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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 1 August 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 1 AUGUST 2015 29 SPORT Cannons aim to shoot down highflying Souths in Dockerty Cup final South Melbourne coach Chris Taylor concedes that opponent Oakleigh Cannons will start as slight favourite in Sunday's Dockerty Cup final despite the home ground advantage for South Melbourne. Sunday afternoon's historic final at Lakeside promises to be a passionate derby between the two NPL rivals, with Souths trying to add to their seven previous cup wins, whilst the Cannons will be hoping to win their first ever Dockerty Cup. In league meetings between the two sides this season, honours are even, with a win apiece. Oakleigh won the most recent encounter 2-0 at Jack Edwards. But both teams have shown indifferent league form in the run up to the final, with just one win each from their last five games. Souths coach Chris Taylor, along with several of the current South squad, tasted cup success as recently as 2012, winning the league-cup double with Dandenong Thunder. Taylor says about Sunday's match up: "I'd say Oakleigh are going to go into the game as slight favourites, as they have the full week to recover and don't have a midweek game. “That will give them favourite status. We've got to front up four days after the FFA cup tie, flying interstate. It's a tall ask for the players but will show a lot about the character as well." Coach Taylor expects his team to be tested physically by a strong Cannons outfit. "We expect a physical clash. I think they're strong up front, physically strong in midfield, they take no nonsense. We know what to expect. It's not going to be an exhibition game. Obviously they're going to come out of the blocks early on and we've just got to make sure we match their intensity and work rate and commitment." For Oakleigh, the Dockerty Cup represents a chance to put a silver lining on what has been a difficult season in the league. Coach Arthur Papas believes that winning the trophy also represents a chance to turn a page in the club's history in which it has keenly contested but failed to snare silverware. " It's a very important game for the club. The first time in its history that the club has the chance to be crowned Dock- erty Cup champion. It's important that the club moves forward from almost being champions to being champions in everything they play in." Papas believes South's deep squad will cancel out any disadvantage it has from its shorter recovery time. "That's one of the luxuries when you work for a club with possibly the biggest budget in the league. In our circumstance, as it stands we have a squad of 14 players through various reasons. I feel we're just getting back to what I consider our strongest team." He takes confidence from the previous league encounter with Souths, saying that the win showed his squad that they are capable of beating any team in the competition on any given day regardless of the standings. "The key is to make sure their goal scorers Milos Lujic, Nick Epifano and Matty Theodore, don't have much of an impact in the final third and that we make sure we're ruthless in taking our chances," says Papas. Kickoff is tomorrow at 4.30 pm at Lakeside Stadium. South sets sights high despite FFA Cup exit ‘Being out of the A-League has in some respect done us good, but now we are ready to re-enter’ ZOE THOMAIDOU South Melbourne's run in the 2015 Westfield FFA Cup may be over but it hasn't ended the club's ambition to one day be a part of the A-League. South president Leo Athanasakis made that ambition clear just days before Wednesday night's loss in a penalty shoot out to Palm Beach Sharks, when he told Neos Kosmos that the club very much looked forward to being back on the national stage by competing in the FFA Cup round of 32 for the first time. The club, known as South Melbourne Hellas when it was founded in 1959, has competed in the NPL Victoria since its final game in the National Soccer League (NSL) against Adelaide United during the 2003-2004 season. According to Athanasakis, the 10-year hiatus was a time of focusing on the club's values and preparation for the A-League. South Melbourne’s coach expects the team to face a physical clash on Sunday’s match-up. . "We rebuilt the infrastructure, we've strengthened our youth development programs and we've been given the opportunity to reinvest in areas that we weren't investing in while in the national competition, because we were concentrating on players rather than building a club." "Being out of the A-League in some respects has done us good, but now we are ready to re-enter," he explains. South Melbourne secured a 40-year lease at Lakeside stadium last year, which allowed it to start building a social club and futsal centre. Currently turning over more than $1m annually, a deal with Foxtel channel Aurora for a weekly TV show has also helped the club's revenue. Meanwhile, Athanasakis believes ratings for the live broadcast of Wednesday night's game will prove Foxtel's investment is a commercial winner. SMFC has won four national championships and the Oceania's Club of the Century award, bestowed by FIFA in 2010. "Other clubs have different PHOTO: KOSTAS DEVES. measures, the bar is set very high at South Melbourne," says the Souths president. "The pressure of performance and the pressure of supporters drives the players and drives the people who are running the club for further glory. The club's never accepted mediocrity and to survive in South Melbourne you must achieve success." South is still looking to make a powerful case for itself this season by defending its league title and winning this Sunday's Dockerty Cup Final against Oakleigh Cannons. Coach Arthur Papas hopes to capture silverware for the Cannons’ cabinet. Sharks and Bergers in action during NPL catch-up round This Sunday's Dockerty Cup final between South Melbourne and Oakleigh Cannons gives most NPL and NPL1 clubs a chance to rest and recharge the batteries in readiness for the run home. There's no rest, however, for the Port Melbourne Sharks, who last night hosted relegation-threatened North Geelong Warriors in a catch-up game. South Melbourne coach Chris Taylor is chasing his second Dockerty Cup success. The Sharks, who have secured their place in the NPL with recent wins, last weekend pushed league leader Bentleigh Greens all the way in an exciting 2-2 draw at JL Murphy reserve. Port led the Greens from early in the match, until Tyson Holmes squared the tie in the 81st minute for the Greens. In other catch-up action, Heidelberg United will complete a busy schedule on Monday night when it hosts a resurgent Green Gully. The secondplaced Bergers will be hoping for a better result than the previous week's 2-1 away loss to Melbourne Knights, when a 75th minute goal from Knights sub Marijan Cvitkovic proved to be the winner after Dan Heffernan had equalised minutes earlier for United. South Melbourne began a hectic week's schedule by missing a chance to take over second spot outright from traditional rival Heidelberg, when it just managed a scoreless draw away to Pascoe Vale. South keeper Nicola Roganovic kept the Vales at bay in the second half with a man-of-the-match display. South, which has a busy week of cup action with the FFA Cup and Dockerty Cup, resumes NPL action at home this Friday evening with a match against neighbours Port Melbourne. In NPL1 E catch-up action, Kingston City hopes to regain some lost ground when it hosts Springvale White Eagles on Monday night. Last Monday, third-placed Kingston City lost ground to second-placed Richmond when the two promotion contenders met at The Grange. Kingston lost 1-0 after going down to 10 men early in the game. Caniglia scored a 33rd minute winner for the visitors. Meanwhile Box Hill United retains a faint chance of promotion after its 4-1 home win over Dandenong City in a Round 22 match last Saturday.
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