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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 13 August 2016
SPORT 26 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 13 AUGUST 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM ‘A beautiful partnership’ as Cahill joins Melbourne City PHOTO: AAP VIA AP/JOE CASTRO. When Melbourne City coach John van 't Schip says it's a beautiful partnership, he's referring to the prospect of City's prized recruit Tim Cahill joining forces with last season's Golden Boot winner Bruno Fornaroli. But one could imagine the same sentiments expressed by FFA CEO David Gallop, who is hoping that Cahill and the A-League form a beautiful partnership, one that will reap rewards in terms of viewing audiences, attendances, sponsorship and TV rights. Melbourne City and the A-League have finally got their man, ending months of speculation on Thursday, when the club announced that Cahill will join the club on a threeyear deal after he successfully completed a medical in New York with Melbourne City's sister club New York City FC. The FFA took steps back in May to put in place and set in motion the pulleys and levers necessary to get Australia's highest profile player to return home to the A-League. It was then that the FFA announced changes to the regulations governing the recruitment of marquee players by A-League clubs. It introduced a new category of Full-Season Guest Marquee, enabling A-League clubs to recruit an additional marquee player above the two marquee spots they are currently allowed outside the salary cap, providing the player in question meets stringent footballing and marketing criteria. "When FFA announced the 2016-19 Strategic Plan in May, the marquee player issue was front and centre to rejuvenate the Hyundai A-League, and Tim Cahill was top of the wishlist," said FFA CEO David Gallop. "We're really pleased that Melbourne City has taken the opportu- nity of the new regulations and the marquee fund to bring Tim home. Importantly, all clubs have recognised the importance of this initiative and some are actively pursuing other Full Season Guest Marquee options. "Tim's arrival is the biggest trans- fer move in the A-League's history because no player is more popular or has had a bigger impact on the modern game in Australia than Tim Cahill. "Today's news fits perfectly with our new marketing campaign to appeal to young families and convert more football participants into ALeague fans," said Gallop. "Tim Cahill's debut season will give millions of fans a compelling reason to watch the A-League, get to a match, pick a team and become a member. I know this signing will be a huge boost to the profile and reach of the A-League, which is already a globally recognised domestic competition and among the best in Asia." Cahill's contract is a three-year deal with a two-part structure. The first part secures his playing future for two years in the A-League, taking him up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The final year of his contract will see him become part of the City Football Group's coaching team, and enable his transition into a post-playing career as a coach. For Melbourne City fans, it means they can again look forward to watching their team top the goalscoring charts, with the Socceroos' all-time leading scorer Cahill joining forces with last season's Golden Boot winner Bruno Fornaroli. "We have very ambitious targets at Melbourne City," Melbourne City coach John van ‘t Schip commented on the signing. "We want to win every time we step on the pitch, and in doing so we want to bring success for our fans who have been so loyal to us. Tim is an important part of realising that ambition. The depth and breadth of his experience will be very important to us on the field and also in the dressing room. "He is without doubt one of the most loved sports stars in this country, and I think the fact that he is back in his home country is important to the fans, and is fantastic for us as a club. I see in Cahill and Bruno Fornaroli a beautiful footballing partnership - we are very focused on our pre-season preparations and the time that the team have together now is very important." Cahill gets to meet his new teammates when he starts pre-season training with Melbourne City on Monday 15 August. Northcote faces Green machine in last-ditch battle The penultimate round of the NPL1 season throws up some interesting questions. Will Northcote City’s fate be sealed by Monday evening or can City keep its hopes alive of clinching the relegation playoff ahead of Richmond, which it trails by two points and a large goal difference? Given that City hosts league leaders Bentleigh Greens on Saturday, it would seem highly unlikely that they can get anything from this match. However, if there’s ever a time to take on the league leaders, there’s no better time than now given that the Greens have been hit by a spate of injuries to key players including Wayne Wallace, Matt Thurtell and Ross Honos. After last Saturday’s scoreless home draw against Heidelberg United, Troy Ruthven and forward Chris Lucas joined the list of walking wounded at the Greens. On the positive side of the ledger for the Greens, it welcomes back defender Ross Archibald from injury and Kamal Ibraim. If Northcote loses to Bentleigh Greens, Richmond would basically need to just draw against FC Bulleen Lions on Monday evening to secure the play-off spot and consign Northcote to NPL 2 next year. In the other Hellenic der- by this round, third-placed Heidelberg United hosts fifth-placed Oakleigh Cannons on Sunday, with Archie Thompson expected to make his long-awaited NPL debut with the Bergers. The Bergers’ draw last week away to the Greens, means they relinquished second spot to South Melbourne, but the team is still in the hunt to clinch that prized second place, knowing it would put them just one win away from a grand final place. The intriguing question is what role Thompson will play in Sunday’s game. How much game time will his fitness allow him and how will coach Katsakis accommodate him in the Berger’s team structure, or what changes will he make to the Bergers’ usual structure to accommodate him. Thompson tried to downplay expectations of his match fitness at Monday’s official club unveiling. But suspensions may convince coach Katsakis to use him longer than first anticipated depending on the whether or not regular striker Kenny Athiu is suspended. In what will be his first competitive match since leaving Victory two months ago, Thompson can look forward to re-acquainting himself with a familiar face, coming up against former Victory team mate Steve Pantelidis, currently playing in the Cannons defence. In Rd 25 of NPL 2 E, Kingston City hosts NPL2 W league leader St Albans Saints on Saturday. City has already clinched a top-two finish, but is locked in a neck-and-neck struggle with Dandenong Thunder to win the automatic promotion spot that comes with finishing on top. Saturday’s tough match against the Saints precedes next week’s top of the table clash against Thunder. Fourth-placed Brunswick City hosts ninth-placed Sunshine George Cross while fifth-placed Box Hill United hosts promotion chasing North Geelong Warriors. In Rd 19 State League action, in-form FC Clifton Hill features in the match of the round, when it travels to second-placed Casey Comets with just two points separating the two teams. Fourth-placed Malvern City hosts Frankston Pines, which is fighting for survival, while South Springvale travels to Warragul United looking to bounce back from last week’s surprise loss to bottom side Mooroolbark.
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