Zio.Fish
7 years ago
1 day ago
50

CHAPTER 1.25: TREBLE TROUBLE

 

After the burning loss in the AFC Final I just dove into work. We had a great couple of months to close the season that allowed us to really pursue the domestic treble (commuity shield, Liga 1 and Piala). We will start from the Piala. Despite everything we thought we had no problem winning the second leg against PSM Mekassar, avengeing the elimination of last year. In semifinal we played against Persipura Jayapura, we had a clear mission in mind and they weren't enough of a threat for us. With an aggregate of 5-0 we reached the final where we found Pausamania Borneo waiting for us!

 

Just like in Liga1 the main opponent to the title is Borneo. In the first leg we played well, but their defense was particulary solid that day. Specifically their goalkeeper, Angga Saputra, had himslef a great night and won man of the match. With a 0-0 in the first leg everything was left to be decided in front of our fans.

 

The second leg was pretty different. The players knew it was our last chance to lift this trophy and they delivered. Angga Saputra played really well again but this time we had just too mnay chances to be stopped. Up 2-0 we conceded in the last minutes only to give some excitement to the injury time where Puasamania really tried to score but didn't had a single shot…

 

Giacomino managed to add to his trophy cabinet the only Indonesian title that was still missing! But the season wasn't over yet and the treble pursuit continued. In Liga 1, there wasn't much of a dispute. We won every single game except for a draw with Persib just after the AFC final. We finished the season with 91 points (2 less than last year) and a 26 points advantage on the second ranked team Pausamania Borneo. 

 

After the last game, against PSIS Semarang, I took the team out to celebrate. But before entering the Surya Skydisc nightclub I took them out to dinner. When we reached the restaurant I had a speech ready. The board already knew that this had been my last game in Kediri, but for the players this would have been a crushing news. “Boys, if I can have your attention here for a minute for a couple of words, that would be great” I said. I had learned pretty well Bahasa Indonesia so I spoke in their native language, hopefully Arthur, Ottaviano and Patrick could manage to get the meaning of my words. “Tonight will be my last night in Kediri. To some of you may come as a schock, some of you may had already had this feeling. I'm not sure how many of you remember our former Head of youth Development that left us at the beginning of the year, Daniel Gardner (I secreted his team in the screen). Well he contacted me a couple of weeks ago saying that his team thought of me as their new manager. Well I accepted and I will be their new manager from tomorrow. I want all of you to know just how special you are. When I started here I was just a guy looking for his place in the world, for some I was just this rich dude who was following a whine. I was a lot of things but for sure I wasn't a football manager. You helped me become one, you were incredibly patient with me despite your daily job depended from me. I'm so glad for all the achievements we had together, but most importantly I'm grateful to you for welcoming me in your country and let me enjoy all the beauties this nation offered. I hope, from the bottom of the heart, that from tomorrow you will still see me as a dear friend, because I will forever treasure this two years.” The team went silent, to be fair some of my contacts with my next team might have leaked around the lockeroom in past weeks, so I think they did expect it. Then Klok broke the silence:"If we achieved all this with you, I can't help but be sure we will win the AFC Champions League next Year with a proper manager!" He joked, everyone laughed. “Anjing Marc!” I exclaimed “you will be the only one that has to pay for his food tonight!" The atmosphere got really relaxed and we all enjoyed the night.

 

Yes, you heard right. We are leaving Indonesia and Persik. If you want to you can try to guess our next destination by the hint I gave you. Now let's just spend a couple of screen to see how far we have come.

 

This is my profile 2 years and a half ago. 

This is me now, quite an improvement, especially in that level of Discipline!

 

These are the stats after the Kediri experience:

 

And this is what Indonesia has forged me into. I'm pretty proud of my profile!

 

And now we depart. Just to let you know that I was so succesefull that I'm now the 2nd best manager in the history of Indonesia. Not bad, is it?

 

 

 

Zio.Fish
7 years ago
1 day ago
50

CHAPTER 2: HEAR US ROAR

 

So did you guess it? Our new team is Brisbane Roar FC, in the Australian A League! I was contacted by the former chiarman of Brisbane Roar who is the Indonesian Rahim Soekasah. Before buying this club he was in the board of both Pelita Jaya FC for an impressive 15 years period and PSSI. He never stopped following Indonesian football and was impressed with my work at Persik so he suggested my name to the new board. Daniel Gardner, my former head of youth development at Persik that moved here a year ago, pleaded in my favour aswell and so the ney chairman, Henry Oliver, hired me.

 

The A League follows the europena schedule, with the league being played between november and may. Since we are in the very last days of 2023 we are being appointed in the middle of the league, just like in Kediri. The flight from Kediri to Brisbane is pretty heavy: first we reach Surabaya than we fly to jakarta and then, after an 8 hour call we embark for Sidney. We land in Australia after 7 hours, but we still haven't reached the final destination: there is still a 1 hour and a half flight for Brisbane waiting for us. After 19 hours we have finally reached our hotel. It's early in the morning so we have no time to relax: we have to run to the training center to meet the team, the staff and the media! If this tour de force isn't enough we have a match to play in just 24 hours, so tonight I will have to embark again (luckly is a short flight as we play just outside Sidney)

 

So Brisbane Roar is a very important club in australian football, or soccer as they call it here. It has won the domestic title on three occasions, as well as holding the longest unbeaten record of 36 league matches without defeat. The origins of Brisbane Roar are traced back to the founding of Hollandia F.C. by Dutch immigrants in 1957. The club competed under this name for almost 20 years until, in the interest of inclusiveness and because perceptions that members of the public saw soccer as a migrants' game, all clubs were required to adopt non-ethnic name, they opted to adopt the name Brisbane Lions. In the 1990s, the club again changed its name to Queensland Lions but at the end of the 2004 season, Queensland Lions withdrew from the local Senior Men's competition to compete in the new National A-League as Queensland Roar. In 2009, the club was officially renamed to Brisbane Roar Football Club due to two other Queensland-based clubs entering the A-League competition; that being Gold Coast United and North Queensland Fury.

 

After this history pills let's get back to us. We arrived here with little to no time to get to know the team.  As of now they have no respect for me but the atmosphere is pretty good, so I'm not worried as I am sure that I will be able to win their hearts soon. Renzo came with me here in Asutralia, so at least I won't have to create a new relationship with my second in command. We will not change the tactics they used till now, but maybe we will give it some minor tweaks. 

 

As of now we are standing in the 9th place. The objective for the season is to end at least in 6th position in order to clinch a position for a playoff run. I don't really understand the structure since there are 12 teams but we play 26 games in a regular season, but I guess we will have our chance to see.

 

 

Zio.Fish
7 years ago
1 day ago
50

CHAPTER 2.1: FRENETIC START

 

I was officialy appointed on the 30th of december 2022. The schedule of the team for January was pretty dense so I just jumped in the role, without having the chance to relly get to know the players or to fully understand the team rules. I got that they are somewhat similar to the american system, with some scholarships for younger player, a salary cap and stuff like that. I will for sure dive deeper once I get some time to get settled. The first day of job was basically just me getting to the training ground, which is located in Gold Coast, around 80 kilometers outside of downtown Brisbane. Talk rapidly to the team, meet the captain Tom Aldred, and then head straigh for the presentation to the press. Around 8 pm I was free to go to my new house, just a couple of minutes of drive from the training center. My home is quite beautiful, it's in Arbuthnot Parade near the docks of Nerang River. The club provided me with this house but wasn't able to house Renzo and Michele near me, so they are both staying in an Hotel right next to our training center. Since it's me we are talking about I bought an helicopter to keep near the training ground to travel to downtown Brisbane. 

 

I had not even the chance to unpack that we had to focus on the games. My debut is against Newcastle Jets, in 11th place. I didn't bring much to the table, I switched the false 9 striker to an advanced forward and one centre mid to a ball winning midfielder. Despite dominating on the pitch with an impressive 26 shots total we didn't manage to go over the 0-0 draw.

 

The second match was on the road aswell. We faced Western Sydney Wanderers, who were sitting below us too. Tonight we had no trouble reaching the back of the net, but our defensive end, especially from the goalkeeper, weren't exciting. We draw again, after dominating the match. From my point of view this are 4 points thrown into the trash. But I won't alarm yet, it isn't been 7 days since I was appointed so the time to do better will come.

 

The third match in just 9 days my debut in our home stadium, the Suncorp Stadium. We host Adelaide United, right now sitting in the last playoff spot avaliable so they are in a slightly better form than us. Once again we play very well but fail to win. It's starting to be a trend that I don't really like….

 

Finally a win! We embarked on one of the longest flight of the championship: we head to Perth! They were just above us in the 8th place. Ironically, despite playing well, we managed to win the only match we didn't dominate!

 

Our first big match is against Western United, who is actually sitting in 2nd place. We hold proudly our ground and after being down twice we are able to comeback and secure a draw in the very last minute of the game!

 

Against the central coast mariners we can notice a pattern really similar to the one we saw against Perth. This time tho we are much more prolific and manage to score 3 times.

 

The last game of this tour de force (we played all this matches in a 20 days span) is against Mebourn Victory, who are sitting at the top of the table. Well this is the Giacomino you all love, winning against bigger team without a sweat!

 

With this win we reached the 6th place wich means playoff baby! We have 10 games left in the regular season, and as of now the objective is still to win the most possible games. We will see. For now we have a 20 days pause and I will start to unpack and get to know Australia a little better! 

 

 

 

 

 

Zio.Fish
7 years ago
1 day ago
50

CHAPTER 2.2: GETTING USED TO THE AUSTRALIAN WAY

 

After the home win against Melbourne Victory we had a 20 days pause, in which I finally had chance to settle in. My house started looking much better with all the packs opened. I had a decorator manage my furnish for my new place because I didn't enjoy much the “buisness decoration” type of living, it reminded too much of my old life. The day to day training was starting to feel regular, as it should be, and I started to become acquainted with some players. Our profiles are surely the new sign Lawrence Thomas, which we paid an impressive 600k, and the italo-australian youngster Filppo Becchi. Filippo is incredibly promising and me and Renzo are already putting him under heavy responsabilities. We are bonding pretty well thanks to our shared nationality, he speaks a good Italian, heavy influenced by the dialect of his parents who are from Genoa. 

 

Here we are under a very larger spotlight than we were in Kediri. It's common to be stopped around Gold Coast and Brisbane from fans and to get selfies with them. Honestly I don't enjoy fame much, but Renzo, on the other end, is living his best life: we are becoming friends with Nicola Sutto, the manager of a very nice italian restaurant called 1889 Enoteca. Renzo, in particular, has fallen in love with that place because the dishes remind him of home, and I, for one, have to admit that they are pretty tasty. More importantly I held a big housewarming party for all team and staff memebers with a traditional australian barbecue. In Kediri I was used that inviting the staff would have meant to welcome an additional 4 or 5 persons, but here at the Roar the staff is much more large! We have many more coaches and physios, we even have analysts and sport scientists! I ended up inviting people I hadn't even met yet! Luckly my security handled everything perfectly and the barbecue went really smoothly. But we were in Australia to play football, not to just train and eat well, so let's give back the stage to the game!

 

In the following months we had just two matches away, and not even that far, so I had the chance to develop some sort of routine that dind't involve getting in a plane any other day. After creating a little chemistry with the players results just started to take off. The level in this championship is really even, at least in a technical point of view, so any team can really beat the other. So Renzo and I figured that our best chance to perform was to mentally prepare the team for the games, improving the focus on defense and composure on offense. Plus we really insisted on the physical aspect: I was not a fan of the stamina I found when i came in, it was clear that they hadn't have a proper pre-season plan, so I made them grind kilometers to build up. The results were pretty clear: on a 6 game schedule we won all 6, making it a 8 win run. We scored 16 goals with 11 different goalscorer, so that's saying something about the potential of this squad.

 

Of course, with such an impressive run we are climbing the table pretty fast. With 4 more matches to play in the regular season we are sitting in second place only a point behind Melburne Victory. The first two top finisher in the regular season qualify directly for the playoff semifinal, while the team positioned 3-6 have to play an additional match.But that's not all: the winner of the regular season qualifies directly for the group stage of the AFC Champions League! That wouldn't be half bad for a first season here wouldn't it?

 

And since we are in such a good run the board accepted my request for sponsoring my studies for one more licence! I think I'm breaching to their hearts already!

 

This are the last 4 regular season games. What do you think? Will we be able to hold our spot? Will we even get higher?

 

 

 

 

 

Zio.Fish
7 years ago
1 day ago
50

CHAPTER 2.3: DOUBLE DIGIT RUN 

 

This last month has been incredible. We had nother 15 days of pause for the international break and I used them to get to know Brisbane a little bit better and to start living it for real. I've been going a lot of times to many different rooftop bars. There I lately met a girl, Charlotte. We are in the early days of dating but I'm really intrigued by her. She's a couple years younger than me and works in healthcare and doesn't really like football, as she prefers rugby. But anyway you don't want to hear about that, you would like to know more about our team, don't you? 

 

Charlotte face

 

Well as I said this month was incredible. We continued our march, with 3 more wins. The first game went on pretty smoothly, despite Central Coast Mariners being the hardest opponent of this lot. After the game we rapidly flew to Newcastle, Australia to play against the Jets, the cow's tail of this league. Despite the little rest we had inbetween matches we still manage to regulate them with an all around win. For the last game of this lot we had to play against Adelaide United. To reach Adelaide we departed directly from Newcastle because we had no time to get back home then to leave again. Against the Reds we had some difficulties as a whole, but luckly Christian Kouakou was in a state of grace and scored twice off personal actions. We conceded one in the late game but still managed to come out winningly.

 

With only one game left in the regular season we are sitting at the top of the league with a 2 points advantage on Melbourne Victory. The only difference between closing first or closing second is just the fact that the first qualifies directly for the AFC Champions League group stage, while the second is left empty handed. Both teams will begin the playoffs by skipping a turn and competing directly from the semifinals.

 

While it's fair to think that Melburne will have the hardest game, since they'll play against Western Untied, currently standing in 3rd place, it's also correct to state that we will have our hands full with Perth Glory who is still fighting for a playoff spot and without a win may not be able to clinch it. 

 

 

 

Zio.Fish
7 years ago
1 day ago
50

CHAPTER 2.4: THE LAST GAME OF REGULAR SEASON

 

I've been in Australia for a little less than 4 months and now I'm already running for the regular season title here at Brisbane. We had an incredible run so far and we aldready managed to climb from the 9th place to the first. Now in this last game we will have to keep our spot by winning against Perth Glory. Actually we don't need to win exclusively, mirroring the Melburne Victory - Western United match's result will be enough. As of now we have a 2 point advantage on Melburne, so assuming Melburne will winn we will have to at least draw or win our game. If Melbourne, for any reason, doesn't win then we are still first despite any resulot we will achieve against Perth. 

 

Perth has come to Brisbane with the intention to win, because they are still fighting for the last playoff spot with Macarthur Fc and without a win they may really compromise their situation. So everything points to a very hard fight. 

 

The game is a real battle, with may hard tackles, a lot of fouls and a lot of yellow cards. Nervousness reigns supreme for the first half hour of play. Around the 35' Perth Glory has the first real chance to go ahead with a nice strike from outside by Paulo Retre, but it leads to nothing as our goalkeeper, lawrence Thomas, catches it with an incredible save. That shot awake us and we start to produce some offensive opportunities aswell. The first half ends without anything remarkable and still at 0-0. No news come from Melburne during half time, we are still sitting at the top of the league. We get back on the pitch knowingly that all it takes is one more goal to set our future straight. At the 56' minute the stadium breaks out in a roar: the scoreboard just notified us that Western United scored and is now leading against Melburne Victory! The main objective now is to remain focused on our game, because if we get distracted we can easily concede and that may put us in danger. But at the 71' minute we all explode of joy: we score with Kouakou!

 

In the last 20 minutes we are litterary assaulted by Perth Glory, but we hold well and manage to come out victorious! Since we were too busy defending our lead we even missed the fact that Melburne Victory drew against Western Untied, but it doesn't matter at all! We won the regular season! 

 

In the other matches we see the wins of Central Coast Mariners and Melburne City that allows them to overthrow Western Untied and make him fall to the 5th position. Unfortunately for Perth Glory, Macarthur FC draws and clinch the 6th place, the last avaliable spot for the playoff thanks to a single goal advantage over Perth Glory.

 

And now the real title race begins! We will enter the playoffs from the semifinal round, now there will be the eliminational round between the teams ranked from 3rd position to 6th.

 

Zio.Fish
7 years ago
1 day ago
50

CHAPTER 2.5: WIN OR GO HOME

 

After the win in the regular season I booked a one night out just to keep my minds off football. All the player were given a free day as a gift for their incredible run so I made Michele to book a very romantic hotel in Brisbane for a single night with Charlotte. I was in the mood for a celebration. I know many of you have that "mamba mentality" of job's not done until we win it all but I didn't see it that way: I took over a team that was ninth just three months ago and brought them all the way up to the top of the table to end the regular season. This alone is an achievement worth of a celebration. So I spent the night and the full day after with Charlotte. I tell you this woman is special, she may really be my soulmate. We have been dating only for a couple of months but I'm really in love. To be completely honest I'm thinking about proposing to her. You are the first one to know about this, but I already bought the ring. If we win the championship I will propose to her during the celebrations. But keep it secret! You are the only one that know this as of now! I haven't confessed it to Renzo or Michele yet, and that shows the trust I'm putting in you!

 

After the day off it was time to focus on our Semifinal. The draw gave us the winner of the Western United- Central Coast Mariners elimination game. At this point the competition enter in a series of one-off matches all the way to the Grand Final. 

 

A week after the last regular season game the elimination round is played. Western United wins 2-1 in the extra time and Melburne City beats Macarthur FC (the reigning champions). So the semifinals will be Brisbane Roar vs Western United and Melburne Victory against Melburne City. As the highest-ranked team we have the advantage to play at home in the Suncorp Stadium.

 

The only unavaliable starter for this game is our left back Corey Brown, who is suspended for receiving too many yellow cards. The other 10 are our back bone that lead us here. We are favoured by the odds so I expect a good performance that allows us to reach the Grand Final.

 

We show from the very start that we don't feel the tension of an in or out game: at 3rd minute we are already ahed thanks to a wonderful goal by Akbari. Western United doesn't show any reaction so we lead the charge at the 11th minute with Kouakou that strikes from the side of the box, but Choutesiotis is ready to neutralize the threat. The the 17th minute Western Untied finally ring the bell with an header from Prijovic, but it falls straight in the hands of Thomas. Around the 30' Kouakou crosses the ball from the left towards the middle of the box, Akbari stops it and pass it back to Becchi who strikes from just inside the box and scores the 2-0 goal! We are rapidly approaching half time; at the 40' mark Choutesiotis makes a huge mistake from a goalkick: he misses the pass and serves Crowley, who, face to face with the goalkeeper, has no problem striking in the 3-0 goal! 

The second half starts with us leading 3-0. We just need to keep focus and to not make too many mistakes to secure the Grand Final. Western United on the other side is going to play a very attacking half. The first shot of the period is from Fitzgerald, who doesn't really aim well for the goal and strikes wide. Around the hour mark Western United manages to score the 3-1 goal from a corner kick with an header from Lacroix. We slower the game tempo trying to put it to sleep and in fact we manage to neutrilize the offensive threats from United. We go really close to a fourth goal in the 83rd minute with an header from Aspropotamitis that hits the bar. At the 86th minute ZImarino throws a long pass that flies right over the head of our defense and finds Mileusnic on the run. Mileusnic then throws a great cross toward the center of the box, Thomas doesn't manage to catch it and Fitzgeral manages to put in the 3-2 goal. With 5 minutes left we are litteraly assaulted by white shirts! The desperation leads them to even bring the goalkeeper in our box for the last assault from a corner kick, but somehow we manage to throw the ball away and to resist untile the triple whistle by the referee! We won

 

In the Grand Final we will play against Melburne Victory. The only precedent saw Giacomino win convincingly win 3-0 at the Suncorp Stadium. As the better ranked team we will play at home this crucial game!

 

 

Zio.Fish
7 years ago
1 day ago
50

CHAPTER 2.6: THE GRAND FINAL

 

We did it, we reached the most illustrous game in Australian football: the Grand Final of the A League. Just as the odds predicted the two top finisher of the regular season, Brisbane Roar and Melburne Victory, will face off in this incredible game. The atmosphere here at Suncorp Stadium is electric, but not as passionate as I was used in Kediri. There is almost 29k people in attendance, which is almost ten thousand people more for a Persik sold-out, but the eye catcher is a lot less impressive since the stadium can hold a whole 55k fans. It is a lot more dispersive to be honest, and the chants are a lot less thunderous than the Persikmania's ones. Despite everything the importance of the game can't be stressed enough. The media attention around this competition is much heavier than what I'm used to, I think that only the AFC Cup final had that many cameras around the pitch. Renzo is really nervous, to be honest between the two of us I've always handled the pressure better, but tonight he is particulary agitated. To reassure him I just joked about a couple of things before entering the lockeroom. I needed to keep his mind off because I couldn't have him stress around this game. When I entered Aspropotamitis was already motivating his teammates, so I just sat there and listened to my central defender. He was so fierce that he even convinced Renzo about our potential. I was sure that if Renzo changed in a kit and went on the pitch in our starting eleven after that speech he woould have been the man of the match at 60 years old. “Johnatan has already said everything that had to be said” I said, after our defender finished the pre game talk “I will just wait for my name to be called on stage at the end of the game to get my medal. Let's get on the pitch and fucking annihilate those Melbourninas!” 

 

 

Since this match is so important Sortitoursi TV snatched the TV rights from Sky and made it possible to broadcast here the higlights of the game! Enjoy!

 

WE DID IT!

 

In the lockeroom everyone was going nuts. No one expected us to win at the begin of the season, and even less people imagined that we could win when I was appointed, but here we are, we the trophy in our hands and everyone drunk with dozens of bottle of champagne allready emptied. In this madness of jubilation Charlotte reached me in the lockerooms. “I was looking for you everywhere Giacomino!” she said as she kissed me “No I was looking for you Arly” I said as I took out the ring I had in my pocket and kneeled. The room went completely silent, despite the level of drunkness I captivated everyone's attention. Then, breathlessly, I said: 

“Will you marry me?”

 

 

 

 

Zio.Fish
7 years ago
1 day ago
50

CHAPTER 2.7: COLD SHOWER

 

Charlotte didn't answer. She just stood there with the eyes wide open, frightened. Shit I don't like that, why isn't she saying anything? Everyone in the lockeroom is looking right at us. “Giacomino, maybe we should talk about this somewhere else” said, after what it looked like an eternity in silence. I get up, humiliated, and head to the physio room right next to the lockeroom. While I was going out I clearly heard Juan Lescano, our argentinian striker, yell "Oh my God what a pitiful scene" before bursting out laughing. I headed back straight back and met his eyes, he stiffed up and looked back petrified at me. He was lucky I had to talk with Charlotte, but this was not going to blow off easily for him. I reached Charlotte, heartbroken, and waited for her to say something about what just happened. She, reluctantly, started speaking: “Giacomino, what the hell! Look, I'm sorry to have you embarassed in front of the whole team, but I dind't know you thought we are at THAT point in our relationship! I mean, we have been going out of three months, you barely met my family, I still know nothing about yours. Fucking hell! We didn't even told each other ‘ I love you’ and you propose???” “But I do love you! I've known this since the last time I met you” “Well maybe telling it before proposing might have been a wise idea don't you think? But marriage is an important thing, hell, we didn't even move in together. I mean why did you felt it was a good idea to skip all these steps and head straight to proposing???” “Arly, pelase, stop being so aggressive and stop accusing me. I clearly misread this relationship. I'm ready to take this leap, but clearly I'm wrong here. I still believe you are the woman of my life. So please give me a chance to fix this.” I was basically begging her, something I never did in my life ebfore. “As of now I'm not sure about anything, the only thing I know is that I'm not ready for marriage yet” her eyes were pretty clear, I fucked up and she wasn't willing to give me another chance “Ok look Charlotte let's do it like this. take your time to think, and reach out once you have a made up your mind about where we can go together” “I won't marry you Giacomino, I know this, I told you” “It doesn't have to be marriage, not yet at least. I don't want to lose you Arly, I just can't” She looked at me, in her eyes you could see a mix of sadness and pity. She then left without saying anything more, left me in the room alone. After a good 10 minutes of mope I decided to come out to head home. In the hallway I met the chairman Henry Oliver “Hey Giacomino” he told me “I know now is not the time, Renzo told me what happened. I just want to let you know that you can take some time off, don't worry. The team will go on holiday now and will come back for the preseason training in about 5 weeks. If you need more time Renzo already said that he can take charge until you feel alright. You did a great job with this team and we will be happy to wait for you!" “Thank you Oliver, this means a lot” While I was heading home in my helicopter I saw from above all the celebrations for our title all around the city, I'm not gonna lie, knowing that what we achieved with our team caused this general euphoria made me feel a little bit better. Once I got home I only sent one text, to Dale Baker, our director of football: Hi Dale, by next season I want Leascano out of the team. I don't care where he goes, I just want him out. Thanks.

 

The holidays went on pretty fast, I decided to spoil my self so I made Michele buy me a small private island between Fiji and Tuvalu. I spent there the whole 5 weeks in a sort of spiritual retreat, trying to put order in my life. Michele once again was super efficent and managed my stay at the perfection, he thought about everything, so when I came back to Brisbane I gave him 2 weeks completely free from duty in my Island to do whatever he wanted with whoever he wanted. 

 

Despite what the chairman said to me on the last day of the season I came back in time for the start of the preseason. In Australia the season begins with the Westfield FFA Cup, that starts in August and ends in late November, when the A League starts. Then from March we will have to play in ACL. It will be a long season full of games, I can't wait to see what out DoF Baker did in the transfermarket!

Zio.Fish
7 years ago
1 day ago
50

CHAPTER 2.8: NEW SEASON, NEW ME

 

As I said once I started here this nation is incredibly balanced. So the fact that we won last season doesn't mean we are the favourite to win again. I mean, the media predict us to finish on top, but that's not the point. If in Kediri we knew we were stronger than any other Indonesian team, here we can't give that for granted. That's why we will have to keep our attention at 100% and our hustle at 110% throughout the season. We are strong but we can fall as easily as we got up. 

With that in mind our Director of Football, Dale Baker, built our team for the season to come. We had roughly a 250k transfer budget, and he used it all on one player: Nnamdi Oforoboh. The nigerian was bought from Rangers Glasgow to improve our midfield. With some incredible defensive skills, combined with a superb 14 passing and incredible stamina he will surely improve our midfield. Baker also managed to do me a favour and offload Lescano for free to the Newcastle Jets, I don't want to see that vile argentinian nowhere near Brisbane anymore. To replace him Baker snatched off the free agent list another nigerian, Toluwalase Arokodare. He is basically an ebanon tower that will use his incredible strenght to overpower defenders. He is a well built all around player, I think I will use him as an advanced forward, despite his best role being a target man. We also brought in many more free agents: we now have Romal Palmer who, after some very good years at Barnsley will try his luck here in Australia and his countryman Leighton Clarkson who will try to convince everyone of his ability since in the old continent no one was willing to give him a chance. But we also brought in some aussies aswell: Nick Ansell will brign new solidity to our defense and in our lockeroom, exactly as Steven Ugarkovic. The real icing on the cake is Reno Piscopo who, after spending his youth years in the illustrous Inter Milan youth system, has seduced australian (new zeland to be precise) football fans in Wellington. To close the transfermarket Dale also brought in a loan (the first ever loan player of my carrer!) from Southampton: the left back Ememth Maer will debut in pro football with our kit on!

 

Speaking of kits, New Balance presented our new uniforms for the 2024/2025 season! Billabong, the illustrous brand from Gold Coast has sponsored us last season and will continue to do so until 2026. 

 

Everything is ready for our new season to begin. As I said the australian season begins with the FFA Cup. It begins in the round of 32 and, of course, we get incredibly unlucky with the draw. Despite having over 20 non professional teams in the poll we are drawn to play against Central Coast Mariners, one of the best teams of the country. 

 

Zio.Fish
7 years ago
1 day ago
50

CHAPTER 2.9: PICKING UP FROM WHERE WE LEFT

 

As I said already the Australian football season begins with the domestic cup, called FFA Cup. Brisbane Roar never won this cup, but closed as runner-ups in 2021.The cup is not very prestigious, but, since there are no promotions/relegation in the Australian football system, part of the competition's appeal stems from the fact that it is the only way that A-League and lower-tier clubs can currently play formal competitive matches. But of course the draw gave us another A-League team to face off with: we played the round of 32 of the FFA Cup against Central Coast Mariners. Their stadium is a beutiful structure in Gosford, built near the seaside so that you can see the game and, if you are sitting in the Northend stands you can also have a beautiful view of the sea!

 

The game was a statement of our intentions for the season: we are coming to win every possible competition we are in! We dominated Central Coast Mariners for the beginning to the ending: we shot 33 times while they had a single attempt on target, we held the ball for an impressive 65% of the game and had an incredible xG value of over 5 points! We won 4-0 and had little to no truble reaching the round of 16!

 

With 16 teams left, 10 were from the A-League. Besides Central Coast Mariners, Wellington Phoenix got eliminated by Melburne Victory. All the others reached the next stage. So with only 6 non competitive teams left it was pretty hard for us to catch one from the draw. As was predicatble we are drawn to play against Melbrune City, one of the few teams Giacomino has not yet played against here in Australia.

 

We got lucky because we got picked to play at home this difficult match. Melbrune City FC, as you can guess, is part of the City Group, and is a pretty strong opponent and one of the favourites to win both the cup and the A-League. The game starts slow, we have to wait for the 18th minute to see the first highlight: it's a corner kick for us, but we don't get much from it. At the 20th minute Oforoboh serves Palmer in the middle of the box but his shot hits Crowley who is offside so it all comes to nothing. But at the 25th minute we can all celebrate: Crowley strikes from outside the box and the shot is so powerful that the keeper can't do anything to stop it! We got close to a second goal both from a freekick at the 33rd minute and then with an header from Kouakou, but we are not lucky in either of the occasions. In the second half Melbourne City is still unaccounted for so we keep pressuring them and pushing the ball forward. At the 57th minute a corner kick from Clarkson is converted in gol by an header from Asnell! We are up 2-0 and Melbourne City has still to shot once! We are controlling the pace of the game and we are simply passing around the ball with occasional shots toward the goal. In the 83rd minute a mistake from Clarkson sparks City's counterattack and allows Ivanovic to finish a 1v1 situation against our goalkeeper in the best way possible: with a goal! The game finishes 2-1, even the late goal from City wasn't enough to ignite some kind of assault against us, so we proceed to the next stage!

 

For the quarter finals our opponent will be Macarthur FC, the last Australian team that Giacomino never faced before. (To be fair we still need to play against Sydney aswell as Brisbane Roar manager, but Giacomino played against them in the ACL with Persik!)

 

This is the full table of the quarter finals: pretty interesting the fact that one team outside the A-League will make it to the semifinals, since there is the match between Peninsula Power and Sunshine Coast Wanderers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zio.Fish
7 years ago
1 day ago
50

CHAPTER 2.10: CLASSMATES

 

The downside of the FFA Cup is that you basically play an official game only once every 2-3 weeks, so to keep the match fitness up you have to play a lot of friendlies. Spring is finally beginning so managing training is getting much more enjoyable. I recently started surfing: I contacted our marketing director so I could get in touch with Billabong, our main sponsor, and get everything I needed for my first wave approach. I'm really enjoying the experience, partially because I have flair for this and partially because I have a beautiful teacher, named Harper. Let's just say that I don't really mind waking up early every morning to get an hour and a half of surfing before training.

But the time in our hands during this period is much more than what a simple surf course can fill, so while me and Renzo were having dinner at our favourite restaurant, Enoteca, I dropped a charming offer:" Renzo, tomorrow I will have a meeting with the chairman Oliver. I will ask him to pay for a new course for the Continental A License" “Good Giacomino, so we will have the same license!” he said, with fake enthusiasm. “That is what I was thinking, what if you take the course for the Pro License? we can study together!” his face showed interest, so I continued “think about it. A Pro License opens a lot of doors for you, maybe even back home in Italy! And even if you don't want to go back home you can still work around the world, but a better license means better salaries!” He seemed intrigued, but wanted to rise a couple of his concernes:"I'm 60 though, I'm not sure I have the patience to sit down for a whole year learning new things at this point. Plus what if we have a deep run in A-League or worse in ACL? When will we study?" “You are a driven person Renzo” I answered “It doesn't matter if you were 20, 60 or 80, if you want to get this license and you put your mind into it you can get it. Of course our work with Brisbane will be the priority, but I think we can get an head start in this first months so we will have less work to do when April and May come". He was convinced, so we went on with our dinner. The next day I had the meeting with Oliver. He had no concerns about both of us taking coruses so he was happy to finance our studies. 

 

Then, after 20 days, it was finally time to get back on the pitch to play the quarter finals of the FFA Cup. We played at home against Macarthur FC. Both teams are pretty good, and the odds predicted a very balanced game with us a little more favoured.

 

The game begun under some heavy rain, that really slowed the ball and made pretty hard to play on the ground. It doesn't came as a surprise that the first chances came from long balls, and not by a narrow tikitaka. At the 25th minute Piscopo gets served in the box by a through ball, and one on one against the goalkeeper chips it in! In the 40th minute it stopped raining, and we also had a geat opportuinity with Kouakou, but couldn't transform it. In the last minute of the first half Becchi serves Piscopo on the left side of the box, we dribles with ease the defender and gets deeper in the box, when he gets near the post, with the goakeeper closing on him he puts a groundball towards the middle. Arokodare strikes swiftly in the open net and scores the 2-0 goal! 

During halftime some stadium staff worked to dry the pitch, so for the second period the ball moved much faster on the field. Withouth heavy weather conditions we were able to pass the ball around easier and to control the game with simplicity. We had another big opportunity around the 75th minute with a shot from about 25 meters from Akbari that ended on the upperside of the bar. In the 87th minute Davile gets fouled in our box by Becchi and the referee has no doubt about it: it's a penalty! From the spot Davila beats Thomas and makes it 2-1. But there is not enough time left to save the game, Macarthur FC gets eliminated! We are onto the semis!

 

We will play against Western United, who will probabily try to get revenge from the Finals Series of last season!

 

The other semifinal will see Perth Glory face off against Peninsula River, a low tier team.

 

 

Zio.Fish
7 years ago
1 day ago
50

CHAPTER 2.11: MY FIRST TIME

 

Our heads went straight to the semifinal. Between this game and the quarter finals passed around twenty days, so we worked hard on the training pitch to get ready for this semi. The last time we faced Western United was for another semifinal, the playoff semifinal. That time we won 3-2, after going up 3-0 we almost blew up the lead. Hopefully today we will just take the lead and not let it slip! The odds are in our favour, so let's see if we prepared this match well enough!

 

Our first chance arrives around the 11th minute: Becchi crosses in the middles for Akbari, he shoot but the ball gets deflected by Lachman, the ricochet gets on the feet of Akrodare that strikes just a little wide. At the 22th we score thanks to a wonderful run towards the end of the pitch by Piscopo, who the crosses the ball backwards and finds Akbari who, near the penalty spot, has an easy life and scores! Inthe 27th minute Piscopo's header ends up high above the bar. in the 30th minute Arokodare towers the defender and head in the ball from a Kouakou's cross and scores the 2-0 goal! the first half comes to an end, with Western United unable to produce a single shot towards the target. The first higlight of the second half coincides with our third goal: it's all about that nigerian connection! Arokodare serves a trough ball to Ofoborh that easily finishes the 1v1 situation. At the 71th we get close to a fourth gol with Kouakou but his shots ends up wide. The last chance is also ours: Ugarkovic serves a long ball to Parsons that is unable to finish towards the goalmouth. The endgame stats say that Western United had 5 shots towards the goal, but I haven't seen none of them…. 

 

After another great performance we are onto the final! We will face off against Perth Glory, who had a very easy semifinal against the non pro side Peninsula Power. I'm not really sure were we will play, from the screen you can read that we should play at the Adelaide Oval, but in the next line it says that we will instead play at our stadium, the Suncorp Stadium….

 

The final will be played after the beggining of the A-League, so we will have to manage our strength in the league to save up for this important game. The bookmakers are pointing at us as winner for the regular season, we will see what we can do, the most important thing as of now is the FFA Cup!

 

The league opens with another match against Western United. I'm starting to feel sorry for them! The next game is against another team we eliminated from the FFA Cup: Melbourne City. We have no problem regulating them, they haven't started the season in the best of ways and are a bit struggling in last place. The final game is against Adelaide United. This match has been played just 72 hours before the final of the FFA Cup, so I decided to heavily rotate the squad. Big mistake to underestimate The Reds! We get crushed with a tennis score. My first ever loss in Australia, after almost a year, is a heavy one. This is the worst possible way to approach a cup final!

 

We will have to work hard to get past such a deameaning score, hopefully we will be strong enough to focus on this game with clears head, but I doubt it. 

 

We are slightly favoured by the odds, hopefully we will live up to them!

 

 

 

 

Zio.Fish
7 years ago
1 day ago
50

CHAPTER 2.12: THE ADELAIDE OVAL

 

Everything was ready, the entire FA commettee was present and the final was about to start. We were playing in the Adelaide Oval, an incredible, modern stadium, mainly used for cricket and australian football matches, but adapted for important soccer games and national team's matches. The venue was majestic, full of comforts for the audience. 

 

I watched my boys on the pitch. Luckly we had no trouble in choosing the starting eleven: all the best players were fit and ready to play!

 

 

 

We were afraid if we had the minset for competing after the terrible defeat we suffered from Adelaide United and look at us! We absolutely humiliated Perth Glory. 

 

The win in this incredible game gave us a boost that launched us on an impressive win streak in the A-League. 7 games we played, 7 games we won. In 7 matches we scored 18 goals and only conceded twice. Is good isn't it? My objective is to put points to the board while we are not competing in the ACL, because once it will begin it will be my priority!

 

And of course we are leading the charge: with one game less we have a 6 points lead on Lescano's Newcastle United!

 

Zio.Fish
7 years ago
1 day ago
50

CHAPTER 2.13: THE ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

 

Our win streak in the A-League was almost embarassing. Since I came to Australia we played 36 games and we won 31, drew 4 and lost 1, with two trophies in the middle. But everything was about to change, probabily for the worse.  We arrived at the end of January at full steam with 3 more wins, and a safe 12 points advantage at the top of the table.

 

 

Everything is looking great, but now things are getting serious. We will start comepting in the most important competition of the biggest continent of the world: The AFC Champions League, or ACL. The first challange in our way is to register the squad for the competition. The main problem is the difference in the rules between the A-League and the ACL is the number of allowed foreign players. In Australia we can register a maximum of 5 foreign players, while in ACL the limit is reduced to 4 ( 3 foreigners + 1 asian). None of our foreigners is from Asia, so we will have to exclude 2 of the 5 allowed to play in the League. My first choice was to exclude Kouakou. We talked and came to an agreement: he is aging and won't be able to compete in both the league and the ACL. So I decided to save him for the A-League since here in our country he is still a high profile player while he would have been just one of the lot in the continental competition. The other one was the englishman Clarkson. He is young, talented and dominating since he's arrived, but I had to cut him out just because I had more quality in his role than I had in the other foreigners'. I reassured him of his pivotal role inside the team but I explained him that his substitutes were better than the others, He wasn't happy, but showed great professionalism despite being only 22yo. I will not forget his attitude, he will be rewarded in a way or another.

 

The draw of the group stage wasn't very clement. We will face off against Gamba Osaka, Port FC and Shenzen. It is a hard group, I will not lie, and I'm not positive about our chance to pass to the next turn (only the first team qualify).

 

Let's get to know them! 

 

GAMBA OSAKA - JAPAN

Probabily the best team in our group. They have three terrible wonderkids that, despite being only 18, have already played almost 50 games each. Kazuhito Nishioka is surely the best of the three, but Cassio (half japanese, half brazilian) is not far from his level. To close the lot there is Masayuki Yamamoto, pretty dangerous aswell but less scary tha the frist two.

 

 

PORT FC - THAILAND

The Thai side is probabily the weakest in the group. Their best player, John Baggio, is currently out of contract so I'm not sure he will play in the ACL. We will have to pay attention to Philip Roller. He has a lot of experience playing at this level, and that is something we lack!

 

 

SHENZEN FC

Shenzen finished 2nd in last year Chinese Super League, just 3 points short of the title. They are probabily at our level overall, but have 3 fantastic players that will be incredibly hard to stop. The first one is probabily the first fancy name we will face in this carreer: Juan Fernando Quintero. He's not alone though, probabily on par with him there is Franck Acheampong. The other terrific player we will have to hold is Ole Kristian Selnaes. But don't gett too scared, exception made for this three the other chinese players are terrible! I will put in Xin An aswell, their starting striker, just to give you an idea of what I'm talkeing about

 

 

 

 

 

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