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Socceroos coach Graham Arnold says it is crucial Mat Ryan and Daniel Arzani get regular match time at the club level, with the men’s national team facing a hectic 2021 international season.
Ryan has not played for Premier League club Brighton and Hove Albion since last month, while Arzani appears to be unwanted at Dutch club FC Utrecht, where he is on loan.
The Socceroos have a host of World Cup qualifiers this year as they look to secure a berth at the 2022 tournament in Qatar.
Arnold said he was concerned by the fact Ryan and Arzani were not playing on a regular basis with their clubs.
“I talk to Maty probably once every three of four days, because I know how Maty is. Mentally, he’s a guy who just wants to play all the time,” Arnold told The ABC Football Podcast.
“I spoke to Mark Schwarzer, as well, and he’s reached out to him to share his experiences on dealing with it. It’s something different for Maty, but the most important thing is he’s still happy and working hard.
“Do we expect something to happen in January? We’re still waiting to see.
“Maty knows he’s probably not going to play there and he wants to play so no doubt he’s got his agent working on it and we’ll see where that lands, but it is a worrying thing because you need your goalkeeper to be playing all the time.”
Arzani, who joined Utrecht on a season-long loan from Premier League giant Manchester City, does not seem to be in the immediate plans of manager Rene Hake.
The 22-year-old has only made four league appearances for the club.
Arnold said it would be in Arzani’s best interests to find a new club at this point of his career.
“I thought Utrecht would be a good move for him,” he said.
“The manager there when he signed, that I know personally and had spoken to him personally about Daniel, was excited to have him there, but he moved on and the new manager hasn’t given him much of a chance.
“If he’s not going to play there, it’s better that he gets out of there and moves on where he’ll get some minutes, because I believe he’s at the crossroads of his career.
“He’s shown his great quality as an impact player, especially at the  World Cup, but it’s just so important that his next move can provide 90 minutes over and over again.”
Irvine showing ‘his worth’
On a more positive note, Arnold said he was encouraged to see Socceroos midfielder Jackson Irvine make his first appearance for Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership following his recent release from Hull City.
“I was really surprised when Hull announced that he was leaving and that he didn’t get picked up straight away, but these things happen during COVID, with a clampdown on wages and clubs giving locally-based players a go,” he said.
“Jackson just found himself in a situation he didn’t expect to be in. He was one we really had to reach out a lot to.
“Andrew Clark (Football Australia’s high-performance co-ordinator) was working with him from here to keep him fit and ready, and it’s great he’s gone back to Scotland where he has a good name from his time at Celtic.
“The manager knows him and obviously [Socceroos teammate] Martin Boyle knows him, so it’s just fantastic that he’s back on the field, and I know he’ll show his worth.”
Meanwhile, Arnold said he was looking forward to finalising his Olyroos squad for the Tokyo Olympics, which will be their first appearance at the Games since Beijing in 2008.
“Last January, when we qualified, we had maybe 10 players playing in this country eligible for the Olympics,” he said.
“Sitting back now and watching all these kids coming through and some I don’t even know, we’ll be so well prepared for Tokyo.
“We have an abundance of kids overseas as well that I haven’t really seen. Caleb Watts has made his debut for Southampton now. I haven’t seen him first-hand – I know Trevor Morgan ((Football Australia technical director) has, but I haven’t. And that with the kids here who are doing fantastically, it’s great.
“And a big part of that is because we have 11 Australian coaches here in the A-League and the 12th (Western Sydney Wanderers coach Carl Robinson) thinks the Australian way. Australian coaches believe in Aussie kids.”
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Melbourne City’s remarkable W-League turnaround against Melbourne Victory has been overshadowed by a group Victory fans who hurled abuse and bottles at City and Matildas goalkeeper Teagan Micah.
Late in Sunday’s game at Epping Stadium, play had to be stopped for several minutes as the referee, City captain Emma Checker and Victory skipper Angela Beard attempted to calm the crowd down.
It took the gloss off City’s thrilling 3-2 win, which was a remarkable turnaround from their 6-0 loss to the same team a week earlier.
Teagan Micah confirms there were glass bottles thrown at her today.
Awful behaviour and it simply cannot happen again.
Glad Teagan is okay – full credit to the players and referee for their brilliant handling of a situation they should never have had to deal with. https://t.co/LT39QtYaTB
— Anna Harrington (@AnnaHarrington) January 17, 2021
City coach Rado Vidosic condemned the behaviour as “not acceptable” and lauded the referee’s swift action.
“Come here, support your team, that’s brilliant … but to throw things at a goalkeeper, a female goalkeeper – and she’s a Matilda – I don’t think that’s the right way of dealing with the situation,” he said.
“… (Micah’s) OK. She was a little bit shaken. When someone starts throwing bottles at you, obviously it’s not nice.
“This game is televised to America, to China and some other countries and for that to be seen overseas, it just doesn’t paint a good picture.”
Victory counterpart Jeff Hopkins roundly condemned the “unacceptable” behaviour.
“It’s definitely not what we want to see,” Hopkins said.
“Hopefully we’ll deal with that as a club and make sure that doesn’t happen again. It’s not a good look at all.”
On her first start since re-joining City, fringe Matilda Alex Chidiac scored in the 22nd minute, with Victory defender Claudia Bunge handing City another with an own goal three minutes later.
But two spectacular goals – a 47th-minute free kick from MelindaJ Barbieri and Catherine Zimmerman’s long-range belter in the 51st drew Victory level.
Two stunning strikes from @mindybarbieri and Catherine Zimmerman
— Westfield W-League (@WLeague) January 17, 2021
Chidiac then slipped a ball through for City teammate Harriet Withers to score the winner in the 86th minute.
Victory’s Lisa De Vanna (hamstring) missed the clash, while City defender Jenna McCormick was forced off in the second-half with a head knock.
Fellow Matildas defender Checker made a second-half return from injury.
— Westfield W-League (@WLeague) January 17, 2021
Earlier in the round, Sydney FC took outright top spot by beating Western Sydney 2-0 on Saturday.
Mackenzie Hawkesby scored from the spot in the 31st minute with experienced Ellie Brush adding a second in the 66th.
Don't give @Brushy7 a chance to pounce
— Westfield W-League (@WLeague) January 16, 2021
Adelaide beat Perth for the second time in a week to jump into third place.
Adelaide’s Fiona Worts scored in the sixth minute, with Caitlin Doeglas responding in the 53rd before Emily Condon headed home the winner in the 74th minute.
In Sunday’s late game, Brisbane Roar and Newcastle Jets shared the points in a 1-1 draw at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Roar’s Emilty Gielnik grabbed a second-half equaliser in Newcastle to cancel out Tara Andrews’ 16th-minute opener.
— Westfield W-League (@WLeague) January 17, 2021
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Australian football is in mourning following the death of former Socceroos coach Frank Arok, aged 88.
“We are deeply saddened to learn that former @Socceroos coach, Frank Arok AM, has passed away at the age of 88,” Football Federation Australia tweeted on Tuesday night.
“Frank made a telling impact on Australian football, coaching the Socceroos in 89 internationals, and at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games.
“Frank also made a significant contribution to club football in Australia, coaching numerous sides and mentoring hundreds of successful players in the National Soccer League.
We are deeply saddened by the news that former @Socceroos coach, Frank Arok, passed away today.
Football Australia would like to extend its condolences to Frank’s family, friends and loved ones.
His profound impact on Australian football will never be forgotten. Vale. pic.twitter.com/Rc3v6k1Vwp
— Socceroos (@Socceroos) January 12, 2021
“Football Australia would like to extend its condolences to Frank’s family, friends and loved ones.
“His profound impact on Australian football will never be forgotten. Vale.”
The Yugoslav-born legend played for FK Jedinstvo for a decade in the 1950s before making his name as one of the great Australian managers.
He coached St George Saints, as well as South Melbourne FC, Port Melbourne, Gippsland Falcons and Sydney Olympic but is best remembered for his role as coach of the Australian national team.
— Frank Farina (@Frank_Farina) January 12, 2021
He was in charge of the Socceroos for 48 internationals between 1983 and 1989 and made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 1990 Australia Day honours for his service to soccer.
After working with Perth Glory’s youth team between 2001 and 2003, Arok moved back to Serbia with his wife to retire.
Fellow former Socceroos coach Frank Farina and English Premier League winner Robbie Slater were others to post their condolences on Twitter.
“Frank Arok RIP ! The man that discovered and made me ! Thank you ! A true legend ! @Socceroos,” Slater posted.
Others said he was among the five most influential figures in Australian soccer history.
I’m devastated by the news (as confirmed by his daughter Marijana), that our longest ever serving @socceroos coach, Frank Arok has passed away at the age of 88. I spent every day for 2 seasons at @smfc with Frank between 1994 & 1996. He was a friend, mentor, father figure and >
— Peter Filopoulos (@peterfilopoulos) January 12, 2021
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Kazuyoshi Miura, the world’s oldest professional football player, is set to keep playing at age 54 after extending the contract with his Japanese team Yokohama FC for another season.
“King Kazu”, as he’s called by the fans, is set to play his 36th season as a professional footballer after starting his career with Santos in Brazil in 1986.
The season starts the day after his 54th birthday on February 26.
“My aspirations and my passion for football are only getting bigger,” he said in a statement.
53-year-old striker Kazuyoshi Miura has signed a new contract with Yokohama FC.
He was already a professional footballer when Messi was born
This will be his 36th season pic.twitter.com/XOxst6QZTQ
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) January 11, 2021
Last season Miura made four appearances in the J-League, to which his club secured promotion at the end of 2019 for the first time since 2007.
The striker is one of the most revered sportsmen in Japan and was at the forefront of the country’s football boom in the early 1990s when he was the poster boy of the newly launched league in 1993.
He led Verdy Kawasaki to the title in 1993 and 1994 before moving to Italy, where he spent a season in Serie A with Genoa.
He also made four appearances for Sydney FC during the inaugural A-League season in 2005-06 and has played in Croatia as well as at other at other Japanese sides.
Kazuyoshi Miura will be playing for another year with Yokohama FC at the age of 5️⃣ 4️⃣ pic.twitter.com/wmeZodrmuO
— AFC (@theafcdotcom) January 11, 2021
Miura won the Asian Cup with Japan in 1992 but missed out on representing his country on their debut appearance at the World Cup finals in France six years later.
He scored 55 goals in 89 games for Japan.
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Central Coast has scored its first A-League victory at home in almost a year, setting aside pre-season ownership issues to down Newcastle 1-0 on Thursday night.
The battling Mariners, who’d been put up for sale in August but have yet to close out a deal, held on against fellow financial strugglers the Jets, who are also looking for a buyer.
Alou Kuol scored the lone goal for the Mariners at Central Coast Stadium in a match that picked up after a ponderous start.
After dominating possession for long periods midway through the half, the home side was finally rewarded in the 43rd minute.
— A-League (@ALeague) December 31, 2020
What initially appeared to be a fairly innocuous free kick by Stefan Nigro suddenly found the Jets wanting as their defence failed to clear the bouncing ball.
Kuol was on the spot to capitalise, heading past frustrated goalkeeper Jack Duncan for his first A-League goal.
Clear-cut chances were at a premium early, a rough challenge by returning Mariner Oliver Bozanic on Jason Hoffman in the sixth minute the most notable action in the first quarter of play.
His actions went unpunished, veteran Hoffman immediately paying the penalty however, leaving the field with an apparent leg injury.
— Central Coast Mariners (@CCMariners) December 31, 2020
Interim Jets coach Craig Deans admitted he missed the incident live but questioned what had gone on once he saw it.
“I thought it was, in the end when you looked at the replay, actually a pretty poor challenge but the referees decided it was OK – and that’s the way the cookie crumbles,” Deans said.
Things picked up later in the half, the Mariners enjoying some more fluid attack with debutant Jaden Cassella providing great punch down the left as Ramy Najjarine offered similar spark on the right for the Jets.
Najjarine was in the thick of things five minutes after the break, the striker’s deft cross setting up Kosta Petratos for what should have been the equaliser – only to be denied by a spectacular Mark Birighitti save.
The keeper repeated the dose in the 70th minute, clearing again brilliantly from a curling Angus Thurgate shot from just outside the 18-yard box.
The Mariners, wooden spooners in 2019-20, last won at Central Coast Stadium on January 12, a 3-2 victory over Melbourne Victory.
Mariners coach Alen Stajcic paid credit to his players who he said were simply concentrating on playing football.
“There’s been no focus on any other distraction – of COVID, or talk of any other things in and around the club or the league,” Stajcic said.
“We’ve really just been settled and stable – probably the most stable we’ve been for a long time I would say and I think some of that showed on the pitch.”
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Melbourne City’s season-opening A-League win over Brisbane Roar has been soured by the sight of Andrew Nabbout limping off injured.
The Socceroos winger, making his debut for City after an off-season switch from crosstown rivals Melbourne Victory via Perth, pulled up clutching his left hamstring midway through the second half of the 1-0 win at Redcliffe’s Dolphin Stadium.
Midfielder Connor Metcalfe scored the winner for coach Patrick Kisnorbo in his first match in charge of City just minutes before Nabbout’s injury.
City also had to play the final 20 minutes of the game with 10 men after Uruguayan Adrian Luna was shown a second yellow card by referee Adam Kersey.
A fine finish from Connor Metcalfe gets the tally moving for Season 2020/21
— A-League (@ALeague) December 29, 2020
Last year’s grand finalists were lucky to go in at the break with the scores at 0-0, with a new-look Roar under head coach Warren Moon pressuring their more experienced rivals in humid conditions.
Japanese youngster Riku Danzaki was particularly busy in the middle of the park, as was fellow club debutant Joey Champness – playing his first A-League match since April 2019 after an attempt to forge a rap music career in the United States.
Danzaki created the best chance of the opening half, freeing up Dylan Wenzel-Halls. But the Roar forward’s effort was turned around the post by City goalkeeper Tom Glover’s foot.
Adrián Luna sent from the field as @MelbourneCity are forced to hold on with a man down.
Can @brisbaneroar make the advantage count?
— A-League (@ALeague) December 29, 2020
Brisbane was made to pay for its lack of a cutting edge when Metcalfe worked a one-two with Socceroo Jamie Maclaren before firing a right-foot shot past Roar keeper Jamie Young in the 52nd minute.
Roar poured forward in search of an equaliser, with Champness and defender Macaulay Gillesphey coming close.
The best chance fell to Scott McDonald in second-half injury time, but the ex-Socceroos striker dragged his shot wide as Roar made a losing start to its campaign.
Brisbane’s next match is away to Victory on January 2, with City heading to Adelaide the following day.
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Matildas goalkeeper Teagan Micah marked her W-League debut for Melbourne City with a clean sheet to deny a dominant Brisbane Roar in the season opener.
Micah made several crucial saves in Tuesday’s clash at Dolphin Stadium in Redcliffe as City escaped with a 0-0 draw to stretch the club’s undefeated run to 17 games.
Roar will leave the ground wondering just how they didn’t get all three points.
Facing a much-changed City team which had no players from last season’s grand final in its starting XI, Roar had 25 shots to six but couldn’t find a way past Micah.
It couldn't have been anyone else, could it?! ????
— Westfield W-League (@WLeague) December 29, 2020
Matilda Tameka Yallop was denied several times by Micah, while Leticia McKenna was guilty of missing Roar’s best chance when she was one on one with Micah late in the opening half but hit her shot straight at the City custodian.
Yallop will also wonder if her effort in the opening stages rebounded over the goal line off the crossbar as replays suggested.
Goalless at the break in #BRIvMCY, but certainly not through a lack of trying
— Westfield W-League (@WLeague) December 29, 2020
The point was a welcome one for City coach Rado Vidosic as his team begin life without departed Matildas Steph Catley, Lydia Williams, Emily van Egmond, Kyah Simon and Ellie Carpenter.
“I need a six pack after this game. They were good. I thought our effort and resilience was fantastic, but they had some good quality in the midfield and they controlled the game,” Vidosic said.
“Teagan Micah, she was unbelievable.
“If she continues like that she’s going to be number one Matilda very, very soon. So, all credit to her and our backline.”
Micah ended the game with seven saves, leaving Roar coach Jake Goodship frustrated.
“The amount of clear chances we had and number of good chances we created, it’s disappointing to draw and to say that against Melbourne City is probably unheard of,” Goodship said.
“I was very pleased with the performance, but disappointed with the end result.”
City’s next match is against Canberra United on January 3 while Roar also takes on Canberra next, in Brisbane on January 7.
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The A-League’s makeshift season opener delivered plenty of action but no goals as Western United and Adelaide United were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw at GMHBA Stadium.
A game elevated to the top of the run sheet after NSW’s coronavirus cluster played havoc on the A-League schedule, Monday night’s clash proved a feisty one in front of 5128 fans.
The Reds could easily have snared all three points but for Western United’s desperate defending, which included a goal-line clearance in each half.
Adelaide’s squad, heavily hit by departures over the off-season, offered a glimpse of life to come under Carl Veart with a plethora of local products and youngsters.
That included 17-year-old debutant Yaya Dukuly, who was lively early as Adelaide made a strong start before Western gained a foothold.
Tomi Juric goes close to scoring in his #ALeague return
— A-League (@ALeague) December 28, 2020
Spanish recruit Victor Sanchez started in midfield for Western United alongside former Melbourne City winger Lachlan Wales.
Adelaide unleashed fringe Socceroos striker Tomi Juric in his first game for the club since 2013, and he was close to opening the scoring in the 35th minute.
Jordan Elsey lifted a ball over the top of the Western defence to Juric, who attempted to glance it home first-time, only for the excellent Tomoki Imai to clear it off the line.
It's been a long road back from his ACL injury.
— Adelaide United (@AdelaideUnited) December 28, 2020
Three minutes later, Diamanti’s thumping half-volley forced a good reflex save from Adelaide goalkeeper James Delianov.
Juric again came close to opening his account in the 52nd minute when he took possession and turned onto his left and sent a skidding long-range shot wide of the far post.
The Socceroo was almost a provider in the 66th minute when he turned on a dime and sent the ball out to Ben Halloran.
— Western United FC (@wufcofficial) December 28, 2020
The winger beat Omai and whipped a shot goal-bound only for Western United’s Aaron Calver to make the crucial goal-line intervention.
Three minutes later, Delianov made another excellent block, this time denying Connor Pain.
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Geelong’s GMHBA Stadium will play host to the unlikeliest of A-League season openers.
After an increase in NSW coronavirus cases scuppered Western Sydney’s plans for a bumper day of football, Western United’s Monday night clash against Adelaide United has suddenly been bumped to the top of the run sheet.
The original plan was a much different one.
The A-League and W-League were scheduled to kick off in a double-header at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday, with Western Sydney’s A-League team to face newcomers Macarthur FC.
Will it be raining goals again tomorrow? ️
— A-League (@ALeague) December 27, 2020
After coronavirus forced last season to be played in a hub, the new A-League season was due to become one of the biggest beneficiaries of NSW’s plan to allow a return to full-capacity crowds.
Then the Northern Beaches cluster emerged.
First, the A-League announced any fixtures affected by border closures such as the grand final rematch between Sydney FC and Melbourne City would be postponed.
The league reshuffled fixtures, scheduling games between the six teams based in NSW and seemingly keeping the A-League opener on track while matching interstate teams against each other.
Then, on Wednesday, the double header planned for December 27 was pushed back by three days, with permitted crowd capacity in NSW reduced to 50 per cent.
An update on the start of the A-League and Westfield W-League season.
— A-League (@ALeague) December 23, 2020
As a result, the season will open with 2019-20 semi-finalists Western United playing out of one of its temporary home grounds and hosting last season’s seventh-placed finishers Adelaide in front of what is likely to be a small crowd.
Adelaide coach Carl Veart wasn’t concerned about any extra pressure but admitted it would be strange featuring first up.
“Normally when you get to see the first game you can judge to see where your team is,” Veart said on Sunday.
“We’re going in first game, not seeing any other teams playing. It’s going to be interesting to see how we adapt.”
️ "The addition of Sánchez has been pretty big, Lachie Wales is also another new player that has come into the squad.
— Western United FC (@wufcofficial) December 27, 2020
Despite the fixture changes, the A-League’s opening week still shapes as a hectic one.
Brisbane Roar will host Melbourne City on Tuesday, while the rescheduled Wanderers-Bulls clash will take place on Wednesday, and Central Coast and Newcastle will face off in a New Year’s Eve derby.
Reigning champion Sydney FC kicks off its title defence against Wellington on January 2, with Melbourne Victory to play Brisbane later that day.
On Sunday, Macarthur will play its first home game at Campbelltown Stadium against the Mariners, with Adelaide to host City in the final game of the week.
Perth Glory is the only team that won’t feature with its season opener not until January 16.
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The A-League has been forced into a major fixture reshuffle following the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney, with almost half of the first 35 games to be rescheduled for a later date.
The northern beaches cluster in Sydney increased to 90 on Tuesday after seven new cases were recorded.
In response to the outbreak, the A-League shuffled its fixture in a way that would allow all the New South Wales-based sides to play each other for the next four weeks.
That will leave sides based outside of NSW free to play each other without having to worry about border restrictions.
A single ball, a single touch can change everything.
— A-League (@ALeague) December 22, 2020
Out of the first 35 games of the recently-released A-League fixture, 17 of those now have a ‘To Be Confirmed’ tag and will need to be rescheduled in line with government travel and health advice.
The grand final rematch between Sydney FC and Melbourne City that was planned for December 30 was one of the games that will have to be rescheduled.
The A-League and W-League seasons will have a joint kick-off on Sunday, December 27 – the first time the two competitions have begun on the same date.
Bankwest Stadium will host the Western Sydney-Sydney W-League clash, before the Wanderers take on expansion club MacArthur FC in the A-League opener.
Wellington Phoenix was originally scheduled to open their season against Brisbane Roar on December 29 at Dolphin Stadium in Brisbane.
— Westfield W-League (@WLeague) December 22, 2020
But with all travellers from NSW forced to spend two weeks in quarantine after entering Queensland, Phoenix will now open its season against Sydney FC on January 2 at its adopted home – WIN Stadium – in Wollongong.
Phoenix is basing itself in Wollongong for the 2020-21 season due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
Brisbane will now host Melbourne City in a W-League/A-League double header on December 29.
— A-League (@ALeague) December 22, 2020
Sydney FC beat Melbourne City 1-0 in extra time in a dramatic grand final last season, but fans will have to wait to see the rematch.
“It is unfortunate as it was set to be a remarkable occasion, however we must accept the decision in the best interests of the A-League and Westfield W-League,” Sydney FC chief executive Danny Townsend said.
“NSW has some coronavirus issues right now, however if we can fulfil fixtures both here and around the country by rescheduling, then we must do what we can to achieve this.”
Melbourne Victory, which was quarantining in NSW after arriving back from the Asian Champions League, was granted an exemption by the Victorian government this week, meaning it doesn’t have to spend another two weeks in quarantine when the squad flies back to Melbourne.
Perth Glory is out of quarantine following its ACL campaign, and will kick off the season at home to Adelaide on January 16.
Western Australia’s border with South Australia is currently closed, but WA Premier Mark McGowan has announced it will reopen on Christmas.
A-League Week One
(all times AEDT)
Western Sydney Wanderers v Macarthur FC at Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta 6.40pm
Western United v Adelaide United at GMHBA Stadium, Geelong 7.05pm
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne City at Dolphin Stadium, Redcliffe 7.05pm
Central Coast Mariners v Newcastle Jets at Central Coast Stadium, Gosford 7.05pm.
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