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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 8 October 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 8 OCTOBER 2016 25 SPORT Changing of the guard at Bentleigh Greens as skipper Wallace departs Four other players exit the Heath as Webster appointed new captain GEORGE STOGIANNOU Major changes in the playing roster are afoot at Kingston Heath in the wake of a long season which ended with a quarter-final FFA Cup defeat to Melbourne Victory. Bentleigh Greens has announced the departure of five players, including talismanic skipper Wayne Wallace. Also among the five exiting the Cheltenham-based club are two players who featured prominently in the Greens’ last two successful seasons, the versatile utilities Liam McCormick and Dion Kirk, as well as two more recent arrivals at Kingston Heath, Kamal Ibrahim and John Maclean. Wallace’s departure is a big surprise, as he is acknowledged as Bentleigh’s driving force in the middle of the park, where his strength and will to win have been major factors in the team’s ascent to the top of the NPL ranks in Victoria over the past couple of seasons. The 32-year-old Wallace made 127 league appearances over six seasons for the Greens, scoring 22 goals and helping the team to the 2015 NPL championship, and the 2016 Premiers Plate and Dockerty Cup double. Wallace will be joining rival NPL club Wayne Wallace in full flight for Bentleigh Greens. PHOTO: WEBSITES.SPORTSTG.COM Hume City. “I think Wayne wanted to explore other avenues," said Bentleigh Greens coach John Anastasiadis, speaking to Neos Kosmos after the departures were announced. "He’s been six years at the club, won championships and been through a lot of success there. I think he just wants another challenge, as does Liam, who’s moved on also. He’s probably looking at getting more game time at other clubs. That’s probably the main reasons. There’s no bad blood. Everything’s good. We wish the boys all the best, and hopefully they’ll do well wherever they go.” When asked if the club is looking to replace them with players of similar quality and experience, Anastasiadis replied: “We basically need to replace them. There’s no doubt about it. But don’t forget we had quite a few players who were injured last year who will come back into the fold − Lambros Honos, Matt Thurtell ... . No doubt Wayne will leave a big hole, but we’ll fill that hole. We’re still in the process of looking at players all the time. “It probably is a changing of the guard. It’s one of those things that happens in every club around the world. At some stage it’s going to happen, the coach leaves or players leave. That’s just normal. The good thing is we’ve enjoyed good times together with Wayne especially. We only wish the best for him. If he’s happy where he’s going to go, we’ll be happy. "Like I said, we’ll change a few things around next year Socceroos stay top of qualifying group after Saudi draw Tuesday night’s Docklands match against Japan looms as a crucial battle GEORGE STOGIANNOU The Socceroos remain undefeated on top of their World Cup qualifying group after a 2-2 away draw with joint group leader Saudi Arabia in difficult conditions in Jeddah on Friday morning. The team showed composure and faith in its style of play to withstand early Saudi pressure in front of a partisan 50,000 crowd at the King Abdullah Sports stadium, which was fired up by an early Saudi goal. Saudi attacking midfielder Taisir Al-Jassim neatly finished a Yaya Al Shehri cut back to give the Saudis a flying start in the fifth minute. However, the Socceroos didn’t bat an eyelid in sticking to coach Postecoglou’s mantra of maintaining possession and building out from the back. As the half progressed, so did the involvement and influence of the Socceroos’ Tomi Rogic, who was spinning past challenges and linking well with forwards Robbie Kruse, Matthew Leckie and Tomi Juric. Left back Brad Smith was also having a good game, and just before the break he switched on the afterburners, creating space for himself in the Saudi box and firing a venomous left foot shot which hit the outside of the post. A minute later, the Socceroos were back on level terms when central defender Trent Sainsbury nodded home an Aaron Mooys corner kick. The Socceroos continued to take the game to the home team in the second half despite the oppressive humidity, and they got their just rewards when sub Massimo Luongo set Kruse free down the right flank and his excellent cross was tapped home by the tireless Juric in the 71st minute. With just 10 minutes to go, the tiring Saudis needed a moment of inspiration and it was provided by Al-Jassim, whose excellent run into the heart of the Socceroos defence, followed by a cross, led to a tap in from the player the Saudi fans call ‘the earthquake’, Nassir Al-Shamrani. The goal gave the Saudis a second wind and they could easily have taken the lead a minute later were it not for an excellent Matt Ryan save. Postecoglou threw on Tim Cahill for Juric with just minutes remaining, and although the Socceroos finished the match well, they failed to create another clear cut chance. Immediately after the match Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou said “not getting off to an ideal start didn’t help things and conceding the goal as well". “They came out of the blocks pretty quickly, but I thought we worked our way back into the game really well and got the goal we deserved just before halftime. “Then we looked in control and once we got the second we really should’ve maintained that. It’s a good point but I just feel we could have got more out of it. “I thought there were some really good performances tonight from some of the guys. We’ll take the point, but as I said, disappointed we didn’t get three.” The Socceroos’ next World Cup qualifier is on Tuesday 11 October when the team plays third-placed Japan at Docklands stadium in Melbourne. “It’ll be great to get back home. We’ve had a tough start to this qualifying series," Postecoglou said. “We’ve played some tough teams away from home and now a tough one at home.There’s no reason why we shouldn’t go into it full of confidence. I’m looking forward to it.” because we know it’s going to be another tough year for us, and hopefully we’ll be able to adapt to what’s going to come at us.” The Greens have announced that long-serving centre back and deputy captain Jack Webster will succeed Wallace as the new skipper. The versatile McCormick is the next longest serving player after Wallace to leave, having been at the club since 2013 and played 94 matches. Dion Kirk played 48 games for the Greens over the last two seasons after joining from South Melbourne at the end of season 2014-15. The Adelaide-born Kirk is thought to be heading back to his hometown. Former 2015 NPL FFV gold medal winner Kamal Ibrahim arrived at Kingston Heath from Port Melbourne Sharks with high hopes but leaves the Greens after just one season, when he struggled to establish himself in the starting line-up because of injury. Striker John Maclean joined the Greens from Victory Youth late in the season to boost the Greens injury depleted attacking stocks. On the positive side, the club has announced the re-signing of striker Matt Thurtell and midfielder Troy Ruthven. Socceroos skipper Mile Jedinak has eyes only for the ball in the World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia. PHOTO: FOX SPORTS.
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