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WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS VS NEWCASTLE JETS KICKOFF: SATURDAY 7.45PM @ HUNTER STADIUM | TV: FOX SPORTS LIVE 7.45PM | RADIO: ABC LIVE 7.45PM
ANTE COVIC WARMS UP PHOTO: MELINDA JANE
PREVIEW BY ELISHA PEARCE
Pre-Christmas win needed A
SHORT TRIP AWAY to play the Newcastle Jets may be the tonic needed for the Wanderers to repair a ﬂaw and ﬁnd the balance needed to be a title contender. After nine rounds of A-League completed the Wanderers ﬁnd themselves at the head of a tight group chasing Brisbane Roar’s lead in ﬁrst. Upon ﬁrst glance it appears the Wanderers are sitting pretty in second place, after all they’ve been at or near the top for a number
scoring your own goals, not just preventing the opposition from doing so, to win more games. After nine games the Wanderers have found the back of the net just 10 times. Newcastle Jets, Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory, Perth Glory and Adelaide United have all bettered or equalled that total – something that needs to be addressed if the Wanderers hope to stay above those teams. So where is the problem? Much focus has been on the time Shinji
Tomi Juric. In the ﬁrst ﬁve rounds of the competition he scored three goals and was a 90-minute threat that drew defensive attention. He scored by foot and off his head. In recent seasons great progress has been made across the league in many areas – off the ball movement and ﬁrst touch control especially – but one area that could still do with improvement is forwards with quality ﬁnishing. Having a real front man who’s an everyweek threat isn’t a common asset in the
Melbourne Heart and hoped it would be a sign the attacking mid-ﬁelder could regularly add that skill to his other duties. Popovic addressed the issue very directly, “Hopefully now we can see [Mooy] really kick on and get more goals. With his ability he really should be getting more goals.” Obviously Popovic is aware of his team’s Achilles heel at this stage of the season and is looking for contributions around the park, starting with the talented Mooy. Round 10 presents a good opportunity for
The Jets pulled off a major surprise last weekend, beating Melbourne Victory 2-1 at AAMI Park thanks to a second half goal that broke a 1-1 deadlock of weeks now. But the reality is, like the rest of the teams around them, the Wanderers are displaying ﬂaws that need to be addressed if they want to topple the Roar. Wanderers have a defensive record that matches their lofty status on the A-League table. Their seven goals conceded only trails Brisbane Roar for the best result in that category. However even the most rudimentary tactical explanation of football includes
Ono has spent on the injury list this year, and that has certainly been a factor in the Wanderers’ attacking struggles. The extra time he seems to have on the ball and the weight of his passes unlocks defences almost as well as any single mid-ﬁelder in the A-League. Apart from the marquee man missing time the biggest problem is the striker position. They just haven’t scored enough goals there. A big reason for that is the injury to
A-League and the simple fact is you’ll probably only have one in the squad. So when he’s injured the goals dry up. The Wanderers extended Labinot Haliti’s contract during the week but this year he deﬁnitely hasn’t shown the nose for the goal that Juric has. The Wanderers need Juric back. Where else can the goals come from? During the week coach Tony Popovic talked up Aaron Mooy’s goal against
the Wanderers to work on the goal-scoring aspect of their game. The Jets wait up the F3 and are a team with a penchant for defensive lapses, positional mistakes and a habit of falling asleep for periods of the match. That isn’t to say the Jets don’t present a threat, they are coming third on the ladder and are a hardworking team, but there are moments they become shaky. This week could be a conﬁdence builder. WANDERWORLD | 3
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F E AT U R E S T O R Y
LABINOT HALITI PHOTO: MELINDA JANE
STORY BY NATHAN TAYLOR
Two more years for Labinot WANDERERS COACH TONY POPOVIC SAYS HE’S THRILLED WITH THE NEWS THAT STRIKER LABINOT HALITI HAS RE-SIGNED WITH THE CLUB FOR A FURTHER TWO SEASONS...
EWLY RE-SIGNED WANDERERS STRIKER Labinot Haliti said there was no other choice but to stay with his hometown club for a further two seasons. Earlier this week, the Yugoslavia-born star signed a new deal to remain with Western Sydney until the end of the 2015-16 season. “I’m very grateful, we’re building something special here and I want to be a part of it,” the 29-year-old said.
“I’ve grown up here and the club’s given me everything, so there’s nowhere else I wanted to be. I’m just looking forward to being part of such a great team and building something special.” Since linking with the Wanderers from the Newcastle Jets in their debut season, Haliti has played 27 games and kicked ﬁve goals for the Red and Black. Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said the
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re-signing of Haliti was a pivotal move for the 2012/13 Premiers. “Labinot was one of the ﬁrst players signed at the club and he epitomises everything this club is about,” he said. “He loves the area, he lives in the area and he puts his heart and soul into this football club and you see that every day he trains and every game he plays.” Along with Brendon Santalab, Haliti becomes the second re-signing from the Wanderers’ long list of off-contract players for next year. With Haliti now locked away, attention will now turn to the re-signings of their marquee
men Shinji Ono and Youssouf Hersi, who both have received strong interest from rival clubs both in the A-League and overseas. “They’re great players but players are always linked to other clubs, that’s the norm,” Popovic said. “I think it’s not just our football club but every other A-League club will have those discussions. We’re comfortable where we are at with both players at this present stage.” Haliti said he was hopeful his fellow teammates would remain with the Wanderers next season. “I get along with them very well and hopefully they do stay,” he said.
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P R O U D LY B R O U G H T T O Y O U B Y Y O U R L O C A L M C D O N A L D ’ S S T O R E S
World Cup draw is a nightmare ADAM Peacock is a respected sports journalist who is currently part of the Fox Sports team covering the 2013/14 A-League season
NE WEEK ON FROM the World Cup draw and yep, it is still not as we hoped. At best, a ridiculously big challenge; at worst, a stinker. Spain, the all-conquering Spanish. Winner of two Euro’s and a World Cup with this crop. They’ve lost two games in 2013, the majority of which have been played in second gear. The Netherlands, won 9, drawn 1 in their World Cup qualifying campaign with a goal difference of +29. And Chile, who like Spain have lost just two games in 2013, pumped Iraq 6-0 in a friendly just two months after we battled to beat them 1-0 to get to Brazil. Gulp.
There have been claims varying between “we won’t get a point” to “this is a wonderful opportunity”. Some have even suggested this is a fantastic draw for the development of the game in Australia. Sorry, but as mentioned elsewhere, a World Cup is a bit like a school formal – you don’t go there looking for a wife, for long term prospects… you want to perform on the night, get results there and then. Sure, you might ﬁnd a someone who might be your long-term partner, but that would be a by-product of things going well at the big dance. And so it is with our footballers at the World Cup.
They could well learn great lessons but how many lessons do you feel like you learn at the time if you get pumped 5-0 on the world stage? Now the good bit – we have a bloke in charge who will do everything possible to ensure the Socceroos do what Australians love – as the undisputed underdog of the world, surprise people. Ange Postecoglou will get everything possible out of the group of players he has, and the draw only strengthens his mandate (if that was possible) to make whatever call necessary personnel-wise. After all, the Socceroos’ best results in the past decade have been when expectation had vanished from the room.
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HE SUN WAS OUT and so were the fans at last Saturdayâ€™s clash between the Wanderers and Heart. The match ďŹ nished in a 1-all draw, with plenty of thrills and spills. Photographer Melinda Jane captured the action...
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A-LEAGUE LADDER POS
Western Sydney Wanderers
Central Coast Mariners
LEGEND W Wins A Points Against
D Draws GD Goal Difference
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F Points For
MATCHES Wanderers vs Central Coast
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Nathan Taylor, Elisha Pearce, Adam Peacock, Melinda Jane, Justin Todd
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LAST WEEK’S ACTION
WSW losing pace MELBOURNE HEART 1 WANDERERS 1
LABINOT HALITI IN ACTION PHOTO: MELINDA JANE
REVIEW BY JUSTIN TODD
OR THE FIRST TIME since claiming their ﬁrst ever A-League win, the Western Sydney Wanderers have failed to win in three consecutive attempts and are in serious danger of losing ground on this season’s new pacesetters Brisbane Roar. After a strong start to the season the Wanderers were sitting pretty at the summit of the A-League, though recent results have meant the Wanderers are in some sort of a drought and were looking to bounce back against a winless Melbourne Heart last week. The Wanderers needed to show immediate intent if they were to keep up with Brisbane, and they started brightly with the exceptional Nikolai Topor-Stanley forcing a spectacular save from Heart keeper Andrew Redmayne off an Aaron Mooy freekick. The Wanderers continued to pressure the Heart defence and were extremely unlucky to not open the scoring when an Iacopo La Rocca header was cleared off the line by Aziz Behich, who then denied Jerome Polenz on the follow up.
The Wanderers were left to rue their missed chances when against the run of play David Williams whipped in a cross from the left that somehow evaded everyone and ended up in the back of the net. The Wanderers needed an immediate response and they got one through midﬁelder Aaron Mooy who drilled a shot from outside the box into the corner of the net, much to the delight of the 14,549 strong crowd inside the ground. The playmaker threatened on a few previous occasions, and Heart coach John Aloisi must have been furious that his defence allowed Mooy so much room to strike the equaliser. The Heart, much to the surprise of everybody in the ground, came out the better of the two teams after the break and should have re-taken the lead through striker Michael Mifsud. The pint-sized forward failed to deliver however, and his poor composure set the tone for the second half. The introductions of Shinji Ono and Harry Kewell added much needed spark to the match, though not even two of the most talented players in the league could make much of an impact on the match.
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W A N D E R B I T S W I T H W A L LY T H E W A N D E R E R
Out and about in Wanderland WALLY the Wanderer has all the gossip on the Western Sydney Wanderers
HE WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS National Youth League side are continuing their rise up the ladder with a crushing 3-0 defeat of Central Coast last Sunday. Goals to Joshua Sotirio (31’), Jake McGing (75’) and Alusine Fofanah (92’) were enough to see the red and black defeat the Mariners. The eighth-placed Wanderers will take on the top of the table Sydney FC on Saturday. After their game against Sydney FC was postponed due to the Sky Blues international commitments in Japan, the Wanderers will ﬁnally return to the pitch in the W-League this Saturday. The Wanderers will play Perth Glory from 2pm at Marconi Stadium. The Wanderers spiced up their partnership category last weekend with new ﬁnancial services sponsor, Pepper Group, signing on for the next three seasons. Coming on board with the Wanderers in their second year, Pepper Australia take a prominent role on the Wanderers’ playing kit with the Pepper logo resting on the right sleeve of the Hyundai A-League jersey. One of Australia’s leading non-bank lenders, Pepper offers a range of consumer ﬁnance products and services and ﬁt perfectly with the Wanderers’ growing list of blue ribbon corporate partners. The Socceroos have been dealt the draw from hell at next year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Our boys will play reigning World Cup champions Spain, 2010 runners up
The Netherlands, and South American powerhouse Chile. Their game against Chile will be ﬁrst up on June 13 followed by the Dutch on June 18 and Spain on June 23. “This is the World Cup. It’s the best football nations on the planet and we will embrace the challenge that lies ahead of us,” Socceroos coach, Ange Postecoglou said. Telstra and the FFA have announced a new partnership which will see Telstra customers enjoy ticket upgrades at no extra cost and access to pre-sale tickets to selected Hyundai A-League matches. Telstra Chief Marketing Officer Mark Buckman said he was excited about the partnership with FFA and pleased to be able to offer ticket upgrades at no extra cost for selected Hyundai A-League matches for Telstra customers initially with further offers available down the track. “Telstra will be offering customers ticket upgrades in every round of the Hyundai A-League home and away series at no additional cost from now until April next year,” he said. This week’s Wanderers super fan is Andrew Burnett! Andrew is such a dedicated fan that he takes his ‘Wander Pride’ all around the world with him. Here’s a few of his photos showing off his pride in the Wanderers. If you would like to be pictured in my column, simply send a pic of yourself in your Wanderers gear to news@ westernweekender.com.au. Only the best will be selected!
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KEEPING UP WITH COVIC
Conﬁdence still high GOAL keeper ANTE Covic gives us a player’s perspective on the Western Sydney Wanderers with an exclusive column every single week
ESPITE US NOT WINNING our past three games, conﬁdence in the camp is still high. Obviously we’ve had three results we don’t want, we want to be winning. Conﬁdence isn’t down but we want to get back on track. We know we can still improve and we’re still playing in patches at the moment. We hope to get back to the mentality of winning games from this weekend. The result against Melbourne Heart was disappointing even though we dominated in every aspect. That ﬁnal nail in the coffin just wouldn’t go in on the weekend and we probably missed a good opportunity to walk away with the three points. Our lack of goal scoring is always a talking point at training when you’re not winning games. We’ve only scored two goals in three games but we’re creating chances but not
clear cut chances and really ﬁnishing them off. We are thereabouts but we want to be more clinical. It’s all a work in progress and we’ve been working on that hard this week at training. We head up to Newcastle this Saturday to take on the Jets who have come good their last few games. Newcastle have been working really hard of late and have been playing some decent football. They won a good game against the Victory last weekend in Melbourne and will probably be running on a high, sitting just one point behind us. They’re going to be full of conﬁdence come the weekend. Newcastle have a lot of young boys in their team who are on all day and work hard. Someone like Nathan Burns, who has been in great form all season, ﬁnally put a couple of goals in the net.
They’ve got players that are dangerous in that role and we have to be switched on and step it up another gear. Finally, it was great to see my teammate Labinot Haliti put pen to paper on a new two-year deal this week. Labinot offers so much to the team whether he’s coming off the bench or starting. He’s a tricky player when he gets up front and more often than not he seems to be in positions where he’s giving himself chances to score goals. It’s always good to keep players like Labinot at the club. To the Wanderers fans that travel up to Newcastle this Saturday, drive safe and sing loud and proud! Would you like Ante Covic to answer your question? Simply send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org with Ask Ante in the subject line.
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