Apostolos Giannou signs for Guangzhou R&F, declares intention to play for Socceroos
IT’S Ange Postecoglou’s incredible Greek heist.
At a time where there’s been plenty of questions about where goals will come from apart from Tim Cahill, the national team boss has pulled off an extraordinary coup.
Greek born but Melbourne bred Apostolos Giannou, who is the second top scorer in Greek’s Super League with 13 goals this term for Asteras, is set to switch allegiances to the Socceroos, despite debuting internationally with Greece.
Giannou has also become the latest Australian to join China’s revolution, signing overnight with Guangzhou R&F, and reports from Fox Sports News 500 suggest he’ll be included in the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers squad to face Tajikistan and Jordan.
The 26-year-old has played for Greece’s under-21s and under-19s and even appeared as a substitute in an international friendly in November 2015, a 0-0 draw against Turkey.
But that appearance didn’t tie the striker to the Greek national side. He was named on the bench for a Euro 2016 qualifier against Hungary, and thankfully for Australia, he didn’t get on the pitch.
Greece may be left to rue that decision, because sensationally, Postecoglou, who coached him in the Australian under-17s, has convinced the striker to pledge his allegiance to the Socceroos.
Not only is he set to be named in the squad for the March World Cup qualifiers, but sensationally, Giannou, who credited Postecoglou’s efforts in making his decision, could face the nation that blooded him internationally when Greece travel to Australia in June this year.
“The effort of coming here to see me tells it all,” Giannou told Fox Sports News’ Daniel Garb in Athens. “You don’t need to say much. The thing about Ange, which I appreciate, is he didn’t push me to play for Australia. He wanted to see how my mind was and how I thought about it.”
But this is no brazen Socceroos raid. Giannou is no stranger to Australia and says “I think my friends will be buzzing”.
He played at the Victorian Institute of Sport, Oakleigh Cannons and South Melbourne before moving abroad eight years ago. It’s been a breakthrough season for him, having travelled from Apollon, Kavala, PAOK, Platanias on loan and Panionios before his current club.
But why the change of heart about the national team?
“It hasn’t been easy and obviously it’s difficult to choose which country to play for since I feel the same for both countries,” he explained.
He added: “The politics here are more than usual, I know that Australia has been going upwards since Ange took over.
“Australia would be better for me as a footballer, to play for them and to give them everything I can and to bring the best out of me.”
It’s a whirlwind period for Giannou, who has also just secured his immediate club future with the move to China as well.
“Very excited,” he added.
“I think it’s time for me to move on. I’ve been wanting to get out of Greece to play internationally in other countries.
“If it didn’t happen in Europe, I think Asia is the next big thing.”
So Apostles Giannou declares for Australia, he's exactly what we need, him and Juric provide solid striking options
Brisbane Roar sign Australian International Tommy Oar on a 2 year deal
The winger has been uncontracted since he left Ipswich Town citing homesickness. He returns to the club after his stint in Europe, most notably starring for FC Utrecht in the Eredivisie
This is a great signing for us, we need something positive after our recent form (we should have had the premiership, now we're in 3rd after losses to Perth 6-3 and Adelaide 3-0) its great because Aloisi obviously has ideas for next season, hopefully one of them includes buying a left back and resigning Devante Clut. The old guard will either retire or move on i can see (Broich, McKay, Steffanuto, North etc) they're all legends for us, if such a young club can have legends, seeing broich, mckay, steffanuto and theo are involved in about 2 premierships and 2 grand final victories a piece. But now they're old and well past it.
Brett Holman (commonly referred to on this thread as Lolman and rightfully so after he went to the middle east from Villa) is now looking to come back home after his deal with UAE club Emirates Club came to an end. He signed with them last year after his stint with Al Nasr ended.
Holman has china written all over him though, not the CSL either, Chinese League 1 more like it. I mean it would be great if he came home but he has made so many dumb decisions in his career its not funny. He was great at Alkamaar, then moved to the Premier League which whilst he wasn't suited to it, i admire his aspirations to be good, then he gives up on them after 1 season where he actually featured 27 times for them ffs. even if he moved he could have been an important starter somewhere in the championship which would have been so much better. Alas under Lolger he could chase the money since he was an automatic starter.
If he comes back, Jets would be smart to go after him (if they can even afford it), Nix definitely should (they need an attacking player) Sydney could do a lot worse (also need attacking players) and this would push City over the top i think for a title. He actually makes sense for Perth also but surely now they don't have the cap space, he would be great under Kenny Lowe because of his workrate (though cap space, something they don't want to deal with again)
FFA Chairman Stephen Lowy, in an open letter has outlined a 4 year plan, it included things such as connecting the tiers of football better, getting grass roots football involved etc. Also talked about the importance of a new TV deal. However the main thing out of this is that the focus will be on the A-League and in particular, they're starting a marquee fund to bring in big names to the league next season. Including international players as well as bringing socceroos home (which is great because Holman, Rhys Williams and Cahill have been linked with a return home). Hopefully that means big time international names also for some teams (Cahill to the Wanderers needs to happen though, him up front for them solves all their problems and makes them deadly)
I'd Say in terms of Aussie names:
Rhys Williams - Perth Glory (been linked their) Tim Cahill - Western Sydney Wanderers (from Western Sydney) Brett Holman - Newcastle Jets (needs it) Mark Milligan - Melbourne Victory (they need him back)
Not to mention the likes of some big names coming in (actually hope they go moreso for ability than big names, i mean guys like Luca Toni can still go but rather see us get mid 20's players who can go still, or at the oldest maybe 32ish) not to say i wouldn't take some of the older players because some can still go (John Terry for example would be great) but we shouldn't be going after players based on name value alone, i think as a league we should be going for quality and grow the league that way and get our name out via our teams doing well in the Champions League
In other news the head of the a-league Damien De Bohun has resigned from his post. He has been in the role since 2012.
Honestly thats very good news, he has been horrible in the role. Get a football person to compliment Gallop, the league needs to expand and needs to grow and with this guy we've had too many problems this season. Basically all those involved with football wanted this guy gone, The FFA have to appoint a guy who knows what they're doing and can bring forth with Gallop a good TV deal (Free to Air TV) plus expansion of the league plus better pathways like Lowy said (still say thats an actual structured 2nd division, even if the 2nd div is mostly semi pro now)
for the head of the a-league role, the new CEO at Perth is a good shout, actually making something of them, though he's new to the role. Maybe even someone good from overseas like an EPL guy, if anyone knows how to make dosh its them
Couldn't have happened to a nicer bunch of grubs. Seriously i was hoping for more but it is decent i guess. Bit annoyed we conceeded in the 89th but what can you do. Jordan certainly not their best, up to the usual bullshit one comes to expect but at least Harry wasn't happy with them for it. Doubt he manages them again (by choice) he had a fit when one of the players collected Kruse (which should have been a red, that tackle was straight out of the Roy Keane textbook), either way, whilst the first half was sort of sloppy from us in a sense we were good, second half we didn't really put them as much to the sword as we could have but its alright i guess. Their keeper in the last 10 was world class though, even when everyone else seemingly gave up, he fought tooth and nail to keep the ball out of the goal and that inspired the counter which led to the goal, that was good stuff.
Crowd: 24 925 (disgrace, the Victory get higher crowds in the A-League ffs, i know NSW pay for these but don't give them the games, they are probably the worst drawers out of the big 5 cities in the country aside from Perth and thats only because Perth has a 20k stadium, Adelaide drew 35k against Tajikistan ffs, a city with 1.5 million outdrew a city of nearly 5 million by more than 10k, They would have gotten the same number in Canberra or Newcastle if they played their, horrid number).
All we had to do was beat the half strength Victory, and we couldn't score a fucking goal. Matt McKay missed a sitter from like 1 yard out (marquee player, you're having a laugh, he can fuck off next season). As a result Adelaide United are the champions (premiers or whatever), so congratulations are in order, they started horribly but after the first 10 games, easily the best and most consistent side in the competition so well deserved. The finals start next week but right now i couldn't give a toss we don't look anywhere near a side that could win that either. This offseason, despite who we have in Oar, McClaren and Borello, midfield needs a huge revamp (Broich and McKay both need to consider retirement, Theo and Steffanuto should definitely retire). Left Back has been a need for the last 4 years yet no one wants to replace steffanuto who is one of the worst in the league. Lustica in CM is fine, Corona is alright but i'd imagine at his age he would be near retirement anyway. We need to bring in some CM's also to help Lustica, ideally a DM, maybe get Brattan back if we can
The great stadium war is over with a major upgrade of ANZ Stadium winning out over a new stadium at Moore Park.
Fairfax Media can reveal that state cabinet is expected to be told tomorrow that an upgrade of Parramatta Stadium will continue and ANZ Stadium will be refurbished after that and leftover funds will be used to refurbish Allianz Stadium.
Political infighting between Premier Mike Baird and Sports Minister Stuart Ayres has brought the issue to a head with the premier freezing Mr Ayres out of negotiations since returning from Israel on Sunday.
Mr Baird will take control of Sydney's stadium negotiations after agreeing to meet with the three furious Allianz Stadium tenants, in another blow to the ambitions of the under-fire Sports Minister.
The Premier has also given Mr Ayres a Friday deadline to gain a 100-game commitment from the three football codes at the network of major stadiums, allowing Mr Baird to take control of the allocation of the $1.6 billion investment.
That allocation will be $350 million for a new stadium at Parramatta, $450 million for a refurbishment of Allianz Stadium and $700 million to turn ANZ Stadium into a permanent 75,000-seat rectangular stadium.
This is a victory for the Sydney-based NRL clubs, who have campaigned against the NRL and Ayres to ensure a shift of funding away from Allianz Stadium to Olympic Park.
The Sydney Roosters, NSW Waratahs and Sydney FC were seething on Monday after Mr Baird announced a new stadium at Moore Park would be built on the existing site, which the clubs allege is not the message Mr Ayres has been spreading.
The clubs, who insist Mr Ayres gave them multiple assurances they wouldn't be displaced, had sought an urgent meeting with Mr Ayres after plans to build a 55,000-seat stadium over Kippax Lake were quashed by the Premier.
However, Mr Baird has stepped in an attempt to solve the now farcical stadium dilemma, agreeing to meet with the clubs, which insist they will not compromise on a plan that involves having to be relocated during the construction of a new venue.
"We want to meet with the decision-maker, and it appears that is what is happening," Waratahs chairman Roger Davis told Fairfax Media.
"We're happy to listen and wait and we're encouraged that the key decision-makers have indicated they want to meet with us to work out what is best for the clubs, the community and the state. It's positive that people are willing to talk but we will not compromise on the fact that we must continue to have access to Allianz Stadium."
A spokesman for Mr Baird confirmed "the Premier is willing to meet the clubs, although no date has been arranged".
This is a major blow for Mr Ayres who, up until the past week, had control of negotiations with clubs, codes and venues about the allocation of the $1.6 billion. Mr Ayres, with the Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust, who have championed a brand new stadium at Moore Park, to cost around $1 billion.
So ANZ Stadium in Sydney is getting a complete refurbishment, the inside of the stadium is getting gutted and it will be rebuilt in the football/rugby configuration (retractable stands also). Parramatta is also getting an upgrade to 30k+. Thats great for both Sydney Clubs, Sydney FC don't have to leave Allianz, Wanderers get the upgrade they deserve (pretty sure it will mean they rival the victory also in terms of crowd numbers, if not beat them) and Derby's can be played in front of 70k in an actual football stadium and not a strange oval shaped thing
Groups have also been drawn for the next round of World Cup Qualifiers
Group A: Iran South Korea Uzbekistan China Qatar Syria
Group B: Australia Japan Saudi Arabia UAE Iraq Thailand
From an Australian POV, it ain't the best, but it certainly ain't the worst. Drawing Japan at this stage is a lot better than drawing South Korea, i am reasonably confident with an out of form Japan that we can get at least 1-4 points out of the two games. Drawing the UAE and Iraq is not ideal (would rather of had China and Qatar, for them being easier and we could break a few of the qatari players knees in true muscat fashion over the 2022 world cup travesty, and China at home would get a full house due to the chinese expats in any city would make it fun, hopefully sydney or brisbane due to stadium sizes) but even with the middle eastern trips, we should be able to beat Iraq and the UAE home and away. Saudi have improved but i am pretty sure home and away we should beat them (not a great away game though for the fans)Also lasers in our players eyes could influence a result (seriously how they allow them into the stadiums is beyond me). Overall though i do think we will lose around 2 games in this group, but get through in at least 2nd pretty comfortably (think we end up 1st). South Korea i think will top the other group, whilst the bottom of that group with Syria will be interesting i think their travel schedule is better.
Both groups look as hard as each other and any of the big teams could easily slip up here. Syria have been phenomenal and nearly qualified top of their group (mainly due to Japan being rubbish over the first stage).
I cannot believe it, we were so shit for this game. We had no business winning this game. We played awfully in the first half, couldn't do a thing right, amazed we didn't go down by at least 2. It continued into the 2nd and we only got into the game at around the 65 minute mark. Whole lot of nitty gritty tackles, Kosta vs Brown ought to be on celebrity boxing or something, would be a great feud Anyway after the 75th minute mark is when the game picked up. Geria getting that first yellow was stupid, the 2nd was unbelievable. Anyway Besart goes and scores off the counter and goes and celebrates, what the hell you little shit, against your old club, dog move. Then again we went up and scored immediately after so it was all good, Matty McKay making amends for last week by slotting in the equalizer well. Then the 93rd minute, what a goal that was from Broich and what a cross from Corona from the corner to find him. The Stadium just went nuts at that moment (as you would expect). Bes crying and getting consoled by roar players was amusing after the game i guess, but after doing that dog act you don't get my sympathy at all. Anyway our whole back line looked fragile, Brown was so bad in the first half, yet he got into the game and made some good runs forward and was actually not too bad in the 2nd, a bit like Luke Shaw actually in the way he played.
Crowd: 20 157 (i'm surprised actually, it looked like 10-12k on TV, not the greatest crowd for a final but it isn't terrible either, but this is pretty much what i'd expect for a regular season crowd vs the victory, or a few thousand more then that, base tickets where a bit more but not much of an excuse really)
Victory finish off a dissapointing campaign with a first round exit in the finals, now all thats left is the Champions League which in fairness they're doing alright in.
The commentary was so bad even the FFA had enough and said its not good enough. Basically everyone from the footballing circles have been bagging this (and in typical aussie fashion, taking to twitter to abuse the parties involved). So if you thought BT was bad, just watch this. Normally ABC are really good when it comes to football, this however made a mockery of football in the country, not just this game, but the entire league also.
It was so bad an MP over here had to, in the middle of a senate enquiry into the ABC state that the managing director would respond (she did, stated that they where proud of their commentary, stated they tried to do something different with the pre-game, half time and post game coverage but would take into account the feedback).
Pretty much with this one game, ABC managed to piss off every footballing fan in the country (well 90% of them, the other 10% enjoyed the meme of it)
Honestly i think it may be worth while cancelling these friendlies, i mean if you can't get money from the broadcasters, don't even bother, you sell some tickets sure (at $250 a pop also, thats another controversy out of this game, why they only sold 72k out of a possible 80) but if you aren't getting coverage, is it really worth it in the end. Now Arsenal are playing 2 games here, lets hope some other network picks it up (10 are the favourites along with 7 so i'd say you'd probably give a game each as a trial run for both).