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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 18 October 2014
9 771321 167062 ISSN 1321-1676 SPORT 32 SATURDAY 18 OCTOBER 2014 Page 29 Five-way deal headlines AFL trade week Page 28 South Melbourne break finals bad luck Sydney FC coach Graham Ar- nold has cranked up the mind games ahead of Saturday's A- League derby, claiming the Western Sydney Wander- ers will have one eye on the Asian Champions League fi- nal. The Wanderers slumped to the heaviest defeat in their history last Friday when they went down 4-1 to Mel- bourne Victory and Arnold questioned whether their fo- cus was on the game or their ACL first-leg clash with Al- Hilal on October 25. "I've been in those positions before and it's a big distrac- tion," Arnold said. "Knowing you have a huge game in front of you, players don't want to get injured and miss those types of occasions. "As Tony Popovic said, it was a bad day at the office, they hadn't conceded four goals before and are a very strong, well-coached side. "Was last week a one-off or was it because they had one eye on the Champions League? I'll guess we'll find out." Arnold claimed last week that the Sky Blues were still the biggest club in town, de- spite their Sydney rivals' out- standing success over the last two years. Sydney FC failed to secure a win last week against Mel- bourne City, despite scoring the first goal. Star recruit David Villa made sure that his début on Australian soil would be re- membered, and kicked a sec- ond half goal for City, leaving Sydney fans desperate to see their team score once again in the dying minutes of the game. That leaves the two on equal points sitting side by side each other on the ladder. Melbourne City have a home game this time, and will welcome Newcastle Jets to AMMI Park on Sunday. The Jets faltered in their opening match, succumbing to Central Coast Mariners 1-0. The Mariners take on Wel- lington Phoenix, who disap- pointed their local fans after a travelling Perth Glory got the one up, getting two goals past their one. 2013/14 Champions Bris- bane Roar have a tough match to come off the back ofa1-2lossathometoafe- rocious Adelaide United. They travel to Perth on Saturday to take on a Glory desperately hoping to turn around their last season's woes and dominate the top of the ladder. Wanderers fight distraction ahead of Derby Melbourne Victory caused the Wanderers a major season opener upset. PHOTO: AAP/JOE CASTRO. With their Asian Champions League match looming, the Western Sydney Wanderers will be struggling to meet A-League demands claims Sydney FC coach Greece's new coach has ferried the national team to the point of elimination. There can be no more mistakes Just two-and-a-half months in as coach of Greece, Claudio Ranieri is heading towards a pair of key Euro 2016 quali- fiers that could put his job at risk. After a disastrous start to his campaign with an opening 1-0 Group F loss at home to Romania last month, and two failures with their Finland and Northern Ireland match- es this week, the 63-year- old Italian is certainly feeling the pressure. While there have been calls for Ranieri to fall on his sword from dis- gruntled fans, the coach is still confident he can get Greece to the Euro 2016 championship. He won't be going an- ywhere any time soon, with sources at the Greek soccer federation having stated that Rani- eri has a two-year con- tract to help the team qualify for the Euro 2016 finals and that there is no question of his replacement, at least at this stage. Ranieri, who was sacked from Monaco in May, had very little time to gain knowledge of the players and it showed with the loss to Romania. He was also criticised by the Greek press for his player selec- tions and tactics in the match. The federation earlier this month appointed for- mer Greece captain Gior- gos Karagounis to act as liaison between Ranieri and the players in order to help bridge the communi- cation gap. Karagounis, who at age 37 retired as a player from the Greek squad with a re- cord 139 caps, knows the Italian well after playing two years at Inter Milan. With the arrival of Kara- gounis, it seems that there is a better understanding between Ranieri and the players. Before the two matches this week, Karagounis as- sured the media and the fans that there was an "ex- cellent" atmosphere in the team. The morale at the moment might not be so high. Greece is now dealing with the prospect of elim- ination after a 1-1 draw with Finland and a 2-0 loss against Northern Ireland. The team was taught a harsh lesson, and Ranieri an even harsher one. In the Northern Ireland match, he fielded some of Greece's best, with two centre forwards in Kos- tas Mitroglou and Stefa- nos Athanasiadis, and two wingers in Giorgos Sa- maras and Nikos Karelis, but there was no link be- tween the holding mid- fielders and the frontline of the team. The 20,000 Greek fans ex- pecting to see their team show they are in fact de- serving of their top 20 standings instead stood shell-shocked as the team looked visibly frustrated, while Northern Ireland couldn't believe their luck. Ranieri admitted that the team lacked concentration. "We lacked focus at the start and conceded early on which made it difficult for us," said Ranieri. "It was very difficult to break down a side so com- pact in de- fence. They are a team that know only too well how to close down space. "We got hit by counter-attacks and had no bal- ance in midfield. It was concentration that we lacked." The Finland game was better, but with Rani- eri fielding a younger squad making up for unfortunate injuries the game stayed in a stalemate. After three matches, Greece is second last in group F, holding only one point, while Northern Ireland leads ahead of Romania and Finland. Source: AFP, Kathimerini Ranieri under fire Greece coach Claudio Ranieri says his team lacked concentration. PHOTO: EPA/SPYROS CHORCHOUBAS.
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