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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 7 November 2015
SPORT 26 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 7 NOVEMBER 2015 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Hume City’s undercover man steps out GEORGE STOGIANNOU Last Tuesday week at Gosch's Paddock, next to AAMI stadium, the Melbourne Victory squad was undergoing its final training session in the lead-up the FFA Cup semifinal against Hume City the following night. The Victory players practiced their routines and set plays under the close scrutiny of coach Kevin Muscat. Also keeping a close watch on proceedings from the sidelines was a lone spectator. There were no trenchcoats or shadows to be seen, but the stranger was on a reconnaissance mission, taking notes as he closely watched the Victory players. His name is George Stefanidis and his job is to provide Hume City head coach Lou Acevski with information and analysis on Hume's opposition prior to each match. Fast forward to the day after the Cup semi, and Stefanidis says his analysis of Victory uncovered the following: “I looked at their style of play. Victory is a fast-moving team that likes to shift the ball from side to side, penetrate the wings and try to come through your wing backs and central defenders. I looked at the starting line up - I predicted that, and that's why in the first half [of the semi], we did everything we were supposed to have done and they were getting frustrated. We denied them space and time - didn't let them come down the wings. They were getting frustrated. But then fatigue set in. We haven't played in five weeks.” Although the A-League champions dominated possession in Wednesday night's semi, Hume impressed with its defensive structure. The final 3-nil score line, which included two late goals, didn't accurately reflect the majority of the game. Stefanidis has been with Hume for two years now. He first came to the attention of coach Acevski when both worked in the construction industry. When their paths would cross, conversation would turn to football and Stefanidis would tell Acevski about opposition analysis, game plays and set plays. Acevski told him, “you know what, nobody in the NPL does this. Come work with me”. And that's how he got his position at Hume as player performance and opposition analyst. He says his role at Hume is to write weekly reviews on players' performances and report to the head coach. “I don't talk directly to the players. That's up to the head coach.” When asked what player performance analysis in- volves, he tells Neos Kosmos: “We've got a system. You have to look at the team as a whole and then the individual, if they're doing their role. I'm big on the way they play, the way they think, if they know what the next move is, their running patterns ... everything like that, without giving too much away.” Similarly, he provides a report to Acevski on Hume's opposition after going to watch them play the week before Hume meets them. “I look at the way they play, they transition, the way they move the ball, where and how they move the ball and try to find the weak link.” Stefanidis is reluctant to divulge his "trade secrets" and avoids discussing his system in too much detail. “It's something I've devised myself over years of watching football - how they play, how I think they should play,” he says. He describes it as a “generic, scientific way of looking at football. It's like a numbers game, statistically based as well”. He's enjoyed his two years working alongside Acevski at Hume City. “It's allowed me to ply my trade, what I know best. Lou's very passionate about his football. When we combine his passion with everything else together as a team, you move forward. It's West Adelaide appoints Stubbins as technical director of coaching GEORGE STOGIANNOU After a torrid 2014-2015 season under the national spotlight as head coach of the financially-troubled Newcastle Jets, Phil Stubbins could have been excused if he wanted to take time away from the game to pursue his golfing after returning to Adelaide. Although it’s sure to be less frenetic than his year in the Hunter, he can still expect a busy season with his recent footballing appointments. SA NPL champion West Adelaide SC has announced that Stubbins has accepted the position of club technical director. He’ll also be an assistant to senior coach Paul Pezos. When his position at the Jets was terminated, Stubbins returned to Adelaide where his wife has a business. West Adelaide coach Paul Pezos contacted the former Jets and Adelaide United coach to ask him if he’d be interested in coming to West Adelaide. Club chairman Alex Alexandrou says after sitting down with Stubbins, it didn’t take him long to agree with being technical director of the club. “It’s an appointment where he’ll not only help the senior coach out, but he’ll set up a program right through the club, which starts at under fives, through to boys, girls and senior women as well. The well-qualified Stubbins has an AFC ‘A’ Licence and F.A. Intenational Licence. As well as his A-League coaching experience, he coached at Heidelberg United in the VPL and also spent time coaching at the Australian Institute of Sport as well as in Thailand before returning to take over at the troubled Jets. “To bring Phil to the club, the first thing he said to us is ‘it’s fantastic to be back at a Greek club’,” says Alexandrou. “He spent many, many years at Heidelberg and at South. He speaks quite a bit of Greek which made everyone even more joyous. The guy’s very professional. He’s had a lot of experience as an assistant and a coach in the A-League. And that’s something we can bring to our up-and-coming players who aspire to play at the next level.” Alexandrou also believes Stubbins will be an asset to senior coach Pezos. “Our senior coach is young, so once again, Phil’s experience, having coached in the NSL and A- League, can help Paul become a better coach and at the same time help our players become better players.” Stubbins’ appointment at West Adelaide comes on the heels of his appointment as head coach and technical director of the Prince Alfred College soccer program. One thing looks likely. Stubbins may not have as much time for the golf course as he originally thought. been good. The club runs it professionally. The facilities are amongst the best in the NPL. Apart from Lakeside, I think we've got the best facilities going around.” Stefanidis says Hume is looking to finish in the top two of the league next season and to “try and emulate this year's FFA Cup”. “It's a hard road. We were lucky we only drew an ALeague club in the semis. We had the luck of the draw. From 648 teams in Australia - to be in the top four is not a bad effort.” Indeed, and apart from the fabulous run in the FFA Cup, Stefanidis says the highlight of his football work over the last two years was an overseas visit last year during which he spent a month at Greek Super League club Asteras Tripolis. “Best experience I ever had. I learnt a lot from their head coach Staikos Vergetis - the way things are done and the way they think. The Greek Super League is ranked 22 in the world compared to Australia, which is ranked 99. A big difference in the intensity, the skill level. It's far greater than what we've got here. But having said that, I think our NPL is slowly closing the gap on the A-League. There's a long way to go but we're getting there. I think we need a sec- Hume City’s performance and opposition analyst, George Stefanidis. ond division A-League, like a B-League. I'm not a fan of top six finals like the AFL. As far as I'm concerned, you finish top, you're the champion." Stefanidis is keen to one day step out of the background and become a head coach himself. “I'd like to be a head coach someday,” he tells Neos Kosmos. “I've ticked most of the boxes in football. But it's a learning curve. For me to move forward, I have to learn, more boxes to tick. How I do that, whether it's at Hume or elsewhere … to tick that final box, then I'll be a head coach and worthy of the role.” Greece appoints new coach German Michael Skibbe takes the reins of the national side The Hellenic Football Federation has appointed former Schalke 04 midfielder Michael Skibbe as the national team coach on a three-year deal. Skibbe - who has coached the likes of Bayer Leverkusen, Galatasaray and Grasshoppers - will be the team’s fourth coach since Fernando Santos’ departure following the 2014 World Cup. The 50-year-old is the national side’s first German appointment since Euro 2004 winning coach Otto Rehhagel, and will hope to put his new team back on track after Greece’s disastrous Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. Michael Skibbe signs his new contract with the Greek football association in Athens. PHOTO: AP/THANASSIS STAVRAKIS.
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