14 October 2012 267.2 – The Professor and Daniel talk about their production meeting at the Great Western Hotel on Friday. Daniel assesses the opening round of the NBL season. He thinks Melbourne Tigers could finish last on the ladder. Mark Fiorenti looks at the Socceroos upcoming World Cup tie against Iraq. He says if the Socceroos lose this game, qualification for the World Cup will be very hard. Whilst he is worried about the result, he thinks Australia can squeeze out a one goal victory. He also reviews the A-League and says Melbourne Victory and coach Ange Postecolglou are in trouble after a record loss to Brisbane Roar. Paul Dalligan comes on the show to talk NRL and last night’s test win by Australia over New Zealand. He also says the race is on for getting Craig Bellamy’s signature on a contract for the 2014 season with three clubs in the running.
16 September 2012 264.2 – The Professor and the Gelding talk Davis Cup tennis and the tie between Australia and Germany with the winner to get back into the World Group. They then talk soccer with Mark Fiorenti. He discusses the Socceroos loss to Jordan in the World Cup qualifying tie. He also looks at the Champions League and Premier League. Paul Dalligan comes on to talk rugby league and the NRL finals. Paul tries to keep the lid on after the Rabbitohs big win and into their first preliminary final for some time. His Rabbitohs taking on the Professor’s Bulldogs and he sees a Rabbitohs win! He’s hoping to be at Homebush at the Grand Final in two weeks time. There is a discussion between the Professor and the Gelding on the SFL division one preliminary final between St Pauls and Chelsea Heights. They are critical of the VFL playing their Grand Final on a Sunday at Etihad Stadium.
4 March 2012 237.1 – After weeks of calling in his report, the Gelding was back behind the microphone and the Panel enjoyed some light hearted banter, introducing music and movie trivia on top of sport this week. Mark Fiorenti led off the show responding to Sportzfan Stan’s rant which pointed at news this week in soccer that Frank Lowy’s assessment was Clive Palmer & Gold Coast United were a failure in the A League. Fiorenti also awarded the FFA and A League an “F” for trying to expand the league at any cost and allowing a non-lover of the sport to purchase a licence. The Professor discussed the judge’s decision for not granting an injunction to Palmer and thought Palmer’s allegations against the FFA should give the FFA cause for concern. Daniel voiced the confusion of many over whether Palmer’s Football Australia was being formed as a rival to the A League or only as a watchdog to the league. The Gelding looked at racing and his big tip of the week was on how to make a small fortune in racing….start with a large fortune. He also gave an update on Danish Rock’s progress or lack thereof. He said the races at Flemington on Saturday were a soggy affair with “wet track form” and awarded an s-hit ride awarded to Jake Noonan.
20 November 2011 227.1 – An almost empty studio today with only the Professor and Sportzfan Stan behind the microphone with the Gelding playing golf and Daniel Eade at a wedding (his own?). Sportzfan Stan is convinced cricket is doomed to failure because tests matches take too long and no young people are taking up cricket. He then gives the Professor his views on cricket and in particular the poor performance of wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and says he should retire gracefully. He also believes Ricky Ponting is a ‘has been’ and hands out a few sackings to the Test team. In the absence of the Gelding, the Professor talks racing and the results of the selections from Moonee Valley and the Sydney Colt’s tips for Warwick Farm. It wasn’t a good day for the Gelding or the ladies at the Tennis club but the Sydney Colt was a hit with one from one. Mark Fiorenti comes on to talk soccer with the Panel especially Sepp Blatter’s unfortunate comments about racism in sport and soccer. The Professor says it is particularly poor given the reach soccer has across the world. Mark then discusses the Socceroos performance against Thailand and thinks we should be worried about the form being displayed by the National team. He only rates the current chances of qualifying for the World Cup at 60-70%.
16 October 2011 223.2 Mark Fiorenti comes on to talk about the Socceroos and their 3-0 win againt Oman and says all Australia need is a point from their remaining games to qualify for the next round of World Cup qualifiers. He is full of praise for Holger Osieck and also reviews the other Asian Group standings. Mark looks at the A League and the Professor asks how long before the Melbourne Victory coach is under pressure. Mark says if Victory don’t beat Heart it will be a disastrous start to the season. Daniel talks basketball and the Professor takes him to task about how One HD are selecting the games. He feels decisions are made on a financial basis because it must be cheaper to go to Townsville than Perth. The Panel talk about the poor television ratings for the NBL while Sportzfan Stan discusses the benefit that Mills has given to the sport whilst he has been here. The Gelding compares the amount of newspaper columns given to all sports and decides basketball gets less coverage than rugby and soccer. The Professor asks Paul Dalligan where Todd Carney will land as it has been rumored he is being chased by at least four teams. Paul previews the Australia v New Zealand rugby league match predicting a close game but an Australian win. He also comments on Tim Tebow starting at QB for his Denver Broncos. The Panel talk about the big clash in the World Cup semi final between the Wallabies and New Zealand. The Panel unanimously select the Wallabies. To round off the show the Panel discuss AFL trade week and Casey Stoner winning the motorcycle GP.
“A week is a long time in football” – author unknown.
The Socceroos are in pole position to advance to the next and final phase of Asian qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
But not without making a meal of beating lowly ranked Thailand 2-1 in their first qualifying match!
Australia’s performance against Thailand was plain awful and the cause of great distress.
During the Asian Cup, “The ‘F’ Word” lamented the Socceroos’ use of the “long ball” route to goal which led to nothing at times and the players’ apparent arrogance against inferior opposition. Those lessons had clearly not been learned…
Down 1-0 at half time the Socceroos appeared unimaginative and one dimensional in their path to goal. Midfielders Carl Valeri and Neil Kilkenny appeared slow and static and the hopeful strategy of having strikers Josh Kennedy and Tim Cahill getting their heads on the end of a cross or long ball (which were generally woeful) was predictable and constituted anti-football. The Thais, missing a number of their first choice players, were threatening a major upset that was only averted by a second half equaliser from Kennedy and a late, lucky winner from Alex Brosque who found the net after being served by Kennedy, who suspiciously used his arm to deliver the assist.
In short, the performance provided more questions than answers. Socceroos coach, Holger Osieck himself conceded that one of the few good things to come out of game was the result. A much sterner test awaited the team in the shape of Saudi Arabia in the city of Dammam on Wednesday morning…
Saudi Arabia 1 Australia 3
Al-Shamrani (65’) Kennedy (40’), Kennedy (56’) and Wilkshire (77’)
Now that was a better performance from the team!
The Socceroos appeared more cohesive against Saudi Arabia than the team that played against Thailand and played with more purpose and less arrogance amid the desert heat. Gone were the futile long balls and slow transition from defence to attack and in came a composed, passing game whereby the players were able to dictate the tempo of the match from start to finish.
Nowhere was the difference more evident than on the right flank. Against the Thais, Luke Wilkshere and Brett Emerton looked more out of place than the writer at an anti-donut rally. Against Frank Rijkaard’s men however, the duo had more chemistry than “The Curiosity Show”. Their movement stretched the Saudis, forcing them to take a reactive approach.
Osieck too, bravely rung the changes and ought to be commended for doing so. He dropped Cahill and Kilkenny, who were ineffective against Thailand and replaced the inexperienced Matthew Spiranovic with the more assured Sasa Ognenovski. The tinkering meant Mile Jedinak won back his defensive midfielder’s spot, Matt McKay slotted back into his preferred playmaking role in midfield making way for the fresh and exciting Michael Zullo at left back and Brett Holman played in “the hole” (ie between midfield and defence).
With six points in the bag, yesterday’s B grade actors beginning to look more accustomed to the big stage and a producer who is able to guide them there, the Socceroos are now in an almost impregnable position to march into the final round of qualification.
I only hope they show us more beauty and less beast on their way there.
The “F” word
28 August 2011 216.1 – The Professor is back behind the microphone with Daniel Eade and Brett. Dan Butterly comes on to talk US sport with the College football season about to start next week. He is keen to see how the Mountain West Conference teams go. He also talks NBA, NFL and MLB. The Gelding is away on holidays in Hawaii so the Gambler calls in to talk horse racing and defend his selections for yesterday’s race meeting at Caulfield. Mark Fiorenti talks soccer and previews the Socceroos World Cup tie against Thailand on Friday.
31 July 2011 212.2 – Mark Fiorenti continues talking about the draw for World Cup 2014. He thinks the group with Spain and France in is the ‘Group of Death’. There is a discusson of Dean Bailey’s tenure as coach at the Melbourne FC and whether he should be sacked or not. This is followed by Glenn Hampson talking about whether the AFL are getting bang for their buck from the signings of Karmichael Hunt & Israel Folau. Sportzfan Stan says their is no loyalty for clubs these days, just players going for the money. The Panel talk with Paul Dalligan about NRL players involvement in AFL and his duties serving champagne at his lovelies baby shower. He also talks Melbourne Storm’s shackle tackle. Paul also discusses the NRL round in depth. The Gelding calls in to talk horse racing and the results from Caulfield. The Professor talks about using Daniel’s method of selecting horses and picked Mr Griswold for a nice collect. The Gelding even awards an S-hit ride to Keiran McEvoy for his ride on Scarf that upset his all up bet. He also saw Danish Rock’s jump out and says the horse was a bit green and reminded him of a lawyer going to his first conference – all over the place. Glenn finishes off with a discussion on the controversy about Australian cricket contracts. Sportzfan Stan again calls for the sacking of the Australian selectors.
31 July 2011 212.1 – Sportzfan Stan starts the show ripping the Melbourne FC saying they are a ‘team of the past’ and don’t deserve to be in the AFL. He doesn’t think Dean Bailey should be sacked though and that Melbourne should wait until the end of the season before making a move. Daniel Eade comes on to talk about the NBA lockout – he thinks games will definitely be lost and playing won’t commence until December at the earliest, the chances of Patrick Mills playing in the NBL this season and the coming international matches between the Boomers & Opals and New Zealand at the Cage. He also talks ice hockey with the AIHL finals to be played in Melbourne on 3 -4 September. Sportzfan Stan looks at performance enhancing drugs in sport again and the prevalence of their use. Glenn Hampson makes his debut as a member of the Sportzfan Radio panel and joins the discussion on Alberto Contador. Mark Fiorenti talks soccer and the World Cup 2014 preliminary draw and reviews the Asian section group. He feels the Socceroos should make it through the first round of qualifying.
“…..the blame no doubt lies with Pim Verbeek and the fearful, naive and nonsensical tactics he employed in that match. Further, Verbeek’s tactics against Germany disarmed the players of their unique and natural cultural qualities, that being their attacking, fighting spirit. Put simply, he did not believe in the players…..(we need) to recruit a new custodian who, unlike Verbeek, understands and is able to harness the cultural qualities of Australia’s players and moreover, believes in them” – The F Word’s musings in a previous blog.
They say time heals all wounds.
But so too does self belief, a willingness to change and a desire to right the wrongs of the past.
When Australia took to the field against Germany at last year’s World Cup the team appeared bereft of ideas, spirit and passion. The 4-0 drubbing always meant the Socceroos would need to play catch up football in their remaining two games to secure qualification to the knockout stages of the World Cup. Despite restoring some pride against Ghana and Serbia, the mountain was insurmountable and early elimination confirmed.
In recent months, the team, and new coach Holger Osieck, have appeared determined to make a point that they were better than their first-round exit at the World Cup. First, an appearance at the final of the AFC Asian Cup in January and now an astonishing come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Germany in their own backyard.
The world’s number three ranked side looked on course to replicate its 4-0 win in Durban as they dominated the first half with their speed, passing and movement on and off the ball and duly went ahead after 26 minutes. But Osieck’s spirited half time team talk sparked the turnaround. He later told Fox Sports, “…I said (to the players) ‘you can do it’….I told them we are Australia, we are somebody and we don’t have to be afraid of them”. The Australian players’ actions mirrored those words as they came out of the dressing-room for the second half with a changed approach and a determination to get back into the contest. Playing the ball on the ground and moving it about with short, crisp passing the Socceroos stunned the hosts with two goals in the 61st and 65th minute, first through David Carney and then a Luke Wilkshire penalty, to claim a first ever win over the European side.
Much will be made of the fact the game was a meaningless friendly and that Germany coach, Joachim Low made a host of changes to the side that beat Kazakhstan 4-0 in its Euro 2012 qualifier last weekend. But given their stature, playing depth and superior head-to-head record, the Germans should have still comfortably beaten the Socceroos. This was still a side that had Lukas Podolski, Thomas Muller, Miroslav Klose and Bastian Schweinsteiger, all of whom started on that fateful day in Durban. Finally, no country, regardless of the importance of the fixture would want to lose a game at home.
The surprising thing was that the overall performance of the Socceroos was not perfect. In truth, the Germans completely controlled the opening period and had the better of the contest until the Socceroos equalised. Further, Mile Jedinak was yet again inefficient and unimaginative in the engine room and gave the ball away too easily, whilst Lucas Neill consistently overlooked the midfield by persistently hoofing the ball forward.
But the fact Australia managed to beat the three-time World champions without playing at its best is a clear indication of how far the team has come as a football nation. The confidence sapped by Pim Verbeek’s complete lack of faith in the players has bounced back under Osieck and the players are beginning to rate themselves again. With the 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign fast approaching, I have no doubt the national team is heading in the right direction.
Mark ‘The F Word’ Fiorenti