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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 08 July 2017
28 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 8 JULY 2017 SPORT CON STAMOCOSTAS In May, South launched their official A-League bid with Roberto Carlos as their centrepiece. A star-studded event at the Crown Palladium featured Brazilian dancers, former Socceroos greats, and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Fox Sports provided live coverage of the event as South ramped up their message that they are ready for inclusion into the ALeague. The focus on South's A-League bid was again put into focus when the FFA Cup Round of 32 fixtures and broadcast details were announced. This week it was revealed that South Melbourne's Cup tie against Edgeworth Eagles at Lakeside will be the Fox Sports broadcast match on the traditional all-Member Federation opening night on Wednesday 26 July. The FFA Cup has given former NSL clubs a chance to strut their stuff on a national stage again. For a club like South Melbourne, the competition provides a spotlight to showcase their biggest selling points for A-League inclusion. But advisory board chairman Bill Papastergiadis says that while having a successful cup run is key, it's not the be-all and end-all when it comes to inclusion into the A-League. "It's important for us that we do well, but [that] we keep it in perspective with the big picture and the big aim," he said. While clubs like Bentleigh Greens and Heidelberg have featured in high profile games, South Melbourne has struggled to make an impact. Papastergiadis feels that in previous FFA Cup fixtures the club has had a target on its back. "There is no doubt there is ambition by clubs to beat South Melbourne and we see that in our domestic league," he says. "The games against South and the pressure that Chris Taylor and the players feel is something that happens week in, week out." South coach Chris Taylor says while there is some pressure to find success in the FFA Cup the club is more focused on rewarding its long-suffering fans. "The fact is that we want to be in the A-League," he says. "There is a lot of publicity around having Roberto Carlos spruiking the ambitions of a club like South Melbourne who are one of the biggest clubs in the last 50 years in Australia. "We owe it to our supporters and all the people that have gone through the hardship of being out of the topflight to put on a good performance and get us back in the limelight again. "We know that we've got a great stadium at Lakeside in the heart of Melbourne and we know that we tick all the boxes for a lot of reasons. But one of the things we need to do is be ambitious and start winning games and make sure that we get the exposure that our club desires." South Melbourne were only minutes away from being knocked out of the FFA Cup in May and missing out on the lucrative round of 32 fixtures for a second year in a row. Taylor says Now is the time for FFA Cup run says South Melbourne South Melbourne’s unveiling of Brazilian football superstar Roberto Carlos as their A-League coach was signifi cant for showcasing their expansion bid credentials but their Lazarus-style comeback in the FFA Cup could prove even more noteworthy DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM ISSN 1321-1676 9 771321 167062 coaches and embrace Chris Taylor and embrace the players and talk about the club." With the off-field events done, Taylor is now looking ahead to the game against Edgeworth Eagles, and the Englishman is under no illusion that the Newcastle-based team will be a threat. "They are not going to lay down for us," he says. "The fact that it's at home gives us an advantage and we know [that] and we've had relative success on there. Our ambition is to progress as deep into this tournament as we can. We'd like to play an A-League team at some stage albeit on our ground, that would show what we've got to offer." Star player Nic Epifano is confident that South can bring their NPL form to the FFA Cup stage. "Of course, I believe we can win," says the winger. "We have a great group of players and have been the benchmark team in our competition for the past three to four years with the number of trophies we have won. "Playing at Lakeside in a proper stadium and on a good pitch will allow the quality of both teams to be on full show and it should be a cracking game for everyone watching. Obviously South Melbourne have a huge fan base so with them behind us it definitely gives us a little bit of an advantage." This season Taylor created a South Melbourne squad with one eye to the future with young players he believes could be A-League ready if South's A-League bid is accepted. But one player who he thinks is ready now is Epifano. "We always rave about Nic," he says. "He is certainly one of the most talented players at our level. He's certainly got the ability to go to the next level, along with the like of Jess Daley, Nick Pavlou, and Stefan Zinni. He is coming along really well and then there [are] the experienced boys like Milos Lujic and Luke Adams who is an international from New Zealand. We've got a nice blend and some of the younger boys will be attracting attention from the ALeague." PHOTO: KOSTAS DEVES coming back from 4-1 down to win 5-4 against Dandenong City shows how important the competition is to the club. "We experienced every emotion there is to experience in football from the lowlights to the highlights," he says. "If we lost at that stage again it would've been another year and another disappointment but to turn it around in another seven or eight minutes it was something I had never experienced in my life before. I have no doubt that game will live long in the memory of our supporters." Papastergiadis believes that result highlighted what an amazing week the club had, particularly as it coincided with Carlos' arrival in Melbourne for their A-League bid launch. "It's exciting times to have the most thrilling match in the FFA Cup history," says the bid chairman. "Then to have Roberto Carlos with us a few days later, then the event at the Palladium and live coverage from Fox Sports and to continue that success on the field, since then it has been an amazing time for the supporters and the club itself." "We were enthralled with Roberto Carlos; he proved to be a humble interested individual who had a good character. We were very grateful to have him beside us, and to train our juniors and to look at our facilities once again as well as speak with our Since the NSL's demise, South Melbourne have been highlighting the off-field reason it should be playing in Australian's top tier. But Epifano feels it's the players turn to showcase the club's top-tier credentials. "This is a great chance for South as a club, and the players involved, to prove that we belong in the ALeague and can play on the big stage," says the 22-year-old. "South is a big club with a rich history and it is important to have a deep cup run to reinforce the prospect of South being a part of the ALeague in the future. "A good cup performance from myself would hopefully put clubs on alert that I have the quality to play in the league. It's just a matter of someone taking a chance on you and you never know who is watching these games, so I'm looking forward to showcasing my talents on the big stage."
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