August 13, 2012
AUCKLAND – Several of the Oly-Whites slipped back into pre-season action with their respective clubs as the final polish was put on their preparations for the upcoming seasons.
West Bromwich Albion has sparked a scramble by putting Oly-Whites goal scorer Chris Wood up for sale after signing Romelu Lukaku on a season-long loan from Chelsea.
Reports are the Baggies have told Wood he can leave either on loan or permanently. The former Waikato FC frontman bagged 13 goals out on loan in the Championship last term with Birmingham and Bristol City.
Celtic head a queue of clubs chasing Wood, including Hull and Nottingham Forest but the latest mail out of England have fellow Premier League outfit Norwich City leading the chase for his signature.
Wood’s Oly-White teammate Tommy Smith and Ipswich Town open their Championship campaign with a home match against newly relegated Blackburn Rovers, who will be looking to bounce back into the Premier League as soon as possible.
Smith slotted back into the Tractor Boys side for the recent friendly against Winston Reid’s West Ham, playing the first hour of the game which Town won 3-1.
The Hammers bounced back from the defeat with a 1-1 draw in Portugal with Sporting Braga with Reid scoring the goal.
Speaking to West Ham’s official website Reid said “I thought we put in a good performance against Braga, after last week's game at Ipswich where we didn't perform so well the boys were determined to put a good shift in and I thought we thoroughly deserved our draw at the end there.
“Of course we don't like to lose like we did at Ipswich. We're professional footballers and we’re paid to win football games and that's what we want to do. Nobody enjoyed what happened there and we were determined to put things right against a better team than Ipswich [in Braga].”
West Ham opens their Premier League season with a home match against Aston Villa on Sunday morning (NZ time) with QPR facing Swansea at Loftus Road on the same day.
The R’s rounded out their pre-season campaign with a 2-2 draw with Bundesliga opponent FC Augsburg in Germany. All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen played the full 90 minutes in the draw and conceded a penalty in the match with saw former French international Djibril Cisse twice equalise for the London-outfit.
Rory Fallon didn’t feature on the team card in Aberdeen’s second match of the Scottish Premier League season, a 0-0 draw with Ross County. Fallon was an unused sub in the season opening 0-1 loss to defending champions Celtic last weekend.
Greg Draper and The New Saints will be hoping to put the disappointment of not advancing in the UEFA Champions League behind them as they commence their defence of the Welsh Premier League title this week.
TNS fell 0-3 on aggregate to Sweden’s Helsingborg in the first round of qualification after drawing the home leg 0-0. Still in Sweden, Craig Henderson returned to first team duty for Mjallby logging 90 minutes in the 2-4 loss to fellow mid-table side IFK Goteburg.
Still in Scandinavia, Kris Bright scored on debut for his new Finnish club FC Haka as they scored a 2-2 draw with sixth placed Honka. The sometime All White striker equalised in the 16th minute before Haka fell behind again on the half-hour.
It took an 88th minute equaliser to score a crucial point as Haka hover precariously above the relegation zone equal on points with Kuopion Palloseura, the home of former All White Chris James – who was an unused substitute over the weekend.
Kosta Barbarouses resumed first team training at Panathinaikos this week after his Olympic sojourn.
Jake Gleeson will have the opportunity to learn off legendary Jamaican ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts as the Portland Timbers made a mid-season trade with the Montreal Impact for the 35-year-old veteran.
Regular Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins moved the other way in the trade in the window that saw Oly-White defender Ian Hogg agree terms with the Timbers. Hogg is awaiting his international transfer clearance before joining the MLS outfit permanently.
Michael McGlinchey and the Central Coast Mariners will venture to New Caledonia next week for a two-match tour of the Pacific Island.
New Caledonia are currently preparing for their 2014 FIFA World Cup Round 3 Qualifying Match against New Zealand on September 7, and have invited the Mariners to Noumea to assist them in their lead up. Graham Arnold’s men will face Les Cagous on August 16 and 18 in Noumea.
Meanwhile, the Wellington Phoenix will embark on an historic visit to the sub-continent when they tour India next month.
The ‘Nix will play five games in 14 days taking in a match against the Newcastle Jets in Australia before travelling from Sydney to New Delhi the day after the Jets game, and kick off a four-team tournament against United Sikkim in Guwahati on August 24.
They will play a yet to be confirmed I-League team – possibly former Junior All White Kayne Vincent’s Preyag United – on August 26 in Impahl before meeting Shillong Lajong at Shillong’s Nehru Stadium on August 30. The tournament will conclude on September 1, again in Shillong.
The crucial FIFA World Cup qualifiers with New Caledonia in Noumea and the Solomon Islands in Auckland on September 7 and 11 respectively are sandwiched into a hectic pre-season for the Phoenix’ All Whites contingent which includes stalwarts Leo Bertos, Tony Lochhead, Mark Paston, and Ben Sigmund.
They have been joined in the Wellington ranks by the off-season arrivals of international colleagues Michael Boxall, Jeremy Brockie and Glen Moss.
The Phoenix will complete their pre-season programme against A-League newcomers Western Sydney Wanderers Christchurch’s AMI Stadium on September 23, the same venue where the All Whites will clash with Tahiti on October 16.
Still in Asia, Chris Killen’s Chongqing slumped to their second 0-2 loss in consecutive weeks to leave them mid-table in the second-tier Chinese League One. Chongqing was reduced to 10-men in the first half with Yanbian scoring both goals in the second stanza.
Michael Fitzgerald played 90 minutes in midfield for V-Varen Nagasaki in the Japan Football League in a 2-0 win over Hoyo AC Elan, both goals coming in the last ten minutes.