Your Hyundai A-League guide to the lingo

The Hyundai A-League is back! It returns this weekend following a three week break for the AFC Asian Cup with three games in a split Round 15 to be played in Central Coast, Adelaide and Perth.

To get you ready for what should be a thrilling run in towards the finals – and to help out any new fans to the game who’ve been excited by the Asian Cup and want to see more football in Australia – we’ve come up with an A-League Mini Dictionary. 

A bluffer’s guide if you will. 

Don’t be left out of your office banter on Monday mornings, slip effortlessly into the conversation with the right lingo as you banter with your new football mates about parking buses, panenkas and playmakers. 

Dr Greco is here to help you learn A-League 101, so take notes…

“Park the bus”

Example of usage: “In the last 20 minutes, they parked the bus and tried to hold on for a point”

A term made famous by eccentric Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho. It’s a term used to describe a team who want to be very hard for their opposition to break down, often getting all 11 players behind the ball in their own half to deny their opponents space to create goal-scoring chances. This might be effective when trying to hold on to a lead late in a match, though tough to watch for those who love free-flowing football. 

“A high press”

Example of usage: “They folded under the pressure of a relentless high press”

Employed by many teams nowadays – including the Socceroos – it’s a tactic where rather than parking the bus (see above), the defending team move forward in numbers to put pressure on the ball in the hope of forcing an error or to cut-out passing options. 

If done well a team can recover the ball quickly, often in the opposition’s half, and are able to attack immediately from a dangerous area. 

But if teams are good enough to play through it they can often find space themselves going towards goal. Definitely a a high-risk, high-reward strategy.

Requires high levels of fitness so it’s ideal for a team made of younger players – or supreme athletes – especially in the middle of a summer. 

“Target man”

Example of usage: “They’ve bought a big target man to complement their smaller attackers”

Nothing to do with the department store. It’s a team’s key striker who is often the intended target of passes and crosses into the box. The Hyundai A-League is littered with some pretty impressive ones. Think Sydney FC’s Marc Janko as the perfect example while Melbourne Victory’s Besart Berisha and Perth Glory star Andy Keogh are also important target men for their sides despite being in a different mould to the Sky Blues’ Austrian skipper.

“Number 10”

Example of usage: “The club will sign a number 10 as it needs a playmaker in the middle of the park”

The team’s chief creator or playmaker. He more often than not actually wears the number 10 shirt although it also refers to a position on the field in behind the striker. 

Is usually a side’s most creative and skillful player, with the ability to unlock a defence with a clever pass or weaving run. If you really want to impress your mates ask them who they would rather have in their side as a “No. 10” – Marcelo Carrusca, Gui Finkler or Nebojsa Marinkovic? 

“Route one”

Example of usage: “In the last few minutes, they went route one in the hope of getting an equaliser”

In the current age of beautiful football and short passing, ‘route one’ is not so common anymore and generally frowned upon by football purists. 

It’s the tactic of kicking the ball long up field – generally from a defensive area – to a player/s who are generally have a strong aerial ability. While it might not be the prettiest style of play, it’s very direct and can be effective, especially by sides who may rely more on their physicality to be successful rather than skill and clever build up play. 


Example of usage: “Despite the pressure of a shootout he calmly scored with a Panenka”

Used when a side is awarded a penalty and only attempted by the most confident of players. 

When taking a penalty, instead of blasting the ball towards goal the taker simply tries to send the goal-keeper the wrong way before deftly chipping the ball down the middle. 

Simply beautiful when it works but you will look like a fool if it doesn’t go in. If you really want to impress your mates you can also mention is was named after former Czech international Antonin Panenka, who first used it in the finals of the 1976 European Championships.


Example of usage: “With the ball seemingly going out he pulled out a rabona which caught the defence napping, allowing Greco to score”

A move normally attempted for one of two reasons. Either the player is in the mood for a bit of show-boating or simply won’t try and play a pass with his weaker foot. 

The Rabona is when a player strikes the ball by wrapping their kicking foot around and behind their standing leg and striking it, normally with their toe. It looks spectacular and can work, but not the most accurate way of getting a pass to a team-mate.

And if it goes wrong, you can look a bit, well, silly. And for those wondering, it’s “ribbon” in Spanish. It’s also a dance step done when you pull out your best Tango. 


Example of usage: “He stayed on his feet instead of diving in, jockeyed and eventually the attack broke down”

Forget Flemington or Randwick racecourse,  a jockey is also relevant in the world of football. It’s when a defender – instead of rushing in trying to tackle an opponent or steal the ball – sits off just a little bit and tries to limit their space to move. A good way to slow down an attack while allow other defenders to get set.


Example of usage: “He nutmegged the defender, twice, ran through and scored. What a striker this Greco is. Incredible skills”

No, it’s the not the jolly Asian Cup mascot. Quite simply this is when an attacker puts the ball through the legs of an opposition player before running past them and collecting on the other side. Embarrassing when it happens to a ‘keeper as it generally ends up in a goal.