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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 15 October 2016
SPORT 26 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 15 OCTOBER 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Canberra Olympic flies the NPL flag in FFA Cup semis GEORGE STOGIANNOU One of the ACT's oldest football clubs, Canberra Olympic, continues to write history by becoming the first NPL club outside of Victoria to play in an FFA Cup semi-final. Next Wednesday evening the eyes of the Australian football public will turn to the national capital to see Olympic's longest-serving player, keeper Angelo Konstantinou, lead his teammates onto the Viking Stadium pitch for arguably the biggest match in the club's history in this, the milestone 60th year of the club. Its opponent will be none other than A-League powerhouse Sydney FC, and at stake will be a place in the FFA Cup final. "To captain the side that has made the FFA Cup semi-final in the club's 60th year, a club that I've been at for over 20 years, it's been amazing," Konstantinou says. "All the boys are ecstatic about getting this far. It's an amazing achievement." Olympic has defeated three interstate NPL teams − Surfers Paradise Apollo, Redlands United and Green Gully − to reach the semi-final without conceding goals to these visiting sides. The club is expecting its attendance record will be broken, and has opted to play the semi against Sydney at Viking stadium, which can fit up to 8000 people. Konstantinou says the club is expecting a crowd of more than 5,000. "For any club to make it (to the semi -finals) is financially a big bonus. NPL clubs don't have a lot of sponsors and it costs a lot of money to run the club. So financially it's a huge event for Canberra Olympic," he says. Sydney FC will go into the match the over- whelming favourite, but Konstantinou doesn't appear fazed with the prospect of facing the likes of Holosko, Bobo and Brosque. He agrees that Olympic are "definitely huge underdogs, but nothing's impossible in football. It obviously depends who they field. Canberra's a bit different to play in. They've probably never played here before. A bit different weather conditions. We just rock up to the game and take it as it comes". He says coach Frank Cachia's message to the Olympic players has been to "just continue to do what we've learnt during the year". "They (the Olympic players) are just going to have to be a lot more switched on and more focused on the game. We had to be focused against the other NPL clubs as well, because they weren't easy beats either. But this is obviously going to be a few levels up, meaning they're going to have to be really switched on and at the top of their game if we're going to get anything from this game." In the run up to the semi-final, keeper Konstantinou has acquired something of a cult status, with his distinctive tracksuit trousers, a reminder of the capital's cold weather, and his penalty scoring feats, setting him apart from the more accustomed image of a goal keeper. When asked how he thinks his team will cope with the intense spotlight this coming Wednesday, he replies: "I think they'll love it. That's what we play the sport for. Obviously I'm used to it and there are a couple of other boys who are used to it. Some of the other guys have got a taste in some of the FFA Cup games. This is obviously a step above, but this is what we play for." Cahill set for A-League debut in Melbourne derby GEORGE STOGIANNOU Sydney FC and Melbourne City FC were the only two sides that took home the chocolates in last weekend's opening round of the 12th A-League season, at the expense of Western Sydney Wanderers FC and the Phoenix, while the other six teams started with a share of the spoils. The Melbourne derby headlines the second round this weekend, and although the same recordbreaking crowd numbers of last week's Sydney derby are unlikely, huge interest is anticipated around the A-League debut of City's Socceroo star Tim Cahill. That match will have been preceded by Friday's grand final replay clash between Adelaide United and Western Sydney Wanderers, and today's Sydney versus Mariners match. Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners, Sat 15 October, 5.35 pm (Allianz Stadium) Sydney's 4-0 derby triumph last week, and the Central Coast Mariners' remarkable second-half revival away to Perth, when it scored three times to come away with a point, were perhaps the most unexpected results from the opening round. The Mariners' defensive frailties of last season still look to be a concern, and new coach Paul Okon made the brave change at half time of introducing Jake McGing for new visa signing, defender Jacques Faty, in the match against Glory after a disappointing first-half performance. Mariners' keeper Ivan Necevski earnt his pay against the Glory, making a couple of crucial second-half saves to keep his side in the game, while striker Roy O'Donovan made an auspicious start with a brace of goals. Connor Pain on the wing also did well on debut for the Mariners. Last week's 4-0 scoreline may have flattered the Sky Blues, but there's no denying Graham Arnold has an abundance of firepower in Filip Holosko, Brazilian Bobo and Alex Brosque, and that Okon's defence is more than likely going to come under strenuous examination. It will be interesting to see whether he starts Faty against his former club or persists with the young McGing. Melbourne Victory v Melbourne City FC, Sat 15 October, 7.50 pm (Etihad Stadium) Two of the preseason favourites and two of the A-League's most ambitious clubs clash this evening in the anticipated Melbourne derby. Will City coach Van't Schip play Cahill from the start, and if so, how will he deploy him with skipper Bruno Fornaroli? They're a couple of interesting questions going into this game. City fans were pleased with what they saw in the first half in last week's season opener away to Phoenix when their Latin connection Fernando Brandan, Nicholas Colazo and Bruno Fornaroli entertained spectators with their flair. Anthony Carceras scored the vital winner for City, which had to withstand some late pressure after losing keeper Thomas Sorensen to a red card. Anthony Bouzanis is expected to take his place for this week's derby. For Victory, it will be without new recruit and playmaker, James Troisi, who is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with a broken collarbone. On the positive side, Kevin Mus- cat has the services of another new signing, the flying winger Marco Rojas, who returns from international duty with the Kiwis. Newcastle Jets v Brisbane Roar FC, Sun 16 October, 5.00 pm (McDonald Jones Stadium) Both these sides are coming off reasonably satisfying starts, drawing 1-1 in their opening encounters. The Roar's new signings Thomas Kristensen and Brett Holman made promising starts, while central defender Luke DeVere scored his first goal in six A-League seasons after returning from a long injury layoff, to clinch a deserved point late in the game at home for Aloisi's team against Victory. Veteran midfielder Matt Mackay will be sidelined through a red card for the Roar, while Tommy Oar may have earnt a start after performing well coming off the bench. Jets' new signing, English playmaker Wayne Brown, scored on his league debut against the Reds last week, however new coach Mark Jones already has injury concerns ahead of this game, with Finnish striker Aleksandr Kokko, Jason Hoffman and defender Daniel Mullen all failing to finish last week's match due to injuries. Perth Glory v Wellington Phoenix, Sun 16 Oct, 7.00 pm (NIB Stadium) Both these two sides will be disappointed by their opening match results and they'll be looking to make amends in the distance derby. Glory switched off in the second half against the Mariners to allow the visitors to peg back a three-goal deficit at half time for a share of the points, while the Phoenix came up empty handed at home against Melbourne City. Perth striker Adam Taggart made a promising second debut with the club, netting a brace, and will be better fitness-wise for the run. He'll come up against Phoenix's new signing, tall Italian central defender Marco Rossi, who made an impressive debut against City. Phoenix coach will have available skipper Andrew Durante and Kosta Barbarousas, returning from international duty with the All-Whites after missing last week's season opener.
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