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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 11 October 2014
9 771321 167062 ISSN 1321-1676 SPORT 32 SATURDAY 11 OCTOBER 2014 Page 29 Greeks highlight the FFV awards night Page 28 Souths hop into record-setting win With Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers starting proceedings, all eyes will be on tonight’s match with Melbourne City and Sydney FC to see if David Villa makes it in the starting squad David Villa is poised to have his Australian debut today if he's proven his fitness after his arrival in town just four days ago. Melbourne City coach John van 't Schip is confident the Spanish champion is ready for the A-League challenge, and said the player was al- ready looking "very sharp" at the club's Monday training session. Villa also stepped into full training on Thursday and Fri- day, and looks set to start in City's first match of the sea- son against Sydney FC. "I feel good, I feel prepared," Villa said early this week. "I've been working hard. I ob- viously had a break [after the World Cup], my last game was the Spain-Australia game but then I took the usual summer break that every player takes. "But I've been working hard and I've been training to be ready and I hope to be ready for the game." While the season started with Melbourne Victory and rivals Western Sydney Wan- derers on Friday, the City vs Sydney game is considered to be the most intriguing and the most watched. New Sydney FC coach Gra- ham Arnold says his team won't be there to give Villa an easy start. "He's a wonderful player and it's going to be a privilege to have him on the turf at Al- lianz Stadium, but we won't be making it very friendly," Arnold declared at the season launch this week. "You would have seen over the years that these big inter- national names are not given an armchair ride out here and he will be no different. "Our guys respect David and are excited about the pros- pect of playing against him, but they won't be overawed. "He can expect a hard night's work. There won't be an eas- ing in period." Arnold is focusing his mind on getting his team up to scratch after injury worries and national team call up has depleted his starting squad. He knows that the club's reli- ance on Italian star marquee Alessandro Del Piero was all it had going for it over the last two season, so he'll be work- ing on creating a new team- based style to get the club scoring goals as a unit. It'll be a tricky road ahead for Sydney FC, but one that might work wonders at the end of the season. Last year's champions have a home game to welcome back their fans on Sunday. Up against a feisty Adelaide United, they'll have to prove they're worthy of a title again without their goal machine Besart Berisha. Central Coast Mariners will take on Newcastle Jets today, while Wellington Phoenix will take on Perth Glory to finish round one. The new season of the A- League is something Foot- ball Federation Australia (FFA) CEO David Gallop is heralding as a the "meat" of football in Australia right now, as other competitions finish up. "I like to think that Austral- ian football is the hamburg- er with the lot in Australian sport at the moment," Gallop said at the season launch. "And the meat in the ham- burger is the A-League. That's the engine room of Austral- ian football. "In this competitive environ- ment we're in, the other com- petitions have gone to sleep now. It's our time." Mr Gallop believes there has never been a better time for the A-League, riding on a wave of World Cup popu- larity, Socceroos fandom and grassroots involvement with the FFA Cup. TV figures and crowds are on the up, and the association hopes to welcome more than 2 million people at the state grounds. Gallop is also expecting a tv viewership of 660,000 every week on Fox Sports and SBS, one million social media us- ers and 100,000 members in mark. In the early hours of the morning, Ange Postecoglou's boys would have taken on a vastly different and much more improved United Arab Emirates (UAE). It would have been the best practice for the Asian Cup. The UAE has also qualified and will give Socceroos coach Postecoglou a better indica- tion of what to expect in a few months' time. The team had to contend with the country's intense heat, but knew that their op- ponents, who might have come charged and ready, have also come off the back of four straight losses. Sadly the Socceroos did suf- fer a double injury blow on Thursday, with Tommy Oar and Chris Herd ruled out, but it would have likely paved the way for Robbie Kruse and Ivan Franjic to make their returns to the national side. Herd is tipped to make a re- turn on the Qatar friendly on Wednesday (AEST). Postecoglou knows all eyes will be on these matches to show just how good the Soc- ceroos can be in January. His recent track record hasn't been very impressive, as the Socceroos have conceded 13 goals in the past five matches. Bleeding goals is largely thanks to the fact the team has been facing some of the world's best and that Posteco- glou is still finding his best formation. In recent months he has chopped and changed the backline, working to fit new- er and less experienced Soc- ceroos into the mix. The technique is in line with Postecoglou's philosophy, of nurturing talent to make his team selection not so reliant on star players. "We're still developing the type of football we want to play and we've seen progress in all areas towards that but we're nowhere near the fin- ished product," he said this week. "We look a bit deeper than (the defensive record) and it's not one aspect of our game that is more concerning or less concerning. "Do we like conceding goals? No. But on the flip side of that is we like scoring them. "As long as we're scoring more than the opposition, we'll be going okay." The UAE match will be the best marker of the kind of op- position they'll be facing at the Asian Cup, as they have a big chance to go all the way and are considered a dark horse in the competition. Their next opponent, Qatar, isn't on the same level, but is a team that must be beaten by those that are. Time for consistency The Socceroos were able to earn a solid 3-2 win against Saudi Arabia in September. PHOTO: EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA. As the Socceroos squad has been together for some time now, it’s time for Ange Postecoglou’s boys to start showing some consistency. The UAE and Qatar friendlies will be the best chance to show the team is working as a unit David Villa says he’s ready to debut for Melbourne City. PHOTO: AAP/JULIAN SMITH. Villa debut steals round one limelight FFA CEO David Gallop has high hopes for the A-League this year, with viewer numbers up. PHOTO: AAP/PAUL MILLER.
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