Archive for: ‘August 2019’

NZ Guineas winner La Bella Diosa arrives early because of earthquake damage

14/08/2019 Posted by admin

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La Bella Diosa’s efforts on the racetrack demanded she come to for the autumn but the reason she is here for Saturday’s Surround Stakes has as much to do with things off the track in New Zealand.

Rangiora trainer Mandy Brown has arrived in Sydney looking to add n black type to La Bella Diosa’s 1000 Guineas win at home in the spring. But it was the earthquake in the Canterbury area that led to her arriving so early.

“When you have that New Zealand group 1 you need to get the n form to back it up,” Brown said. “We were always going to come over but being from the South Island it was easier to come over early than head to the North Island to race right now.

“The main highway north has been cut by the earthquake around Christchurch, so it adds hours to the trip. It was actually easier to fly to Sydney than stay in New Zealand.

“We know we are going to be up against the good fillies here but she is pretty good herself.”

La Bella Diosa is the favourite for the n Oaks during The Championships after her storming success in the 1000 Guineas where she came from last. She became So You Think’s first group 1 winner and has a strong female line as she is out of a Star Way mare and has Grosvenor in the preceding generation.

Jason Collett has been booked for the ride and liked what he saw of her on film from her four wins in six starts, and was smiling even more after riding her on Tuesday morning.

“She is a group 1 winner at home and has some quality about her,” Collett said. “I thought she would be competitive at 1400 metres and get better as the races stretch out.

“But when you look at the race on Saturday – Global Glamour, Foxplay, Omei Sword and Spright –  there is nowhere to hide. It is the best bunch of fillies for quite a while.

“I was not lacking in confidence and the gallop just confirmed what I thought of her. She has been winning coming around them in New Zealand and is still pretty raw so she is going to improve.”

Collett didn’t ride on Thursday because of a virus but will be right for Randwick.

Brown, who trains in partnership with husband Matt, has based herself at the John Sargent stable at Randwick and will be keeping a close eye on La Bella Diosa.

“She is a bit quirky and it is why she came to us because we train off our property outside Christchurch and we can give her some one-on-one care,” she said.

“We had to start her preparation over here somewhere and this race fits into an Oaks preparation. She is going to get back and if she runs home and finishes in the first six, it would be a good effort against these sprinting fillies.

“She is going to get better when she steps up to a mile next time and the Oaks is our target.”

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How much are taxpayers spending to bring Brazil, Argentina to the ‘G?

14/08/2019 Posted by admin

Victorian taxpayers will see little change out of $10 million for the privilege of watching the SuperClasico between Argentina and Brazil at the MCG on June 9 and the match between the Socceroos and the Brazilians at the same ground on June 13.
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The deal for the two matches involving the five time world champions Brazil is a coup for , but is a tight squeeze for Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroos, who will play in the Confederations Cup shortly afterwards.

But there is a very real possibility that Argentina could stay on and play another match, sources say, with an Asian team flown in to provide opposition to help them prepare for their final round of World Cup qualifiers in August, September and October.

The ns will play a crucial World Cup qualifier on June 8 against Saudi Arabia in Adelaide, then fly back to Melbourne to face the Brazilians five days later before hopping on a plane for a long international flight to Sochi, in Russia, to begin their Confederations Cup campaign a few days afterwards.

‘s first match in their group is against world champions Germany on June 19, meaning they will barely have time to acclimatise before facing off against the Germans.

Playing Brazil, a South American nation, will be good practice for the Socceroos’ subsequent Confederations Cup match against Chile.

But the timing of the game raises eyebrows given how little turnaround time the Socceroos will have before the Germany match.

And there will be questions about the likely state of the pitch given that the traditional Queen’s Birthday AFL game between Collingwood and Melbourne is due to be played at the MCG on June 12.

Still, for a cash-strapped FFA, desperate to boost its coffers in the face of increasing demands for more money from A-League clubs, any financial windfall from a game like this will sit well on the balance sheet and may have outweighed other considerations.

The Brazil game also represents a major opportunity for the FFA and the national team to rebuild its brand.

The Socceroos used to be a really hot ticket when they hardly played at home; now they are in FIFA’s Asian region the qualifying games come thick and fast, to the extent that crowds have dropped.

Many games are now played at smaller venues in Adelaide, Perth and Canberra to reflect the waning interest in games against little-known Asian opponents.

But matches involving the likes of Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Neymar and the plethora of top players both Brazil and Argentina can boast on their playing roster should excite fans and bring plenty of interstate visitors to Victoria.

The $10 million cost of getting the two leading nations to for the next instalment of their long standing rivalry is similar to the amount by which taxpayers subsidised the first ICC tournament, involving Real Madrid, Manchester City and Roma in the winter of 2015.

However the government and the underwriters of the second ICC were left counting the cost last season when Juventus, Tottenham and Athletico Madrid failed to attract the same interest. During the winter of 2016 the Copa America and European Championships were played, the two international competitions having an impact on the players the big clubs sent here for the ICC.

There will not be an ICC this year as a result, although organisers hope that the appearance of Brazil and Argentina will more than compensate.

The Albicelestes are far from assured of direct World Cup qualification from their difficult South American group and there is a suggestion that head coach Edgardo Bauza may have an extended camp in Melbourne to prepare for their final four qualifiers – against Uruguay (late August) Venezuela (September) and Peru and Ecuador (October).

Conditions in Melbourne – cool at that time of year – would be ideal, and the distance would almost certainly mean the media circus that usually follows Messi and his Argentine teammates around would not be anywhere near as large.

Don’t expect fresh faces in Socceroos squad, says Postecoglou

14/08/2019 Posted by admin

Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou will stick to the tried and tested rather than throw in any wildcards as he looks to guide his team through a series of difficult tests over the next five months.
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In short order, the national team plays World Cup qualifiers in Iraq, at home against the UAE, then Saudi Arabia in Adelaide as the battle for places in Russia in 2018 intensifies.

The Socceroos then face Brazil in a glamour game at the MCG before heading to Russia to face world champions Germany, South American champions Chile and African champion Cameroon in the Confederations Cup.

“I don’t think it’s a new faces kind of year. This year’s the most important year in the World Cup cycle because you’re going into the last (games), whether you qualify or not,” Postecoglou said.

“Our trial period of players (is virtually complete) and everything has happened in the last two years, since the Asian Cup.

“This year will be about consolidating a group of players and hopefully reaping the rewards of the hard work we’ve done so far. That’s not to exclude anyone breaking through, we’ve still got six months, but I wouldn’t expect too many new faces.

“We spent a lot of time last year developing some of our players for whom it was their first World Cup qualifying experience .

“We put a lot of time into guys like Mat Ryan, Trent Sainsbury, Massimo Luongo, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic.

“We wanted to make sure that they got as much game time (as possible) over the last 12 months knowing we had some tough trips in there.”

How ready they are will only be proven in the series of difficult challenges they face.

“You don’t know what sort of progress they make, that will be judged by how they go this year, having been through what they went through last year.

“This year will be the measure of that. We’ve got some big games with some big consequences but all the games are going to be played in conditions that should suit our football.”

FFA announce ruling on Wanderers banner

14/08/2019 Posted by admin

At the centre of the storm: A cropped section of the offending banner.Football Federation has found Western Sydney Wanderers guilty of bringing the game into disrepute and fined the club $20,000 in response to an offensive banner raised by their supporters during last weekend’s Sydney derby.
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The FFA opted not to deduct competition points from the club after it vowed to ban 14 members of its active supporter group, the Red and Black Bloc. Several leaders of the RBB were among those who will be denied entry to games for 18 months by the club, who took the unusual step in cancelling their own fans’ memberships.

The club threatened to disband the RBB and active supporter area if the group breaches the spectator code of behaviour with either poor behaviour at games or offensive messages on social media. Those RBB members banned for raising the offensive banner will also be forced to undergo a recognised social inclusion program before they can reapply for season tickets.

The Wanderers were staring down the barrel of a points deduction, with a suspended three-point penalty in danger of being triggered by serious incidents of fan trouble. While sections of the media, gay and lesbian rights groups and rival clubs urged FFA to come down hard on the Wanderers and the RBB, it’s understood the hardline stance the club took towards their supporters was sufficient to appease the governing body.

Fairfax Media understands FFA wasn’t pleased that it took the Wanderers four days to issue such a stern condemnation of the offensive banner raised in last weekend’s Sydney derby that depicted Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold performing oral sex. However, FFA was encouraged with the severity in which the Wanderers eventually identified and punished several leaders of the RBB and took responsibility for the behaviour of their supporters.

The club has a history of fan troubles since its inception in 2012 and FFA came under pressure to issue the harshest punishment possible and take points off the Wanderers. Sources suggest the governing body believes the response from the club is strong enough to influence the behaviour of its fans. FFA sources informed TheHerald that the Wanderers unprecedented action against their fans was a strong showing of leadership that has not before been seen by a club that has been criticised in the past for not doing enough to curb the behaviour of the RBB.

“While we have noted and were pleased with the positive proactive measures undertaken by the Western Sydney Wanderers the fine reflects the fact clubs are responsible for the actions of their spectators and managing the approval of the game-day banners and activities of their active fan groups,” Greg O’Rourke, head of the A-League, said.

“The actions of the Western Sydney Wanderers spectators responsible for displaying the banner and the ensuing celebration of the banner on social media were completely unacceptable.”

The Wanderers issued a brief statement on Thursday afternoon accepting the fine and verdict. FFA are also investigating allegations of brawls involving supporters of the Wanderers and Sydney FC that reportedly took place during Saturday’s game.

The Wanderers were hit with a suspended three-point penalty in February last year when fans lit dozens of flares during a match. The suspended penalty was extended for another 12 months after their active supporters ignited a number of flares during the first Sydney derby this season in October.

FFA has not ruled out activating the points penalty in the event of another serious incident that is consistent with past behaviour.

Melbourne City look to add to Sydney FC misery – and Tim Cahill the man to inflict the damage

14/08/2019 Posted by admin

Tim Cahill of Melbourne City is set for a key role against Sydney FC. Photo: Robert CianfloneBig games demand big performances from big players.
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In the n game there is no bigger name than Tim Cahill.

And as far as the A-League goes, there is no bigger match this weekend than the clash at AAMI Park on Friday night when Melbourne City hosts Sydney FC.

So surely Cahill, who only made a cameo appearance in the dying stages of City’s impressive 5-1 win in Wellington last weekend, will come in from the relative wilderness and play a role from the start of this game.

City coach Michael Valkanis was trying to keep the guessing game going on Thursday when he faced the media when he suggested that he hadn’t quite made his mind up as to whether Cahill would start or not.

“It’s a big game, and Timmy is a big game player, he is involved, I am sure he will play his part,” the coach said.

So he’s now only an impact player, age and condition having taken its toll on the now 37-year-old? Is that why he no longer starts every match? Or has Anthony Caceres, who has started the last two matches, scoring in Wellington, done enough to keep the talismanic Socceroo on the bench for another game.

Valkanis was quick to scotch that suggestion. “He’s not only used as an impact player – tomorrow he could be used from the start, ” the coach said, a point supported by the fact that most of Cahill’s goals for City this season have come in the first hour of games, and the majority in the first half of matches in which he has been in the starting eleven.

Key defender Michael Jakobsen is one man definitely missing for another week, the centre back still not having recovered from the calf injury that has kept him out of recent games.

But defender Ivan Franjic, who like Jakobsen missed the draw with Brisbane and the win over Wellington, is back from injury and pushing for a place in the starting line-up.

Much will depend on the structure that Valkanis wants to use against the team that lost its air of invincibility in acrimonious circumstances in last weekend’s Sydney derby when the Sky Blues went down to local rivals Western Sydney Wanderers. It was Sydney’s first loss of the season in the A-League.

“There are two different options and we are training for both formations. Franjic is back but we have to be careful with Jakobsen, knowing we are in the final straight. We are hoping that we will get him back in the next few weeks.”

Valkanis was delighted with the way City got back to scoring form in New Zealand and said that performance, allied to the effort shown by a suspension depleted squad in the draw with Brisbane, had impressed on all players at the club that no one’s position could be taken for granted.

“The players know this, that’s why we have a big squad, we go by performance and training and what the game will require, we picked the team that will be best for the match we are playing.”

Opposition doesn’t come much tougher than Sydney, and Valkanis, for one, is not expecting there to be any psychological comedown after Graham Arnold’s team sustained its first loss of the season.

“They are not vulnerable. I really don’t think so. Their team is on top, they are the best in at the moment.

“They have many good players capable of winning games, Alex Brosque has had a fantastic season, so has Rhyan Grant, so has Michael Zullo, adding extra capabilities going forward.

“They are very well organised, it’s a typical Graham Arnold organisation.

“I am not going to go by what happened last week, they will be organised and structured. Arnold’s teams don’t change at all, they do the simple things very well, their defensive organisation is very good, where they press you, where they attack.”

Before the Wanderers win last weekend City was the only team who had beaten Sydney, defeating them 1-0 in the Cup Final in November when Cahill, naturally, headed home the only goal of the game.

Neither that match, nor the subsequent 1-1 draw in Sydney in the next A-League match, has any bearing on Friday’s fixtures, the City boss insists.

“We can’t dwell in the past winning the Cup Final, it was a long time ago, it was great winning the first piece of silverware for the club, but that’s gone.”