Five talking points from A-League Round 20 (part two)

Karlo Tychsen Roar Guru

By Karlo Tychsen, Karlo Tychsen is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger


32 Have your say

    The Round 20 split round has come to an end, and the A-League has once again managed to deliver on, as well as off, the field, so there is plenty to talk about in the A-League Talking Points.

    Click here to read Part I.

    Nabbout’s goal is the only thing worth talking about from Friday
    The obvious talking point from the Friday night classic is to discuss the VAR, and whether or not Nicolai Topor-Stanley’s infringement was a handball.

    To be honest, it’s become tiresome going over the same old topic of officialdom, and continuously neglecting the quality play that we witness in between the controversy.

    For all the failings of season 2017-18 of the A-League (and to be sure, there have been plenty of them), for all the criticisms of the VAR, the play, the lack of exposure, crowds, the need to expand, poor governance; perhaps every single issue plaguing the A-League was crystallised in one strike by Andrew Nabbout on Friday night.

    After James Troisi had seemingly put to bed not just goal of the round, but goal of the season, last weekend against Brisbane with a strike for the ages, Andrew Nabbout put his hand up to claim those accolades when he ran onto a back-heel from Dimi Petratos, and drilled a shot into the opposite top-right corner with the outside of his right boot.

    Andrew Nabbout

    (AAP Image/Darren Pateman)

    For such a pure moment of world-class individual brilliance, that goal would not have been out of place in any league in the world.

    So, rather than celebrating the utter genius on display, why would you waste your time talking about anything else? Now granted, I have in fact listed nearly every ill currently facing the domestic game.

    Yet Nabbout’s goal brought to mind every complaint imaginable about Australian football, because with that strike, one thing was entirely clear: there is nothing actually wrong with the game of football itself in Australia.

    Think about it. The quality on show from that finish would have brought a crowd of 50,000 to their feet, while a television audience of a million would have been gladly glued to their screens, and 12 other teams would have been watching, waiting for their games over the rest of the weekend.

    In an ideal world, the setting to Nabbout’s goal should have seen a flourishing Australian domestic game as the backdrop to his moment of sporting poetry.

    Instead? Well, there were barely 10,000 present (in a city of near five million), tv viewers were nowhere, it is still only a 10-team league, and people are moaning more about the VAR decisions.

    I choose to re-live Nabbout’s glimpse of greatness.

    The double-edged sword that is the Panenka
    If you’ve never actually witnessed the first recorded time a player decided to fool a keeper into diving out of the way, as a penalty kick was softly floated straight down the middle, enjoy.

    When Antonin Panenka fooled the then best goalkeeper in the world with his penalty taking trickery in the Euro 1976 final, well, there are very few people who have played football, and have one particular kick named after them. Not even the greatest players to have lived can lay claim to that honour.

    So when Diego Castro stepped up to take what should have been the decisive penalty against Wellington and decided that he was going the Panenka, it’s easy to forget that the kick is a gamble.

    You are gambling on the keeper essentially getting out of the way, and while the odds of the keeper diving are short, the risk itself is high.

    It’s worth remembering that Castro’s failed penalty take may well cost Perth a finals place, and at it’s worst, Kenny Lowe his job.

    Dramatic, I know, but in some ways, people’s careers rest on what takes place on the field.

    So Castro was playing with fire on Saturday, and as a result, not only he, but potentially a great many others, got burnt.

    It’s a shame really, because had Perth won, Castro was likely man of the match.

    Instead? He missed the winner, and he now has to live with that.

    I can’t help but wonder if we ever would have heard of Antonin Panenka again, had his attempt at such an audacious penalty kick missed.

    I would think that Kenny Lowe wishes he had.

    Hindmarsh Stadium was a disgrace
    Whether we like it or not, the A-League, for every intent and purpose of football in this country, is the premier domestic national league in Australia.

    Melbourne City wonderkid Daniel Arzani

    (AAP Image/Hamish Blair)

    It is the highest level you can play the game in this country, and every round, when 140 players take the field, they are representing the best and highest standard that this country has to offer by way of a domestic 27-round competition.

    However, the onus to present the best that this country has to offer on the footballing front does not rest entirely on the players.

    It cannot.

    The failings of the FFA administration have been argued over to the extent that FIFA continually threaten to storm in and run the game themselves.

    Everyone must play his or her part.

    But how Hindmarsh stadium was allowed to host a rock concert and a rival sporting code during our league season, is utterly beyond me.

    And remember, the planning of AFLX two nights before the Adelaide v Central Coast fixture was from a code that owns a stadium in Melbourne that they do not allow the A-League to use when it suits them (Etihad) and another stadium that they essentially dictate to the directors about how it is used (MCG).

    The FFA, Adelaide United, whoever it is that runs Hindmarsh Stadium needed to be clear: this is a football ground, go and listen to your music and play your mickey mouse T20-version of your game somewhere else.

    That our professional league was then forced to play on a pitch of such sub-standard quality is a blight on the game, an embarrassment to officials, and is a slight on our players.

    Paul Okon said it best: it IS difficult when you’re not the number one sport int he country. Fair enough, but football is being treated like a second class citizen.

    Okon was right about something else as well: We deserved better.

    Who’s was better?
    Most rounds, you have a clear goal of the round.

    There are other rounds where you’re struggling to scrape just one good goal together.

    But Round 20? We witnessed three individual strikes of such power, skill, and ferocity, that I genuinely do not envy the person who has to adjudge goal of this round.

    Whether it was Troisi’s bullet against Brisbane, Nabbout’s pearler against the Wanderers, or Sarpreet Singh’s wonder-strike by the wunderkind on debut, those were three top-shelf strikes in the nine-day long round that would make highlight reels, which any professional, in any era, would have been proud of.

    While I won’t state the bleedingly obvious as to which one I preferred (lest my alleged bias spoil the argument), it is a great conundrum for the league to have.

    James Troisi’s strike was just pure precision and sheer ferocity, while Nabbout’s was as much execution and exquisitely delightful accuracy, as well as topping off a back-heel assist from Petratos, in response to going down to a controversial penalty moments earlier.

    James Troisi celebrates with Melbourne Victory teammates after scoring

    (AAP Image/Joe Castro)

    As for Singh’s? Two minutes into your arrival on the A-League scene with a strike that had one expert Roarer racing for the Google search to check his nationality, his finish was a combination of both Troisi’s bullet and Nabbout’s art.

    Let the debate begin.

    So they say we’re expanding
    The following observations were listed by an online group patron about what is needed to improve the A-League:

    – Expand
    – Introduce a second division
    – Improve stadia/build club owned stadiums
    – Improve the active fan culture
    – Improve stadium security and police awareness
    – Advertise the league effectively
    – Remove or modify salary cap
    – Allow transfers and loans between teams to promote youth
    – Add international breaks
    – Get big name players to the league

    The problem, however, is that each of these were known necessities, or preferred courses of action, five years ago.

    Yet here we are in 2018, and of that list only one has been put into effect.

    Or should I say, “will” be put into place, in that such expansion won’t take place until the 2019-20.

    The FFA should not be congratulated for indicating that the A-League will expand in essentially two years. This should have already happened, and questions should be asked as to why they waited for the game to be on its knees before doing something.

    And what do football fans expect, that there’ll be one improvement every decade?

    Sorry, that is not good enough, and the announcement this week was not entirely cause for excitement.

    It was really more a reminder of how the game in this country truly is poorly run.

    What do you think Roarers? Let us know in the comments section below, and don’t be afraid to come follow me on Twitter @Kdogroars

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    The Crowd Says (32)

    • February 18th 2018 @ 8:37am
      Waz said | February 18th 2018 @ 8:37am | ! Report

      This seasons rot started with a farcical season launch at a run-down suburban ground with all the publicity the CIA offers for its missions. Football then allowed off-field dramas to set the tone and not on-field and that’s overshadowed some good football. Let’s hope the suits have learned a lesson.

      But we do need to relax a bit more and say it “how it is” not how we want it to be, it’s not anti-football to raise a concern or be critical. Just like James Troisi’s strike which you say was “pure precision” … apart from the fact it took a deflection on its way, so has no place in the same conversation as Nabouts outstanding strike which was genuinely world-class.

      The second half of the split round gave us two very entertaining games in Sydney and Adelaide and plenty of drama in Wellington. Let’s hope SFC and Victory benefit from the rest and bring home some points midweek ?

    • February 18th 2018 @ 9:40am
      Vocans said | February 18th 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report

      As a South Australian, a Reds fan, and an AFL fan, I am ashamed at what was dished up at Hindmarsh Stadium (Coopers probably won’t mind not being connnected with it either). I don’t know whether the concert was worth it, but the AFLX certainly wasn’t.

      Great grit from the Reds. Great to see. I hate own goals with a vengeance.

      • February 18th 2018 @ 10:16am
        Kangajets said | February 18th 2018 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        The reds have been a resilient team this season . I like the passion of Marco Kurz .

      • Roar Guru

        February 18th 2018 @ 9:33pm
        That A-League Fan said | February 18th 2018 @ 9:33pm | ! Report

        Buhagiar could have made it 3-0 for the Mariners but missed the open goal. Some things went Adelaide’s way.

    • February 18th 2018 @ 10:06am
      Kangajets said | February 18th 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

      2 outstanding games of A league

      I said yesterday that Nabbout goal should be showcased ten thousand times this week through every media source possible, to show how good the A league can be .

      Football in Sydney and Adelaide were clearly the best sports played in those 2 cities on the weekend.
      Hopefully football never dumbs down our game to have an x version. I gave it a watch , but the x version is just terrible.

      The v a r just wrecks everything. They still get it wrong but make every one wait 5 minutes. I would like to hear someone’s opinion on how v a r is a good thing ??

      The Newcastle Jets bubble still hasn’t burst , so lots to look forward too between now and May .

      • February 18th 2018 @ 10:15am
        Waz said | February 18th 2018 @ 10:15am | ! Report

        “The Newcastle Jets bubble still hasn’t burst” … prepare for a loud “pop” next Saturday mate ?

        • February 18th 2018 @ 10:20am
          Kangajets said | February 18th 2018 @ 10:20am | ! Report


          I’m expecting roar v jets to be a high scoring game .
          Brisbane has won 3 out there last 4 , and Maccarone is a quality finisher, the jets don’t defend very well but they like to score goals .
          5 goal thriller coming up.

          • February 18th 2018 @ 10:35am
            Waz said | February 18th 2018 @ 10:35am | ! Report

            It hopefully will be, Jets have lost that physical/long-ball game that always unsettled us so we will get a game of football out of this.

            Big focus on Aloisi now, he’s developed a reputation for either making unnecessary changes or inappropriate changes. So under pressure what does he do?

            Does he change a winning side and bring Brown back in who has been having a generally poor season or stick with the XI from last up?

            And does he stick with the 442 that successfully contained George and Barbarouses or does he revert to 4231 again and risk surrendering the midfield again?

            He needs to keep picking up points, probably needing another 14 from 7 games to make finals and save his job.

            • February 20th 2018 @ 1:26am
              Paul said | February 20th 2018 @ 1:26am | ! Report

              How have Jets gone against the Roar this season and over the few?
              I thought the Jets have the record against the Roar ar Suncorp?
              Crowd expected?

      • February 18th 2018 @ 12:06pm
        hogdriller said | February 18th 2018 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

        Have to say Kanga, but imo I don’t think “var just wrecks everything” but more that its the application of it that’s doing the damage, or rather how its being applied.
        The VAR is a good thing if it eliminates the ‘wrongs’, does such without affecting the flow of the game too much by taking too long for decisions to be made and is policed by more efficient officials than those whom we currently have in our League at the moment.

        • February 18th 2018 @ 1:24pm
          Kangajets said | February 18th 2018 @ 1:24pm | ! Report

          Thanks for the V. A r. Feedback.

          I guess what I’m complaining about, is that the on field referees have made decisions based on perception, eg was it a handball .

          Now it’s just the var referees perception, was it a handball??

          Maybe the handball rule needs to be black and white , I thought it had to be a deliberate handball to be a penalty.

          As for the marginal offside goal , well I can live with a millimeters decision being possibly incorrect , because how does the replay define the split second the pass was played , when it comes to millimeters.

          the slight foul on Janjetovic was the one overturned decision that I think the V. A r got 100 percent right.

          Anyhow, I could be way off the mark in my opinions.

          I thought a draw was a fair result on the night anyway.

          • February 18th 2018 @ 2:38pm
            Waz said | February 18th 2018 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

            It does have to be deliberate for it to be a handball but unless a referee can read a players mind how will s/he know it was deliberate? Only a confession will be definitive.

            So handball is subject to the refs interpretation and that is something even the VAR cannot help with.

            Our referees are typically about 93% accurate (97% in the EPL I’m told) so by having better referees we’ll get to 97% and VAR is presumably to get up to 99.9% then??

            That is until we get to the point where a referee is interpreting stuff, which may also include allowances for how s/he’s refereed the match and what’s been penalised/let go previously.

            The VAR is just an ill thought through experiment.

          • February 19th 2018 @ 9:28am
            Post_hoc said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:28am | ! Report

            To be fair, I think the draw was the right result as both teams were wronged by poor officiating, to have either win on that occasion would have just been wrong. I don’t think there are very many Wanderers fans that would say Hyphens was a hand ball, it was ridiculous to call it as one. But the refs have called them this year Cornthwait in Adelaide is a good example, that resulted in a red card. So I think any league in the world would not have called that a red, but here……

            Same as the offside, the VAR is supposed to be for obvious mistakes, the referee didn’t call it the lines man didn’t call it, it took the VAR multiple camera angles in freeze frame to see that it was offside, I can’t see how that is an obvious mistake.

            The only good thing about the Topor handball, without that goal we would never have seen Nabouts goal. In that sense I think we all need to offer the VAR a debt of gratitude

    • Roar Guru

      February 18th 2018 @ 10:29am
      Scott Pryde said | February 18th 2018 @ 10:29am | ! Report

      The problem with grounds and A-League is that ground administrators need money, therefore they will run whatever event presents itself to them. Pretty simple really and unless the A-League was selling out every single game and had the pulling power to basically tell the administrators how to run their ground, then it’s not even worth complaining about.

      • February 18th 2018 @ 10:39am
        Waz said | February 18th 2018 @ 10:39am | ! Report

        That attitude is part of the problem. Of course grounds need revenue and FOOTBALL provides revenue. We have to stop being sooooo apologetic towards stadium operators as if they’re doing football a favour by letting us play there; there is no favour involved Adelaide’s occupancy of that stadium generates over a million in revenue for Coopers Stadium (and the only reason they have Coopers as a sponsor is because football plays there – no one sponsors an empty stadium). They are the #1 tenant and you don’t mess with your #1 cudomer in ANY business.

      • February 18th 2018 @ 7:05pm
        R King said | February 18th 2018 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

        Scott, FYI in Adelaide AUFC are the sole tenants of Hindmarsh Stadium, yet they have no say in how the stadium is used or by whom, and yet they are expected to fork out about 25k per game, for a stadium that was purposely built for the sport. It was completely disrespectful to them, and the whole of the sport in Australia. Furthermore I believe the timing of the AFLX was a deliberate attempt by the AFL to see how far they could push the sport in what is regarded as the best football stadium in Australia.

        Why wasn’t it played at Adelaide Oval? Well the consensus of opinions was that they only expected 5 or 6k people to attend, so didn’t want to use the prime sporting venue in Adelaide because of that. They could of gone to any of the suburban football grounds or footy ovals but no, the decided to use Hindmarsh.

        You know what, we, as a sport, just sat back, bent over and took it from them.

        • February 18th 2018 @ 9:25pm
          chris said | February 18th 2018 @ 9:25pm | ! Report

          Yep…as usual.

        • February 18th 2018 @ 11:24pm
          Mark said | February 18th 2018 @ 11:24pm | ! Report

          Alright, Adelaide is going to tell Hindmarsh to stick their ground, they’re not going to play there anymore.

          Then what? Where else do they go? Do they play all matches at Adelaide Oval, which i’ll bet costs more to rent and provides a poorer fan experience?

          This is the problem with clubs renting stadia and, in most cities, having a limited number of suitable stadia (in most cases, one). The clubs have no negotiating power because they have no viable alternatives.

          In any case, surely Adelaide’a situation is something Greg Griffin could have sorted out? I thought he was a genius who had solutions to all the game’s problems?

          • February 19th 2018 @ 9:52am
            R King said | February 19th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

            No Mark, they are not going to move away from Hindmarsh and you are right, there are no alternatives in Adelaide. Marden being the closest small stadia that would suit, but we all know that a 5k capacity [at a stretch] isn’t going get approval from the FFA or the AUFC board. As far as Greg Griffins negotiation skills go, he really doesn’t have anything to negotiate with, there are no alternatives. So if the AEC want to charge 50k a game, he/we either have to take it or wait till the tide turns. Another purpose built 25k rectangular stadium in Adelaide will change the whole landscape, especially if it isn’t owned by the government. We can but dream.

            • February 19th 2018 @ 12:14pm
              Mark said | February 19th 2018 @ 12:14pm | ! Report

              The best the teams can do in the circumstances is that ensue hire contracts with venues should include financial penalties for providing substandard pitches.

              • February 19th 2018 @ 12:45pm
                R King said | February 19th 2018 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

                Yes that would be ideal, but if you were AEC and running Hindmarsh, would you include that in a contract knowing that Hindmarsh will be used for future events, which may or may not fall in the A League season. I know, in their place I wouldn’t and there is nothing the club can do about it because there are no alternatives.

                We’re screwed and the AEC know it.

      • Roar Guru

        February 18th 2018 @ 9:08pm
        Cousin Claudio said | February 18th 2018 @ 9:08pm | ! Report

        Is that what Australian sport is all about – power and money?

      • February 18th 2018 @ 9:14pm
        chris said | February 18th 2018 @ 9:14pm | ! Report

        Hey Scott how about we have a rock concert and play an exhibition all day soccer tournament the day before boxing day test on the MCG?
        Lots of money for the MCG…what do you think?

      • Roar Guru

        February 18th 2018 @ 9:20pm
        Cousin Claudio said | February 18th 2018 @ 9:20pm | ! Report

        There are plenty of unused rectangular stadiums in Australia at this time of the year, particularly unused rugby grounds, so why did Victorian Rules throw their fiIthy money at Hindmarsh Stadium before an Adelaide A-League game and then Allianz Stadium the night before the A-League Womens’ grand final?

        • February 18th 2018 @ 9:31pm
          chris said | February 18th 2018 @ 9:31pm | ! Report

          Thats why the AFL are so popular here in the northern states. They love to make friends

    • February 18th 2018 @ 11:25am
      Timmuh said | February 18th 2018 @ 11:25am | ! Report

      To my untrained eye Hindmarsh looked terrible on TV, but didn’t actually seem to play that bad. That said, there is no need for AFLX to play on the venue (there is no need for AFLX at all, but that’s for another tab) and risk chopping the turf for a sport that needs an even surface.

      Both sides did seem scared to play the ball in a possession based manner, and a lot of long ball play was terribly executed (and in the case of CCM often seemed without a plan). How much of that was down to actual pitch condition, how much perceived pitch condition, how much actual tactical choice, I’m not sure.

      Adelaide did look good at times though, and the game was close – with a comeback that should have made the home fans a bit less miserable than the unlucky send-off.

      • February 19th 2018 @ 10:04am
        R King said | February 19th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        Timmuh, we here in Adelaide are use to having a pitch in pristine condition, visually as well as an almost perfect surface to play football on. Take it from someone who was there, what was served up was just not acceptable. What is required is having football people in place who know the sport and can make decision in the best interest of the host tenants.

        Yes i was less miserable with the result after 96 minutes than I was at the 25 minute mark, the standard of officiating is not up to a standard we should all be demanding. It was clear from very early on that the Ref was having a bad day, for both sides, it was just that we copped it a tad more than the Mariners.

    • Roar Guru

      February 18th 2018 @ 2:47pm
      Cousin Claudio said | February 18th 2018 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

      Wait till you see AFL-Y or A-FLY as the marketing research department likes to call it.

      The game is so great and the play so good, the players don’t even touch the ground, or leave any cocaine stains in the dressing room.