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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 26 November 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 26 NOVEMBER 2016 27 SPORT A-League referees feel the heat PHOTO: AAP VIA AP/JULIAN SMITH. GEORGE STOGIANNOU A-League referees have come under the spotlight again this week following a number of controversial decisions in Rd 7. The strong reaction of several coaches to the decisions has resulted in four of the 10 A-League coaches receiving bans, fines and sanctions this season, the latest being mildmannered Adelaide United boss Guilermo Amor. The Reds boss was given a oneweek touchline ban this week for handling a fourth official in the aftermath of a controversial decision in the match against Perth Glory last week. A-League CEO Greg O'Rourke said he'll set up meetings to "re-set the expectations of managers" towards referees. He's also defended the standard of A-League ref- ereeing, claiming it's the best we've had in the A-League, while conceding that some form of technology to assist the referees may be introduced during the finals. The A-League Rd 8 kicked off early again this week, with Central Coast Mariners hosting Perth Glory last Thursday. The Mariners caused a mighty upset by beating an out of sorts Glory 2-0, with Ascroft and O'Donovan finding the net for Paul Okon's team. Today's action kicks off when Victory hosts a match at AAMI park for the first time this season. Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets, Saturday 26 Nov, 5.35 pm, AAMI Park Victory will fancy its chances against a seriously undermanned Jets outfit, particu- larly with Victory having had the week's break after the postponement of last week's match in New Zealand due to the earthquake. The Jets last week scored a valuable point in the F3 derby at home to the Mariners thanks to a well taken goal by Danish striker Morten Nordstrand. However, the point came at a heavy cost, with the Jets losing key forwards Aleksandr Kokko and Andrew Nabbout to add to their injury woes in defence. On the other hand, Victory is strengthened by the return of winger Marco Rojas from international duty. German import Max Beister, who scored on his debut, will also have had more time to fit into Victory's style of play and offer further attacking options for Muscat's team. Sydney FC v Adelaide United, Saturday 26 Nov, 7.50 pm, Allianz Stadium It's top versus bottom in this fixture. Sydney returns to Allianz stadium today on the back of a strong performance away to Brisbane Roar last week, where it deserved more than just a point and probably would've got them were it not for the heroics of Roar keeper Michael Theo. In the lead-up to this match, Sydney coach Graeme Arnold said he believes his team can go through the season undefeated. "The way we've changed the style of game pressing high up the field and increasing our fitness levels, when we go onto the field, we feel that we will run over any team." This evening it hosts a winless Adelaide United, which despite performing well away to Sydney in recent years, goes in as overwhelming underdog. Adelaide goes into this match without coach Amor, who will be a spectator from the stands. Henrique returns to the Reds squad from injury, while playmaker Carrusca is also returning to full match fitness. Striker Guardiola has been named in the Reds squad despite coming off injured against the Glory. The Reds have been heavily reliant on him. In contrast, Sydney possesses multiple avenues to goal. Melbourne City v Wellington Phoenix, Sunday 27 Nov, 5.00 pm, AAMI Park With City heading into a midweek FFA Cup final against Sydney FC at the same venue, it will be interesting to see whether City coach Van 't Schip fields a full strength Top two meet in FFA CUP final showdown GEORGE STOGIANNOU The FFA couldn't have wished for a more highly-anticipated match-up in this Wednesday night's FFA Cup final at AAMI Park than hosts Melbourne City and league leader Sydney FC. The final promises to be a closely-fought match between the two top sides in the league this season, and with a glittering array of A-League talent on display. It will also be the first time the two sides have met this season and will be followed just ten days later by their first league encounter. Sydney has been the standout team this season, undefeated in seven league matches and four cup ties, boasting a record of 10 wins and a draw as well as the most impressive goal difference by far in the league. It's an indication that coach Arnold has found the right balance between attack and defence this season. After the disappointment of last season, Arnold has developed a different style of play based on a physically demanding, high intensity game which none of its opponents this season has found a way to overcome. Could Melbourne City be the first? City fans, who will be out in force on Wednesday night, will be hoping so. Much will depend on how both teams emerge from their respective league matches this weekend in the lead-up to the final. If it emerges unscathed, City has the personnel to trouble Sydney's formidable defence. Golden Boot winner and skipper Bruno Fornaroli will be in his happy hunting ground AAMI Park, while big game player Tim Cahill can always be counted on to rise to the big occasion. They have dangerous wingmen Bruce Kamau and Fernando Brandan as well as another Xfactor in Argentine marquee Nicholas Colazo, who returns from injury. City will have to find a way of coping with Sydney FC's high press and physicality. Melbourne City's two league defeats this season were narrow losses to Perth Glo- ry and Brisbane Roar and in both games, City struggled to cope with the high-energy, high-pressing style of its opponents. Who lines up in goal for City could determine how effectively it copes with Sydney's press. Dean Bouzanis, who came off injured in last week's unconvincing away draw to Western Sydney, is a better passer of the ball and more comfortable with the ball at his feet, than veteran Thomas Sorensen. Bouzanis would presumably be select- ed if fit to play, as he would certainly help City play out more effectively through a high-pressing opponent. Sydney will deservedly go into the game a slight favourite based on current form, but Graham Arnold's team will face its toughest opponent this year and will have to make history by becoming the first away team to win the FFA Cup final in its short three year history. The match kicks off at 7.30 pm on Wednesday night at AAMI Park. side against the Phoenix. Phoenix come into this match in good shape after a week's rest due to the earthquakes. Merrick's men have won their last two matches and for this game they welcome back five players from international duty including Barbarouses and Durante. The two met in the opening round of the season, when City won narrowly. Although sitting in second place on the ladder, City was less than convincing in the 1-1 draw last week away to Western Sydney. City may have Thomas Sorensen between the sticks after Bouzanis came off injured against the Wanderers. Osama Malik also came off injured in that match and is doubtful. On the plus side, City welcomes back Argentinian marquee Nicholas Colazo from an ear injury.
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