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A League: Version Four

A league

Well, the 2008/09 season of the A-League has landed, with the first round featuring a grand final replay and a Sydney Melbourne grudge match (or perhaps, on the basis of last season’s encounters between the two teams, drudge match is a more appropriate description).

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Five-Ring Foolishness

Everyone seems to be having their say on the Danny Vukovic reprieve. I’ll join the crowd.

Suffice to say that the appeals committee in question has made itself look very foolish, and the precedent is a poor one. The punishment handed down was excessive, but the convenient splitting of the ban into pre- and post-Olympic periods is laughable.

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Burning Down the House

Messrs. Hill and Slater were not slow to bestow all manner of praise on Nathan Burns for his “assist hat-trick” last night, which included a spectacular darting run to the by-line followed by a crisp cut-back for Travis Dodd. Not the first time that we’ve seen such a move from Burns, in fact.

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Marquee Lite – update

Les Murray, in his latest opinion piece on the World Game site, has come out strongly in favour of the FFA’s “Youth Marquee” initiative. He states his case fairly enough, but in mentioning the current glut of young talent at the Queensland Roar, he has in fact touched on one of the weaknesses of the plan.

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Déjà Roos

If the Olyroos’ opening round group at the Beijing Games has a familiar look, that’s because it’s very similar to that of 2004. Re-attach Montenegro to Serbia and replace Côte D’Ivoire with Tunisia, and you have the Olyroos’ round-robin opponents from Athens.

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Marquee Lite

Another interesting initiative from the FFA…but this one comes with plenty of relevant questions attached.

First, the old Sydney FC conflict of interest chestnut.

Frank Lowy, of course, remains in an obviously anomalous position in the Australian game, and the cynics have been laughing heartily (or grumbling mightily) today. The point being that two of the most coveted Olyroos still playing in Australia, Mark Bridge and Stuart Musialik, have recently signed lucrative contracts with…Sydney FC. Olyroo marquee? No worries.

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More Asian Observations

I’ve finally managed to have a look at last week’s two Asian Champions League games involving the Australian sides. Time for some tragic thoughts.

The Melbourne v. Gamba Osaka game was, above all, fantastic entertainment. It is a real credit to the Japanese side that they pushed up and played for the win throughout, even after they’d brought the scoreline back to 3-3 in the second half.

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Split Personalities

Danny Vukovic’s exclusion from the Olyroos has led to another instance of the “cap me or I’ll join another country” sales pitch, by the opportunistic agent of Liverpool’s Dean Bouzanis.

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A Lucky Point

Although the penalty decision that might have sent the Socceroos home a defeated side was dreadful, conceding a soft, straightforward goal at that point always looked likely, as the Socceroos tired to a man.

In short, Pim Verbeek and his men dodged a bullet. Ultimately, the result is an acceptable and even a good one – but there must be some questions over Verbeek’s tactics and substitutions (or lack thereof).

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Why they fear us…

Football. Being born a Football fan. A Football convert. When football flows in your veins it is not just a sport you watch with detached interest over a BBQ, and have a laugh when your team loses. You live and breath it. Its like a drug, the extreme elation and pain. You are not just a spectator but a fan. Following football is more then a following a sport, it is been part of a revolution, a mission, and often means carrying the burdens that comes with it in Oz.

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