David Davutovic and Tom Smithies discuss the FFA’s reform discussions with FIFA
THE multi-millionaires of Shanghai Shenhua — including former EPL stars Carlos Tevez and Obefemi Martins — might be sitting around in desolation after getting knocked out of the Asian Champions League by Brisbane Roar on Wednesday night.
But for what it’s worth, Shanghai have something that money can’t buy — class. The super-rich Chinese club, which pays Tevez $1m a week, flew the part-timers of NPL champions Sydney United to Shanghai last week to act as warm-up Aussie opposition — and really put on a good show.
The game ended in a 3-0 win for Shanghai, but the home side and its players made sure the United players were well looked after, including on a night out in Shanghai. At the end of the game there was a predictable rush to swap shirts with Tevez, a race won by captain Nick Stavroulakis, but a whole bunch of the United boys then got selfies with the Argentine.
Defender Yianni Fragogiannis was a touch miffed not to get the shirt of Martins, successfully acquired by striker Chris Payne, and spent the evening remonstrating with his NRL-loving teammate — well, apart from the long stretches when he was hanging out with Martins himself in the bar.
At the end of the night we hear Martins was also generous when it came to settling the bill. Well played all around.
GOLD FOR PIGNATA
ONE of the best parts of covering this game is seeing the wide-eyed excitement on innocent faces when they come face-to-face with their heroes. Which brings us neatly to the moment a few days ago when Sydney FC CEO Tony Pignata spotted the former lead singer of 80s New Romantics Spandau Ballet at Woolloomooloo Wharf, Tony Hadley, and immediately requested a selfie. No, it’s True, really.
An excited Pignata quickly posted the photo on his Facebook page, but we think such a Gold-en moment should have a wider audience. For the record, Pignata reports Hadley “couldn’t have been nicer”. Bless.
HOT LUNCH ON MENU
BUSINESS lunches aren’t known for their sense of tension, but we anticipate the air will be electric at the Melbourne Victory in Business event today. We hear Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro will have some explosive words about the state of the game in his speech, which should make interesting listening for those in the audience — including FFA CEO David Gallop. Also scheduled to be there is every single club owner or their representative, as a show of support for Di Pietro’s words.
BOSNICH SILENT, AT LAST
IT’S not often an ambulance gets called for a case of tonsillitis, but then Mark Bosnich doesn’t do things by halves. When the former Socceroo, TV pundit and Telegraph columnist was taken ill this week, he did a double take when paramedics arrived.
One was none other than Paul O’Grady, now at APIA Leichhardt but briefly a teammate of the goalkeeper at the Central Coast Mariners. “I’m just relieved,” O’Grady told Bosnich. “When control said the patient was struggling to breathe, I thought I might have to do mouth to mouth. On you …”
We put in a call to Bosnich to check on his wellbeing, and are delighted to report he’s on the mend (and profuse in his praise for the help the paramedics actually gave him), though a late call will be made on his availability for Matchday Saturday on Fox Sports.
RUDAN ON THE ATTACK
TALKING of Fox, if pundit Mark Rudan has a spring in his step, the reason lies in this weekend being declared the Defender’s Round by the broadcaster, promising to celebrate an unheralded aspect of the game.
MAN, OMAN, IT’S AUSSIE PIM
YOU may recall Pim Verbeek’s promise to sing the Australian national anthem if the Socceroos qualified for the World Cup under his leadership, a pledge he was duly and perhaps unwisely kept to. Now he has made a similar promise to unfurl the Omani national anthem should he repeat the qualification feat with his new team. Given Oman have never qualified for the World Cup, this one may well be a promise he doesn’t have to keep.