Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 2 February 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 2 FEBRUARY 2019 27 SPORT curtain raiser Titans clash in season GEORGE STOGIANNOU Heidelberg coach George Katsakis and his players celebrate a Premiers Plate trophy win. PHOTO: HUFC Bergers primed for further success GEORGE STOGIANNOU If Heidelberg United's NPL rivals were hoping to face a weakened Bergers squad this coming season, they will be disappointed. Bergers coach George Katsakis and the club have managed to keep the 2018 double winning squad largely intact, due mainly to what Katsakis calls the "club's strong culture". All the familiar faces will be there including the backline evergreens of skipper Luke Byles and his central defensive partner Steven Pace, Josh Wilkins, midfielders Petrie, Hall, Noon and Schiavo, as well as the formidable forward line-up of Sean Ellis, Cartanos, Zahra, Ofli and central striker Tom Cahill. Even the versatile Reuben Way, who departed at the end of last season to try his luck in the A-League with Wellington Phoenix, is due to return to the club in time for the coming season. By Katsakis's own admission, "That's some squad!" If anything, the coach says the squad has been strengthened by a handful of new arrivals, including defenders John Lazaridis, Peter Deng ( brother to Melbourne Victory's Thomas Deng) and keeper Alex Pavlidis. Forward Lucas Derrick also joins from Northcote City but won't be available until he recovers fully from a knee reconstruction probably in early March. Despite presiding over a squad which is the envy of NPL rivals, Katsakis says, " Our pre-season hasn't been the best so far. There's still some targets that we need to work towards." "I think that we finished pretty late in the season last year and we came back a little bit late, and that's probably taken its toll on us. The first few weeks are going to be very important to ensure we're well on our game and that we're getting results, because I think as we get into the season, we get a lot stronger. So I'm a little bit mindful of the start of the season." The NPL fixture draw sees the Bergers play 10 home games in the first half of the season, which may help counteract their less than ideal preparation, to some extent. In any case, coach Katsakis will be hoping his side is firing on all cylinders by the time they play their last seven rounds of the season, all of which will be away from home. Katsakis says the team will continue to set the bar high as it has over the last two seasons when it has picked up five trophies. In what could be interpreted as an ominous warning to the Bergers' NPL rivals, Katsakis says "Our culture is we go out to win every game. Nothing's going to change. From the outset, we're going to try and win every game as we normally do and apply ourselves in the traditional Heidelberg manner." Shield Final Supports #Save Hakeem GEORGE STOGIANNOU Players from both Heidelberg United and Bentleigh Greens will wear armbands during their Community Shield final this Thursday evening, in support of the #savehakeem campaign. Football Victoria has announced that this year's Community Shield final will be dedicated to raising awareness for Melbourne based footballer Hakeem Al- Araibi. The 25 year old defender plays for NPL club Pascoe Vale, but is currently detained in Thailand and threated with extradition to his birth country Bahrain where he faces a 10 year prison sentence for allegedly vandalizing a Police Station in a political protest in 2012, a charge which he denies. Granted refugee status by the Australian government in 2016, Hakeem was detained in Thailand two months ago whilst on hol- Hakeem Al-Araibi in action for Pascoe Vale. iday with his wife. Following a groundswell of support from local clubs, the PFA ( Professional Footballers Association), the FFA and finally the AFC ( Asian Football Confederation) as well as the Australian Government have been lobbying and applying diplomatic pressure on authorities in Thailand in a bid to release Hakeem and prevent his extradition to Bahrain. A Football Victoria spokesperson said collection tins will circulate at the ABD stadium during Thursday's final to help raise funds for the campaign. The spokesperson said that part of the proceeds from the gate could also go towards the campaign depending on the attendance. Football Victoria thanked the Reagan Milstein foundation for kindly stepping aside this season to allow the Community Shield match to be dedicated to the #savehakeem campaign. Two of the titans of the NPL resume their intense rivalry this coming Thursday evening at the ABD stadium in Broadmeadows, when Bentleigh Greens go head to head with Heidelberg United FC to contest Football Victoria's Community Shield. Reigning NPL champion Heidelberg United FC takes on the reigning Dockerty Cup holder Bentleigh Greens in the traditional season curtain raiser for the second consecutive year. Remarkably in the last two seasons, the two teams have met in no less than four major finals including the 2017 NPL Grand Final (Greens victory) and the 2017 Dockerty Cup final (Bergers victory), as well as last season's Dockerty Cup final (Greens) and an FFA Cup quarter final which the Greens won. Whilst the Bergers' back to back Premiers' plates have shown they are without equal over the last two seasons in the league, the Greens have proven they are a match for the Bergers when it comes to the big finals occasion. Last season, Heidelberg United defeated the Greens in emphatic style, 4-1 to take the shield and make a statement of intent for the season which followed. For the Greens, it turned out to be a wake-up call as they set about winning ten of their first eleven matches in the league. Now they're preparing to meet once more and both coaches are treating the match as more than just a lead up to the season opener. Bergers' coach George Katsakis, says "I know we're a bit underdone in terms of what I've been thinking in terms of my preseason. But nevertheless, I can assure you the 11 boys who come out will fight, and we're obviously going to play towards a goal and that's to win the game."Katsakis doesn't necessarily think his best 11 players will start on Thursday. "It's still early on. There's still a few people finding it hard to be where they need to be in playing regular football. I'm not sure it will be my best 11, however we'll put the fittest 11 available to us on the park." Bentleigh Greens coach John Anastasiadis said ahead of the game, "It's a big game for us. It's another trophy. Where a trophy is involved, for us it's a final. We're going to treat it as seriously as possible, and I believe Heidelberg is the same." "For me this game is vitally important to see where we are at, Heidelberg is a very good team. So it will be a good battle between two of the better clubs in the league." Kick off at ABD Stadium is at 7.45 pm, Thursday 7th February. Greeks at the 2019 International Tennis Open Winners from the International Tennis Open 2019.
26 January 2019
9 February 2019