Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 27 February 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2016 27 SPORT Victory makes winning start by downing Shanghai SIPG Jai Ingham's first professional goal has helped Melbourne Victory to a winning start in their Asian Champions League campaign. Victory downed Shanghai SIPG 2-1 at AAMI Park on Wednesday night, with goals to Ingham and Besart Berisha either side of Wu Lei's equaliser. It was Victory's win but Ingham's moment, signed by coach Kevin Muscat in January on a mature-age rookie contract and used sparingly since. Ingham faced Victorian state league opposition as recently as September but, against the cashed-up Chinese Super League outfit, he took his chance. Shanghai, coached by Sven-Goran Eriksson, fielded a team laden with talent. North-South derby a stern test for City Round 2 NPL preview Northcote City's first home match of the season today looms as a real challenge for coach Alex Gymnopoulos' young team as it comes up against the might of Chris Taylor's South Melbourne in the Hellenic derby. Gymnopoulos' squad has undergone extensive rebuilding, and it meets South's seasoned unit which already has two very successful seasons behind it. Huan Fu of Shanghai SIPG challenges Jai Ingham of Melbourne Victory. The match marks a return to John Cain of a former favourite son, South striker Milos Lujic, where he won a title and his first Golden Boot with the club. How Gymnopoulos must wish he had a striker of Lujic's finishing ability in his team. Whereas South's 6-nil goal glut against the Bergers in round one showed they have a number of goal scoring options, Gymnopoulos has yet to cover the loss of Northcote's experienced strikers from last season, as shown in last week's opening round 1-nil loss to Melbourne Victory. South striker Milos Lujic returns to a former happy hunting ground this weekend. On Sunday, at Olympic Village, Heidelberg United coach George Katsakis will know that a win at home against an old foe Melbourne Knights will be the perfect fillip to its season following last week's disastrous start, for which the coach issued an apology to the Bergers' fans. The Bergers may be without midfielder Andreas Govas, PHOTO: CINDY NITSOS. who looked to have aggravated an injury in the match against South. It will also be without keeper Chris Theodoridis, who was red carded in the same game. SA champions ready to defend title GEORGE STOGIANNOU West Adelaide Hellas coach Paul Pezos makes no secret of what he believes were the ingredients behind the club's championship and premier's plate double success last season. "Hard work, we bonded well as a team, stuck to our structures, the players believed in me as a coach, I believed in the players, we had one goal and we also had a good winning mentality," he tells Neos Kosmos on the eve of the season opener against Adelaide Olympic. Pezos says those same ingredients are still there but he's looking to improve the recipe, faced with what he believes will be a tougher competition this year, with fewer teams than last year, and each one looking to capture the prized scalp of the champion. He's added depth to an already strong squad boasting proven goalscorers of the quality of Tom Briscoe and Ricardo Da Silva. Into the squad come the versatile Perry Mitris (ex-Metro Stars) who can play forward or as a midfielder, 23-year-old Japanese midfielder Hikaru Tanaka and midfielder Johnny Mavromatis. “I targeted those three players because it was something I needed to boost a little within the team,” Pezos says of the three. “Some of these players were in areas we needed to strengthen and a couple were versatile and could play more than one position and give us a bit more depth, which comes in handy. All three are quality players in their own right. At the end of the day they have sort of come out of their comfort zone, because at the clubs they were playing in the past, they were the number one players and here they've got to be fighting for their positions." As well as the greater depth that's been added to the squad, coach Pezos and his new assistant Jim Karazis have been working on developing a more expansive style of football that produces a different kind of football to other teams. "We're bringing something different to the game day. We're trying different things. Our principles and structures are still the same, but we've just implemented some different rotations, which probably allow us to keep the ball for longer periods at a time in the game, and you see a lot of movement," Pezos says. He believes that the main challengers for West Ade- laide's title are likely to be Adelaide City, Blue Eagles, the younger Birkalla team and Metro Stars. "I mean, it's going to be tough. Our main focus this year is, whatever is at stake, we want to win, and that includes going further into the FFA Cup competition." The West Adelaide team knows what a difference a positive start to a campaign can make in the long run. Last season, it got off to a very strong start, remaining undefeated in its first 12 matches, to build a strong foundation to win the Premier's Plate by one point from the Blue Eagles, which it then went on to defeat convincingly 4-2 in the grand final. West Adelaide's 2016 NPL season kicked off last night with the Hellenic derby against Adelaide Olympic FC. West Adelaide Hellas coach Paul Pezos.
20 February 2016
5 March 2016