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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 3 December 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 3 DECEMBER 2016 27 SPORT Sydneysiders head north up the coast in search of wins Melbourne teams look to consolidate spots in the top three GEORGE STOGIANNOU Last week's Round 8 of A-League action produced a couple of unexpected results, including the scoreless draw between top and bottom sides Sydney FC and Adelaide United, as well as the Mariners' 2-0 win over Perth Glory, which lifted Paul Okon's team into the top six. Adelaide United, Western Sydney Wanderers and Newcastle Jets are the three teams with the longest winless spells going into this weekend's round. Round 9 kicked off in Melbourne last night with a top six clash between third-placed Melbourne Victory and fifth-placed Perth Glory. Today's action kicks off in Gos- ford, where the sixth-placed Mariners host seventh-placed Western Sydney Wanderers. Central Coast Mariners v Western Sydney − Sat 3 Dec, 5.35 pm, Central Coast Stadium Last week the Mariners overtook the Wanderers on the table with its first win at home in 11 months. The 2-0 win against Glory was remarkably the first clean sheet for the Mariners in 36 months. The Wanderers last week drew at home to Brisbane 1-1, its fifth draw in the last six matches which has been without a win. The two teams last met in Round 4 just over a month ago at Spotless stadium, where they played out a 1-1 draw, with Wanderers' Brendan Santalab's early lead cancelled out by an Adam Berry equaliser. The Mariners will have the benefit of a 10-day break and will be playing at home in Gosford for just the third time this season. Expect an entertaining match between two teams determined to get a win. Melbourne City v Brisbane Roar − Sat 3 Dec, 7.50 pm, AAMI Park Second-placed Melbourne City returns to the scene of its historic win against Sydney FC in the midweek FFA Cup final with just a three day turnaround, to face fourth-placed Brisbane Roar. City coach John van 't Schip will be expected to make several changes to ensure a fresh, fit team faces the challenge of the Roar, which is coming off a 1-1 away draw to the Wanderers. Kilkenny will be missing through suspension, while both Tim Cahill and Osama Malik picked up injuries during the Cup final, although both players have been named in the squad. The Roar will be without influential playmaker Brett Holman, out for six weeks due to meniscus knee surgery. Both teams have similar defensive records but it's in attack where City has the edge, and at AAMi Park, it's difficult to pick against it. PHOTO: A-LEAGUE.COM.AU Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC − Sun 4 Dec, 5.00 pm, McDonald Jones Stadium On paper this looks to be a foregone conclusion, but the same could've been said about the match-up between Sydney and Adelaide United last week, which ended in a surprise draw. Sydney and the Jets met earlier in the season, with Sydney winning comfortably by 2-0. The injurystricken Jets have hit turbulence, slumping to eighth on the table with just one point from the last five matches. Mark Jones' Jets are struggling to score goals at present and he has recalled veteran striker Labinot Haliti for this match. Graham Arnold's team has also failed to find the net in the last two matches, the midweek Cup final loss to Melbourne City, and last weekend's scoreless home draw against Adelaide. He may make changes to his front line recalling Bernie Ibini. Arnold will be determined to take all three points away from the Hunter after two consecutive draws in the league. Adelaide United v Wellington Phoenix − Sun 4 Dec, 7.00 pm, Coopers Stadium The bottom two sides battle it out for points to close out Round 9. The Reds will once more be without coach Amor on the sidelines. It was this time last season when the winless Reds embarked on their remarkable run of wins, which took them from bottom all the way to the top. Both sides meet on the back of praise-worthy performances against the top two teams last week, with Phoenix unlucky to lose 2-1 away to Melbourne City. Striker Roy Krishna continues to find the net taking his season tally to five goals. Armor will be looking for the experienced Henrique and Carrusca to assist Guardiola in the attacking third to provide the goals. With both teams desperate to win to give themselves a realistic chance of challenging for a top six spot at the end of the season, this game could prove the most entertaining match of the round. Bouzanis gloves FFA Cup Winners Medal GEORGE STOGIANNOU Melbourne City FC keeper Dean Bouzanis has lived and played in a few different places in his football life including Liverpool in the UK, where he played in Liverpool's youth teams, Thessaloniki in Greece where he spent time with Aris, as well as a couple of other English clubs, Oldham Athletic and Carlisle United and of course, his hometown Sydney. But right now the 26-year-old Sydney-born keeper reckons he's in a good place. "It's one of my favourite cities I've lived in. I really love it and enjoy it," he says of Melbourne. And why wouldn't he, especially since he's just this week, together with his team, created a bit of history in the city's football life by helping his A-League club to its first ever trophy, the FFA Cup, by defeating a club he once joined on loan, Sydney FC. Speaking to Neos Kosmos about Wednesday night's cup final triumph, Bouzanis said: "For me personally it was a massive achieve- ment, because as a footballer, what you want to do is you want to win things. We've got the first trophy for the club and hopefully more to come. From day one, when we stepped foot in pre-season, it was all about creating a legacy and taking this football club to the next stage. We've put ourselves on the map now and we just have to continue with that." It's not the first major trophy win for Bouzanis, having been part of the Western Sydney Wanderers squad that won the 2014 Asian Champions League. And although the FFA Cup is still a relatively fledgling competition in comparison, he says, "every comp you play in is just as special as each other. When you've got a chance to win silverware it's always a great feeling, and to spend it with the boys, team, coaching staff and fans especially, was special. [Wednesday] was a special night". Bouzanis and his fellow Melbourne City defenders barely put a foot wrong in Wednesday night's cup final, keeping the league's most prolific attack scoreless for the first time this season. "Sydney's a physical team and we had to muscle up and stuff like that and make sure we beat them in the first and second balls which I think we did. Whenever you keep a clean sheet it's extra special as well. Having Michael (Jakobsen) in front of me ... he was very good last night, as were all the boys in the back four. It was a credit to them because they defended very well," he said. Bouzanis made the move south to Melbourne from Western Sydney Wanderers at the start of the year in search of more game time. He's well on the way to establishing himself in the City starting eleven this season, since coming on to replace veteran Thomas Sorensen in the season opener against Phoenix when the veteran was red carded. Bouzanis' distribution is considered a strength in his game and it's something that he works on every day at training to try and improve. "It's the way we want to play in the City Group style of play. It's vital that the keeper is an outlet," he says. The 26-year-old believes his game has developed since joining Melbourne City at the start of the year. "I do think my game's gone to another level, especially at Melbourne City. The style of play and the coaches we have here have definitely led to another level. It's a different type of coaching than I've had before and it's a coaching that I'm thriving under. All the staff under JVS, the goal keeping coach Joe Didulica, assistant coaches Joe Montemurro and Michael Valkanis, they've all helped me out massively and given me the confidence to believe in myself that I can take my game to the next step." Having represented both Australia and Greece at youth international level, as well as the Olyroos, Bouzanis still has the ambition to represent his country at senior level. "Yes of course, every footballer wants to play for the national team. I think it's a massive honour if you get selected. It's always going to be a massive drive. At the moment I'm focussing on Mel- bourne City and having consistent performances with them and still doing well and improving and hopefully the rest will come." With Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou an interested spectator at Wednesday night's FFA cup final, Bouzanis' confident performance would not have gone unnoticed. Melbourne City keeper Dean Bouzanis shares the love with City fans after playing his part in the team’s historic FFA Cup win.
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