Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 25 August 2018
SPORT 26 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 25 AUGUST 2018 NPL STATUS UPDATE Greeks continue victorious path heading into play-offs DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Bergers secure back to back Premiers’ Plate triumphs GEORGE STOGIANNOU Olympic continued their season victoriously, climbing to second place on the NPL Queensland table. PHOTO: TWITTER (@OLYMPIC_FC) ALEX ANYFANTIS Overall it has been a positive period for most of the Greek teams in the National Premier Leagues around Australia, as they all appear to be in great form heading into the final part of the season. This was certainly the case this week, with each team coming away with a win. In the Greek derby of the Northern Territory, Hellenic FC annihilated Darwin Olympic with a 5-0 score further cementing their position as table leaders. Meanwhile, in New South Wales, Sydney Olympic found out who will be their next opponent in the playoffs, as Sydney United 58 beat Blacktown City to advance. The two teams are expected to meet on Sunday at Lambert Park. Olympic FC, which managed to seal their playoff position last week, climbed the table to second after their 3-0 win against Sunshine Coast. Yet another team that has already clinched a spot in their respective play-offs, the Olympia Warriors advanced victoriously past the Hobart Zebras whom they defeated 4-1, yet still remain on fifth on the NPL Tasmania board. Unfortunately, Hamilton wasn't as successful in their bid to make it to the play-off round of the Northern NSW league, despite their 2-0 win against the Weston Workers since Maitland's victory at the same time against Broadmeadow Magic meant they got fourth place on the table and with it, secured the final play-off spot. In Western Australia, Floreat Athina have known their fate for a while now, but that didn't keep them from continuing their season with a 3-2 win against Subiaco. OLYMPIC FC Result: Olympic FC - Sunshine Coast 3-0 (32' Psaros, 78' pen. Sanders, 91' Smith) Current position in Queensland: 2nd (59 points) Next opponents: North Queensland United (H) DARWIN OLYMPIC SPORTING CLUB Result: Hellenic FC - Darwin Olympic SC 5-0 (18' Toumazos, 27' Smith, 42' pen, 68' Maskey, 66' Kilmartin) Current position in Northern Territory: 2nd (31 points) Next opponents: University Azzurri (H) HELLENIC FC Result: Hellenic FC - Palmerston Rovers 7-1 (the game had been postponed from Day 17 and was held last Tuesday 21 August) Current position in Northern Territory: 1st (46 points) Next opponents: BYE OLYMPIA WARRIORS FC Result: Olympia Warriors - Hobart Zebras 4-1 Current position in Tasmania: 5th (29 points) Next opponents: South Hobart (H) HAMILTON OLYMPIC FC Result: Hamilton Olympic - Weston Workers 2-0 (24', 45' Pettit) Current position in Northern NSW: 5th (33 points) Next opponents: - FLOREAT ATHINA Result: Floreat Athina - Subiaco 3-2 (56' Evans, 68' Arnold, 76' C. Saldaris / 38' Mcmurray, 87' Harding) Current position in Western Australia: 7th (38 points) Next opponents: Sorrento Heidelberg United ensured that the Premiers’ Plate remains at the Olympic Village for another year by securing top spot on the NPL 1 ladder on Sunday. The Bergers overpowered its once mighty rival South Melbourne 4-2 in a catch up game to give it an unassailable seven points lead over second placed Bentleigh Greens with two rounds remaining. The Bergers blew South away in the first half thanks to goals by Tom Cahill, Alex Schiavo and Andrew Cartanos, as well as a South own goal. It's the second time in the five years of the NPL competition that a team has achieved the feat of winning successive premierships, the last being South's back to back Premiers' Plates in the first two seasons of the competition in 2014-15. Heidelberg United coach George Katsakis has been in charge at the Village since Heidelberg returned to the top flight for the start of the NPL era. When asked to compare winning the Premier's Plate for the second time with the first, he told Neos Kosmos “it felt even more special than last year”. “Obviously to do it is one thing, but to do it in the fashion that we did it with two games to go, and to be seven points ahead considering the amounts of injuries and personnel that I had to rotate is just an amazing effort. Given that you've lost two key players ( Andreas Govas and Kostas Kanakaris) to knee reconstructions and lost players of the calibre of Sean Ellis and Harry Noon for a combined 12-14 weeks, it's unique. It's very special," he said. Katsakis agrees that the squad has evolved since last season, especially in terms of its depth, the adaptability of the players and the increased options in attack which has made the team more difficult to defend against. "The depth has really contributed because we've brought in some really good people in the window and the off season (Attila Ofli, Harvey Reed, Tom Cahill and Andreas Govas) which has sort of added value," he said. "They've been great acquisitions." He also praised what he calls the "exceptional diversity" of the group. "We've got a lot of alterna- tives and we've been able to put people into a non-familiar role, but still be able to accomplish what we set out to do," he said, pointing to the examples of Alex Schiavo, Reuben Way and Lewis Hall. "This again is a true indication of this group, their resilience and endeavour, and their will to just want to be winners. We know what we have in our change rooms. That sort of camaraderie or brotherhood, you just don't get in any room. To maintain that over three to four seasons is just exceptional." Last season, the NPL Premiers’ Plate Championship double eluded the Bergers as it has every Premier Plate winner. The Bergers will be hoping to become the first to achieve the unique double. Coach Katsakis believes that there may be a couple of reasons it has been so difficult to achieve. "One reason is the week off between games; it is probably not preparing you well enough," he says. "We're fortunate this year. I don't think we're going to have the week off at this point. We're going to be playing the National Premiership Semi in Tasmania that week off. "And I think, finishing on top gives you a false sense of job done, when you've still got two major games to play." But before the NPL finals, the Bergers' focus will turn to this coming Wednesday's Rd of 16 FFA Cup tie away to Adelaide Comets. They will go into the match as the favourite against a Comets side, which disappointedly bowed out of the SA NPL finals series in the first week a fortnight ago after finishing fourth on the table. A Happy Heidelberg team at Olympic Village after winning the 2018 NPL Premiers’ Plate trophy. PHOTO: SALLY TSALIKIDIS Still, the Bergers coach is leaving no stone unturned in preparation for the trip to Adelaide and won't allow his side to underestimate the opposition. He revealed mid-week he intended to rotate quite a few players for Friday night’s league match at Kingston City to have everyone up for the Cup game. Asked what sort of game his team could expect against the Comets, Katsakis said: "I think that first and foremost it's an away venue; it's on a synthetic pitch. Already we're behind the eight ball. It's going to be a challenge in itself. Without giving too much away, we've done some homework and assessed the opposition; they're a very good outfit. We know it's going to be a challenge." South still on shaky ground GEORGE STOGIANNOU It's been a year which fans of NPL club South Melbourne would rather forget, something which they will no doubt be able to do much more easily if the Lakeside club's name is amongst the two successful applicants to join an expanded A-League competition, due to be announced later this year. If that happens, then the mis- fortunes of its senior men's team will probably fade quickly. As in the previous season, South's start this season under new coach Sasa Kolman was hampered by its lack of access to Lakeside Stadium whilst the Grand Prix was being staged. But when South played more home fixtures and the expected turnaround of poor results failed to materialise as the second half of the season got underway, the pressure mounted and the club accepted Kolman's resignation and appointed Con Tangalakis, former joint coach of Oakleigh Cannons, as the interim coach till the end of the season. A string of good results immediately followed Tangalakis' appointment, with the team winning four and drawing one of its next six matches to lift the team to eighth position on the ladder. The run even had South fans and players daring to think about the possibility of playing finals particularly after a stirring win away to Green Gully. However, the following week South crashed 4-1 at home against a Kingston side which cruelly exposed South's lack of pace in defence. The loss to Kingston preceded another loss 4-2 to arch rival Heidelberg United last Saturday. The successive losses mean South has to refocus again on securing at least one more point from their remaining matches to ensure they steer clear of the relegation play-off spot. South's fate should be a little clearer after Saturday, when they face another difficult opponent away from home, third placed Avondale. Saturday also sees two of the teams below South, Green Gully and Hume City, battle it out to move away from the relegation play-off spot. South fans will most likely be cheering for a Hume win, which would ensure South avoids the play-off. Coach Tangalakis speaking prior to the Heidelberg game last Sunday said: "I'd like to get another win to be really comfortable, but I'm quite confident with one more point we should be safe because the other teams (fighting relegation) have to play each other." He added that the fitness levels of the squad are still good, but that injuries to key players and absences due to overseas commitments have come at a crucial time. "Unfortunately we've got a few injuries and absences," he said. "It's sort of come at a wrong time to lose some players, Iqi Jawadi to the Afghani National Team, full back Tim Mala to a pre-arranged overseas trip." Three players, including playmaker Marcus Schroen, whose goals have been vital recently, and defenders Jake Marshall and Kris Konstantinidis, were under an injury cloud going into the Heidelberg game. "It's a little bit difficult. I've got three youngsters who have been helping off the bench. It's all about bandaid and keeping the squad together."
18 August 2018
01 September 2018