Hyundai A-League contracted list: club-by-club guide

Kosta Barbarouses has signed with Melbourne Victory for the Hyundai A-League 2017/18 season.

Monday, 24 July 2017 

Staff writer
With 11 weeks to go until the start of the 2017/18 Hyundai A-League season, the ten squads are filling out. Who is contracted at your club ahead of the new campaign?

Adelaide United

Johan Absalonsen, George Blackwood, Lachlan Brook, Baba Diawara, Tarek Elrich, Ben Garuccio, Ersan Gülüm, Isaias, Paul Izzo, Ryan Kitto, Nathan Konstandopoulos, Daniel Margush, Michael Marrone, Nikola Mileusnic, Jordan O’Doherty, Mark Ochieng, Taylor Regan, Ben Warland.

Brisbane Roar

Michael Theo, Luke DeVere, Daniel Bowles, Corey Brown, Thomas Kristensen, Jacob Pepper, Brett Holman, Jade North, Matt McKay, Jack Hingert, Shannon Brady, Jamie Young, Nick D’Agostino, Joe Caletti, Tomislav Bilic, Dane Ingham, Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Avraam Papadopoulos, Corey Gameiro, Massimo Maccarone.

Central Coast Mariners 

Daniel De Silva in full flight against Sydney FC.Storm Roux, Harry Ascroft, Blake Powell, Connor Pain, Trent Buhagiar, Kwabena Appiah, Adam Berry, Liam Rose, Jake McGing, Adam Pearce, Tom Hiariej, Alan Baro, Antony Golec, Andrew Hoole, Ben Kennedy, Kye Rowles, Josh Rose, Daniel De Silva, Josh Bingham.

Melbourne City

Scott Jamieson has signed for Melbourne City after a season playing in Sweden.Manny Muscat, Osama Malik, Neil Kilkenny, Bruce Kamau, Nick Fitzgerald, Daniel Arzani, Tim Cahill, Dean Bouzanis, Ruon Tongyik, Michael Jakobsen, Bruno Fornaroli, Fernando Brandan, Denis Genreau, Dylan Pierias, Eugene Galekovic, Anthony Caceres, Scott Jamieson, Iacopo La Rocca.

Melbourne Victory

Rhys Williams has signed with Melbourne Victory after departing Perth Glory.Matt Acton, Jason Geria, Leigh Broxham, Marco Rojas, Besart Berisha, Mitch Austin, James Donachie, Lawrence Thomas, Carl Valeri, Stefan Nigro, Jai Ingham, Rhys Williams, Thomas Deng, Kosta Barbarouses.

Newcastle Jets

Nikolai Topor-Stanley has joined UAE club Hatta.Jack Duncan, Glen Moss, Jason Hoffman, Nigel Boogaard, Ivan Vujica, Nick Cowburn, Daniel Alessi, Lachlan Jackson, Daniel Georgievski, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Steven Ugarkovic, Wayne Brown, Andrew Nabbout, John Koutroumbis, Devante Clut, Mario Shabow, Ben Kantarovski, Dimitri Petratos, Roy O’Donovan, Kosta Petratos.

Perth Glory

Mitch Nichols has signed with Perth Glory.Liam Reddy, Nick Feely, Jacob Poscoliero, Shane Lowry, Alex Grant, Marc Warren, Joseph Mills, Scott Neville, Chris Harold, Rostyn Griffiths, Brandon Wilson, Joel Chianese, Mitch Nichols, Diego Castro, Joseph Knowles, Andy Keogh, Adam Taggart, Jamal Reiners.

Sydney FC

Paulo Retre has signed with Sydney FC.Andrew Redmayne, Alex Wilkinson, Jordy Buijs, Josh Brillante, Michael Zullo, Bobo, Milos Ninkovic, Brandon O’Neill, Alex Brosque, Matt Simon, Seb Ryall, Rhyan Grant, Aaron Calver, Charles Lokolingoy, David Carney, Paulo Retre.

Wellington Phoenix 

Ryan Lowry, Dylan Fox, Gui Finkler, Michael McGlinchey, Adam Parkhouse, Marco Rossi, Alex Rufer, James McGarry, Tom Doyle, Roy Krishna, Andrew Durante, Matthew Ridenton, Logan Rogerson, Louis Fenton, Hamish Watson, Sarpreet Singh, Oli Sail, Lewis Italiano, Scott Galloway, Goran Paracki.

Western Sydney Wanderers

Oriol Riera is already looking forward to playing in the Sydney Derby.

John Hall, Vedran Janjetovic, Jerrad Tyson, Jonathan Aspropotamitis, Keanu Baccus, Aritz Borda, Jack Clisby, Robert Cornthwaite, Brendan Hamill, Josh Risdon, Michael Thwaite, Kearyn Baccus, Roly Bonevacia, Chris Herd, Steven Lustica, Jacob Melling, Marc Tokich, Mark Bridge, Jumpei Kusukami, Oriol Riera, Brendon Santalab, Lachlan Scott, Jaushua Sotirio, Álvaro Cejudo.

*Note – list is based on reports and information available. Best efforts have been made to ensure it is accurate as possible. 

 

 

Source  :  Football Federation Australia

Brisbane Roar FC 2 x 1 Melbourne Victory

Brisbane Roar are through to the Hyundai A-League Semi-Finals after recording a stunning come-from-behind 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

Brisbane scored twice in the final five minutes through Matt McKay and Thomas Broich to move through to a Grand Final Qualifier against Western Sydney Wanderers next week.

Besart Berisha looked destined to be the hero for the visitors after breaking the deadlock for Victory with five minutes remaining before the Roar’s stunning comeback in the dying stages in a thriller.

GOALS

0-1 (Besart Berisha 86’) – Just moments after having Jason Geria sent off, Gui Finkler won a corner for Victory with a superb strike from  distance. Kosta Barbarouses delivered a teasing ball into the area which found the unmarked Besart Berisha who fired home from close range.

1-1 (Matt McKay 88’) – Dimitri Petratos found space on the right flank before whipping in a wicked ball which was stroked home by midfielder Matt McKay in heavy traffic.

2-1 (Thomas Broich 90+3) – Corona fired in a fizzing ball from a corner which was met by Thomas Broich who fired a thumping header past the stranded Lawrence Thomas.

KEY MOMENT

Jason Geria’s red card helped turn the tide late on in Roar’s favour.

HIGHLIGHTS REEL

Oliver Bozanic and Carl Valeri have hardly played together all season but the Victory duo were outstanding in the middle of the park for Kevin Muscat’s side. The duo’s pressure, intensity and composure was all class throughout the contest and looked destined to see them through the final four.

COACH KILLER

Victory continued to dominate proceedings at the start of the second stanza and should have been rewarded with a goal in the 63rd minute through Fahid Ben Khalfallah. Besart Berisha picked up a loose ball in the Roar half before playing an incisive ball through to Barbarouses who delivered a wicked ball across the face of goal for Khalfallah. The Tunisian attempted to side foot the ball home from just outside the six yard box but badly miscued his shot wide of Jamie Young’s goal.

OPTA DATA

Victory dominated the contest and had 16 shots to 9 for the match, including 10 to 0 at half-time. But a lack of clinical finishing to reward their domination ultimately came back to haunt them.

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD

Melbourne Victory came out of the blocks firing and immediately put the hosts on the back foot with their energy and willingness to press high up the field. John Aloisi’s side struggled to maintain the ball in the opening stanza and continued to play themselves into trouble in their own half under a torrent of Victory pressure. Roar failed to adapt to Victory’s pressure and too often played aimless balls forward to the isolated Jamie Maclaren.

THE FINAL WORD

Brisbane put to bed the disappointment of missing the Premiers Plate to book a date with Western Sydney Wanderers for a spot in the Hyundai A-League Grand Final.

John Aloisi’s side will travel to a packed Pirtek Stadium full of confidence after twice beating Tony Popovic’s side in the regular season, including a 3-1 win in Sydney back in Round 1.

Melbourne Victory’s Hyundai A-League title defence officially comes to an end after a spluttering campaign which was dogged by inconsistency.

Kevin Muscat’s side will now quickly turn their attention to Tuesday night’s trip to China to tackle Shanghai SIPG in a tricky Asian Champions League encounter.

The Big V will need to rebuild their A-League squad ahead of the 2016/17 campaign with the loss of star duo Gui Finkler and Kosta Barbarouses to the Phoenix, while experienced defender Matthieu Delpierre is tipped to retire.

TEAMS

Brisbane Roar: Young (gk), Hingert, Donachie, North, Brown, Corona, Petratos, McKay, Oar (Henrique 57’), Maclaren, Broich

Melbourne Victory: Thomas (gk), Geria, Delpierre, Broxham, Georgievski, Valeri (Ansell 79’), Broxham, Barbarouses, Finkler, Ben Khalfallah (Galloway 86’), Berisha

Scorers: Berisha 86’, McKay 88’, Broich 90’+3

Red Cards: Geria 83’

Yellow Cards: McKay 9’, Finkler 17’, North 26’, Barbarouses 76’, Geria 78’ 83’, Henrique 89’

Attendance: 20,157

Conditions: 21°C, dry

Football Federation Australia

Oman 0 – 4 Australia

The Socceroos celebrate Matt McKay's opening goal against Oman.
The Socceroos celebrate Matt McKay’s opening goal against Oman.
Australia has continued their free-scoring and barnstorming start to the Asian Cup, crushing a disappointing Oman 4-0 at Stadium Australia on Tuesday night.

In another clear statement the Socceroos are getting more confident in Ange Postecoglou’s style, they destroyed Oman in a devastating first half to book their quarter-final berth with a game to spare.

Matt McKay, Robbie Kruse and Mark Milligan all found the net in the first half before a goal for substitute Tomi Juric midway through the second Completed the rout.

Remarkably, the eight goals the Socceroos have netted in the first two matches have been scored by eight different players.

The result means Australia only need a draw from the final group game with Korea Republic on Saturday night to top the group.

Postecoglou made three changes from the tournament opener, bringing in Milligan, McKay and Jason Davidson for Mile Jedinak, James Troisi and Aziz Behich.

And like Friday night it was a slow start by Australia, with only a superb full-length save by Mat Ryan keeping out Raed Saleh’s rasping drive early on.

It took almost 20 minutes for the hosts to find their feet and when they did they eventually put Oman to the sword.

First McKay turned the ball in from close range after Trent Sainsbury rose highest to head Massimo Luongo’s corner towards goal.

On the half hour it was two as Kruse started and finished a brilliant move which had the crowd of 50,276 on their feet.

Luongo was again involved, sending Kruse through with a classy lofted pass over the top with the outside of his right foot which the Bayer Leverkusen man finished low and hard under Ali Al Habsi.

By now the Socceroos were flying and only the width of the post denied Kruse a second before Milligan made it three in bizarre circumstances first half stoppage time.

A flowing move ended with Milligan having an easy tap in at the far post but Japanese referee Ryuji Sato surprised everyone by already blowing for a penalty after Tim Cahill was fouled in the build-up.

It mattered little as Milligan buried his spot kick to have the result put to bed by half-time.

Even with Cahill and Luongo substituted early in the second half the hosts kept up the intensity throughout and added a fourth goal their industry merited.

Juric got himself on the score-sheet 20 minutes from time when he slid in at the far post after wonderful work by Mathew Leckie down the left.

Only the sharp reflexes of Al Habsi denied both Milligan and Juric from adding further gloss to the score late-on but it mattered little on a memorable night for the Socceroos.

Australia 4 (McKay 27’, Kruse 30’, Milligan 45+2’, Juric 70’)

Oman 0

Source : Football Federation Australia website

Socceroo stars train in Perth: report

Tim Cahill controls the ball during a Socceroos training session.

Tim Cahill, Tom Rogic and Nathan Burns were three of the stars who took part in the Socceroos’ first training session in Perth on Monday.

The Asian Champions are preparing for Thursday’s FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia™Qualifier against Bangladesh.

Monday’s session was held on the pristine surface at nib Stadium, the venue for the clash against the 170th-ranked AFC nation.

With a number of the squad still in transit or having just arrived from overseas, only 10 players took part in the predominantly light session.

The Socceroos who trained were Tim Cahill, Mark Milligan, Matt McKay, Matthew Spiranovic, Nathan Burns, Tarek Elrich, Ben Halloran, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic and Luke Brattan.

After a warm-up, both Rogic and Brattan moved away from the main group to work on the side of the pitch with trainer Craig Duncan.

The pair did a light session for about 20 minutes, consisting mainly of jogging with and without the ball, juggling and a few other simple drills.

The rest of the squad immediately went into an intense session taken by assistant coach Ante Milicic.

The first drill saw them split into groups of four, playing a game of possession with 3 v 1.

“Don’t stop the ball. Keep it moving. Quicker,” was the instruction.

With coach Ange Postecoglou overseeing it all, the players then moved into a more structured drill, with the emphasis on crisp passing as they moved and passed around poles.

Good touches, ball speed and correct body-shape was the focus as the intensity lifted as the session took shape.

After just half an hour the session was over as the players assembled for a stretch down and drink before it was up the tunnel to the changerooms.

While it was a quick session to get the cobwebs out for the squad, things will pick up on Tuesday as the rest of the players join the squad.

Tuesday’s session is sure to be special as hundreds of supporters will be let into nib Stadium for a fan day, able to watch the session and afterwards meet their heroes.

Socceroo Match Details

Australia v Bangladesh ​​​​​Tajikistan v Australia

3 September 2015     ​​​​​8 September 2015 

nib Stadium, Perth ​​​​​Republican Central Stadium, Dushanbe

7pm (AWT) kick off (9pm AEST)​​​​6pm kick off (10pm AEST)

TICKET INFORMATION (Australia v Bangladesh)

Tickets can be purchased for the match at www.socceroos.com.au/tickets

Ticket Prices – General Public 

Category A – $120 all tickets

Category B – $80 Adult, $60 Concession, $40 Child, $199 Family

Category C – $55 Adult, $40 Concession, $30 Child, $140 Family

The Shed – $55 Adult, $40 Concession

Active Area- $65 Adult, $50 Concession

Ticket Prices are inclusive of GST & Booking Fee. Transaction and credit card charges apply.

Concession (Pensioner, Student)

Pensioner Concession Card holders and Seniors Card holders (valid ID required)

Student – Full time tertiary and secondary school students (valid ID required)

Child – 4–16 years inclusive (children 3 years and under are free unless they are occupying a seat)

Family Definition – 2 Adults and 2 Children or 1 Adult and 3 Children

National Companion Card Accepted


Football Federation Australia

Matt McKay: Suwon’s second half momentum ‘killed us’

Bandeira da Coreia do SulBandeira da Austrália

Skipper Matt McKay admits Brisbane Roar FC was surprised by Suwon Bluewings’ second half onslaught in Wednesday night’s disappointing AFC Champions League group stage loss in South Korea.

Roar looked strong for the first 45 minutes but were blown away after the break, eventually beaten 3-1.

“We’re pretty disappointed obviously. You don’t like mistakes to change games but we did that, made a mistake and let them in and their momentum killed us,” McKay told Fox Sports.

“They pressed a bit and they changed their mentality a bit in the second half.

“The first half we had a lot of ball and were fairly effective but second half they really came at us and we couldn’t deal with it.”

Suwon substitute Kwon Chang-Hoon, Seo Jung-Jin and Yeom Ki-Hun got the goals for the home side before Luke DeVere’s late header was a mere consolation for Roar.

The result leaves the Hyundai A-League champions third in Group G, three points behind their South Korean conquerors and six points back from leaders Beijing Guoan.

Roar probably needs to win both their remaining matches to qualify for the knockout phase of the tournament.

“We played some great football against [Suwon] in both ties. I thought we knocked it around quite well but we have to take our chances,” McKay said.

“We need to create more because they are such a good attacking team that they’re going to take theirs.

“We weren’t quite their tonight, we’ve got two fixtures left and we have to get full results.”

Roar boss Frans Thijssen felt his side was made to pay for not capitalising in the first half when they were on top for long periods.

“We are disappointed with the result because in the first half we were on top and the better team,” Thijssen said.

“We were confident for the second half but because of mistakes, we gave the game away.”

Roar play the Reds this Saturday at Coopers Stadium in Adelaide.

Football Federation Australia

Quality Hyundai A-League is lifting standards across the board

March 28, 2015 – 10:03PM

Craig Foster

Football columnist

An anecdote from a member of the Italian coaching staff in Germany, 2006: Following the epic contest between Italy and Australia in the round of 16, won in highly questionable fashion well into injury time and in which Australia surprised a storied football nation and the ultimate world champion, a member of the Italian staff remarked that if these Aussies ever get themselves organised, with that level of commitment and spirit, no one will enjoy having to play them. We are what we are, but we took a long time to resolve to act like it.

The story has always resonated with me and formed part of the belief that when Australian football made the connection between our national identity and our style of play, the world would open.

From strength to strength: The Socceroos are on an upward trajectory. Photo: Getty Images

I wonder what this wide-eyed Italian would make of where Australian football is today. Very likely nodding his head in approval, I’d say. Yes, they’re finally getting it.

To wit, the Socceroos were outstanding against Germany.

There are always reasons to diminish a performance or result, especially in friendly internationals, but make no mistake that the Socceroos executed their plan exceptionally well, and should have won the match, irrespective of what Germany was or was not trying to implement or who played. They are world champions, and they have several teams of the highest quality.

Australia continue to build cohesion and momentum heading into the first stage of qualification, and confidence is sky high following the fabulous Asian Cup triumph.

Before we move on, though, let’s take a moment to recognise the vital role the A-League has played in this evolution over the past year and a half.

All  our national teams have, at last, committed to a consistent style of dynamic, aggressive and attacking football as far as possible, and are  sharing methods and learnings across the coaching staff.

This is welcome and important, to ensure that every step taken is institutionalised across the entire international program, every team testing and developing as one.

And it is the approach of the Socceroos that is so important, because it is finally starting to make best use of our two best traits at this moment, and two immutable qualities that will always present a competitive advantage, psychological and physical.

There are very few nations with the psychological willingness to commit fully to the collective, to the country, to the shirt and therefore to create a unified whole, rather than a disparate collection of stars from the four corners, nor many nations with the capacity for hard work on and off the field as Australia.

Greater technical qualities will come in time to augment the mix further and make a more potent proposition but, for now, these two strengths must be maximised in a style of play to leverage what we have, and what we are.

The Socceroos’ approach is now consistently one of aggressive attack against any opponent, and this makes best use of our psychological need to confront a contest head on, flowing into belief and confidence, as you will have detected from the players’ comments pre and post-match.

What is equally important, though, is to recognise that the genesis of this approach comes from the A-League.

In recent years, pressing has become a key feature and allows better teams to dominate without the ball as well as less talented teams to utilise their organisation against a stronger opponent, to create an advantage without the ball against a team that has one in possession, Victory  versus the Mariners on Friday night being a pertinent example.

The Mariners disrupted the Victory’s play in the first half, particularly, as they did against Adelaide, the finest  team in the country, and this trend has allowed all  the technical staff to better understand  how to apply, and  to counteract, this part of the modern game.

It is not possible, in other words, to understand how to press other than to do so, nor how to withstand it than to be pressed well.

Ange Postecoglou applied this theory at the Roar and Victory, as did assistant coach Ante Milicic at the Wanderers, and Nathan Burns, Matt McKay, Luke DeVere, Alex Wilkinson, Ivan Franjic, James Troisi, Mark Milligan, Matty Ryan, Tommy Oar and Tomi Juric have all grown up under these organisational methods in recent years in the A-League.

It is, I would  argue, the growth in tactical organisation and systems of play, with detailed mechanical application by today’s new breed of Australian technicians, that has allowed Australia to finally explore what we can become.

The evolution of the domestic competition has been phenomenally good for the tactical development of the players, which is a credit to the coaching departments across the country, as problems are theorised, applied, tested, understood, overcome, reconstituted, and the cycle repeated.

Recently, there has been public discussion about the need for less team mechanics and more chaos. Don’t buy it, it’s absolute rubbish.

The A-League is developing beautifully from a tactical perspective, even if the lower tier  is trailing, and is making an immense contribution to Australia’s future.

The Canberra Times

Perth Glory 2 – 2 Brisbane Roar

Hyundai A-League leaders Perth Glory took advantage of a 10-man Brisbane Roar in the closing stages to snatch a 2-2 draw at nib Stadium on Saturday night.

Dino Djulbic scored the equaliser in the 84th minute after Roar defender Corey Brown was sent off eight minutes earlier for denying Jamie Maclaren a goal-scoring opportunity.

Brisbane had earlier taken the lead with two goals in three minutes to Jean Carlos Solorzano and Matt McKay after teenager Daniel De Silva gave the home side the lead in the first half.

It ended the Roar’s three-match winning streak as Glory’s winless streak extended to six games.

Goals

1-0 Daniel De Silva (26’) Glory left back Scott Jamieson played the perfect long ball to Chris Harold on the far post, but the angle was too tight for the winger to head the ball into the back of the net. Instead, he knocked it towards the centre of the box where De Silva was waiting and the youngster calmly finished the job despite pressure from a fast-closing Luke Brattan.

1-1 Jean Carlos Solorzano (60’) Despite scoring five goals in Brisbane’s last six games, the Costa Rican was overlooked for a starting spot for new signing Andrija Kaluderovic. But he showed why he has been so vital to the Roar’s resurgence by volleying teammate Brandon Borrello’s low-flying cross into the back of the net on the hour mark.

1-2 Matt McKay (62’) The Brisbane captain and Socceroos regular thrashed Glory defender Josh Risdon for speed and made no mistake with his deadly left foot from the edge of the 18-yard box to give his side the lead just two minutes after Solorzano’s equaliser.

2-2 Dino Djulbic (84’) German winger Dragan Paljic’s attempted cross hit the corner woodwork and ricocheted back into the path of Dino Djulibic, who calmly bounced the ball into the open goalmouth.

Key moment

Brisbane looked set to walk away with the three points until defender Corey Brown dragged down Jamie Maclaren as the Glory substitute chased down a Mitch Nicholls pass in the 76th minute. Brown was immediately shown a red card by referee Ben Williams, much to the chagrin of the Roar bench. It opened the door for Glory to produce yet another remarkable last-gasp fightback and salvage a point from the enthralling contest.

Opta Data Stats

Brisbane has scored nine goals and collected 10 points from their past four matches. On the other side of the fence, Perth have conceded 10 goals in their last four matches at home and scored just four times in their last three matches despite leading the league.

 

Treatment table

Henrique sent a scare through the Brisbane camp late in the first half when he appeared to jar his left knee as he landed following an aerial challenge with Glory’s Rostyn Griffths. The Brazilian attacker left the pitch briefly for treatment and was clearly hampered by the complaint until he was substituted in the 65th minute.

Back to the drawing board

Glory striker Andy Keogh has scored just one goal from his past six matches and that was a penalty against Melbourne Victory on January 25. The Irishman has nine goals next to his name for the season and is finding himself in a position to score on plenty of occasions, but he desperately needs to find the back of the net for Perth to remain a championship contender in the final rounds of the campaign.

The Final Word

Glory will lose top spot (on goal difference) for the first time since Round 5 if Melbourne Victory beats Wellington Phoenix tomorrow. Victory has also played two less games than Perth. It has been a good run from Kenny Lowe’s side, but four points from the last six matches is hardly the stuff of a league-leading side.

 

The draw was enough to see Brisbane return to the top six (also on goal difference) and Frans Thijssen’s side has only themselves to blame for not claiming maximum points on a perfect night for football. Brown’s untimely exit exposed the Roar’s defence in the final minutes and could prove costly in the battle for sixth place come the final round of the season.

Teams

Perth Glory: Danny Vukovic (GK), Rostyn Griffiths, Dino Djulbic, Andy Keogh, Nebojsa Marinkovic, Chris Harold (Jamie Maclaren 56’), Josh Risdon, Daniel De Silva (Mitch Nichols 67’), Scott Jamieson, Michael Thwaite (C), Dragan Paljic.

Brisbane Roar: Michael Theo (GK), Jerome Polenz, Corey Brown, Andrija Kaluderovic (Jean Carlos Solorzano 46’), Henrique (Dimitri Petratos 65’), Jade North, James Donachie, Matt McKay (C), Luke Brattan, Thomas Broich, Brandon Borrello (Luke De Vere 79’).

Scorers: Daniel De Silva (26’), Jean Carlos Solorzano (60’), Matt McKay (62’), Dino Djulibic (84’)

Red cards: Corey Brown (76’)

Yellow cards: Rostyn Griffiths (45’+1)

Conditions: 23C, fine

Attendance:  10,422 @ nib Stadium

Source : Football Federation Australia Website

Matt McKay says Socceroos have a fitness edge on Asian Cup rivals

January 14, 2015 – 9:40PM

Phil Lutton

Midfield bulldog Matt McKay believes the Socceroos have a distinct fitness edge on their Asian Cup rivals and can grind teams into the ground as they head towards the business end of the tournament.

The host nation is flying so far, already booking a spot in the quarter-finals by adding a 4-0 walloping of Oman on Tuesday night to their opening 4-1 win over Kuwait last Friday.

McKay was one of four players to find the back of the net and remains hopeful of backing up in Brisbane on Saturday night, when the Socceroos face their biggest test thus far against Korea.

Matt McKay gets the Socceroos' opening goal.

Breakthrough: Matt McKay scores the Socceroos’ opening goal against Oman. Photo: Getty Images

Along with Mark Milligan and Jason Davidson, McKay was one of three new faces to fire against Oman and said the largely seamless interchange of talent was vindicating Ange Postecoglou’s strategy of adding depth to playing stocks.

But it wasn’t just player rotations that were keeping the Socceroos fresh. McKay said they had taken huge strides in fitness, conditioning and recovery, building on improvements made in the area ahead of last year’s World Cup in Brazil.

“We do a lot [see it as an advantage]. Our sports science guys are incredible. Our recovery, our physios and doctors, it’s all stepped up a notch. It stepped up before the World Cup and even more so now,” McKay said.

“They monitor everything, and that’s those little steps that make us a better side come game day. We’re better prepared and everyone is doing the right things.”

McKay felt Oman had little left in the tank by the early stages of the second half on Tuesday night. With their opponents’ legs failing, the Socceroos were able to put them to the sword.

“I think we were fitter than them… after the first 20, even 10 minutes, of the second half they had nothing. They ended up sitting back and didn’t threaten us,” McKay said.

“That’s a good sign for us. We can grind teams into the ground and Korea is our next challenge.”

The fitness credentials of both sides will be given a thorough examination in the Queensland capital, which has been a sauna all week as persistent cloud cover sent humidity levels soaring.

Both Jordan and Iraq felt the pinch in their game in Brisbane on Monday night and with similar conditions predicted for the weekend, the Socceroos could well find themselves with a clear advantage, even with many of their players straight from a European winter.

McKay, who plays for the A-League’s Brisbane Roar, should have no issues with the climate but could yet find himself back out of the side as Postecoglou continues to try and settle on his best XI for the finals.

“I’m always keen to play but it’s ultimately not my decision. Obviously there will be changes. The shorter turnarounds and such,” McKay said.

“I think the boss has been vindicated in how he’s worked hard to get the depth of the squad up. We saw that, guys came in and did a job. If I’m involved it would be great but I just hope we keep winning.”

 

Source : The Canberra Times

Mark Milligan pleased with Socceroo scoring spread

Milligan celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot against Oman.

Mark Milligan celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot against Oman

Socceroo Mark Milligan has hailed the team’s ability to take goal-scoring load off striker Tim Cahill after eight different scorers have got on the score-sheet so far in the Asian Cup.

Cahill opened the scoring against Kuwait in the group opener  last Saturday, followed by Massimo Luongo, Mile Jedinak and James Troisi in the 4-1 win.

And on Tuesday night, Matt McKay, Robbie Kruse, Milligan and Tomi Juric all hit the net in the 4-0 steamrolling of Oman

The reliance on Cahill as the major goal scoring option has eased but Milligan stresses the talisman is still the centre-piece of the Socceroos’ attacking structure.

“Obviously it’s very pleasing, but in saying that we play Timmy as a nine and he’s up front and I think that no matter what team you are in you want your number nine scoring goals,” Milligan told reporters on Tuesday.

“Timmy has been fantastic for the past 10-15 years and continues to do so but any help that the midfield can give to him is obviously very pleasing and it is reflection of how we have been playing.”

One such scorer was McKay, who swept home the opening goal against Oman following an assist from Trent Sainsbury.

 

 “It was great albeit it was from a few yards out, but the performance last night was good and the goals came from a whole lot of different goal scorers which was great for the side,” the Roar midfielder said.

“We copped quite a bit of slack from our results in the friendlies leading into this tournament and I think the boss has been vindicated in how he approached that.

“We’ve got plenty of depth and every one of the 23 players in the squad if called on to play can do a great job.”

Saturday’s game is essentially a home game for McKay, but he’s not feeling any added pressure or expectations.

“Obviously coming to Brisbane it is great for me personally but as a side we have expectations to go and win this game against Korea.”

The Socceroos are now firmly focused on the job ahead.

“We’ve played two games now and had two good results, but I dare say come Saturday, we’re going to be heading out onto the park for another win,” added Milligan.

“We want to make sure as we did last night and we want be improving for Saturday against what is a very good side.

“It is a very important tournament for us being on home soil, and there’s been a lot said about results over the last six months – especially since the World Cup – and I think it is very satisfying as a group to come home and to be playing the kind of football that we are.

“We still have a long way to go in the way that we playing and in the results that we are trying to achieve.”

Tickets to the Socceroos’ remaining Group A match are still available. Click here to get yours today.

Source : Football Federation Australia website