Dan de Nardi previews this weekends upcoming action
Series 4 returns to Melbourne this weekend and the YMCA Derrimut will play host on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th August in what will be a great weekend of Futsal action.
A second successive series trifecta has Boomerangs brimming with confidence ahead of their do-or-die battle with 2012 Hummel F-League leaders Dural in the Melbourne Series-4 opener on August 18.
Boomerangs have won six straight games to trail Warriors by four points heading into the final five rounds, and it’s the manner of victory and boost in playing personnel that has them primed to make a decent charge to the finishing line.
Hometown hero Daniel Fulton (15 goals) has scored in his last seven outings, with great support from Daniel Fogarty and Callum Smith (six goals each), to help the ACT-side rack up 36 goals in five matches – goalkeeper Angelo Konstantinou summing up the Boomerangs belief when he went coast-to-coast to score during his team’s 7-0 ambush of third-placed Parramatta.
The astonishing victory followed hard-fought wins over Vic Vipers (5-2) and Heart (4-2), with scoring contributions from eight different players.
But it’s not just their offensive arsenal causing mayhem on the opposition; the Boomerangs defence has been just as effective in conceding a miserly four goals in four games, including cleansheets against the Strikers and Blues.
The territorian results across the Murray River were a little lacklustre in two Melbourne Series-1 losses to Vipers and Dural, and this time around face Victorians St Albans and Jaguars following their Saturday morning chartbusting battle royale against the Warriors.
Boomerangs coach Kristian Collins recognised his team had built up some steam over the last two series and was fired up for their Melbourne opener against Dural.
“If we don’t win then it’s game over,” he said. “We’re going [into the match] at full strength, with key players in the right form, and if we can get the result we want it puts all the pressure on Dural.”
“I believe a couple of their players are recovering from injuries and that might make them a bit more vulnerable; [Regardless] we’re confident of doing the job and 100 per cent feel the competition’s still wide open, and speaking with Rob [Warriors coach Varela] he realises it’s not finished yet.”
While many see the 2012 Hummel F-League title as only Dural’s to lose, a top-of-the-table clash with high-flying Boomerangs in the Melbourne Series-4 opener will go a long way toward defining this year’s champion either way.
The Warriors remain undefeated after nine F-League games but a 1-1 draw with East Coast in Canberra Series-3 (the only time they’ve scored less than four goals in a match), which followed a tough 4-3 win over Vic Vipers in Sydney Series-2, has given the competition renewed hope the runaway leaders can be beaten.
Dural will certainly need to be on their guard in Melbourne with match-ups against Victorian sides Vipers and Heart looming after their Boomerangs blockbuster.
Fortunately there’s no shortage of Warriors weapons to call upon – a league-high 14 players have found the back of the net for Dural this season.
Goalscoring machine Jarrod Basger leads the charts with 18 (he’s scored in his last eight games), Greg Giovenali has 10, Nathan Niski eight and Michael Figueira six to help the team compile a weighty 61 goals overall (an average of almost seven a match, the league’s individual game average is just on eight!).
Warriors coach Rob Varela was unflappable about his side’s 1-1 Series-3 East Coast hiccup and not surprised the games have become more hard-fought.
“All the teams are getting better. They’re starting to gel; we had an early advantage of being together a little bit beforehand,” he said. “But everyone getting stronger is good for the competition.”
Varela wasn’t sure if star players Greg Giovenali and Toby Seeto would be fully fit come their Melbourne Series-4 opener against second-placed Boomerangs, but was still confident of being highly competitive.
“It’s just another game for us,” he said. “It will be difficult; they’re a lot stronger now than in the first series and it should be a close game.”
“We take every game seriously. Whoever we play and wherever they are on the table, you have to be ready for a hard game.”
A four-game unbeaten run has helped East Coast Heat maintain a 2012 Hummel F-League top-four spot ahead of Melbourne Series-4 on August 18-19.
But better than a Victorian hat-trick (beating Heart 6-1, Strikers 6-0 and Vipers 4-3), East Coast drew with F-League sprinters Dural in Canberra Series-3 to show they have the means and method to compete with the competition’s best.
The Heat’s southern success (they are yet to lose to a Victorian team) will hold them in good steed Yarra side with fixtures against Jaguars and Heart before a crucial round-12 match-up with Sydney rivals Parramatta.
East Coast has been led well by Chris Zeballos (seven goals), Aaron Cimitile and Joao Da Silva (five each), but Heat’s biggest improvement has been at the other end – just four goals scored against them in Canberra Series-3 matches following double-figure concessions in the first two series.
The nine East Coast games have been the competition’s tightest with a total 57 goals scored (Parramatta’s outings resulted in the loosest scores with a combined 87 goals; the league average is about 72).
Heat coach Jamie Amendolia said six changes to the playing roster before Series-3 certainly had the right kind of impact.
“We did quite well in Canberra and I’m very happy,” he said. “We made a few personnel changes and brought some players in that were familiar with the team and the players blended a lot better together. We were confident the squad would perform well; we just needed a bit more depth on the bench.”
East Coast also showed in a 1-1 draw that runaway leaders Dural could be caught.
“Any team’s beatable,” Amendolia said. “With the people we’ve recruited we knew we had the ability to beat any team. Our aim now is to not drop any more points, and if some other results go our way we could end up in second spot, which would be a great achievement [for a newly formed club].”
It’s not easy playing for pride with five matches still to go but Jaguars can still have a big say on 2012 Hummel F-League standings heading into an August 18-19 home series.
Jaguars were dreadful in Canberra Series-3, scoring just two goals in heavy losses to leaders Dural 7-0, cross-town rivals Vipers 9-1 and fellow cellar-dwellers Heart 6-1.
And there’s no let-up in Melbourne either with matches against top-four sides East Coast, Parramatta and a rampant Boomerangs threatening to blow them out of the jungle (Jaguars have already conceded 67 goals in nine games).
Captain Miguel Barrigos (four goals) and Aguek Aguek (5) are as good as it gets in a tough first season and Jaguars will need to call upon the spirit that saw them beat St Albans 9-4 (the only time they’ve scored more than twice in a game, and also their lowest yield) to have any chance of further celebration.
While admittedly difficult to motivate a team at the bottom of the table Jaguars coach Jack Dugonjic said the pride was there to still play their hardest.
“We’re trying to get something going, we’re just not being very successful with it at the moment,” he said. “We do need to look at strengthening the squad as our boys are very young and playing against the best in the land.”
“All the players we have are from Jaguars; they’re a great bunch of guys, and we’re trying to develop these youngsters and look at doing well down the track,” Dugonjic said.
“I never expected big wins but I am concerned with our second half efforts where we’ve just sort of crumbled. We’re a little underdone on the bench and we need to improve on that, so we’ll have to pick up some new guys and lose a couple of players to make the team stronger; but we’re not here to do something overnight, we’re still very much looking at the long-term picture.”
Don’t worry about their ladder position, Melbourne Heart is a team on the rise and looking forward to sticking their nose into other 2012 Hummel F-League business over the Series-4 weekend.
After good showings against top-three sides Parramatta and Boomerangs in Canberra Series-3 (tight 6-3 and 4-2 losses), Heart cut loose in a dominant 6-1 win over fellow strugglers Jaguars in the final game.
It was nothing less than they deserved following a hard-fought and spirited weekend.
Heart scored 11 goals in Canberra (they managed nine in the previous six games) and, save early losses to the Blues and Heat, Melbourne have become more competitive as the season wears on.
To underline how much their competitiveness belies their table spot, Heart games are second to East Coast in lowest number of goals produced (59 to 57; Parramatta’s results are the loosest with a combined 87 goals; the league average is about 72).
Konrad Machoy has been Melbourne’s guiding light with six goals and there is a feeling the team will do well in upcoming games against St Albans and East Coast before they face heavyweights Dural.
After such a promising Canberra weekend Heart coach Edgard Vatcky was excited about the direction his chargers are heading.
“The improvement has been pretty good,” he said. “The difference is we’ve been training better and communicating with our interstate players a lot better, and that seems to have led to a better understanding within the team.”
“The spirit in the group is really positive. There’s still a lot of room for improvement, but they’re all seeing the results of good training with good performances on the court, and that’s excellent motivation.”
“It’s definitely better to take that improvement into a home series as playing in front of a home crowd makes a big difference, so we’re really looking forward to this [weekend].”
Third-placed Parramatta have dusted off the cobwebs to storm back into 2012 Hummel F-League consideration, but which Blues outfit will turn up for Melbourne Series-4.
A dull start (three losses from four outings) had Parramatta languishing in the F-League doldrums before a four-game extravaganza against East Coast, Jaguars, Heart and St Albans (scoring 33 goals) had them soaring into a top-three spot.
But the Blues hit a brick wall in a 7-0 loss to hosts Boomerangs in the last game of Canberra Series-3 to throw more than a few question marks into the air.
Parramatta crashed twice in the opening series south of the border and face Vipers and Jaguars in Melbourne Series-4 before a crunch match against East Coast – but collecting all nine points is definitely not out of the question, particularly with Gavin Schipp (eight goals), Goran Ljuboja (8) and Tuan Cao (6) all in good form.
However, they do need to plug up the defensive gaps (15 goals conceded in their last two games) and try to ascertain some more on-court control (Blues games are the F-League’s loosest with 87 goals scored in them, including 42 against; only Jaguars and Strikers have let in more).
Despite a 7-0 blowout against Boomerangs, Parramatta coach Steven Luburic was highly confident his side was still on a good path to achieving better results.
“We had our chances early against Boomerangs and didn’t score and they got us on the counter attack – they’re the best at it in the competition,” he said.
“Before we started the comp we knew we were a top four team, and this is where I expected us to be; we’re just missing Dural’s discipline and the Boomerangs ability to counter attack,” said Luburic.
“We score plenty of goals, we’re there to entertain, but we also let in too many goals which can be very frustrating for the coach. We’re still progressing and training hard and know what we’re capable of doing.”
St Albans Strikers will look for stabilisation when they hit the court for Melbourne Series-4 of the 2012 Hummel F-League.
Unbeaten in the first home series St Albans have gone missing since, a 1-1 draw with rivals Vic Vipers the only brightness in a five-game losing slump that has left them stranded four points above bottom pair Heart and Jaguars and five points behind fifth-placed Vipers.
A round-10 match-up with a rejuvenated Melbourne Heart is vital preparation for tougher outings against Boomerangs and Vipers, but the Strikers really need someone else to step up and help Alija Redzepovic up front (six goals) – St Albans have 12 scorers in their 27-goal tally, half of them with just a single strike to their name.
They’ll also need to tighten up the back end following an embarrassing 15-goal concession to Parramatta in Canberra Series-3 that shifted the goals against Strikers column to 52 (only Jaguars have conceded more with 67).
St Albans coach Robert Lakovski was disappointed to lose and concede so many goals after such a promising start, and put it down to a few factors.
“Firstly, I think teams have improved and become more organised as the competition’s gone on; we also lost a few key players and had to call up others, so the disruption probably caused us to leak more goals than we could cope with, and it’s hard to win when games in those positions,” he said. “I think we also need to develop a Plan-B and Plan-C for when teams work out how we play.”
“But there’s two more series to come, including a couple of big Melbourne derbies coming up [against Heart and Vipers this weekend], and we’ll do our best to win games.
“The spirit is actually better now and there’s a lot more togetherness, which is terrific to see considering we dropped to sixth. We’re also getting a few players back, so hopefully the teamwork can improve and we get some good results for it.”
After claiming four straight victories to start the 2012 Hummel F-League just one win from their last four outings has lumped Vic Vipers back to fifth – but the desire is definitely there to do some damage in the closing two weekends, beginning with Melbourne Series-4 on home turf.
The leading Victorian side was gallant in a 5-2 loss to Boomerangs in Canberra and suffered a 4-3 heartbreaker to East Coast, only a dominant 9-1 display against Jaguars had them heading home from the nation’s capital with any consolation.
When they get the balance right Vipers are a force to be reckoned with, the Barientos brothers Jason and Jonathan and Adam Cooper scoring seven goals apiece backed by a sound defensive structure that’s leaked just 22 F-League goals, Warriors (19) and Boomerangs (21) only slightly stronger.
But they have a tough draw for Melbourne Series-4, taking on third-placed Parramatta and top dogs Dural before a cross-town clash against St Albans.
While Vipers matches are among the lowest scoring affairs (61 goals all up, Heat the tightest with 57 and Parramatta the loosest at 87) the Vics are the only team yet to be involved in a game with a nil scoreline (the Blues and Strikers have been in three each).
Vipers coach Milton Sakkos likes the fact his group has remained sturdy in the face of some tough results.
“We’re going through the same trial as everyone else; sometimes we get a full list, other times there’s boys missing,” he said.
“We had a couple of unlucky losses in Canberra that could’ve gone either way [to Boomerangs 5-2 and East Coast 4-3], but I’m still more disappointed in that draw with St Albans [Series-2] and the chances we had against Dural [a 4-3 loss].
“There’s no doubt we’re competitive; there’s been no blowouts against any of the teams, and moving forward our list will get stronger. The boys are all committed to the cause, we just have to be more cutthroat in front of goals and not leak so many as well,” said Sakkos.
“Our target is to get points in every remaining game. If we do that job then second or third place is a good result first time into the league… but a lot of sides are starting to hit their straps and the last two weekends will be very competitive.”
9am – Melbourne Heart vs. St Albans Strikers
11am – Jaguars Futbol Sala vs. East Coast Heat
1pm – Dural Warriors vs. Boomerangs FS
3pm – Parramatta Blues vs. Vic Vipers
6pm – Melbourne Heart vs. East Coast Heat
8pm – Jaguars Futbol Sala vs. Parramatta Blues
8am – St Albans Strikers vs. Boomerangs FS
10am – Vic Vipers vs. Dural Warriors
12pm – East Coast Heat vs. Parramatta Blues
2pm – Jaguars Futbol Sala vs. Boomerangs FS
4pm – Melbourne Heart vs. Dural Warriors
6pm – St Albans Strikers vs. Vic Vipers