'Clock' running on Eagles
IF John Salogni has his way January 28 will be a red letter day for Central Highlands football.
As the head coach for the Emerald Eagles, Salogni is keen to see his players show their skills against the best players from the area.
The chance to take on the CQ Cougars was a chance he and his club could not turn down.
The match is being played at Blackwater but Salogni says it will be far more than a game of football but a chance to show what the Highlands can offer.
"We are trying to promote the Cougars a lot," he said, "State League is the most important level of football in this area."
The coach said football is beginning to re-build in strength in the Central Highlands with a competitive junior program, an under-19 team part of future plans and the debut of the Eagles in the Capricornia Premier League in 2012 giving youngsters a pathway in the sport.
"We want to do Emerald and the Central Highlands proud," he said.
While wanting to welcome the Cougars out west, Salogni is not out to provide the QSL team with a morale boosting victory.
"I have told the players they must not go into the game half-hearted," he said.
The Eagles have been in training for as long as the Cougars and Salogni believes his technique will have players in top condition for the challenge.
Salogni said he is conditioning players through a method he describes as "The Clock", a fitness regime requiring lots of sprint work. The Clock has four stages and his players are already at stage three.
Also there are players within the Eagles ranks who Salogni sees as being capable of making the step up to the Cougars.
One who has already been selected by coach Joe Fenech for the 2012 State League competition is midfielder Ben Millar.
However, for this match Millar will be in Eagles colours as the club wish him well as he moved recently to live at Zilzie.
"It's his last hoorah," Salogni said, "he will be playing for Frenchville (and the Cougars)."
Shannon Elford is one he expects to catch the eye as he is a skilful footballer who has experience playing in the State League with Sunshine Coast.
Goalkeeper Glenn Gilmore is another good player and rated by Salogni as one of the best shot-stoppers in the state.
"Glenn has put in a big pre-season," the coach said, "he is keen to get out there against the Cougars."
No matter what the result of the match, Salogni said there is one area where players will have no complaint.
"The field is immaculate," he said, "it is a multi-million-dollar complex."
The Eagles will have prior knowledge of the Blackwater complex as the players will hold both of their training sessions this week at the ground.
Other games planned to entertain a crowd which Salogni predicts will approach 500, will be a reserve game between the Cougars and the Eagles and, hopefully a women's match with the Gracemere team invited to play Eagles ladies.
There could also be a couple of "side shows" with both clubs having their mascots on display.
Salogni hopes to encourage former Socceroo goalkeeper Mark Bosnich to attend and do a segment for SBS television about the Emerald club and how it has risen from the floods of last year to its current status.