Tony Faria; Believe the hype
Six rounds into the NSW premier league season and the only thing likely to get in the way of the Marconi Stallions bolting away with a minor premiership is the likely clamour from A-League clubs for its players, which could yet decimate the team before the finals kick-off in July.
On the evidence of their eye-catching performance against Sydney Olympic at Belmore last night, a 4-1 drubbing, there is little doubt that most of the interested A-League onlookers, which included the likes of the Central Coast Mariners’ manager Lawrie McKinna and NZ Knights brains trust of John Adshead and Eddie Krncevic, would be lining up for a chat with a number of Brian Brown’s men.
The Stallions are a team littered with NSL experience, but one in particular has been attracting all the headlines and is undoubtedly the hottest property in state league football at the moment. Left sided flyer Tony Faria, familiar to some from his days at Northern Spirit, lived up to the recent hype with another outstanding contribution, terrorising Olympic’s right side with his pace and finishing composure, setting up the first goal four minutes in with another of his incisive forays down the left, before bagging a double to take his tally for the season to 10.
So instrumental was Faria that the match was effectively over by the 15th minute mark, Marconi up 2-0 thanks to goals from he and John Buonavoglia. The first came when Faria’s pace took him deep into Olympic’s half, his cross met by impressive striker Bruce D’Jite, who teed it up for Buonavoglia, already well known for his contributions at NSL and A-League level.
Ten minutes later the speedy trio combined again to cause Olympic’s back three all sorts of headaches, Faria combining with D’Jite, a product of the AIS, before a lovely give and go with Buonavoglia inside the Olympic box. After a simple finish, out came the twinkle-toes dance on half-way line that has become his trademark and may yet become a feature of A-League season number two.
In truth, Olympic were playing a suicidal game of three on three at the back, with Damon Collina, Michael Cindric and Kosta Lagoudakis never a chance of keeping tabs with Marconi’s electric front line.
By the time Olympic manager Michael Urukalo reshuffled his pack by introducing right back Dominic Arcella and swapping defender Lagoudakis with midfielder Peter McPherson around at the break, the damage had been done, Faria helping himself to a second just before the break when he was left unmarked on the edge of the box. He turned, sat Olympic’s keeper Cem Akilli on the ground, and finished neatly.
What has been so impressive about Faria this season has not only been his electric pace, but the composure of his finishing. While Olympic’s defending made it look easier than it should have been, Faria’s mobility would create headaches for most A-League defences.
Thin, but tall and athletic, Faria is almost a local version of Thierry Henry in appearance, prancing around the paddock with the same confident swagger as the famous Frenchman. How Faria handles the physical stuff that is sure to come with the increased attention will decide how far he goes in the game.
His best bet is to stick to the things that have got him this far, a combination of pace, good technique and awareness.
While most of his work is on the left, both his goals came from central runs, showing he can pop up in any area and hurt teams. Essentially, he appears to have been given a license to roam by Brown, with Marconi’s formation altering between a 4-3-3 when Faria decides to spring forward and a conventional 4-4-2 when he tucks into the traditional left midfield role.
Faria hasn’t been asked to do too much defending, freeing him to get forward and influence the attack. The screening last night was done by a solid midfield trio of Simon Catanzaro, Vuko Tomasevic and neat youngster Adam D’Apuzzo, who combined to out-power the diminutive likes of Zenon Caravella and Anthony Doumanis in the Olympic midfield.
Catanzaro, a former teammate of Faria at Northern Spirit, has bulked up considerably since his NSL days, giving Marconi a physical presence in midfield.
At the back, Brown has assembled one of the most experienced rearguards around, with former Spirit trio of Matthew Langdon, Luke Casserly and Michael Cunico joined by right back Paul Cotte, with former Sydney United and Parramatta Power custodian Andrew Crews between the sticks.
And then to have the option of bringing on the likes of Naoki Imaya and Dion Valle, both with top flight experience in Australia, it is little wonder the Stallions have a maximum return from their six games.
The on-field tests will no doubt come, with Bankstown City, Sydney United, Blacktown City and Manly United all sure to provide some stern opposition in the coming weeks, but off the field the biggest headache for Brown is how much the watching A-League clubs will cut a swathe through his squad ahead of the finals.