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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 24 December 2016
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 24 DECEMBER 2016 27 SPORT Sydney FC to lead A-league table into Christmas and New Year Victory confident of holding onto second spot ahead of Mariners’ visit GEORGE STOGIANNOU Last weekend’s Melbourne derby lived up to its pre-match hype producing a tight thrilling contest, decided by Victory striker Berisha’s record equalling 90th A-League goal. Berisha is no longer the lone top marksmen still playing in the A-League. Joining him is Shane Smeltz who returns to the A-League from Malaysia, to bolster Phoenix’s attacking stocks till the end of the season. Smeltz has 89 A-League goals to his name, just one behind equal joint leaders Berisha and Archie Thompson. Heading into Rd 12 of the A-League, two tight clusters have formed on the A-League ladder. Seven points below the commanding leader Sydney FC sits a cluster of three teams, Victory, City, and Roar separated by just two points. The second cluster is even tighter with just three points separating the fifth-placed Jets from the 9th-placed Mariners. This week’s round began last night in Brisbane with third-placed Roar hosting the seventh-placed Western Sydney Wanderers. With a two-day break for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the rest of the round resumes with two Boxing Day matches. Newcastle Jets v Wellington Phoenix, 5.35 pm Monday 26 December, McDonald James Stadium A spot in the top six is up for grabs when these two meet in the first of the two Boxing Day matches. Both these sides have been inconsistent over the last five rounds although the Jets have won their last two matches. Last week’s last gasp winner in Adelaide took it into the top six ahead of the Wanderers and Glory. It will be looking to overturn the 2-0 loss to Phoenix when these sides last met in New Zealand five rounds ago. Phoenix striker Roy Krishna was on song that day scoring a brace. Last week, the Phoenix staged a second half fightback to peg back the Wanderers to 2-2. Phoenix also had keeper Glen Moss to thank for making a couple of crucial saves including a penalty kick. Adelaide United V Sydney FC, 7.50 pm Monday 26 December, Coopers Stadium It’s bottom side Adelaide hosting the undefeated Sky Blues in the second Boxing Day match. Reds fans watched in dismay last round as a precious point was snatched away from their team through a late Jets winner. Their team faces a much more challenging opponent this week in League leader Sydney FC which trounced Perth 4-1 in the west last round, with all their key forwards including Holosko finding the net. Another forward, Matt Simon, along with Josh Brillante return from suspension for the game against the Reds. This week Sydney also announced that coach Graham Arnold had signed a two-year extension to his contract. Reds coach Amor has a full squad to choose from and he’ll be hoping for at least a repeat of the scoreless draw in Sydney the last time these two met a month ago. City v Glory match action. PHOTO: FOURFOURTWO Melbourne City v Perth Glory, 7.50 pm Tuesday 27 December, AAMI Park Both City and Glory are coming off defeats at their last start. City’s loss in the derby means it slips out of the top two whilst Glory is barely hanging on to a place in the top six after last week’s heavy defeat at home to Sydney. Both teams have just the one win from their last five matches. Last time they met in October, Glory played a bold game to win 3-2 thanks in large part to an excellent Andy Keogh hat-trick. Glory coach Kenny Lowe may have Diego Castro and Adam Taggart available for this match. Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners, 7.50 pm Wednesday 28 December, AAMI Park The form guide strongly favours a win to Victory whose confidence will be sky-high following the Melbourne derby win last round which lifted it South aims for the real deal in its A-league bid South targets Roberto Carlos for A-league coaching job GEORGE STOGIANNOU Imagine the famous El Clásico derby coming to Lakeside. Such a fancy could become a reality of sorts if South Melbourne FC successfully bids for an A-league licence for 2018 and lands former Real Madrid star Roberto Carlos as coach. A visit by Guillermo Armor’s Adelaide United would see ex-Real and Barcelona players Carlos and Armor resume their rivalry from the dugout in front of a capacity Lakeside crowd. South Melbourne announced that it has commenced negotiations with highly-decorated former Real Madrid stars Roberto Carlos and Chendo for the positions of senior coach and technical director respectively, contingent on South Melbourne succeeding in its bid for an A-League licence. South Melbourne’s A-league Advisory panel chairman Bill Papastergiadis had initial talks with the pair in September when he travelled to Spain with a junior squad from South which toured Madrid. There he met with former Real Madrid player and Spanish international Chendo, now the general manager of Real Madrid, and an assistant coach who expressed both an interest in working with South and an affection for Melbourne. Papastergiadis said of Chendo, “Imagine him as the technical director of the club - someone who has implemented at the highest level globally. It would be a massive coup for the club because he would set a program that would start from the 7-year-olds all the way to the seniors. They’ll all play the same style of football, the same technical training. “He was really interested. He said ‘I’d love to do it. I know a lot about the club.’ We play against them every year with our juniors, through the relationship that South has as the Oceania Club of the Century with FAFA and they’re FIFA’s European Club of the Century. Our negotiations are to the extent where we said, ‘If we’re successful (in gaining an A-league Licence), are you interested?’ The response was ‘Absolutely!’” South’s announcement of their illustrious Spanish targets, amounts to a pre-emptive strike by the club in what is expected to be an intense bidding war amongst several clubs and consortiums once the FFA releases its framework for expansion early next year. Papastergiadis added, “It’s really now up to the FFA, the ball is in the FFA’s court to let South in. That’s what we say, and we can energise the league. “What we’re going to say to them (FFA) is, we’re going to have a package and here are the people we’re talking to. We want to be smart and sensible about this because we want the best possible people. This is only the start of what we think could be additional discussions. We’re aiming for excellence across all levels on and off the field. That’s the mantra for South Melbourne.” Roberto Carlos’s record as a coach has yet to match his outstanding success as a player. Few could forget the iconic smiling marauding left-back who terrorised opposition defences (and the fans behind the goal) with his fierce free kicks. But in three seasons of coaching in Turkey and India, Carlos has yet to make his mark as a coach. For the record he’s coached 95 games for 35 wins, 20 draws and 40 losses with a 36.8 per cent win rate and a 42.1 per cent loss rate. Notwithstanding his record as a coach, Papastergiadis is in no doubt as to the impact Carlos as coach and Chendo as technical director would have on the A-League if they joined South. “It will be a lightning rod for the A-league. We’re bringing global football stars and icons to the Aleague. They will attract international attention. Their records speak for themselves. It will reignite interest and passion for South Supporters and also, what we say, we historically set the attendance records in the NSL. We will set those in the A-league.” into second place on the ladder. For the second-last Mariners, last week’s loss to the Roar was its’ third loss in a row and it doesn’t get any easier as their next three matches (beginning with Melbourne Victory) are against the top four sides. Playing against the side with the worse goal difference in the league, Victory appear to have too many options in attack with Berisha, Rojas, and Troisi supported by Beister and Ingham.
17 December 2016
7 January 2017