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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 28 January 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 28 JANUARY 2017 37 SPORT Greens and Souths resume battle for shield trophy Valkanis to coach City until end of season A-League club Melbourne City has announced that interim senior coach Michael Valkanis will remain in charge of the club until the end of season 201617. The 42-year-old former assistant to John van 't Schip, took the reins following the sudden resignation of the coach early in January. Van 't Schip returned to Holland to be with his terminally ill father who has since passed away. Since taking over the job, Valkanis has coached City to wins against Western Sydney Wanderers, Central Coast Mariners and an unlucky away defeat to his former club Adelaide United. City currently sits in third place on the A-League table, with 10 rounds remaining until the finals. Bentleigh Greens coach John Anastasiadis. PHOTO: SMILE FOR PETER FACEBOOK. CNPL heavies go head to head in season curtain-raiser GEORGE STOGIANNOU This coming Thursday, Kingston Heath will host the third FFV Community Shield match, featuring for the second year in a row a meeting between the two most successful clubs in the NPLera − South Melbourne and Bentleigh Greens. As it stands, the two clubs have each won the traditional season opener once before, with South Melbourne taking out the inaugural 2015 Shield by defeating Melbourne Knights, followed in 2016 by the Greens defeating South Melbourne 3-0 in a fiery contest. From a marketing perspec- tive, the FFV couldn't have hoped for a better match-up to usher in the new season, with the two league heavyweights going head to head in a battle for early silverware. Many will look to this game as an early indication as to how these two great rivals stack up to each other and what shape they're in for the long season ahead. "I think it's very important for us. I don't know how South will treat it. For us we treat it as another piece of silverware. We consider it a very important game for what it does and for what it stands for, which is the most important thing," Bentleigh Greens coach John Anastasiadis says. "It's a good indication of how well we've had our pre-season this year. We'll treat it as a very important game. I don't know what South will be doing but we'll certainly be putting out our strongest 11." "There'll probably be at least four new faces in the starting 11 for this game," he adds. "We're excited about that and we're hoping they gel quickly into the philosophy of the way we play. We'll wait and see though, once they cross the white line, see how well they adapt." South Melbourne FC coach Chris Taylor sees the match from a slightly different per- spective. "I suppose the fact that it's between two of the biggest rivals in the league adds a little spice. But for us it's just part of our pre-season preparation. While it would be nice to win that bit of silverware, it's not paramount in our interests. I suppose a little bit of pride is on the line, and that's always going to be the case, but for me it's more important to get through the start of the season with a full squad and everyone being fit. We just don't want any injuries out of the game." When asked if South would be fielding its strongest side, Taylor replied: "At this point I'd say no but that could change. A lot depends on players' availability through fitness. While we've had a great pre-season, having injuries and no little niggles are more paramount than the result." "New players (including former Green Liam McCormick) will figure at certain periods of time throughout the game. As I said, it's not one of the bigger games we'll play this year. It's more preparation for the rest of the season." The two teams share an intense rivalry, with last year's shield clash producing fireworks and eight yellows and a red card from the referee. Coach Anastasiadis won't be surprised if another keenly fought contest eventuates on Thursday evening. "Yeah, I expect, it's always fiery between us and South Melbourne for some reason. I don't know why. Nevertheless we'll just treat it as any other big game for us (regardless of the opponent). If it becomes physical we'll just have to deal with it." The FFV will donate all proceeds from the match to the Reagan Milstein Foundation aimed at giving disadvantaged youngsters moral and financial support to be able to participate in sport and join sports clubs. The match kicks off at 7.45 pm, Thursday 2 Feb at Kingston Heath, Cheltenham. Michael Valkanis hopes to lead City to its first grand final. PHOTO: MELBOURNECITY.COM.AU The announcement by City indicates that Valkanis has convinced the powers that be that he's a safe pair of familiar hands and can lead the team to the finals. Managing director of City Football Services Brian Marwood commented on the decision to appoint Valkanis till the end of the season. "Michael has been a key member of our coaching structure this season. His approach and philosophy are completely aligned with the way we want Melbourne City to be managed. This, combined with his A-League experience and tactical capabilities, make him the right person to lead the team for the remainder of the season." Melbourne City FC vice chairman Simon Pearce said: "As a club we are completely focused on achieving the remaining objectives we set ourselves for the season. In the board's view, Michael's appointment puts us in the very best possible position to do that." Commenting on the club website, Valkanis reacted to his appointment saying "the next few months represent an important period for the first team". "The players and staff collectively recognise the challenge and opportunity that the second half of the season presents and I am incredibly motivated by the responsibility and the opportunity to guide the team for the remainder of the campaign." For Valkanis, the appointment as coach to the end of the season gives him a further opportunity to stake a claim for the job beyond the current season. If he were to lead the team to its first ever A-League grand final, it would help establish his credentials as an A-League coach. On the other hand, the decision also gives the City group time to consider and scout other coaching options as well, rather that rushing in to a coaching contract.
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