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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 28 January 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 28 JANUARY 2017 39 SPORT youth team coach is Cypriot and the language is a bit different, their dialect ... you get used to it eventually but at the start it was hard to understand. I'm used to it now." With not long left until the end of the season, Eliopoulos hopes he can land a first team contract for APOEL's 2016-17 campaign. "We have another 15 games left and I just want to keep doing well in the youth league and keep getting noticed," he says. "I need to keep playing well and being consistent, and hopefully by the end of the year get a first team deal and go from there. If not, maybe get loaned out, but hopefully if it all goes well I get to stay here and work my way up." Eliopoulos has yet to represent his country at youth team level, but the defender hopes his progress in Cyprus means he will start to get noticed by national team coaches and that his story can be an inspiration. "It's never over," he says. "I've never really been contacted by A-League teams or even really been picked up by any Australian youth squads, and it just shows that anything can happen. "I'm at a big club so hopefully I will be on the radar. That is a goal for me now definitely in the next year or two, to get a call up in the national team would be an honour," he continues. "This opportunity brought me a lot of confidence. I feel like I'm on top of the world. Being able to train with the first team, with really high quality players, it really makes you think that if you are doing this now then you wonder where you could end up. Jacob Eliopoulos for Port Melbourne Sharks back in May 2016. PHOTO: FACEBOOK be expecting everything. You have to think ahead. You've got players that have been in a professional environment all their lives. "It's a big step for me, especially playing in the Australian NPL with Port Melbourne last year − it's another level to this. I have to be ready and I have to take my chance." While Eliopoulos is of Greek descent, the 20-yearold admits that he initially struggled with the Cypriot vernacular. "I'm Greek background but Cyprus is different," he said. "My Greek is good but at times it isn't the best. The first team coach isn't Cypriot so we talk in English. The "It's just the start and the sky is the limit, really." Eric Vassiliadis is in no doubt that his former protégé can forge a successful career and believes that the 20-year-old can play for the Socceroos in the future. "One hundred per cent," he says. "You look at the way Ange Postecoglou wants our players coming through to be like, in terms of that tenacity, that calmness on the ball and that real Australian culture and spirit of not being afraid − Jacob ticks all those boxes. "There is no limit to what he can achieve. It's going to come down to being healthy and if he can navigate through the practicalities of European life and football. He's close with his family, so if all those off the park things work in his favour then I know with his attitude and his application and his core quality he could be anything, he could play at the highest level." Jets sign Petratos brothers for next season Sydney-born brothers Dimitri and Kosta Petratos will join forces and play as teammates next season at A-League club Newcastle Jets. The Jets announced it would boost its attacking stocks in season 2017-18 with the signing of 24year-old Dimitri, an attacking midfielder from Brisbane Roar, and his 18-year-old brother, striker Kosta, from Perth Glory. Both players will complete the current season at Roar and Glory respectively, before moving to the Hunter Valley for the start of next pre-season. Dimitri Petratos has clocked up 122 A-League appearances, and scored 20 goals in almost seven seasons at Sydney FC and current club Brisbane Roar. Younger brother Kosta joined Perth Glory in January 2016 and has made nine appearances for the WA club. He began his senior career with the FFA Centre of Excellence and has represented the Australian U17s on 15 occasions, scoring seven goals. Dimitri has won 12 representative caps for Australia at U17, U20 and U23 levels, for three goals. "Dimitri will be a great asset to the club," Jets coach Mark Jones said of the brothers. "It’s good that some of the best players in the country want to come and play for the Jets. "Kosta is an emerging talent," he continued. "I have always said that I am keen to work with the best young kids in the country to develop them into Hyundai A-League players and beyond." Meanwhile, another young up-and-coming Sydney-born footballer, Western Sydney Wan- derers 20-year-old centre back Jonathan Aspropotamitis, has been rewarded for his good form this season with a call up into Josep Gombau's 26man Australian U23 sqquad to attend a threeday training camp on the NSW Central Coast this coming week. Aspro, as he is known to his teammates, has previously represented the Australian U20s team twice. He should feel quite at home on the camp, being one of seven WSW players selected for the squad. Brisbane Roar’s hat-trick hero Dimitri Petratos. PHOTO: SPORTAL AUSTRALIA. Kosta Petratos in action for Perth Glory. PHOTO: A-LEAGUE.COM.AU Lakesiders targeted Drogba in A-League bid One of the world's most renowned strikers of recent years, Didier Drogba, is the latest star name to be linked to South Melbourne FC in its bold bid to become part of the new expanded A-League beginning in 2018. The 38-year-old former Chelsea champion has been a free agent after recently completing a successful season playing for MLS club Montreal Impact, where he scored 21 goals in 33 matches. However, with the player entering the twilight of his professional playing career, it seems that time isn't on South's side in its bid to convince Drogba to sign for the Lakesiders. With the expanded ALeague competition still at least a season and a half away, and the FFA still to determine which two of the expected 12 bidding clubs will receive an ALeague licence, the player was not prepared to wait, according to South Melbourne FC Advisory Board chairman Bill Papastergiadis. According to Papastergiadis, "we were pretty close … terms were agreed, but where we had difficulty was keeping him interested during the period in which we could not play in the A-League, assuming we are successful in our bid," he told The World Game. "The bid process is unclear because FFA have not released the criteria for entry … originally that was going to be in February but I don't know when that is going to happen for sure. "But if we were to get in, we couldn't play until the season after next. Drogba basically said, 'I like it but what I am going to do in the interim for a year?'. "We had everything in place, other than that. "It's a pity that we couldn't bring him here to join us, but he is too much in demand to sit idly by for a period of time," Papastergiadis said. "Drogba's still at an age where he can compete – and he would have been great at A-League level. And we are still very much in market for a marquee of that kind of stature. "We remain committed to bringing in somebody with a serious world reputation." It's believed instead that the Ivory Coast-born striker is now considering a lucrative move to Brazilian club Corinthians. Drogba played 254 games for Chelsea, scoring 104 goals and winning four EPL titles with the club as well as a Champions League Winners' medal. He also represented the Ivory Coast 104 times, scoring 65 goals, and in the process becoming a statesman and Ambassador for Peace during that country's bloody civil war in the previous decade. Impressively he helped to arrange a ceasefire and has set up the Didier Drogba Foundation to help raise funds for education and health services in the country of his birth. The news of South's bid to sign Drogba follows recent reports of its bid to interest Real Madrid legends Roberto Carlos and Chendo in coaching positions at South should it successfully bid for an ALeague licence.
21 January 2017
4 February 2017