Adelaide lift the FFA Cup – now time for the Championship

Domenic Trimboli Columnist

By Domenic Trimboli, Domenic Trimboli is a Roar Expert

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    Project Gombau has helped Adelaide to its first piece of silverware in eight years with a 1-0 win over Perth Glory in the FFA Cup Final – and purists will be hoping the success doesn’t stop there.

    It’s curious to think that there were cries for the Spaniard’s head only a matter of months ago – his philosophy deemed unpractical, his methods seemingly futile.

    Though football is a “reap what you sow” sort of game. The fruits might not be there right away to see, but plant the right seeds and give them time to grow, and you’ll get what you want in the end.

    A hearty vision and a willing discipline will always produce something of worth – and in Adelaide’s case, last night it produced a trophy.

    The tie itself was far from a mantelpiece spectacle, but it was one that the Reds controlled from the sun-soaked first-half right through to last call.

    Sergio Cirio was ultimately the difference in the end, the number 9 receiving a scrumptious ball from Marcelo Carrusca before slotting past Danny Vukovic in the 67th minute.

    It was the the striker’s sixth goal in the Cup, topping off an energetic performance that saw him awarded the fabulously named inaugural Mark Viduka Medal for man-of-the-match.

    Granted, the Glory had found themselves reduced to 10 men some nine minutes before Cirio’s breakthrough – Asian Cup hopeful Josh Risdon receiving his marching orders with a schoolboy second yellow.

    But it nonetheless seemed inevitable that Adelaide would draw first blood in front of a surging sold-out crowd of 16,000 at Coopers Stadium.

    Perth looked a shadow of the side that sits three points clear at the top of the A-League; their normally steely spine and clinical final-third play reduced to nothingness by the Reds’ dominance with the ball.

    Chances were limited in a sometimes sloppy opening hour, and when one did present itself, the finish left much to be desired – Awer Mabil in particular guilty on more than one occasion of spurning genuine promise in front of goal.

    Yet Perth struggled to shake out of a stutter, showing scintillas of life in only punctuated intervals.

    The A-League’s front-runners have suffered only one defeat so far this year and it’s perhaps telling that it was at the hands of Adelaide back in October.

    The only difference between that Round 3 clash and last night’s tie was that this was an Adelaide side now fully comfortable with their sense of self.

    There are gaps and deficiencies still, but Josep Gombau’s men are beginning to combine style with substance in a way that will make them very hard to stop.

    It’s worth noting that Adelaide swept aside five A-League clubs on their way to lifting the Cup. Of course, the league is a different kettle of fish – last week’s 1-0 home defeat to Brisbane is testament to that – but the Reds’ FFA Cup journey has the hallmarks of the type of intrinsic mentality that wins Championships.

    And make no mistake – this trophy, this success, is Gombau’s to savour.

    In the face of the fickle Australian footballing fraternity, the Catalonian has been nothing but persistent from the day he arrived in South Australia last year.

    He has always maintained that his influence would take time to be realised and so it’s remarkable what he’s managed to achieve in only his second year in charge.

    Dressed last night in his casual-Friday best, this is a man who will do what he feels best, no matter the heresay.

    Naturally, there’s still plenty of work to be done, but you’d imagine Gombau will be waking up today feeling somewhat vindicated – knowing full well that his philosophy is indeed practical, his methods certainly profitable.

    Domenic Trimboli
    Domenic Trimboli

    Writer, communicator and failed centre back. Occasional tweeter (you can follow him @dom_trimboli), infrequent video-maker and reliable email responder.

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    The Crowd Says (70)

    • December 17th 2014 @ 6:54am
      Johnno said | December 17th 2014 @ 6:54am | ! Report

      Project Gombau, has been a work in progress and devloped oh so nicely. It has had an almost homoerotic undertone to it. The boys bonding together under Gombau teaching them all these new European culture and artistry and tapistrey and skills that the boys didn’t know before. The European artistry has paid offf and under Gombau’s constant tutorledge of the boys on many levels he has devleoped them more and more and the European style and flavour Gombau has wanted from the boys has deflowered into a beautiful style of European football, and there style will develop and get better, more success to come under Gombau and his European culture and style he has brought to the boys at Adelaide United.

      • December 17th 2014 @ 8:06am
        Kasey said | December 17th 2014 @ 8:06am | ! Report

        “It’s curious to think that there were cries for the Spaniard’s head only a matter of months ago – his philosophy deemed unpractical, his methods seemingly futile.”

        From who? Advertiser ‘chief Soccer writer’ and Adelaide City Stooge Val Migliaccio? That guy is a clown and has absolutely no respect from the football community here in the City of Churches. Even after winning the cup last night his print media match report was filled with digs at AUs poor Finals record. He is a sad and pathetic individual sometimes referred to as Val the Mal(aka) The infamous P*ssant rant from Aurelio Vidmar was almost entirely sparked by Val’s white-anting of his management and the whispers in the corridors by disgruntled former employees who look a little like ALF.

        Still.. I’m going to focus on the positives. We played a very complete game last night and the only downer was the continued profligacy of our strike force, in particular but not limited to Awer Mabil who for some reason seems reluctant to pull the trigger unless he’s turned a defender inside out and waltzed into the 6yd box. The anguished cries of SHOOOT! were echoing around the stadium last night from frustrated fans. I think our lack of squad depth in the defensive third will cramp our ability to win much more silverware. This was shown by how poor we looked without Nigel Boogaard last Friday against Brisbane.

        • December 17th 2014 @ 8:56am
          Franko said | December 17th 2014 @ 8:56am | ! Report

          There is still an awful lot of work to do with that side. At this rate, AU will not win anything else this season.

          Jimmy Jeggo gives the ball away far too often and is inept at set pieces. Needs to prove himself asap
          Mabil can go missing (which is fine, he’s young and learning and is easily replaced by Ferreira)
          Pablo Sanchez has not and may not find his feet. Outside the 5 minute brace against CCM he’s not looked a patch on his compatriots
          Elrich can be good but often gives the ball away and in general things are weak down back without Malik.

          AU should finish top 4, but will need to retain the ball better in the cut and thrust of finals football if they are to get any more trophies.

          • December 17th 2014 @ 9:17am
            Kasey said | December 17th 2014 @ 9:17am | ! Report


            Am I the only one who is frustrated by our insistence on utilising the Short corner only for it[the corner kick] to end up being ‘wasted’ ?
            Jeggo giving the ball away too cheaply is my main criticism of him. Mabil’s insistence on showboating past defenders until he’s inside the 6yd box and his(and our other players) refusal to shoot from the perimiter of the 18yd box is very frustrating.

          • December 17th 2014 @ 10:41am
            Kasey said | December 17th 2014 @ 10:41am | ! Report

            I got an idea of how ‘young’ or immature Mabil is after attending AU training last Sunday morning. He’s just a big kid really. Full of youthful enthusiasm.

            Very playful and not at all like a serious pro footballer. This is his personality and it comes out in his football but I can’t help but think if he knuckled down and was the type of player to spend 30 minutes after training working on his shooting that his stocks would rise very quickly. I wonder how he would look out on the Ajax training complex?

            • December 17th 2014 @ 3:40pm
              tommaso said | December 17th 2014 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

              He is too young and immature – should not be playing A league at this stage. For some reason he is a Gombau favourite and is promoted ahead of Ferreira which is laughable and amateurish.

        • December 17th 2014 @ 10:33am
          vocans said | December 17th 2014 @ 10:33am | ! Report

          Defence is the Achilles heel until Malik and Boogarde are back. The profligacy up front cannot continue forever and Gombau is too good a manager to have no answers for it. Adelaide has a lot of room for improvement and that must be a bit frightening for the rest of the A-league. Great football and it inspires the rest of the land to better their game. The football these days is exciting – it never had to be absolute world class to be successful, just exciting: an exciting game down the local park has me rivetted – and the future looks good.

    • December 17th 2014 @ 7:17am
      melbourneterrace said | December 17th 2014 @ 7:17am | ! Report

      Forget the championship, no ambition if all you set out to win is a finishing in a position between one and six and then winning two/three game knockout cup. If this Adelaide squad are as ambitious as they are talented they should be aiming to winning the 27 game league and lifting the premiers plate. They’ll get themselves a top seeded spot in the AFC Champions league as well.

    • December 17th 2014 @ 7:55am
      Aljay said | December 17th 2014 @ 7:55am | ! Report

      Well done Adelaide

    • December 17th 2014 @ 8:08am
      Franko said | December 17th 2014 @ 8:08am | ! Report

      A fairly exciting 1-0 though Perth never really got going.

      The youngsters looked completely overwhelmed by the occasion (Mabil & Da Silva) but in the end it was a well deserved win.

      Inaugural FFA Cup champions – nice 🙂

      • December 17th 2014 @ 8:26am
        Kasey said | December 17th 2014 @ 8:26am | ! Report

        “Inaugural FFA Cup champions – nice 😀 ”

        Goes nicely with our Inaugural A-League Premiers Plate 😀

        • December 17th 2014 @ 9:30am
          AR said | December 17th 2014 @ 9:30am | ! Report

          Serous question Kasey:

          If I asked 100 AU fans, would they rather win the Premiers Plate or the Championship?

          Does the 2007 GF still haunt the club?

          • December 17th 2014 @ 9:54am
            Bondy said | December 17th 2014 @ 9:54am | ! Report

            Its early doors AR lets see in 5-10 years time how the FFA Cup tournament and trophy are then valued … This tournament cannot be compared to other sports due to it being both Pro and Amatuer its unique to the Australian sporting landscape.

            • December 17th 2014 @ 10:39am
              AR said | December 17th 2014 @ 10:39am | ! Report

              Was referring to Premiers vs Champions.

          • December 17th 2014 @ 10:05am
            Kasey said | December 17th 2014 @ 10:05am | ! Report


            I can only speak for myself. I think the Premiers Plate is a special trophy (in some ways the more ‘traditional’ thinkers trophy) signifying that the team was the best team over the length of the season and I’m 100% sure I’d enjoy watching a season of United football that led to a Premiers Plate, but I guess you always want what you don’t have and I’d dearly love to see us slaughter that Finals monkey we’ve partly developed and win the Championship trophy.

            Both trophies currently give access to the ACL but in the future the FFA might negotiate with AFC to switch the ACL spot from the Dunny seat (which AFC chooses to view as our cup comp) to the Actual FFA Cup so in the distant future I can see the Premiers Plate shifting from equal value to being valued higher than it currently is and higher than the Dunny Seat.

            That 2007 loss is frustrating because the talking heads at Fox bring it up EVERY time we play in Melbourne. It would be like asking every New Yorker you met how they felt about Sept 11th. 🙁

            • December 17th 2014 @ 10:40am
              AR said | December 17th 2014 @ 10:40am | ! Report

              That’s what I suspected.

              Objectively, some people may regard the Premiership over the Championship, but for Adelaide fans, there’s an emotional resonance (scarring) with the latter.

              • December 17th 2014 @ 11:40am
                Horto Magiko said | December 17th 2014 @ 11:40am | ! Report

                @AR, bondy, kasey

                Anyone in their right mind can assimilate that being the most successful and consistent team over 27 weeks (premiers) unequivocally trumps a 3 game knockout tournament (champions).

                The fact that an ACL spot is awarded to the “champions” is both dubious and laughable..and thankfully wiser heads are prevailing, and the FFA are starting to think along the same lines. Just saw this article from couple days ago about that ACL spot being awarded to winner of FFA Cup! Now you’re talkin FFA!


              • December 17th 2014 @ 12:38pm
                AR said | December 17th 2014 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

                “Anyone in their right mind can assimilate…”

                Well, it depends on context as well as your individual perspective. I suspect that winning the Grand Final would mean more to Adelaide than it would to Brisbane, for example.

                And Grand Finals have traditionally been the pinnacle for Australian sports, association football included…though that may be changing.

                In American Football, winning the Superbowl is everything – finishing top of conference is nothing.

                Horses for courses.

              • December 17th 2014 @ 6:12pm
                Horto Magiko said | December 17th 2014 @ 6:12pm | ! Report


                Yes the tide is slowly turning here. In all other association football leagues worldwide the pinnacle is to top the table.

                I’m not sure about the format of the Super Bowl because I don’t follow gridiron and I agree that in Australia we suffer from “one-(particularly big)-day-in-September-itis” but once 2016 rolls around and the FFA Cup is delivering that ACL spot, that little “mini finals series/knockout thingymabob” will pale into insignificance and we Australians can still live out our grand finals fever vicariously through the FFA Cup final. Everyone wins.
                (That’s not to say that league football doesn’t deliver those big defining moments by proxy, ala aguero winning the title for city in the dying embers of the final game of the regular season).

                Still it shouldn’t be overlooked that topping the table is the logical and obvious method for determining which team is superior.

                This is how the great Brian Clough responded, a foremost expert on this topic, when he was asked his thoughts on the order of importance of the league title in comparison with tournament football/cup competitions:

                “The football league, always has been and always will be. I would gladly go out of the European Cup, the football league cup and the FA Cup…i would gladly go out of them tomorrow if you could guarantee me winning the football league”.

                And when asked why he felt so strongly about this?

                (Because) “You have to have every single aspect of football management about you to win it. You’ve got to have endurance, you’ve got to have talent, you’ve got to be a little bit daft, you’ve got to have strength, psychology, you name it, and of course you’ve got to have very good players. But it’s a real endurance battle over 9 or 10 months”.

                Not to mention accounting for all other variables for eg all teams meeting eachother home and away, Injuries, player transfers, weather conditions etc

                Here’s the link to that interview. The mans a genius and hilarious to watch. A real no BS lad 🙂

              • Roar Guru

                December 17th 2014 @ 12:47pm
                Fussball ist unser leben said | December 17th 2014 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

                Spot on, Horto Magiko.

                You don’t even need to be a football fan to understand it’s harder to be the best team after 27 matches played across Australia & NZL, than it is to win 3 – or even 2. Any logical sports fan should understand this concept.

                In fact, it’s possible to win the A-League Championship without scoring a goal during normal play. Just winning 3 matches on penalty shoot-outs.

              • December 17th 2014 @ 7:00pm
                Horto Magiko said | December 17th 2014 @ 7:00pm | ! Report


                “it’s possible to win the A-League Championship without scoring a goal during normal play.”

                Haha. I never thought of that.. True! Now that’s funny! Ponder that when sending HAL teams into Asia…

              • December 17th 2014 @ 1:37pm
                AR said | December 17th 2014 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

                Fascinating Fuss, yet you’ve again misunderstood the discussion.

                The discussion isn’t about which is “harder”.

                It’s about what AU and its fans would want more – as Trimboli alludes to in his article.

              • Roar Guru

                December 17th 2014 @ 3:37pm
                Fussball ist unser leben said | December 17th 2014 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

                “The discussion isn’t about which is “harder”.
                It’s about what AU and its fans would want more.”

                From my observation of human behaviour, we always covet what we can’t have – things that are more difficult to obtain.

                For guidance on coveting, you should analyse the discourse between Hannibal Lecter & Clarice Starling when profiling “Buffalo Bill”.

              • December 17th 2014 @ 5:37pm
                AR said | December 17th 2014 @ 5:37pm | ! Report

                Er cheers…great movie.

                But I’ll stick to *relevant* comments from the likes of Kasey – “I’d dearly love to see us slaughter that Finals monkey we’ve partly developed and win the Championship trophy” – and Dominic Trimboli – “Adelaide lift the FFA Cup – now time for the Championship”.

              • December 17th 2014 @ 7:55pm
                Canman said | December 17th 2014 @ 7:55pm | ! Report

                Best to remember that in this country the 2 major football codes are driven by lopsided draws as not every team plays every other team twice let alone home and away. I think this does influence some sports followers to believe that there is nothing unjust or unbalanced in a championship race. Why should the team at the top be seen as the best if they haven’t competed against every team a second time. Association football in 95 % of leagues around the world does not operate like that. Association football values the league championship because it is equitable – Rugby League and Australian Rules are not (just listen to the debate by team supporters when their draw is made).

                Home grounds should be home grounds not localities shared by other teams. Que Wanderers!

        • December 17th 2014 @ 9:46am
          The Bear said | December 17th 2014 @ 9:46am | ! Report

          And inaugural preseason cup ? If I’m not mistaken, as well

          • December 17th 2014 @ 10:32am
            Kasey said | December 17th 2014 @ 10:32am | ! Report

            How could I forget that? Our trophy cabinet isn’t exactly bulging, but we do have 2 pre-season cups including the first and the last ones:)

    • December 17th 2014 @ 8:33am
      Towser said | December 17th 2014 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      Perth were never really in it, Adelaide the only team trying to play football.
      Mabil should have had a couple more with a bit of composure ,but still only a lad.
      Nice addition to the Football calendar in Australia.

      • December 17th 2014 @ 8:54am
        Brick Tamland of the pants party said | December 17th 2014 @ 8:54am | ! Report

        We weren’t in it at all, Glory aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing side in the comp by any means but like we have seen from WSW recently and CCM in the past we play a very well organized game that makes it difficult for sides to beat us, shame it all went out the window last night. Adelaide were very good i just wish we could have added to the occasion.

        • December 17th 2014 @ 9:09am
          Kasey said | December 17th 2014 @ 9:09am | ! Report

          @Brick you did add to the occasion.

          Full credit to the Perth fans, they sold out their away bay and were jumping and waving flags (I assume singing too), but the noise was so loud where I was in the Red Army that I could only SEE the Glory fans and not HEAR them.

          I know there was a Red Card, but I thought both of Risdon’s Yellows were deserved and so I don’t believe the game was decided by a refereeing blunder which is pleasing. Given our shocking Finals record, my pre-game nerves were on the “virgin on her wedding night” scale! Words cannot describe how relieved and happy I am this morning. I briefly worried with Mabil’s shocking miss that the tone was going to be set for the night. I hope it was a good game to watch on the telebox. I’ve IQ’d it and will watch it again this weekend.

          • December 17th 2014 @ 9:29am
            Brick Tamland of the pants party said | December 17th 2014 @ 9:29am | ! Report

            Oh yeah Risdon deserved both yellows, he kind of summed the team last night the rest of the season so far he has generally man marked his opponent out of games with fantastically timed tackles and pressure whereas he was that little bit late to everything, felt for him bloody long walk off the ground that was.

            Both sets of fans were class last night, you kind of expect the worst especially when the speeches (cringe) start but everybody was respectful.

      • December 17th 2014 @ 10:25am
        Gareth said | December 17th 2014 @ 10:25am | ! Report

        If Mabil could finish with any consistency he would be one of the most dangerous players on the field, easily capable of getting at least a goal a game. He gets into great positions and can beat his marker, but no matter how many times he tries he can’t get a good shot in target. But at only 18(?) he can certainly improve a lot, he’s going to be an exciting player to watch over the next couple if years.

    • December 17th 2014 @ 8:37am
      Gerry said | December 17th 2014 @ 8:37am | ! Report

      Should we petition for a community shield type game next year between FFA Cup Winner & A League Winner

      • December 17th 2014 @ 8:44am
        Kasey said | December 17th 2014 @ 8:44am | ! Report

        @Gerry, I’m sure AUFC already ‘have’ an intraclub game in the Pre-season;) LOL

      • December 17th 2014 @ 8:47am
        Hoof said | December 17th 2014 @ 8:47am | ! Report

        Perhaps the FFA could pick a new charity/cause each season and name it after that?

        • December 17th 2014 @ 8:49am
          Kasey said | December 17th 2014 @ 8:49am | ! Report


          I nominate WSW as a charity/cause that seems to have gone a bit flat since they are no longer owned by FFA..curiouser and curiouser 😉 LOL

          • December 17th 2014 @ 5:03pm
            Josh said | December 17th 2014 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

            WSW should make about 15 mil this year, charity not required.

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