Who Is Walter Pless?

Walter_Pless

A teacher by profession, but is now in his 38th year as a football writer. Has written for "Soccer Action" (Melbourne), "Australian Soccer Weekly" (Sydney) and "World Soccer" (London), as well as for several Tasmanian newspapers. Currently contributing to "Goal!Weekly" in Melbourne and the Australian magazine "Soccer International". Played for Croatia-Glenorchy, Caledonians, Metro, Rapid and University in Tasmania, as well as in the United States of America. Coached University, Metro and Croatia-Glenorchy.

Who's Online

We have 58 guests and no members online

Tasmania’s boys’ under-14 team won its opening match at the national championships in Coffs Harbour today, beating Victoria Country 1-0 through a free-kick by Paul Stevens.

“We were very competitive,” said Tasmania’s coach, Dale Itchins.

“All the country teams are very polished, as are the metropolitan teams.

“We were very good and we made minimal substitutions.

“You’re only allowed three substitutes in 50 minutes. A fourth player misses out and you can substitute your keeper if you want to.

“We made three subs, but over a very staggered time. It’s not interchange so you’re not on and off wasting time.

“In the first 20 minutes, we probably could have been two or three in front as we had some great opportunities.

“We probably lost a bit in the last 7 or 8 minutes. We dropped a bit deeper in that time and we invited them to run at us a little bit, but then we wanted to get our wide guys back out wide rather than in.

“The 4-3-3 system demands that your two wide guys stay wide - start wide and come in, but don’t start inside and go out, and that got a bit shallow.

“The heat was a factor for us, and it was 0-0 at half-time. We didn’t make any changes at half-time, but made a couple later and the changes refreshed us a little bit.

“We got a free-kick probably about 22 yards out and it was a great strike, a great finish.

“They hit the crossbar, so it could have been 2-2 or 3-3 if everyone had taken their opportunities, but we were pleased to get a result.

“We’re not here for the result really at all. But, that’s what people judge you on, unfortunately.

“It’s tough tomorrow. We have two games tomorrow, with an 8.30am kick-off and a 1.15pm against Queensland Country and Capital Football. So, it’ll be two tough games tomorrow.

“They’re all good polished sides. Queensland got beaten 2-0 by Capital Football today.

“But, we’ve got to make changes tomorrow, mainly because you’ve got to play every player a minimum time of 125 minutes out of 250, so you’ve got to rotate people to get time up.

“We’ll change keepers and we might make three or four other changes tomorrow but that disrupts things, but you’ve got to do it. You can’t pick the same eleven.

“But, you’ve got to do it. They’ll come down in the third or fourth game and they’ll challenge you and they’ll deduct points if you don’t get their time up. That disrupts the flow because you can’t pick the same eleven.

“It doesn’t affect us a great deal because we haven’t got a best eleven. We’ve got a good 14 or 15 before we start to get affected.”

The Tasmanian Under-15s lost 1-0 to Queensland Country and 2-1 to Northern Territory.

“It’s been a hard day at the office today,” said Tasmania’s Under-15 team coach, Gary Slicer.

“The boys started off the tournament against Queensland Country this morning in extremely hot conditions and they went really well. They were extremely unlucky and, unfortunately, went down 1-0.

“They backed up this afternoon with a 4.30 kick-off against Northern Territory and we went ahead 1-0 at half-time, but in the second half they got two quick goals and that was the end of that.

“It was a tough game for them. Chris McDonald scored for us in the first half, when we had all the possession and were all over them.

“In the second half we lost a bit of shape and concentration in what were very difficult conditions. It’s been 14 degrees in Hobart for the last few weeks and it was 27 degrees here today.”

The Under-15s play New South Wales Country tomorrow.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve watched the Primera Liga from Spain, I’ve tended to concentrate on Real Madrid and Barcelona.

My focus has, however, recently switched to newly promoted Hercules.

Hercules hail from Alicante and their beautiful 30,000-capacity Joso Rico Perez stadium is a top-notch venue.

And, since being promoted to the top flight at the end of last season after 13 years in the second tier, they have been playing some tactically astute, technically sound and easy-on-the-eye football.

A couple of weeks ago, they taught Barcelona a lesson by beating them 2-0 away in the latter’s Nou Camp fortress. It wasn’t down to luck. It was a fully deserved victory. In fact, it was only brilliant goalkeeping by Victor Valdes that prevented Hercules from winning by 5 or 6 nil.

They were certainly on the back foot for long spells as Barcelona engaged in their passing rituals. But, the passing by the hosts was ineffective.

Hercules mounted brilliant counter-attacks, characterised by great technique and skill rather than hit-or-miss long balls and a reliance on luck. They scored two first-class goals and the Nou Camp was silenced. The Hercules coach, Esteban Vigo, a former Barcelona player, had outwitted his highly successful counterpart, Josep Guardiola, also a former player with Barcelona.

It was the third time in a row that Hercules had downed the Calatan giants. The previous time was in 1997, when Hercules was last in the Primera Liga, and they won 3-0 in the Nou Camp.

‘Bring on Real Madrid,’ is what I am thinking.

Hercules beat another leading club, Sevilla, 2-0 this morning [Australian Eastern Standard Time] to move into 8th spot on the ladder, while Sevilla dropped to 7th place.

It was another accomplished and effective performance from a side that everyone was thinking would surely suffer the same fate as many newly promoted clubs in Europe these days - relegation after just one season in the top flight.

Their goalkeeper, Juan Calatayud, 30, was again in outstanding form, denying Sevilla’s Lautaro Acosta in the 5th minute and Romaric, from a free-kick, in the 48th minute.

Romaric came close with another free-kick in the 56th minute which had Calatayud beaten but which hit the base of the right-hand post and went out of play.

Poor finishing also made things tough for Sevilla in this away match. Alvaro Negredo missed from inside the box in the 66th minute after Luis Fabiano had played the ball back into his path, while Romaric fired wide with a snap-shot in the 78th minute.

But, the Herculean task of beating the much-vaunted visitors was made easier by the talent at coach Vigo’s disposal.

Apart from the goalkeeper, on the left they had the dynamic and hugely skilled Dutchman, Royston Drenthe. Ignored at Real Madrid after being bought from Feyenoord in 2007 and subsequently sent out on loan to Hercules, he was a star of The Netherlands Under-20 World Cup side. He has had a massive impact on this Hercules team and is adored by the fans. Throughout this game, hundreds of youngsters, arms outstretched, bowed in homage to the Dutchman every time he came near to the touchline where they were congregated.

He teased and tormented his markers and created the second goal with a supreme piece of skill and improvisation that made Ronaldo’s tricks look ordinary. Instead of step-overs a la Ronaldo, he rolls the ball this way and that with the sole of his boot before unbalancing his opponent and sprinting away from a standing start.

And then there is David Trezuguet, the Frenchman signed this season from Juventus. He scored both goals in this match and should have had a hat-trick.

Hercules took the lead in the 21st minute through a penalty, awarded for Didier Zakora’s foul on Tiago Gomes. Trezuguet dispatched the spot-kick with ease to goalkeeper Andres Palop’s left.

In the 38th minute, it was 2-0 from a beautifully crafted and well-executed goal. The ball was played wide to the left from midfield and the stoutly-built Drenthe did his work. He beat his marker through trickery and acceleration and crossed the ball from the byline to the far right-hand side of the box, where Kiko Femenia’s shot at goal was turned in by Trezuguet.

Twelve minutes after the interval, Drenthe almost got onto the score-sheet when his dangerous free-kick was almost deflected into the net.

In the 62nd minute, Kiko and David Cortes combined on the right to set up Trezuguet for his hat-trick, but the Frenchman side-footed the ball over the bar.

Sevilla made several substitutions in an attempt to retrieve the situation, but there was just no way back against a disciplined side well-marshalled at the back by, amongst others, central defender Abraham Paz.

As I said earlier in this article, bring on Real Madrid.





Photos (top to Bottom): Pen pictures of the Tasmania side that faced Sunderland in 1976; Biographical details of the Tasmanian players from the match programme; Details about the match officials contained in the programme; The photo of the Tasmanian squad in the match programme [Match programme courtesy of the Ralph Dymond Collection]

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote an article on this blog about the visit to Tasmania of English club Sunderland.

The article included photos of the game between Sunderland and Tasmania at KGV Park on Sunday, 23 May, 1976. Sunderland won 5-0.

I was recently handed a match programme for that game. In fact, my own match programme was the ‘lucky programme’ [the word ‘Tasmania’ had the ‘T’ missing] and I won a soccer ball autographed by both teams.

Above are pages from that programme, giving pen pictures of the Tasmanian team and also a team photo.

It was a great day for Tasmanian soccer and 2,000 or so people turned up to watch our local boys play the FA Cup winners of 1973.

Whenever Tasmania plays - a rare event these days - I believe former Tasmanian representatives and officials should receive official invitations to attend the game as guests of Football Federation Tasmania.

This would be an appropriate gesture to honour those who have represented the State.

I know that five of the Tasmanian team that played Sunderland are still about in Hobart or the Hobart area - Hans Streit, Paul Shegog, John Genovesi, Domenic Frarracio and Eamonn Kelly - and some of these still attend local games.

There are probably a few others from the north who are still about and who could be invited.

Such former players could even be presented to the crowd before the match.

The two linesmen from the Sunderland game are also still about and should be invited to Tasmania games.

One of these, Jack Johnston, was invited to this year's Tasmania versus Central Coast Mariners game, I believe, and did attend. I understand Basil Masters, the other linesman, is suffering ill health and might not have been able to attend, but I wonder if he was invited.

The Tasmanian team doctor, Dr Russell Gibbs, was an expert in sports medicine at the time. I recall purchasing one of his books on the subject and attending his talks on sports medicine.

Dr Gibbs still practises medicine at a surgery in North Hobart and I'm sure he would have been pleasantly surprised if he had received an invitation to Tasmania's most recent game.

A little more recognition of those who have served this game well in the past cannot go astray.

Two gallant saves by goalkeeper Glen Moss helped Gold Coast United to a 2-2 draw away to Sydney United before a crowd of 9,977 at the Sydney Football Stadium this afternoon.

In the 10th minute, the brave Moss came off his line to deny the on-rushing Alex Brosque on the edge of the box, who toed the ball towards goal with an outstretched leg, while in the 91st minute, he produced a brilliant save from Stephan Keller from 11 metres, the ball hitting him in the face before he grasped it to his body.

Poor finishing by Sydney also cost them dearly, while in the last 20 minutes they faced only 10 opponents following the dismissal of Gold Coast’s John Curtis but were unable to make their numerical advantage count.

Sydney took the lead through Brazilian Bruno Cazarine in the 20th minute. A corner from the right by Sung-Hwan Byun was flicked towards the far side of the box by defender Robson, where Cazarine headed at goal. The ball crossed the line at the left-hand post before being knocked across and behind the goal-line by Adama Traore and cleared by Jason Culina’s back-heeler at the right-hand post. It was clearly a goal and there was no dispute about whether the ball had crossed the line.

In the 23rd minute, Dino Dulbic headed wide for Gold Coast after Culina’s left-wing cross.

A minute later, Keller saved the day for Sydney with a fine tackle on Andrew Barasic after Culina’s excellent pass had released Bruce Djite down the right. Djite managed to pass inside to Barasic, but he was unable to get in a shot because of Keller’s intervention.

Djite equalised a minute into stoppage time at the end of the first half with his first goal of the season. Culina floated a corner from the right to the far side of the box, where Michael Thwaite headed it back across goal for Djite to score with a diving header.

Nine minutes into the second half, Stuart Musialik bent a shot wide of the Gold Coast goal after being set up by Cazarine.

In the 66th minute, Sydney were hard done by when Brosque had the ball in the net, but referee Ben Williams had already blown for a free-kick after a foul on Cazarine. It could be argued that Williams should have played the advantage.

Curtis replaced Robson in the 67th minute but touched the ball only once before being sent off within a minute of coming on after he thrust a forearm into the face of Sydney’s Hirofumi Moriyasu.

Sydney were unable to take advantage of their numerical superiority, although they did create some good chances.

In the 81st minute, Brosque sent a left-footed shot against the base of the right-hand post but, when the ball rebounded to Cazarine, he was correctly ruled off-side.

In the 90th minute, substitute Brendan Gan headed an easy chance over the bar following Musialik’s deep cross from the right, while a minute later, Moss pulled off that heroic save against Keller.

Although the indication was that there would be 3 minutes of stoppage time, Mr Williams allowed play to continue for almost 5 minutes, but it was of little help to Sydney, the reigning champions, who are still without a win this season after 7 games and are in last place.

Gold Coast United remain 7th on the ladder after four games in 10 days, resulting in two wins and two draws.

Sydney meet North Queensland Fury at the Sydney Football Stadium next Wednesday.

Brosque, who has been out through injury since round 2, was quite pleased with his personal come-back performance, although he did concede he missed some good chances, as did the team, and he said Sydney's inability to take advantage of the extra man for the last 20 minutes was disappointing.