Five Things… NPL Queensland

Just the one game played over the weekend due to the heavy deluge in the south-east but that doesn’t mean we haven’t taken anything away from the weekend. It just means we need to think a little out of the square in this edition of Five Things…. NPL Queensland.

We’ll miss you Mustafa

Because we don’t limit ourselves to just the NPL and keep an eye on football across all of Queensland, we were surprised to see on Sunday afternoon that Mustafa Jafari bobbed up as a goalscorer for Brisbane Premier League’s Rochedale’s in their 4-0 win after playing for Olympic the previous week.

Can imagine it’s been tough for him to sit on the bench at Olympic waiting for a starting role. While he was promoted into the senior squad during the off-season, it’s tough to crack it for a start with attacking weapons such as Danny Byrne, Tim Smits, Rhys Meredith and Michael Lee entrenched in the eleven.

When he has come off the bench, he has been dynamic. Vivid in our imagination are his performances in last year’s FFA Cup, firstly against Wolves FC at the local level and then in the round of 32 match against Melbourne Knights, scoring a screamer for the clincher.

Here’s hoping the move to Rochedale is successful. They are a side that has been struggling in the attacking third this year and were looking to bolster their firepower so that should provide him with the opportunity for more starts and perhaps we’ll see him back in the NPL soon enough.


The Cup never fails to disappoint

How good is the FFA Cup? We love it! Brisbane NPL teams have started (and some already ended) their journey. Gradually, the regional NPL sides are beginning to learn who their opponents will be upon their entry into the competition. It’s just football without any divides and it doesn’t discriminate against which tier a club plays in.

As proven last week, anything is possible in a one-off match. After a winless start to the league, Redlands were well and truly up for a good performance against Olympic last Wednesday. They had nothing to lose and ultimately dumped out a side that made last year’s round of 16 and the current NPL leaders at the time the match was played.

While they didn’t ultimately claim the win, the mid-table Trophy Superstore Premier League’s Taringa left Wolter Park with plenty of admirers, taking it all the way to the undefeated Jets in a tight 2-1 defeat that could have gone either way.

Last year, we had four NPL clubs as Queensland’s representatives, just got an inkling that we might see at least one of the so-called ‘community clubs’ into the final 32 this year. Or at least one do something similar to Caloundra last year, who knocked off Sunshine Coast Fire and then came oh so close to nicking a win against Palm Beach at the final hurdle.

So let’s just enjoy the FFA Cup for what it is, football without divides where even the smallest of clubs can dare to dream big.

Sting taken out of the Heat

Suppose we should say something about the one game that was played over the weekend. FNQ Heat were the narrative of the competition last year. After a dreadful start to the season, they went on an amazing run to claim second place. If the same is going to happen this year, things have to start turning now.

Coach Martin Docherty lamented after the 4-1 loss to Moreton Bay at home on Saturday night, that stupid goals are being continuously conceded. It seems like a reasonable argument. There’s no doubt about the Heat’s attacking ability, they are equal second amount in terms of scoring goals this season but have conceded the fourth most (take out the 12 that Pride conceded to Roar and it would only be cellar dwellers City and Thunder who would have seen more put past them).

The challenge is to get an experienced backline firing again. It can be done, it happened last year where after seeing 20 put past them in the opening four rounds, a recovery occurred to then concede 28 in the remaining 20 matches, including six clean sheets.

Artificial intervention

A huge deluge over the weekend in Brisbane, QSN Headquarters saw around 160mm of rain in 24 hours so therefore understandable that the five games scheduled for the greater Brisbane area were postponed but there is an alternative for the future.

Souths United, who hold a licence in the Womens NPL, opened their new artificial pitches over the weekend and history was created as the first competitive matches in Queensland took place on the synthetic surface. It did take the players a little adjustment to a slicker than normal surface, FNQ Heat reported a similar experience when playing their FFA Cup tie against Sydney United 58 last year but overall, the players gave a tick to the pitch.

The pitches are expensive in their initial outlay, $1.2 million has been floated in some circles but as was shown on the weekend, the benefits of being able to play football when a natural grass field is unplayable and a reduction in ongoing maintenance costs could see that outlay recouped.

Other clubs in Brisbane such as Mitchelton and UQFC have also been investigating installing them but are reliant on government funding to get them over the line. It could be a solution to negate rescheduling of matches involving regional teams, for example, if Northern Fury had already travelled for their match against Brisbane Strikers on Saturday night only to see Perry Park closed, with a bit of cooperation and perhaps changes in travel arrangements, the match could be played at such a venue. One to keep an eye out for the future.


Schedule the reschedule

So we’re now approaching round nine and with the postponement of matches over the weekend, it’s timely that to point out that several matches from earlier in the year are yet to be rescheduled.

The round one match between Brisbane Roar and Palm Beach has yet to be a date fixed for the match, despite being known from when the draw was released in January that it couldn’t be played on that weekend due to the Roar’s National Youth League commitments. The abandoned round four match between SWQ Thunder and Moreton Bay from six weeks ago also has no date for it.

Now there’s the Moreton Bay v Roar match from the previous weekend and five matches from last weekend and a logistical nightmare is brewing.

The saviour is that at least there are catch-up weekends this year. They occur on the Queens Birthday long weekend (although that may need to be utilised for FFA Cup matches, particularly in the regional areas), on 18/19 July after round 17 and again in the week after the final round and before the finals commence.

Yes, there are extra difficulties for competition administrators when dealing with a statewide competition due to distances but situations like last year need to be avoided where a glut of catch-up matches late in the season caused situations such as FNQ having to travel to Brisbane for a match on a Thursday night against Olympic then remain in Brisbane to back up three days later against Redlands. That meant players had to juggle work commitments with some losing wages for work days missed. There was also the midweek match after the regular season had finished where Palm Beach put out their youth side against Olympic causing a lop-sided result, a delay in scheduling finals and Olympic playing three matches in six days with a trip to Cairns thrown in. That in addition to midweek FFA Cup commitments for some.

Football Gold Coast has a good rule for their Premier League, matches are automatically rescheduled from the weekend to Thursday week or the next catch-up weekend, whichever is sooner. Football Brisbane is also pretty speedy in rescheduling to the next catch-up weekend.

Live coverage this weekend:
Olympic v FNQ Heat – Sunday 3pm – Football Queensland Live Stream