Fans overwhelmingly endorsed an injection of Spanish flair and passion when they anointed Adelaide United's Josep Gombau to coach the A-League All Stars against Italian powerhouse Juventus.
The flamboyant 37-year-old was the clear poll winner, earning 39.7% of the 16,000 votes ahead of Brisbane Roar’s Mike Mulvey (21.3%) - who led the Queensland outfit to runaway premiership success - and Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic (17.3%).
Gombau, who was officially appointed coach of the team by Football Federation Australia on Tuesday, will have the choice of four “wildcard” picks for the squad once fans have had their say on the line-up to face the Serie A superstars.
“It is an honour for me that the Australian fans have asked me to coach the All Stars team and I will bring my best passion and desire to the job,” Gombau said.
“We will play good football and try to play positive against Juventus.
“I would like to thank the Australian fans for voting for me and I am very interested to see which players they also select for this special match.”
Gombau, in his first A-League season, has steered the Reds from the bottom of the table to within touching distance of a top-two finish and championship glory.
But it is his unorthodox sideline celebrations that have attracted almost as much interest as the entertaining football his team produces on the park.
Fans will now switch their attention to filling the playing squad that Gombau will lead by registering their votes at www.a-leagueallstars.com.au/vote before the close of polls at 11pm on May 4.
FFA boss David Gallop applauded the choice of the Reds boss, as the All Stars concept looks to grow on the success of last year’s clash with Manchester United that drew a sell-out crowd of 83,127 to ANZ Stadium.
“The All Stars match against Manchester United was a fantastic success last year and the selection of Josep Gombau by the fans is an inspired choice that ensures the 2014 match will be played with spirit and flair,” Gallop said.
“Josep Gombau has been a great addition to the impressive coaching ranks in the Hyundai A-League and I’m sure he will do the job and occasion justice against Juventus at ANZ Stadium on 10 August.
“The fans now have the chance to pick the squad that Josep will take onto the pitch with the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Thomas Broich, Besart Berisha, Mark Milligan, Marcelo Carrusca, Matt McKay, Adam Taggart, Awer Mabil and David Williams all sure to poll well.”
Votes will be tallied to select a preliminary squad of 32 to be named on May 7 followed by a second round of public voting which will cut the squad to 16 before Gombau adds his four “wild card” picks.
The A-League All Stars will go into camp on August 1 with the match to be played at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Sunday, August 10.comments