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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 15 September 2018
SPORT 26 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 15 SEPTEMBER 2018 NPL STATUS UPDATE A series of unfortunate attempts to win the Grand Finals Apart from Sydney Olympic, there were other Greek teams in the NPL Championships around Australia aiming for the title ALEX ANYFANTIS Last weekend saw most of the play-offs in the National Premier Leagues around Australia come to a close, with the Grand Finals. Olympic FC in Queensland and Canberra Olympic in the capital were among the teams to attempt to win the title in their respective regions, with Darwin Olympic and Hellenic FC going head-to-head for a place in the final in the Northern Territory. Unfortunately, none were successful in their attempts, as Olympic went down to the Lions 2-1, after a thrilling match that saw them take the lead early on thanks to a goal from Whyte and lead to extra time. Canberra Olympic lost in their final against Canberra FC in a similar fashion, even though they were in front at half time, due to a Thomas James double late in the meeting. Darwin was never a match for the superior Hellenic, who showed their dominance in clearing their way to the final with a 7-1 score, which means that now Darwin will move on to the preliminary final where they will face Casuarina. OLYMPIC FC Result: Lions FC - Olympic FC 2-1 (58' Reardon, 95' Madle / 15' Whyte) Olympic FC finish as Runners-up in Queensland play-offs DARWIN OLYMPIC SPORTING CLUB - HELLENIC FC Result: Hellenic FC - Darwin Olympic SC 7-1 (5' Billias, 15', 45'+2' Maskey, 22', 34' Smith, 83' Barry, 90'+2' Carvalho / 6' Amidy, 45' Amidy sent off) Hellenic advance to Grand Final Darwin Olympic SC move to preliminary final vs Casuarina CANBERRA OLYMPIC FC Result: Canberra FC - Canberra Olympic 2-1 (29' Nathan Megic / 79', 86' Thomas James) Canberra Olympic finish as Runners-up in Capital Football play-offs DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Saad’s Olympic win the NSW NPL double GEORGE STOGIANNOU Sydney Olympic are the toast of Sydney town after landing the elusive NSW NPL Premiers – Championship double on Sunday, at Leichhardt Oval, when they defeated main rival Apia Leichhardt 3-1. Olympic's championship crown was well deserved, with the team performing strongly all over the park to lead all the way, almost from the start of Sunday's grand final against a strong Apia side. With Spanish import Alejandro Sanchez spearheading the attack, Olympic always looked a threat going forward. Often lurking with intent on the shoulder of the last Apia defender, the dynamic Spaniard scored twice in the final and was instrumental in the opening goal of the game. That came when Olympic playmaker Max Burgess unlocked the Apia defence with a pass which put Sanchez into space down the right flank. Sanchez's laseraccurate cross found the head of fellow forward Radovan Pavicevic for the opening goal of the match after just four minutes of play. As the half progressed, Apia pushed forward, trying to find an opening in the strongest performed defence all season. However, they lost possession and were caught in transition, when Olympic broke down the left flank this time. Again it was an incisive pass which set Sanchez free. He showed great quality to round the exposed Apia keeper Necevski and beat two defenders with his shot from a tight angle, to double Olympic's lead in the 35th minute. Olympic put the seal on the match in the 75th minute and again it was that man Sanchez at the pointy end of an attack. Midfielder Max Burgess, (who along with brother Darcy, had fine games in the middle for Olympic), again played an important part when he threaded a pass through the centre of Apia's defence. Sanchez again showed his striker's instincts, as he was onto the pass in a flash and finished well past a helpless Necevski. Apia pulled a goal back very late in the game through a Themba Muarta-Marlow spot kick, but it was all too late for Apia who suffered a second grand final loss in successive years. Olympic's Spanish striker Sanchez was someone who didn't even know what a grand final was until some weeks back. But his goals in the NSW NPL this season, including six in the last three high pressure games that Olympic have played, are sure to attract the attention of A-League clubs. Along with the 11th hour appointment of coach Abbas Saad, Olympic's signing of Sanchez are now widely regarded as masterstrokes. Sanchez not only helped his team to the double, but he picked up the Robbie Slater Man of the Match award for the grand final in the process. "It has been a brilliant jour- ney so far this season and to have won as much as we have has been a great experience," he said after the match. "The clubs I had played for in Spain were usually battling to avoid relegation, so to be a part of such a successful team for a change has been very special. "The season isn't over just yet, so we will enjoy this moment now but get back to work soon so we can bring even more success to the club and its fans." Greece goes down 2-1 in Hungary Despite the good performance and the many chances created, a few crucial defensive errors didn’t allow Skibbe’s men to leave Budapest with the coveted three points Greece's effort in the newfound Nations League has bumped into its first hurdle after Tuesday night's 2-1 loss against Hungary. Even though they played well, maintained possession of the ball for most of the game and had many missed opportunities to score, the 'blue-and-whites' made certain mistakes in defence that the home team wasn't willing to forgive. Unfortunately Olympic FC were not successful in their bid to win the Queensland NPL play-offs. PHOTO: OLYMPIC FC TWITTER PAGE German coach Michael Skibbe made some changes to the starting line-up compared to the team that won at the game against Estonia last Saturday, as he replaced Italian-based left-back Lykogiannis with the more experienced Tzavellas, left out AEK skipper Mantalos in favour of Olympiacos winger Christodoulopoulos, but more importantly, chose to leave out his main attacking weapon, Kostas Mitroglou, so that Anastasios Donis could have a chance. Greece was more swift in ball exchanges, thanks to the inclusion of the less-heavy and more agile Donis in the starting line-up, but proved to be less of a threat in the air, as a result. They missed Sokratis Papastathopoulos showed his frustration with his team's inability to clear the ball before Kleinheisler's attempt. Greece's next game for the Nations League will be at home against Hungary on 12 October. Kostas Manolas’ header was not enough for Greece to get a good result in Hungary. PHOTO: AAP VIA EPA/SZILARD KOSZTICSAK chances with Fortounis, Pelkas and Christodoulopoulos, but they conceded early (15'), when the Hungarians headed the ball around each other inside the area, leaving it to land on Sallai's feet, who took the one-touch shot, leaving Barkas unable to react. Greece had a quick response however, after a free kick taken from far outside the box by Fortounis found Manolas' head, allowing him to equalise (18'). Despite their chances, the Greeks were unable to find a second and were eventually punished for their lack of good finishing on the 43rd minute. After a good exchange of passes between the Hungarian men, Kleinheisler made an effort from outside the area, which seemed to surprise Barkas, as it landed on the left corner of his goal. Not much changed in the second half and Hungary was able to claim its first three points in the competition, tying with Greece in second place. Finland now tops the group with six, after their 1-0 victory against Estonia, who are at the bottom of the table with zero points. After the match, Michal Skibbe pointed out that his team had trouble getting into the game and a bad reaction to the second goal, while SPAIN THRASHES WORLD CUP FINALISTS CROATIA, 6-0 In other games for the Nations League, the Spanish side had no problems against the team that was recently in the World Cup final, Croatia, as they cruised to victory 6-0. A key contributor to this triumph was Sime Vrsaljko's injury, as the game seemed to change when he came off, with the Spaniards finding a lot more space in the Croatian defence. Goals were scored by Saul, Asensio, Kalinic(OG), Rodrigo, Ramos and Isco, in a night that the fans of Elche will remember. Elsewhere, Belgium had no problems taking away the three points from Reykjavik against Iceland, topping them 0-3, thanks to a Romelu Lukaku double and another from Eden Hazard. Portugal defeated Italy 1-0 and Sweden lost to Turkey at home 2-3.
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