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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 09 June 2018
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 9 JUNE 2018 27 SPORT Socceroos head to Budapest for final World Cup tune-up match GEORGE STOGIANNOU The long countdown to the Socceroos' date with destiny against France in its opening World Cup match nears completion on Sunday morning when the Socceroos take on the 49th-ranked team in the world, Hungary in Budapest. It will be the Socceroos' final tune-up match and follows an intensive three-week training camp in humid conditions in the Turkish southern coastal resort town of Antalya. In camp, the Socceroos' players and coaching staff have been working on putting together defensive structures and attacking shape in preparation for the all-important first match against the formidable French team. Although the Hungarians have played their part in football history, when, as the 'Magical Magyars' of the 50s, they helped reshape and progress the game through their tactical and coaching innovations, the current side won't be playing any part in the Russian World Cup having failed to qualify from a group which included Portugal and Switzerland. However it will play a small part in helping the Socceroos to prepare for France. So what can Socceroos fans expect from the Nemzeti Tizenegy (National Eleven) when they tune in to watch in the early hours of Sunday morning? Hungarian Coach Georges Leekens has shown a willingness to experiment with a variety of formations in the The Socceroos celebrate a goal in last week’s friendly against the Czech Republic. PHOTO: SOCCEROOS.COM team's three friendly matches this year which have included narrow losses to Kazakhstan and Scotland followed by a most recent 1-1 away draw against Belarus. Leekens has deployed a dif- ferent formation in each of these games including a 3-43, 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1. Key players in the team include Hoffenheim forward Adam Szalai, tough Bologna midfield anchor Adam Nagy, right winger and skipper Balazs Dzsudzsak, and midfielder Llaszlo Kleinheisler. It will be interesting to see how the Socceroos approach this match. In last week's friendly win over the Czech Republic, they showed they could absorb early pressure without conceding, something they'll need to do against France next week. Will they adopt the same approach in their start against Hungary or deploy a more attacking approach as they're expected to do in trying to pick up a win or two against their other group opponents in Russia, Peru and Denmark. Whatever the case, now that the final 23-player squad has been announced, and on the eve of the tournament, fans can expect to see a less intense match between the Socceroos and the Hungarians who won't be going to Russia. Nevertheless there are still positions in the Socceroos line-up to be contested. The recovery of striker Tommy Juric from a knee injury, the recall of Jamie MacLaren, and the emergence of Andrew Nabbout gives coach Van Marwijk more options up front with veteran Tim Cahill likely to be deployed off the bench. Out wide the experienced Leckie and Kruse seem assured of starting with the versatile Dimi Petratos available as backup. Tom Rogic looks to have the advanced midfield role, with Jackson Irvine as backup, while in the central midfield positions, Van Marwijk seems to be leaning towards the more mobile Mass Luongo rather than skipper Mile Jedinak, partnering Aaron Mooy. Jedinak is tipped to slot back into a central defender's role alongside vicecaptain Trent Sainsbury with Mourdoukoutas signs with Babbel’s Wanderers GEORGE STOGIANNOU Current Young Socceroos and former Sydney Olympic central defender Tass Mourdoukoutas has signed his first professional football contract by inking a twoyear deal with A-League club Western Sydney Wanderers. The 19-year-old, who has been with WSW since last year when he joined from the Sydney Olympic senior team, has since played mainly for the WSW Y-League and NPL team. His impressive performances have earned a promotion to the senior ranks. Earlier this year, the teenager, who lists as his favourite players the likes of Sergio Busquets, Yaya Toure and Mousa Dembele, made his senior debut coming on no better person for me to learn off." Reflecting on his A-League debut earlier this year Mouroukoutas said, "The experience in Wellington was … it's hard to describe. But even coming on for a few short minutes was a bit frantic. But I really enjoyed that." Tass Mourdoukoutas. PHOTO: WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS as a sub in a match against Wellington Phoenix. "I'm honoured to play for this club and I'm excited to get underway. It's a really big moment for me," Mour- doukoutas said. "Like any other young player, I'd really like to set myself up in the club's Hyundai A-League team and really make my mark. First and foremost, as long as you're working hard, you see what the older players are doing and try and learn off them. "A new coach means a fresh start and especially with the pre-season coming up, it's a good time for us to try to impress him. He (Markus Babbel) was a defender as well so there's His signing comes off the back of last month's departures from the Wanderers of fellow central defender 21-year-old Jonathan Aspropotamitis, and capped Socceroo forward Chris Ikonomidis. Aspropotamitis departed the Wanderers to join the Central Coast Mariners, whilst Ikonomidis' short two-and-a-half month loan from Lazio came to an end. Mark Milligan and Matt Jurman as further options. Josh Risdon and Aziz Behich look to have secured the fullback positions with Degenak and Meredith as back up. Daniel Azani's inclusion in the final squad of 23 caps a meteoric rise for the 19-yearold winger and it will be interesting to see if he gets more game time against the Hungarians or whether his inclusion in the squad is primarily to give the talented teen the experience being part of the world's biggest football tournament.
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