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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 30 September 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 30 SEPTEMBER 2017 27 SPORT The Socceroos face their hour of truth at Hang Jebat Stadium in Malaysia this coming Thursday evening when they meet Syria in the first leg of the Asian playoff for World Cup qualification. Thursday night's clash in Malaysia will be followed five days later by the home leg in Sydney on Tuesday 10 October. Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou has named his final 23-player squad for the twoleg qualification tie to determine which team will go on to meet the fourth-placed CONCACAF team for the final play-off. Into the squad come five new faces who missed selection for the last two group qualifiers against Japan and Thailand. Four of the five are defenders leading to speculation that Postecoglou may at some stage revert to a back four. Left backs Aziz Behich and Craig Goodwin come into the squad and will be expected to challenge Brad Smith for that position. Uncapped central defender Matthew Jurman gets his first call-up at the expense of Matthew Spiranovic. Right back Josh Risdon is also recalled ahead of Alex Gersbach and may be utilised if Postecoglou opts to push Matthew Leckie into a more advanced position down the right flank. The exception to the inclusion of defenders is the callup of Ukrainian-born striker Nikita Rukavytsya who has been playing in the Israeli premier league with Maccabi Nikita Rukavytsya has been called into the Caltex Socceroos squad for the first time since 2013. PHOTO: SOCCEROOS Socceroos boss Postecoglou makes changes to squad for World Cup qualification play-offs Haifa. The 30-year-old, pacey left footer made his senior debut with Perth Glory, then went overseas to play in Europe before returning to Western Sydney Wanderers for the 2014-15 season. He replaces Jamie McLaren in the squad as a speedy at- tacking option off the bench. Missing from the squad is skipper Mile Jedinak who is still struggling for game time at his club Aston Villa as he recovers from a groin injury. "The plan was to qualify directly, but if we get four more pressure games it will do us a world of good,'' Postecoglou said. "Syria are a good side, like most teams in Asia now. They'll sit back and make it hard for us. Nothing will surprise us. "Our approach won't change, we'll try and take the game to them, that will hopefully put us on the front foot when we come here. "We'll go hard at it in that first game and see if they cope with that. "I am confident that we have a group of players capable of achieving our goal of progressing to the next stage of qualification." SOCCEROOS SQUAD V SYRIA Goalkeepers Mat Ryan (Brighton, ENG), Mitch Langerak (Levante, SPA), Danny Vukovic (Genk, BEL) Defenders Aziz Behich (Bursaspor, TUR), Milos Degenek (Yokohama F Marinos, JAP), Mathew Jurman (Suwon Bluewings, KOR), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney), Trent Sainsbury (Jiangsu Suning, CHI), Brad Smith (Bournemouth, ENG), Bailey Wright (Bristol, ENG) Midfielders Mark Milligan (Melbourne Victory), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield, ENG), Massimo Luongo (QPR, ENG), Mustafa Amini (AGF, DEN), Craig Goodwin (Sparta Rotterdam, NET), Jackson Irvine (Hull City, ENG) Strikers Tim Cahill (Melbourne City), Tomi Juric (Luzern, SWI), Nikita Rukavytsya (Maccabi Haifa, ISR), Robbie Kruse (Bochum, GER), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin, GER), Tom Rogic (Celtic, SCO), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory) Omitted from original 30 Mark Birighitti (NAC Breda, NET) Alex Gersbach (Rosenborg, NOR), Ryan McGowan (Al-Sharjah, SAU), Mile Jedinak (Aston Villa, ENG), James Jeggo (Sturn Graz, AUT), Awer Mabil (Pacos de Ferreira, POR), Jamie Maclaren (Darmstadt, GER). Northcote City appoints Vassiliadis as new head coach GEORGE STOGIANNOU Newly promoted NPL 1 club Northcote City has wasted little time appointing experienced coach Eric Vassiliadis to the senior coaching position following the surprise departure of Zeljko Kuzman to Dandenong City. Vassiliadis returns to coaching following a 12 month break after a seven-year tenure as Port Melbourne Sharks senior coach. Joining him as an assistant coach will be former Hume City assistant coach David Chick. Speaking to Neos Kosmos in the week following his return to the NPL coaching ranks, Vassiliadis said, "Look, in isolation it's very exciting. But even moreso to take another, what I consider, big Greek club forward, given the year they had, excites me. I'm looking forward to making a real difference both on and off the park." Vassiliadis says he's very close with the former coaches of the club, and that the surprising change of coaching has all been done "in the right spirit". He says, that for him it was an easy decision to accept the job when it was offered. "As a former player, member of the culture, and I've always been fascinated by the things Northcote stands by - that was an easy decision. Secondly, I've got no doubt in my mind I've got some unfinished business as a coach, there's a personal ambition. Thirdly, it's an amazing time to be around Australian football with FFA Cups and the investment that this club's making in infrastructure, junior and women’s programmes and the passion it's got. So it was an easy one for me in the end. There's not a lot of really good jobs out there, and I think I've got one." The one regret that Vassiliadis says he had coaching at - this is about growing the whole football side on and off the park." New coaching team at Hercules (L-R) assistant coach David Chick and head coach Eric Vassiliadis. Port Melbourne is that the team didn't get to play finals football. Although that ambition still burns brightly within, he is also very conscious of the bigger picture in developing Northcote's future. He said, "I think we definitely want to not set limits as far as football is concerned. But I reckon there's a bigger project at hand at Northcote City. It's OK to set ambitious targets within the next 12 months, but in the next three to five years I want us [to be] consistently challenging. It's no longer a 12-month 'let's deliver on field success.' His break from the game has given Vassiliadis time to reflect upon his views about coaching. He says many of his principles haven't changed. He still believes strongly in the importance of building the right infrastructure around the players. "From physical infrastructural to the cultural stuff, surround yourself with good people. Get the best possible players and characters. And have a very clear and close with relationship with players and staff. That's my plan." He has no doubt that his assistant David Chick ticks all the boxes, describing him as technically and tactically second to none, and someone he has known for a long time and trusts as a human being. If there's anything that he feels that could change with his coaching, it's that, "I'm going to be a lot more pragmatic with my coaching, on the field." Vassiliadis is in the process of talking to all the players in Northcote's NPL 2 championship-winning squad. He says, "I want to give everybody the opportunity to share in the excitement that is NPL football. The players deserve that. Whether they're on the journey with us, is their prerogative. But everyone is going to get the chance to do it if they choose to take it up." He also acknowledges that the gap between NPL 2 and NPL 1 is significant and emphasises the need to recruit well. "We need to bolster the squad, because it's a big gap. You have to get the right balance between retaining players and signing new players. But it can be done, given what Kingston City did last season. That was a huge effort. It can be done!"
23 September 2017
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