Darkest day and brightest moment, all within two weeks

Tom Rogic. Appeared to be in the best form and fitness of his career for the first half of the year and made more appearances for Celtic in the 2021/22 season than any of his previous nine at the club. Reuniting with former Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou brought out the best in him. He then missed Australia’s crucial World Cup qualifiers for personal reasons, which angered some of his team-mates, and was absent from everyone for months until he signed with West Bromwich Albion in hopes of regaining his international shirt – just for Steve Bruce. the coach who signed him to be sacked and Graham Arnold to be rightly overlooked. How the mighty have fallen.

It's been a year of ups and downs for the Matildas and coach Tony Gustavsson.

It’s been a year of ups and downs for the Matildas and coach Tony Gustavsson.Credit:Getty

The Matildas (sort of). See, it feels a bit tough bringing them here considering how strong they ended the year with four straight defeats in friendlies that restored hope to Tony Gustavsson’s side. But we take a look at 2022 as a whole and they started really badly at the Asian Cup when Australia faced minnows in the group stage and then failed to score against South Korea in the quarter-finals and lost to a last-minute goal. To be honest they should have won the trophy and the pressure on Gustavsson was immense afterwards; this is how it should have been. They would only win two of their next six games and both played against New Zealand but luckily things took a turn for the better after that and the Matildas appear reasonably set up for their home World Cup year.

Perth Glory. Men’s title contenders not too long ago, it’s been a terrible couple of years for the Glory, locked out of their own state for months – and when they finally got back in, they’re in the A league, towards the end went on a 16-game winless streak last season. Again, they started poorly, although it’s only partly their fault – once again, prolonged renovations for the Women’s World Cup that were well overdue prevented them from playing at HBF Park and forced them to the little-known NPL venue Turning Macedonia Park into a temporary home. Oh, and the signing of Daniel Sturridge proved an absolute disaster as the former Liverpool striker joined Mario Jardel in the A-League’s Hall of Shame.

controversial corner

Just as the domestic game rode a wave of goodwill generated by the Socceroos’ exploits in Qatar, everything came crashing down in Melbourne. A violent pitch invasion at the Melbourne derby, in which City goalkeeper Tom Glover was hospitalized after being hit on the head by a bucket, forced the game to be abandoned and set the local game back by years. The background to the violence was fan anger at a decision by the Australian Professional Leagues – which now govern the A-Leagues – to sell the next three Grand Finals to Sydney. But there is no excuse for what happened. At the time of writing, Melbourne Victory have been hit by heavy mass sanctions and 10 people have been handed multi-year bans by Football Australia, two of whom have been banned for life. It is unlikely that they will be the last.

That Australia Cup Final should have been a historic event for the sport as Sydney United 58 became the first NPL team to reach the finals and helped draw more than 15,000 spectators to the showdown with Macarthur FC. But the Bulls’ 2-0 triumph was besmirched by those who saluted Hitler and waved flags with fascist insignia, while the ex-NSL club has since publicized not only the Jewish community but also the Dharug and broader Indigenous people apologetic community after the pre-match Welcome to Country was ignored at best and actively disregarded at worst. A terrible night that must not be repeated.

man of the year

Take a moment to think about how far Garang Kuol has come, how fast. His first A-League appearance for the Central Coast Mariners was in April. Since then he has scored six goals in 326 minutes off the bench, stunned Barcelona in an off-season friendly, landed a life-changing deal with Newcastle United in the English Premier League, became the youngest Socceroo since Harry Kewell in 1996, the youngest since Pele 1958, a player who featured in the knockout rounds of the World Cup and almost scored a dramatic late equalizer for Australia in the round of 16 against Argentina. What a journey so far and there is still so much more to do.

Garang Kuol failed to equalize through Argentina goalkeeper Emi Martinez.

Garang Kuol failed to equalize through Argentina goalkeeper Emi Martinez.Credit:Getty

woman of the year

At this point it’s a given, isn’t it? Sam Kerr has been one of the most consistent players in the world for a number of years and she has continued to score for Chelsea as they won the FA Women’s Super League and FA Cup, as well as scoring 12 goals for the Matildas as many games this calendar year. The only things missing from her CV are UEFA Women’s Champions League success, which isn’t entirely her fault (she played her part), a Ballon d’Or (she’s now been nominated four times) and a World Cup win with the Matildas, which is hopefully coming in 2023.

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Quote of the Year

“I’m not a hero, I was just playing my part – like everyone else tonight.”
Andrew Redmayne. Sounds like what a hero would say. Had it not been for his miraculous involvement in Australia’s penalty shoot-out win over Peru in June, the Socceroos would not have made it to the World Cup and all the good things they did in Qatar would never have happened.

crystal ball

The Matildas win the Women’s World Cup, prompting Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to declare a week-long public holiday. Sam Kerr finally wins the Ballon d’Or. Graham Arnold has been re-appointed as Socceroos manager for a further four years. Harry Souttar replaces Harry Maguire in Manchester United’s defence. Ange Postecoglou gets a new appearance at a top-half Premier League club. With Paramount+, viewers can finally play, pause, and rewind live games.

For better or worse, 2022 will long be remembered by Australian football fans as the Socceroos’ finest hour and one of the A-League’s darkest days – all in the final month of the year.

Watch every game of the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Europa Conference League on Stan Sports. Returns for the Round of 16 in February 2023, with all matches streamed ad-free, live and on-demand.

https://www.smh.com.au/sport/soccer/darkest-day-and-shining-moment-all-within-two-weeks-20221207-p5c4lo.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport Darkest day and brightest moment, all within two weeks

Ryan Sederquist

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