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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 12 September 2015
32 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 12 SEPTEMBER 2015 SPORT GEORGE STOGIANNOU The stage is set for a longawaited and fitting finale to the NPL finals series. The showdown between Bentleigh Greens and South Melbourne, the two dominant teams of the season, at Lakeside on Sunday afternoon looks set to answer a number of questions. Can South fulfil its naked ambition of winning all the silverware at state level, and make it back-to-back titles for Chris Taylor's team? Or will the Greens bury the ghost of its 2013 VPL Grandfinal loss to Northcote City, and carry home the Premier League trophy for the first time to Kingston Heath. One name the Green team hopes won't come back to haunt them will be South's Golden Boot winner Milos Lujic, who'll be out to break Bentleigh hearts again, as he did in extra time two years ago when his two goals won the title for Northcote. The Greens defence will be out to keep him scoreless as Pascoe Vale did last week. Whatever the outcome of Sunday's grand final, South Melbourne skipper Michael Eager has little doubt that his team faces a very tough game on Sunday. "Probably our biggest challenge all season I'd say. We've certainly put in some hard yards during the week and we've prepared quite a lot because we're going to have to be prepared on Sunday for what will be a very difficult game." "It's not usually the case of who's playing the prettiest football on the day,” Eager says of grand finals. “It's who's prepared to knuckle down and do the bit that sometimes people aren't comfortable with ... I think for me it won't be a high scoring game won by two or three. It'll be one goal separating it." Recent head to head meetings suggest the Greens have the edge but Bentleigh coach John Anastasiadis says "past results don't really matter. In a final both teams have to be at their best. Whoever is not will lose the game". Speaking on Bentleigh Greens TV, the coach says: "South Melbourne is the biggest club outside the ALeague. We're not going to hide from that but at the end of the day they're still an NPL club, the same as us. So we're still in the same boat. We'll be fighting each other trying to stay alive on Sunday. Whoever remains in the boat and Page 28 Matildas used as bargaining chip: Gallop Page 29 Yarraville wins fi rst-ever promotion to State League 1 NW 9 771321 167062 NPL top two ready for grand final battle at Lakeside doesn't sink be the winner. "At the end of the day, it would be the first trophy that Bentleigh win (at this level), so it would be a very special day for the club if that happens." Kick-off is at 3.00 pm this Sunday at Lakeside, South Melbourne. In other action this weekend, the NPL 1 E and NPL 1 W seasons reach their conclusion today. In NPL 1 E, Kingston City and Box Hill United are both still in the running for a third-place finish. Kingston is away to Murray United, whilst Box Hill United could have a say in who wins the division title when it hosts league leader Melbourne Victory. In NPL 1 W, 10th-placed Brunswick City hopes to make it two wins in a ro when it hosts seventh-placed Whittlesea Ranges. In State League Division 4 play-off action on Saturday West Preston takes on Brimbank Stallions at BT Connor reserve in the North v West SL 4, runners-up playoff. The winner goes on to meet the 10th placed team from SL 3 NW for a place in SL 3NW next season. Source: Benteigh Greens TV DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM ISSN 1321-1676 Bentleigh Greens vice-captain Jack Webster (L) and South Melbourne skipper Michael Eager hope to take possession of the NPL Champions trophy on Sunday. PHOTO: CINDY NITSOS. Dimitar Berbatov to make PAOK debut Club hopes new strikers can inspire first win PAOK's new star signing Dimitar Berbatov is expected to make his first appearance for the club today, when the Macedonian team takes on Veria in round three of the Greek Super League. Berbatov, who will earn AU$1.6m a year, was greeted by 10,000 jubilant PAOK supporters when he was unveiled at the club's Toumba Stadium last week. PAOK is expecting another big crowd to make the short trip to Veria for what will be Berbatov's first game in the club's colours. During his unveiling, Berbatov thanked the supporters and promised to fight for the club. “Thank you so much for the reception, it's unbelievable. I didn't expect something like this, I'm just a simple person who plays football,” said Berbatov, who came on to the pitch wearing a PAOK shirt with No. 10 on it. "My father was born just 15 kilometres from the border (with Greece) so in some way we are like brothers, and as you always have to fight for your brother, I will fight for you," he added. PAOK will be hoping Berbatov can inspire the club to their first victory of the season. Also playing today are current champions and league leaders Olympiakos, who take on Platanias. Olympiakos, with two wins from two, looks certain to extend its winning run against Platanias, which has lost its first two games of the new campaign. The day's early game features Kalloni against Atromitos. On Sunday, AEK is at home to PAS Giannina. Both sides are on four points, registering one win and one draw each. AEK is expected to give their new signing Diego Buenanotte a start. Panionios host equal leaders Panathinaikos in an Athenian derby with the Greek eager to continue their impressive start to the season. Also on Sunday Atromitos, which has also recorded two straight victories, host Xanthi, while Panetolikos take on Panthrakikos. The action will conclude on Monday when Iraklis host Levadiakos in Thessaloniki.
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