Posts tagged ‘China’
She may not have won the Australian Open, but China’s Li Na won the hearts of tennis fans with her brutal honesty, and her declaration of love for her husband after her loss to Kim Clijsters in the final.
She has put Chinese tennis on the map and has been a breath of fresh air to the sport as shown in this interview after her semi final win over World Number one Caroline Wozniacki. Let us hope she continues to make Grand Slam finals and entertain both on and off the court.
So New Zealand international striker Shane Smeltz has returned to Gold Coast United for the remainder of the 2010/11 season having been released by his Turkish club, Genclerberligi, in what is good news for Gold Coast United, but bad news for the player’s career.
Smeltz has shown that he has the knack of finding the back of the net in the Hyundai A league, winning last season’s Golden Boot with 19 goals. Prior to that in his first season in the A League at Wellington Phoenix he finished second in the Golden Boot race with nine goals in 19 appearances. In the 2008–09 season, he scored a record equalling 12 goals for the club, resulting in the A-League Golden Boot 2008/09. He also won goal of the season for his winning strike against Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium in round 13.
There is no doubt that Smeltz is at home in the A league, but with two aborted moves overseas in the last twelve months, one to China and one to Turkey, it is unlikely now that no matter how many times he finds the back of the net, and overseas club will be tempted to sign him.
It is sad that despite changes in coach, a new assistant coach and a new general manager at Genclerberligi, and no doubt the frustration of not being in the starting eleven, Smeltz was not prepared to tough it out a little longer. Four months does not in football terms constitute giving it a real go.
Smeltz however could be a real gain for the A league. He could become the A League’s Damian Mori, another Australian player who excelled domestically, but was unable able to break in overseas when he had a spell in Germany.
No matter how good a salesman his agent may be would you take a punt on a player who quit China after 5 days and then Turkey in four months? Saying that, an English speaking nation may prove less of a problem in terms of the player’s acclimatisation. Although after spells with Mansfield Town, AFC Wimbledon and Halifax Town he has already had a shot in England. Sometimes though managers need to look at the personality of the player rather than the dollar signs to find the country and club that is the best fit for their client. It would appear that this has not been the case with Shane Smeltz.
As many around the world sat back and contemplated World Cups in Russia and Qatar, and others shook their heads in disbelief that their bids had been unsuccessful, Sir Keith Mills the architect of Britain’s successful Olympic bid and a member of the England 2018 advisory board probably made the statement that could have the FIFA Executive Committee thinking.
Following England’s elimination, when many believed that this was the time for Football to return ‘home’ he was quoted as saying, “I think that FIFA have decided strategically that they want the World Cup to go to places that have never hosted it before.”
“We’ve had South Africa and Brazil and we’re going to have Russia and Qatar. Perhaps it will be China next, but it certainly isn’t going to come to England for a long time.”
With this obvious decision to take the World Cup to new frontiers, it augers well for Australia, but it could mean that the traditional football nations of Europe and South America will not hand over the vast amounts of money required to lodge a bid when the hosting rights come around again. This could cost FIFA financially. There is a strong possibility that UEFA, who have in the past ten years had a very fractious relationship with FIFA, may well make a stand on this issue.
It could also have an impact much sooner, with Sepp Blatter up for re-election in the New Year, the reason many believe that the two bids were decided at the same time for the first time ever.
With the Vice President Korea’s Chung Mong-Joon’s position said to be tenuous, expect to see UEFA produce a challenger, possibly Michel Platini to try and wrest back some of the power that they believe is their right, despite the expansion of the game in the past twenty five years. However although he stated he would not challenge for the Presidency until 2015, many believe that now he has delivered the World Cup to Qatar, Asian Football Confederation President Mohamed Bin Hammam may well actually run against Blatter. If he does some believe that there would be an irony should he claim the post from the current incumbent.
There is no doubt that the decisions made in Zurich will have an impact in some way down the track, most predicting that they will become apparent in May 2011 at the FIFA Presidential elections.
They say a week is a long time in football, but a fortnight is even longer at Perth Glory!
The last fortnight has seen the club drop to an all time low losing six consecutive games, the coach move upstairs, one of the assistant coaches resign and leave immediately, the lowest crowd of the season and the most insipid performance of the season so far.
One of the players summed it talking after the game, ‘there are not enough winners in the squad, and too many players don’t hurt when we lose.’ That showed when some are smiling and laughing with the opposition at the final whistle.
There is no denying that the levelling of the playing field with the salary cap has hurt Perth Glory immensely, with players looking to only cross the Nullarbor if no one on the East coast wants them.
There was a good feeling when Dave Mitchell lured Jacob Burns, Mile Sterjovski and Chris Coyne to the club, there was a lot of hype surrounding the signing of Robbie Fowler, but questions have to be asked as to some of the decisions that have been made in the past year.
As raised on this site previously, how can you justify signing youth team players on two year deals when they have yet to prove themselves? Fondyke (1 appearance as a sub) Griffiths (zero appearances) Tommy Amphlett (1 appearance) Josh Risdon (zero appearances). If you are going to sign them on two year deals then you must show faith in them and play them. We are not saying that these players are not good enough, as for example Amphlett has been hampered by injury, but to give these guys two year deals seems crazy as it closes off places in the squad. They should be signed to one year deals with a carrot that says if you make the bench or the starting line up on ‘x’ number of occasions you will earn a second year.
That aside recent performances have shown that the squad lacks quality. The signings of Baird and Mitchell have proven to be poor. Baird never set the world alight at the Brisbane Roar, sure he has pace, but he does not score goals. Looking at his career, 467 games and he has scored 68 goals, an average of one every 6.8 games, which is not that impressive for a striker. This should be around four at this level. Josh Mitchell has struggled and one wonders if he will play again this season.
Victor Sikora has been missing all season and we are now in round 12 why was he not put on the long term injury list so that the club could bring in a replacement?
Chris Coyne was allowed to go to China to try and secure a place at the World Cup, but did the club have adequate cover knowing that they could not bring him back until the January transfer window?
One crucial issue that seems to be overlooked is the renewing of the coach’s contract on a year by year basis based on where the team finishes in the league. By putting in place such a clause you are always going to have a coach sign journeyman players whose experience he believes will see him achieve that goal and secure his position for another season. This has been evident at Perth Glory, and as a result has seen quality sacrificed amongst the second tier players. If Tony Sage bit the bullet and gave the coach time to build a side, – yes Mitchell has had three seasons, but always with a condition built in – as Ange Postecoglou was given at Brisbane Roar, the pressure is off the coach and he can afford to blood young talent a with a view to achieving the goals in a two year or three year period. The proof is in the pudding at Brisbane Roar.
As stated at the start of the season Robbie Fowler was a great signing from a marketing position, but was he from a footballing perspective? Looking at yesterday’s performance, following a two week break he was invisible, and his set pieces well below par. Pre-season the team looked sharp, and that was without the star signing. He was then brought into the side and they changed the style of play to accommodate him. Let’s face facts playing him in the hole has not worked. It puts added pressure on the midfield and effectively has the team playing with ten men. Gone are the overlapping runs down the flanks, and the attacking methods that had served the club so well. When was the last time a wide player from the Glory managed to get in behind the defence and whip in a good cross in recent weeks? Neville and Pearson the only two to have a go yesterday and they are relative novices.
Before the season started Mitchell said that Fowler would not play every game, he would use him carefully to maximise his effectiveness, yet he has played in ten of the eleven games so far this season. Which raises the question are the coaching staff being forced to play him? If so the club is doomed, as a coach should never be dictated to as to who he plays.
Surely he should be playing on the last man, and told to run for 40 minutes if that is all he has in the tank, and hopefully nick a goal for the side, rather than stroll around as a peripheral player for 90 minutes?
Ian Ferguson said that he needed to make more changes for the coming game against the Central Coast Mariners this Saturday, and that is abundantly clear. He needs to find the players who hurt as much as he does after a defeat, who take pride in being a professional player, and wearing the Perth Glory shirt. The question is, are there eleven such people in the squad?
This weekend will make or break this season, of that there is no doubt. It may also determine the future of Perth Glory as a club. Tony Sage has been very generous to plough millions into the club, but he wants success as success gives him credibility and profile. Defeats not only cost him financially, but in a far greater way, and he will not accept that position for very long.
Never has the Glory been in a worse situation, and therefore this weekend the players who take the park need to know they are playing for the club’s future survival as well as their own. Anything below 100% is unacceptable.
Chris Coyne has finally arranged his loan deal to China to give himself a last chance of making Pim Verbeek’s Socceroos World Cup squad. It is only fair that he should cling to that dream, but realistically it has to be just that, a dream. When Jade North pulled out of the Socceroos camp and Robert Cornthwaite was called up as a replacement he must know that the dream is all but over.
The sad thing is he did little in Glory colours to show that he should earn a spot on the plane to South Africa. Prior to the January transfer window he allegedly told one journalist that he had been playing well within himself, as he wanted to save himself for a move in January. Then in January his back started to give him trouble, and he missed games.
His form on the park was disappointing. Although an intimidating presence, and committed when in a challenge, his distribution was poor and he lacked the calmness on the ball under pressure that Andy Todd alongside him exuded.
When you go away to a tournament it is not only about how good you are as a player but whether you are a team man and how you conduct yourself amongst the other members of the squad. The reason one A league player who has had an outstanding season will not make the plane to South Africa.
One thing that cannot have escaped Pim Verbeek’s attention would have been Coyne frequently contradicting comments made by head coach Dave Mitchell in the media. This to be fair may not have been the player’s sole fault, however, it will not have helped his cause.
With the World Cup dream a thing of the past next season hopefully we will see the best of Chris Coyne. Let us hope that there is not a hangover from the fact that he did not make the squad, we are confidant that his professional pride will ensure that this does not happen.
Lydia Lassila epitomises what the Olympics are all about. Faced with adversity and disappointment, in the words of the famous song, picking yourself up and brushing yourself down and starting all over again.
It was fantastic to see her take gold. It has been fantastic to see Australia have their best Winter Olympics to date.
What was extra special was when the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called her to congratulate her; she was already fighting for her fellow aerial skiers asking for a water ramp to help them train in Australia.
Spare a thought though for second placed Li Nina from China, who was pipped by Lassila for the gold medal. Her jump looked excellent, and many who know more about aerial skiing say it was better than Lassila’s. Did the emotion of her comeback affect the judges in any way? Or was it the criticism of the judging in the qualifiers? Maybe one did, but hopefully Li Nina will be back and claim gold in four years time and Lassila’s comeback was worthy of gold.
Finally let us also remember Jacqui Cooper a master at the sport who like the great pole vaulter Sergei Bubka, has dominated her sport and been a trailblazer, but will retire without an Olympic medal. As much as that may be personally disappointing you will never be forgotten.
Zheng Jie and Li Na from China have made history at the Australian Open as it is the first time China has had two players make the fourth round of a major tennis tournament.
This success has given the tennis program in China a major boost and don’t be surprised if we see an influx of talent as we saw with Sweden following the success of Bjorn Borg in the men’s game.
Interestingly the upsurge for Chinese tennis really gained momentum when Li Ting and Tian Tian won Olympic Gold in 2004. Zheng then won two Grand Slam doubles tournaments, one being the 2006 Australian Open with Yan Zi.
Zheng Jie has recently been granted the freedom to plan her own career after having it controlled by the Chinese National Programme, and that change appears to have paid dividends as she becomes the first Chinese player to reach the semi finals at the Australian open. She also reached the semi final at Wimbledon in 2008.
Unluckily for China the men have made little progress on the world stage, so this really is one up for the ladies.
We are fans of Australian coach Pim Verbeek and applaud his achievements as Socceroo’s coach, which with an ageing side we believe surpass his predecessor. We love his forthright manner, even if it does ruffle a few feathers. Here is a man comfortable in his abilities as a coach who will be up front with people and not talk in clichés. He is a breath of fresh air in Australian sport.
However as the January transfer window has now opened should he take the opportunity to be more open with some of the players in the Hyundai A League and make them aware as to what their realistic chances are of winning a seat on the plane to South Africa later this year?
It would appear that like Guus Hiddink before him Verbeek already knows his first 15 players and it will be in those 15 that most of his faith will be placed during the World Cup. The only problem that he has is that some of them were at their peak under Guus and four years on are on the wane.
Several A League clubs face the prospect of losing key players at the end of the month as these players seek football up until May to enhance their chances of being selected.
Some of the players have said on “Not The Footy Show” that they have to give themselves every chance of being selected for South Africa, which is understandable. However very few members of the Socceroos squad that played in Kuwait realistically stand a chance of being selected if all the overseas-based players are fit. Therefore, should Verbeek not sit down and talk to these players and advise them that they may only have a ten per cent chance, or a fifty percent chance of being selected. That way the A League keeps some integrity, and the players concerned do not have to disrupt their playing careers for something that is simply not going to happen.
Some of these hopeful players could in fact find themselves leaving their clubs at a crucial part of the season, heading overseas and in fact spending time in the reserves at their new clubs. Or some could find themselves living a nightmare in places like China where payments can be slow and this could end up with them not being in the right mental state should they be called into camp.
There are players in Europe who are not getting game time, Spiranovic, Carle, and Rukavysta to name a few, and all are looking to try and get football between now and the end of the European season, to enhance their chances. They are already in a lot of cases higher up the pecking order in terms of the level of football they are playing, so what chance therefore do some of our current A League players have of being guaranteed top level football from February to May to force their way into the Socceroo’s squad?
Mr. Verbeek could help the league, the players and we believe his cause by being up front with these players, if he has not been already, and with him you cannot discount the fact that he may well have been.