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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 24 February 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 24 FEBRUARY 2018 27 SPORT Eliadis: I bleed blue Greek Australian footballer Tiffany Eliadis is buzzing to be involved in South Melbourne Women’s National Premier League title defence CON STAMOCOSTAS Tiffany Eliadis was a regular member of South Melbourne's 2017 premiership and grand final winning team that impressively won the double in their first season in the Women's National Premier League (WNPL). Ahead of the 2018 campaign, Eliadis told Neos Kosmos she was excited to be involved with South Melbourne in their bid to retain last season's championship. "The plan is to try and win the title as well as to try and keep our reputation and momentum from last year going," she says. "Our coach and president and everyone at the club supports us as long as we are doing our best and playing our hardest, our goal, of course, is to win the championship again." Eliadis has been with South's Women's side for the past six years and says winning the club's maiden WNPL title last season was a dream come true. "I bleed blue," she says. "It was a huge season. It was huge for the club, huge for the players and huge for everybody else as no-one thought we could do it. It was something I will never forget. The club itself is built on belief that doesn't just come from the coaching staff, it comes from our hearts, including our president Gabrielle Giuliano who has belief in every single one of us." Eliadis spends the other half of her year playing in the WLeague with Melbourne Victory with whom she has been since the 2013/2014 season. This term Victory finished in seventh place, nine points behind the coveted finals spot, but looking back, Eliadis says she was grateful for the expe- Eliadis celebrates a goal. PHOTO: SOUTH MELBOURNE FC rience. "The season didn't go as planned in terms of where we finished on the ladder, but it was good to be able to play in the W-League over the summer season," she said. "While I didn't get as much game time as I had hoped for I feel the season for me has gone pretty well. Spending time with those players, especially those who are internationals, you can always learn a thing or two, so I'm really happy." One of Eliadis' biggest fans is her South Melbourne teammate from last season Matildas star striker Lisa De Vanna who says the 23-year-old has loads of talent. "She is a great player," she says. "She is feisty, she wants to win, she is competitive. I really enjoyed playing with her. She is technically gifted and she is strong. She also challenges well for balls in the air. She is a very good player and has potential." In terms of her long-term aspirations Eliadis says her football career may see her taking Cannons primed to fire from start GEORGE STOGIANNOU Oakleigh Cannons are determined to hit the ground running this NPL season in contrast to their previous two seasons. The squad is coming off a solid preseason in which they played nine practise matches including two against visiting professional Chinese teams Guangzhou R & F and Wuhan Zall, meeting the latter in Brisbane. Cannons' coach Peter ‘Gus’ Tsolakis is about to begin his third season at the helm and told Neos Kosmos on the eve of its opening round match away to Melbourne Knights, "Our main focus, our mantra, is that we want to get a good start to the season, which in the previous two seasons we haven't." The team has made finals football in each of the two seasons in which he and joint coach Con Tangalakis have been in charge. But last season, after a winless first four rounds, the team had to rely on a strong end to the season to just finish inside the top six. Tsolakis acknowledges that it won't be easy playing against a rejuvenated Knights side, followed by the four top sides of last season, Bentleigh, South Melbourne, Heidelberg, and Green Gully in the opening five rounds. But he adds, "I'm not concerned about playing bigger opposition because I know we lift and can match anyone in the league." He cites the two preseason practice matches as evidence, "we matched those teams and for 75 minutes you probably couldn't tell who was the professional team and who wasn't. What I'm more concerned about is the mindset when we come up against (and no disrespect) the lesser teams. I think we just drop our guard a little bit. If we can rectify that, and get a good start to the season, I think we can finish top half." Like preseason favourite and reigning national NPL champions, Heidelberg United, the Cannons have been able to maintain a stable squad with a minimum of player turnover. Defender Adrian Chiappetta and midfielder Dom D'Angelo have departed for Kingston City, while Oakleigh has recruited forwards Wade Dekker from Green Gully, Ryan Paczkowski from Mornington and formerly Bentleigh Greens, as well as promising young defender James Karvellis from Port Melbourne. In addition, the club has retained their two visa players from last season, centre back Janiel Da Silva and midfielder Kostas Stratomitros, as well as exBentleigh Greens skipper Wayne Wallace who joined from Hume City mid-season last year. Tsolakis commented on the squad, "I think [retaining the squad] is part of the build-up of being successful. In any workplace, the fruit of the labour comes after a couple of years. We've managed to maintain the majority and we've added a couple. If anything, we've strengthened our squad rather than weakening it. The other thing is we're a relatively tall team this year. We've got a bit of presence about us. So set pieces, for and against us, we've got the ability to combat any team. That's another big plus for us." Tsolakis is also satisfied with the squad depth going into the new season saying that there are two players in every position. The coach believes this will keep the club in good stead going into the midlatter part of the season particularly as the club is also aiming for a deeper run in the FFA Cup. "It's a directive from the board that we want to try and progress in the FFA Cup as much as we can. We've bombed out on that the last couple of years. That's another reason we've got a pretty healthy squad in terms of numbers and depth. If you progress in that you might play another five or six games, so add that to the 26 league matches. You need a good squad. I feel we've got that." a different direction. "My new goal is to influence the younger generation as a coach and a mentor," she says. "Who knows, one day I might take it overseas and coach in a country where being able to develop players and watch them grow could be a job. That would be the biggest achievement for me."
17 February 2018
03 March 2018