It was a positive weekend for the leading clubs across Asia and Oceania, notably in India where Dempo maintained a perfect record, and in Australia where Brisbane Roar extended their remarkable unbeaten run, despite dropping their first points of the season.
Elsewhere, Kashiwa Reysol continue to hone in on an unlikely J.League title, while at the other end of the spectrum, Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor wrapped up the season in style. In Oceania, a new name is wedged amongst New Zealand’s familiar table-toppers, while the league season is off and running in the Solomon Islands.
Australia’s A-League: Rare stumble for Roar
Brisbane Roar lost their 100 per cent record, yet still edged further clear at the top after second-placed Perth Glory were defeated for the second week in succession. The Roar drew 2-2 at nine-man Melbourne Victory, who somehow managed to hang on despite losing goalkeeper Ante Covic to a red card in just the second minute, and then defender Matthew Foschini before half-time. However, the point was enough for the Roar to move four clear after Perth crashed 2-0 at Newcastle Jets, who leapfrogged their opponents on goal difference. Two goals in as many minutes from the Jets’ New Zealand international Jeremy Brockie was the difference between the sides.
Big game: Sydney FC moved into fourth as an injury-time penalty from Karol Kisel sealed a 3-2 win against Gold Coast United. The Sky Blues trailed their opponents 2-0 on the hour mark only to secure a second comeback victory in their last three outings.
Headline-grabber: Melbourne Victory striker Archie Thompson rolled back the years with a dynamic two-goal showing against Brisbane Roar. The veteran attacker, holder of the world record for most goals in an international match, described his team’s performance in holding the champions with nine men as “the highlight of my career.”
India’s I-League: Goals in abundance as Dempo stay perfect
Dempo Sports Club continued their flawless opening to the season with a fourth consecutive win, this time a comfortable 3-0 win over Pailan Arrows. After a scoreless first half, goals from substitute Koko Sakibo, Godwin Franco, as well as last season’s golden boot winner Ranty Martins, sealed the contest. Churchill Brothers maintained their hold on second but were made to work overtime against cellar dwellers Hindustan Aeronautics, with a lone Henri Antchouet goal the difference.
Big game: Salgaocar were on the wrong end of a 4-2 scoreline at SC Goa as the champions crashed to their third defeat of the campaign. Sudanese forward James Moga was the local hero bagging a hat-trick to help his side to fourth.
Headline-grabber: Sunil Chhetri scored a double as Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan routed Mumbai FC 5-1. The popular India striker, at one stage on the books of MLS side Sporting Kansas City, overcome an indifferent start to the match before helping Mohun to a third win from four starts.
The most recent action in Japan took place last Thursday with newly promoted Kashiwa Reysol maintaining their claims on an unlikely league title by overwhelming Albirex Niigata 4-0, with a double from Brazilian midfielder Leandro Domingues. The win, which secured AFC Champions League qualification, has Kashiwa two points clear of Gamba Osaka, who won 1-0 against seven-time winners Kashima Antlers, and three points ahead of reigning champions Nagoya Grampus, who defeated Cerezo Osaka 3-1.
In Uzbekistan, Bunyodkor, having sealed the title with weeks to spare, rounded out their campaign with a 2-0 home victory against Mash' al Mubarek. Second placed Nasaf and third placed Pakhtakor can still claim silverware with the cup final to be played next Sunday. Nasaf, who recently won the AFC Cup, have reason for confidence, having eliminated Bunyodkor at the semi-final stage.
In New Zealand, Auckland City, Canterbury United and Waitakere United all scored comfortable wins to open up a five-point break at the top after just two rounds. League champions Waitakere cruised to a 6-0 victory over Otago United, while Auckland City continue their impressive form ahead of next month’s FIFA Club World Cup by disposing of Team Wellington 4-2. Sandwiched between the heavyweight pair are Canterbury United, who cruised past Waikato FC 5-0 with striker George Slefendorfas claiming a four-goal haul.
Finally to the Solomon Islands where the second round of the ten-team competition was notable as Solomon Warriors, who last week saw off champions Koloale, crashed to a 1-0 defeat against Western United. Koloale bounced back with a 3-1 win over Malaita Kingz with local icon Henry Fa’arodo hitting a double.