A-League imports impress with classy first touch

Futbanous Roar Rookie

By Futbanous, Futbanous is a Roar Rookie

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    The last three winners of the Johnny Warren medal have been foreigners, hailing from Costa Rica, Argentina and Germany.

    Given that those players would be considered second-tier footballers in their country of origin, what does that say about the average Australian-produced player?

    All these players have one thing in common, a decent first touch. They’re nothing exceptional by World class standards, yet are generally superior to 95 percent of Australian-produced A-League players.

    First touch is a key component in producing the sort of play that can excite. At the same time it produces the required result for your team.

    An instant first touch can create chances in dozens of ways, as shown by the following examples.

    The first one, which is mainly an individual effort, can be read about here.

    The second is the classic Cambiasso goal from 25 or so passes at the 2006 World Cup.

    None of the goals scored in these examples could have happened without an excellent first touch.

    Individually it allows improvisation to occur, which puts defenders off guard. From a team perspective instant control makes for greater speed of thought as to what’s the next move.

    If all players have excellent first touch (through excellent technique) then movement on and off the ball can be sped up.

    This may sound strange coming from a Roar fan, but the Roar would have ripped up the A-League if they had players with the same first touch as Thomas Broich.

    Take Massimo for example. He works his guts out like an Energizer battery on two legs, but his first touch is mostly poor, meaning Broich can control the ball instantly.

    Passing it to Massimo, hoping for the same instant control, is not on.

    I often wondered why he dribbled, beat a man and got so many free kicks. Perhaps it’s because he has no real confidence that a quick pass may result in quick control by a teammate, who has moved into space.

    I relate excellent first touch to quick thinking on what you do next. It’s frustrating as a spectator to see promising moves break down by poor first touch.

    The question I ask is, is it improving? I’m not in the loop anymore to know what’s happening at junior level.

    Sure, you can tell me that small-sided football is the panacea, but are they?

    That’s not all there is to ensure first-touch fantasia in our budding A-League stars.

    Can you see a future Bergkamp, Cruyff or Baggio on the park? Do you see the potential for a Cambiasso-like goal?

    Or are we still going to have to rely for some time yet on imports like Broich, Hernandez and Flores to provide a glimpse of what football can be like if all the teams were on the same wavelength.

    Lets face it; imports are limited – there are only about five in the game.

    Supposing they all were on the same level as Broich, that still leaves another five Australian-bred players to allow Broich to be confident that his first touch and pass will be received in an equal manner by by every member of the team.

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    The Crowd Says (18)

    • May 2nd 2012 @ 7:58am
      Futbanous said | May 2nd 2012 @ 7:58am | ! Report

      LInk to Cambiasso goal not shown in article, so here it as as its important in potraying first touch in relation to teamwork.

      • May 2nd 2012 @ 2:34pm
        Nathan of Perth said | May 2nd 2012 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

        Beautiful to watch them pulling and tearing at the formation, creating the opportunity.

        • May 2nd 2012 @ 2:41pm
          Titus said | May 2nd 2012 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

          Nice way of putting it.

          • May 2nd 2012 @ 2:53pm
            Futbanous said | May 2nd 2012 @ 2:53pm | ! Report

            Notice another thing also. How much various parts of the foot play a part in creating that goal. Inside, outside ,underneath, instep even a backheel in this goal. . We need to fine tune these skills in our players also. A heavy touch is a damaging touch for me.

            • May 2nd 2012 @ 3:30pm
              Nathan of Perth said | May 2nd 2012 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

              Yeah, I’ll admit, there are few things that will make me pull my hair out like watching heavy first touches kill off moves. (Yes, I know, Glory sometimes have a frustrating problem with that).

            • Roar Guru

              May 2nd 2012 @ 3:42pm
              Rellum said | May 2nd 2012 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

              Completely agree that the first touch is key, but that goal also shows the importance of intelligent movement off the ball to create the first touch passing opportunities. Something the A-League is also sorely lacking.

    • May 2nd 2012 @ 2:02pm
      Titus said | May 2nd 2012 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

      Good article Futbanous!

      As a SFC fan, I could never understand the amount of criticism levelled at Kisel. To me, while he possibly lacked the creativity and eye for goal, his touch and ability to play a tidy first time ball made him a very important part of our team.

      If a player has a poor touch then that breaks down the whole machine and the ability to play a fast game and be confident in possesion is lost.

      Thankfully at Sydney players like Antonis, Chianese, Petratos, Gligor all have a good touch and are being brought through.

      • May 2nd 2012 @ 2:26pm
        Futbanous said | May 2nd 2012 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

        I dont think we should underestimate the confidence factor as you mention. Pre Ange at the Roar I used to tear my hair out because of the number of promising moves that broke down. If a move breaks down the expectation factor also of professional football suffers.That leads to disappointment amongst fans.
        It can be improved IMO even at a later age.I’m not rigid in my view that first touch has to be taught early or you’ll never be able to do it.
        Mitch Nichols is a classic example at the Roar,.Although he’ll never be perfect he improved out of sight under Ange.

      • May 2nd 2012 @ 2:37pm
        Titus said | May 2nd 2012 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

        Looking at that video clip, the off the ball movement is also a big factor and the way that even a simple pass is hit with speed and precision, there seems to be a purpose in everything.

        Too often a move will breakdown because it runs out of ideas/options or it all just happens too slow.

    • Roar Guru

      May 2nd 2012 @ 2:06pm
      Fussball ist unser leben said | May 2nd 2012 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

      Excellent article, Futbanous.

      For me, a good 1st touch is the key technical requirement for every footballer. It’s the foundation upon which a good footballer is developed. Unfortunately, our junior coaches have ignored technique in the past, and placed a high emphasis on conditioning/physical attributes.

      Already this is changing – I’m excited at the excellent 1st touch of so many of our emerging youngsters, including: Ben Halloran, Mustafa Amini, Julius Doe Davies, Tomas Rogic, Tony Antonis, Mate Dugandzic, Dimi Petratos, James Brown, etc.

      • May 2nd 2012 @ 2:36pm
        Futbanous said | May 2nd 2012 @ 2:36pm | ! Report


        They say that the younger groups are better again so maybe in 5 years we’ll see an improvement.. Wiil keep my eye out on any new Roar youth players i see. Rado taught Football at a school in Brisbane sort of a school of excellence I believe so he should have the background also to bring on the youth.

    • May 2nd 2012 @ 2:09pm
      Futbanous said | May 2nd 2012 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

      Moderators did the right thing so this post edited.

    • May 2nd 2012 @ 2:18pm
      Nathan of Perth said | May 2nd 2012 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

      “Given that those players would be considered second-tier footballers in their country of origin, what does that say about the average Australian-produced player?”

      That the A-League is becoming more internationally attractive faster than the national curriculum is starting to develop grassroots players?

      • May 2nd 2012 @ 2:46pm
        Futbanous said | May 2nd 2012 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

        Possibly, a good thought. If thats the case then the import quota wont be reduced for a while yet,unless we want the quality of football to improve or at worst remain static.
        Hopefully the time lapse between catching up is lessening.
        The balance between quality youth & quality import has to in the end favour youth. Otherwise like the EPL the locals can be locked out,which for me does little for National football confidence.

        • Roar Guru

          May 2nd 2012 @ 9:36pm
          Philip Coates said | May 2nd 2012 @ 9:36pm | ! Report

          Futbanos, it’s no surprise that imports have won more than their share of Johnny Warren medals and we have to live with the fact that as long as we have any imports playing in the comp they will, and they should, continue to win the medal. This may sound like an un-Australian comment at first glance but the fact is we should only import players who ARE better than the local players and can help lift the standard. If an import is not as good as the local players then they shouldn’t be here.

          It’s a little unfortunate that the medal, named after Australia’s greatest football enthusiast, should be regularly won by a foreigner but that is the way it will be. Perhaps the medal, or a secondary medal, should be awarded to the Best Local Player in the A-League so we can recognize our own talent.

          • May 3rd 2012 @ 8:14am
            Futbanous said | May 3rd 2012 @ 8:14am | ! Report

            Agree there the import has to be better or at least equal,seen enough rubbish imports at the Roar in the first few seasons to see the truth in that.
            Personally I like to see imports because they often offer something different one of the reasons why I follow football because it offers variety as a the World Game.
            However would just like to see Australian players ball skills in general getting to the level of the Japanese & Kprean teams the Roar have played in the ACL.
            Because if we bring in imports I dont believe we can get the best out of them unless the surrounding players are close to their level.
            Watching the Roar ACL match last night it was admirable to see the Roar sticking to the same style but it was again exposed because of first touch,close control & misplaced passes compared to FC Tokyo.
            We can match it with them with an open style but not until we have equal ball skills.
            Personally I dont want to see our club sides constantly having to be conservative when playing in the ACL just to get a result. You rarely win the whole competition anyway & get exposed somewhere down the track like Adelaide did in 2008.
            So whilst I agree bring in better imports ,to get the best out of them & the team overall,l our players first touch & general ball skills particularly deft foot skills as I mentioned above need much improvement.

    • May 2nd 2012 @ 7:49pm
      whiskeymac said | May 2nd 2012 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

      Good article. the day we have players at arsenal etcetera will be a good day, the day the national comp plays like arsenal et al will be a great day. Am really interested in how Roar go but am more interested in how CCM develops with their heavy investment in teaching/ youth/ academies.

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