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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 28 May 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 28 MAY 2016 27 SPORT Ange supports Archie’s wish to play on After closing the final chapter on his illustrious Melbourne Victory playing career, which has spanned 11 seasons, 260 games and included a remarkable 97 goals, Archie Thompson has indicated he is not quite ready to hang up the boots yet. The 38-year-old striker hinted earlier in the season, on his return from a three-month injury lay-off due to a serious knee injury, that the break of three months gave him a feel of what it would be like without having football, and that it has actually made him want to kick around a little bit longer. He has indicated since his last home match for Victory that he'd like to play on. Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou knows Thompson as a player, having coached him at Victory prior to Postecoglou's appointment as Socceroos boss. He paid tribute to Thompson's achievements in the ALeague and said if he believes he can play on, then he should be able to do so. "In terms of Archie, it's all been said," Postecoglou remarked. "He's been an amazing ALeague story, one of the key players, if not the key player in the ALeague.” “There wouldn't be a player worth his salt who doesn't believe he can play on. If he wants to play on, he should … you are a long time retired." Almost like Steven Gerard and Liverpool, Thompson is synonymous with Melbourne Victory, and even though it's difficult to imagine him playing at another club, there presumably wouldn't be a shortage of offers for someone of his status and goal scoring prowess. Speculation about his next move has included a move overseas to play in a lucrative Asian League, or even a shortterm contract with another A-League club such as Central Coast Mariners, Newcastle Jets and even Wellington Phoenix to link up with a former coach in Ernie Merrick and former teammates Gui Finkler and Kostas Barbarouses. But increasingly, there's talk of a third possibility, that of staying in Victoria and playing for an NPL club. At present, NPL 2 W club Whittlesea Ranges has come out publicly and expressed strong interest. The club has a number of connections with Melbourne Victory, which may help sway Thompson in opting to play on in Ranges colours. "The facts are that, yes, we as a club are interested in Archie and yes, we do have the contacts that are also the major sponsors of Melbourne Victory, in La Ionica and Oliana. They are also sponsors of our club," Ranges club secretary Sergio Costanzo told SBS, "I do know my co-director, Sam Cuteri, had a coffee with Archie before he played those final two Asian Champions League games. Sam is from La Ionica and he would talk to Archie on a regular basis, at games and functions. "We respect Archie's situation at the moment, in that he's just finished the Asian Champions League and also I do believe he may have a small offer from either Central Coast Mariners or Newcastle Jets,” he said. "It all depends on where he wants to go from here, but we're looking at something after he's finished playing football as well. We're looking at a coaching or mentor role and he would probably have something like that through Victory as well. "We've got a close working relationship with Victory. Their youth team is now playing from our home ground at Epping Stadium. "We're very serious about this. All of the NPL clubs are trying to bolster their playing ranks at this time of the season and we're pushing for promotion, so what we do right now is very important," he concluded. Bergers seek derby redemption GEORGE STOGIANNOU Heidelberg United coach George Katsakis says his players have redemption front and centre in their minds going into Sunday's traditional derby against South Melbourne at Olympic Village. The corresponding fixture in the opening round of the season saw South inflict its biggest win over the Bergers to the tune of 6-nil. Heidelberg's cause wasn't helped when debutant keeper Chris Theodoridis received a red card just before the break for bringing down South forward Matt Millar. A Nick Epifano hat-trick spearheaded South's win, and South has remained in its customary perch on top of the table going into the second half of the season. The Bergers have done well to recover from the shock of that mauling, climbing as high as second, although it has hit some turbulence in recent weeks with injuries and suspensions. Coach Katsakis says of the squad going into Sunday's match: " We're missing about four or five key players, we’re terribly undermanned. Unfortunately we can't play any new signings. We've only got the one - Phil Petreski - and he's not available, which makes things even worse." The coach says forwards Kaine Sheppard, Reuben Way and midfielder Lewis Hall, as well as defender Les Doumbalis, are unavailable. On the positive side, keeper Chris Theodoridis returns from suspension, Sean Ellis is better for his run last week, and Kenny Athiu is available to lead the line. "It's very important,” Katsakis says of the significance of Sunday’s game. “For one, it's a derby. We need to show our faithful that we're very competitive. From a table point of view, we need to get something out of this game in order to stay in touch with the top two." Asked about the Bergers' approach going into this game, the coach says, "I think in general terms we're just going to have to be a bit more cautious. Definitely Milos Lujic, Matt Millar, and Epifano, Heidelberg coach George Katsakis prepares to take an undermanned Bergers into battle against old rival South Melbourne. PHOTO: KOSTAS DEVES. their front third is very explosive. We're going to have to make sure we're on our best behaviour in terms of our defence." South Melbourne has a busy schedule this week, having to play a sixth-round FFA Cup tie away to top NPL 2 W outfit North Geelong Warriors on Wednesday evening. On the same evening, Port Melbourne Sharks travel to St Albans Saints for another round six FFA Cup tie. In other round 14 NPL action, Northcote City hosts 12th-placed Melbourne Victory in a crucial game for both sides on Saturday. City came agonisingly close to taking a point off Oakleigh Cannons last week, only to succumb to a late goal. It will be desperate to take three points off another relegation candidate. On Monday, Bentleigh Greens travel to the Veneto club to take on 10th-placed Bulleen Lions. The Greens won the midweek cup tie away to Murray United 3-nil and travelled in style, flying up to Albury for its match in a chartered plane. In NPL 2 E action on Saturday, third-placed Box Hill United hosts second-placed Kingston City in the derby. Box Hill will be looking to reverse the result of its first meeting, when Kingston took all three points. Kingston coach Nick Tolios will be hoping the Box Hill game leaves his squad unscathed, as Kingston has a short turnaround before a Tuesday night round six, FFA Cup match away to NPL 1 side Richmond. In round nine action in State League 1 NW, sixthplaced Yarraville travels to third-placed Banyule City, whilst struggling Altona East Phoenix hosts Westgate. On Sunday, Western Suburbs will be looking to take all three points when it hosts bottom side Diamond Valley United. In SE 1 action, Malvern City will be trying to hold on to second spot when it hosts Manningham United Blues, while South Springvale is favoured to make it five wins in a row when it travels to Berwick City. Nick Galas has been in fine goal-scoring form for Aris. FC Clifton Hill will also be looking for a win on the road when it travels to struggling Frankston Pines.
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