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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 02 September 2017
26 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 2017 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Hercules aims to vanquish Thunder in NPL 2 Grand Final Northcote City coach Zeljko Kuzman says his players are looking to put the icing on the cake of a successful season. PHOTO: NORTHCOTE CITY FACEBOOK Northcote City players celebrate their NPL 2 West title win. PHOTO: ANDY BROWNBILL / NORTHCOTE CITY FACEBOOK GEORGE STOGIANNOU The recently crowned NPL 2 West champion will attempt to turn back the hands of time this coming Sunday at Knights Stadium when they go up against NPL 2 East champion Dandenong Thunder to decide the overall NPL 2 Champion for 2017. As Northcote coach Zelkjo Kuzman explains, "We're really looking forward to Sunday. We haven't beaten Thunder since 2013. It's been a while. So it would be nice to duplicate the success of the Northcote championship winning team of 2013." That season, Northcote won their only VPL title and it followed on from Dandenong Thunder's one and only VPL championship win in 2012. In fact both teams have followed a similar trajectory since winning titles just before the introduction of the NPL. Each failed to flourish in the new NPL, suffering relegation to NPL 2. Both however have proven their resilience and bounced back quickly, in Northcote's case after just one season. And Northcote managed to do it with some style, leading throughout in a long 28-game season, from start to finish with a largely rebuilt squad under new coach Kuzman. Speaking to Neos Kosmos, Kuzman reflected on the season's success, "It's a well known fact we were the hunted from Round 1, in top spot all the way through. I don't think it's been done at NPL 2 level before. In terms of dealing with that level of expectation, week in week out, knowing that teams are going to play above themselves, all I can feel is a sense of pride with the way the whole club, players, and staff went about their business." Kuzman felt that the quality of recruitment was a major factor in the squad gelling so quickly. "Bringing good people into the club, to buy into not only the football philosophy but our values. I felt if we got the balance right, got the right personnel to play the style of football we wanted to play, we could be a real force." Kuzman elaborated on the style of football Northcote focused on developing, "We wanted to control possession. It was a possessionbased style of football that is really dictating the terms of play. When we didn't have the ball, we really put emphasis in controlling the game with- out the ball. To making play predictable, to ensure we were always working as a unit in a very proactive, positive style of football. Most importantly the high energy and mobility of our team was at the core of all that." And so to Sunday's grand final match against Dandenong Thunder. Despite both teams having achieved the main goal of promotion back to the top tier, coach Kuzman says he and his players are both looking forward to the final and placing a significant amount of importance on it. "It's not every week that you get to play for another trophy. For a lot of these players, it's probably the first time they've won a piece of silverware this year. Being able to lift another trophy is very important for this group and for myself. It will be the icing on the cake. But it's also a celebration of the year that was. Dandy Thunder have had a magnificent year in their conference. We've had a really good year as well. We're looking to enjoy the occasion, number one. But also treat it with a significant amount of importance." Kickoff is 5.00 pm tomor- row Sunday 3 September at Knights Stadium, Somers St, Sunshine North, VIC. Bomber Zaharakis signs on for another four years at Windy Hill Bombers’ midfielder David Zaharakis has signed a new four-year contract with the Bombers which will keep him at the club till the end of season 2021. On the eve of the Bombers’ return to finals football this weekend in an elimination final against the Swans, Zaharakis commented, "It's fantastic to get the contract finalised on the eve of what will hopefully be a very exciting finals series for us. We've been starved of finals success for such a long time, so it's time for action and we hope all the hard work, effort and commitment we've put in this year pays off over the coming weeks." Drafted to the club in 2008, the lifelong Essendon supporter has clocked up 169 senior games and has enjoyed one of his most consistent seasons in 2017. Bombers fans will no doubt be pleased that Zahjarakis has chosen to recommit to the Dons rather than opting to become a free agent. "Essendon has been such a significant part of my life for a long time. I grew up barracking for the Bombers and over the past nine years, I've been able to live my childhood dream. We have such a proud history of success and it's our job as players to ensure that tradition continues." The 27-year-old Zaharakis is expected to play a key leadership role at the club. Senior coach John Worsfold told Essendonfc.com.au that Zaharakis sets a great example to his teammates. "David's preparation is elite, so it's no surprise he's been such a consistent performer over a long period of time. Last year he carried a significant workload in the midfield and played an important leadership role not only supporting Brendon Goddard, but also mentoring his younger teammates. He's had a slightly different role this year which he's adapted to really well. His running power and skill level makes him a central part of our midfield group for not only this season, but pleasingly the next four years as well."
26 August 2017
09 September 2017