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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 13 December 2014
SATURDAY 13 DECEMBER 2014 29 SPORT Sell-out crowd for FFA Cup final After taking a scalp from Bentleigh Greens, Perth Glory will fight for FFA Cup glory against Adelaide United The last tickets to the FFA Cup final were bought on Thursday, with a sell-out crowd to fill Coopers Stadium to see Perth Glory and Adelaide United go head to head. FFA CEO David Gallop is impressed with the popularity of the Cup in its first year. "For the FFA Cup final to be completely sold out indicates how well this new competition has been received and highlights its popularity not only among football fans but Australia's sporting public," Mr Gallop said. "Both clubs have done extremely well to reach the decider and it's fitting that they will play in front of a full house on what will be a historic and magnificent occasion. Perth Glory leads the ALeague ladder, while United is not far behind on third. United were the only team to steal a win off Glory. Greek sponsored team Bentleigh Greens was the last remaining grassroots team to make it to the semifinal of the competition, succumbing to Perth Glory. Stamboulidis gets international call up A Heidelberg United great and now Melbourne City recruit, Haris Stamboulidis is carving a strong professional career at just 18 HELEN VELISSARIS Haris says he’s a fan of the professionalism at Melbourne City. When I call Haris Stamboulidis he's right in the middle of getting his Greek passport paperwork done. As a proud Greek Australian teenager and aspiring professional football player, he's looking to keep all options open but at the moment his heart is still firmly planted at home. Haris has been a Greek Australian club hit. Starting early on at Heidelberg United, then moving to Essendon Royals, Northcote City and then coming back to United, his career has been embedded in the grassroots Greek and Victorian football community. Finishing the year playing in the Heidelberg United NPL seniors team and helping the club reach third on the ladder, Haris unbecomingly put himself in the spotlight. Perth Glory the favourites to win the Cup. PHOTO: AAP/JOE CASTRO. ASADA case to be behind closed doors The AFL anti-doping tribunal involving 34 current and past Essendon players will go ahead behind closed doors. Tribunal chairman David Jones has ruled that the media and public will not be allowed to attend the hearings, to protect the players' privacy. "After weighing in the balance all the relevant circumstances, considerations and factors, I am satisfied the public interest in preserving and protecting the privacy and private and personal information of the ... players outweighs the public interest in the public receiving information presented to the hearing," Jones said in a statement. The hearings will start next Monday, continue on December 18-19 and then resume on January 12. They will go ahead at Melbourne's County Court. The players are facing bans of up to two years if the tribunal finds them guilty of taking the banned substance Thymosin beta-4 during the 2012 season. It wasn't long until the ALeague came sniffing. Now signed to Melbourne City's youth team, Haris is looking at a strong trajectory. He's already been shortlisted as one of the 18 youngsters set to travel to the School Sports Australian national team tour of the UK and Ireland. Representing the nation, Haris will be going up against the world's best youth players signed to some of the most prestigious European and English clubs. He knows it will be an uphill battle but is quietly confident that the team selected is up for the task. "I'm definitely excited, it'll be a great experience to gauge where we are as footballers," he tells Neos Kosmos. "A few players like Raheem Melbourne city, they've helped me," he says. "It's a very professional environment, all credit goes to Joe Palatides and all the players involved." As he starts his journey with City, he's not shy at revealing what he'd like to achieve in the next couple of years. "Playing in a professional environment is one of my short-term goals," he says. Whether that will still be at Melbourne City is still being debated. He will be representing Australia in the School Sports Australian national team tour of the UK and Ireland. Sterling who have played in this competition have gone on to become top class footballers." Being chosen to represent the country wasn't an easy task. He had to fend off other hopefuls in a tournament in August playing five games in six days to get the nod. He will be joining the other 18 in early January for a camp in Sydney before they fly out on January 17. He's banking on an underdog tag to motivate the boys and give them a competitive edge. "The Aussie spirit is something we can hold onto and get inspired by. I definitely think we can do well in the UK," he says. His love of football is down to his father's own obsession. A semi-professional player himself at Northcote City, Greg Stamboulidis noticed a fire in his son early on that he could see needed to be nurtured. "I saw that his focus and dedication was quite extraordinary," he tells Neos Kosmos. "We used to practice travelling with the ball with the left foot. I used to say we'll do 50 reps and that's enough, but he'd say ‘no lets do another 10’. Ten became another 50 because he insisted." "When I saw that, I said this kid might go further." Further is an understatement, as he prepares to take his shot internationally and show his worth at Melbourne City. Having to take some time off at the start of the season thanks to his year 12 exams, Haris still hasn't been able to start for the team but is hopeful he'll become a starting regular in the near future. Coach Joe Palatides has faith in him and Haris is very much a fan of his mentor. "I'm very thankful for Joe Palatides, for his support and as well as the whole team at Like most football players the allure of playing for the best is still a dream. Travelling to Greece recently Haris was able to see firsthand how some of the world’s best train and perform. "It's definitely a world class standard, we have some superstars playing in Greece, it's unbelievable the talent, and the quality of football is unbelievable," he says. He was fortunate enough to attend a PAOK Panathinaikos match while in Greece, but he's not so happy that his favourite team AEK is still languishing in the third league after being booted out of the Super League. Asking him if he was to be called up by both Australia or Greece who he would pick, he's rightfully torn. "I guess whoever gives me the opportunity first," he says. "It would be an honour to represent any national team." Back home, Haris is hoping to make a lasting impression on Palatides to get as much game time as possible before the big January trip. Expect to see the Stamboulidis name become a Melbourne City staple in a couple of months.
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