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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 13 December 2014
SATURDAY 13 DECEMBER 2014 31 SPORT Wanderers pay dispute resolved There will be no boycott of this weekend's match against Mexican side Cruz Azul Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic has praised his players' professionalism after the pay dispute that threatened the club's Club World Cup campaign has finally beenresolved. The Wanderers squad had threatened to boycott this weekend's match against Mexican side Cruz Azul in Morocco because of what they considered an unfair share of tournament prize money. But a tense stand-off lasting almost a week ended on Thursday, with the Wanderers and Professional Footballers Australia announcing they had reached a new agreement. While both parties refused to reveal the details, it is believed the players will receive a significant increase on the initial offer of 10 per cent of the guaranteed $1.2 million prize money but less than the 50 per cent they sought. The controversy has overshadowed the Asian Champions' build-up to a match that could lead to a dream semifinal against Real Madrid, but Popovic said the resolution would change little in the training paddock. "We see on paper that something has been resolved but for the last two days, I have seen a group determined to do very well here," Popovic said in Rabat on Thursday. "There's a unity amongst the staff and players that is normal for me. "I haven't seen a change and I don't expect to see a change because I have been very happy with how they have looked since we arrived." While there are suggestions the dispute could damage relations between the players and club in the long run, Popovic praised the handling of the issue from all parties. The Wanderers have drawn rivals Guangzhou Evergrande in their Asian Champions League group but are currently languishing in last place in the A-League. Manolas, Torosidis, Holebas Melbourne bound With Roma announced as the third team to come for the International Champions Cup next year, three Greek players will be in tow Greek defenders Konstantinos Manolas, Vasilis Torosidis and José Holebas will be coming to Melbourne next year as their club Roma books a spot for the International Champions Cup. All three are Greek national team players, with Germanborn Greek Jose Holebas a recent addition thanks to Fernando Santos' World Cup selection. The trio will come with a packed Roma squad to play international giants Real Madrid and Manchester City in the three team friendly competition. Already Roma chief execu- tive Italo Zanzi has said how keen he is to bring the team to Australia and meet the local fans. "We had an excellent experience in last year's ICC in the United States and are confident this tournament will also be a great success with top-notch competition," Mr Zanzi said. "We very much look forward to playing in Melbourne and interacting with fans in the city, Australia and the region." The state government has pledged in excess of $10m to bring the heavyweights to Melbourne, and expect bumper crowds similar to the 95,000 fans that packed the MCG to see Liverpool play Melbourne Victory. For the last two years, the USA has been hosting the Cup, with around eight teams participating including Liverpool, Real Madrid and AC Milan. If Melbourne is successful in keeping the Cup, we could be seeing Greek giants Former Olympiakos player Kostas Manolas booked to visit Melbourne. Olympiakos make it down for the tournament in the future after they played this year for the 2014 ICC. The tournament will kickoff with Real Madrid facing Roma on July 18, followed by Manchester City against the Italians three days later. It wraps up with City playing Real Madrid on July 24. Fans wanting to snap up tickets can join the Ticketek Waitlist. Postecoglou: squad depth improved Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has picked two Greek Australians in his 46-man provisional squad, saying the team’s depth has improved The team’s pay dispute came from what they say was an unfair share of tournament prize money. PHOTO: EPA/AHMED YOSRI. Guangzhou rivalry ignited with AFC draw Asian champion Western Sydney Wanderers has been drawn alongside bitter rival Guangzhou Evergrande in the group stage of next season's AFC Champions League, while Brisbane Roar faces opponents from Korea Republic and Japan. The Wanderers knocked 2013 champion Guangzhou out at the quarter-final stage of this season's tournament. In 2015 Western Sydney will also face the winner of a yet to be determined playoff and Japan's third entrant. Brisbane Roar was drawn alongside South Korean powerhouse Suwon Bluewings and Japan's second qualifier as well as the winner of a playoff. Central Coast Mariners will face either China's Guangzhou R&F, Myanmar's Yadanarbon or Singapore's Warriors FC in a one-off playoff on 17 February to qualify for the group stage. If the Mariners progress they will be grouped with Korean side Seongnam FC, Japanese champion Gamba Osaka and Thai side Buriram United. The exact dates for the group matches are yet to be decided. Ange Postecoglou says he is more comfortable with his squad selection now than he was during the World Cup. The Socceroos coach says he has more quality players in his arsenal now and is hopeful he will be able to field a strong team for the Asian Cup in January. Earlier this week, Postecoglou chose his 46-man provisional squad for the cup, and while he will need to cut the squad down to just 23 by December 30, he's confident he'll be able to field a competitive team. "I'm far more comfortable with this extended squad than at the same time leading into the World Cup," he said in his column for the FFA website. "We have more depth across all positions and most of them have been with us on the journey over the last six months." Postecoglou named two Greek Australians in his squad, with Sydney FC's Terry Antonis and Zulte Waregem's James Troisi (Greek on his mother's side) on hand. For Terry Antonis, the inclusion will come as a relief after the 20-year-old was dumped for the Japan friendly last month after he was involved in a minor car accident on the way to the airport. Troisi was signed under Ange Postecoglou's reign at Melbourne Victory and proved to be one of the team's best strikers. Sticking to his philosophy of including young, malleable players, Postecoglou says their inclusion is more for safeguarding the team's future prospects than chasing results. "For some of the younger guys, the Asian Cup may come a little early but they can rest assured that they have the opportunity to play a part in the next four-year cycle, leading into the 2018 Socceroos head coach Ange Postecoglou feels more confident with this squad than his World Cup squad. PHOTO: AAP/JOE CASTRO. World Cup," he said. The 46-man team includes all 23 players from this year's World Cup in Brazil while Josh Kennedy, Robbie Kruse and Rhys Williams, who all missed the Cup through injury, have been added. Sixteen A-League players have also made the cut.
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