Big bets on A-League match raised no alarms

MICHAEL LYNCH
Last updated 10:16 10/02/2013
Evan Kostopoulos
Getty Images
BIG GOAL: Evan Kostopoulos of Adelaide gets the ball past Nathan Coe of the Melbourne Victory to score one of his team's four goals during the round 10 A-League match on December 7. The game attracted almost A$50 million in bets from Asian gamblers.

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Melbourne Victory officials on Saturday joined leaders from Football Federation Australia in denying there was anything untoward in the A-League after revelations that Asian gamblers had bet almost A$50 million on a game in December in which Adelaide United defeated the Victory 4-2 at Hindmarsh Stadium.

The two clubs met again at the Adelaide venue on Friday night, with the Reds winning again, this time 1-0. But much of Saturday's post-match inquest centred on the money trail and the revelation of the huge sums wagered on the Adelaide-Victory game two months ago.

Victory chief executive Richard Wilson said that FFA boss David Gallop had made it clear that there was nothing to suggest there were any probity issues in the A-League following the release of the Australian Crime Commission's explosive revelations of the use of drugs and the involvement of organised crime in sport in Australia.

''There have not been any allegations made about the league or that game,'' Wilson said. ''We have no concerns about our players or organisation. We were missing some key players that night, and we can't control what gamblers from Australia or other countries want to invest on our matches.''

On Friday, Gallop had fronted a Melbourne Heart business lunch to hammer home the message that the A-League had nothing to be concerned about in the report. The game that attracted so much money came midway through the season. The navy blues were beginning to hit their straps and Victory travelled to South Australia unbeaten in its past five games.

But the Reds were also riding high in what was the glamour game of the round. They knew that a win would take them to the top of the table, and with Victory missing several players through injury and international call-ups, their chances were good.

The night was hot and the start of the match was equally combustible, with Adelaide opening the scoring after two minutes and Victory drawing level three minutes later.

But this was very much a new-look Victory side. Star left-back Adama Traore didn't travel, the Ivory Coast junior international was injured and stayed in Melbourne.

Socceroo midfielder Mark Milligan was away on international duty, as was star striker Archie Thompson. Both were with the national team in Hong Kong.

Victory coach Ange Postecoglou gambled on inexperienced centre-back Sam Gallagher replacing Traore, but the tall youngster had a night to forget as he was tormented by Adelaide winger Fabio Ferreira.

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Ferreira set up Adelaide's first goal for Evan Kostopoulos although Victory's leveller a few minutes later by Andrew Nabbout gave every indication it was very much in the game. Victory was, at that stage, looking the team most likely to score again.

Everything changed in a 10-minute period in the middle of the first half when Adelaide scored three times, through Ferreira, Argentinian Marcelo Carrusca and then Kostopoulos again when he headed in Carrusca's free kick, the goals coming between the 21st and 31st minutes.

Although the Victory got an early goal in the second half through Marco Rojas and did have much of the play for the last 45 minutes, it was unable to find a way through and Adelaide did enough to ensure it took the points in a six-goal game.

Afterwards Postecoglou admitted he had got his team selection wrong, saying he had had a bad night as a coach and had to cop the blame.

It was a point he made again last week when asked about the performance that night and if it had any bearing on the fixture played on Friday evening.

''We had a bad half-hour. We made a few changes. I said after the game that it wasn't my best coaching performance. I got my selection wrong. That's a lesson learnt,'' he said.

- The Age

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