Saturday, 30 June 2007

Classic commentary

When I don't get an opportunity to see my team in action, either live or on the TV, the only other option is listening to the radio. During the first and second seasons of the Melbourne Victory I enjoyed the commentary of the boys from SEN, even enjoying the somewhat biased nature of their work. Their goal celebrations were something to hear.

However their commentary doesn't compare to that of the South Americans and the celebration that is synonymous with scoring of a goal, that famous "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!!!!" (Repeated as many times as the goal warrants). I have been listening to both Radio Mitre in Argentina (for Boca Juniors games) and Radio Cooperativa in Chile (for Union Española games) for a number of months now and thoroughly enjoy them both, not only for that goal celebration but also the many ads and bits of humour. One example is during the recent Copa America match between Argentina and the US, when Argentina scored its second goal to go 2-1 up, the commentator was to be heard saying: "¡Houston tienen una problema!" (Houston you have a problem!) It was a classic piece of commentary. Their commentary makes you feel if you are actually at the game.

When not able to see the action, its great to be able to listen some great commentary from both here and overseas.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Victory off to China but should they be going?

Melbourne Victory is off to Hong Kong to face the Chinese national team on Wednesday, 4 July at the Sui Sai Wan Sports Ground and will compete for the Mayors’ Cup against Melbourne’s sister city Tianjin Teda on Saturday, 7 July at Tianjin Teda Stadium. Whilst this is a great thing for an Australian domestic team to do, should they really be going to China?

They say that you should never mix politics and sport but I am of the opinion that the Melbourne Victory should not be going on this tour because of political reasons. My reason is that undertaking this tour, one that is also promoting closer business and sporting ties is ignoring some important facts about China. We are ignoring the fact that China is not a democracy; it violates the human rights of its own people by placing those who have differing opinions to that of the state into labour camps or 'gulags'; it has invaded Tibet and has illegally claimed it as its own; and it does not respect Taiwan as its own country and often threatens invasion.

Others may come back to that saying mentioned before that politics and sport should not be mixed but it has in the past. During the apartheid era of South Africa all sporting ties were cut and currently sporting ties with Zimbabwe are virtually non existent due to the actions of the Mugabe government.

I am all for increasing our ties within the Asian confederation that we now exist in - but should we be supporting a nation such as China with its current beliefs just for economic benefit. Do not the same opportunities exist with South Korea, the home of our major sponsor, Samsung. or even Japan. It is something to consider.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

The debate flares again

After the recent practice match between Melbourne Victory and South Melbourne and its incidents the debate about flares lit by fans at games has again been raised. Football Federation Australia has raised the possibility of stripping Melbourne Victory of premiership points, fed-up with the lighting of flares during games. Although this would be as a last resort with Ben Buckley stating, "Clearly we can fine the club if we think that's appropriate, we can ban people from the venue and at an extreme end we can deduct points. All those things have to be considered." (Herald Sun, 22 July 2007)

The lighting of flares to celebrate key moments of the game such as goals and kickoff has been prevalent throughout the game in Europe and South America for many years but is it relevant to the game here in Australia. It is often a stereotypical part of the game here in Australia that other codes like to deride. The FFA and Melbourne Victory have both clearly stated that they don't want flares being lit at games. In support of this many of the supporter groups who create a great atmosphere at the games through their chanting have banned flares in any form as part of their support. It is believed that is a rogue element that infiltrates the group on match days that is responsible for the lighting of flares. Personally when I have attended games in South America in Argentina (see photo above of some of the most fanatical supporters in the world, those of Racing Club in Argentina) and Chile, the lighting of flares has added to the atmosphere of the game. But it is only a small part of the equation, other contributions are: the releasing of balloons en mass; throwing of streamers; and chanting and singing throughout the whole game and the playing of drums.

If the club doesn't want it and the association don't want it, then we have to stamp it out and show our support for our team in other ways. I enjoy the atmosphere that is created at Melbourne Victory games by the supporters groups and that's what continually draws me back to the games along with the actual football. We should look at allowing the supporters to bring in balloons, streamers and especially drums and trumpets to increase the atmosphere and noise within the stadium and this will hopefully make it less likely for the rogue elements to want let off flares. We can't have a small minority ruining it for the rest of the supporters and the club itself.

For an excellent article about the recent South Melbourne game, click here.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

A cold night down by the lake

Over 7000 people braved a freezing cold night at Bob Jane Stadium at Albert Park to see the Melbourne Victory dispose of South Melbourne 5-1 in a preseason practice match. Goals to Caceres, Thompson, Allsopp and VIS triallist, Alex Tabor. And yes, I did brave the freezing conditions to see the boys in action. The first twenty or so minutes of the game were missed due to a massive queue at the one and only entrance where they were frisking everyone that was going in. It didn't seem to work as a number of flares went off during the game, one stupidly near a fallen South Melbourne player after a great Archie Thompson goal.

Overall, the game was of a fairly low standard, but the solo goal by Thompson where he rounded three players and the keeper to score had me out of my seat. Although a good performance was put in by Langerak (on loan from Melbourne to South Melbourne) in goal under a barrage of shots. It was good to see the guys back out on the park. Now the boys are off to China for a couple of games.

Media reports are coming thick and fast about riots and so forth at this game. The main trouble occurred during the second half between what appeared to be the South Melbourne supporters area with the police and security bringing it under control in a manner of minutes. Overall, the game was played in pretty good spirits both on and off the field. Looking forward to a massive beatup from our friends at 3AW, Channel 9, etc.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Patafta on loan from Benfica

This morning Melbourne Victory has confirmed the signing of Kaz Patafta on a 12 month loan deal from Portuguese giants, Benfica, where he has been mainly playing in the B team. As I mentioned before, this is great opportunity for Patafta to show of his skills in front of his home fans and get some quality game time against more mature players. Although with the signing of Carlos Hernañdez, it looks like his initial efforts will be from the bench. Another quality signing from the Victory with an eye to the future of Australian football.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

From Benfica to Melbourne?

After officially confirming the signing of Carlos Hernañdez earlier this week, rumour has it that Kaz Patafta, Australian Under 20 and Olympic representative will play for Melbourne on loan this season from Portuguese giant, Benefica for a sum of €50,000. If this is true, this is great news not only for the Victory but also for Australian football as it will give one of Australia's rising stars a chance to get some game time and show of his skills in front of his home fans. It also shows that the European clubs are keeping an eye of what is going on in Australia and see the A-League as an opportunity to give young starts some game time.

This item has now been discussed on both The Age and The World Game websites.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Victory fires against Cannons

Melbourne played its second preseason game of the campaign last night as it scored a 3-2 win over VPL side Oakleigh Cannons in front of great crowd of 4000 people at Jack Edwards Reserve in Oakleigh. Our goals came from Allsop, who scored two and new recruit Joseph Keenan who scored the winner. For full match report, because I couldn't make it to the game is available here.

In other news the Victory has confirmed they are looking at striker options to backup our two great strikers in Thompson and Allsopp who may get called up for Socceroo duty during the year. Rumour has it that they are looking in Holland and Germany. I look forward to further news.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Victory signs Hernañdez

Melbourne Victory has today confirmed that they have signed Carlos Hernañdez from Costa Rican giant LD Alajuelense on a two year loan deal.

Its good to see the Victory finally confirm this quality signing, who hopefully should be a more than adequate replacement for last season's star, Fred. It also good for the A-League that a player has the experience of being at a World Cup (although not making it onto the field) has chosen the A-League has a place to further his chances of future involvement in his national team.

For details, click here.

Here is hopefully a taste of things to come, Carlos Hernañdez in action for LD Alajuelense.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Lionel v Diego Part 2

Again the comparions are being made between Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona, this time after Messi scored last night in a Barcelona vs Espanyol match with a goal that is reminiscent of Maradona's famous/imfamous 'Hand of God' goal against England at the 1986 World Cup finals. See for yourself.

' has the charisma to empty it with a victorious sip'

On Thursday night (Friday morning, Australian time) Boca Juniors of Argentina (one of my other favourite teams) won through to the final of the Copa Libertadores (the South American version of the Champions League) after defeating Cucuta of Colombia 3-0 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate after trailing 3-1 from the first leg. For all the goals see below. Boca will play Gremio of Brazil in the two-legged final which starts next week in Buenos Aires. It is the sixth time that Boca has made it to the final of the Copa Libertadores and as their official website says: ' has the charisma to empty it with a victorious sip'.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

First game of the campaign

Last night the Melbourne Victory played its first pre-season game of the season against VPL side, Richmond Eagles. The defending A-League champions won with a strike in the 83rd minute by Archie Thompson. Unfortunately I didn't get to see the game but apparently 2000 other people did, which is a great turnout for a pre-season game.

Click here for full match report.

The next pre-season game is against the Oakleigh Cannons next Wednesday at 7pm at Jack Edwards Reserve. Entry is free! I am looking forward to the game after that, which is against South Melbourne at Bob Jane Stadium on the 20th June at 7pm. I will definitely be heading down to see that one. It’s the first time that these two teams will have met on the football pitch.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

El Zorro to Melbourne Part Two

According to an unofficial website of Alajuelense, the club of Carlos Herñandez, he is about to sign with Melbourne Victory. However, no announcement is yet to be made by people at the Victory with club representatives Gary Cole (Football Operations Manager) and Tony Ising (Media and Communications Manager) both neither confirming or denying whether they are about to sign Herñandez. Rumours that abounded late last week that Sydney were interested in the Costa Rican midfielder were quickly quashed due to a mistake on a Costa Rican football website. Hopefully an announcement is forthcoming from the club regarding the signing. Below is some footage of Herñandez in action taking some free kicks in the Costa Rican league. If Melbourne do sign him I look forward to take some shots from around the penalty area.

Friday, 1 June 2007

El Zorro to Melbourne or is it Sydney?

(Source: La Nacion)

News broke late yesterday that both Melbourne and Sydney were chasing Costa Rican midfielder, Carlos Hernández, nicknamed 'El Zorro' or 'The Fox'. According to Costa Rican newspaper La Nacion he was keen on signing with Melbourne due to conflicts with his current club Alajuelense of Costa Rica, second biggest team behind Saprissa. However, according to another source he was keen on signing for Sydney. This source however is less reliable than La Nacion and quotes Sydney has being champions and playing in the Asian Champions League.

He has apparently played an important role in the Costa Rican national team at all levels and even qualifiers for the senior team, (where he has scored six times in 19 games) for the 2006 World Cup where Costa Rica qualified. According to sources he is a great shot from distance so would be a good pickup for set pieces.

Apparently an announcement will be made today from either Sydney or Melbourne.