Friday, April 30, 2010

Most Division One matches are predictable this weekend

Photos (Top to Bottom): Colin Shepherd should be amongst the goals for Beachside this weekend; Metro's Jason Dawes (left) is the league's leading marksman, while Nathan Robinson (right) is player-coach for league-leaders Beachside; Tom Gordon will be missed by Nelson; Nelson's coach, Michael Roach [PlessPix]

One of the things that makes football such a wonderful game is its sheer unpredictability.

Three of the four Division One games this week are, however, very predictable.

Metro will beat Southern FC away at Sherburd on Saturday at 2.30pm, while University will also down DOSA away at the Showgrounds the same afternoon.

On Sunday, Beachside will win against the FFT Under-15s at Sandown Park.

The only unpredictable game is the clash between Nelson Eastern Suburbs and Hobart United at North Warrane on Sunday.

I could be wrong about the above outcomes - because of football’s very unpredictability - but I don’t think I will be on this occasion.

Metro are third on the ladder and Southern FC sixth, but Metro are the highest scoring team in the competition, while Southern FC’s defence ranks third in the ‘most goals conceded’ department.

Jason Dawes, the Metro striker who currently leads the league’s individual goalscoring charts, should have a field day.

This is no disrespect to Southern FC, who, I am sure, will give it their all, but they will just be outclassed by a side that is in with a chance of promotion.

University are not the force they once were, and their relegation from the Premier League has devalued their currency even more.

But, they still have the players to do the trick against bottom-side DOSA and it should be one-way traffic at the Showgrounds. It will all be on-coming traffic for DOSA.

Hope springs eternal, however, and rightly so. DOSA’s coach, Pedro Ramirez, retains the faith.

“After last week’s poor performance, I hope the team will be in much better shape,” Ramirez said.

“We have been training well with good numbers, but we’re still missing seven or eight senior players because of injury or unavailability.

“Our aim will be to retain possession, which will be a challenge against Uni, who are an experienced team.

“We do have talented players like Adam Woodward, David MacGuinness, Gustavo Vu and Tim Chadwin, but lack of experience is a factor in our structure.”

Beachside will have Bernhard Klasen back for the game against the FFT youngsters.

“Bernhard was a late withdrawal last week due to an ankle injury, so he will come straight into the squad,” said Beachside player-coach, Nathan Robinson.

“I will see how the players train before making any changes. We are looking forward to playing only our second home game of the year and following up from last week’s good performance.

“Jamon Pennicott, who signed from Zebras late last week and scored on his debut, will make his first home appearance.

“We expect the Under-15s to be similar to the TIS, whom we played in the Summer Cup, so it will be a good contest.”

Second-placed Nelson Eastern Suburbs versus fourth-ranked Hobart United is the match-of-the-round and could go either way.

United will still be without the suspended Akuel Guot, who is one of their main weapons in attack.

But, Nelson will be missing two key players in defender Craig Stockdale and striker Tom Gordon. The former has a slight hamstring strain, while the latter is unavailable.

Under-19 players Ryan Mills and Rhys Endall will come into the starting line-up and should play in attack.

Nick Roberts, Troy Hoppitt and Alex Priest will be the substitutes on the bench.

“We had a comfortable win over Hobart a few weeks ago in the State-wide Cup, but we are expecting a tougher game this time around, particularly given that Hobart took a heavy loss last week versus Beachside and will be desperate not to drop another match,” said Nelson coach, Michael Roach.

“It’s a less experienced line-up for us with Tom Gordon and Craig Stockdale out, but I think we still go into this match as favourites, given Hobart are missing Akuel Guot and we are unbeaten at this point in the regular season.

“Still, we are under no illusions about needing to play well to get a result and we need to start taking a higher percentage of the chances we are creating in front of goal.

“It’s a big month for us coming up, with matches against Beachside, Eagles in the Cup, and then Uni gain as we start the second round and, if we can’t get a good result each week, we’ll drop down the ladder quickly because it’s a very tight league between teams one to five on the ladder at present.”

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Important clashes at top and bottom of Premier League ladder this weekend

Photos (Top to Bottom): Matthew Hedge (left) will make his debut for Taroona after leaving Olympia; Eagles coach, George Krambousanos, looking worried because of injury problems; Josh Hadfield...could be the answer to some problems at Eagles if he could get fit and train regularly; Shane Kent may start for Eagles; Cian Carey ready to return for Taroona; Zebras' Ryan Smith...ruled out for the season with a knee injury; Much will be expected of Zebras' Troy Kaden as they take on leaders South Hobart; Jonathon Ladic has moved to Zebras but won't play against his former club this weekend [PlessPix]

South Hobart could increase their lead at the top of the Forestry Tasmania Southern Premier League ladder if they beat third-placed Tilford Zebras at 2.30pm at South Hobart on Saturday and if some other results go their way.

South have a 4-point lead over second-placed Glenorchy Knights, who have a game in hand.

If South win, and if Knights lose to fifth-placed Clarence United away at Wentworth Park at 6.30pm on Saturday, South could open up a 7-point lead at the top, which would be an excellent way for them to start the second round of matches.

The league-leaders will be without midfielder Jonathon Ladic and utility player David Abbott.

Ladic has gone to Tilford Zebras but will not play against his former club as he has not yet been cleared.

Abbott has joined seventh-placed Taroona and will be in their line-up for the match against bottom-side Olympia Warriors at South Hobart at 2.30pm on Sunday.

South will also miss the suspended midfielder Garry Upton, but central defender Matthew Brown and Hugh Ludford should be available for selection.

Brown took a hammering from his own keeper last week but is expected to have recovered, while Ludford has been troubled by an ankle injury but has trained well this week.

Greg Downes will replace Ladic in midfield.

“I thought we should have won our first-round game against them,” said South Hobart coach, Ken Morton. “We had chances to win it.

“It’s the start of another round and, obviously, if we’re going to win anything this year we have to win this game.

“Our philosophy will be to go out and try to win the game.

“I might try to adjust things a little to get greater focus on getting forward quicker.

“I have great respect for Frediani as a player and now as a coach and we’ll try and do everything possible to make a win out of it.”

South have two more Koreans in the pipeline but they have yet to be cleared.

“We’ve had a couple of Koreans arrive,” Morton said. “They’re not registered or anything like that yet.

“The centre-back is from Brazil. He’s from Division One and is six foot two, maybe three, and he looks all right.

“We’ve got a couple now for whom it might be worthwhile getting clearances for. One is a winger or striker who could be a bit special down here. We’ve put in the papers to sign him and we’ll see how we go.

“I just think it’s not just a matter of strengthening us, but for the game. It lifts the other teams to play against them.

“I know that from when we played Beachside. All their players responded, like Brett Pullen, Nathan Robinson and them, and it’s the same for our lads in training, just the respect, and it brings more out of our own players and I’m sure they’d bring the best out of our opposition as well.”

Zebras will have defender Henry Fagg back after a neck injury, but Matt Hall is away and central defender Ryan Smith is out for the season and needs a knee reconstruction.

Jordan Muller, who had replaced Fagg in the past two games, has been ill all week.

“They thought it was Ryan’s cartilage originally, but no, the knee is gone and he needs a complete knee reconstruction,” said Zebras coach, Romeo Frediani.

“The season is finished for him.

“Everyone else is raring to go. David Cox and Paul Cairns will come in, while Daniel Lapolla has recovered and is available.

“We drew last time, but I don’t think we were as ready then as we are now. We’re confident, even with a couple of players out, and we’re pumped. We had two very good sessions this week and, hopefully, that’ll make a difference this weekend.”

South Hobart are the only unbeaten side in the league, while South and Zebras have both scored 17 goals.

Zebras have conceded 12 goals, four times as many as South, and it is this sort of statistic that could be a clue to the outcome of this showdown.

Glenorchy Knights have been hit by illness and injuries, despite having last weekend off.

“We’re going to be struggling on Saturday night,” said Knights coach, Eamonn Kelly.

“Danny White hasn’t trained and Amadu Koroma hasn’t trained. Josh Fielding only trained on Monday. They’ve all come down with this virus and I don’t know what the outcome of that will be.

“Jade Clay will need a fitness test on an ankle injury he picked up against South Hobart. He’s only trained once in the last three weeks.

“We’re looking forward to the game, obviously, and I’d like to think it’ll be another 5-1. But, they’ve improved week by week and so I’m confident, but not overly confident with having to play at Wentworth Park at 6.30 on a Saturday night and having as many players as I have up and down health-wise. We’ll give it our best shot and see what happens.”

Clarence will be at full strength.

Sixth-placed New Town Eagles host fourth-ranked Kingborough Lions United at Clare Street at 2.30pm on Saturday and both sides need a win badly.

The Lions need a win so that they can stay in the top-four, while Eagles want to increase the distance between themselves and the bottom two sides.

At a meeting of club presidents on Wednesday evening, it was determined that promotion and relegation will apply this season, so the fight to avoid relegation is well and truly on.

Eagles will be without defender Mark Page for three weeks after he was injured against South Hobart last weekend.

Central defenders Chris Wass and Steve Louden are still troubled by niggling leg injuries.

“Nathan Pitchford and Ethan Menzie came down from Launceston on Thursday night to train with us, which is a bonus for us,” said Eagles coach, George Krambousanos.

“We have a few niggling injuries to Chris Wass and Steve Louden, and also to Jamie Vernon, who suffered an ankle injury against South on Sunday.

“I can’t answer the question of whether these three will play.

“We’ve got Jacob Clamp and Shane Kent, of course, to come in if things are not right, so we’ll see what happens.

“We trained well on Tuesday and Thursday so we hope things go better than the last time we played them.”

Kingborough are likely to be close to full strength.

The bottom-of-the table clash between Taroona and Olympia Warriors should be well worth watching as both sides seek to escape the relegation zone.

Olympia have yet to win a game, while Taroona are in danger of becoming stuck in a rut.

“We’ve just signed Dave Abbott from South Hobart, and he will come straight into the side because he’s a top quality player and he will add a new dimension to our attack being a left-footer,” said Taroona coach, Ben Horgan.

“We’ve also signed Matt Hedge from Olympia, but he is still getting over some injury problems and will come back through the reserves.

“Cian Carey is also back in training having recovered from the injuries which have kept him out all season and he may even be available this weekend.

“These guys will definitely strengthen our squad, but really we need everyone to step up and contribute defensively because most weeks we’ve been creative in possession but we haven’t shown much resilience when teams have attacked us.

“This is a vital game as far as both teams are concerned and even though it is still early days we need to start getting some points on the board to avoid relegation.”

Olympia should have striker Kosta Grillas back after a hamstring injury, but Chris Kumpulainen will miss up to six weeks because of an ankle injury sustained last weekend against Zebras.

Inter reach Champions League final despite losing to Barcelona

Barcelona lost the chance to defend their European crown when they could only beat Inter Milan 1-0 at home at the Nou Camp this morning.

Inter will now meet Bayern Munich in the final of the European Champions League at the Bernabeu in Madrid.

A goal by Pique in the 83rd minute won the game, but not the tie, for Barcelona, with Inter winning 3-2 on aggregate.

Picture a training session with 10 versus 10 in just one half of the field and the attacking side’s goalkeeper in the centre-circle. That is what this game was like after Inter had Thiago Motta sent off just short of the half-hour mark after shoving a hand in the face of Sergio Busquets.

Barcelona had all the possession but very few shots and Inter survived to reach the final. Possession for almost the entire match was about 80% to 20% in favour of the home side.

As Inter celebrated on the pitch after the final whistle, the sprinklers came on as the home team’s ground staff attempted to dampen the visitors’ joy.

It will be Inter's first appearance in the showpiece European final since 1972.

The attendance was 98,000.