The four matches of the Hyundai A-League Pre-Season Cup played over last weekend provided a challenge more regularly faced by the other winter-based football codes – cold weather. But perhaps the most interesting result of the weekend occurred not on the chilly domestic soccer front, but in the steamier climes of Indonesia.
The A-League’s close results eventuated in all four fixtures playing their part in keeping the healthy pre-season crowds that turned up at mostly regional venues warmly entertained.
A curling second half free kick from former Perth Glory player Mitchell Prentice handed Sydney FC a 2–1 win over a 10-man Queensland Roar at the Campbelltown Sport Stadium in the weekend’s only night fixture.
In Launceston, two goals to new Brazilian striker Christiano headlined Adelaide United’s 2–1 win against Melbourne Victory, while Perth Glory and Newcastle Jets shared a 1–1 draw in Mandurah.
Rounding out the weekend, Wellington Phoenix gave their home fans a 1–0 result to cheer in defeating Central Coast Mariners.
This week’s matches feature reigning A-League champions Newcastle Jets returning home to the Hunter region to face Adelaide United in Cessnock on Saturday July 26.
Also on Saturday, Perth Glory will host Melbourne Victory at Perth’s Members Equity Stadium.
Sunday’s (July 27) matches have Queensland Roar meeting Wellington Phoenix at Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, while the Central Coast Mariners will host rivals Sydney FC at Gosford’s Bluetongue Stadium.
Joeys’ bright World Cup future
Having topped the group stages undefeated, Australia went on to win the ASEAN Under 16 Youth Championship that concluded in Jakarta last Saturday night July 19.
The Joeys produced a 5–4 win over Bahrain in the final – courtesy of a sudden death penalty shootout after the scores were locked 1–1 at full-time.
Having recorded earlier tournament wins against Indonesia, Malaysia, Bahrain and a draw with Singapore, the performance of this Joeys squad will give added enthusiasm to those with their eyes firmly on Australia’s bid to host the World Cup 2018.
It is hoped that the best of this group of players will represent the nation in the Socceroos squad that will assemble a decade down the track.
One of the most remarkable facts about the current Joeys team is that a number of its players arrived in Australia as refugees from various African nations as little as four or five years ago.
Meanwhile, this year’s launch of the inaugural A-League Youth competition for players aged 16–21 years will no doubt provide further impetus to the development of the next generation of Socceroos when it kicks off at the end of August.