Western Sydney Wanderers boss eyes Robbie Keane in transfer window

Gerrard, Keane on A-League radar?

Tony Popovic says Western Sydney Wanderers would be keen to bring Irish striker Robbie Keane to the club.

The Wanderers have room in their squad to bring in more players during the January transfer window, with Popovic confirming on Thursday Keane is one player of interest.

The ex-Liverpool and Tottenham star has left MLS side LA Galaxy after six seasons at the club and is reportedly weighing up offers from around the globe about his next venture.

 

But a report in the Irish Sun Newspaper has the Wanderers at the top of the queue to secure the 36-year-old’s services.

And Popovic says the club is weighing up an offer as they chase a Hyundai A-League title as well as have an AFC Champions League group stage in the new year.

“He’s certainly a player it’s hard not to have a look at,” Popovic told reporters on Thursday. “I’m sure there are several that are being mentioned and there are more than several that have been put on our desk, but obviously Robbie is the one everyone is talking about at the moment.

“He’s had a fantastic career, he’s a great player and still scoring goals, so he’s certainly a player we’d have a look at. “We’ll have a look and if we feel someone can help our squad in the second half of the year in challenging for a title and also the Champions League, we’ll certainly look at that and try and bolster.”

The Wanderers’ next opponents Brisbane Roar have also been linked with Keane, with the club’s managing director Mark Kingsman telling Fairfax Media the club would make him an offer.

But coach John Aloisi played down the prospect of Keane joining the Roar.

“I know Mark [Kingsman] has mentioned it in the media but as a football department…I haven’t spoken to the owners about any marquee player,” Aloisi said on Thursday.

“They’re the ones who will decide if we’re allowed to get a guest marquee player, and then we’ll decide if it’s good for our team.”

 

Football Federation Australia

 

Tom Rogic’s heartbreak after Messi masterclass in UEFA Champions League

Tom Rogic is challenged by Barcelona superstar Luis Suarez in the UEFA Champions League.

Celtic’s hopes of progression in the UEFA Champions League were extinguished on Thursday morning (AEDT) after defeat to a Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona, with Caltex Socceroo Tom Rogic starting for the Scottish club.

Rogic played just over an hour at Celtic Park as Lionel Messi’s brace was enough for the Catalans to win 2-0.

 

In his 75th appearance for the Hoops, Rogic looked the most likely to unlock Barca’s defence in the first half.

The result – coupled with a draw in the other match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and Manchester City – means Celtic can’t progress from the group stage. With one game still to play, Brendan Rodgers’ side will finish on the bottom of the group, ending their European journey for 2016/17. But Rogic and his team-mates will have to pick themselves up quickly from the disappointment with the Scottish League Cup final to play on Monday morning (AEDT). Celtic, who have a 10-point lead at the top of the SPL, could land the season’s first piece of silverware by beating Aberdeen in the decider at Hampden Park.

Football Federation Australia

Jamie Maclaren netted seven goals in four meetings with the Wanderers last season.

Jamie Maclaren netted seven goals in four meetings with the Wanderers last season.

Brisbane Roar’s Caltex Socceroo striker Jamie Maclaren is set to explode into form in the Hyundai A-League, starting Friday night. Opta Data explain why.

If there was one fixture that could turn around Maclaren’s goal return it would be Friday night’s clash against Western Sydney Wanderers.

Last season’s NAB Young Footballer of the Year simply loves taking on the Wanderers in Roar colours, as we saw to stunning effect last season.

 

Maclaren notched seven goals in just four meetings with Tony Popovic’s side, including five in three games at Wanderland.

Hyundai A-League 2015/16

Player  

Team  

Opponent  

Goals  

Games  

Maclaren, Jamie

Brisbane Roar FC

Western Sydney

Wanderers FC

7

4

Castelen, Romeo

Western Sydney

Wanderers FC

Brisbane Roar FC

4

4

Fornaroli, Bruno

Melbourne

City FC

Perth Glory

4

4

Santalab, Brendon

Western Sydney

Wanderers FC

Central Coast

Mariners

4

3

Trifunovic, Milos

Newcastle Jets

Melbourne

City FC

4

3

Castro, Diego

Perth Glory

Melbourne

Victory

4

3

Fornaroli, Bruno

Melbourne

City FC

Sydney FC

4

3

Powell, Blake

Wellington Phoenix

Western Sydney

Wanderers FC

4

2

Can he continue that trend in Harvey Norman Friday night football in the new surroundings of Spotless Stadium?

After finishing second in the golden boot standings last season (20 goals from just 25 games) much was expected of the 23-year-old attacker heading into the 2016/17 Season.

It’s been a slower start to this season by the Caltex Socceroo striker, with two goals from six appearances for Roar.

While that would appear a meagre return for someone as prolific as “Macca”, his issues in front of goal are not necessarily performance related.

Despite sitting third and losing just once all season, John Aloisi’s side has only scored seven goals so far this campaign. Only Wellington (five) have managed less.

But Maclaren is still Roar’s most potent attacking weapon.

His two goals and one assist means he has been involved in 42.9% of Roar’s goals, with only seven other players across the competition involved in more.

Hyundai A-League 2016/17

Player  

Team  

Goals  

Assists  

Goals

Involved In

Team

Goals

% of Team

Goals

Krishna, Roy

Phoenix

4

1

5

5

100.0%

Rojas, Marco

Victory

4

4

8

14

57.1%

O’Donovan, Roy

Mariners

3

1

4

7

57.1%

Fornaroli, Bruno

City

6

0

6

12

50.0%

Santalab, Brendon

Wanderers

4

0

4

8

50.0%

Keogh, Andy

Glory

6

1

7

15

46.7%

Nabbout, Andrew

Jets

1

3

4

9

44.4%

Maclaren, Jamie

Roar

2

1

3

7

42.9%

Berisha, Besart

Victory

4

2

6

14

42.9%

Sergi Guardiola

United

3

0

3

7

42.9%

And despite Roar’s apparent troubles going forward, Maclaren has still managed to get openings in front of goal, registering 11 shots on target in 2016/17.

Only Perth Glory star Andy Keogh, who has six goals to his name, has had more with 13 shots forcing a save from the opposition keeper.

Football Federation Australia

UEFA Champions League: Caltex Socceroo Tom Rogic set for Messi’s Barca

Tom Rogic's Celtic will tackle Barcelona in the Champions League on Thursday morning (AEDT).

Caltex Socceroo Tom Rogic should come straight back into Celtic’s starting side for tomorrow (Thurs) morning’s UEFA Champions League clash against Barcelona in Glasgow.

In a must-win game for the Hoops to keep their hopes of UCL progression alive, Rogic is likely to start after only playing 25 minutes in the club’s Scottish Premier League win at Kilmarnock on the weekend.

And Celtic will need Rogic at his best against a Barca side boosted by the return from injury of superstar Lionel Messi, and who thumped Celtic 7-0 at the Camp Nou in September.

“We showed them too much respect and the scoreline was bitterly disappointing at the time,” Rodgers said of that defeat, Celtic’s heaviest in Europe.

“There were many aspects we learnt from, like being brave, and the players have shown they have learned from that.

“It was a tough game against a top-class, world-class team, but I’d hope it will be a different performance from ourselves.

“We have to fight and ensure we do everything we can to try to stop them, but it’s not easy.

“They are a team of quality that can play through pressure and we have to play how we are best – on the front foot.

“You also need a little bit of luck as well and when the opportunities come, you can take them.”

Barca ran riot that night with Messi scoring a hat-trick, while Luis Suarez (two) and Neymar also got on the scoresheet.

With Rogic in sensational form, Celtic has improved since then and have a 10-point lead at the top of the SPL.

Celtic must win and hope Manchester City fail to defeat Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany to keep their UCL Round of 16 hopes alive.

 

Football Federation Australia

Alen Stajcic: Rio disappointment to fuel Westfield Matildas

Westfield Matildas boss Alen Stajcic with Co-Captain Lisa De Vanna.
Westfield Matildas Head Coach Alen Stajcic has opened up about the Westfield Matildas’ Rio Games campaign, labelling it as an ‘opportunity missed’ but determined to use it as motivation.

Reflecting on his team’s campaign, which ended in a heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat to host nation Brazil in the last eight, Stajcic knows it was a case of ‘what might have been’.

Having reached an all time high ranking of 5th after the going through the Rio qualifying tournament undefeated, expectations were high and Stajcic made no secret of his intent and belief that the Westfield Matildas were capable of winning Australia’s first ever medal in football.

 

But those dreams were shattered when Brazil marched into the medal rounds at Australia’s expense in a penalty shootout after neither team could find the back of the net in regulation and extra time.

 

Stajcic says the Westfield Matildas plan on using the hurt from their Rio campaign to spur the team on to reach greater heights and success over the next four year cycle.

“I think the general mood amongst the whole team including me was that it was an opportunity missed,” said Stajcic.

“I think it was probably the first tournament ever where the Matildas were a genuine chance of winning a medal if we played to our potential, and we certainly had patches where we did that but not as consistently as we were in the qualifiers.

“I think all of the players and coaches realise that and certainly for me and after talking to some of the players, it has fuelled the fire and certainly provided more motivation now to know we can push on even further over the next cycle going into the next World Cup and Olympics and compete with any of the top nations on any given day.”

 

The Westfield Matildas’ next matches are scheduled to be as part of their participation in the Algarve Cup, which will be held in Portugal from 1-8 March 2017.

 

Football Federation Australia

Caltex Socceroos: the story of 2016

Massimo Luongo celebrates with Aaron Mooy and Brad Smith after opening the scoring against Iraq.

In 2016, the Caltex Socceroos eased through second round FIFA World Cup qualification to move into the final phase on the Road to Russia, where the Aussies remain unbeaten after five games in Group B with it all to play for in 2017.

The year ended with the Caltex Socceroos in third, equal on nine points with UAE and a point behind Japan and Saudi Arabia. But, crucially, with three home games to come next year.

The year began in Adelaide with a 7-0 thumping of Tajikistan, and ended in Bangkok with a 2-2 draw against the Thais.

In total, Australia scored 23 times and conceded 10 this year.

The Caltex Socceroos won five games, lost two and drew three. Seven of these ten games were World Cup qualifiers, the other three friendlies. Australia was unbeaten in all World Cup qualifiers.

And skipper Mile Jedinak scored all four of his penalties in 2016.

Group A

Pos Team P W D L GD Pts
1 Iran 5 3 2 0 4 11
2 Korea Republic 5 3 1 1 2 10
3 Uzbekistan 5 3 0 2 2 9
4 Syria 5 1 2 2 -1 5
5 Qatar 5 1 1 3 -3 4
6 China PR 5 0 2 3 -4 2

Group B

Pos Team P W D L GD Pts
1 Saudi Arabia 5 3 1 1 4 10
2 Japan 5 3 1 1 3 10
3 Australia 5 2 3 0 3 9
4 United Arab Emirates 5 3 0 2 1 9
5 Iraq 5 1 0 4 -2 3
6 Thailand 5 0 1 4 -9 1

Highlights

Abu Dhabi provided one of the most fruitful nights of the year in early September.

After a long flight in from Perth via Dubai after defeating Iraq to open Group B, facing UAE would never be easy.

The Emiratis’ shock victory in Japan suddenly made this a group blockbuster.

But in the cloying heat, the Australians put in a titanic effort with – who else – Tim Cahill guiding home the only goal of the night after coming off the bench.

From a player perspective, the ascension of Milos Degenek, Alex Gersbach, Apo Giannou and Jamie Maclaren augers well for the future – all made their national team debuts in 2016.

And the continuing development of Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy gives Australia cause for optimism in the attacking third, while Mark Milligan confirmed his crucial importance to the team.

Results summary

Australia 7-0 Tajikistan – March 24 @ Adelaide Oval (FIFA World Cup Round Two qualifier)

Scorers: Luongo 2’, Jedinak 12’ (pen), Milligan 57’ (pen), Burns 67’, 87’, Rogic 70’, 72’

The year started with a flood of goals in the Caltex Socceroos’ first match in Adelaide in more than five years. The hosts had too much class for Tajikistan, effectively wrapping up the points with two goals in the first 12 minutes.

It was a procession after the break as Australia scored five more times – and hit the woodwork another four times – with substitute Tom Rogic bagging a brace.

Australia 5-1 Jordan – March 29 @ Allianz Stadium (FIFA World Cup Round Two qualifier)

Scorers: Cahill 24’, 44’, Mooy 39’, Rogic 53’, Luongo 69’

Top spot in the group was on the line against Jordan, who had wily Englishman Harry Redknapp in charge. But any potential nerves were blown out of the water in the first half as Ange Postecoglou’s troops raced to a 3-0 lead, with Robbie Kruse providing assists for each goal.

There was no respite for the visitors after the break as the green and gold added two more goals to emphatically book their spot in the next stage of World Cup qualifying.

England 2-1 Australia – May 28 @ Stadium of Light (Friendly)

Scorer: Dier 75’ (og)

Sunderland was the venue for a huge clash with Roy Hodgson’s England, who were deep in preparations for the European Championships. Despite taking the game to the hosts, goals to Manchester United duo Marcus Rashford and Wayne Rooney gave the Three Lions a 2-0 lead early in the second half.

Substitute Milos Degenek – on his international debut – helped Australia pull one back as his cross was turned into his own net by Eric Dier. While it was a defeat, it was some performance by the Aussies.

Australia 1-0 Greece – June 4 @ ANZ Stadium (Friendly)

Scorer: Leckie 90+3’

A week later and almost 40,000 fans were on hand in Sydney as Greece arrived Down under for the first time in a decade. On a poor surface it appeared like the match would end goalless until a dramatic late winner.

Leckie cut inside from the left and blasted a powerful shot into the bottom corner to snatch victory on a night when young fullbacks Jason Geria and Alex Gersbach got their first international caps.

Australia 1-2 Greece – June 7 @ Etihad Stadium (Friendly)

Scorer: Sainsbury 58’

The two sides met again in Melbourne three days later but this time it was the visitors who would get the win. And they did it thanks to a howitzer of a goal from Iaonnis Maniatis, who lobbed goalkeeper Adam Federici from more than 60-metres out.

While Trent Sainsbury pulled a goal back with a header from close range on the hour mark, there would be no fight back from the home side.

Australia 2-0 Iraq – September 1 @ nib Stadium (FIFA World Cup Round Three qualifier)

Scorers: Luongo 58’, Juric 64’

The final phase of qualifying kicked off on a pristine surface in Perth with a stubborn Iraq standing in the way of Australia and a flying start to the group stage.

It took almost an hour for the Caltex Socceroos to break Iraq’s resolve, with two goals in the space of six minutes from Luongo and Juric enough to secure the three points. The perfect start in front of almost 19,000 fans.

UAE 0-1 Australia – September 7 @ Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium (FIFA World Cup Round Three qualifier)

Scorer: Cahill 75’

It was then onto a different challenge in the heat of Abu Dhabi against the emerging UAE, who had beaten Japan in Saitama just a few days earlier. But Australia’s high-energy game proved too much for the hosts in the 30-degree heat.

Cahill came off the bench with 20 minutes left and, with almost his first touch, got on the end of Brad Smith’s pin-point cross to volley home with his right foot and break Emirati hearts. Two from two and onto Jeddah.

Saudi Arabia 2-2 Australia – October 7 @ King Abdullah Sports City (FIFA World Cup qualifier)

Scorers: Sainsbury 45’, Juric 71’

Roared on by more than 60,000 fans, the Saudis made an ideal start taking the lead inside five minutes through Taiseer Al Jassam. But Australia slowly turned the tide and hit back on the stroke of half-time via a glancing header from Sainsbury.

And when Juric guided home Kruse’s cross with 20 minutes left it looked like it would be enough but substitute Nassir Al Shamrani salvaged a point for the home side with 10 minutes left.

Australia 1-1 Japan – October 11 @ Etihad Stadium (FIFA World Cup Round Three qualifier)

Scorer: Jedinak 52’ (pen)

Another enthralling chapter in the rivalry with AFC nemesis Japan ensued a few days later in Melbourne. And just like in Jeddah, another slow start hurt the Caltex Socceroos as Japan scored inside five minutes from Genki Haraguchi.

Whatever Postecoglou said at the break worked a treat as Australia lifted the tempo in the second half, equalising from the penalty spot after Juric was bundled over in the box. The hosts had chances to win it late but also had keeper Mat Ryan to thank for a superb reflex save to keep scores level.

Thailand 2-2 Australia – November 15 @ Rajamangala National Stadium (FIFA World Cup Round Three qualifier)

Scorers: Jedinak 9’ (pen), 65’ (pen)

The Caltex Socceroos last match in 2015 was in Bangkok and a motivated Thailand side playing for national pride after the passing of their King a month earlier. Australia dominated from the first whistle and took a deserved lead when Jedinak converted from the penalty spot. But in a see-sawing game, the War Elephants got back into contest with two goals either side of half-time from Teerasil Dangda saw them dreaming of a huge upset.

But a third penalty in the match – again converted by the Aussie skipper – got the Australians back in the contest at 2-2. It was a third straight draw for Postecoglou’s men, who sit third in Group B at the halfway stage of qualifying.

 

Football Federation Australia