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You have had a pretty eventful start to your football career in Europe, scoring on your playing debut, facing teams like Barcelona, playing in the Europa League and experiencing a fierce local derby Derby tell us about your European odyssey so far? It’s a far cry from playing in front of a dog and an esky at the Gold Coast?
Playing for Hajduk Split is a dream come true.Playing against my other favourite club Barcelona in Hajduk’s 100 year anniversary game was a fantastic feeling.
The derby against Dinamo was something else. I now know what the word derby really means. Each corner of the city of Split was covered with Hajduk banners and flags, nothing else matters here.
There was a media conference held every day for the entire week before the game. The print media coverage of the game would fill the entire edition of the Gold Coast Bulletin.
Match day was something i have never experienced in my life.The choreography in the stadium set up by the ‘torcida fans’ is indescribable. For the full 90 mins they did not stop singing and chanting.
When we scored, I thought the place was going to explode. You need to go on youtube to fully understand the atmosphere of the derby.
You made headlines in Australia when you signed for Hadjuk Split. Particularly The “who is Miron (Bleiberg) ” comment about your former coach obviously you have moved forward but you must feel like you have proved some of your critics wrong?
My aim was always to play football at the highest possible level. For me its not about proving anyone wrong, I set my goals high and believe in my own ability.
Not a lot of young players who go overseas are able to make such a great start to their career how did you view the challenge of making into the first team and what goals did you set yourself this season?
My goal was always to break into the first team. It probably happened sooner than i expected, but now the challenge is even greater, and that is to maintain my starting position in the team.
Soon after you signed, you were caught up in a club vs country battle that saw you miss out on the youth World Cup. Did you see any of the games and what did you make of the team’s performance and results?
I watched all the games on TV here live. Unfortunately we did not make the second round. However i know all the boys gave their best and there were some good performances.
How have you viewed Hadjuk’s Start you are in second place behind Zagreb at the time of writing? Have any team mates impress you so far?
Our start to the season has been good and we are still currently second behind Dinamo Zagreb.
Our team is very young and there are some good Croatian youth international players. Our Captain Srdan Andric and vice captain Ljubo Milicevic have great experience and leadership qualities.
Have you spoken to FFA Technical director Hann Berger or anyone at the FFA about the comments he made about your decision to miss the Youth World Cup? When asked if it would affect your national team chances now or in the future he said: "I think so. Holger gave a clear indication of that by not selecting them for the Serbia and New Zealand (Socceroos) games recently. They are young players and it's difficult for them. What will happen for the future, we will have to discuss internally." What do you think of those comments and have you had any contact from Holger since then?
I have not had contact with anyone at FFA after my decision. I can understand their disappointment with my decision, but im sure they also understood the position I was in at the time.
Brent McGrath and Mathew Leckie were in the same situation as you and all three of you have made great starts to the season. I’m sure all three would have loved to have played for Australia at the Youth World Cup. What were your feelings at the time?
Not electing to go to the World Cup was the hardest decision i have had to make so far. I set myself that goal many years ago, unfortunately the timing of the tournament was not right.
How do you feel about representing the Socceroos? Playing regularly In Europe must give you confidence of a call up sooner rather than later.
It would fulfil another goal of mine to be selected for the Socceroos, however I would need to be performing consistently well at a very high level before that would happen.
My teammates have accepted me as part of the gang, but offcourse they remind me I am a ‘klokan’(kangaroo in Croatian) at times.Being a player born of Croatian background have you had any offers from the Croatian FA to play for Croatia?
No, I have had no offers from the Croatian FA.
Has having Croatian background helped you settle in easier? Do your teammates view you as a foreigner or one of the gang?
Yes, my Croatian heritage has helped me settle in well. I speak Croatian and understand the culture and this has enabled me to feel at home.
How is fellow Aussie teammate Ljubo Milicevic doing? He hasn’t played much in the last few weeks - what’s he like on and off the pitch?
Ljubo has played in the last two games including the derby against Dinamo and was captain in the last game against Cibalia. This shows how highly he is regarded by our coach Balakov.
On the pitch he is a leader, off the pitch he is well liked by everyone.
Who are your friends in football and would you say is your major influence in your career?
The major influence on my career has been my parents. My family is very important to me and without their support and guidance i would not be where i am now.
Tell us your thoughts on the A-League. Even though Miron did not use you often, did the experience playing in the Youth League with Sydney FC and then with Gold Coast United help you in getting a chance with Hadjuk Split?
Obviously my time at Sydney FC and Gold Coast United assisted in the development of my game.
I believe my time with the under 20s was also beneficial as it exposed me to international football and some of the best players in the world from my age group.
What is a usual week for you? Can you give us an insight into a week as a player for on and off the field for Hadjuk Split?
Training is either once or twice per day depending on match day. Times of training vary. After morning training we have a team lunch and if we have training in the evening we have dinner together.
Our training schedule can also vary between home games and away games. For the derby against Dinamo we went into camp on the island of Brac four days before the game even though it was a home game.
On other home games we go into a hotel on the day before the game and stay as a group until match day.
Usually we only have one day off during the week and i use this time to relax with friends and go to the beach which is walking distance from my apartment.
I have also had a lot of friends visit me from Oz this year and i have used my days off to meet up with them.
What kind of person are you? Describe yourself in a few words?
Ambitious, determined, loyal.
What are the main qualities you have as a footballer?
My fitness, willingness to learn and commitment to the game.
What part of your game are you always trying to improve on?
I am always trying to improve myself on all aspects of the game.
Canberra journalist Eamonn Flannagan would kill me if I don’t ask you about the effect that Canberra had on your footballing education. And what about an A-league team for Canberra - what do you think?
Without an A league team in Canberra there is no future for young players there.
I had to leave home at 17 to chase my football dream. It would have been so much easier if Canberra had a team.
My club Canberra Deakin had a massive influence on my football education. It exposed me to the technical aspects of the game from age 6. It is where i fell in love with the game and began dreaming of a life in professional football.
Canberra Deakin fully supported my move to Hajduk Split and were the first club to sign off on my transfer to Europe. I will never forget that.
Player: Luka Modric
Team: Hajduk Split
Music: I like listening to Croatian Music.
Film: Green Street Hooligans
Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
According to a wise friend themes are up there in the Sky where the Gods live and issues are here on earth with us humans. And if you focus too much on the themes the Gods have a way of throwing you back to earth.
During the launch of Sydney FC’s 2011/12 season the club went all touchy feely by announcing that they had found five core values that would help unite Sydney FC and the football communityThey were: Courage, Inspire, Be Passionate, Excellence, and Family
For the sake of this blog and the rather tenuous angle I am going for let us say that values are the same as themes. They live in the sky.
Rather than seeking out values here are five core players that Sydney FC should have announced that would of and could have helped unite Sydney FC and the football community
A striker, a second striker, a fake number nine, a striker with goals in them, a striker who can pass into the net, and a left sided midfielder.
New Sydney FC CEO Dirk Melton should concentrate on getting a new striker and a left sided midfielder instead of trying getting his name in the media every second day. What is it with the cult of the CEO when it comes to A-League clubs anyway? Sometimes more focus is put on them rather than the players, coaches and fans. Seriously who gives a fuck about these people? Most of them are Sociopaths that speak in a language only a robot can understand. They use corporate speak to hide a vicious compassion free personality. And I’m pretty sure some of them are also Lizard people from space who devour on the flesh of humans and rely on high quality zipper face mask to hide their true identity.
So back to Sydney FC. What have they been doing for ten months, where for art thy Striker and left sided midfielder? The last time a left sided midfielder was at Sydney FC he has hanging at with Dwight Yorke. David Carney was his name. For those who like numbers since Carney left Sydney FC in 2007 he has played 52 club games in four years and for the Socceroos club he has played 39 times.
Remember the days when two strikers were on the pitch from the start of a game? They would pass to each other, flick on headers and ground passes, they would often cross for each other and give each other high fives even if they gave each other a bad pass.
This aversion to not wanting strikers is just not football, its anti football, its Mabo, it’s all about the vibe of not wanting to score goals.
Also all of a sudden Brett Emerton’s best position on the park is still unknown? Ten years in Europe playing as a right back, right midfielder or right winger and then he comes back to the A-League and all of a sudden no-one knows his best position?
But to put the gloss on Sydney FC issues is to take away from Brisbane Roar. I say Ange Postecoglou for the Socceroos!! He surely is the best coach in Australia by miles. He knows how to recruit has a great eye for talent and he is not scared of strikers.
Anyone know the core values of Brisbane Roar? Just look at the way they play, they value the ball, scoring goals and winning. They look to play on the earth while Sydney FC looks to the Sky. That is a theme for you right there.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Friday, October 7, 2011
So what are you looking forward to the most this lucky season seven of the A-League? Is it the Sydney VS Melbourne rivalry? The Harry Kewell circus has arrived. Will it be goals, assist or groin injuries that take centre stage? If you are Branko Culina and Jason Culina you are probably chinking your glasses together and saying cheers to the payout!
So here is my preview of Season Seven featuring the teams and what I think will be the season biggest events.
Can you name Sydney FC’s imports? I can’t and of course you can’t because you and I have never heard of them. Is Russian Owner of Sydney FC David Traktovenko really worth 500 million? Does he sit around in Gentlemen clubs talking to his millionaire buddies about Hirofumi Moriyasu and Juho Makela?
Yes yes Brett Emerton is here and it’s great to see him back and I can’t wait to see the combination play the former Blackburn star and Nick Carle, Terry Antonis and Nick Petratos can muster up. But seriously Bruno Cazarine and Juno Makhela are not names that should strike fear or bring any familiarity to your casual football connoisseur.
Stama’s prediction. Carle and Emerton will shine or both will get injured and coach gets sacked. Zeljko Kalac and Steve Corica then get put in charge and win the comp with late surge.
Newcastle Jets when Nepotism goes bad.
Well screw all the positive Hype about being the best season ever. The Newcastle Jets stole every A-League teams thunder by sacking the coach and their best player. Boo farken who. Branko gets a handsome payout and so does son Jason. Nathan Tinkler showed his ruthless side. How very European football of you, sacking the coach and best player even before the first game!. Now show how European football you are and spend some of that mining cash you stingy Novocastrian.
Predictions: Well who the hell knows what will happen now? WTF time for the Jets. Jobe Wheelhouse as captain, Branko and Jason gone and where is Ljubo the lip in all of this?
Gold Coast United
Do we still have to endure the soon to be Fold Coast United and Miron Bleiberg speak for another season? Again the same question I ask to Mr Traktavenko of Sydney FC I ask to you Mr Clive Palmer of Coal Coast United. Are you really worth 3 billion? Palmer also has showed he has a ruthless side by signing and then sacking NSWPL star Mat Smith in one foul swoop.
Prediction. More boring talk about crowds and 2 2 2 2 2 formations galore
Wellington Phoenix: rising from the ashes and falling into receivership. almost
Every season Wellington Phoenix’s future is under attack. If it’s not the Asian Football Confederation threatening their playing future or Terry Serepisos’s dodgy cash flow the Nix just can’t seem to settle.
Seripisos famously thought of the idea of the Phoenix while getting a haircut. I wonder what he was doing when he was told that he had to give up the club. Perfect Symmetry would say he was getting a haircut but life’s true Symmetry would suggest he was probably on the toilet checking his I Phone messages when he found out.
Prediction: No finals
Prediction: No finals
Adelaide United- Ex Overseas Socceroo Club.
Space Dilveski, had it, lost it. So too did Dario Vidosic. Bruce Djite also had then it lost it. John McCain had it but didn’t lose much. What am I talking about? Their overseas football careers of course. As a Sydney boy The Pissants squad is making me very jealous. The Reds probably have the most attacking squads along with Melbourne Heart and Melbourne Victory.
Now Brisbane have also had it and somewhere down the line lost it after last season’s grand final win. But the IT I‘m talking about is their GF wining squad. Their best players have left. Is Brisbane such a bad place to live? Well I have been and the answer is yes yes it is.
Expect to see comparisons to Inter Milan because of the international flavour of their team. The team has imports from world football powerhouses of Bahrain and Canada. To replace Kostas Barbarouses and Jean Carlos Solórzano. My first instinct is to ridicule but hey its Bahrain and Canada
Prediction: Second season syndrome is real.
Central Coast Mariners
Probably have the best youth in the league. Mustafa Amini , Bernie Ibini Isei, Oliver Bozanic, are all exciting players to watch. Have taken a softly softly approach so I don’t have that much to ridicule.
Remember the NSL? That was fun wasn’t it Perth?
Prediction: Ian Ferguson, sorry Perth.
The derbies will be great but I just can’t warm to a team that has more Westpac employees as members than actual football fans. David Williams and Fred alongside Jean Carlos Solórzano will be tough for most A-League defences.
Melbourne Victory will have a great season and it pains me to say it. They have made the signing of the Universe with Harry Harry Kewell. What are the odds a no name Kreas pops up (meathead in Greek) and ruins it for everyone.
Prediction: Yeah the Tards might win.
The big Seven in Season 7
Harry Kewell vs. Australian Media
Take your pick. If it’s not Fairfax journo’s Michael Cockerill or Papou Lynch shitting and pissing on Harry’s parade be sure that Ray Gatt will be in there somewhere “reporting” on what a little C our Harry can be at times, As I have reported earlier its only Analysing or Cheerleading when it comes to our Harry.
Harry Kewell VS Robbie Slater
Harry Kewell VS Robbie Slater
For two men who struggle to speak at the best of times watching these two Socceroo legends thrash handbags at each other on Fox Sports was mesmerising. Seeing Robbie involved with the promo of Harry on Fox Sports just cracks me up. The hypocrisy must be eating him up. But he’s passed it. He’s a circus!!! Shut up and read your lines Robbie!
Harry Kewell vs. Harry Kewell’s groin
Harry Kewell’s Groin watch was probably the biggest event at last year’s World Cup for most Australians. When Harry’s groin makes its debut popping noise at some point during the A-League it will crush a nation just as it did when they saw Harry walking on crutches against Italy at the 2006 World Cup. C’mon Harry you can beat your groin!
Harry Kewell vs. Graham Arnold’s poison
Harry Kewell vs. Graham Arnold’s poison
You just want to be a fly in the wall somewhere when Harry Kewell talks about Graham Arnold to his close mates and when Graham Arnold talks about Harry Kewell to his close mates. What they would say oh what they would say.
Harry Kewell vs. Football Federation Australia
Harry Kewell vs. Football Federation Australia
One of the benefits of being an English colony is that English common law and the adversarial system is part of our legal framework. There is no anarchy like the Greeks here. But there is a nanny state at play. Words like bureaucracy, red tape, policy and procedure, best practice and health and safety are permeating into our daily lives. So when Harry wants to sign with Ford or with any sponsor he should tell the FFA to quietly F off. A quote I heard from Chris Tsiolkas Author of the slap that should be taken as warning to the FFA bean counters. Never spit on your fortune.
Harry Kewell vs. Harry Kewell at Leeds and Liverpool
The only competition you have is with yourself and your own potential. Harry will never ever be able to compete with the Harry Kewell at Leeds or the fit Harry Kewell at Liverpool. But Harry Kewell’s 45 minute cameo against Adelaide United showed everyone what a talent and special player he is.
Harry Kewell VS Brett Emerton
Harry Kewell VS Brett Emerton
Oh yeah let us not forget the football. The battle between these two will ultimately be the highlight of all the match ups. It’s Sydney vs. Melbourne. The Convict Inspired Sydney Town with no care for any town planning or the Banker inspired Melbourne Town with its neatly planned grid pattern. Sure Harry is the biggest name and has the Hollywood looks but Brett is the nice guy a bloke you could have a beer with.
Being a Sydney boy hopefully the nice guy doesn’t finish last.
So what are your predictions and special moments going to be for you this Season Seven?
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Compiled by Damian Davies.
Plenty of club level action for our Aussies across the globe with many appearances during the month, particularly in youth teams around Europe. Various national level games with the Socceroos, Joeys, Olyroos and Matildas all playing during September. A sprinkling of transfers, with yet more players returning for the new HAL season.
Vince Grella made his return for Blackburn, but they are staring down the barrel of a long season. Chris Herd features in the game day squad for Villa on a regular basis but hasn’t seen any game time after his impressive season debut in August. Despite stringing together three recent draws,
Starting with action in Europe, in particular to England where the Aussies playing in the EPL are not travelling that well. Tim Cahill and Mark Schwarzer were the only regulars over the past month, however both their club sides are sitting in the bottom half of the table.
Middlesbrough remain in the automatic promotion places in the Championship early in the season. Rhys Williams has continued his impressive season while Scott McDonald returned strongly after an early month hamstring injury. Kisnorbo, Jedinak and Federici are all mid table but all starting to hit form. Ryan Williams (17) continues to get some minutes for Portsmouth while Neil Kilkenny’s Bristol City are struggling, having not won since mid August.
The Australian presence in League One is highlighted by James Wesolowski and Alex Cisak at Oldham athletic. Two recent losses have seen them drop back to the lower half of the table. Worth noting that Kyle Nix’s Gateshead are currently top of the table at Conference level.
Up in Scotland, not much Aussie action with McKay and Mooy missing through injury and Ryan McGowan getting limited game time in September. However Rangers have already managed to get a big 10 point lead over Celtic. Defender Beau Busch seems to have cemented his place at Arbroath, who now lead Second Division in Scotland.
In Scandinavia, great to see Nathan Coe getting so many starts in Denmark, along with youngster Brent McGrath. Their team results have been a little up and down, but still plenty of games to go to get into the European places. Ante Covic had a month dominated by trips to the pine, but with Elfsborg still in second, all is not too bad for the 36 year old. Luke Wilkshire has continued his great season with Dinamo Moscow, now three points over the lead in Russia.
Moving back across continental Europe, in Croatia, both Ljubo Milicevic and Steven Lustica appear most weeks for Hajduk Split. They are currently second on the table, but a gap of seven points now exists to powerhouse Dinamo Zagreb. Young Tomi Juric didn’t see much game time this month as Lokomotiva failed to earn a point.
Danny Invincibile now finds himself in the starting line-up at Ermis (Cyprus), but not the greatest start to the campaign with only one point in their first five fixtures. In the Czech Republic, Mlada Boleslav (Kerem Bulut) dropped off a little during the month and now sit sixth on the table.
Sydney born Aleksander Jovanovic has debuted at Serbian club, Hajduk Kula and James Troisi has been in and out of the starting eleven at the slow starting Kayerispor in Turkey. In Germany, no starts this month for either Leckie, Rukavytsya or Langerak. Robbie Kruse did manage to start during September in the second tier at Fortuna Dusseldorf. He is yet to break his scoring duck but the team are travelling well sitting two points off the lead with a game in hand.
Moving to Italy where many of the Aussies are now in the lower leagues. The exception being Carl Valeri who’s club, Sassuolo, currently sit fourth with Carl playing a significant role. Exciting to note two young Aussies making their way in the Italian fourth division (Lega Pro 2), with both Francesco Stella (20) and Christian Esposito (21) regular starters for their respective teams.
The Netherlands is a promising destination for Aussies this European season with Brett Holman continuing his great form at league leading AZ. Great to see Tommy Oar starting to have an impact at Utrecht, where Michael Zullo and Adam Sarota are also appearing frequently. Rounding out European coverage, yet another Aussie keeper is making headlines with Caleb Patterson-Sewell leading Atletico Clube Portugal to the top of the second division table in Liga de Honra. To date, he has kept four clean sheets in the first six games of the season.
Across to Asia, where several leagues are reaching the end of the season. In the J.League, Josh Kennedy remains one clear in the race for the Golden Boot despite only scoring once in September. His club side, Nagoya Grampus remain in third after a patchy run of late. After scoring for the Socceroos against Thailand, Alex Brosque has maintained his scoring form in Japan, having scored three times over the past few weeks. Eddy Bosnar also featuring as Shimuzu S-Pulse slowly climb the table. In the second tier in Japan, Jade North’s Tokyo lead the league, but Jade can’t take any credit though given he has played a total of 70 minutes for the season despite being available. The opposite scenario for Mark Milligan (nearly 2000 minutes this campaign) as JEF try to gain automatic promotion back to the J.League.
In China, another month to go, however Joel Griffiths’ Beijing Guoan look to be too far behind Guangzhou to claim the title. Joel had a reasonable goal scoring month but currently sits five behind the leader of the Golden Boot. At the other end of the table, Chengdu Blades (Salley and Santalab) will need a few points if they are to avoid relegation. Our Aussies in Singapore are seeing starts in every fixture with Goran Subara (Singapore Armed Forces) currently sitting fourth while Mark McGough’s Balestier Khalsa sit near the bottom of the table. A quick mention to a player abroad known to many fans in Australia. “Aussie” Aleksander Duric remains second in the race for the Golden Boot in Singapore at the age of 41. Not bad for a guy that made his international debut at the age of 37 and has scored 18 goals in 37 appearances.
Lucas Neill has started his club career at Al Jazira (U.A.E.) with a few cup appearances while Richard Porta sits two behind the leaders in the race for the Golden Boot in Uruguay.
Would be remiss of me not to mention the problems in two leagues that are impacting numerous Aussies Abroad. Several clubs from the Super League in Greece have been relegated for match fixing, whereas the association in Indonesia are struggling to launch a league for the new season. Worth watching further developments in the coming weeks.
Injuries:- A few guys made comebacks during September – Grella and Chipperfield. However longer term injuries continue to rule out Garcia (knee), Ireland (thigh), Tombides (cancer treatment), Mooy (back), Gulum (knee) and Ucchino (glandular fever).
(UEFA Champions League) Limited Aussies making appearances with Mitchell Langerak have two games on the pine for Dortmund. Scott Chipperfield got a few minutes off the bench in the glamour tie with Manchester United.
(UEFA Europa League) Only Brett Holman (AZ) and Mark Schwarzer (Fulham) remain in this competition with both getting starts during September. James Holland was an unused substitute in the most recent tie for AZ..
(AFC Champions League) No Aussies remain.
(AFC Cup) No Aussies remain.
(CONCACAF) No Aussie appearances
Youth:- Updates from the “NextGen Series”, the youth level Champions League, were all about Brad Smith who made four appearances during the month for Liverpool. Massimo Luongo appeared in a Tottenham fixture and Reece Caira (Aston Villa) was an unused substitute. Cameron Edwards (Reading), Jamie MacLaren (Blackburn) and Marc Warren (Sheffield United) are all regulars at the reserves level. An astounding number of Aussie keepers at youth level, with Liam Jacob (Manchester United), Alex Baird (Newcastle) and Dean Gardikiotis (Blackpool) all starting in their respective youth teams.
National level :- After a narrow escape in the warm up game with Thailand, the Socceroos turned out against Saudi Arabia back in early September for a WC qualifier. A pleasing 3-1 win with Josh Kennedy netting a brace. The Olyroos played an uninspiring 0-0 with U.A.E. using an Australia based squad. The Matildas were knocked out of the World Cup and the Joeys put in some smashing performances in Asia.
Transfers :- Fairly limited movement this month. A few Aussies headed to Hong Kong for the start of the new season there. The trend of players returning to the HAL seems to be continuing however still a few uncontracted players in the market – not forgetting Carney, Bouzanis and Madaschi are still looking for homes.
Additions/changes to database: -
Julius Doe Davies (4 Sep 1994) – transferred to TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, Germany
Karl Dodd (13 Nov 1980) – transferred to TSW Pegasus, Hong Kong
Christian Esposito (23 Jul 1990) – loaned to FC Catanzaro, Italy
Aleksander Jovanovic (4 Aug 1989) – transferred to FK Hajduk Kula, Serbia
Dane Milovanovic (2 Dec 1989) – transferred to Sun Hei SC, Hong Kong
Robert Stambolziev (26 Oct 1990) – transferred to AO Proodeftiki Nikea, Greece
Jonathan Stynes (1 Apr 1993) – transferred to Kilmarnock, Scotland
Nenad Vekic (14 Apr 1990) – transferred to Tuen Mun SA, Hong Kong
Removed from database:-
Matthew Fletcher (1 Jun 1992) – released by Sunderland, uncontracted
Ryan Gazet du Chattelier (17 Feb 1991) – released by Stuttgart Kickers II, uncontracted
Daniel Georgievski ( 17 Feb 1988) – appeared for senior Macedonian football team
Andrija Jukic (3 Jan 1987) – released by Bogor Raya, uncontracted
George Lambadaridis (23 Apr 1992) – transferred to Brisbane Roar
Billy Quinncroft (25 Dec 1991) - by Bogor Raya, uncontracted
David Scarsella (2 Oct 1982) – released by Guiseley, uncontracted
Milan Susak (29 Jan 1984) – transferred to Adelaide United