Friday, December 19, 2008

Adelaide couldn't give a damn

Adelaide couldn't give a damn.
New world clubs couldn't care less if the Club World Cup is derided by Europe, or the rest of football's established order.

That's the message coming loud and clear from Aurelio Vidmar, a former Oceania player-of-the-year and current coach of Adelaide United following the A-League's club's fairytale final third of 2008.

Adelaide have been the A-League's most consistent performers in the three-and-a-half seasons since the competition's inception and as such deserve the plaudits they've received for themselves and on behalf of the league in general.

However dubious their path to Fifa's showpiece club competition, there is simply no precedent for predicting the advantages of competing in the Club World Cup on a league in its infancy.

Coming hot on the heels of an appearance in the AFC Champions League final simply confirms Australia's burgeoning status in Asia, a confederation they only joined in 2006.

“The tournament has been a terrific vehicle for the promotion of our game back home and it has been a tremendous experience for our club,” Vidmar trumpeted after Adelaide pipped the African champions Al Ahly, of Egypt, in front of 35,154 fans at the Yokohama International Stadium.

Those comments hit the mark back home, right across the A-League.

The Reds might have had their dream tie against Manchester United scuppered by a slim loss to nemesis Gamba Osaka, the recently crowned Asian champions after a stunning final win over Vidmar's side.

But Adelaide came through the tournament with a record of just that defeat in three matches after edging past New Zealanders Waitakere United in the opening game.

At home, they also remain top of the A-League table with a game in hand over closest rivals Queensland Roar and Melbourne Victory, and two on the Central Coast Mariners and Wellington Phoenix.

“By finishing fifth and with our experience in the Asian Champions League, it has really lifted the profile of the game in Australia and it hopefully gives a lot of confidence to the other A-League clubs that they can do well in the Asian Champions League to get to this point," continued Vidmar.

“It has been a tremendous ride which hasn’t been easy but we’ve learnt a lot from playing these games and it certainly puts the club and the game on the map back home.

"When you win games at this level it lifts people’s eyebrows and awareness of what the football can and will be like in the future.”

Meanwhile back in Australia, a betting scandal has engulfed three of the league's protagonists.

Former Australia captains Kevin Muscat and Craig Moore, and Scottish import Grant Brebner, have all been shamed after admitting placing bets on matches involving A-League sides.

Moore and Muscat received small fines and a public dressing down by Football Federation Australia (FFA) for gambling on the outcomes of matches they weren't themselves involved in.

However, Brebner was handed a two-match ban as well as a fine for his remarkable decision to place a wager on his own team, Melbourne Victory, to lose to Thai side Chonburi FC in the Champions League group stage.

The only saving grace for the recovering gambling addict was he wasn't actually selected in the Victory's travelling party to Thailand because of a groin injury.

The 31-year-old former Manchester United trainee is a popular figure in Melbourne and recently inked a one-year extension with the club chasing a second A-League premiership in three seasons.

But what his team-mates will make of the Scot betting on them to fall flat against the Thai underdogs only time will tell.

Brebner said: "I apologise to my club, team-mates, our fans, my family and the FFA for my actions. I want to make sure everyone is aware that I haven’t involved anyone else.

“I understand and accept the consequences that come with my actions.”

You feel the personal cost might be rather more profound.

Copyright © Marc Fox and Soccerphile.com

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