Story of the Year: Sam Kerr and the Matildas rise to the top
Who else would it be? Samantha Kerr had a year that most athletes could only dream of – she became the first woman to score four goals in a match in the US National Women’s Soccer League, was crowned player of the month twice, named in the team of the month four times (in a six-month competition, no less) was awarded the league’s Most Valuable Player award at season’s end, and finished as the competition’s top scorer comfortably.
Since returning to the W-League with Perth Glory, she’s averaging more than a goal per game in the early stages of that competition – and these were just her club level achievements.
For Australia, she bagged a staggering 11 goals in the calendar year, including four in the Tournament of Nations, as the Matildas beat three of the world’s best teams; USA, Japan and Brazil consecutively to win the tournament. After that, they breezed past Brazil and China twice each in friendlies on home soil, including a 3-2 win over Brazil in front of a record crowd in Newcastle.
Inexplicably, Kerr wasn’t among the three finalists for the FIFA World Player of the Year award, a decision that was rightly hammered by football fans around the globe. She was, however, honoured as Asia’s best player and included in the IFFHS World Team of the Year.
A combination of success and star power means that the Matildas now arguably sit as the most universally loved national team the country has to offer – and are a big chance to win both the Asian Cup next year, and the World Cup in 2019. The Winners: Sydney FC
Graham Arnold’s men completed the greatest season ever recorded in the A-League, shattering records left and right. Whatever your feelings towards Ange Postecoglou’s Brisbane Roar side of 2010-11, the Sky Blues eclipsed them in both goals scored and conceded per game, and grabbed more wins and more points despite the season being three games shorter.
Magic moment: Sydney FC players celebrate after winning the grand final. Photo: AAP
Sydney went on to win the Grand Final against Melbourne Victory in a penalty shootout, with the league’s best player, Milo?? Ninkovi??, slotting the winning spot kick. The first half of the 2017-18 season has been just as kind to them, as they sit at the top of the ladder and lifted the FFA Cup trophy after beating Adelaide United in the final in November.
The Losers: USA, Italy and the Netherlands
Three World Cup stalwarts won’t be heading to Russia next year, having failed in qualification – the American failure was particularly embarrassing, not only due to the quality of opposition in the CONCACAF region, but because broadcaster Fox Sports shelled out $400 million for exclusive rights to broadcast the tournament, only for the USA to lose their last game against Trinidad & Tobago, and fall all the way to fifth in their group.
Italy’s loss to Sweden in the play-off round meant that they would not be at football’s showpiece event for the first time in 60 years, and also robbed legendary keeper Gianluigi Buffon of becoming the first player to go to six World Cups.
Year to forget: Dick Advocaat gestures with Netherland’s Ryan Babel during a World Cup qualifying match between the Netherlands and Sweden. Photo: Peter DejongQuote of the Year: Dick Advocaat
As mentioned above, the Netherlands failed to qualify for the World Cup, being pipped to second in their group by Sweden, who then beat Italy in the play-offs. The Swedes only finished ahead of the Dutch due to goal difference, and the two teams were slated to play each other in the final game of the group stage, with Advocaat’s men needing a hefty win to swing that for and against.
But first, Sweden had their penultimate game against Luxembourg, and a win by a large margin would squash any remote hopes for the Netherlands to overturn the difference. “What if Sweden win 8-0 or something like that?” A reporter asked the Dutch coach.
“They won’t win 8-0, what a stupid question that is,” Advocaat said. “8-0? Well, no I don’t believe that.”
Sweden, of course, won 8-0 – and lost that final game to the Dutch by two, advancing to the play-off round with a goal difference of +17 to Sweden’s +9. Social media moment: Aaron Mooy, the young Huddersfield fan, and the ??5 note
After Huddersfield Town’s stunning win over Premier League heavyweights Manchester United, it was a touching moment between their Aussie midfield maestro and a five-year-old boy that stole the show. Adam Bhana, a young Terriers fan, found a ??5 note at the game, and wrote a letter to the club offering it to Mooy, who scored the opening goal in the victory. Pure class from young Adam pic.twitter南京夜网/KVSpfJlZrm??? Sean Jarvis (@SeanMJarvis) October 24, 2017This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.