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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 25 February 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 25 FEBRUARY 2017 27 SPORT NPL: South goes west in search of first win Last weekend's Rd 2 ,NPL 1 action left both of last season's two grand finalists South Melbourne FC and Oakleigh Cannons still in search of their first wins of the season ahead of this weekend's Rd 3 matches. Undoubtedly the surprise result of the round was the Port Melbourne Sharks 4-0 win over the reigning champion South Melbourne last Friday night, thanks to a brace of goals to Oleksiy Khrapko, and singles to Andreas Govas and Christopher Cristaldo. Sharks coach Dom Barba said after the match: "In terms of the way we played tonight and the way we carried out instructions and discipline, it was probably one of the best performances I've ever coached. So I'm really happy with that result." The Sharks played their Round 3 match last night at home against the Cannons who last week again gave up a two goal lead late in the match to settle for a 2-2 draw against Bulleen Lions. The Sharks-Cannons result was unavailable at the time of going to print, as was the result of yesterday's Bentleigh Greens-Melbourne Knights clash. of Monaco's youth system, Mbappe has been given the "new Thierry Henry" tag, and while other players have found the comparison crippling, the 18-year-old is reveling in the spotlight. Arguably a better, more complete player than Henry was at his age, Mbappe is unbelievably self-assured on the pitch and possesses more than a little of that Thierry-swagger. Fast as lightning and with an eye for a decisive finish, he is without a doubt the jewel in Monaco's crown. A fascinating prospect. Falcao re-discovers killer instinct: Seemingly a spent force when he returned to Monaco, after two nightmarish seasons in the Premier League with Manchester United and Chelsea, Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim has re-ignited the fire in El Tigre and in return, the Colombian has fired Monaco to the top of the French league with 24 goals in all competitions this season. At the City of Manchester, Falcao may have missed a penalty, but beyond that he was absolutely terrifying, leveling the score after Raheem Sterling's opener, before lobbing home the goal of the night in the 61st minute, with an ef- South's heavy loss to Port last week has left it second-last on the table and it will be determined to get its first win of the season this evening when it travels to Knights stadium in Sunshine to take on second placed Avondale FC. Against the Sharks, South missed injured regular defenders and leaders Michael Eager and Brad Norton and they may have to go into the Avondale match without the services of those two. Avondale will be looking to claim a third win in a row and a second big scalp in a row after last week taking all three points away from Heidelberg United with a 1-0 win at the Village. The Bergers will be looking to bounce back this evening with a good result away to newly-promoted St Albans Saints, which has yet to open its account in the new season. The Bergers will be without Andrew Cartanos who suffered a hamstring injury last week against Avondale. "We need to be bit more clinical in that last third," Bergers coach George Katsakis said after that match. "Our set pieces need some work in terms of our defensive duties. We'll work on fort that was nothing short of world class. El Tigre is back. Pity the defenders that stand in his way. Guardiola will be shopping for defensive recruits in the summer: They say money doesn't buy you happiness and my word, was that evident on Tuesday night. England international John Stones and Argentine bruiser Nicolas Otamendi have cost City close to 80 million pounds in transfer fees, but look far from being the defensive pairing Guardiola needs to build a championship winning team on. While a case can be made about their job being all the more difficult when paired with a selection of mediocre full-backs (at best) and a second-rate goalkeeper, Otamendi and Stones were exposed time and again by a rampant Monaco side, despite City's blistering offense eventually coming to the rescue and Stones grabbing a goal himself. Stones may still be viewed as a work in progress by Guardiola, but any offer for Otamendi in the summer, will surely be seriously considered. City's attacking trio provide a mouth-watering view into club's future: While Sergio Aguero's contribution can- that during the week and hopefully we'll come back with another win and find ourselves again and work towards a target." None of the newly-promoted clubs have won a game yet although that could change on Monday evening at the Grange when Kingston City hosts North Geelong Warriors. Kingston is yet to taste defeat after playing out an exciting 3-3 home draw against Green Gully last Monday. Damian Iaconis, Velibor Mitrovic and Erhan Yalaz each scored for City which was disappointed not to score a win over a nine-man Gully. Kingston will be without full back Daniel Bennett for some weeks after he suffered a broken collarbone in the clash with Gully. In late developing news during the week, Gully coach Arthur Papas announced his resignation as manager of Green Gully to take up an appointment as an assistant coach at Saudi Arabian club Al-Ettifaq. Today's NPL 2 action features a Hellenic derby between undefeated NPL 2 W league leader Northcote City and Brunswick City this afternoon at John Cain reserve. not be underestimated on the night, the truth of the matter is that it looks like the Argentine may be sold in the summer. With Guardiola favouring hot-shot Gabriel Jesus (who would have most probably have led the line, if he hadn't been ruled out for the remainder of the season) as his spearhead for next season, it was the trio of Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne that truly mesmerised City fans on Tuesday night. With Sterling and Sane offering face-numbing speed on the attacking flanks, De Bruyne was able to recover from his slow start to the game and gradually impose his presence on the field. Enjoying his role as the maestro (with the precious help of David Silva of course) in a feverishly attacking side, De Bruyne looks to be finding a fantastic code of communication with his two wingerattackers and their ability to constantly play off each other bodes well for City's offensive future. Enjoy this Monaco side while you still can. They won't be together for long: A 5-3 scoreline is hardly an easy one to overturn, even for a side as offensively able as Monaco, Northcote has made a flying start to the season with three straight wins under new coach Zeljko Kuzman. His opposite number at Brunswick, George Karkaletsis said ahead of the Spartan-Hercules derby, "I am pretty confident actually". "The squad is confident going into this week. I think the boys generally get up for the bigger games. I'm not saying Whittlesea wasn't a big game, I think the boys did enough to win it." Another match sure to attract interest is today's NPL 2 E clash between Box Hill United and third-placed Dandenong Thunder. An undefeated United is still looking for its first goal and win of the season after three scoreless draws. Box Hill fans will be hoping for a repeat of the last time these two sides met when Box Hill ended Thunder's remarkable unbeaten run last season. "We're pretty confident about this game," Box Hill’s assistant coach Chris Yena said ahead of the match. "We feel we've got the right structures, the right players. We know what they're about and how they play. We're going to be up for it at home." but that doesn't take away from the fact that Leonardo Jardim's side is currently one of the most exciting teams in world football. It's too bad that this current lineup will not be together beyond this summer. Brimming with home-grown talent, Monaco can expect a barrage of offers, once the transfer window opens again, for nearly every one of their players that appeared at the City of Manchester stadium on Tuesday night. Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva, Fabinho, Djibril Sidibe, Benjamin Mendy and Tiemoue Bakayoko are all being closely monitored by Europe's top clubs and for anyone that has watched even a handful of Monaco games this season, it's hardly surprising. No other club in the world currently has a better selection of young, top-price talent. It's going to be a busy summer in Monaco. It all leaves us waiting for the rematch in Monaco, a game in which City need to score to go through, if we are to believe the words of Pep Guardiola and a game in which Jardim's side needs to score quickly in order to blow everything wide open once more. Frankly, we can't wait. Socceroos face Brazil at the MCG June will provide Ange Postecoglou's Socceroos with plenty of opportunities for the team to measure itself against the world's best. Not only will the Socceroos take on Germany, Cameroon and Chile in the Confederations Cup in Russia, but it was announced on Thursday that just six days before the Germany game on 19 June in Russia, the Socceroos will host five-time World Champion Brazil in a friendly at the MCG in Melbourne. The 13 June Socceroos -Brazil game follows just four days after the Super Classico MCG match-up between Argentina and Brazil at the ‘G, on 9 June, and Australia's World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia in Adelaide on 8 June. At Thursday morning's conference announcing the fixture, the Victorian Minister for tourism and Major events, and Minister for Sports, John Eren responded to concerns that the touring Brazilian and Argentinian teams may not be at full strength and may be missing some of their major drawcards after a hectic European season. "We've made sure that, where possible of course ... they are most likely to be here and that's exactly what we wanted in the contract to make sure those calibre of players attend this very important event. "This is nations playing against nations, there's a lot of pride at stake here. No one wants to lose those games. "It may be called a friendly but we know the rivalry that exists between Argentina and Brazil and both teams want the best teams they can bring because this is going to be telecast to the whole world." The minister expressed some satisfaction at the news of Barcelona's recent heavy loss to PSG in the round of 16 UEFA Champions league, making the final scheduled for 3 June almost beyond reach for the Catalan giants. This makes the appearance of Barcelona's Brazilian and Argentine superstars, Neymar, Messi and Mascherano, a greater possibility for their national teams for the matches down under. "When I heard that news I was very happy," Eren said with a smile on Thursday. "Not that I don't like Barcelona, but the fact that they lost 4-0 means that those players may be free. "What's bad news for some is good news for others so I got very excited about that, I must say." While the MCG's seating capacity lends itself to international games of this magnitude, which are expected to draw bumper crowds, it will be interesting to see what the state of the MCG surface will be like and whether an AFL pitch will be up to the high standards demanded by Socceroos boss Postecoglou, and expected by stellar talents such as Messi, Aguerro, Mascherano, Neymar and Coutinho. Tickets for the BrazilSocceroos match are due to go on sale on 3 March, while tickets for the Brazil-Argentina game are reportedly selling out fast. The Socceroos at their boot camp in Brazil. PHOTO: FOOTBALL FEDERATION AUSTRALIA.
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