The Age from Melbourne, Victoria, Victoria, Australia on November 15, 1993 · Page 30
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The Age from Melbourne, Victoria, Victoria, Australia · Page 30

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Melbourne, Victoria, Victoria, Australia
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Monday, November 15, 1993
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Page 30
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'30 THE AGE MONDAY 15 NOVEMBER 1993 Sport Extra 2 Socceroos shoot for By MICHAEL COCKERILL, Santiago, Sunday t Graham Arnold has a vision, a .Idream that one day soccer players .'in Australia will finally command '.sqme respect. And he knows just how much those hopes hinge on the outcome of the Socceroos' "daunting World Cup mission in ' Buenos Aires on Wednesday night. Playing and living as a professional in Europe has provided 'Afnold with an insight into what ''the game means to so many people -'throughout the world. Travelling 'around the globe with the Socceroos has only fortified the Impression that footballers, those of the round-ball variety, speak the lan-"goage of the common man. -The street urchins who have gathered at the gates of the Colo Colo sporting complex here every day for the past 12 days to clamor ..for autographs or merely wave at ,-tne players as the bus drives .-.through understand the theme. the photographers and camera-,men who film the training sessions at the leafy end of the training grounds, conveying their mes Zafoica gets nod for No. 1 spot By MICHAEL COCKERILL, Santiago, Sunday The experience of Robert Zabica has won the Adelaide City goalkeeper the battle to stand between the posts when the Socceroos meet Argentina !in the deciding World Cup : playoff in Buenos Aires on Wednesday night. ' Zabica, 29, has held off a deter-' mined challenge from Marconi-'Fairfield youngster Mark Schwarzer for the No. 1 jersey left vacant by the late withdrawal of Aston Villa's Mark Bosnich from the squad. Zabica, first-choice custodian for his country from 1990 until this year, will win his 27th cap in the Stadio Monumental. Socceroo coach Eddie Thomson said: "He's played there before (in .a friendly game last year), he ' knows what to expect, and I need an experienced goalkeeper for a game as big as this." Thomson will announce his , starting XI as soon as any lingering doubts about the fitness of 'Skipper Paul Wade, who badly ' sprained his ankle last week, are cleared up. Wade was expected to complete a full training session 'early today and should take his : place in the side, again to mark Diego Maradona. Meanwhile, when the Socceroos shift from the relative tranquillity of their training base here in Chile 'today to the emotion-charged '. atmosphere of Buenos Aires, winger Robbie Slater will grab most of the attention during the countdown to the World Cup decider. Slater has been a revelation, I operating up and down the right - Hank and using his explosive pace, his power, his workrate and his fine crossing ability to become one of the most threatening weapons ' for the Socceroos. ; Slater, who turns 29 just five - days after the game, is at the peak of his powers. A tempestuous relationship with former national ! coach Frank Arok severely curtailed a Socceroo career that began in 19S4, but his re-emergence during the World Cup campaign this year after four years in the wilderness has been a huge lift for the Australian team. ; "The only thing I'm worried about losing this game is that it Free-scoring Knights romp to top spot By LAURIE SCHWAB 'Melbourne Knights followed up a midweek 4-0 thrashing of Heidelberg by knocking Sydney United olt the top of the National Soccer League ladder at the Croatian Sports Centre in Sydney yesterday. . The Knights' 3-0 victory over United made them the highest-scoring team in the league, with a 'total of 12 from five matches. '. Captain Josip Bisklc, now the central playmaker after spending .the previous 12 seasons on the right flank, shot the Knights into 'the lead in the 12th minute with ihis second goal of the week. Ollie Pondeljak, now the league's joint top scorer, i increased the lead with goals in ithe 17th and 40th minutes. ! The Knights triumphed despite ;the absence of Vlado Vanis, suspended again after being sent off ;for the second time in three Iweeks. Coach Mirko Bazic ; recalled Vinko Buljubasic to the 'defence and replaced goalkeeper ; David Miller with Frank Jurlc. ' Another victory is virtually ! guaranteed for the Knights next Sunday, since they meet the unimpressive Brisbane Strikers at ' North Sunshine. Heidelberg beat Brisbane 2-1 in iBrisbane on Saturday night I despite the absence of three regulars Doug Hodgson (suspend-led), Gary Bratten and George Georgiadls (both injured). I Although they adopted a defensive approach, the Bergers surged !to a 2-0 lead with goals by Phil Stubbins and Mike Michalakopou-los before veteran midfielder Frank Pimblett replied for Brls-'. bane In the second half. ' " Brunswick went down 2-0 to the '. Newcastle Breakers at the West-- ern Oval, after having midfielder sages and pictures around the world reflect the global stature of the game, and, of course, this game in particular. Be it in Buenos Aires, Bangkok or Barcelona or anywhere else that Australian teams have played the recurring theme is one of status, and respect. Sadly, as Arnold portrays, that respect is too often missing when the Socceroos are at home. "The way we get treated in Australia, it's not fair, in a lot of aspects," Arnold said. "I look at John Kosmina, it's a crying shame. The guy's a legend for me. What he did for Australia, 102 games and record goalscorer, and you look at him now and it's a tragedy. "He's flat out getting a coaching job in state league. He deserves so much more than what he's got. One year out of the game, and it's John who? I think that's tragic. And he's not alone. "Unless they learn to respect the players more, especially the older ones like Kossle and Charlie Yankos who have recently retired, then what hope have we got?" Soccer could be . . . the end for me," he said. "It is hard to come back (from Europe) for friendly matches, and the next World Cup qualifiers are four years down the track, and maybe I'll get to 30, or 31. and start cracking up. "It has all started so late for me that if it all finished on Wednesday I'd feel such a total loss, a feeling of unachievement. I've played for Australia, and I think I've done well when I've played, but I'd be so depressed if it finished now." The passion for the green and 'He's played there before, he knows what to expect, and I need an experienced goalkeeper for a game as big as this.' Socceroo coach Eddie Thomson on Robert Zabica. gold shirt is a quality that has been nurtured in Slater by his best friend and Socceroo teammate Graham Arnold. From the time they played together for Sydney United, the pair have been virtually inseparable, and over the past four years in Europe where Slater plays in France and Arnold plays in Belgium they have visited each other often and been in contact at least three times a week. On the field, the duo have an innate understanding and provide a crucial attacking combination for Australia. Traditionally, Slater has been the provider and Arnold the scorer, and their greatest hope is that, in tandem, they can fashion the goal that gets the Socceroos to the World Cup finals. Slater, who has never scored for his country, said: "I get as much Brunswick goalkeeper Jim Kourtis is well beaten by Warren Spink's Archie McGeachey sent off in the 20th minute. Referee Eugene Brazzale flashed the red card after McGeachey stopped a shot from Graham Jennings with his raised hand. Warren Spink converted the resultant penalty. Rod Brown increased Newcastle's lead with his 90th league goal. The former Marconi and APIA striker ranks after John Kosmina (131), Marshall Soper (115), Gary Cole (109) and Mark Jankovics (99) as the fifth-highest scorer in the league's history. 'If we had been cricketers, I'm sure it would have been different. It really gets to Robbie, he hates the way the players, and the game, get treated in Australia. And he's right, you know.' Graham Arnold Arnold recalls a moment a few months ago when he and and Soc-ceroo teammate, Robbie Slater, went to a nightclub in Hurstville, Sydney: "The guy at the door wouldn't let us in. We weren't drunk, we weren't going to cause any trouble, but he wouldn't budge. Robbie said to the guy, mate, 'We're Socceroos, we represent your country'. "He said, 'I don't give a damn who you are, you're not coming in'. If we had been rugby league players, or cricketers, I'm sure it would have been a different story. pleasure from giving an assist. I love getting involved in the play. I love making goals as well. Setting up Arnie. for the winner on Wednesday night would be the second-best thing. Scoring myself, although I say I get as much thrill from making the chances, would be unbelievable." The Argentines are well aware of the danger that Slater poses. In the aftermath of the drawn first-leg match in Sydney, it was the Lens winger who drew their most fulsome praise, including an encouraging review from his idol, Diego Maradona. After a relatively quiet series in the previous playoffs against Canada, which in turn had followed a scintillating comeback to the national team in the Oceania playoffs against New Zealand in May and June, Slater returned to form with a vengeance against the illustrious Argentines two weeks ago. What the Sydney match proved beyond argument was that Slater, in the very best of company, had arrived as a player of genuine international quality. After a week marred by injury problems and the saga of Bos-nich's intentions, Thomson was delighted to train his full squad minus Wade for a solid 90 minutes at the Colo Colo complex yesterday. Wade, who Is now doing everything apart from participating in the training games, is close to a complete recovery from his badly sprained ankle and will definitely earn his record-breaking 65th cap in Buenos Aires. The Argentines, meanwhile, now have their full complement of players in training, with skipper Diego Maradona back in action after being sidelined for much of last week with hamstring problems. Coach Alfio Basile, expected to resign regardless of the result of the match, will announce his starting XI tomorrow and, at this stage, the only debate is whether he will promote attacking midfielder Leo Rodrigues or persist with defensive midfielder Hugo Perez. The likely Argentine team is: Goycochea; Chamot, Ruggeri, Vas-quez, MacAllister; Rodrigues or Perez, Redondo, Simeone, Maradona; Balbo, Batistuta. While Brown, Jennings, David Lowe, Ralph Maier, Howard Tre-dinnick and others provide Newcastle with a wealth of experience, they are collectively the slowest team in the league. Midfielder John McQuarrle, Newcastle's best player yesterday, had no argument with that assessment, but pointed out: "Often, old heads will beat young legs." He acknowledged that Newcastle was perhaps fortunate to survive for another season, after being burdened by debts. "It's fair to say the players have had to G) s&b glory It really gets to Robbie; he hates the way the players, and the game, get treated in Australia. And he's right, you know." As it was in 1974, when Australia made its only appearance in the World Cup finals, the key to the door belongs to the players in the green and gold. A sad history of battling against discrimination and a blighted administration has stunted the progress of the game. Over the past two years, dragged along by a string of magnificent achievements at youth level, Australian soccer has Robert Zabica: experience won him the Socceroo goalkeeper's penalty kick during the Newcastle make sacrifices in the way of pay cuts, but now that we've overcome the worst of It we hope to go on and finish in the top six," he said. Brunswick coach John Margari-tis remarked: "Maradona himself would have done nothing today because It was very difficult after we lost McGeachey." Ghanaian youth international Ransford Banini, recruited during the week for an Australian-record $50,000 transfer fee, was unable to play because his transfer and'reg-istration papers were not processed in time. He will make his and respect back at enjoyed unprecedented credibility. The ground is now as fertile as it has ever been, but will it finally yield a decent harvest? The answer lies In the white heat of the Stadio Monumental, where on Wednesday night 80,000 Argentines expect their highly paid superstars and, of course, the incomparable Diego Maradona; to snuff out the Socceroos' brave challenge. It will be the most intimidating stage imaginable even now the assistant coach, Argentine-born Raul Blanco, confesses to goose bumps when he contemplates the atmosphere. But for now, the message from the players is that they are mentally tuned, and quietly confident, about the gigantic task ahead. Thanks to the development program which has been the cornerstone of Australia's growing international reputation, most of the current squad have been well schooled in what to expect. Viewed from an overall perspective, it has taken Australia more than a decade to reach the point whereby the Socceroos can Picture: LES SHORROCK Breakers' 2-0 win yesterday. debut against Morwell Falcons in Morwell on Saturday. In yesterday's other matches, Sydney Olympic beat Marconi 1-0 with a goal by former Preston Makedonia striker Kris Trajan-ovski, and West Adelaide missed a chance to join Melbourne Knights and Sydney United on 10 points when it lost 2-1 to Parramatta Eagles. Next round: Friday: Newcastle v Sydney United: Saturday: Morwell Falcons v Brunswick: Sunday: Marconi v Wollongong. Heidelberg v Sydney Olympic, Melbourne Knights Brisbane Strikers. England soccer manager Graham Taylor is living In dreamland as he prepares lor this week's match with San Marino and for the likelihood his team will not reach the World Cup finals. Taylor said at the weekend: "I have a dream. Everyone has to have a dream and mine Is qualifying for the USA." Britain's media believe that would be closer to a miracle than go into a decisive World Cup match against Argentina the most decorated nation In world football over the past 15 years with justifiable optimism. Granted, the Socceroos will start in the familiar role of underdogs in Buenos Aires, but the nervous disposition of the Argentine media, and the anxiety of their players and coach Alfio Basile confirm that they will not be easy pickings. Victory against the odds would jersey over Mark Schwarzer. Giant-killer Sutton back on cup trail London, Sunday Sutton United, a minor-league soccer club from south London, scored a brave 4-3 away win over third-division Colchester United in the first round of the English FA Cup yesterday. Sutton, which three years ago took the notable scalp of Coventry City, beat Colchester with a goal from Ollie Morah two minutes from time only seconds after the league side had equalised for the second time. There were also wins for minor-league clubs Macclesfield, which beat Hartlepool 2-0, and Broms-grove Rovers, who knocked out third-division struggler Northampton Town -2-1 to register the club's first victory in the competition proper since they first entered the cup 108 years ago. The match between Runcorn and visiting Hull was abandoned in the 29th minute after a wall collapsed as the away fans celebrated their side's opening goal. Four people were injured, none of them seriously. The match will be replayed on Tuesday. Because of England's World Cup qualifier with San Marino on Wednesday there were no premier league matches. In Scotland, the top five teams in the premier division all drew, leaving Aberdeen still heading the table on goal difference from Motherwell. Those two teams shared the points in a 1-1 draw at Pittodrie, where both goals came in the opening four minutes. Third-placed Rangers and fifth-placed Celtic both looked to be heading for 2-1 victories, only to be thwarted late In their matches against Ralth and Kilmarnock, respectively. a dream come true. England needs to beat San Marino by at least seven goals and for a struggling Poland side demoralised by defeat In Turkey last month to beat the Netherlands in Poznan. A defiant Taylor said: "It may be distant, but It's not over yet. I would ask whether you would rather be going to San Marino for a big win or going to Poland for a draw." provide the catalyst for a revolution in the Australian game a massive boost in profile and investment and, most of all, the respect that Arnold, Slater and the others, both crave, and deserve. "On the surface, a 1-1 result against Argentina (in the first leg in Sydney) may seem like a great result, and we did play well," says Strasbourg striker Frank Farina. "But I was pissed off we didn't win. "In the end, if we don't qualify, who's going to remember that Experts pick Veart as key to unlock Argentine defence By LAURIE SCHWAB Disregard for a moment Frank Farina, Robbie Slater, Aurelio Vidmar and the other European-based expatriates "our soccer millionaires'' as former Socceroo coach Frank Arok calls them. Australia's savior against Argentina on Thursday may well be an unassuming, red-haired, freckle-faced, part-time player from Adelaide. His name Is Carl Veart, he plays for Adelaide City and he has been all but forgotten In the shadows of his Illustrious teammates. Yet Veart, 23, is perhaps the most potent attacking force available to coach Eddie Thomson whose selections for the decisive World Cup qualifying match In Buenos Aires have been complicated by the withdrawal of Ned Zelic and Mark Bosnich, both Injured. Veart boasts the remarkable scoring rate of seven goals from 12 Socceroo matches. He previously scored six In 21 games for the Australian Under-23 Olympic team. According to prominent soccer personalities we questioned about Australia's prospects against Argentina, Veart who was omitted from the first-leg 1-1 draw In Sydney should be reinstated to give Australia Its best possible chance of winning In Buenos Aires. Former New Zealand international Billy Wright recalled ruefully that Veart was chief executioner of the Kiwis In an earlier qualifying round. Wright's view that Veart should play was shared by Melbourne Knights captain Josip Bisklc, North Geelong coach Tony Vrzina, Heidelberg flanker Nemanja Obradovic and Morwell Falcons striker John Markovskl. It Is the fourth time the Socceroos have been within one match of qualifying for the World Cup finals but they achieved the required result only once In 1973 when they won a tie-breaking third game against South Korea 1-0 In Hong Kong. They failed In 1969 against Israel and In 1985 against Scotland. Should the Socceroos advance to the 1994 World Cup finals In the United States, they would lift the profile of Australian soccer In general and boost the popularity and financial viability of the struggling national league. Since the entire Australian soccer community has a stake In the outcome of Thursday's match, we sought the views of selected experts. Ominously, most expected Argentina to win. JOSIP BISKIC (Melbourne Knights captain, 1991-92 Australian player ol the year): We should use two strikers not one. the way we did in Sydney because we need to score to win the tie. I would use Veart and Farina up front, with Graham Arnold dropping back into midlield. The Argentines will be careful because on the present scoreline, they have already qualilied. Prediction: Without Zelic, we would do well to draw 0-0 but, ol course, that would not be enough. MIKE PETERSEN (South Melbourne, ex-Brunswick, Heidelberg; S4 games lor Socceroos): We need to score but when we played against Argentina in Buenos Aires last year, we managed only two shots over 90 minutes. Our formation does not suit our cause of having to press for a result. Although I hate to admit it, I think we're going to struggle. I reckon Argentina will go all out, the way Scotland did when they beat us 2-0 in Glasgow during the 1985 World Cup series. Although we've come a long way, I don't think we've reached the stage where we can go to a place like Buenos Aires and win. Prediction: 2-1 Argentina. NEMANJA OBRADOVIC (Heidelberg left flanker, formerly with Adelaide City, Avals, Red Star Belgrade and Andertecht): Steve Corica and Carl Veart must play to give the Australians their best chance. Corica Is the best player In Australia. Veart is the second-best. BILLY WRIQHT (scored 13 goals In 23 games for New Zealand, former Morwell Falcons captain, now coach of Newborough United in La Trobe Valley): An Australian victory would be tremendous tor all of Oceania and I'm sure everyone in New Zealand will be barracking for the Aussies. Veart is the key. When New Zealand played the Aussies in Auckland, we weren 't worried about Farina but when Veart came on he killed us. The more you kick him, the more he comes back. Australia's got to keep it tight but if the Argentines take the lead, Thomson should throw tour men up front and get the defenders to play the ball long. Prediction: 1-0 Australia. JOHN MARKOVSKI (Morwell Falcons forward, ex-Preston-Mekedonla, Marconi, George Cross, Melbourne Knights; 21 games tor Australian Olympic team, three games for Socceroos): We should have used two up front in the first leg, rather than just one. Also, I would have brought on Veart as a substitute in Sydney, and then Stan Lazaridis to run the legs off the Argentines. In Buenos Aires, I'd use Arnold and Veart up front, with Farina supporting them wide II the Aussies hold out tor the first 20 minutes, the crowd might turn against their own team, since the Argentines lost their last home tie 5 0 against Colombia. But make no mistake, Argentina's got a great team, even though it took them 45 minutes to get into the groove in Sydney. Prediction: 2-1 Argentina. home match in six months' time? What it is all about In this game Is winning. ' If we can get the team to the World . Cup, then Australian soccer can really take off." Indeed, it is a measure of the Socceroos' growing self-belief that despite the loss of playmaker Ned Zelic and goalkeeper Mark Bosnich over the past week, the players to a man have retained their convictions. To achieve what to the rest of the world remains the impossible dream, the Socceroos have to score at least once. Given that the Argentine defence is its weakest link, a goal to silence the crowd is not out of the question. So have we the players to do it? Yes. In Farina, Robbie Slater and Aurelio Vidmar, the Socceroos have attackers capable of unlocking any defence in the world. But most of all the Socceroos have had the right preparation, both mental and physical, for this moment of truth. The Australians fear no one any more, they only respect. And it is time they got some respect of their own. Carl Veart TOMMY CUMMINQ (player-coach ol Bell Park, ex-Melbourne Knights, Sunshine City, former state representative, twice Victorian player ol year, 12 games for Socceroos): We had our chance in Sydney and blew it. But it wasn 't because we used only one forward, since we still created enough chances to win before the Argentines decided to kill the game. Onoe they did that, they looked great. In Buenos Aires, we 've got to play 1 1 men behind the ball but stage fright could be a problem and I can't see us scoring against them. Prediction: 1-0 Argentina. TONY BOQGI (former coach of Australia, Victoria, Heidelberg, Brunswick): This Is the worst Argentina I have seen but. unlike us, they don't miss in front of goal. Thomson was right to play the first leg in Sydney because things would have been much worse had we played the first game away and been hammered. Argentina is in a position to lock up the game sit on the ball if they want to. They 'll try to make us open up and if we do. they 'll kill us. It's a matter ol being patient. We 're not done yet. I would have been mote selective in choosing expatriate players Aurelio Vidmar and Slater certainly, but the rest are debatable. TONY VRZINA (coach of North Geelong, previously coached Sydney Croatia, Melbourne Croatia, George Cross, St Albans, Preston Makedonia, Western Suburbs, Bulleen, Northcote): It was our best-ever performance in Sydney, whereas the Argentines were at 60 per cent and Maradona and Batistuta can play twice as well. We saw only a little of Argentina's brilliant short passing in Sydney but when they turn it on, it will be very difficult to get the ball from them. Our only hope is to tighten up the defence and midlield and try to break from the centre line. I'd use Veart and leave Farina on the bench until the second hall. We can use the crowd to our advantage because the tans might turn against the Argentines the longer they fail to score. Prediction: 2-1 Argentina. STEVE CHETCUTI (Green Gully captain, former state representative, ex-George Cross, Polonia): Slater, Van Blerk and Aurelio Vidmar will again trouble Argentina lor pace, as will Farina. I would have played the lirst game in Buenos Aires: I won t be surprised if the Argentines just sit and try to draw us out. They're professionals and they know their percentages. ' Prediction: 0-0. FAUSTO DE AMICIS (Melbourne Knights left back, ex-Juventus): Argentina won't leave themselves as open as they did in the lirst hall in Sydney, they'll use the wings more and Maradona will improve. The Australians pressured superbly in Sydney but eventually tired and even more will be demanded ol them in Buenos Aires'.' Prediction: 0-0 or 2-1 Argentina. I

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