [will be strong]. You saw what they did against Wellington [winning 2-0] with a depleted squad.”
Source : The Canberra Times