Duva’s XI: Matildas stars our new Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka
Matildas stars Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord are set to light up English women’s football that will bring back the days when Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka and other Australian stars starred in the Premier League.
Australian football could find itself in a battle of allegiance to secure bright young talent Zak Gilsenan, who scored his first goal for Blackburn Rovers Under 18s.
Ange Postecoglou unveils his new assistant at Yokohama F. Marinos, while a future Socceroos prospect announced himself in the A-League.
Here’s David Davutovic take on the 11 biggest issues in football over the past week.
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1. STARS IN SPOTLIGHT
Caitlin Foord’s imminent move to Arsenal will trigger a ding dong battle between her and fellow Matilda Sam Kerr in the world’s No.1 women’s league.
With Kerr debuting for Chelsea last week, and Foord, 25, set to play a starring role for fellow Aussie Joe Montemurro’s Arsenal, it’s a throwback to Australia’s golden Premier League era when Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were tearing up the world’s most popular competition.
Tim Cahill was also a Premier League star back then, in an era that also included Mark Bosnich, Lucas Neill, Mark Schwarzer, Stan Lazaridis and Brett Emerton. And don’t be surprised if more Matildas follow suit.
It also provides great opportunities for the next generation of stars.
2. AUSSIE WHIZ KID
The attacker scored his first goal for Blackburn Rovers’ Under 18s in Sunday’s win over Sunderland in the Premier League.
Handed the No.10 shirt at Rovers, Gilsenan, 16, signed for Barcelona at age nine and recently had a stint at Liverpool’s academy.
Dubbed “the Irish Messi” in his country of birth when he signed with Barca, he was actually spotted while living in Perth, playing for local club Sorrento.
Melbourne City and Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren came through the Blackburn academy, while Neill, Emerton, Robbie Slater and Vince Grella all played for the Rovers.
3. OLYROOS UNDERDOG MAGIC
Former Inter Milan youth player Reno Piscopo’s magic was the highlight of the Olyroos’ vital Tokyo 2020 qualifying win against Thailand on Sunday.
Perth Glory’s Nick D’Agostino netted a classic poacher’s brace, while Melbourne Victory defender and captain Tommy Deng battled through cramp for the second game running, after recovering from injury and switching to right-back from stopper.
Piscopo scored a stunning free kick in the opening match, and his vision, setpiece ability and spatial awareness were impressive.
Australian youth football chiefs shouldn’t get complacent after that result, for the Olyroos were lucky to be level at the break after the technically superior Thais battered them in the first half.
4. ASSISTANT REVEALED
Ange Postecoglou has headhunted Generation Y for his Yokohama F. Marinos coaching staff.
Revealing that he studied Sir Alex Ferguson’s evolution of assistants, Postecoglou last week unveiled ex-Newcastle Jets, Adelaide United and Australia youth international Shaun Ontong, 32, as the latest addition to his coaching staff.
The Millennial replaces Peter Cklamovski, who moved to Japanese rivals Shimizu
Injuries ended talented Ontong’s career prematurely, and he’s been coaching for seven years, including a lengthy apprenticeship under Arthur Papas, who is elevated to chief assistant at Yokohama F. Marinos.
Ontong most recently coached Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League.
Another Postecoglou disciple got off to a flyer, with Kevin Muscat’s Sint-Truiden beating German giants Schalke 1-0 in a friendly win last week.
5. BRAD INMAN FOR SOCCEROOS
Brisbane Roar’s brace hero Bradden Inman should come into the frame for Socceroos selection after another outstanding attacking display.
Ex-Newcastle Jets coach Richard Money coached Inman in United’s youth team and felt he deserved a first-team chance.
Like most Aussies Inman, 28, is a late bloomer and deserved to play higher than League One, where he scored 36 goals in 227 games, primarily with Crewe Alexandra.
Inman’s skills and composure in the attacking third is something the Socceroos don’t have
6. CITY’S NEW ARZANI
Colakovski, 19, has displayed many Arzani traits, including great confidence for his age, willingness to run at players and the ability to get fans off their seats.
7. ROJAS READY
Marco Rojas is ready to rock, he just needs to find a club. Melbourne City had hoped Rojas would replace Uruguayan Javier Cabrera, who officially departed on Sunday, but the Kiwi winger has rejected the Bundoora offer.
It leaves a return to Melbourne Victory or Wellington Phoenix as his most likely outcome. If he in fact signs in the A-League.
Rojas played as recently as December 15, with his Danish club SonderjyskE understood to have offered him a contract extension.His preference was to return “home”.
Victory is doing everything possible to fit him in, but they must release a visa player to make it happen. Austrian Kristijan Dobras and Dane Jakob Poulsen are believed to be the players told they can leave.
8. WESTERN UNION?
Scott McDonald may yet stay at Western United, with exit negotiations appearing to be on ice.
Brisbane Roar coach Robbie Fowler is thought to be interested in the former Celtic striker.
The lack of an A-League transfer market makes such moves hard to manufacture.
United is on the lookout for a striker to support Besart Berisha and Valentino Yuel.
9. A-LEAGUE’S NEW KIWI PRODUCT
Left back Liberato Cacace’s Wellington Phoenix wonder goal has alerted overseas scouts and could prompt a January move.
Cacace, 19, could follow his ex Wellington and New Zealand international teammate Sarpreet Singh (Bayern Munich) to Germany, with first and second tier Bundesliga clubs interested.
10. KUDOS FOR BUSHFIRE AID
Kudos to the Socceroos and Matildas, who led the $45,000 raised by the players’ union for the bushfire relief fund.
Players will vote on where to allocate funds, with such charitable work made possible by the Footballers’ Trust set up last August.
Western United is throwing its gates open for a day of entertainment and fundraising in Sunday’s clash with Central Coast at GMHBA Stadium.
11. FFA’S NEW ERA
James Johnson has a massive job, starting as FFA chief executive today.
Ben Buckley (2006) and David Gallop (2012) walked into head office with the game better placed than it is today.
Johnson, a former Australian youth international who’s worked for FIFA, Asian Football Confederation and City Football Group, is the first football appointment of the FFA era.
Another talented Aussie, James Kitching, is their new football legal chief (director of football regulatory).
Originally published as Duva’s XI: Our new Kewell and Viduka