A Canadian university student group banned a long-running yoga class the other day, accusing it of something called “cultural genocide”.
I was convinced this would be the most absurd thing to grace the media pages this week until THAT exchange between Alan Jones and Rebecca Wilson. Scraping metres below the bottom of the barrel, they discovered a universe in which parallels could be drawn between the banning of unruly Australian football supporters and last week’s Paris terror attacks.
In response, FFA must “grow a pair” and take up the fight on behalf of us football fans. We, the football public, must not be bullied and maligned in this way, though it appears that the sport’s governing body has misread the fans’ mood on this occasion.
Damien De Bohun’s mealy-mouthed declaration that the governing body reserves the right to ban violent A-League fans misses the point. Yes they must, though banned supporters need to have an avenue of appeal, a right currently denied them by the governing body. But the FFA has to stand up for its fans – a vital stakeholder - making it clear to those who fear and envy the game’s recent growth that long gone are the days of the mainstream media treating football and its supporters with disrespect.
And so Sydney FC fans, now outed by Jones and Wilson, will leave their baseball bats and knuckle dusters at home before making treks to Allianz Stadium on Thursday night, hoping to see the Sky Blues pick up their first win in over three weeks. Two uninspiring 0-0 draws (one, admittedly, in 35 degree, energy-sapping heat) either side of a 2-4 loss to Melbourne Victory have raised questions about Sydney’s ability to create and finish chances.
Opponents Wellington Phoenix are coming off a late 2-1 loss to the Western Sydney Wanderers last Saturday and have been in camp at Coogee since Saturday. The Kiwis will thus be fresh and rested come Thursday night and in some way, feel more at home than the exhausted Sky Blues.
The sweltering conditions played their part but for a Sydney FC outfit that thrives on possession, the heat could have been something of a blessing. Instead, the Wanderers’ late winner against the Phoenix consigns the Sky Blues to fourth spot on the table.
With 0-0 draws either side of last week’s 2-4 defeat to Melbourne Victory, are Sydney in a mini-slump?
Not unlike twelve months ago (though less convincingly this time round), Sydney began the season emphatically only to slide down the table come November. But while it was injuries that put the brakes on the Sky Blues last season, the problems appear to be more of a structural nature this time round.
On a scorching Perth afternoon, Sydney should have run the legs off the home side that was set up by coach Kenny Lowe to soak up pressure and play on the counter. Instead, it was their ball in the final third that let the visitors down – again - offering Perth the chance to take advantage of their fast-breaking attackers.
The Sky Blues have undergone punishing training sessions to help them bounce back from their first A-League loss of the season last weekend and will board a Friday flight across the Nullarbor to face Perth Glory on Saturday afternoon local time.
Glory’s football belies their position on the table and the team from the West should have got something from their visit to now table-topping Brisbane Roar, if not for an Ante Covic howler. Unlike last season, the locals do not possess an individual matchwinner but have a tight backline and enough pace and trickery out wide to trouble the visiting fullbacks.
Andrew Hoole and Chris Naumoff return from Olyroo duty, with Hoole expected to feature once again. Alex Gerbach, meanwhile, should keep his place after an outstanding return last weekend but Seb Ryall, the man he replaced in the first 11, gains a reprieve as Sydney FC have given Jacques Faty a leave of absence to return to Paris.