FRANK Farina has blasted rival A-League coach Miron Bleiberg, calling his failure to promote Saturday's season-opening derby between Brisbane Roar and Gold Coast United “disgraceful”.
Relations between the two coaches hit a new low yesterday, after United's assistant coach Paul Okon was sent to attend the game's press conference in place of Bleiberg.
“He decided, as you are all aware, that he wasn't going to go out of his way and help promote this match,” Okon said of Bleiberg.
Farina, who was sitting next to a cardboard cut-out of Bleiberg, called for A-League's governing body the Football Federation Australia to step in.
“In all honesty, I think it's a little bit disgraceful,” Farina said. “All of us, coaches and players, we have a duty to promote our game.
“This is a new club that's come into the league, on the back of four successful seasons, and I think it's their duty ... to help promote football in this country.”
Bleiberg has had little time for the Roar since he quit after an unsuccessful coaching stint in 2005/06.
He was replaced by Farina in 2007 and there has been little love lost between the parties since.
Roar captain Craig Moore, who last year labelled Bleiberg a clown, decided not to get caught up in the controversy yesterday, saying he was concentrating only on his own team and the match at Suncorp.
“We know that if we go about our jobs and approach the game in the right manner, then especially at home, we can come out with the right result,” he said.
An FFA spokeswoman labelled Bleiberg's attitude “disappointing, petty and mystifying”.
“All coaches have a responsibility not only to promote their own team and club, but also the competition in which they are participating,” she said.
“Having said that, we have confidence that the people of Gold Coast and Brisbane will ignore (Bleiberg) and attend what should be a blockbuster local derby.”
Bleiberg said in a media statement yesterday that despite the fact it was United's first ever A-League game, it was only worth three points “just like any other game”.
“It represents just one element of our ultimate objective which is to have a very successful season on a number of levels,” he said.
While Bleiberg may be playing down the importance of the game, he isn't underestimating the fact that a couple of other A-League coaches on Monday labelled United a danger in the competition.
“It has been very flattering to hear that so many other coaches and pundits believe we will do well, and our goal has been clear from day one,” Bleiberg said.
“Like any other club we have entered this competition to win it. Our players have a winning mentality and that is evident every day at training.
“The intensity with which they go about their jobs on a daily basis shows us that they have come here to be successful and we are looking to set out our stall straight away.”
Bleiberg also believes on-field success for his team will lead to individual recognition for his talented squad, with several of his first team roster well placed to push for a call-up to the national team throughout the upcoming campaign.
“Our second mission for the season is to have as many of our players as possible considered for Socceroo selection,” he said.
“It will be tremendous for the club and the A-League if a successful Socceroo side for the Asian Cup can be established from players taken from our domestic competition.”