Tuesday, January 5, 2010
My Heart Belongs to Dadi
As Cole Porter so eloquently penned, and Ella Fitzgerald so elegantly sung:
"While tearin' off a game of golf
I may make a play for the caddie
But when I do, I don't follow through
'Cause my heart belongs to Dadi"
Wellington Phoenix have signed Ivorian international Eugene Dadi from Perth Glory. Dadi will be a physical presence up front and will no doubt be a great foil for the skillful Paul Ifill and Chris Greenacre to play off. Every time I watched Perth play the Nix I was impressed with Dadi. Like Ifill he seems to have more time than most, while others are scurrying into position he shuffles along at his own pace, calmly summing up the options before delivering a telling final ball.
The fact that the Phoenix attacking trio mentioned above are all foreigners makes a mockery of Asian Football Federation Chairman Bin Hammam's claim that Wellington Phoenix is an ersatz national team, and is being used solely for the purpose of strengthening our qualification for major tournaments. While there is no doubt that NZ football is stronger for the presence of the Phoenix, and that Ben Sigmund, Mark Paston and the other Wellington based All Whites must relish the regular competition of the A-League, the chance for those guys to train and play with the likes of Dadi and Ifill is just as important.
I think a Wellington Phoenix made up purely of Kiwis would have a detrimental effect on the game here, but if Bin Hamman had his way then the Phoenix will have to become registered as a fully Australian entity and our Kiwi players will count as foreign imports. While this is plainly ridiculous a balance is needed to keep the Phoenix as a development path for Kiwis while allowing the best of the rest of the World through the doors; increasing international profile, crowd revenue and allowing invaluable experience of different styles and cultures for our National team players.
So Dadi is coming home to Wellington. I look forward to seeing him in action this very weekend against the Brisbane Roar at Westpac Stadium. He will surely be a Yellow Fever favourite with a name that lends itself to clever chants based on Cole Porter songs and family-friendly puns.