Cosmos v Olympic

Round 21 report by Charles Pickett
Canberra Cosmos v Sydney Olympic

Olympic won the first away match of the season. It's taken them until round 21 to win a second, so I'm not about to complain about the score, the match, the referee or anything else. In the meantime they've lost only one home match.

In contrast to the game in general, the goal was a ripper. Brett Emerton bamboozled a defender, scorched into the box before delivering the ball onto Norman Tome's forehead. Olympic created many such opportunities during the game, but the crossing and finishing was seldom as sharp. A few very dodgy offside calls didn't help either, costing both Emerton and Jason Culina. Both were buzzing throughout the game, and Emerton particularly is looking hot at the moment.

Needless to say these two are about to disappear to Nigeria via Holland, which will add a twist to the team and the season. Who's going to replace them? Carlos Gonzales hasn't been sighted for a few games, while Chris Kalantzis is probably not hugely in favour after his second dismissal for retaliation.

Domestic matters conspiring to make me miss the Sydney United epic and the forthcoming South Melbourne game, a trip to Canberra beckoned as an excuse for a day's outing and a chance to see Olympic in unfamiliar surroundings. Like many things in Canberra, Bruce Stadium is somewhat too grand for its degree of usefulness. It has recently been renovated into a very handsome all-seater, but one wonders who is going to fill all the new seats? Certainly not the Cosmos, on their current form. I hasten to add that Sydneysiders can't be too smug about this sort of thing: How often will the new Olympic stadium reach capacity, once the initial excitement subsides?

Canberra started the match brightly and also showed some life at the death, but in between . OK, so it wasn't 5-0 as at Belmore in November, but George made perhaps one genuine save in 90 minutes. The Cosmos have certainly learned to defend a bit since the first round, or perhaps their goalie has simply regained his confidence. They were less on the ball in midfield and elsewhere. Ivan Zelic didn't distinguish himself as playmaker and was roundly abused by the Canberra fans before he was subbed early in the second half. Ned's kid brother looked the part when playing sweeper or stopper at Olympic a few seasons ago, and you wonder why a player with ambition would stick with the Cosmos. One guy who should go on to better things was Ivo de Jesus, whose speed on the left flank created just about everything even vaguely promising for Canberra.

Cardozo hit the post, Knezevic made a couple of good saves, and a seemingly inevitable goal was somehow scrambled away. The ref booked everyone who opened his mouth - I thought we were going to see someone marched entirely for chat. But we needed those three points more than Canberra, whose major ambition (according to the match program) is not to finish bottom of the table!