A-League team of the week, round two
WHILE the first week was dominated by the defenders, this week the pendulum swung back in favour of the attackers, particularly with five goals at both Newcastle and Melbourne, and Perth playing so impressively on Sunday. Not surprisingly, Melbourne and Perth dominate the team, with three and four players respectively, while New Zealand were unlucky not to have Richard Johnson and Gregory Duruz join Danny Milosevic and Malik Buari (pictured challenging with Travis Dodd, courtesy of www.knightsfc.com) in the team. With a number of wide men doing so well on the weekend, this week’s team of the round shapes up in a 3-4-3 formation.
Danny Milosevic, New Zealand Knights (keeper); not over-worked due to some good screening from Darren Beazley, Che Bunce, Neil Emblen and Gregory Duruz, but when he was called on, particularly late in the first half, he keep the Knights in the game, racing off his line to thwart Carl Veart. For a player that was said to be on the way out only a month or so ago, it has been a major turn-around, keeping Michael Turnbull on the bench. Two cleans sheets is testament to Paul Nevin’s faith.
Labinot Haliti, Newcastle Jets (right back); one of the features of Friday night’s clash was the constant overlapping of Haliti from an unfamiliar right back starting point. While his defending was found wanting on one occasion when Ante Milicic beat him to some scraps and volleyed against the crossbar, as an attacking force he was very impressive, helping the Jets pin back Queensland with his not-stop forward forays. And what’s more, he did it all with good feeling for the ball.
Ante Kovacevic, Perth Glory (central defender); along with Jamie Harnwell, did an excellent job of protecting Alex Vrteski and never allowed Adam Kwasnik or Stewart Petrie any real sniff at goal. Kovacevic was commanding and clean, coming out of the backline when the strikers dropped deep and winning everything.
Alvin Ceccoli, Sydney FC (left back); Swiss New Zealand Knights left back Gregory Duruz also did well, but Ceccoli continues to prove he is one of the best defenders in the country, at least from a defensive point of view. While his distribution is often lax, he remains one of the toughest players to get past or around, and again on Saturday night Melbourne had no change when they went down the right.
Malik Buari, New Zealand Knights (right midfield); while he plays down the left, Buari gets the gig on the right due to an over-supply of left sided players in this week’s team, not to mention the fact he’s ostensibly right-footed, as witnessed by his thunderbolt in the 88th minute. It wasn’t just the goal that gets him in the team. In two weeks the Ghanaian has proved he’ll be an asset to New Zealand, his ferocious appetite complementing left back Duruz. Here they doubled up and dominated Travis Dodd and Richie Alagich.
Kevin Muscat, Melbourne Victory (central midfield); another solid display from the Victory skipper gets him into the team of weeks for the second week running. His shielding work in front of the defence provided hope he can be a permanent solution to Melbourne’s central midfield problems of last season. Took his penalty well for the second week in a row, dominated Steve Corica in midfield and played a sublime ball to Danny Allsopp for the third.
Simon Colosimo, Perth Glory (central midfield); it was the Colosimo of old at Members Equity on Sunday, the Socceroo controlling the game with his simple link up play between defence and attack. On song, there are few better in Australia at this role, but too often last season he was bypassed as Steve McMahon looked to play through a target man, so Colosimo essentially became an expensive ball-winner, and an unhappy one at that. Ron Smith is said to want to play through Colosimo, and that is a good sign for Perth.
Stan Lazaridis, Perth Glory (left midfield); like Colosimo, it was Stan the Man back to his trademark marauding best, not just down the left, but through the middle. Responsible for setting up the controversial first goal, he got better and better, giving the Mariners constant headaches. If this is a sign of things to come, it is great news for both Perth and the A-League.
Leo Bertos, Perth Glory (right sided attacker); backed up an impressive debut last week with an even better display here, terrorising any Mariners defender that tried to keep tabs with him with a neat combination of quick feet, speed of mind and pace. Created Perth’s second with a blistering show of pace and perfect delivery to Stuart Young, definitely one to keep an eye on throughout the season.
Danny Allsopp, Melbourne Victory (central striker); much maligned in his time at Melbourne, coach Ernie Merrick continues to stick by him, claiming he is as much a creator as he is a finisher. On Saturday he repaid some of the faith with a strong showing against Sydney, winning the corner that lead to his opener, before rounding out Melbourne’s scoring with a well-weighted lob over Clint Bolton. With Archie Thompson struggling to regain his pre-PSV move form, Victory fans will be hoping Allsopp can keep delivering.
Alessandro, Melbourne Victory (left sided attacker); like Muscat, in the team of the week for the second consecutive week. Great to see Ernie Merrick giving him license to roam forward and protect him with a defender in Daniel Piorkowski. Toyed with Iain Fyfe in the opening half hour and was involved in most of Melbourne’s pivotal moments. Somewhat theatrical in his reponse to challenges from Clint Bolton and Mark Rudan, but for now it’s great to see a player of his ability on our shores.