The Moot Point

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Joe Russo

What’s the matter with the Joeys?

The Joeys are out of the FIFA U-17 World Cup after they were defeated 4-0 by Uzbekistan in the Round of 16.

Uzbekistan? What happened to the days of yesteryear when a Les Scheinflug coached team in 1999 made the final in New Zealand only to lose to Brazil in a penalty shootout?

I am not trying to undermine a win by Uzbekistan who thoroughly outplayed our Joeys, but we do need to ask ourselves some questions.

From the official FFA media release we had the following: “Starting the match without Yianni Perkatis (suspension) and Jesse Makarounas (injury)…” I would interpret that to be excuse number one.

But let’s keep going. “The Qantas Joeys were also forced to play the match with only a one day rest after their last Group F match had to be replayed.” That brings us excuse number two.

When all else fails, let’s blame the referee – the poor human being in the middle who is simply trying to do his best.

In the early stages of the second half, the Qantas Joeys had a penalty claim waved away by referee Victor Carillo after Corey Brown was tackled inside the box.”

Excuse number three and in poor taste, I might add, for an official media release to target the referee.

Things got worse for the Qantas Joeys when their key striker Dylan Tombides was shown a straight red card after he was deemed to have his studs showing in a tackle. The sending off opened up and exposed the Qantas Joeys defence leading to the third and fourth goals for Uzbekistan.”

So, the sending off of a striker opened up the defence leading to extra goals? That’s number four.

Later in the release the coach, Jan Versleijen, coach of the Joeys, to his credit outlines the reasons for the loss.

This should have been the open paragraphs of the release because honesty and transparency is what is required in a serious analysis or review.

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I think the first factor you have to look at of course is your opponent because they (Uzbekistan) were well organised, they defended very well as a unit and they were very sharp on the counter attack,” Versleijin said.

The temperature and the lack of recovery time from the Denmark game to this game – this was also part of the result but I don’t want to use these reasons as an excuse.”

In short, our Joeys deserve praise and credit for making the next round but against this opponent – also from the Asian Confederation – they were well short.

The most successful coach at youth level for Australia in the last here decades has been Les Scheinflug.

It would be worthwhile for the FFA to get his thoughts on the current state of the game at this level.

It’s not going back to ‘old soccer’; it’s actually a way forward to a new understanding of what could be done to win a tournament instead of just being worthy and gallant participants.

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A great digital initiative

On the positive side of the ledger, the announcement by the FFA and Optus about a new digital partnership is fantastic news.

In schools today, they constantly talk about the digital revolution and that the only way to really make education current is to embrace the technology.

If the partnership changes the way football fans interact with the game and their teams, and brings new fans to the game, then full marks for trying.

Optus will create, operate, manage, market and commercialise FFA’s websites, mobile websites and mobile phone applications.

The new digital channels will connect fans to the Socceroos, A-League clubs, the Matildas and the rest of the international and domestic teams and competitions conducted by FFA.

Fan forums and other engaging and interactive features for fans are also set to be a part of this digital revolution.

It is extremely important for people at the top to be able to hear what the average fan thinks and feels about the game.

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Some of the proposals of the Optus/FFA Official Digital Partnership will include:

– redesigned websites for all National Teams and National Competitions

– website functionality for mobile phones

– mobile applications

– unique and exclusive behind-the-scenes content

– in-depth statistical analysis and interactive features for fans.

In the ever increasing competitive world of the Australian sporting landscape it is important for football to be taking the initiative rather than being reactive.

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