‘The best is yet to come’ insists goalscorer Mabil as Australia ponders last 16


With four goals in his first seven Socceroos appearances, Awer Mabil is fast becoming a fan-favourite for the national team. But the modest 23-year-old insists that he is just pleased to be a part of a young Australia side that has plenty more to offer.

Mabil played his part in a solid team performance that showed great mental strength after twice seeing its lead pegged back by a determined Syria on Wednesday morning (AEDT).

The FC Midtjylland forward opened the scoring with a tremendous curling effort from outside the box, before further goals from Chris Ikonomidis and a late strike from Tom Rogic secured all three points for the Socceroos.

“This is such a good group to be a part of, a great team,” Mabil said after the victory, which confirmed Australia’s place in the last 16 at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019™.

“The philosophy suits everybody and brings out the best in everybody. You can see in the last two games that we’re carrying a good momentum. We still have a lot to give.

“Every player loved it. You can see the mental strength that we have today. We can’t wait to face whoever, it’s going to be really good.

“I’m really excited for Australian football. This next four years is going to be amazing with some of the young players we’ve got coming up and also the experienced boys who are here who have 50-plus caps.

“We’re learning from them and they’ll guide us through the next four years. It’s going to be an interesting and exciting journey.”

Mabil opened the scoring with an eye-catching left-footed strike to put Australia ahead shortly before half-time, and dedicated his goal to coach Graham Arnold, who he raced over to celebrate with after his shot hit the net.

“I felt quite confident as soon as I hit it,” Mabil said. “But it went so slow. I’m sure from the outside it went fast, but for me it went so slow – I couldn’t wait for it to hit the back of the net.

“It was really nice, it means a lot. [Graham Arnold] has given me a chance to help my country and it’s a chance I’ll always be thankful for.

View image on Twitter

“I dedicated my first goal to him also [in the friendly v Kuwait in October 2018], but that wasn’t official, so today it was good to get an official goal and dedicate it to him to say thank you for the opportunity.

Awer Mabil and Graham Arnold celebrate Mabil goal v Syria, Asian Cup 2019
Mabil celebrates with Graham Arnold: “It was good to get a goal and dedicate it to him to say thank you”

“There’s always a pride to represent my country, and also be part of this group. It’s credit to the boys, they make it easier for people in the front third to score goals and that’s the fun part. I’m loving that role and it makes it easier for me.

“We stuck to what we know. We know if we do our jobs we are the best and that’s what we have to focus on. It was a great crowd and a great test for us to go into the next stage through these kinds of games.”


Source : Socceroos WEBSITE

Social Wrap: Hits and misses


Kuala Lumpur: The clock is ticking down and teams have already started arriving for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019. The-AFC.com tours social media to bring you the best bits from the various camps.

Whether you’re banging them in at the training ground or breaking your international duck in style, goals always bring a smile to the faces of players and fans alike. Missing the target can also be fun to watch, under the right circumstances, as we find out from Qatar’s goalkeeper.

With just two goals in their last four games, the UAE will hope a new kit will bring them good luck on home soil as they look to replicate their 1996 heroics. Will they achieve their goal?

Up and running

Another player hitting the target this week was Australian winger Chris Ikonomidis. The 23-year-old opened his Socceroos account in style, hitting home on the half-volley in the 5-0 friendly victory against Oman in Dubai on Sunday.

Ikonomidis is set to appear in his first major tournament in an Australia shirt, and with a number of injuries striking Graham Arnold’s squad, he can be hopeful the UAE continues to bring him further luck in front of goal.

Source : Asian Football Confederation Website

FIFA/AFC officials to visit Australia next month

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Officials from FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will join Football Federation Australia (FFA) in Sydney from February 20-22 to begin discussions on the membership and terms of reference of a group to review the sport’s Congress.

The Congress Review Working Group was proposed by FFA following last year’s Annual General Meeting at which a resolution to increase representation for the professional game and for women narrowly failed to reach the 75 percent approval of Members required by FFA’s constitution.

FFA, FIFA and AFC will meet with a range of stakeholder groups to discuss the composition, mandate and terms of reference of the Congress Working Group.

Media arrangements for the FIFA/AFC visit will be announced closer to the time.


My Football

Asian Cup 2018 explainer: teams, venues, star players

The Westfield Matildas will learn their group stage opponents for the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup when the draw is held this Saturday night.

Alen Stajcic’s side will be heavily fancied to go all the way in Jordan after streamrolling through a record-breaking 2017.

But which challenges will Australia need to navigate in order to be crowned champions for the second time?


The tournament will be contested by eight nations, split into two groups of four.

Hosts Jordan are the least experienced as they have only appeared at one previous tournament, finishing bottom of Group A in 2014.

Japan prevailed on that occasion, edging Australia – now the AFC’s top-ranked nation – 1-0 in the final.

That was, surprisingly, Japan’s first ever triumph. China PR dominated the tournament with seven straight wins between 1986 and 1999.

The other teams to have qualified are South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines.

Japan Asian Cup
Japan are reigning champions.


Amman, the capital of Jordan, is due to spread the hosting of all games between two venues.

One is the Amman International Stadium, which was built in 1964 and was the scene of last year’s FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup final.

The other is the nearby King Abdullah II Stadium, home to the Al-Wehdat Sports Club and able to fit 13,000 people.

Amman International Stadium
Amman International Stadium


While the Westfield Matildas will take plenty of their own big names to the tournament, they will come up against some headline acts in April.

Japan captain Saki Kumagai was one of two players Sam Kerr beat to the title of AFC Women’s Player of the Year last week and it will be fascinating to see Kerr go head-to-head with the Lyon defender.

South Korea star Ji So-yun is one of few other players currently plying her trade abroad, lighting it up for English outfit Chelsea.

The midfielder has almost 100 international caps and is her country’s all-time top goalscorer.

Jordan, meanwhile, will have their hopes pinned on Stephanie Al-Naber, a goalscoring midielder who netted nine times in just five games in qualifying.

Saki Kumagai
Australia will need to find a way past Saki Kumagai.


Source  :  My Football Website

Steven Lowy and David Gallop congratulate Westfield Matildas and Sam Kerr on national awards

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The Westfield Matildas and superstar attacker Sam Kerr continue to earn recognition for their achievements this year with two national awards in Sydney last night.

The Westfield Matildas are ranked 6th in world after winning the Tournament of Nations in the United States in July with a clean sweep against the US, Japan and Brazil.

They followed this up with back to back victories against Brazil in front of record crowds at Penrith and Newcastle in September.

On current form, the Matildas are genuine contenders for both the AFC Women’s Asian Cup next year in Jordan and the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in 2019.

Last night they were named Team of the Year and received a standing ovation at the Women’s Health Women in Sport Awards.

Sam Kerr, whose goal scoring and trademark back-flip celebrations for the Westfield Matildas, her US club Sky Blue FC in New Jersey and her Westfield W-League club Perth Glory have earned her global headlines, was named Sportswoman of the Year.

Kerr won the Golden Boot in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) competition for Blue Sky FC with a record 17 goals in 22 appearances, and scored seven goals for the Westfield Matildas in 2017 against world-class opposition.

Football Federation Australia Chairman Steven Lowy AM congratulated Kerr and the entire Westfield Matildas squad, coaching staff led by Alen Stajcic and other support staff.

“This recognition is richly deserved,” said Lowy.

“Sam Kerr and her team mates are great ambassadors for our sport and for our country. We will continue to support them in every way we can and to support the growth of women’s football.”

“There is no doubt Sam is a special player. I’d encourage everyone who can to get down to the Westfield W-League this season to see her in action for Perth Glory,” he said.

CEO David Gallop AM said FFA’s strategy for women’s football began with four-year-olds and extended all the way to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“It was great to be there last night to see Sam pick up the big award and to be with Lisa (De Vanna), Steph (Catley) and Sam when the Westfield Matildas got the recognition they deserve for a stellar year,” said Gallop.

“We have an emphasis on encouraging more girls to play through our national ALDI MiniRoos Kick Off program and we know it’s working.”

“We have recently announced improved pay and employment conditions for our Westfield W-League players, in collaboration with the clubs and Professional Footballers Australia.

“We have two friendlies arranged for the Westfield Matildas to play China in Melbourne and Geelong next month, and we have political and financial backing from the Federal Government on our bid to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2017.”

“This is now about much more than women’s football – it is about the football itself and it is fair to say the game has never been bigger or busier in Australia,” he said.


Source : Football Federation Australia 

Former Matildas star Heather Garriock takes hardline stance on dual-sport athletes

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 Eamonn Tiernan

Former Matildas star Heather Garriock says the days of dual code athletes in women’s sport must come to an end if they’re serious about becoming professional.

The first-year W-League coach has brought the hardline stance to Canberra United this season but it’s not the reason foundation player Ellie Brush has joined the Western Sydney Wanderers.


Garriock, 34, says if female athletes want to make their sport fully professional then they must take a professional approach and commit 100 per cent.

Brush has been with United since the W-League’s inception in 2008 but last year split her time between the capital and the GWS Giants for the inaugural AFLW season.

The 29-year-old Canberran has made the permanent move to Sydney to live with her partner and this season will play for the Wanderers and the Giants.

“I moved to Sydney for a lifestyle change and to experience something different, no matter who was the coach at Canberra I was always going to play for a team in Sydney,” Brush said.

“Canberra United has been a massive part of my life for the past 10 years and they’ve been like family, so it was a massive decision and tough decision but the right one.

“I hold the club very close to my heart and certainly that first game against them is going to be very tough, so it’s sad, but people move all the time and I’m looking forward to a new challenge.”

The AFLW proved a huge success with the eight teams made up of athletes from all different sports, but Garriock emphasised they won’t be getting any of her players this season.

“I’m not negotiating with AFLW and football commitments, if we want to become a fully professional league then it’s non-negotiable and players have to commit for the whole season,” Garriock said.

“Ellie has been the backbone of Canberra United and I appreciate everything she has done for the club but I know her playing AFLW last year was hard on the team.

“We had a conversation and she told me she was leaving for Sydney but we have a really good relationship and we’re good friends so there was no hostility or anything.”

Canberra United forced Australia’s most famous dual-sport female athlete and Garriock’s Matildas teammate Ellyse Perry to pick one sport which saw the star cricketer leave for Sydney in 2012.

“I played with Ellyse and she’s a phenomenal person and she juggled both exceptionally, but from my perspective it was hard when she wasn’t at training during the week to prepare for games on the weekend,” Garriock said.

“I just don’t think it’s fair to teammates and you wouldn’t see other professionals doing it, Ellyse did it for a long time and I take my hat off to her but I don’t think you can do it in this day and age.”

Spearhead: Ellyse Perry has been shouldering the fast bowling burden.

Canberra United gave Ellyse Perry an ultimatum in 2012 which saw her leave for Sydney. Photo: AAP

Brush said she respected Garriock’s commitment to the game and women’s sport but said playing both codes allows her to be a full-time athlete.

“I see where she’s coming from and applaud that she’s trying to be as professional as possible but we’ve still got to make ends meet,” Brush said.

“If you’re on a Matildas contract you’re a full-time athlete but below that you’re only playing and getting paid for five months of the year.

“If I could chose one I would, but I think the two can work well together and if I wasn’t playing both I’d have to be working another job.

“I got away with it last year because it was the first AFLW season but if I’d stayed in Canberra it wouldn’t have worked this time because other players would be able to commit more than me and Heather expects 100 per cent commitment, which is fair enough.”


Source  :  The Canberra Times