AS BAD as it gets – and this year has been very bad for the NRL with Rooster Setaimata Sa joining the rap list at the weekend, charged with assault, resisting arrest, failure to leave a licensed premises and malicious damage – elite rugby league players might not be much worse than their peers.Men of footballing age figure prominently in police dispatches any Friday and Saturday night; clearly, few of them are subject to the same level of reporting and scrutiny as professional athletes.And, while the NRL is at great pains to impress upon the young men who play the game they will be exposed publicly when they breach community standards, the regular headlines of player atrocities would seem to suggest the message is not always getting through.But perhaps the NRL is doing as well as can be expected.The Herald , with the assistance of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, has compared the rate at which NRL players are charged with assault, with the prevailing rate for all males aged 18 to 34 in NSW, and the figures suggest they are not so bad after all.Young men at that age are being booked by police and charged with assault at a rate of about 700 per 100,000 each year.In the year to March 31, out of a pool of 400 elite footballers three NRL players – Bronx Goodwin, Joel Thompson and Arana Taumata – were charged with assault, suggesting a rate of 750 per 100,000, only slightly above the NSW figure of 674.3.This year looks like being worse with three players, Sandor Earl, Jake Friend and now Sa already on assault charges with seven months still to run. The rate at which their peers are charged has ranged between 674 and 735 over the past three years.Some of the higher-profile charges – such as Brett Stewart’s sexual assault charge and domestic assault charges against Greg Bird and Greg Inglis – fall into different police statistical categories.The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research notes the data must be interpreted with great caution as the sample size, involving only 400 NRL squad members, is so small. If three players charged reflected the average of their peers, six would double it.NRL chief executive David Gallop said players were well aware the law is the same for them as it is for their peers. The consequences, however, might be public exposure. ”We tell our players that they need to expect scrutiny if they do get in trouble with the police,” he said.”The flip side of the celebration around Hazem El Masri on Sunday is that those who behave badly will be put in the spotlight.”Being a so-called role model might seem unfair at times but if Hazem El Masri is well regarded in the community then those who make mistakes and get in trouble with the police are likely to be held up as the opposite.”Sa’s case has one thing in common with most previous offences for assault: alcohol.”In terms of the statistics, it almost 100 per cent involves alcohol. The opportunity to drink is very limited as a professional footballer but that heightens the risk of over-indulgence and the impact on decision-making that goes with it,” Gallop argued.”It’s unrealistic to think we won’t have issues, and I think the limited opportunity to drink is a factor for our players that might not necessarily arise for young people who are not on such a strict regime.”
THE gender pay gap is widening and the finance industry, where men earn a third more than women, is the worst offender, the Bureau of Statistics says.Yet a survey of 1700 finance workers has found most (67 per cent) did not know what their colleagues were paid and half believed men and women were paid equally for the same job.Rod Masson, national policy director for the Finance Sector Union, said when bank workers were told there was a significant gender pay difference they were shocked. ”This was supposed to be resolved in the 1960s and 1970s, but it’s still happening. We are not narrowing the pay gap, it is spreading,” he said.The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency has named September 1 as Equal Pay Day – the date set by calculating the extra days women must work beyond the financial year to catch up to men’s earnings.The agency says companies need to be transparent about pay and performance bonuses, because ignorance of what others earn works against women.The Finance Sector Union said one of the major causes of the pay gap in the finance industry was a push to sales-based remuneration, and its survey found 65 per cent of finance workers said meeting targets – for selling credit cards or new accounts, for example – determined if they received a pay increase.But 69 per cent felt they did not have any real input into those sales and work targets. And three-quarters said they were not given the chance to agree with targets before they were set.Mr Masson said pay bias towards sales performance worked against women in two ways. They were less assertive in establishing targets, he said. And more men worked in roles that were best rewarded, such as commercial lending and business banking, while women dominated service roles.Taimi Nurm, 49, has worked in bank branches for 27 years, and said it was hard for women working part time to gain promotion to areas where the pay was better. ”My experience has been that they tend to move the men through quicker,” she said.She had also seen women sidelined by being told they were not flexible enough because of ”family issues”. At head office, the bosses were all male, she said.David Bell, chief executive of the Australian Bankers Association, said 61 per cent of staff in the finance industry were women, and the gender difference in earnings was ”a product of hours worked and skills”.”The data shows that 26 per cent of females in the finance industry work part time compared with 4 per cent for males,” he said.He conceded men dominated a ”highly specialised and higher paying component of their workforce”.Mairi Steele, acting director of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency, said the fact that women were concentrated into certain occupations and in low paying positions were key causes of the gap and ”not excuses for it”.The agency publishes an annual list of companies that qualify as an employer of choice for women. This year’s list includes 22 finance and insurance companies. To qualify for the list, an employer must beat the gender pay gap for their industry, and beat the national gender pay gap – 17.5 per cent – at each staffing level.
IT’S been a fight for Russian-born Tatiana Borodulina, but finally she can skate for Australia at the Winter Olympics.She donned fatigues when she joined the Australian Army Reserve in an effort to speed along her citizenship approval but the talented speed skater will no longer have to serve, after the Rudd Government yesterday announced proposed changes to the Citizenship Act.It was a relief for Borodulina, 24, who arrived in Australia in July 2006 and missed becoming an automatic Australian citizen by just 18 days when the Act changed in 2007.Borodulina joined the Australian Army Reserve because it shortened the citizenship time to six months, but the Australian Olympic Committee sought to have the Citizens Act amended to re-establish the consideration for distinguished talent.The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, made the announcement following approaches from AOC president John Coates.The proposed amendments to be tabled in Federal Parliament next month will reduce the residency requirements from four years to two for athletes of distinguished sporting talent.”Once the legislation is passed and immediately following Royal Assent, an Australian Citizenship ceremony will be conducted for Tatiana before the 2010 Olympic Winter Games qualification events in November,” AOC director of sport Fiona de Jong said. “We are extremely grateful to Chris Evans and the Federal Government for their understanding and support which will benefit athletes from a number of Olympic sports.”Borodulina, a former European champion and a finalist at the Turin 2006 Games, decided to move to Australia after two years of consideration. She relocated from her industrial home town of Omsk in Siberia to Brisbane, leaving behind her parents and younger sister and a boyfriend, to try to improve her skating under the respected coach Ann Zhang.Yesterday, the chef de mission of the Australian Winter Olympic team, Ian Chesterman, said: “Tatiana has been competing for Australia for the past couple of years … She is world class, and athletes with her ability lift the standard of all Australian skaters. The Russians have tried to lure her back to compete for them but she wants to stay in Australia, this is her new home … Tatiana loves Australia. She is proud to wear the green and gold.”
Crime scene… police last night outside the Cranbrook Avenue, Cremorne, Sydney house where Mr McGurk was shot. Photo: Jon ReidONLY a week ago Michael Loch McGurk told the Herald an unknown person had hired someone to kill him. Last night the 46-year-old property developer and lender of last resort was shot dead as he arrived home at Cranbrook Avenue in Cremorne.His black Mercedes remained parked at the spot where he fell, with the driver’s door open. Shortly before midnight officers removed the tarpaulin walls of a blue police tent to reveal Mr McGurk’s body lying on its back, feet pointed skyward and his right arm splayed on the ground.About half a dozen police slowly swept front yards and the pavement with torches.Mr McGurk, a father of four, was due to appear in the NSW Supreme Court today before Justice David Hammerschlag in relation to caveats he had placed over properties owned by the brothers Ben and Adam Tilley, including over their office in Edgecliff.Until a fortnight ago Mr McGurk was facing several assault charges and two charges of firebombing houses, one of which was that of Adam Tilley in Wolseley Road, Point Piper. But much to the frustration of police, the Director of Public Prosecutions dropped the charges.Late last night police had set up two blue tents and floodlit the scene. Detective Inspector Mick Sheehy would not confirm what wounds the man had suffered except to say he had suffered a single gunshot wound. When asked if a car had been seen leaving Cranbrook Avenue, he said: ”At this stage it’s part of our investigation to see if there was a vehicle or if the person left on foot.”When asked if the man’s family had been informed, he said: ”The man’s family is at home at the moment. We are establishing their movement.”A witness at the scene last night said all indications were it was Mr McGurk. ”His son was in his car. The Mercedes-Benz is parked and the body is there. Apparently he just pulled up and â?¦ boom. We were sitting in our kitchen and then came out and saw all the police. Apparently the son got out of the car and said ‘mummy, mummy, mummy’ and screamed.”Another witness, living across the road from Mr McGurk’s house, who wanted to be known only as Amon, said he was standing across the road having a cigarette when the shooting happened. ”I heard a bang about 15 to 25 metres down the street. I didn’t know someone had been shot at the time, but I could see people moving around the car,” he said.”There was no car lights, no car double-parked or speeding off. It looks like whoever did it ran off in the other direction, towards Spofforth Street. It’s a narrow street, they didn’t come towards me and there only two ways they can go, so they must have gone down there,” he said.”I knew he must have been killed, they put a sheet on him. You could see blood on the road around his head.”The witness also said a friend in his unit block gave a statement to police about a suspicious man loitering in the street during the day.Dozens of neighbours expressed their amazement that a seemingly professional killing could have occurred in their affluent suburb. The body lay only 100 metres from the exclusive school SCEGGS Redlands.The other house Mr McGurk had been charged over belonged to Stuart Rowan, a valuer.Mr McGurk was understood to be a suspect in the bombing of a third house, one in Cremorne belonging to a property developer, Justin Brown.On November 20 last year a petrol bomb was thrown into Mr Tilley’s house. Six days later, Mr Rowan’s house in Queens Street, Beaconsfield, was firebombed.The Wolseley Road house has been at the centre of a bitter legal dispute. The property developer Ron Medich sold it to Mr Tilley in 2004, and they are fighting over how much Mr Tilley owes. At the height of the dispute, Mr Medich appointed Mr McGurk as his trustee to recover the money from Mr Tilley.Mr McGurk was also feuding with Mr Medich.Mr McGurk came to public notice three years ago when he attempted to sue one the Sultan of Brunei, claiming he had welched on a deal to buy a match-boxed-sized Koran, kept in a jewel-encrusted case.There is nothing to suggest the shooting had anything to do with any of the individuals in dispute with Mr McGurk.with Vanda Carson
Lleyton Hewitt has destroyed arch-rival Juan Ignacio Chela to set up a third-round showstopper with Roger Federer at the US Open in New York.On an otherwise disappointing day for the Australian contingent, the ever-dependable Hewitt rolled past Chela 6-3 6-3 6-4 in two hours 10 minutes to advance to the last 32 for the ninth time in 10 visits to Flushing Meadows.The crushing victory reversed Hewitt’s second-round loss to the Argentine at the 2006 Australian Open and vaulted the 2001 champion into a 23nd career meeting with the mighty Federer on Friday (AEST).The Swiss ace has won their last 13 meetings to lead 15-7 head-to-head. Hewitt hasn’t beaten the world No.1 and five-time Open champion since 2003 and has twice fallen to Federer in New York since – in the 2004 final and 2005 semi-finals.Neither player has dropped a set in reaching the third round this year, Federer on Thursday (AEST) easing past German Simon Greul 6-3 7-5 7-5.Earlier, Samantha Stosur, Australia’s great hope in the women’s singles, and Hewitt’s Davis Cup teammate Chris Guccione made disappointing exits from the final grand slam tournament of the year.Stosur, who arrived at Flushing Meadows with a career-high world No.15 ranking, crashed to a surprise 7-5 6-4 second-round loss to American wildcard Vania King.Guccione went down 6-4 7-6 (7-4) 6-0 to unheralded Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in his first-round match, continuing his terrible record at the four grand slams.The big-serving left-hander has now suffered nine first-round defeats at the majors, and never progressed beyond round two.Stosur, though, was even more disappointing in her loss to a player ranked 99 places below her at No.114 in the world – especially considering she’d toppled the likes of Open titleholder Serena Williams and fellow top-10 stars Elena Dementieva and Svetlana Kuznetsova in recent weeks.The power-packed Queenslander boasts one of the best serves in women’s tennis, yet was broken six times and was always playing catch-up against her lowly-ranked rival.‘‘I found myself 5-2 down (in the first set). Then I got back to 5-all and I still thought I could get quite a bit better,’’ Stosur said.‘‘I was in the match at a lot of stages but every time I got back in there, I’d let it slip; I lost serve or something would happen and then I’d find myself a break down again.‘‘It’s not like I was too far away but 7-5 6-4 you lose and it’s done. It doesn’t matter what the score was before that point.’’Guccione, who received Tennis Australia’s designated wildcard into the tournament, also arrived in New York with strong form.He won a Challenger tournament in California in July and reached the last 16 at a Masters Series event for the first time last month in Cincinnati, beating world No.7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga along the way.‘‘I was playing great coming into this week and I had high expectations and a decent draw, but he played better than me today,’’ Guccione said.‘‘The first two sets were very tight. He played very well on big points the first couple of sets and made a high percentage of first serves; I felt like it was tough to get into his service games.‘‘He got a lot of confidence after he broke me in the first game of the third and he ran away with it from there.’’ AAP
AUSTRALIA’S new generation of Labor MPs may answer to Kevin Rudd, but their dreams are of Gough Whitlam, a study suggests.And while Mr Rudd’s election campaign made much of his intention to govern with remorseless economic conservatism, it appears this enthusiasm was not shared by many of the men and women he helped into the House of Representatives.Trevor Cook, a doctoral student in politics at the University of Sydney, has undertaken an analysis of the “Class of 2007” – the 32 new Labor MPs who took their seats in Parliament’s lower house after the 2007 Labor election victory.Based on their first speeches, biographies and declarations on the register of interests, Mr Cook compares the 2007 inductees with the only other large class of Labor “newbies” in the past 30 years – the Class of 1983, which escorted Bob Hawke into power.”In their first speeches there is the occasional, and fairly desultory, acknowledgment of the importance of good economic management, but what really motivates the new MPs in terms of ideology and policy is a continuing passion for the agenda that Whitlam largely created for the national parliament: health, education, community building and social justice,” writes Cook in his draft paper, Whitlam’s Grandchildren; What the Class of 2007 Tells Us about the ALP.The paper is a response to a similar study, undertaken by Paul A. Pickering of the Australian National University, in 1998, which looked at the Coalition MPs who arrived in the Howard landslide of 1996.In the 25 years since the Hawke newcomers first took their places, Labor MPs have learned to share more intimate details of their own lives upon arrival in Parliament, a phenomenon which leads Cook to refer to the Class of 2007 as “The Oprah Generation”.First speeches now are a platform for outlining difficult childhoods, struggles with poverty and alcoholism, fear of flying or – in the case of Belinda Neal (Robertson) – being taught by her grandmother “how to kill a chicken using only my hands”.Compared with 1983, when denunciations of the capitalist system as “immoral” and corrupt” were not unusual, the Class of 2007 has largely abandoned formal class warfare; socialism did not score a mention in their first speeches.But the union movement did, much more so than in 1983, even though the Class of 1983 was led by a famous former ACTU leader and the Class of 2007 by a man who claimed not to remember the name of the union of which he was a member.Cook reports that of the 32 new Labor MPs of 2007, 12 were former union officials, nine former Labor staffers, eight local councillors, four had served before as parliamentarians, and two had been full-time party officials.
CANBERRA has suddenly moved into pole position to become the A-League’s 12th team after western Sydney’s leading bid yesterday withdrew from the race.Colourful businessman Joe Meissner notified Football Federation Australia that he would no longer be continuing his submission for ”personal reasons” – leaving the FFA scrambling to find an alternative for a second team in Sydney.FFA chief executive Ben Buckley declined to confirm Canberra’s bid – which has government support – was now the frontrunner, although he admitted there were ”time pressures” to find a viable team from western Sydney for 2010.With a second Melbourne side already confirmed, there is a growing chance of an 11-team league next season.Meissner’s bid was believed to have won the support of the FFA board 10 days ago, pending the submission of a final list of financial guarantees. But before those guarantees were provided, Meissner, who was unavailable for comment last night, withdrew his bid.Bid chairman Ian Rowden, a former board member of Sydney FC, said: ”We’re all disappointed it’s come to this. A lot of hard work had gone into the planning and we believe we were poised to create a strong and viable team, which would have been competitive on the field and would have helped grow the game off the field. That opportunity still exists and I’m sure there will be a second Sydney team at some stage in the future.”The western Sydney bid’s chief executive, Berti Mariani, who says the group had the necessary backing, said: ”Some things in life you can’t predict and obviously we’re all coming to terms with what’s occurred.”Buckley, however, said that far from being a setback, the withdrawal of the Meissner bid proved the FFA was right to insist on stringent criteria being met before any licence was issued.”Naturally we’re disappointed a consortium has pulled out, but it was never our only option,” Buckley said.”As we went through due diligence, this consortium wasn’t able to meet the financial criteria. To me that reinforces how important it is we plan for expansion in a prudent way. The FFA needs to make sure successful bidders have the finance in place to operate a club. We make no apologies for being tough on that. What we won’t do is issue a licence unless a bid meets the criteria. We can’t afford to take unnecessary risks.”Asked whether the Meissner bid had been the frontrunner, Buckley replied: ”I’m not prepared to say that.”What I can say is they were well advanced and we commend them for the time and energy they put into the bid.”The withdrawal of the bid opens the door for a rival western Sydney bid promoted, but not financed, by Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill to get a reprieve, although at this point it lacks the necessary financial support.Buckley said having a new team in western Sydney for next year had not been ruled out.”We haven’t given up, in fact, I’ve been in active discussions with other consortia this afternoon,” he said.”There is some time pressure as far as season six goes – I concede that. But we’ve seen in the past what Gold Coast, North Queensland and Wellington have been able to achieve in a sort space of time, so anything is possible.”Asked whether the FFA was keeping a close eye on the AFL’s planning for a western Sydney side, Buckley added: ”This is not a race, our timetable is not dictated by other sports. We have to do what’s right for the A-League and for football.”Canberra remains the only bid that has met all the requirements and, with the national capital to host its first A-League match tomorrow night – when Central Coast Mariners play a ”home” game against the Perth Glory – the timing is tempting for the FFA to make an announcement.Pressed on whether Canberra now had pole position, Buckley responded: ”By definition when the numbers are reduced – those still left have a better chance. Canberra is a strong bid, but other bids are well advanced also.”The Socceroos have reached an all-time high of No.14 in the world in the latest FIFA rankings released on Wednesday.Australia is up two spots, despite only playing an international friendly against Ireland, which the Socceroos won 3-0, in almost three months.Australia heads teams such as Denmark (16th) and Portugal (17th). Brazil is still the No.1 rated team ahead of Spain and the Netherlands.
NO LUCAS NEILL. No Tim Cahill. No Harry Kewell. No Luke Wilkshire. No David Carney. No point in taking on South Korea on Saturday night?If Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek was looking to finetune his first-team line-up against difficult opposition in a testing environment, then the answer is no.But if he wants a serious examination of the strength in depth of his squad against Asia’s most successful footballing nation in its backyard, then there is every reason to do so.Australia cannot meet an Asian opponent until the knockout stages of the World Cup (the five Asian qualifiers will be kept separate in the draw for the group stages for South Africa 2010 later this year) and South Korea do not play in the style that potential African, South or Central American opponents might employ.But the Koreans are still a worthwhile workout at this stage of the preparation, given the high-energy, quick-tempo, industrious approach they employ.The Socceroos might not face the sort of physical challenge they would from another fixture against a European side, but their aerobic capacity, workrate and pace will be put under the microscope by the Koreans, who famously used a high-octane pressing game to overwhelm opponents in their famous run to the 2002 World Cup semi-finals.Back then, Guus Hiddink was in charge, with Verbeek as assistant, so the links between the two countries run deep even though they have not met since the 2001 Confederations Cup when South Korea defeated the Australians 1-0 in Seoul.Huh Jung-Moo’s team qualified for South Africa alongside their North Korean countrymen out of what was widely regarded as the more difficult Asian qualifying group. While Australia were dispatching the likes of Japan, Qatar and Bahrain, the South Koreans had to overcome not just North Korea but perennial Asian powerhouses Iran and 2007 Asian Cup finalists Saudi Arabia.That they went through the section undefeated says plenty about their quality even though, like Australia, they will be fielding an experimental line-up tomorrow night.For many of the players Verbeek has selected, there will be few better opportunities to promote their case for inclusion in the World Cup. He is unlikely to use European-based players for the Asian Cup qualifiers against Kuwait in January and Indonesia in March, so that leaves this game, the friendly against Holland in Sydney next month, October’s Melbourne Asian Cup qualifier against Oman and the return in Muscat in November for fringe players looking to cement a spot in the squad.Several have already emerged in the past few months: Rhys Williams, the Middlesbrough defender, had a shaky start against Japan at the MCG but then was much more assured in the impressive 3-0 win over Ireland in Limerick last month.Youngsters Dario Vidosic and Nikita Rukavytsya have both made the step up from the A-League in recent years, and are genuine chances to win selection as back-up strikers in South Africa. Vidosic left Brisbane and is making an impression in the Bundesliga for FC Nuremburg, for whom he played well at the weekend. Rukavytsya, the former Perth Glory frontman, boasts tremendous pace, and his game can only improve since his move to FC Twente in Holland.Mark Milligan, of Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua, and Patrick Kisnorbo, of Leeds United, have both recently been recalled from the international wilderness. This pair are playing for their clubs, and will be aiming to use this week to press their claims ahead of the likes of Michael Beauchamp, of Danish side Aalborg, Jade North, from Korean club Incheon, and Matthew Spiranovic, Vidosic’s teammate, who are not getting game time.Verbeek has said he will play Josh Kennedy and Scott McDonald together but most pundits do not expect the pragmatic Dutchman to depart from his 4-2-3-1 tactical style.
MOSCOW: The hijackers of the Arctic Sea, the freighter found this week by the Russian Navy, demanded a ransom of $1.8 million from the ship's insurer and threatened to shoot the crew and sink the vessel, the insurer says.
The armed gang boarded the ship by posing as stranded sailors whose vessel had broken down, said Russia's Defence Minister.
The Moscow-based insurer Renaissance Insurance received a call on August 3 from a person speaking English and claiming to be an intermediary for the hijackers, Vladimir Dushin, the vice president for security, said on Tuesday.
''They informed us the ship had been seized and threatened to sink it in five days if the amount wasn't paid,'' he said.
The information was conveyed to Russian security officials. The Maltese-flagged ship was insured for $4 million, Mr Dushin said. The insurer helped communicate with the hijackers in the following days, he said.
Russia detained eight suspected hijackers after a 25-day odyssey that ended in the Cape Verde islands off west Africa, the Defence Minister, Anatoly Serdyukov, said.
The eight hijackers are citizens of Estonia, Latvia and Russia, Mr Serdyukov told the President, Dmitry Medvedev, in comments on the Kremlin's website.
Mr Serdyukov said the gang had seized the freighter at gunpoint in the Baltic Sea.
''These people, after claiming that their boat was not working, boarded the Arctic Sea and, using the threat of arms, demanded that the crew follow all of their orders without condition,'' he said.
The freighter had been sailing from Finland to Algeria.
Russia learnt of the Arctic Sea's location ''several days ago'' and kept the information secret to give its warship, the Ladny, time to surprise the hijackers, the Government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported.
The incident was brought to an end on Monday without a shot being fired when the vessel was intercepted.
The 15 crew were due to board a military plane for Moscow.
Russian authorities have opened a criminal investigation on charges of ''kidnapping'' pending a complicated legal debate over jurisdiction.
Bloomberg; Telegraph, London
SYDNEY FC coach Vitezslav Lavicka has several players racing against time to be fit for tomorrow’s top of the table clash against Gold Coast United.Sydney have enjoyed a charmed run this season, even holding a pre-season training session in which every squad player participated unrestricted for the first time in the club’s five-year history.But the run has ended and, with some players facing stern challenges to hold their positions, Sydney could have a distinctly different look for this clash.Terry McFlynn is out after straining his knee ligaments in the first half of last weekend’s 2-0 win over Wellington Phoenix, and in scoring the second goal of that match with a diving header, striker John Aloisi damaged his knee and has been unable to train this week.McFlynn’s natural replacement, Stuart Musialik, missed training on Wednesday with a virus suspected to be the same strain that kept goalkeeper Clint Bolton from training on Tuesday and has affected Adam Casey.Defender Mitchell Prentice, who has yet to appear this season, has a back injury.Lavicka is putting faith in Sydney’s considerable depth as they strive to maintain their unbeaten run. ”We don’t want to risk because we still have many games in front of us, so we prefer, if we have a chance, to use [other] players,” Lavicka said this week.”We still have a couple of days to decide. We need to decide before departing.”Replacing McFlynn in the heart of the Sky Blues midfield over the next few weeks will be toughest task facing Lavicka.”He will have four weeks out, maybe more,” Lavicka said. ”We are not happy but that’s football. Terry is a good midfielder, his work is very important for the team but that’s it, now we need to replace him.”’Stuey’ [Musialik] is ready, he is one of the options. Rhyan Grant, Steve Corica maybe – he could play a little bit deeper than usual.”Corica was dropped last week in favour of Mark Bridge, but Lavicka is adamant his skipper still has a role to play, although perhaps not over the 90 minutes.”Steve’s still a very valuable player for this team. Maybe some games he will start, maybe some games will he will start [on the bench],” he said.”Steve’s the captain of this team, a big person for the club and still a very important part. He’s a very clever and a very smart player. He can maybe only play a part of the game, but his value to the team’s success is very high.”After scoring three goals in his opening four matches, Aloisi will be given every chance to prove his fitness.”I have to say at this moment that Johnny’s injury is not serious,” Lavicka said.Fortunately for Sydney, Gold Coast will be without the league’s best player, Jason Culina, who is one of only two A-League players picked for the Socceroos’ friendly match against Korea tomorrow night in Seoul.
A TYPICALLY chaotic game preparation hasn’t fazed Newcastle Jets coach Branko Culina, who is backing his side to make it back-to-back victories against defending champions Melbourne Victory tonight.Just one defeat in the opening four rounds has left the Jets tucked in behind competition pacesetters Gold Coast United and Sydney FC, and made Melbourne wary of an opponent that has a wonderful record at Etihad Stadium. Melbourne will be without Costa Rican star Carlos Hernandez, who is away on World Cup duty in San Jose, and the champions are wounded after a surprisingly sluggish start to their campaign.Newcastle, by contrast, have made light of a crippling injury list and a revolving door of triallists, and despite more problems before tonight’s match Culina remains quietly confident.”We’re going there to win,” he said. ”Obviously it’s a huge challenge – we’re up against the champions, on their own ground, and they’re coming off a loss. So it’s a real test. But the way we bounced back last weekend [against Gold Coast United] shows the spirit we’ve got in the squad. If we can beat Melbourne, it will give us enormous self-belief … There is so much improvement left in this group. We’re only going to get better.”Newcastle have lost midfielder Shaun Ontong to a season-ending Achilles injury, while marquee star Fabio Vignaroli will travel to Melbourne, but Culina admitted he had only a ”minimum chance” of recovering from a hamstring strain. Hopes of handing a debut to recent recruit Labinot Haliti rest on an international clearance arriving in time.Meanwhile, former Socceroos goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac, 36, has joined ambitious Greek side Kavala on a two-year deal after recently parting ways with Italian giants AC Milan.
THE United Nations is preparing gradually to wind down its mission in East Timor and believes Australia could do the same, says the mission's chief of staff, Gerard Gallucci.
The 1600-strong UN force, which consists mainly of police, has focused on training and mentoring local police since the eruption of violence in 2006, which followed the withdrawal of international forces.
Since May, the UN police have been handing back responsibility to local authorities.
Dr Gallucci said the situation had been calm since early last year when rebels attacked the President, Jose Ramos-Horta, and he expected the UN to begin reducing its forces as soon as next year. But any withdrawals would be gradual and designed to prevent a security vacuum and the repeat of the 2006 and 2008 disturbances.
''The security level at the moment is high,'' Dr Gallucci said. ''Things have improved considerably in the past 1 Â½ years â€¦ In the coming months and years, there will be some reductions. We are not going to do what we did the previous time the UN was turning responsibility over to local forces.
''This time we are going to keep our police numbers constant for a period of time to assist with mentoring. We are not setting dates on this.''
Dr Gallucci, who visited Canberra to address the Australian Defence College and meet government officials, said the mission was likely to cut its $US205 million ($250 million) budget next year by about 10 per cent, before withdrawing forces. It was ''a fair assumption'' that Australia could also wind down its 650-strong force.
''We would not have started the process ourselves if we were not comfortable with the notion that Timor is increasingly able to provide their own security,'' he said.
''We have heard the suggestions that Australia and New Zealand will be reducing their forces. I don't think we would be surprised by that.''
Dr Gallucci said that in the 10 years since the East Timorese voted for independence, the biggest achievements had been the establishment of a stable democracy and justice system.
But the international community would need to maintain its commitment, especially to help resolve land disputes and assist the Government to use wisely the wealth it had amassed in oil and gas deals.
SIX players have excused themselves from this week’s round of A-League matches because of international duty. Only two of them, Jason Culina and Shane Stefanutto, are Australian. Culina’s club coach, Miron Bleiberg, isn’t happy with the timing. But the real story is the A-League’s growing global appeal.Four years ago when Dwight Yorke skipped a game for Sydney FC to play World Cup matches for Trinidad and Tobago, there was more delight than disappointment. A year later when little-known New Zealand Knights striker Alen Marcina did likewise to play for Canada, the A-League began to contemplate the club versus country conundrum. Not only that, they were foreign countries. There are many ways to measure a league’s development, but how many foreign internationals are involved is a useful barometer. On that score, the A-League has come on in leaps and bounds.We all know how hard Pim Verbeek tried to dissuade European-based Socceroos from coming home. Happily, he failed. Once Culina tested the water, four other genuine World Cup contenders – Stefanutto and Perth Glory trio Chris Coyne, Mile Sterjovski and Jacob Burns – jumped in after him.Even better, is how many foreign internationals have made Australia their home. True, few are from first-level nations, and it’s fanciful to suggest the A-League will ever draw the world’s best players away from Europe. But when you consider Yorke was the only foreign international in the A-League’s inaugural season, the stats are worth celebrating.Last night in Melbourne, Carlos Hernandez was missing from Melbourne Victory’s line-up because he was in San Jose preparing for Costa Rica’s crunch World Cup qualifier against Mexico. On Tuesday, Wellington Phoenix defender Manny Muscat flew to Valletta to get his head around marking Zlatan Ibrahimovic when Malta play Sweden next week. Central Coast Mariners midfielder John Hutchinson would have joined him but was excused by the Maltese authorities because of the recent birth of his child. After tonight’s match in Canberra, Mariners midfielder Mike McGlinchey flies to Amman to make his New Zealand debut in a friendly against Jordan, while Gold Coast United striker Shane Smeltz will join him after tomorrow night’s clash against Sydney.Those players aside, there are another 12 full internationals on the books of A-League clubs this season. Most are more former than current. It’s hard to imagine Lloyd Owusu (Adelaide United and Ghana), Stephan Keller (Sydney FC and Switzerland), Sung-hwan Byun (Sydney FC and South Korea), Eugene Dadi (Perth Glory and Ivory Coast), Victor Sikora (Perth Glory and Netherlands), Robbie Fowler (North Queensland Fury and England) and Charlie Miller (Brisbane Roar and Scotland) playing for their national teams again.But Karol Kisel (Sydney FC and Slovakia), Dyron Daal (North Queensland and Netherlands Antilles), Wolry Wolfe (Central Coast and Jamaica), Jeremy Brockie (North Queensland and NZ) and Surat Sukha (Melbourne Victory and Thailand) can still dare to dream. And as A-League clubs improve their international networks, it’s fair to assume the quality of imports will only get better. Which is good news, because it will be the foreigners who will drive playing standards for the foreseeable future. The more, I say, the merrier.