Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 16 September 2017
28 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 16 SEPTEMBER 2017 SPORT DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM ISSN 1321-1676 9 771321 167062 PHOTOS: SOUTH MELBOURNE FC South Melbourne’s Marcus Schroen: FFA Cup or bust CON STAMOCOSTAS After finishing 2017 trophyless, South Melbourne’s Marcus Schroen says anything less than winning the FFA Cup will mean the season has been a failure inclusion. In the week since the Bentleigh Greens won the Victorian NPL grand final over Heidelberg, the colour green has been banned indefinitely at Lakeside. The two Greek-backed clubs have had a fierce rivalry all season with the Greens coming out on top in every competition. It started with a 2-1 loss to the Greens in the final of the FFV Community Shield, then Bentleigh won 2-0 in the semifinal of the Docherty Cup. Things didn't get better for South in the semifinal of the Victorian NPL when Bentleigh made the grand final after South lost a heartbreaker on penalties. But after the Greens were knocked out by the Western Sydney Wanderers, South fans do have the chance to earn some bragging rights via the FFA Cup. Ahead of Wednesday night's quarterfinal against Gold Coast City, and with the disappointment of recent results still fresh, elegant midfielder Marcus Schroen says nothing short of lifting silverware will be enough. "For me it's all about winning trophies,” he says. "An FFA Cup run is all well and good and it is quite a special thing but the only way that it could redeem our season is if we went on to win the FFA Cup. "It can be taken as a big statement, but it's just what we try hard to achieve week in and week out. It's just that a trophyless season is not good enough for a club of South Melbourne's stature. "I know the boys really felt it after the game against Bentleigh. It probably hit us pretty hard. If we can channel that and win the Gold Coast game and then give ourselves the chance to do something that has never been done before and create an upset and make the final. it would be quite the special feeling and a little bit of redemption for the season that we've had." While redemption for the lack of silverware is one thing, it also relates to South Melbourne's FFA Cup opponents Gold Coast City, who knocked the Victorians out of the competition in 2015. However, South’s coach Chris Taylor doesn't buy into vengeance being a motivating factor. "Revenge is irrelevant to me," he says. "It's just another game, I didn't think we played overly bad in that last game and when you lose in penalties it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. For me it's just about who the best team on the park is and playing to our strengths and if we play as well as I know we can play, we will hopefully get the right result." South's A-League chief Bill Papastergiadis believes South's first foray into the FFA Cup quarterfinals could deliver one of the club's greatest moment in their recent history. "This is the most exciting period for the club in the last 10 years. It's raised the excitement level to fever pitch," he says. "It's a story of redemption because it gives us the opportunity to wind back the clock and redeem ourselves for a game that was played there two years ago, almost to the day, and which delivered a great result for the Gold Coast. We're hopeful that we're going to turn that around this time and the club is incredibly focused for that game." South Melbourne's failure to win silverware in the same year they launched their ALeague bid could be seen as bad timing, but Papastergiadis says their FFA Cup form still presents a compelling case for "It adds significantly to that narrative of South Melbourne being in the A-League," he says "If we're able to make it through to the quarterfinals or semifinals of a national cup involving the A-League clubs then that reveals, from a playing perspective, that we have a team that can readily be shaped into an A-League team and that's important for any bid. "What it means is that the club has the infrastructure, the player knowledge, and the technical expertise through the coaching staff to be able to ready themselves into another league at a point in time. They doesn't need to reinvent themselves, they don't have to buy 100 players and they don't have to change the coaching and the technical development capabilities of the club. We are a ready-made club for the ALeague." South’s coach Taylor is confident that the mistakes of the past won't come back to haunt the club and he assured fans that this time Gold Coast won't be underestimated. "We know that they'll be motivated and they'll be up for it," he says. "I don't want to dwell on what has happened in the past. We'll use it to motivate ourselves but it's not anything that we are going to focus on. We're just going to go out do it for ourselves this time and hopefully get through to the semifinal." While this is South's first appearance in a FFA Cup quarter final, midfield maestro Schroen was part of Hume City's semifinal run in 2015 and he says that big game experience will be invaluable on Wednesday night. "It gives me confidence that the team we've got can go one better than what we did and really shake the competition up," he says. "When Hume played against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park, we were playing them on their home surface and I think the boys more than held their own for 90 mins. Victory were the best team in the competition at that point and we put in a performance that saw us go pretty close. They were only 1-0 up until extra time in the second half and when their next goal came it was via a pretty soft penalty. We had a few chances as well so it only gives me confidence with this group that we can do the same or even go one further and make it to the next round and make it to the final." A victory on Wednesday has the potential of South facing ALeague opposition in the FFA Cup final four but with the stakes raised high the club is staying composed says Papastergiadis. "What we want to do is create a story about football in this country," he says. "We're immensely proud of our players and our coaching staff. They have handled themselves with professionalism and they have played an exceptional brand of football this year. They have been a tad unlucky in some games hence why we didn't make it to the grand final. But on another level from the FFA Cup perspective we're in the mix to making it to the semifinal. "We don't want to look too far in advance because Gold Coast are a good team and they beat us last time. So, this is not a game we are taking lightly. But the prospects thereafter are very important for the club. It cannot be underestimated. It's a vital game and the interest is reflected in the hundreds of people that will make the journey to the Gold Coast. Hundreds and hundreds of Souths supporters will be turning up."
09 September 2017
23 September 2017