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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 14 July 2018
SPORT 26 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 14 JULY 2018 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Coach Michael Valkanis says mentoring Arzani as he made the move from youth to senior football was key in the player development. PHOTO: AAP/TRACEY NEARMY Jim Patikas is exactly the kind of player Australia needs right now. Emerging star Daniel Arzani, who has been mentored by Michael Valcanis, “has come on the scene and he creates things out of nothing,” says Peter Katholos. “We need players like him.” PHOTO: AAP/FOOTBALL FEDERATION AUSTRALIA “We need two or three attacking players and then Australia will be a force,” says Peter Katholos. Why the Socceroos need to be like the old school Greek Australian footballers Australian football needs to find more attacking players like Jim Patikas and Chris Kalantzis CON STAMOCOSTAS While the Socceroos re- ceived plaudits for the fighting spirit and discipline for their performances at the 2018 World Cup, there was one ingredient missing – an attacking edge. While the Australian teams of the past have always been known for their bravery and fighting tenacity, importantly they also had players who were blessed with attacking talent. The 'Golden Generation' of the 2006 World Cup team had Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill, and John Aloisi. The generation before that had the Greek Australian attacking triumvirate of Peter Katholos, Jim Patikas, and Chris Kalantzis, to name just a few. But the current Socceroos team have been lacking fire power up front, signified by the over-reliance on 38-yearold striker Cahill for goals. With Bert van Marwijk's tenure over, and the Ange Postecoglou era now in the past, Graham Arnold takes over as national team boss with questions surrounding who will lead the attack. Former Socceroo Peter Katholos says Australia will continue to have issues upfront unless more attackminded players come into the side. "Unless we get some creative players in the last third, obviously strikers, we are going to struggle," he told Neos Kosmos. "After each of Australia's games at the World Cup everybody was saying 'oh, that was a great performance, we lost but we tried hard.' Australia is now past that stage. We really need to look now at winning and dominating games; to be creating and scoring goals. We are not creating chances and when we do we are not finishing, so for me that is our biggest problem." There is one player that did catch Katholos' eye at the World Cup and that is the teenage sensation whose name has been on the lips of many Socceroos supporters throughout Russia. "Daniel Arzani has come on the scene and he creates things out of nothing. We need players like him," he says. "We need to introduce attacking, creative players with confidence. We need two or three attacking players and then Australia will be a force. We are not far away." Arzani's progression from youth team player at Melbourne City to rising star at the World Cup came via the assistance of two Greek Australian coaches. One is Michael Valkanis, who was assistant coaching staff at Melbourne City, and the other is Joe Palatsides, who was the youth team coach at the club. Valkanis says mentoring Arzani as he made the move from youth to senior football was key in his development. "The youth environment gave him the opportunity to grow and develop to become the player he is now," Valkanis says. "Joe and I would always communicate about what was best for Daniel; what types of things we needed for him to improve [upon], and where to play him. This was so we could get the best out of him when he moved up to the seniors. He got his opportunity to play in a World Cup, and I thought he should have got more game time because he is something special and can create something out of nothing. It's been a long time since we've had a player like that come out of Australia. Hopefully he can [take] the next step and play regularly at the highest level possible for the sake of our national team and for his development." INADEQUATE COACHING Former Socceroo Jim Patikas is exactly the kind of player Australia needs right now. A fast striker with an eye for goal, Patikas played 27 times for the Socceroos and spent a decade with AEK Athens, winning three league championships and playing in the Champions League. Patikas believes that the lack of strikers coming through has to do with inadequate coaching. "They don't know how to shoot because they don't practice shooting," he says. "They know how to sort of do a million dribbles because they want to touch the ball a million times which is great, but the program that the coaches from Holland have brought to Australia, in my opinion, is not good. I do a lot of the grassroots coaching and I go to a lot of the semi- LACK OF STRIKERS DUE TO nars and people are trying to sell us this is modern soccer. But what have they done in their careers? They pushed all the people out that have been there and done that, former players and older coaches that they call dinosaurs and now their poor record in youth football speaks for itself." Chris Kalantzis was as talented as any attacking footballer that Australia has produced. He also spent a decade in Greece and played in the Champions League. He was a former Socceroos teammate of Patikas, and says the other ingredient missing from players coming through is speed. "The most important thing you need to have in Europe is you've got to be fast," the former Panathinaikos and Olympiakos winger told Neos Kosmos. "Every team in Europe, all the players are fast. If you think you are a good ball player and you have time to play the ball, time to turn and do all this stuff without being quick, you are going to suffer. Because they come on to you so fast, whatever you do has to be done very quickly and you have to have speed to get to the ball first and cut off other people from getting to the ball first. That's what I mean by being quick. I've seen so many players come and go. They've only got one good thing about them. When they try and go and head the ball or try another aspect of the game, they are missing something." While the 2019 Asian Cup in January might be too soon to blood new players, in the longer term, Katholos hopes the new Socceroos coach will focus on the team's attacking shortcomings. "I don't know if Graham Arnold is going to do that but let's hope so," he says. "The Socceroos playing at the World Cup captivated the Australian public and you had many millions of people watching. That' a huge positive thing from this World Cup; it shows that there is a huge following for football in this country. The football public is crying out for attacking football. You see the comments and people talking, they just want to see Australia go forward. They don't want to see Australia sit back. They want us to go forward so in the future we need to develop players to attack teams."
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