Here are some of the key talking points from this week’s episode of the Official A-Leagues Podcast, where Daniel Garb, Amy Chapman and Robbie Cornthwaite are joined by Central Coast Mariners head coach Nick Montgomery and Adelaide United’s Emily Condon.
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Gorry’s ‘big statement’ puts midfielder on Matildas radar
Chapman described it as ‘Gorry-esque’, as Brisbane Roar midfielder Katrina Gorry returned to her vintage best in her side’s 4-2 comeback win over Melbourne Victory.
It was the Roar number 10’s best performance of the 2021-22 Liberty A-League season to date, capped off with a stunning goal which will contend for Liberty Goal of the Week honours.
Gorry is returning to professional football three months after giving birth to first child Harper – a feat, on its own, which is nothing short of inspirational. Her form has improved in each game, with her second consecutive 90-minute display helping to demonstrate the diminutive midfielder is returning to full fitness.
With the CommBank Matildas’ Asian Cup campaign kicking off in India on January 21, murmurs of Mini’s return to the international fray continue to get louder.
“Super to see Katrina Gorry scoring one of her textbook goals,” Chapman said. “That’s a big statement from her, she’s playing regular 90 minutes now, she’s doing Katrina Gorry-esque things.
“(She) was once the Asian Player of the Year, she’ll be putting forward a big statement to be a part of the Matildas squad as soon as possible, obviously monitoring her fitness coming back from giving birth only in August.
“Performance-wise, you’ve still got to let her get minutes in her legs and regular games, so there’s that element. But then there’s the logistical side of it: say she is good enough to go to the Asian Cup, which is only in two or three weeks, personally I think it’s too soon but it’s worthy of bringing her back into the squad to get back in the rhythm of being a part of the Matildas.
“Is this the time with COVID everywhere to take a small baby to India? Maybe not. You’ve got a lot more to start thinking about.
“I think the Asian Cup might be a little too soon, but I certainly would see her in the fray in the next six months.”
Like father, like son – Bernardo steals dad’s move to help Reds to victory
Robbie Cornthwaite once called Cassio Oliveira a teammate as the pair played alongside one another at Adelaide United.
Now an Australian football pundit, Cornthwaite sits in the stands at Coopers Stadium watching a new Oliveira win the hearts of Adelaide fans – Cassio’s son, Bernardo.
In his first Isuzu UTE A-League start, Bernardo built on a quiet first half to have a telling impact in his side’s 4-0 win over the ‘Nix, reminding Cornthwaite of his former Reds teammate as the 17-year-old made his presence felt in an impressive debut start for Carl Veart’s side.
“You could see in the second half once the game started to open up, he came into his own,” Cornthwaite said.
“He’s got that little trick his dad had as well, Cássio used to take it with the outside of the left foot, he does it with the right and left.
“He won the penalty with very similar move to what his dad would have done.”
Bernardo played from the start against Wellington in the absence of Ben Halloran, whose surprise departure to Korean outfit FC Seoul provides Bernardo an opportunity to make a spot on head coach Carl Veart’s starting XI his own.
“A great opportunity to see Bernardo getting a lot more minutes,” Chapman said. “He’s impressive, he’s exciting, and he deserves to start, but they’ve just got a lot of strike power going forward.”
It’s the kind of strike power that could be reinforced if Veart dips into the transfer market this month – a move Cornthwaite says is vital for a Reds squad which he believes flatters to deceive in the depth department.
“think it’s pretty simple: they need to go to the transfer market,” he said. “Carl Veart sort of alluded to the fact he wants to sign someone in the next week or so.
“They’ve had an Argentinian visa player on trial there for the last two weeks, I believe, so whether that’s the player he’s got in mind.
“They need to go to the market, because they’re very, very thin. Craig Goodwin said after the game on radio that he thinks they’ve got depth, I disagree with that, I don’t think they have good depth.”
A Victory must: What champs must do to keep pace with Liberty A-League leaders
After conceding four second-half goals to an out of form Brisbane Roar in a 4-2 loss in Round 4, Melbourne Victory’s issues became increasingly glaring to both Chapman and Cornthwaite.
The ACL injury suffered by captain Kayla Morrison in Round 1 – the leader of the Victory squad and its typically resolute backline – has left her side’s backline in disarray. The floodgates have opened in the past two rounds, in which Victory have conceded a combined nine goals to both Melbourne City (five) and the Roar (four).
Could it be a CommBank Matildas youngster – with prior experience playing as a central defender for the national team – who slots into the void left by Kayla Morrison to help sure up a porous Victory backline?
“The pressure is on them,” Chapman said. “Jeff Hopkins has been thrown a tonne of challenges this season, whether it’s COVID-based, injury based, and his marquee signing (Lynn Williams) only has one game left.
“They can score goals but certainly have not resolved the back four issue since the loss of Kayla Morrison,” Chapman added.
“I’m not sure if Courntey Nevin is giving them enough in that full-back position, do they shuffle her in centrally?
Cornthwaite replied: “Nevin started for the Matildas as a centre half. For me, you’ve got to put her in the middle.
“They’ve conceded nine goals in the last two games against potential title contenders with Melbourne City of course and Brisbane who are starting to look good.
“If Victory want to go anywhere near the top four, they need to sort their defence out ASAP.”
Quirky Talay behaviour catches Cornthwaite’s eye
On hand to witness Adelaide United’s New Years Day domination of Wellington Phoenix at Coopers Stadium, Robbie Cornthwaite watched an insipid Phoenix performance, and an unusually flat approach by head coach Ufuk Talay to managing his team through the 90 minutes pitch-side.
“During the second half there was a drinks break because of the warm weather, he didn’t even get up off the bench,” Cornthwaite said.
“The players came over to get a drink, he stayed in his seat, left it to his assistant, didn’t get up to offer any instructions.”
Talay’s half-time substitutions – of which there were three – were similarly perplexing to Cornthwaite, with the Phoenix trailing by just one goal at the break.
“He made a triple change at half-time, he took off Rufer and Sotirio, two of your (most) experienced players,” Cornthwaite said.
“They’ve got Melbourne City in the FFA Cup midweek as well. Already the worst defensive record in the league, we know how difficult it is, they’ve almost got a free pass, they’ve been away for two years living in Sydney, but they’re really, really up against it.”