Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A-League team of the week, round 20

THE penultimate round promised much and delivered plenty, all four games offering intrigue right till the death, the Mariners feeling they had a late winner, the Roar and Adelaide getting theirs, while the Jets rescued a game that looked gone. It was the final game for last season's John Warren, Bobby Despotovski, but unfortunately his 49 minutes wasn't enough to sneak him into the team of the week. While the finish was thrilling in Perth, the heat took a bit out of the spectacle. Queensland's performance in Melbourne was arguably the best of the lot and they are rewarded with a strong contingent this week. Tando Velpahi continued the amazing run of debut performances from keepers in version 2 of the A-League which dates all the way back to Aleks Vrteski's effort in round one and was followed by Mark Paston (rd 11), Tommi Tomich (12) and Ivan Necevski (14). Little wonder then he was the first player picked in this week's 3-5-2;

Tando Velaphi, QR, keeper; like Necevski and Tomich before him, was clearly fired up making his debut in front of a massive Telstra Dome crowd. Right from the off he made two spectacular flying stops to deny Caceres, one to his left, one to his right. The other thing that impressed was his willingness to bark instructions at players he's barely spent five minutes with, so important in such a noisy atmosphere. The work of Daniel Beltrame in one on one situations since coming in for Bajic should also be commended, while Paston did well against the Mariners despite Kwasnik's best efforts not to make him work.

Ben Griffin, QR, right sided defender; after what for me has been a disappointing season, Richie Alagich had a decent defensive game, but Griffin was a constant threat for the Roar, getting forward in support of Vidosic and utilising the space left by Caceres' want to drift infield. Provided the telling cross which might just sneak the Roar into the four.

Sasa Ognenovski, QR, central defender; this was the Roar's best defensive display in a very long time and it's no coincidence the big Melburnian was back, ensuring the back four remained compact. Keeping Allsopp out of the action, his efforts cast the mind back to round 7 and Miron Beliberg's perculiar decison to play him in central midfield.

Michael Valkanis, AU, left sided defender; while he played central alongside Costanzo, gets the birth on the left side of a back three. After his outstanding inaugural A-League season, version 2 hasn't been so kind, but here he was solid, scrambling ever so well against a Sydney attack that asked the odd question.

Dario Vidosic, QR, right midfield; right from kick-off this kid was taking the ball with his neat first touch, driving forward and asking questions of the Victory left side. But as he has done so well in the past couple of months, when he drifts infield and gets on the ball he creates things, and even pops up in the box for the odd goal. Massive future, fingers crossed.

Hyuk-Su Seo, QR, defensive central midfield; providing the screen, he rarely allowed the likes of Sarkies and Fred any room to create in midfield. Excellent workrate and good use of the body in a couple physical battles for the ball with Muscat. Certainly frustrated the Victory skipper.

Richard Johnson, NZK, defensive central midfield; while Mile Jedinak was doing his best to head the Mariners into the semis, Johnson, a Novacastrian, was doing his best to deny them. After an injury-interupted season, he is clearly relishing his time under Herbert and worked himself silly, eventually getting on top of Gumprecht. Involved in the decisive moment, never giving up on what looked a certain goal.

Simon Colosimo, PG, central midfield; after a good start by Tim Brown and Nick Carle, Colosimo got on top in the second half of the first half, picking up his team and driving them forward. After taking a ball beautifully onto his left foot and hitting it just wide, he took the responsibilty at the penalty, gesturing it was in honour of the man on the bench, the Glory number 10.

Matt McKay, QR, left midfield; while he played centrally, versatility gets him out wide here. Freshly signed for a further few years, he was a constant menace for Muscat, driving forward with the regularity of the McKay of the earlier part of the year. Relentless. Petta also had a decent return to the starting 11 for Adelaide and should have done enough to stay in ahead of a mis-firing Travis Dodd.

Joel Griffiths, NJ, striker; when the heat was on and the Jets needed someone, anyone, to step up and poach a couple, Griffiths was the man with the energy to get into the box. It was just reward for a tireless season full of frustration. Asking questions of so many opposition defences, Griffiths has rarely been rewarded, but always kept his head up and come back for more.

Jamie Harnwell, PG, striker; back up front the past couple of weeks, the Glory skipper was a monster in the this game, proving a physical nuisance to the Jets rearguard once again. The fact the Jets defended so deep played into Harnwell's hands, giving him an opportunity to provide a target on the edge of the box.


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