Soccer: School of Excellence pupils pass test with flying colours

By Terry Maddaford

Emile Heskey (left) and the Newcastle Jets face the Central Coast Mariners next weekend. Photo / Getty Images
Emile Heskey (left) and the Newcastle Jets face the Central Coast Mariners next weekend. Photo / Getty Images

Before the start of round two in this season's Hyundai A-League, former Socceroo and Brisbane Roar defender Craig Moore questioned his old club's decision in bringing youngsters Yuji Takahashi (Japan) and Do Dong-Hyun (South Korea) into the fold.

Moore, while not completely bagging the call, asked whether it was the right thing for the club given the number of young Australian players available to the only Queensland club in the competition.

Moore penned his thoughts before watching the Roar demolish Melbourne Victory 5-0 and before the Wellington Phoenix claimed an impressive 1-1 away draw with Melbourne Heart.

If there was ever a case to back Moore's push to "give local youth a chance" then the Phoenix provided the answer.

In a side decimated by international call-ups, the Phoenix promoted four youngsters for their first start at this level.

Debutantes Luke Adams, Tom Biss, Michael Boxall and Jacob Spoonley played alongside another of the club's rising stars Louis Fenton and later Tyler Boyd.

The Phoenix School of Excellence handed the club's new owners an instant return on their investment.

The Phoenix, against all predictions, ended the round in second place, two points behind John Kosmina's Adelaide United who, with the Phoenix, were seen as likely wooden-spooners.

It is a vastly different story for big-spending Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory. Already at the bottom of the table as the only two clubs without a point from the opening rounds, there will be real concerns for coaches Ian Crook, at Sydney, and Ange Postecoglou (Victory).

The Roar, in their first game against the coach who steered them to a double-triumph, bounced back from a first-up loss in Perth to hand the Victory their biggest ever league loss.

The Queenslanders play in Wellington on Sunday in what shapes as the game of the round, although other spicy match-ups include the Sydney derby, the east coast battle between the Emile Heskey-headlined Jets and the Mariners, and the Victory's home game with Adelaide.

- NZ Herald

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