Posts tagged ‘Champions’
It will be the battle of the potential wooden spooners in Super Rugby on Saturday night at NIB Stadium when the Emirates Western Force take on the Highlanders from New Zealand. The Highlanders have had a horror season and will be looking for a much needed win as they make their way home after their trip to the Republic. The Force will be looking for a performance that lasts 80 minutes to show their loyal supporters they can deliver a win.
The Force have had some impressive performances with wins over the Crusaders and the Reds and going down to the reigning Champions the Chiefs by a point, but too often they have thrown games away through their own ill discipline, or not treasuring possession. Last week was a case in point, leading at half time they gave away two needless penalties after the re-start and fell behind to the Sharks, and then the backs continually kicked away possession that the forwards had worked hard to win.
It has been a frustrating season for Force fans as the team shows glimpses of what is possible, many claim that the team lacks consistency. Others claim they lack concentration for the full 80 minutes. The truth lies somewhere in between.
The Force have three games left in this year’s Super Rugby season and all the games are at home. It is vital that they manage to string some wins together in order to placate their corporate sponsors and their loyal fans. What is worrying are rumours that Emirates will no longer continue their naming rights sponsorship, as well as another key sponsor withdrawing; however that we believe is because of a change of ownership in the company and nothing to do with the Force’s form. Some sponsors are already stating that they are finding it increasingly difficult to fill their boxes on match days, the reason being the Perth public tend to only want to watch winning sides. This is clear in all codes of football as well as other sports.
So how far away are the Force from turning that corner? If one looks at their results overall it would appear not that far. Apart from the 41-7 thrashing from the Brumbies no other team has run over the top of the side. If we take their two wins out of the equation, they have played eleven other games. Out of those eleven games they have lost six, more than half of those games by seven points or less. That is one converted try. Yes, it is still a loss, but the margin of the loss would tend to indicate they are not too far away from turning these losses into victories. They probably require a few new recruits in the off season to tip these games in their favour, in particular a couple of backs who are capable of turning a game, they do not need to be big name players, just players capable of breaking the line on a regular basis.
For the last three games though, they must learn to treasure possession, be patient, and limit where they infringe on the park. When Jake White took over the Springboks he looked at the number of kickable penalties the side conceded in a game, and over the ensuing years worked on reducing this. He succeeded and the result was the Springboks winning their second World Cup. Managing that discipline in the heat of battle can have a dramatic effect on a teams performances.
The Force are not far from victory, but the game against the Highlanders is a crucial game, and one that they must win.
Finals are a part of Australian sport, and they are here to stay. They also serve a very good purpose; in keeping the season interesting for teams whose season may well have already been over with no chance of winning anything.
There are many who have questioned the FFA opting to reward six out of the ten teams in the Hyundai A League with a finals berth, and the opportunity to be named the Champions of Australia. Something that even the confederation to which Australia belongs to, the AFC, fails to acknowledge, with the Asian Champions League place being given to the team that tops the League ladder.
The FFA have changed the finals format this season giving the top two teams very little benefit for their consistency all season, they lose one game and they are out. Gone is their second chance, a reward for their consistency.
Many believe that the changes have not gone far enough. With the sixth placed team, Perth Glory, being 25 points behind the ‘League Premiers’ Western Sydney Wanderers, maybe they have a point. The Premiers were even 22 points ahead of the fifth placed team, Brisbane Roar. This equates to winning eight and seven games more respectively, which is a huge amount.
In fact both of these two sides lost more games than they won all season, and therefore it seems a little strange that they should warrant a place in the finals and a chance to be crowned the Champions of Australia. Perth Glory won nine of their 27 games and lost 13, while Brisbane Roar won ten and lost 12. For the record all of the top four teams won more games than they lost.
There are many who believe the finals should be played between the top four, and played on a home and away basis with the aggregate score deciding the two finalists, the standings this year lend weight to that argument.
If the FFA wish to stick with six teams in the finals series maybe they should make it a requirement that to qualify the sides must have won more or at least as many games as they have lost to qualify. The big plus should such a rule be adopted is teams will have to play attacking football towards the end of the season to ensure they have the required number of victories.
Then again a top four in a ten team league seems a much simpler and fairer solution. As they say the League ladder seldom lies.
There is no doubt that Boxing is heading for a major showdown. Just over a week ago AIBA (International Amateur Boxing Association) ordered all boxing associations around the world to drop the word Amateur from their titles. Indicating the end of amateur boxing, a crucial part in the development of future World Champions.
This should not have come as a total surprise with AIBA creating World Series Boxing and selling Franchises around the world for boxers to sign up to. The winners receiving financial reward for their success. Many believe that this latest move is one that emphasises AIBA President Dr CK Wu looking to seize control of the sport world wide, especially as the noble art has suffered from too many versions of a World Title and lost market share to Mixed Martial Arts.
At the World Boxing Council Conference in Cancun a session was dedicated to this move and several of the smaller national boxing boards declared that they had been offered financial inducements to show allegiance to AIBA.
Ultimately it is believed that this move will see the end of amateur boxing, the end of boxers wearing headgear in fights, the end of national boards running the sport and the end of promoters as AIBA will determine who fights who and not the money men.
The WBC revealed that they had written to the head of the IOC Jacques Rogge asking where this means that boxing will stand in the Olympic Games, as if it is to no longer be an exclusively amateur sport then boxers from the professional field should now be allowed to enter the Games. At the time of the conference they had not received a reply, and so a delegation was announced that will be heading to IOC headquarters in Switzerland to discuss the issue face to face.
The fear amongst many at the WBC convention was that AIBA wishes to take total control of the sport along the lines of FIFA; which one would not think is the ideal model on which to base your sporting governance. However it was felt that if boxing is to become totally professional then the Olympic Games should be restricted to fighters who have had 15 or less professional bouts.
It would of course mean the end of the WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO, so there is bound to be a large opposition from the professional ranks to such a move.
It is a shame that AIBA – who will no doubt have to change their name too – has taken this move even if it was inevitable as the amateur ranks and the Olympic games tournament has helped produce some truly great World Champions. Champions who have said that the amateur ranks were where they built up experience and also learned their technique, boxing greats such as Muhammed Ali, Lennox Lewis, and Sugar Ray Leonard.
It would appear that this is only round one, it will be interesting to see how the fight develops. One thing is for sure it may be a painful period for boxing, but if it results in less World Champions that has to be good for all concerned, however unity will be the key.
There have been many phone calls and emails in the past 24 hours as fans of the local game in WA have tried to find out what is going on in relation to the rumoured game this weekend between the Champions of South Australia, Metro Stars and the Champions of Western Australia, Sorrento. Finding information on the game is very hard. This is a great initiative and will give fans in WA the chance to see how good their top team stacks up against their counterparts from South Australia. It will hopefully be an annual event and a rivalry will build between the two states. Congratulations to whoever came up with the idea and for making this happen.
Why is it that Football continually comes up with a good idea but fails to execute that idea properly?
One does worry that once again a great idea has not been thought through properly and all parties to make it a success consulted. The lack of promotion would tend to indicate this is the case.
There is also the simple matter of the clubs being aware of the game. Sorrento were only advised at the eleventh hour. On top of that there is the issue of payment for their players. The season is officially over, yet the players are being asked to play one more game, the club is unlikely to have budgeted for an extra game, as they did not know about it. So will Football West pick up the wage bill on behalf of the club?
Another thing that is slightly baffling is why such a game would not be played at the Champions home ground. Surely they deserve that privilege and the chance to make some money over the bar, via the gate or through the canteen? For some reason the game will be played at Perth’s home ground BGC stadium.
It is great that such a fixture has been arranged, but once again it would appear that all of the supporting issues have not been thought through properly. The argument may well be ‘this is the first game there were bound to be teething problems,’ but why? Why is it things cannot be done properly the first time. Football let’s itself down on occasions such as this because it frequently has not thought through all of the issues through properly.
Let us hope that on the day that is all irrelevant and Sorrento do WA proud.
Often you hear of a player hitting the post in a game of football, but it is rare to chain yourself to one. News has just reached NTFS of an Italian player who has been banned for three years accused of match-fixing chaining himself to the railings of the Italian FA. We are presuming that by now he has been cut free, but Emanuelle Pesoli resorted to such desperate measures because he felt the ban to be unfair.
Pesoli who is 31 who formerly played for Siena and was most recently at Verona also went on hunger strike.He was quoted as saying on the Gazzetta dello Sport’s website “I am hurt by the sentence and I would like to confront those people who accuse me, it is a strong protest but they are ruining my life for something I have not done. I’ll stay until I can’t do it any more.”
Italian football has had several match-fixing scandals one six years ago seeing Juventus relegated. This year they were crowned Champions of Serie A, but their coach Antonio Conte is facing a 10 month suspension for not reporting match fixing while coach of Siena when Pesoli was playing there.
Yesterday the FFA announced the fixtures for the coming A League season and they are to be congratulated on implementing some much needed changes. It is indeed encouraging to note that the men in the ivory towers appear to now be listening to not only the fans but also people in the know when it comes to football.
Gone are the Wednesday night fixtures which were never embraced by the fans, often because the schedule kick off times were too close to people knocking off from work and being able to make it to the ground on time.
The first month sees some important match-ups that should see the season start strongly if these games are marketed to the maximum across the nation. The scheduling is there and with the right marketing approach all clubs should benefit. THis gives the A league the chance to start the season with a full head of steam and then hopefully maintain that momentum all the way through to the re-vamped finals.
The revamping of the finals is probably the best news as the previous incarnations were too long and convoluted with many struggling to grasp the way that it actually worked.
Rather than the top two teams in the league at the end of the home and away season earning a double chance and playing their qualifying final over two legs for the right to not only contest the Grand Final but also host it, they will now have the first week of the finals off and enter at the semi-final stage against the winners match ups between the four teams below them on the final league ladder. This is a vast improvement although in our opinion the finals series should not include so many teams in such a small league. To have the sixth placed team in with a chance of being crowned Champions if they win three successive games is not good for the league as a whole and ultimately is rewarding mediocrity. However this format is a vast improvement on what has been run in the past.
The old format was skewed in favour of the top two teams and some would say deservedly so, the problem was it often served up the far from inspiring spectacle of the same two clubs playing each other in three out of the four finals weeks.
With the new Finals format there will be a more cup-tie feel to the games than existed previously in which the Grand Finalists only played one do-or-die game.
Just to cause debate we ask with the new format should the League winners now be called the Champions and the Grand Final winners the Premiers as it will be the most consistent side that wins the league? This is certainly a feeling shared by most coaches and players.
The changes though are positive news for the A League and those who implemented these changes should be commended, as they are sure to help lift the profile of the game if supported with the appropriate marketing.
With the old NSL on its last legs and as Editor of “The Fat” we conducted a survey of all the NSL Coaches as to who they regarded as the Champions, the Grand Final Winner or the team that ended top of the League. Every single coach with the exception of Adelaide City’s Zoran Matic stated that the team that came top of the league was the true champion. Why would Zoran Matic feel differently? Adelaide having made the Grand Final in four successive seasons and winning it twice without ever winning the league. The closest they came was second by a point in1994/95.
No doubt you are wondering what relevance this information has at this point in time. Following the McInerney Ford Gold Medal awards we received an email from a member of the local Football community asking how many times during outgoing coach Graham Normanton’s twelve year reign as Coach, did Perth Soccer Club win the league. They also asked if maybe this was why he was so passionate about the finals series and being named Champions.
So we delved into the record books to find out. We must first of all point out that the format has changed over the years, in 1998 we had a “Championship decider,” from 1999-2004 we had a “Champion of Champions” or “Top 5 Cup” as it was known, and from 2005-2007, there were no finals competitions. In 2008 it was re-introduced as a “Top Four Cup” and in 2009 it became once again the “Championship Decider.”
For the sake of looking at Perth’s fantastic ability to peak at the end of the season we are going to imagine that all of these end of season competitions were finals series.
If we do this Perth has won seven such competitions in the 12 year period we are looking at, a truly outstanding effort. Yet on only three occasions have the topped the league ladder. It is worth noting that on one of these occasions there was no finals series (2005), and on the other two occasions that they won the league, they also won the finals series.
No matter how you look at it, it is an incredible achievement to have won seven finals series out of nine held in a twelve year period.
Last year we stoked the fires of those people who love to debate who are the champions at the end of a league season, the team that finishes top of the League or those who win the finals series.
In the Football West State Premier league this year the Western Knights won the League title and Perth won the finals series. Both sides deserving to win their respective titles. Although the finals format used this year probably needs reviewing with one less game being played as it seems strange that the top team plays two games and if they lose one they fails to be Champion, while the teams that finish second and third get an extra chance to take the title.
As we said a year ago it may be semantics, but surely if you finish the League season top of the log you deserve more recognition than a term such as “Minor Premiers.” Why not call them League Premiers, especially as there is no team currently called “Premiers” at the end of the season. The team winning the finals series currently being crowned the “Champions.”
Please don’t give us comments such as this is the way it’s done in other codes reasoning. Does that mean its right?
Ask people you know who play sport how often they have won a league title over a whole season, it is a rare feat, and does not warrant being belittled by having the word ‘Minor’ preface that achievement.
This site has made no bones about finals series in football in Australia, and who we believe should be named Champions and who should be called Premiers, so we will not go down that path again.
However Fox Sports’ Andy Harper made a strange statement following Sydney’s victory over the Melbourne Victory, that saw them crowned Premiers, “the crowd justifies the final series.”
He went on to say the crowd know that the main prize is still at stake. If you ask, and even looked at the faces of the Melbourne Victory players they felt this was the ultimate goal. We suspect that most of the fans on the terrace and in the seats believe that Sydney FC are the champions and that if they win the finals series that will be a bonus and if they lose, nothing will detract from their victory today over 27 games.
Sydney FC congratulations!
If you feel that Mr Harper’s comments are on the money let us know.
There is definitely a place for finals, we would prefer not a top six in a ten team league, and that they not be called Champions, but that is simply one opinion in a sea of opinions.