What's your Football Story?
Featuring: The Socceroos, A-League and International football. Player interviews, opinion/analysis, with a focus on the absurd, humorous and sublime acts that occur on and off the pitch.
This is what says it all for me when looking at the Socceroos performance against New Zealand at the MCG. The Strokes first album Is This It. And after playing like this for the last couple of years the answer unfortunately is yes. I’ve been hoping and praying and meditating that the Socceroos performances will swing into overdrive and the slick quick tempo play that the Socceroos showed at 06 World Cup and against Holland and Ireland away in friendlies would came back.
Sure that kind of play I described only happened in spurts and the rest of the time the Aussies are mostly chasing the play and thwarting attacks but lest get realistic. The defence is slow. The long balls are many, the inventive play and imagination is not there and the speed is lacking. The speed of thought, speed of action and speed of execution is laboured and most times contrived. The game plan of 4-2-3-1 set up mostly in a negative defensive formation not to concede must be so obvious to the opposition.
Pim’s often quoted mantra “That training in Europe is better than playing the A League” proved to be a case of bullshit! New Zealand ‘s A League contingent troubled the European Socceroos so much that they resorted to clumsy studs in air challenges that almost broke Leo Bertos's leg. The wine stained bruises on Bertos's leg made the Socceroos out as disrespectful thugs. A painful irony considering that Grella one of the main culprits was saying during the build up to the game that the Kiwi’s should not be looking to cause injuries.
Unlike Gus when you did not know what to expect. The opposition coming up against Australia should not fear anything the Australians do. With Pim the players know what to expect. The first 11 is guaranteed a spot and those players do not feel any pressure for their spots except to be fit.
Lately the Socceroos have been playing to a very poor script. With the actors only giving half arsed performances and the understudy’s not being much better. The exciting characters that have that special something are fading ( Kewell) or are being ignored(Carle). And you know what’s going to happen next. There is no M Night Shyamalan twist here. The formula is getting boring/ Play crap in the first half and then a bit better in the second. Why does it take a half time chat for Pim to get the players to pass the ball quicker and for the full backs to join in the attack?
All my pre-World Cup excitement has dissipated and I fear that we are going to get one big time ass kicking. Watching the Socceroos slide dangerously into New Zealand players I felt that same ugly feeling of hate that I sometimes reserve for the Australian Cricket team.
For the first time in a long time I wanted the Socceroos to lose. So they can learn a lesson. But the worst thing possible happened they won and Brett Holman who couldn’t pass an STD in an African brothel ended up scoring the winner.
So I wait for the uninspired cull that Pim will make today. He will cut the players you want to see and keep the ones that you don’t.
( The thoughts of this writer do not reflect the optimism that is supposed to be shown when your national team is about to embark on it's third World Cup, however he has been forced to open up on his true feelings upon witnessing the "shit on the stick" that was on offer at the MCG last night.)
End of Vent! Go the Socceroos, just go..............
Read all about it: Later today Scott McDonald, Nick Carle and Jade North was cut by Pim Verbeek. Tommy Oar, James Holland, Shane Lowry and Eugene Galekovich are said be on standby only getting on the pitch in South Africa if an injury occurs.
One to be culled from the 24 below by the 1st of June. I reckon Vidosic/Ruckavytsa is gone. Goalkeepers: Mark Schwarzer, Adam Federici, Brad Jones, Defenders: Scott Chipperfield, David Carney, Lucas Neill, Michael Beauchamp, Craig Moore, Mark Milligan, Rhys Williams, Luke Wilkshire. Midfielders: Vince Grella, Carl Valeri, Jason Culina, Mile Jedinak, Tim Cahill, Brett Holman, Dario Vidosic, Mark Bresciano, Brett Emerton, Richard Garcia, Strikers: Nikita Rukavytsya, Josh Kennedy, Harry Kewell.
I wonder how many squads will be taking only three strikers to the World Cup?
The World Cup hype and coverage has been ramped up to overdrive this week. The announcement of the World Cup players squads, the World Cup themed TV advertisements and the end of the European football seasons has put the World Cup in South Africa front and centre of the crazy and casual football fans consciousness.
To get in the mood I have been reading and watching World Cup related books and films. I am in the middle of reading the excellent Maradona biography by Jimmy Burns one of the best football writers around. The book is called "The Hand Of God, The Life of Maradona and delves into Maradona's personal and football life and as one reviewer put it 'Few people emerge innocent in this book.'
Maradona's Exclusion from 1978 Argentina WC Squad
What I found really eye opening was Maradona's exclusion from the 1978 World Cup Argentinian squad. Argentina went on to win that World Cup in Argentina. In the background of that triumph a Military Junta ran the country.
Here is an extract from the book on why then Argentine coach Luis Menotti didn't pick the then 17 year old Maradona for the 1978 World Cup squad:
"Menotti told me he didn't pick Maradona because he believed he was still too young, both physically and emotionally, to deal with possible defeat - an assessment which appears at first sight to have been confirmed by Maradona's reaction to his exclusion.
'For the child prodigy who had for so many years been bent on winning the approval of his elders, the feeling of rejection by this latest of a series of father figures in his life was profoundly shocking. Without waiting for Menotti's explanation , Maradona locked himself out of and wept uncontrollably.
'He vowed never to forgive Menotti for the betrayal and to quit football altogether.
'According to witnesses who monitored the Argentine team closely at the time, Menotti had other, more personal reasons for excluding Maradona. A man of enormous ego, he was obsessed with the glory that victory would bring, and feared that any rival would eclipse him......that friendly against Hungary in which he had found himself almost bulldozed into bringing out the young player to the tribal cry of "Maradoona, Maradoona.'
(Maradona during his debut for Argentina in a game against Hungary, 27 February 1977)
Lucky for fans of the beautiful game Maradona didn't quit football and we all know the rest of the story. Reading on I found this next extract very engaging. Aside from the Military Junta exploiting the victory for political gain that accompanied Argentina's World Cup victory in 1978 there where question marks over how the victory was achieved.
"One medical source told me that in 1978 the 'whole of Argentine football was doping itself......I started a big fight to break the trend." Argentina had players who had been regularly provided with amphetamines while playing for their league teams, and who found in World Cup a suitably lax regime when it came to urine samples.
'According to other reports Mario Kempes and Alberto Tarantinoi were so "high" after playing one particular World Cup match that they had to keep on going for another hour before they came don again.
'One of the most extraordinary episodes of the World Cup involved the pregnant wife of the Argentine's team waterboy. Her urine was used as a cover for an Argentine's player's in one of the competition dopes test."
Maradona's Exclusion from 94 World Cup
Speaking of doping and Argentinian football I also watched a documentary called Maradona by Kusterica. In a revealing interview Maradona had this to say about his well documented drug use.
'For 20 years during Havelange's (former FIFA boss from Brazil) presidency Brazil did not win the World Cup. You know why? The man up there is just. The old man loves justice! If for 20 years a mafioso was unable to win the World Cup, kind of tough isn't it?(Maradona makes a gesture where he point to his right eye)
'I'm going to tell you the story. Argentina was eliminated from the World Cup (in 1994). We went to play Australia. It was a tie 1-1. We came back here and we qualified 1-0. There was no doping case (Maradona shakes his finger) No drugs not over there, not over here. There was no ephedrine over there or over here. No cocaine over there or over here. During the World Cup after we beat Nigeria 2-1 they said: "They're screwing us up." (Maradona was kicked out of USA 94 after the Nigeria game)
"I'd say Havelange is the arms dealer, and Blatter sells the bullets" (both Maradona and Kusterica laugh after this quote).
On his fight against Cocaine addiction:
"Scoring a goal in front of 100,000 people, like I did with the English for example, was for me a normal thing. It was my game my life. When I came down, I was like everyone, all of you. And I could talk to you. What messed me up was cocaine. But I was just like you. However when you let the tiger out, when I went onto the pitch, I was in command.
"Emir do you know what a player I'd have been if I hadn't taken coke? (he puts his hand together in a prayer gesture) What a player we lost! It's like a bad after taste. I could have been much more than I am. Yes. really it's true. I was born into football. I new who I was going to be. But I didn't know I was going to take coke."
World Cup 2010
I can't wait to see what kinda crazy Maradona will get up to during this World Cup. Today the final Argentinian 23 man World Cup squad was announced. Maradona will this time coach the side and the World Cup will be better for his crazy side line antics.
Goalkeepers: Sergio ROMERO, Mariano ANDUJAR, Diego POZO
Defenders: Nicolas BURDISSO, Clemente RODRIGUEZ, Martin DEMICHELIS, Ariel GARCE, Gabriel HEINZE, Nicolas OTAMENDI, Walter SAMUEL
Midfielders: Jonas GUTIERREZ, Javier MASCHERANO, Juan Sebastian VERON, Angel DI MARIA, Mario BOLATTI, Maxi RODRIGUEZ, Javier PASTORE
Forwards: Lionel MESSI, Gonzalo HIGUAIN, Carlos TEVEZ, Diego MILITO, Sergio AGUERO, Martin PALERMO
Me I am tipping Argentina to beat Brazil in the final.
Diego Maradona runs over cameraman at World Cup squad announcement
The Argentina coach Diego Maradona insulted an injured cameraman after accidentally running over his leg ahead of announcement of thealbiceleste World Cup squad.
Driving to yesterday's news conference in Buenos Aires, the 1986 World Cup winner was surrounded by journalists. One was hit and he fell to the ground.
According to a witness, Maradona's car rolled over the lower part of the cameraman's leg. "What an asshole you are," Maradona shouted from the car. "How can you put your leg there where it can get run over, man?" Paramedics attended to the cameraman, who was taken away for further treatment.
The 49-year-old coach then delivered the names of the 23-man squadfor the World Cup to the media. Maradona's World Cup preparation was disrupted in March when he needed minor facial surgery after being bitten by his dog.
Pim Verbeek has said that the games between Ghana and Serbia are the Socceroos best chance to get points and move into the round of 16. I must say his confidence about qualifying to the next stage has given me some hope that we can do it.
I spoke to my Ghana football correspondent ESPN’s Gary Al Smith and Serbian football writer Nikola Burazer from the World Cup Blog.org site and asked them about what they thought of Ghana’s and Serbia’s provincial squad. This how it went down, Pim’s not the only one playing mind games.
Afootballstory: So Gary are you feeling confident about Ghana's chances?
Gary Al Smith: Honestly, Con....no, the Ghana squad the coach named last Friday bothers many people, me included. It’s a collection of injured and inconsistent players. Yes, Essien is world class but what use is he injured? Mensah cannot play three straight games without back issues at Sunderland...
AFS: Same with the Socceroos squad, Kewell got injured again, he will not be anywhere near fit. So what bothers you about the Ghana squad?
GAS: Stephen Appiah only played 45 minutes yesterday for Bologna for the first time in TWO YEARS! Ghana's joint top scorer anywhere in the world plays in Egypt. His name's Eric Bekoe and he's scored 13 goals. Yet, he has been miraculously omitted from the 30 man list.
AFS: I saw a story on Abide Pele’s three sons on an Aussie football show called the World Game on SBS what do you think about them?
GAS: Abedi Pele's sons: Andre (who won the u-20 world cup) is a shoo in into the team cos he's earned it. Rahim (plays for Zamalek in Egypt) has no bizness in the team, but is there. The last is Jordan, not yet ripe for the senior team at all. We got about two Essiens there. And Asamoah is very good, we'll see how he can handle the big stage.
What about Serbia?
I spoke to Nikola Burazer and asked what he thought.
AFS: Hey Nikola are you happy with Serbian squad that was chosen?
NB: I'm actually pretty satisfied with the squad, it's consisted of players that have got us so far in the qualifiers plus some youngsters I was actually eager to see. I would've changed a couple of things, but the squad looks fine in general.
AFS: You just know the Germans are going to be hard to beat and Serbia seem the inform team with not much talk about injuries to key players
NB: About the injuries, it looked like we're having an injury epidemic after the injuries to Janković, Dragutinović and Lazović, but I guess we're quite fine when compared with most of our rivals. Ghana will probably be without Essien and Mensah, Germany without Adler and Rolfes, and I heard that Cahill and Kewell (two of your best players, right?) might also be unfit.
About the form, well, I guess it is better than I thought it will be, most of our starting 11 are playing well in the last few weeks and look in good shape before the tournament.
So there is some inside information on Ghana and Serbia perhaps I should have let them both know I was recording the conversation. But this is war friends and I have already put on the paint and uniform and I’m not taking it off till the Socceroos get kicked out. No soap at my house for two months and that could be a problem as just thinking of Germany Ghana and Serbia is giving me the runs.
Like Radiohead has sung before this is a squad that has No Suprises.
The Disappointed: For most of these players training in Europe or playing in the A League or Asia didn't help any of them.
Simon Colisomo, Joel Griffiths, Bruce Djite, Eddie Bosnar, Sasa Ogenenovski, James Troisi, Alex Brosque. Jacob Burns, Mile Sterjovski, Chris Coyne, Mathew Spiranovic
The Lucky Picks:
Scott MCDONALD, Michael BEAUCHAMP, Jade NORTH. I think Kewell's injury got Scott Mac on the plane and Beauchamp and North's experience with squad instead of form or fitness got both of the, picked. Lets just chuck in Brett Holman in here as well as I have him down as an early scapegoat.
Dario VIDOSIC, Tom OAR, Nikita RUKAVYTSYA,Nick CARLE. I would love to see all four make the final 23 man squad but I only think Nikita will be the one that makes it. Tommy Oar has been hyped up more than a Micheal Jackson funeral.
Rhys WILLIAMS (hip), Craig MOORE (old man legs), Scott MCDONALD (can only score from a couple of metres out), Josh KENNEDY (has back problems could snap in two ala Bruce Reid), Harry KEWELL ( in an exclusive interview with Harry Kewell's groin. It was quoted as saying: "kill me"), Mark BRESCIANO (back problems), Brett HOLMAN (needs to learn how to breath and run and play football at the same time), Jason CULINA( plays like a crab in that he likes passing and running only sideways), Nick CARLE (talented than most he suffers from the rest of the team being jealous of how many balls he can juggle in a row, 445 at last count), Vincenzo GRELLA (his calf has been suffering from Karma)
The Most Boring Debate Ever:
So the most boring debate in Australian Football history is whether enough players from A League have been picked. The Australian football media have been riding the Pim Verbeek comment that: "training in Europe is better than playing the A League" for too long and it's time to hit the snooze button.
!3 of the players that have been picked have played in the A League (11) or are currently playing (2) so move on nothing to see here!
Here is the A League list:
Michael BEAUCHAMP(Mariners), Nick CARLE( Jets), David CARNEY (Sydney FC), Jason CULINA (Gold Coast), Eugene GALEKOVIC*(Adelaide United), James HOLLAND (Jets), Mile JEDINAK (Mariners), Mark MILLIGAN (Sydney FC), Craig MOORE (Brisbane), Jade NORTH (Jets) Tom OAR (Brisbane), Nikita RUKAVYTSYA (Perth), Dario VIDOSIC (Brisbane)
Who will be Culled? The 31 players that are picked will be culled to 23 on the 1st of June.
Shane LOWRY, Tom OAR,Michael BEAUCHAMP, Nick CARLE, James HOLLAND, Richard GARCIA, Eugene GALEKOVIC*, Dario VIDOSIC
It's going to be a tense and hectic couple of weeks for the fringe players. Maybe the Australia New Zealand game on the 24th of May at the G will decide those fringe places.
So to the G on the 24th of May and then to the 1st of June for the culling!
SOCCEROOS PRELIMINARY SQUAD FOR 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP
Goalkeepers: Adam Federici, Eugene Galekovic, Brad Jones, Mark Schwarzer
Defenders: Michael Beauchamp, David Carney, Scott Chipperfield, Shane Lowry, Mark Milligan, Craig Moore, Lucas Neill, Jade North, Luke Wilkshire, Rhys Williams
Midfielders: Mark Bresciano, Tim Cahill, Nicky Carle, Jason Culina, Brett Emerton, Richard Garcia, Vincenzo Grella, James Holland, Brett Holman, Mile Jedinak, Tommy Oar, Carl Valeri, Dario Vidosic
Attackers: Joshua Kennedy, Harry Kewell, Scott McDonald, Nikita Rukavytsya
It’s finally here. I have been waiting close to four years and finally I can get my Wallabies Jersey out, put on my Kangaroos socks and pump up my Italia 90 Soccer ball. That’s right folks I’m here to ride the Quadraphonic football Bandwagon.
Here are a few tips and rules to make sure that you are fully attached to the Quadraphonic Football Bandwagon this World Cup. The key is to appear you have loved the game all your life even though you have never watched a game from start to finish, have never attended a live game or cannot explain the off side rule determining the difference between a player being active and inactive
Who are The Players?
Australian fans need to know only three players. Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill and Lucas Neil. I have chosen players with the most Anglo Saxon sounding names so you don’t get confused. No need for you ethnics to worry about this as you guys love the game already. Remember Messi is from Argentina and Ronaldo is from Portugal. Unfortunately Beckham is injured so keep that in mind when you engage in football speak, knowing just a few simple facts already increases your football cred.
Who are The Teams?
Usually you have a couple of teams that you support because your home team will more than likely get knocked out early. Because the World Cup is played by countries other than those who play Cricket and Rugby this may seem like information overload at the beginning.
There are 32 teams at this World Cup and it’s a great way to catch up on your geography knowledge. Aussies love to travel so if you have been teaching English in Japan or been running with the bulls in Spain or getting naked at the October fest in Germany you can choose that country as your second team and it allows you to tell travel stories that hitherto have so far been ignored.
Alternatively you can pick a country you have never heard of like Slovenia as your second team. Make sure you remember one crazy fact about them and unleash this crazy piece of football trivia during one of the many World Cup themed parties that will be held during the finals. Again your football cred is rising!
What Clothing Should I wear?
Vintage is the Word. Spend a couple of days at a second hand clothes shop and if you find what appears to be an old Socceroo Jersey then get it. You will have a great story to tell on how you found it and your Football cred will rise. However if you do pick an old Wallabies Jersey or a Limited Overs Cricket shirt then you will be made fun of by the Australian Football Supporter’s Police( AFSP). The AFSP is always on patrol. They can be spotted easily, usually they are wearing the latest replica shirt or the 1974 vintage shirt and have their name own name printed on the back of the shirt.
What do I chant?
As mentioned before the Australian Football Supporter’s Police are always on patrol to make sure any band wagoners are not acting out of line with the AFSP code. One of the senior members of the AFSP will usually be leading the chants. At first this loud group chanting may seem lame and almost like a bad church psalm. Don’t be so self conscious make sure you have drunk enough of the officially licensed beer. Yes its Budweiser this World Cup but harden up.
Now that you are well sloshed singing English themed chants with Australian words will not seem so pathetic if everyone is doing it around you. The whistling song from the film The Great Escape and yelling Aussie at the end of the whistle bit for three hours continually is a good way to start. Don’t get to cocky where you start wanting to start your own chants otherwise the AFSP will come down on you so hard they may never invite you to a football outing again. Remember not joining in the chanting makes you lose any football cred you may have gained earlier. The AFSP may even start chanting “sing or fuck off”
And do not chant Aussie, Ausssie, Aussie, OI, OI, OI? Do I have to explain why?
Should I blame the Coach?
Always blame the coach. A scapegoat must be found early, this way when we lose you can funnel your anger in this direction; it will seem like to all around you that you are a football expert.
What should I say?
Saying any of the below phrases during the Socceroos first game against Germany will get you invited to the next match and virtually seal your position from Band Wagoner supporter to a fully fledged Socceroo supporter.
Say things like:
“Pim Verbeek is just a poor man’s Gus Hiddink”
“Tim Cahill can sure jump”
“I really think we will miss Mark Viduka”
“I miss Johnny Warren”
“That Josh Kennedy sure is tall and he looks like Jesus”
“I hope Harry doesn’t injure his groin”
“I hope Lucas Neil doesn’t dive in again, even though that cheating Italian dived”
“I hope Brett Holman doesn’t play”
“I wish Pim Verbeek would pick Nicky Carle he is the most blah blah”
“Do you think Pim will play 4-2-3-1?”
This last line is optional. As a Band Wagoner you don’t want to talk too much about tactics otherwise you may be engaged with a conversation you have no way of escaping, especially if it’s a football purist (beware the football purists they are everywhere, they love saying that Italia 90 was the greatest World Cup and they wished the back pass rule was not in effect as they think it’s introduction killed the game). Also if the conversation moves away from the World Cup and onto local football, be ready to suggest that European Football is much better than the A League. Nods of approval will swirl around the room and again your football cred will rise.
Do Not Join the Fanatics or Green and Gold Army Supporters Group
Joining any of these supporters group is the worst thing you can do. All it will do will is put you in direct contact with more Band Wagoners or football purists. Plus the proper football fan is independent of any groups or commercial entity that profits from football supporters groups. If you are at a World Cup football party make sure you make a comment about this and it’s what you truly believe in. Again your football and indie cred will rise.
So by following these simple guidelines you football experience will be enhanced and who knows you may even enjoy yourself and may have found a new love for the beautiful game. Well till the next World Cup anyway..........