Wild twist stings Muscat; Coach responds to Socceroo’s ‘frustrating’ interview: KEEPUP Beyond the A-leagues

From the Scottish Premiership and Japan’s J1 League to Germany’s 2.Bundesliga. KEEPUP has you covered on all the Aussie-related news outside the A-Leagues.

Coach responds to Socceroo’s interview about ‘frustrating’ situation

Cam Devlin‘s game time in recent weeks has frustrated the Australian midfielder, but his head coach has dismissed his concerns after he gave a telling interview.

Hearts took up the option in Devlin’s contract to tie down the Socceroo until 2025 in September, however, the former A-Leagues star has found himself on the outer somewhat lately.

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He was on the bench for league and cup fixtures against Rangers this month and while he did start the Scottish Premiership fixture with Livingston – playing 45 minutes – the 25-year-old was an unused substitute in Sunday’s 2-1 win at Motherwell.

Seemingly vying with countryman Calem Nieuwenhof for a starting role in midfield, Devlin – who has started eight of his 10 league appearances this season – spoke about his situation prior to the match, which also saw Kye Rowles start.

“It’s probably a question for the coaches rather than me,” he told the Edinburgh News.

“It’s frustrating because I feel I’ve been playing some really good stuff this season on a more consistent basis than previous years. I’ve been confident going into games. Everyone knows my strengths in terms of winning the ball but I feel I’m doing more for the team on the ball.

“Any player wants to play every game and I’m no different. I will keep working hard in every session to be playing in every single game.

“It’s only the two Rangers games I haven’t started so I can’t really be stressing too much – but, being the person I am, that’s something I do naturally, anyway. If you feel sorry for yourself and get down in the dumps, the only person you will harm is yourself.

“Naisy (Steven Naismith), Frankie [McAvoy] and Gordy [Forrest] make decisions based on what they think at the time and, as a player, you have to accept them. I’m not the sort of guy to be moaning and complaining, I just try to get on with it.

“I’m fully confident in myself. I feel this season has been my strongest, I’ve been really consistent in my performances, it’s just about being ready for when I’m told to play again. As long as the team is winning, I’ll be just as happy. Hopefully I can be in the team this weekend and, more importantly, we can get a win.”

Hearts boss Steven Naismith spoke glowingly of Devlin upon his contract extension earlier this season, saying: “He’s someone who came here with potential and he’s improved.

“He’s now a regular in his national team set-up. He’s an infectious character who is desperate to learn. All these things are good. He’s not somebody who thinks he knows it all, he wants to pick your brain and get better.

“For us it’s about making sure he keeps his consistency levels up. And for him it’s about starting to make inroads on that starting XI for his national team. Those are his next goals.

“I think there is still huge potential in him. The natural attributes of enthusiasm, hard work and energy, he has those in abundance. But in terms of reading the game and being more disciplined, he still has a bit to go. That’s probably the easiest bit to pick up. I believe there’s still a long way Cammy can go to improve.”

But when asked about Devlin’s comments in the aftermath of a Hearts victory that moved them fourth in the table and within two points of third-placed St Mirren, Naismith said: “At Ibrox, I don’t know if he can complain about the players who were playing in that match.

“I think the team we picked was very good and it showed in the performance and showed that for 90 minutes we were winning the game.

“But every player in the squad’s going to have points where they’re playing and where they’re not playing. If we win, people don’t mention things about starting selections or subs. If we lose, people will mention them.

“One week, I was getting praised for Alex Lowry coming on against Killie, the next week I’ll have been getting criticised for not picking somebody. It’s part and parcel, it’s going to happen.

“When you’ve got such a big backing, not all of the 20,000 Hearts fans would be picking the same team in every game. That is what it is. The job I’m in, I’m the guy who picks it and, over time, hopefully I pick the right team that gets us results.”

It was a forgettable weekend for Socceroos pair Keanu Baccus and Ryan Strain after St Mirren were routed 4-0 by Dundee FC.

Nick Montgomery’s Hibernian snapped their seven-game winless run across all competitions with a 1-0 win over Kilmarnock. Lewis Miller and Martin Boyle both started for Hibs, while Jimmy Jeggo came off the bench.

Ryan McGowan started his second straight game and St Johnstone’s resurgence continued with back-to-back wins courtesy of a 1-0 victory against Ross County.

Crazy scenes deal major blow to Muscat’s title hopes

With five minutes of stoppage time remaining, Kevin Muscat‘s Yokohama F.Marinos and Vissel Kobe were level on points at the top of the table heading into the final two games of the season.

Then, chaos ensued in the J1 League on Sunday.

Defending champions F.Marinos, who entered the weekend two points behind Kobe, defeated Cerezo Osaka 2-0 for their fifth consecutive victory across all competitions.

Playing earlier in the day, it put the pressure back on Kobe to keep their two-point cushion intact away to third-placed Urawa Reds.

The visitors broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute via Matheus Thuler before Urawa scored a dramatic 91st-minute equaliser thanks to Jose Kante.

As it stood, F.Marinos and Kobe were level on 63 points, with only goal difference separating the two title rivals, while Urawa were five points off the pace.

As Urawa’s slim title chances faded, their goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa went up the other end for a free-kick to try to snatch victory. Instead, he was caught way outside of his area, allowing Yuya Osako to score into an empty net in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

Kobe are now two points ahead of F.Marinos with two matchdays remaining heading into the international break.

Elsewhere in Japan’s top flight, Mitch Langerak‘s Nagoya Grampus lost 2-1 to Shonan Bellmare, Peter Cklamovski‘s FC Tokyo drew 0-0 away to Albirex Niigata, who brought Thomas Deng off the bench.

In the J2 League, Mitch Duke scored his 10th goal of the season as champions Machida Zelvia defeated Vegalta Sendai 3-1 while Stefan Mauk was absent from Fagiano Okayama’s 1-1 draw at Kanazawa.

In South Korea’s K League 1, Alex Grant‘s Pohang Steelers lost 3-2 at Ulsan.

Socceroos pair part of 51-year first in Germany

St Pauli are flying high; just look at the 2.Bundesliga standings and their start to the season.

Germany’s second-tier leaders drew 0-0 at home to Hannover in which captain Jackson Irvine was suspended but Connor Metcalfe was in the line-up, however, they are still three points clear at the top of the table after 13 matchdays.

St Pauli are also yet to lose in the league to begin 2023-24. It is their best start to a season since 1972-73, when they also began the campaign with 13 matches without a loss in Regionalliga Nord.

Not since 2010-11 have St Pauli played in the Bundesliga but something special could be brewing this season.

Socceroos full-back Jordy Bos supplied the 91st-minute assist as Westerlo earned a dramatic 3-3 draw at home to Sint-Truiden in the Belgian Pro League.

Aiden O’Neill was a second-half substitute in Standard Liege’s 6-0 rout at the hands of Antwerp, while Jason Davidson was absent from KAS Eupen’s 3-1 defeat to at home to Molenbeek.

In the Dutch Eredivisie, Mat Ryan‘s AZ Alkmaar lost 1-0 away to Feyenoord as they slipped down to fourth in the standings.

Garang Kuol was introduced in the 65th minute of FC Volendam’s 4-1 loss to Sparta Rotterdam.

Working as an assistant to John van’ t Schip at Ajax, Michael Valkanis watched the Dutch giants play out at a 2-2 draw with Almere.

Socceroo fuels win in Switzerland

Awer Mabil was at the heart of Grasshoppers’ 5-2 victory over Stade Lausanne in the Swiss Super League.

The Australia international winger scored a goal and set up another on Sunday.

Mabil bagged Grasshoppers’ third goal of the game before teeing up Francis Momoh’s 51st-minute strike as teammate Joshua Laws completed a full shift.

In the EFL Championship, former Central Coast Mariners defender Nectar Triantis made his league bow for Sunderland.

Triantis made his Championship debut for Sunderland in their 3-1 victory over Wayne Rooney’s Birmingham at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland suffered a pre-match blow when Dennis Cirkin was injured during the warm-up, necessitating the promotion of summer signing Triantis to the starting line-up for his first league start since his summer move from Central Coast.

Triantis came close to scoring his first goal for the Black Cats, with his would-be maiden strike being deemed an own-goal by Sanderson.

He did, however, claim the goal post-game and so did his manager.

“It was frustrating (for Dennis) but it’s great for Nectar that he has come in and it’s worked out so well for him, got himself a goal and helped the team win and get three points,” said Tony Mowbray.

Ipswich Town maintained their red-hot start to the season with a 3-2 win over Swansea City as Cameron Burgess and Massimo Luongo both started. Ipswich are second but level on points with Harry Souttar‘s Leicester City.

Boro pair Sam Silvera and Tom Glover were both unused substitutes, as was Souttar, in Middlesbrough’s 1-0 loss to Leicester. Riley McGree is still injured.

In League One, Alexander Robertson earned man-of-the-match honours in Portsmouth’s 2-2 draw with Ashley Maynard-Brewer’s Charlton Athletic. Kusini Yengi, who has been called into the Socceroos squad, was on the bench.

Over in Italy’s Serie A Femminile, Joe Montemurro‘s Juventus defeated Como 3-0.

Juve are second in the table and three points behind Roma after seven rounds.

In France’s Ligue 2, Patrick Kisnorbo‘s Troyes lost 1-0 to Ajaccio while Mohamed Toure was on the bench for Paris FC in their 1-0 win over Bastia.

Alessandro Circati put in an 88-minute shift but league-leading Parma were stunned 3-2 by Lecce in Serie B.