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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 4 February 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 4 FEBRUARY 2017 27 SPORT Greens hold out fast-finishing South to win Community Shield GEORGE STOGIANNOU In some ways it was a case of history repeating itself on Thursday night, as the NPL's two great rivals, Bentleigh Greens and South Melbourne, contested the FFV Community Shield for the second year running. And as it was last year, the result favoured the home team, with the Greens runningout winners 2-1. Like last year, the game had niggles and tension and like last year, the Greens’ Troy Ruthven scored another longrange missile. However, this year's match was a much closer game than last year's contest and could easily have gone either way. South dominated the opening stanza, forcing the Greens to defend deep and desperately as South's players lined up for shots on goal which were repeatedly charged down by lunging Greens defenders. Newly-signed South centre back Carl Piergianni narrowly missed scoring on debut when his header flew over the bar, while ex-Green Liam McCormick had a back header cleared off the goal line by Greens skipper Jack Webster. The Greens, on the other hand, were often forced to play long balls to transition from defence to attack rather than their customary fluent passing game. South's McCormick took no prisoners, with a scything tackle on Greens forward Ross Honos. The Greens began to assert its passing game in the latter part of the half and looked more comfortable in possession. New signing Ben Litfin, playing as a number 10, PHOTO: KOSTAS DEVES. missed an excellent chance when he chipped the ball past South keeper Nick Roganovic, but wide of the far post. Greens mid, Tyson Homes, playing in a deeper role than his customary playmaker role, struck the upright with a shot from outside the box. After a scoreless first half, the Greens drew first blood in the 60th minute, when a Kieran Dover through ball sliced open South's defence, putting Liftin through on goal. As he drove into the box he squared the ball to Honos, who made no mistake to open the scoring. The last half hour saw numerous interchanges from both sides with both coaches introducing new signings. Midfielder Luke Pavlou and Gavin DeNiese made their debuts Anastasia Marinakou to run alongside Usain Bolt The Greek champion makes her first appearance on an Australian track on Saturday, at the Nitro Athletics Tournament Eight-time Olympic Gold medallist and eleven-time world champion Usain Bolt is set to appear for the first time in Melbourne this Saturday, and he will have a Greek champion on his side. ‘Lightning’ Bolt is the star of the inaugural Coles Nitro Athletics tournament, taking place from 4 to 11 February at Albert Park's Lakeside Stadium − home of South Melbourne FC. He is reported to have been paid $1 million in order to participate, as leader of the 'Bolt All-Stars' team, which will compete against Australia, New Zealand, England, Japan and China. His team comprises five Olympic champions, six world champions, two NCAA champions, two Paralympic stars and four young Australians, not least among them Anastasia Marinakou, the middle distance runner who holds the Greek record for 1,500m. Voted top young Greek Athlete in 2015, the 21-year-old athlete has since relocated to Melbourne to pursue her dreams, and her participation in the Nitro Athletics Tournament is the best way for her to enter the Australian tracks. "I am excited, proud and very emotional that my first appearance is to take place for South and Keanu Moore and Trent Clulow for the Greens. Meanwhile Kieran Dover cut in and fired goal-ward for the Greens only to be denied by an excellent Roganovic diving save. South had a Milos Lujic goal ruled offside just after the 80th minute. To add salt to the wound, the Greens’ Troy Ruthven doubled the Greens’ lead with a 20-metre missile which took a deflection into the net. Lujic gave South a lifeline minutes later when he found the net, sparking an all-in goalmouth melee as opposition players fought for the ball to restart the match. Once the dust settled, the Greens held off the fast-finishing visitors through five minutes of extra time to capture the Shield trophy for the second year running. Bentleigh's Kieran Dover was awarded the man of the match award. After the match, South Melbourne coach Chris Taylor commented: "Two top teams, bragging rights there. They probably got the rub of the Green today − a deflected goal. I thought we had a couple of calls for penalties. In a charity game, I understand there's got to be a bit of goodwill and that, but the referee must have been doing that for nothing. There were a couple of contentious decisions I thought. That's the way it goes in them sort of games. Charity game, charity referee." "It's another one in the bank for us and that's what football's about," Bentleigh Greens coach John Anastasiadis said after the match. "That's what I told the boys at the start of the game. You play football to win trophies. Today was a good start for us. I thought South Melbourne was very good in the first 20 minutes. They really put the pressure on us. A bit more physical than normal, but after that we came into the game and I thought bar the last five minutes we were completely in control. Teams will go out and play aggressive and that's part of football. You've got to deal with it. "At the end of the day, the boys kept their heads. We go out there, we just want to play football and that's what they did. They knocked the ball around extremely well. We got into some great pockets. The rotations worked exceptionally well today. And all that was great to see from the boys today." Oakleigh Cannons season preview The club has re-signed a number of its grand final team, including playmaker Dusan Bosnjak GEORGE STOGIANNOU Anastasia Marinakou PHOTO: ALEX GRYMANIS. at Lakeside Oval, home of South Melbourne 'Hellas', in a legend's team," she says, praising the Jamaican sprinter who holds the title of the 'fastest man in the world', being the first athlete to gain gold medals in three consecutive Olympic games − in Beijing, London and Rio. The Greek runner is scheduled to compete in two endurance events on Saturday. She'll take part in the '3-minute distance challenge', as well as in the 1,600m 'Elimination Mile'. Having been through intense training, she says she's ready to make her Australian debut, stating that, although she misses Greece, she has not regretted her decision to come to a country where "athletes are taken care of". For more information on the event, visit the Nitro Athletic Tournament official site. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster. Preparing for his second season in charge at Oakleigh Cannons, coach Peter Tsolakis hopes to build on the success of making last season's grand final in his first season at the club. Last season the south-eastern suburban club exceeded most people's expectations by finishing fourth on the table, before embarking on a strong finals campaign which only ended with a 3-2 defeat in the grand final to South Melbourne at Lakeside. Speaking to Neos Kosmos, Tsolakis said: "Last year we probably flew under the radar a bit. No one expected us to end up where we did in the grand final. I think a lot of people were looking at the previous year and thinking Oakleigh wouldn’t be up there. But we put a string of wins together and we did quite well. This year I think it might be a different kettle of fish. Teams will be more wary of us and what we're capable of. As I mentioned to the players, we'll be hunted this year. Our objectives, again we want to perform as well as we did last year and we want to try and get into that top six and make the finals." Tsolakis and his coaching team have managed to retain the bulk of last season's squad, which he believes will mean stability and continuity. "Everyone knows what's expected ... the most important thing with clubs is stability. Once you get that then things start growing." The coach has sought to take the squad to the next level by adding four experienced players to the group, covering all areas of the park. In defence, he's brought in experienced 29-year-old English defender Tommy Matthews, who'll help fill the loss of Steven Topalovic. In midfield he's signed Iqbal Jawadi, who at 22 has already won titles with South Melbourne and Dandenong Thunder both under coach Chris Taylor. In Nate Foster, Tsolakis has signed a proven goalscorer of whom he says "will add a bit of spice to our strike force which was very, very good last year". Tsolakis has also signed another experienced NPL forward in pacey winger Shayan Alinejad, who has played for Melbourne Knights and most recently Bulleen Lions. In addition to these four experienced signings, the Cannons have signed Melbourne City youth duo Pep Marafioti and Eddie Sawari. Marafioti can play anywhere in the top three, while Sawari is a utility midfielder. Tsolakis believes the depth of the squad in all areas of the park is stronger this year and the experience that the new signings bring to squad will benefit the side in high pressure, crunch games. After reviewing last season, the Cannons coaching team decided that tightening up defensively was going to have to be a focus. "We've proven we can score goals and even in the grand final, I thought we created a few chances and maybe we were a bit stiff," says Tsolakis. "I think the one lesson is not to concede silly goals. That's one focus that myself, Con (Tangalakis) and Mark (Tsiorlas) have spoken about, that we want to try and tighten up defensively. Because we've also got goals in us − and last year we conceded a lot of silly goals which could've been detrimental to us." The Cannons will host the NPL 1 season opener at Jack Edwards this Thursday evening when it plays newly-promoted neighbour Kingston City.
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11 February 2017