Sunday, August 31, 2008

AFL FINALS PREVIEW

Hawthorn vs Western Bulldogs (Qualifying Final 2)
Friday night, MCG

In probably the pick of the match-ups in the first round of the finals, the 2nd placed Hawks take on the 3rd placed Dogs. They've had about a month to prepare for this as they found themselves miles ahead of 4th, and yet miles from Geelong on the ladder. The Bulldogs won the Round 10 clash 106-74 at Aurora Stadium thanks to a free-running effort from their midfield. That was, however, many weeks ago and the Hawks have a bit more momentum than the Dogs at the moment. They've won four of their last five whereas the Dogs have won just two of their last five going into this match. Jason Akermanis is the key figure in the Bulldogs line-up; you can't help but wonder where the Lions would have finished if it was Aker delivering passes to Brown and Bradshaw this season rather than the current hopelessly errant Brisbane midfielders. I could kick more accurately than some of those guys and I haven't played the game since I was 15. But I digress, where was I? Ah yes, Aker. Love or loathe the man, he can still seriously play and brings a wealth of finals experience to the table. The Dogs have talent all over the park but if they win this, it will primarily be through the pace and pressure of their midfield. On the other hand, if the Hawks midfielders can get on top they should win comfortably, with their potent forward line, including the man responsible for banners such as "Buddy Brilliant" and "You Buddy Bewdy", to reap the benefits. I personally think that the $3.35 you can get on the Bulldogs is worth a look.

Adelaide vs Collingwood (Elimination Final 1)
Saturday, AAMI Stadium

Hmm...that is always my first thought when looking at a final played in Adelaide. Both the Crows and Power have had some shaky September performances/chokes and I'm expecting another nervy showing here. This is a winnable game for the Pies; they've won big finals matches on the road like this before, though this game is where they'll really miss Didak.

"I've got a bad feeling about letting you drive me home Heath..."

Adelaide are well drilled, well coached and solid across the park. In other words, watching the Crows sometimes is about as exciting as a Saturday night out on light beers. They will likely approach this game in a typically negative fashion by closing down any space and keeping the ball in contests on the ground. I'm expecting a big game out of Swan for the Pies and if he can find a few willing mates then they will be dangerous. In the Round 15 clash at the MCG the Pies won comfortably 106-74. They are decent value at $2.30...never trust an Adelaide side that is favourite in a finals match, particularly when in the back of their minds they thought they were going to finish 4th and have a second chance.

Sydney vs North Melbourne (Elimination Final 2)
Saturday night, ANZ Stadium

North Melbourne had the seemingly easy task of brushing aside an out of sorts Port Adelaide to clinch a top 4 berth, only to be humbled to the tune of 76 points and dropped to 7th. I'm surprised that any of them are still breathing after a choke of such proportions. They'll head to Sydney to take on the Swans and I have no idea how they are going to turn it around. The regular season clash in Round 6 ended in a 64-all draw. Sydney may not be as good as the past few seasons but should still be too strong for the Roos. Goodes will be the difference, and with his versatility, expect him to pop up for a touch at crucial moments. I'm still not convinced that Barry Hall has his volatile temper under control and what better stage to do something else stupid than a packed ANZ Stadium. Packed ANZ Stadium...it doesn't really roll off the tongue does it? Sydney at $1.75 seems extremely generous...maybe even worth dipping into your children's college fund...

Geelong vs St.Kilda (Qualifying Final 1)
Sunday, MCG

A lot has been made of St. Kilda pinching fourth spot by hammering Essendon. Now all of a sudden they'll be taking it up to Geelong and winning a flag for Robert Harvey. Time for a reality check. The Essendon side they played last week may as well not have been there. In their minds they were already here:

Time to put the feet up for the Bombers...

The only hope for the Saints is to get away to a flyer. The Cats can be slow starters, but are irrepressible in third quarters so St. Kilda would want at least 6 goals on them by halftime. In Round 4 it was the Cats by 136-94 and I would expect a similar margin in this as the Cats take hold in the second half. The Saints most high profile fan Shane Warne has sent the boys a video to try and inspire them:

"Anything's possible boys..."

Enjoy the action. For the record, I'm tipping the Bulldogs and Pies in upsets and the Swans and Cats. Put it all together and you've got yourself a multi bet paying $15.78. Worth a sneaky one...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Weekend Highlights

It's the final round of the AFL season but, with the top 8 just about set in stone, most of the attention is centering around Lance Franklin and Brendan Fevola as Carlton clash with Hawthorn on Saturday night. Not since Tony Lockett in 1998 has a player cracked the 100 goal mark in the regular season and it was thought by many that due to the evolution of the game, cracking the ton was to become a rarity. It speaks volumes of Franklin that he is on the verge of the milestone at just 21 years of age. "Buddy" needs two goals and should get them; if he's being well held, I can just see a team-mate passing up a 25m shot in front to dish off to him on the 50. It'd be hard to begrudge him that but hopefully he'll need no help. Fevola also has the chance but needs a big eight goal effort. Tune in to see an historic moment and ten thousand idiots running on the field halting play for half an hour as Franklin boots his second for the night, or alternatively tune in to the ailing Swans vs the choking Lions...

Australia take on the Springboks again after the AFL on Saturday night and will be boosted by the return of Rocky Elsom who was suspended, but then unsuspended today. The Springboks will be without front row thug CJ van der Linde. He was amazingly not sent off after blatantly and obviously head-butting Sam Cordingly in plain view of all and sundry last week, with the referee and touch judges agreeing that he "lead with his shoulder" and the video ref not bothering to whisper in the referee's ear that it was something much more sinister. I can understand that South African props have no necks and the shoulder is therefore joined to the head but he hit Cordingly flush with the summit of his bald, shiny thug-noggin. I see no reason why the Wallabies can't do it again going on South Africa's lacklustre display last week and with the Springboks coach under pressure it's a good time to get them after a loss. Looking forward to seeing what Tahu can do in the run on side. Another thing to remember is that if the Wallabies can win this, then the All Blacks must beat us in Brisbane to win the Tri-nations...here's hoping it comes to that.

The Roosters look to edge closer to a top 4 berth tonight against the Rabbitohs, looking to hold off the Broncos, Raiders and Dragons who are all still a chance of a home final. And the race is still on for that 8th spot to secure a likely trip to Melbourne and the subsequent hiding that awaits. Highlight of the NRL: Alan Tongue at half-back (!) for the injury-ravaged Raiders. Go the Tongue!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

AFC West:Who wants to be LT's bitch???


The bad news for the Broncos, Raiders and Chiefs: They get molested by the San Diego Chargers twice each.

The good news for the Broncos, Raiders and Chiefs: They get to play each other twice each as well!

This could be far and away the biggest winning margin in the NFL this year. The "Over/unders" at Sportingbet reflect this but not by nearly enough for me!

San Diego 10.5 (Take the Over)
Raiders 6.5 (Push..)
Broncos 7.5 (The Under)
Chiefs 6 (The Under)

Anyway, lets have a look at the teams in this division in a bit more depth.

San Diego:
Last season finished 11-5 despite a dire start to proceedings. Rattled off wins in their last 6 games and finished with a nice points differential of +128. Play to one of the most simple time-tested gameplans of moving the ball on the ground and playing tight defence. In that mix is third year quarterback Phil Rivers who has demonstrated some real skills growth in the last year. The key personnel move was the NFL's best second string running back Michael Turner moving to Atlanta for a starting role.

12+ wins and a trip to the playoffs seem a given. Their season really begins in earnest when it comes time to overcome a team of the caliber of Jacksonville, New England or Indianapolis.

Denver:
When you scour the transactions list of a team that finished 7-9 and featured some appalling defence - finding that your biggest upheaval was on offence is puzzling.
Releasing Javon Walker and Travis Henry and replacing them with the defrosted corpses of Darrell Jackson and Michael Pittman seems a bit like polishing a turd.

Darrell Jackson and Michael Pittman take a break from their offseason workouts to play some chequers!

The biggest move might have been the pickup via trade of Defensive Tackle DeWayne Robertson. Robertson is a big mobile DT that could help shore up the defence, though probably not by enough.

The man who feels like he was responsible for game winners in all 7 Bronco games last year, Jason Elam moves on to the Falcons.

5 to 6 wins seems a little optimistic here. This is a team that needed to rebuild and ended up in stopgap mode.

Oakland Raiders:
2008's big improvers. 4-12 in 2007/08 and could be in line for a far better year.
The biggest growth will come on offense, Last years number one draft pick, JaMarcus Russell is a beast at QB who will take this years opening snap. Javon Walker will give him a realistic receiving threat and this years first rounder Darren McFadden will offer explosiveness out of the backfield.

The defensive numbers from last year LOOK weak. But this is a decent defensive unit. Most of the issue was the inordinate amount of time that this group spent on the field due to the NFL's worst offense. Ever???

Fortunately for Raiders fans, this year won't feature as much of this if you are watching NFL gameday.

Oakland Raiders at 01:25
1-10-OAK 46(1:25) (Shotgun) 12-J.McCown pass incomplete short left to 84-J.Porter.
2-10-OAK 46(1:20) 33-D.Rhodes left tackle to IND 47 for 7 yards (96-K.Dawson).
3-3-IND 47(:56) (Shotgun) 12-J.McCown pass incomplete short right to 33-D.Rhodes.
4-3-IND 47(:51) 9-S.Lechler punts 42 yards to IND 5, Center-59-J.Condo, fair catch by 34-T.Rushing

The results may take a while to come but the offense looks set for years. 6-7 wins.

Kansas City Chiefs:
Smart teams don't give out their richest ever contract to a guy after a year where they give him 457 fucking carries.
This is why they suck this year and probably for the next three.
That is all.
3-13.
Take the under.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Beijing Wrap-up...

The best thing about the games for me was sitting at home watching sport instead of daytime crap TV when I was sick. More specifically though, I think the most awesome performance of the games was Kenenisa Bekele in the mens 5000m. Reasons I loved this was it feels like a horse race. There is strategy and you think a better commentator than BRUUCE would talk about runners having "the drop" or being "one out one back." Apart from that, it was just insane watching Bekele make a dash from the 2000m mark and drop runners one by one as he continuously ramped up the pace.

The worst performance of the games, Griggs and Daddo. Channel 7 in general. Whilst finals are going on all around, I have to watch a 10 minute montage of the "best of yum cha???" Go fuck yourself Channel 7. Oh yeah, and thanks for your constant reminders of how awesome your closing ceremony previews are going to be, while there is actual sport on.  About the only intelligence in Channel 7s coverage was Matthew White who had far too little work to do. 

The talking point that no one wants to talk about. Phelps' 7th gold medal that wasn't. Seriously, does anyone actually think that he touched the wall first. I am not trying to cut the guy down because his performance was phenomenal, but he did not touch first on that 7th gold.  Did any of Channel 7's Olympic analysts feel the need to mention this at all, or do they see the benefit of keeping mum about things as well. Seemingly, the commentators thought that making an inference about Phelps' record would be a career move as solid as making as AIDS joke and avoided it. The FINA release seems to suggest that Cavic didn't touch "hard enough" to stop the timing mechanism. But he touched it, right? 

Anyway, the games are over. As "exciting" as it all was, they realistically sit here in my pantheon of sports carnivals so I am not really shedding a tear.

Soccer World Cup
Rugby World Cup
Cricket World Cup
Olympics
Rugby League World Cup - hA! 

Sick of questioning the market value of Stephanie Rice?? Good for you. A more interesting poll due up soon.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chow Mein Episode 2

Having been pissed and watching EPL all Saturday night, I missed the men's 100m final and went searching on youtube. I clicked on a promising looking Usain "In The Membrane" Bolt video only to be told "You've been Rick-Rolled Bitch!!!" and greeted with Rick Astley's gay anthem "Never Gonna Give You Up". I'll pay that.

The Captain has been on fire on the Games punt, having a piece of the Boomers at $5.25 to roll Lithuania (and how) and hitting them with 31.5 points start against the U.S (with 0.5 to spare!). A last minute bet on Bolt to break the 200m world record at $4 also worked a treat.

It's pretty scary wondering just how fast Usain "In The Membrane" can go. To try and find out, my touch football team has an "annual" (usually every three years by the time it's organised) foot race, a la the Stawell Gift, which we'll be inviting him to. "Free piss for the winner" probably won't be enough for him to accept, but maybe the possibility of another WR might appeal. Being a handicap, Bolt's staggered start will be a block away, he'll need to swim across a pond, rescuing a drowning child in the process, scale a large fence (possibly electric), fight off a pack of ferocious guard dogs, before picking his way through a field of slow/old/fat/drunk/tackled and sprawled on the ground runners blocking his path to the finish line. Bolt has been installed as $1.02 favourite.

After crossing the line third in the 200m, Wallace Spearmon did a lap of the stadium with the American flag held aloft and found every camera on the way, telling everyone back home "I'm number three baby. You know what I'm talkin' 'bout. Ooh yeah baby, that's right, number three". He finished his lap before being told he'd been disqualified about five minutes earlier...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

NFC West: A Tale of Mediocrity

To cut a long story short, the NFC West is rubbish, consisting of four teams who have been very average for the last two years and three of which who have been average for longer. Seattle made the Superbowl in 2006 before stumbling upon mediocrity. They have won this division for the past four seasons only because it is the worst division in the NFL by a mile.

The Professor has already previewed Arizona and their possibly syphilis-ridden quarterback.

San Francisico have turned to new offensive co-ordinator Mike Martz to revamp a stagnant offense; this will either see them battling Seattle for the division title or it will backfire spectacularly and Martz's ticking time-bomb heart will finally blow up. When you are looking to implement a complex passing scheme into an offense with J.T O'Sullivan, Shaun Hill and Alex Smith to pick from at QB and wide receivers who are just okay, people are right to be unconvinced. Running back Frank Gore is the key; he had a disappointing 07/08, hampered by injuries and the death of his mother, but if he can get his running game going again the Niners will be competitive.

St. Louis are still rebuilding/sucking and RB Steven Jackson is holding out for a new contract. If I'm in the Rams management, I pay up. And throw in a few sweeteners. Without Jackson they are a dead carcass which will be stinking it up all season long. You don't have Tom Brady at QB or another gun RB...Pay up. Maybe even throw in a Lamborghini...

Seattle have a decent enough QB in Hasselbeck, a solid enough defense. On that basis they might make it five NFC West titles in a row as Arizona, San Francisco and St. Louis will no doubt be shooting themselves in the foot repeatedly throughout the season.

Now that's out of the way we can talk some real NFL.

Arizona Cardinals Preview

Channel 10's announcement that it will be covering some NFL games this year on HD has us excited at WHAB!

We will go through a bunch of NFL teams - what to look for, players to watch etc.

Starting with the Arizona Cardinals.

Arizona were overwhelmingly average in 2007. An 8-8 record in a mediocre devision. A +/- of 5. Not much has changed in the Cardinals personnel this year. So the real improvements will come based on health and another year of experience for rising star Matt Leinart.

Players to watch: Matt Leinart. Franchise quarterback who has shown that he is not at all picky based on his reported tryst with Paris Hilton. Gun arm, heaps of vision and confidence. However, based on Arizona's consistent issues in the offensive line, if syphilis doesn't get him first, a massive defensive lineman will. My bet is Julius Peppers in Week 8.


Great work Matt! Sort of... not at all...

Leinart will have the best receiving tandem in the NFL working with him in Anquan Boldin and Larry "Fitty" Fitzgerald. Scoring points has never been the Cardinals problem. Even with the likes of decline phase Kurt Warner and Jake Plummer under centre. The problem has always been one of defence. Not much should be different this year, with a very inexperienced secondary typified by their most reliable corner Amari Rolle moving to Free safety.

Prediction: Being in the NFL's worst division may be the tonic that the Cardinals need to advance to the playoffs this year. Seattle seem to be moving in the wrong direction, and St Louis and San Francisco seem at least a year away. I will put them as division winners with a mediocre 9-7 record.

Weekend Sport Wrap...

I didn't manage to catch a lot of sport over the weekend.

What I do know is that the lads EPL preview grossly underestimated the might of the Hull Tigers! An opening weekend victory at Fulham put Hull in the drivers seat early, needing only another 30 odd points to avoid the drop.

Much of what I read of the Hull City tilt this year discussed Hull having a two year strategy to stay up in the premier league. By being relegated this year, Hull would receive About $60 Million pounds in parachute payments. This would enable them to buy heavily next year to come back up for good. Whilst it seems a sound strategy, one certainly hopes to see Hull stay up this year. Hull will have to avoid injuries due to a complete lack of depth, but between Boaz Myhill, the rejuvinated Marcio Geovanni and the "usual suspects" for a team struggling to avoid relegation in Dean Windass, Nicky Barmby amd George Boateng they could be competitive.

As for the top of the table, as much as it pains me, I have to disagree with the lads and stake Man Utd to the top of the premier league table this year. If Berbatov gets his wish and ends up at Old Trafford they will end up being far too strong for Chelsea. The big mover may well be Villa this year, potentially breaking up the big four. 

My drop teams, Stoke, Wigan and Fulham. 

The only sport I caught a lot of this weekend (all on Virgin Blue's Live to Air!) is some A league. Most teams looked a little underdone in the first round - Sydney v Melbourne didn't rise to the heights that I hoped it would. Perth v Adelaide was a touch static as well. Adelaide look rock solid in defense but will seriously struggle to score goals. Perth look significantly more organized than last year. Perth's Amaral looked well short of fitness. However, the couple of times that he injected himself into play makes you think that he could be one of the A-leagues biggest stars in a months time. As for the rest of the games - 5 goals in four A-league games! Soccer fever: Catch it! Probably more symptomatic of early season form than anything else, but wasn't the weekend of soccer that promoters would be looking for. 

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chow Mein

Welcome to WHAB's answer to Channel 7's gay Yum Cha program. Chow Mein will look at the lighter side of the games with exclusive interviews.

Liesel Jones has caused a stir by saying she "couldn't care less" about losing her pet event. This is akin to Rafael Nadal losing the French Open and saying "I'm just happy in my life" or "it is just such a small margin of my life". One wonders why Jones would get up at 4 a.m every morning in the middle of winter to train if she was so blase about her swimming. But as long she "had the best time and the most important time" winning silver in an event she has dominated for years, I guess that's the main thing.

A Games official has speculated that Michael Phelps may not be a human being, but in fact a robot. "No human could love swimming so much" said the official who wanted to remain anonymous. "Let's face it, it's a pretty boring sport and training for eight different events, that would be hella boring" he said. The official suggested that Phelps was some sort of "swimming machine, like the Terminator in a laser suit".

The highlight of Beijing 2008 so far is the dummy spit from Swedish Roman-Greco wrestler Aha Abrahamian. WHAB caught up with him just after his hissy fit, and he was still hot under the collar; "What a load of shit. I don't want a shitty bronze medal. A bronze in wrestling, no-one will remember that. Fucking referees. I know how the Canberra Raiders feel now with all those bad video ref decisions. I've put so much into this fucking sport and to get dudded by someone who didn't know the rules...I mean how many people would there be in the world who don't know the rules to wrestling? Not many, if any. Fuck it."

Usain "In The Membrane" Bolt won the men's 100m sprint and broke the world record sparking predictable headlines across the Australian media such as "Lightning Bolt" and "Bolt in the Night".

Saturday, August 16, 2008

WHAB's EPL Preview!

Thinking about laying some money down on the upcoming EPL season??

Want to know who to back for the title, and who for relegation??

We have tried to put together a nice bias free post where we discuss each teams chances and give a suggested set of final standings.

Arsenal: League leaders for the first half of the 07/08 season, the Gunners are one of the serious contenders for the title. New signings include Bischoff and Nasri and you know these guys will be good; Arsenal are very good at unearthing and nurturing talent. They have lost Hleb and Flamini but should be able to make the necessary adjustments to their lineup. The Gunners play attractive, attacking football and are always great to watch.
Players to watch: Adebayor was second only to Ronaldo in the goal scoring tally last season and will be right up there again. It all looks so easy for him; expect him to nonchalantly knock in 20+ goals this season. A healthy Rosicky always makes for good viewing and van Persie is another to keep an eye on.
Prediction: 3rd. They will likely be the best to watch up front but will be tested by the better sides in defence and will let in some sloppy goals to bottom half sides.

Aston Villa: Villa have added defender Carlos Cuellar, Steve Sidwell and keeper Brad Friedel. They also look like hanging on to Gareth Barry. It has the makings of a very good season at Villa Park. My perception of Villa fans as the world's best drunken larrikins comes from my trip to Manchester last season to see the City vs Villa game. The train back to London went through Birmingham to drop off all the hammered Villa supporters and was wildly entertaining.
Players to watch: Carew, Young and Agbonlahor will be dangerous in front of goal while Sidwell, Petrov and Barry provide a solid midfield.
Prediction: 5th. They have what it takes to jump ahead of Everton in the pecking order but it will depend on getting a good start to the season.

Blackburn: It will be interesting to see how the Rovers go without Mark Hughes. Hughes is widely regarded as one of the best managers in the Premier League and Blackburn will miss him greatly. Paul Ince takes over and there doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm about his appointment. All they have done in the player market is change goalkeepers and lose David Bentley to Tottenham, and there is also talk of Benni McCarthy moving on.
Players to watch: Roque Santa Cruz. Has the game to match his cool name. A constant threat at set pieces. McCarthy joins him up front in one of the better striker pairings in the league.
Prediction: Will possibly struggle at the start of the season adapting to the new manager but their class should should see them finish in the top half once more. A 9th place finish sounds about on the money.

Bolton: Have lost some of their key players from last year but you could argue that last year's players weren't getting the job done. Bolton were able to stave off relegation in 07/08 but will need to fight hard to avoid it once more. The signing of Swedish striker Elmander is a positive one but perhaps, given the players they released, the Wanderers could have been more active in terms of player signings.
Player to watch: Elmander. He'll need to fire up front.
Prediction: 15th

Chelsea: Chelsea have added right back Jose Bosingwa and classy midfielder Deco to an already impressive list.This should really be Chelsea's year. They have tremendous depth stemming from the tremendous amounts of money they have at their disposal and there will be competition for places across the park. Their 07/08 title bid was thwarted by a very average beginning to the year, something which they will surely not repeat. John Terry has claimed that Manchester Utd have peaked and time will tell if that is the case. Scolari takes over the easiest job in world sport as Blues manager. With those resources I reckon I could almost steer them to the title.
Players to watch: They are all good. Drogba is probably the best of the best. Deco should also shine.
Prediction: 1st

Everton: Injuries look to be the Toffees main concern going into the new season with Steven Pienaar and Aussie legend Tim Cahill to miss the opening matches. They also offloaded Andrew Johnson to Fulham (lucky Fulham) so will look to Yakubu and James Vaughan for the bulk of their goals. In addition to their strikers, they have the most prolific goal-scoring defender in the EPL in Joleon Lescott. Solid all across the park but might lack a bit of run through the midfield early in the season without the aforementioned injured players.
Players to watch: I'll never forget Simon Hill's call of "Tim Cahill's done it again!!!" at the World Cup after his second against the Japs. He is a hero to all Australians. We love you Tim Cahill! Get well soon!

Fulham: After a turnaround that was nothing short of remarkable to save their asses from relegation, Fulham should be safe from the drop this season. And let's hope they don't get relegated or we'll be subjected to loony tunes owner Mohamed Al Fayed's conspiracy theories.

Could the Royal Family be plotting Fulham's demise?

They've also picked up Australia's other football hero Mark Schwarzer and a host of other handy players. They took the hint and brought in new faces, knowing they were lucky not to be playing Championship football this year. You can have nothing but admiration for Roy Hodgson and the miracle he managed to conjure up in 07/08 and things look a lot brighter for the upcoming season at Craven Cottage.
Players to watch: Andy Johnson. A gifted striker, just what Fulham needs. And Aussie legend Schwarzer in goal!
Prediction: Could be the big improvers and push towards the top half of the table. We'll say somewhere around 12th.

Hull: Simply have not done enough to stay up.Will be down battling with Stoke and West Brom in the bottom three. I read somewhere that "Windass is a great striker of the ball...but not a great striker". Very true. Hull will struggle to score goals against the more organised defenses in the top tier. Their best pre-season move has been the signing of Geovanni but they'll be needing a lot more Brazilians to stay in the Premier League.
Player to watch: Geovanni was unable to crack into Manchester City's starting side and it will be interesting to see what he can do with more time on the pitch.
Prediction: 19th

Liverpool: What can we expect from Liverpool this season? The same as usual; a crappy start to the season leaving them no chance to win the Premiership, but a solid back end seeing them clinch the final Champion's League spot. They seem to have put all their eggs into the one basket with the signing of Robbie Keane; that said, if you can pick up Keane and a staunch defender like Phillip Degen for the loss of Crouch the misfit, Kewell the unfit, and Riise, I'd say that's good business.
Prediction - 4th. If you can find a market where you can bet on Liverpool's exact finishing position, snap up the short odds of a 4th place finish.
Players to watch: Torres. And Torres. And Keane. Oh, and Torres as well.

Man. City: Firstly, fuck you Thaksin Shinawatra for bringing your personal turmoil to the blue half of Manchester. I'm turning a blind eye to the disturbing reports I'm hearing about a mass exodus of players and coaching staff; I'm just going to pretend that everything is ok for now. So, City have added two players to last season's squad, former Chelsea defender Tal Ben-Haim, and the Brazilian striker Jo. They started experimenting with Brazilians last year and surprise, surprise, found it very rewarding with Elano being one of the Citizens best in 2007/2008. Cries of "Go yourself, you're Brazilian!" echoed around the City of Manchester Stadium whenever Elano got within 60 yards of goal. So having a Brazilian striker is going to be ever so much fun. Great pre-season form with a couple of easy kills in the UEFA Cup, a 1-1 draw with Celtic and a 1-0 win over AC Milan no less... oh, and a 1-0 loss to Danish superpower Midtylland...
Prediction - another clean sweep over Man. Utd, getting hammered twice by West Brom, maybe taking a point off Hull and Stoke, a horrible form slump followed by an unexpected thrashing of Arsenal at the Emirates, culminating in missing out on Europe by one spot but getting into the UEFA Cup again via the much easier "fair play" route. Around 8th.
Players to watch: Jo, Elano, and in particular Bojinov and Petrov. That is, if they actually stay at City. We may end up finishing 2008/2009 with all the uncontracted Olyroos rather than Brazilian and Bulgarian internationals. No-one ever seems to know what's going to happen with this clown Thaksin.

Man. Utd: Now that Ronaldo has been enslaved at Old Trafford as Sepp Blatter would have you believe (oh, the hardships of getting paid a billion dollars to play for one of the best teams in the world), United line up for 2008/2009 as equal favourites with Chelsea. They're looking to add Dimitar Berbatov before the August 31 transfer window closes, otherwise their first team squad is unchanged.
Players to watch: As well as Berbatov, United have Ronaldo, Rooney, and Tevez, all of whom I would kick square in the nuts if given the chance. I can't stand those three, Tevez in particular, I would kick him again in the nuts as he was writhing in agony on the ground. They also trot out old-timers like Giggs and Scholes as well as the younger brigade of Nani, Evra, Hargreaves etc and have one of the world's best keepers in van der Sar. Take your pick as to who to watch.
Prediction: 2nd. I slightly favour Chelsea this season on the off chance they add Kaka to their squad. And whereas Chelsea will pound City unmercifully, United may slip up again.

Middlesbrough: Boro are going for the less is more approach this season, offloading a heap of players and bringing in a couple of young unknowns. They are one of those teams who you never know too much about; they never buy any really big names and finish 12th-17th every year. They have a tendency to spring a massive upset before slinking back into mediocrity for a couple of months until their next big scalp. Now that Mark Schwarzer has moved on we will probably hear even less of Boro.
Players to watch: They do have a couple of handy strikers in Tuncay and Alves who will be fed crosses from Downing on the left side.
Prediction: 12th to 17th.

Newcastle: After dropping manager Sam Allardyce and recalling King Keegan last season, the Magpies narrowly escaped relagation. With an ineffective midfield, Keegan's first signings were Argentine Jonas Gutierrez and Danny Guthrie. This came at the expense of Emre despite keeping the two worst midfielders in the Premier League - Joey Barton and Alan Smith. With Obafemi Martins, Michael Owen and Ameobi, the Duke will be struggling to win many starts. If they are to be any sort of threat this year then Keegan will have to get this bunch playing as a team. Irish international Duff needs to step up after a run of disappointing seasons at St. James' Park. To be honest I don't think that this year will see the Pies do much more than stay clear of relegation especially with Barton and Smith. With Everton rumoured to be circling around Smith there remains hope of a top half finish. The Toon Army are hoping that Gutierrez can bring something to their maligned midfield but not too many are thinking he will. With a late win over Spanish cup winners Valencia under their belt in the preseason, expectations, as always, are high from their Geordie fans.
Prediction: 11th

Portsmouth: FA Cup winners one year, likely back to mid-table obscurity the next. For the past couple of seasons Pompey have focused on identifying African talent and have finished in the top half. This year their big signing is Peter Crouch. I can't say I'm sold on that one. Thankfully for "the 'Smouth", as I like to call them, they signed Jermaine Defoe in last season's transfer window and won't have to rely on said beanpole to try to head home more than 5 goals in the 08/09 campaign. How can a man who looks like a cardboard cut-out play in the Premier League? Does he live on tofu and salad or something? I can just see them calling for the masking tape a la Bruce Reid after he gets snapped in half by an over-zealous tackle.
Prediction: Let's say 10th. They will miss Muntari but they still have a very capable squad, a cunning manager in Redknapp, and have been top half material for the past two seasons. Can't see lightning striking twice in terms of the FA Cup...
Players To Watch: Defoe and the classy Kranjcar. And definitely watch for the most ungainly striker in the world to make an A Grade assclown of himself on numerous occasions.


Peter Crouch being swept away on a windy day at Anfield.

Stoke: Newly promoted and expected to go straight back down. Their key signing is Dave Kitson who is a handy striker but is certainly not going to hammer 20+ goals home. And that's how many they'll need from him. Haven't done nearly enough to prevent them returning from whence they came.
Prediction: Pain, relegation and a 20th place finish. A couple of almighty hammerings to boot.
Player to watch: Kitson will be top goalscorer for the club barring injury but his 5 or 6 goals won't be come close to saving them.

Sunderland: Sunderland play in the Stadium of Light, a misnomer if there ever was one with such a dreary team. There's not much to get excited about on the field for the Black Cats so the fans make up for it with drunken tomfoolery; their fans were voted loudest in the Premier League last season. One of those teams who should have just enough to stay up but will be battling relegation if they aren't careful.
Players to watch: Hmm...I haven't been able to sit through a Sunderland game from memory...New signing Chimbonda perhaps? They must be boring if all I can come up with is a defender. But seriously, Diouf is always good value, not in terms of his play but his exemplary sportsmanship. I give him 20 minutes into the season opener before he spits on someone or gets sent off.
Prediction: 15th

Tottenham: The 07/08 season saw Spurs sign Darren Bent for a club record 16.5 million from Chalton Athletic, they brought in Spanish manager Juande Ramos, finished 11th on the table and won the League Cup beating Chelsea in the final. It's 08/09 and the Spurs have lost Keane to Liverpool with Bent pairing with the Mexican Giovani dos Santos from Barcelona up front. White Hart Lane is pretty happy with the pairing, with goals coming easily in their pre-season matches. New goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes is being tipped as one of the star South American imports in the Premier League. Coming from PSV Eindhoven, the Brazilian will have plenty of pressure on him to turn the attacking play of the Spurs into points on the table. After losing strike weapon and long time club talisman Keane, the Spurs may also lose Berbatov to Manchester United and have lost French centre back Kaboul to Pompey. With Dos Santos and Bent the Spurs will again look dangerous upfront and worth watching but ultimately won't be threatening the top 4. Will look to improve on last year's 11th but don't expect them to get further up than 6th - at best. Developing a new striker partnership to replace the Keane-Berbatov show from last year will determine the club's ultimate standing.
Prediction: 6th

West Brom: Another of the newly promoted teams, West Brom look to have recruited smartly with a limited budget. So they probably haven't done enough to stay up but have done more than Hull and Stoke. It's a familiar story for the Baggies who have been up and down like Amy Winehouse' moods for as long as I can remember. You would have thought they might try a different approach; maybe just buying one really good player instead of many okay players. They might get it right one day and actually stay up.
Players to watch: All their players are about as alright as each other. I honestly can't pick a standout.
Prediction: 18th. Should put up more of a fight than the two noobs. After all, they've been in this position numerous times before.

West Ham
: Snuck into the top half in 07/08 and should finish between 10th and 14th in this campaign. Have signed defender/midfielder Behrami but lost a couple of players to Fulham and look to be just trying to consolidate on last year's efforts.
Players to watch: Ljundberg and Ashton if they can both stay healthy.
Prediction: 13th. A handy squad but perhaps over-achieved a little last season.

Wigan: Another team that have made a few changes but nothing of note. Given they were nearly relegated last year you would think some bigger changes would be in order. Like Sunderland and Bolton, Wigan can't afford to slip up to the bottom three teams or they might find themselves being in the bottom three. Not a particularly exciting team to watch; I won't be picking many matches involving Wigan on Viewer's Choice.
Prediction: 17th

So that leaves us with a league ladder at season's end looking like:

1. Chelsea
2. Manchester United
3. Arsenal
4. Liverpool
5. Aston Villa
6. Tottenham
7. Everton
8. Manchester City
9. Blackburn
10. Portsmouth
11. Newcastle
12. Fulham
13. Middlesbrough
14. West Ham
15. Bolton
16. Sunderland
17. Wigan
18. West Brom
19. Hull
20. Stoke

Chelsea champions, all three newly promoted teams taking the drop, and Fulham the big improvers.

Enjoy the season and best of luck to your team!

WHAB.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

WHAB's Weekend Edition

Join us over the weekend as we continue our coverage of the Beijing Games and preview the 2008/2009 English Premier League season which begins at 21:40 AEST tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bruce vs Rabs

Bruce McAvaney, love or loathe him, knows his shit. He can cover many sports, each seemingly with as much knowledge as the others. He never makes Johanna Griggs-esque pronunciation mistakes. His commentary style is quasi-excitable yet understated. Never over the top. But therein, often lies the problem. I almost switched off Stephanie Rice's swimming final thinking it was just another heat because he was calling it as if it was a heat. I was outraged. It was such a close race and yet he didn't even slightly raise his voice. Didn't even tell me how "special" it was. It left me pining for some classic Rabs grandstand finish commentary:

"Rice! Coventry! Coventry! Rice! Rice in 5! Coventry 4! Rice! Coventry! Coventry! Rice! Stroke for stroke! There's nothing in it! They hit it! AND RICE GETS THE GOLD! That's gold for Australia, put away the glasses! Coventry brave in defeat but Rice wins! There was dead-set just a poofteenth in it"!

Hall of Schrutebaginess

Long overdue for a public bashing is one of my personal foes - Johanna Griggs. Let's clear something up, she was a crap swimmer who fucked Gary Sweet, sold the wedding photos to Women's Day and has been sleeping her way onto every two bit Channel 7 sport and home renovation show going. Now the problem I have is that I see her face everywhere, I know she must give one hell of a blow job, but instead of being treated to that I have to put up with her bullshit commentary of the Olympic Games. She won one bronze medal at a fucking Commonwealth Games. I wait with baited breathe until Stephanie Rice retires from the pool and takes Johanna down. Griggs, welcome to the Hall.

"I won a bronze at a shitty Commonwealth Games and then fucked someone who actually had talent"

The Only Arnold qualified to coach the Olyroos is:

                                        What you talkin' 'bout Craig Foster.

Superfish not Great White Shark Jr.


Congratulations Leisel Jones on winning the third Gold medal for Australia at the Beijing Olympics.

Until this breakthrough win, I had gotten to speculating about the greatest cover-up in Australian sports. The idea that Leisel Jones was the illegitimate child of one G. Norman.

Think about it, both in their prime sported golden locks of an identical length. Both enjoyed a love-hate relationship with the media. And most importantly, both had the notorious knack for choking on the big stage.




















                            
 Uncanny resemblance or something more???

In fact, halfway down the final lap of today's 100m Breaststroke final, I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Leisel to miss the swimming equivalent of a 2 foot put. Leisel misses the 18th fairway. Three putts and drops the race to a Spaniard.

It was not to be. Greg Norman and Leisel Jones can now sleep safe in the knowledge that I wont be collecting DNA swabs in order to conduct an ad-hoc paternity test.

Leisel Jones, rejoice! The Shark has not passed down his ghoulish recessive choke gene. Unfortunate as well to some extent, a paternity suit might have landed you the rights to some of the "Great White Sharks" super business ideas:


According to the tasting notes, this "Petite Syrah 2004" is robust for the first 17 glasses with flavours of blackcurrant and the aroma of fresh cut grass, however the 18th glass always disappoints as it has no depth on the palate, tastes like a three-putt and has the aroma of someone trying on your green jacket.

The Petite Syrah 2004, is best accompanied with lashings of failure.

Drink it while someone is claiming the British Open Trophy!

Best Drunk after a 72nd hole meltdown.


LOST:

12 pairs of green basketball pants. Last seen at Beijing Olympic Basketball Gymnasium. If found, please return to Australian Olympic basketball squad.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Beijing Games Thus Far...

The Olyroos had their chances against Argentina. In saying that, they didn't look like scoring. When a chance was created they were like possums frozen in car headlights, bewildered that they had an opening on goal against such a quality opponent. You can't fault the boys for their effort though. They defended well under immense pressure, but lacked the quality up front to convert their own chances. A must win game coming up now against Cote d'Ivoire who hit four goals past Serbia.

A thoroughly disappointing effort from the Boomers against Croatia. The 15 point loss was flattering and Australia' perimeter defense was about as good as my Wednesday night team's perimeter defense. European teams invariably contain great shooters but we seemed totally unprepared for their outside threat. That was all I could gather from the 15 minutes or so that Channel 7 squeezed into their coverage at around 11.30 on Sunday night. After another thousand swimming heats. We take on defending Olympic champions Argentina today.

Liesel has "grown so much as a person" and "discovered herself" and can now finally, after being the best in her pet event for countless years, win Olympic GOLD!!!

Equestrian sucks balls. Why there is any coverage of this I have no idea. The most exciting part of equestrian is when the horse takes an untimely dump, or drains the slug.

China are Michael Phelps away from busting the gold medal tally wide open.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Beijing 2008 Poll

The poll in the top right hand corner will run for the duration of Beijing 2008. Tell your friends! Enjoy the games.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Opening Ceremony review

I saw some of the opening ceremony. By some, I mean not a lot. However, I think I am more than able to summarize this for you...

Anyway, there were pigeons, kung-fu, singing, caligraphy and a bunch of other stuff.

It was, as all opening ceremonies are: A multi-billion dollar rock eisteddford. Guaranteed to have given the choreographers boners and that is about it.

Watching the bits of opening ceremony I caught, the only thing that I can compare it to is a wedding. 

"We have to have doves, Sydney had doves." 
"Yeah but the doves flew into the engines of the jets that flew above the stadium."
"I Want DOVES."
"Okay sweetie, It's your opening ceremony."

Knowing that my D-day is not too far away, one could only hope that the organisers at Beijing had given husbands to be the hope that you indeed could have a really basic opening ceremony and that no one would talk about it later.

Beijing let down the men of the world.

Beijing is pussy whipped.

Fortunately, unlike the opening ceremony, any decent wedding still has free booze.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Beijing 2008: Weightlifting!

Damian Brown is a man in the hotseat. He is calling the weighlifting at Beijing and has the shadow of Darrell Eastlake hovering over him. It's hard to see him living up to "Big Daz"; the only reason people used to tune into weighlifting was to hear Daz holler for all he was worth and make a complete ass clown out of himself. After numerous cameos on 12th Man records, and many near misses with heart failure, Eastlake has moved on from sports commentating. You can now hire him to MC a work function or your wedding reception. Fee range B puts him in charge of your mic for a very reasonable $3001-$5000.

Anyway, in the fair dinkum department, the best part of weightlifting is the horrible injuries that can occur when the lifter crumbles under the weight of the bar.

Walk it off champ, you'll be just fine...

I was totally surprised recently to see that Bulgaria had withdrawn their entire weightlifting team from Beijing after 11 members of the squad tested positive to 'roids. And before that I was stunned when 11 Greek lifters tested positive to the gear. Thank God they've caught all the drug cheats now. It would be embarrassing for the sport if lifters won gold medals then tested positive and fled the country clutching their medals, like Shooter McGavin fled clutching his Gold Jacket.

Anyway, that's all the weightlifting I can stomach for now. Searching for weightlifting injury pictures on the internet, I got more than I bargained for, and have scarred my brain for life. I don't think I'll ever be able to watch this sport again. But for the rest of you, enjoy the weightlifting and it's lovely ladies.


OLYROOS 1 : SERBIA 1

Well first off let me apologise for hyping you up into a state of frenzy regarding Gordon Bray calling last nights game - it was far, far worse, Mike 'who the hell is this guy' McCann. Channel 7 couldn't even be bothered putting their main announcer on for the game. If you stuck around after the game to hear the wrap up from the other games you would have been screaming out for Alastair Mann who called the Argentina v Ivory Coast game or even John Roder who called the Brazil v Belgium game. McCann called the game with team sheet in one hand and Google in the other. His comments were stale, uninsightful and with long silences in the game.

But enough of that, back to the game. Bridge upfront was absolutely invisible, whereas Archie Thompson made some good runs and used his pace well. Celeski put in some forgettable crosses in a game which will not live long in his memory. I wouldn't be surprised to see Troisi, who spent the game on the bench, get the start against Argentina. I must admit in what I have seen of Troisi he is yet to live up to his hype, but as one of only a few who have gotten their cap in the senior squad and based on Celeski's performance last night, Arnold, the impotent coach should make the switch. Federici was sound in between the posts although not looking overly comfortable when the ball was passed back to him, taking one or two bad choices in clearing the ball. Nothing much could be done about the powerful header which saw Serbia equal the scores. McClenahan ran hard all game but often lacked the class to beat his man and on several occasions was beaten in one on one situations, although he worked hard to try and win it back. Miligan took a nasty kick to the back of his calf around the 30th minute mark but has been cleared for Sunday's game against the Argies. Sarkies came on late for Thompson when Australia were in the lead but didn't see enough of the game to make an impact. Spiranovic and Topor-Stanley were Australia's best on the night in my opinion. Under constant pressure but were strong and worked well together to weather many raids on the Aussie goal. Zadkovich got Australia's goal and was a terrier much of the game. A few glimpses of both talent and stupidity, and what about that hair. Carney looked like a spark with some of his touches and was largely responsible for Ausralia's goal. North was strong in the back and kept the backline organised in the absence of Milligan.

Australia relied way to much on long balls out of their own half and made way too many turn overs in the midfield. The group is still wide open for the Aussies to progress; Serbia had turned many heads in qualifying for the games, but the Argies and the Cote turned more heads in their opening game. It's going to be tough and the boys will need to show a lot more innovation than they did in this game. Although much has been said of their better than most preparation, let's not forget that its been without much success. For those looking to the future Socceroos in the squad, be impressed with Spiranovic but lets hope they can all lift a notch or two.

SBW's Footy Show Interview

Things I learned during the interview last night:

1. He went for money.
2. He is a "pioneer", he went so other players can one day get more money.
3. He is concerned that bus drivers don't get enough money.
4. His idea of being "ballsy" varies to mine.

Things I didn't learn:

1. Why he penned a five year contract when he was unhappy and had no intention of fulfilling it.
2. Why anyone would listen to Anthony Mundine and Khoder Nasser.
3. What bus drivers have to do with rugby league.
4. Much at all. In fact, I feel dumber for having had to sit through it. The thing's I do for WHAB!

And just one dollar for every "you know what I mean" during that interview...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Semi Pro

I caught Semi-Pro on the weekend.

Combine the 70s, Will Ferrell and a sports movie, you can't go wrong, right??

It was Saturday night, I had just arrived back from the pub so I would be hard to disappoint, right??

It sucked. It sucked more than I could have believed. 

Hence the poll on the Right.

Beijing Preview: Swimming

It has to be done.

Sure you have heard great detail about the Olympic swimming over the last month.

Every time you open a paper, turn on the TV: Swimming.

Olympics coverage = swimming coverage.

This post could be yet another hypothetical "how many gold medals will Australia win in the pool?" or another puff piece about how "Leisel Jones turned her life around" or even more annoying "The traumas of having a long-distance relationship."

** Editors note, Are there really any traumas in a long distance relationship?? My experience suggests that the infrequent meetings are purely sexual, and not based on sitting on the couch watching McLeods Daughters..The other 75%+ of your free time is dedicated to your mates and watching sport. The TRAUMA.**

And the "Duel in the Pool" crap is not on here. In a lot of races, the Dutch, South Africans and Chinese will push Australia. If an Aussie can't win. Back the Jaaapie. If South African accents aren't funny as fuck at the best of times, wait until you hear one that is struggling to breathe.

Anyway, you know that this will be the highlight in terms of Australian gold medal tallies already.

If you are anything like me, you personally hate the sport but are a pretty hardcore patriot and this makes for must see viewing.

You probably also don't relate to the swimmers personally. You find their clean-cut lifestyle and lack of body hair disconcerting. You want more personality. More public urination. You probably would have sent in an application form for Nick D'Arcy to be Australian of the year if he didn't have one of those untrustworthy apostrophes in his name and had punched someone more deserving, like this guy:

But as it stands with all of the key injuries suffered by the athletics team, half of the events being rigged by China and the rest of the sports being really lame that this could be (in the words of Roy and HG) our worst games since Montreal*. As such swimming is going to be where most of our patriotic joy comes from.

In fact, if pubs offered free beer in the second week of the games for every gold medal won by Australia, there could be some damn happy publicans. And no one wants to see that.


Anyway some things to watch at the pool:

1. GOLD! Lots of sweet GOLD!

2. In a Happy Gilmore-esque moment, after winning silver Leisel Jones takes off the swimming equivalent of a skate and stabs a guy.

3. Dorky swimming celebrations. Who could forget the lamitude that was the air-guitar.


4. Ray Warren turns up in Max Walker fashion and demands to call the races.
I've got this big mother-fucking cricket bat that says: `I can'

5. Chinese women's swim team turn up looking like Chinese mens swim team. Speedo rep denies that the new suits add 20 kgs of muscle and a pair of testicles.

6. Some tight races. The 1500m swimming is boring as bat shit, right? Well, yes. But it should be close. Unlike 8 years ago when Grant Hackett could sit on the blocks after the race started and have a cigarette and a schooner before jumping in, this should be tight.

Anyway, it should be exciting. Unlike watching the Ashes series in England which made me come back to playing cricket, and the soccer World Cup making me take up soccer again, rest assured that when Grant Hackett wins another 1500, I won't be signing up for swimming lessons at 5:00AM. Swimming is teh suck.

* N.B. If Montreal has a real similarity to anything it is the Sydney games. Both games involved the building of a monstrosity of a stadium that no one ever wants to go to. For more information see the death of baseball in Montreal or the upcoming death of at least one Sydney league team.


BEIJING 2008: FOOTBALL

Since 1992, players of men's Olympic football must be under 23 years of age with three over 23 players allowed per squad. This arrangement was forged between the IOC and FIFA as a comprimise to boost the significance and quality of the Olympic competition without comprimising the FIFA World Cup and complementing their under 17 and under 20 tournaments.

Nigeria and Cameroon won gold in 96 and 00 respectively with Argentina the defending champions taking it out in Athens. Australia first qualified in the 56 Melbourne games as host nation and didn't requalify until 88. From 88 the Olyroos have successfully qualified for every games since with their best result being a fourth in the 92 Barcelona games.

Women's football has been in the olympics since 96 and the lovely Matildas qualified in 00 as host nation and again in Athens. Unfortunately the ladies failed to qualify for Beijing so unfortunately we don't have any calendars to look forward to.

The draw for the Beijing games is as follows:
Group A: Ivory Coast (but please how cool is saying Cote d'Ivoire), Serbia, Argentina, Australia
Group B: Netherlands, USA, Nigeria, Japan
Group C: China, Belgium, New Zealand, Brazil
Group D: South Korea, Italy, Cameroon, Honduras

The Olyroos face Serbia on August 7th, Argentina on the 10th, and Cote d'Ivoire on the 13th. Coach G. "I don't know what I'm doing" Arnold is confident he can steer the Olyroos to match, or better their last Olympic's result of making it to the quarter finals, but hey he was confident the Socceroos would win the Asian Cup.

The Olyroos squad picked for the games is as follows:
Mark Bridge (Sydney FC)
Billy Celeski (Melbourne Victory)
Adam Federici (Reading, England)
Neil Kilkenny (Leeds United, England)
Adrian Leijer (Fulham Athletic, England)
Trent McClenahan (uncontracted)
Mark Milligan (uncontracted)
Stuart Musialik (Sydney FC)
Nikita Rukavytsya (Perth Glory)
Kristian Sarkies (Adelaide United)
Matthew Spiranovic (FC Nurnberg, Germany)
Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Perth Glory)
James Troisi (uncontracted)
Tando Velaphi (Perth Glory)
Rueben Zadkovich (Derby County, England)

Overage players
David Carney (Sheffield United, England)
Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory)
Jade North (Newcastle Jets)
















The real talk has been regarding European clubs releasing stars to play at the Olympics. Most notably is the defiant Batista (Argie coach) demanding that Lionel Messi be allowed to play all Olympic games despite Barcelona taking the matter to the court of arbitration for sport and succesfully overturning the original FIFA decision that clubs are obliged to release players for the Olympics. Will he stay or will he go? Who knows, FIFA is pleading that clubs conform to the spirit of the games and allow players to participate without retribution, but it will be something to keep an eye on before laying your bets.

Finally, Channel 7 have decided to cover the games as opposed to leaving them to their much better qualified broadcasting partner SBS. Fans of the game have not forgotten Channel 7's previous football coverage which has included missing goals due to ad breaks. I have no faith in Channel 7 nor Gordon Bray who has been named as match announcer. The game against Serbia is not only delayed but will be interrupted to announce who is going to be the flag bearer at the opening ceremony. Now word is that US broadcaster NBC is going to stream many of the Olympic football games live online. So instead of having to put up with the usual bullshit Olympic mash that Channel 7 broadcast you should be able to get Australia v Argentina live and uninterrupted. Follow this link and then sign up for live Olympic coverage (use for example 62260 as a valid zip code and charter communications as cable provider when asked).

Look out for some strong perfomances from Milligan and Troisi, both talented and both still looking for clubs. To be honest, I'm more concerned about Arnold as coach then I am any of the squad selections, but you can bet I will be cheering them on to gold and glory.

Must See TV

Don't miss Phil Gould trying to make Sonny Bill Williams sound like the good guy on the Footy Show tonight. An excerpt: "I just feel for you Sonny Bill. You were easily the best player in the game and a great kid too, a hero for Polynesians everywhere. It's an absolute tragedy to see you go. And fuck you David Gallop. Fuck you NRL. It's just so sad (sniff...sniff...).

For an earlier interview, check out the following link:

Beijing 2008: Table Tennis

It's amazing how a sport we play for fun in the garage, usually while pissed off our heads, is so huge in China. The top four men in the ITTF world rankings and top five women are Chinese. With the 7,557 strong home crowd behind them, it will be a brave man to bet against a Chinese clean sweep of the individual and team events. Spare a thought for Ma Long who is ranked 4th in the world and has to watch from the stands, while Eric "The Eel" equivalents get their asses folded and handed neatly back to them by his illustrious team-mates. So as China hammer all-comers unmercifully, as the loony fans packed into the Peking University Gymnasium scream for blood, the billions watch proudly on TV in all corners of the host nation, and we see none of it on Channel 7...well I was going to go into the finer points of the speed drive, loop drive, flip, smash, push, block, push-block, chop, side drive, lob and drop shot, but there doesn't seem to be much point if we aren't going to see any of it. So instead here's a little something that might improve your game at home:

Australia are represented in the women by Miao Miao, Jian Fang Lay and Stephanie Sang. Miao Miao is looking to experiment with a revolutionary outfit at Beijing:

Good luck with that...

William Henzell is at $501 to win the gold and you can write your own ticket on David Zalcberg and Kyle Davis. Henzell has become a cult hero in Adelaide with regular appearances on the Triple M breakfast show. His favourite band is Iron Maiden and he supports Liverpool in the EPL. Seems like a cool guy, a handy team-mate to pull out at your next drunken garage tourny (after placing sizeable bets of course) and from his favourite training outfit, you can see that growing up in the '80's, he also dreamed of playing in the AFL one day.


But nevertheless, you'll likely see no table tennis on Channel 7. Here's what you'll be missing...


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

WHAB on theroar.com.au

Nominate and vote for the article below our Beijing Hockey preview at theroar.com.au at the following link and join NRLFASSR today!

BEIJING 2008: Hockey

Since 1964, Australia have won 10 hockey medals, four of them Gold. For many decades the Australian men's hockey team, the Kookaburras, was the best in the world, but unfortunately suffered a severe case of "Norman choke". Until Athens 04, the 'burras had won 3 silver and 3 bronze medals with their first gold to finally come in 04. On the other side of this astro turf field of dreams the Australian women's team, (known as the Hockeyroos ) have gone after the gold like a Filipino mail order bride. After winning it all in 88, 96 and 2000, these sexy gold diggers were unable to take away any medals from Athens.


11 teams have set their sights on defending men's champions Australia, to wrestle the gold from their grasp. Out of the 12 teams Coach Dancer lists Germany, Holland, Spain and Korea as the real threats to Australia's back to back gold glory.


Australia has drawn the Netherlands, Pakistan, Great Britain, Canada and South Africa in their group stage with Germany, Spain, South Korea, New Zealand, Belgium and hosts China comprising the other group of competing nations.


If all goes to plan Australia will likely face the Dutch, Germany and Spain in the finals but from there no one can write the script. Australia will be buoyed by their recent tournament victories in the 2008 Champions Trophy and the Beijing "me so lucky" Olympic test event crown.

The women are currently ranked 4 in the world and I tip to impress in these games. Despite previous victories in China, I will have to put pollution, heat and humidity as the three main threats to the Aussie tilt. No doubt Channel 7 will split coverage of the hockey with the synchronised swimming, shot put, the 20km walk, archery, and badminton, so if you are lucky you will get about 5-10 min snippets of the games, but I urge you to stay alert and keep your eyes open for Hockeyroo 'Miss Hollywood' - I think you will agree that its worth it.