28/02/2024

Macarthur FC and Western United faced off in trying and testing conditions. (Photo Credit: Paramount Plus/Twitter)

The heat was the story of the day across the A-Leagues on Saturday, with three of the four matches that took place in Australia kicking off in weather over 30 degrees.

In Campbelltown, the temperature was 32 degrees at kick-off as Macarthur welcomed Western United in what was the A-League Men coaching debut for Mile Sterjovski.

In a first half that saw the visitors work their way into a couple of dangerous positions with some good chances, both sides went into the dressing rooms still locked at nil-all. Things became perilous for Macarthur not long after the half-time interval in a huge test for Sterjovski.

Kearyn Baccus picked up a second yellow card in the 49th minute to leave the hosts down to 10 players, while Daniel Arzani picked up an injury and had to be substituted just six minutes later in the 55th minute.

Things went from bad to worse for the hosts as John Aloisi’s side would take advantage in the 60th minute through Lachie Wales who would boot it past Filip Kurto from just outside the 18-yard post, ringing the ball in off the post.

Despite being down a player, Macarthur continued to chase the game and was rewarded with Matt Millar scoring the equaliser in the 67th minute to give Sterjovski hope of rescuing something from his debut.

Western continued to push to regain the lead to no avail and would be punished down the other end as the Bulls capitalised on a defensive error that saw Jed Drew give the hosts the lead despite Jamie Young’s efforts to keep it out of the net.

The hopes of a maiden A-League Men win for Sterjovski were dashed as quickly as they were ignited with Nicolas Milanovic scoring in the 89th minute which allowed the visitors to leave Campbelltown with a point.

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While conditions cooled as the game went on, it was clear the match suffered from most of the game being played with the temperature at over 30 degrees.

John Aloisi did not mince his words post-match when asked about the heat, which also saw two Western United women’s players treated for heatstroke after their game against Canberra United in Canberra earlier that day.

“I’ve been saying it for years. I think it’s ridiculous that we have to play in this heat,” Aloisi said.

“But obviously the football people that played and also coached, they don’t always listen to.

“They want to make it a good spectacle, but you can’t have a good spectacle when players are struggling to run and health and safety as well.

“I think they said the heat bulb we were just underneath of getting the game postponed but you know it’s hard work for the players and then you can get injuries and then the recovery factor and all these things.

“Not to mention you want to see a good football game and I’ve been saying for years I would like to see the game played in the winter but I can understand all the other obstacles that we have [in] changing the seasons but it’s unfair on the players and the supporters when you have to watch a game and play in a game in that heat.

“We’ve got another game next week at 3 o’clock on Sunday. I’m praying that it’s not going to be this hot but if it is we just have to deal with it because it’s not going to change at the moment.”

For Mile Sterjovski, the solution is a simple one.

“I think just later kick-offs. I understand that we have the TV [broadcasters] putting games on at different times so everyone can watch all games,” Sterjovski said.

“But later kick-offs, we have to look after the players and their health is most important but I also think the quality of the games would be better when the temperatures are a bit cooler.”

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