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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 25 November 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 25 NOVEMBER 2017 27 SPORT Sporting bundle Olympiakos out of Europe Portugal’s Sporting CP has ended Greek club Olympiakos’ hopes of gaining a place in the Europa League with a 3-1 win over the Greeks at the Jose Alvadale Stadium on Wednesday evening in their Group D Champions League tie. Olympiakos needed to win the match in Lisbon to have any hope of finishing third in the group and qualifying for the Europa League after Christmas. Instead, the loss consigns Olympiakos to bottom of a difficult group for the Greek Champion which includes both Barcelona and Juventus as well as Sporting CP. The Piraeus-based club matched Sporting in the first half of Wednesday’s match but came unstuck just before the break when they conceded twice in rapid succession to goals from Sporting’s Dutch forward Bas Dost and Brazilian Bruno Cesar. Dost added a second goal with a towering header in the 66th-minute to extend Sporting’s lead to a commanding 3-0, before the Greeks’ Portuguese veteran Vadis Odjidja scored a late consolation. Postecoglou explains why it was the right time to resign The loss means Olympia- kos’s European campaign ends in disappointment for its supporters, before Christmas, when it plays its final group game at home to Italian giant Juventus on 5 December. There was also disappointment for APOEL fans when they witnessed their team’s crushing 6-0 loss at home to Spanish giant Real Madrid. Despite the loss, APOEL are still in the running to finish third in Group H. The eight teams that have already qualified for the next Round of 16 in the Champions League are Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Besiktas, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, and Paris St Germain which dished out a crushing 7-1 defeat of Celtic. Zerefos scores Newcastle Toyota 86 Drive Porsche racer and entrepreneur Aaron Zerefos will race in the fifth and final round of the Toyota 86 Racing Series at the inaugural Coates Hire Newcastle 500 this weekend. Zerefos previously competed in the Toyota 86 Series at last year’s Sydney 500 at the Sydney Olympic Park street circuit. The Sydney socialite says the 86 round will provide valuable seat time ahead of next year’s Bathurst 12 Hour, in which he will make his seventh start. “It’s always good to get some extra mileage at this time of the year, to get myself in the zone ahead of the 12 Hour,” Zerefos said. “While I was at the Melbourne Cup, I got a call offering me a drive in the Toyota 86 and I jumped at the opportunity. “I had a lot of fun competing at the Sydney 500 last year and Newcastle is shaping up to be an awesome event; like all street circuits, it will be a challenge but there will be great expo- sure competing in front of the supercars audience. “Because it’s a brand-new track, everyone will be on a level playing field; I will be doing a track walk to learn as much as I can before I hit the circuit for practice and qualifying.” The Toyota 86 Racing Series is a five-round competition that operates as a support category to the Virgin Australia Supercars series. Round 5 began yesterday morning. Today, Saturday 25 November the first 11 lap race starts at 9.55 am and the second will take place at 2.00 pm. The qualifiers will compete tomorrow Sunday 26 November at 9.40 am. When Ange Postecoglou, having announced his resignation as Socceroos boss at Wednesday’s media conference, was asked by a reporter who he thought should succeed him in the job, Postecoglou politely declined to answer, explaining he wished to leave clean air behind, and not saddle the new coach with any baggage. And so Ange exited, leaving behind not so much clean air as a fog of speculation and hypothesis for although his exit was foreshadowed in the build up to and aftermath of the play-offs against Syria and Honduras, it left the Australian football community surprised and baffled and for the most part saddened that the captain of the ship wouldn’t be sailing with his crew to Russia. Many observers were left scratching their heads, unsurprisingly when even FFA CEO David Gallop said he was disappointed and puzzled that Postecoglou won’t be going to Russia. Gallop was fulsome in his praise of Postecoglou’s achievements saying “Ange’s record speaks for itself, including Asian Cup championship triumph and World Cup qualification. More importantly, Ange, you gave our fans a sense of optimism with your appreciation of the bigger picture of the sport and sometime today and reach out to all of them.” Postecoglou gave some insight into the pressures he had been under in the job as Socceroos boss, at the same time alluding to the weight of responsibility he felt as an Australian-raised coach, trying to achieve World Cup qualification. “It’s been a really hard four Ange Postecoglou speaks during a press conference to announce his resignation from the Socceroos. PHOTO: AAP IMAGE/DAN HIMBRECHTS the game’s overall strategic goals. As a CEO you get reward by getting the opportunity to appoint people to big jobs and seeing them succeed, so I’m especially proud of the fact we showed an Australian soccer coach could coach the Socceroos.” As he did through his Socceroos coaching career, Postecoglou once more followed his convictions, explaining to the gathered media that despite the decision to resign being a very tough one, he is convinced it’s the right one and not based on any single factor. “Overall I think its just an instinct; it’s the right time for me, right time for the team and the organisation. I think from that perspective, as tough as a decision it is, and it has been very tough, it just feels like the right time.” Making it even more difficult for Postecoglou is the obvious bond he shares with the staff and players who have shared the Socceroos journey over the last four years. “I just hope the players and staff don’t feel I’ve let them down with this decision, I think that’s the hardest thing for me to comprehend, you know, that they understand me and what I’m about and there’s acceptance that I’ve made a decision that I think is best for all parties.” Postecoglou told the media that he had yet to speak to the players. “It would be impossible for me to do. I couldn’t face them and speak to them about it. Their journey continues. I’ll contact them all years. I’ve had to invest everything into it, as you should. Coaching your own country has tremendous advantages but carries enormous responsibility. We’ve qualified for three World Cups in a row. I didn’t want to be the Australian coach that didn’t qualify for the fourth because then it casts aspersion on all Australian coaches that they can’t do the business. The weight of responsibility, with everything else that was going on, made me start thinking when the right time to exit would be, I said probably the last six months. But at the same time it made me even more determined to get the job done.” The FFA has indicated it isn’t in a hurry to appoint Postecoglou’s successor. It has its own governance issues to sort out over the coming weeks, and once the dust has settled it will then likely appoint a new Socceroos coach. Kokkinakis gains wild card entry into Australian Open Greek Australian tennis fans can look forward to cheering on another homegrown talent in addition to Nick Kyrgios, at the Australian Open this summer. Adelaide-born Thanasi Kokkinakis will join his friend and compatriot Kyrgios at the 2018 Australian Open having gained a wild card entry into the tournament. For 21-year-old Kokkinakis, his wild card entry marks a welcome return to the event after shoulder and abdominal injuries in recent years saw him miss the last two Australian Opens. Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt broke the good news to Kokkinakis last Sunday. Another player set for the Australian Open in January is Nick Kyrgios who last month announced he was cutting his season short in a bid to overcome a troublesome hip injury. Meanwhile, during the Kokkinakis said “I’m really grateful to Tennis Australia for the Aussie Open wildcard and can’t wait to get back out there and compete in front of my friends and family. It’s been tough missing the last two Australian Opens especially because it’s my favourite tournament and I was 17 when I played my first one. It’s been a pretty tough couple of years with my body but I’ve been working hard to get it right.” Kokkinakis is currently ranked 211 in the world and is hoping to progress beyond the second round of the Open which he reached in 2014 and 2015, when he first broke onto the scene. week, there was good news for 20-year-old Greek tennis player Valentini Grammatikopoulos whose win in a challenger level tournament in Senegal has boosted her ranking up some 30 places from her current ranking of 209, thereby guaranteeing her a place in the qualifying draw of the Australian Open this summer. Grammatikopoulos has won eleven singles and fourteen doubles titles on the ITF tour in her career so far.
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