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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 9 February 2019
SPORT 26 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 9 FEBRUARY 2019 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Greens recapture the Community Shield GEORGE STOGIANNOU Bentleigh Greens has added yet another piece of silverware to its bulging trophy cabinet by capturing a third community shield trophy in four years after defeating arch-rival Heidelberg United 2-0 on Thursday evening at ABD Stadium in Broadmeadows. Greens striker Matt Thurtell scored twice to give his side a well-deserved victory against the reigning NPL champions. The season curtain-raiser was dedicated to the Save Hakeem campaign. Prior to kick off, players from both teams joined players from each of the other NPL clubs in front of an oversize banner with the words SAVE HAKEEM blazoned across it, in a united show of support for the detained footballer awaiting his fate in a Thai court. The Bergers fielded a virtually unchanged line-up to the team which won last season's SAVE HAKEEM was the message of the game on Thursday. NPL grand final whilst the Greens, in contrast, included four new recruits in its lineup. Midfielders George Lambadaridis and Josh Baressi, as well as pacey winger Valentino Yuel, and right back Matthew Crooks made impressive debuts for the Greens. The Bergers began the game Sharks Deepen Squad with Youth For New Season GEORGE STOGIANNOU Port Melbourne enjoyed its most successful season in the NPL era last season under new coach Adam Piddick, achieving a couple of firsts including an NPL finals appearance and qualifying for the national Rd of 32 of the FFA Cup by reaching the Dockerty Cup semifinals. Coach Piddick believes that the league competition this year is going to be tougher. Speaking to Neos Kosmos, he said, "There's some clubs spending a lot of money out there. They're going to get players in that they really want, I suppose. We've just got to deal with that to be honest. We've got a good group here. It will be definitely tougher, but I think we're going to be better as well." Piddick believes that for a smaller NPL club like the Sharks to keep improving on the previous season's success, it needs to improve the playing squad and improve the playing style. "I think we need to improve in all areas to be honest..To do that, we looked to deepen the squad, which means more competition for spots." Piddick has added about 10 new players to the first team squad whilst retaining a core group of experienced players from last season. Of the new signings, all are 20 year olds or less, with the exception of the more experienced Michael Lee and Alan Kearney. "It's important that we've kept the core group and added players..We've brought in a lot of youth. I think we've deepened our squad. Whether our squad's any better than last year, time will tell. But I'm excited about the group moving forward." One of the latest additions to the Sharks, is 20-year-old defender Caio De Godoy, signed from Sydney club Manley United who comes in to fill the spot vacated by left back Kris Kioussis who has signed a professional football contract in Bulgaria. Caio could find himself partnering up with another player of South American descent in the Sharks backline, veteran Jonathan Munoz. Munoz could be in line to make his return to NPL competition against Kingston City in the Sharks' season opening league match. Ironically, City was the team against which Munoz last played a league match, during which he suffered a season ending injury. promisingly when an Alex Schiavo header almost gave them an early lead foiled only by Greens' keeper Ryan Scott's terrific diving save. As it turned out, it was one of the rare occasions in the match that Scott was tested. Minutes later, Greens' striker Thurtell opened the scoring when he finished an incisive combination down the left flank with new signing Baressi providing the final pass. As the half progressed, the Greens started to control possession well and created most of the major scoring chances. A Thurtell header from a Yuel cross, rebounded off the oodwork, whilst the striker shot wide from another good chance just before the break, from a Velibor Mitrovic assist. For the Bergers, winger Andrew Cartanos provided their best avenue towards goal in the first half. At the break, the Greens players had a spring in their step as they jogged off the park into the dressing room. In contrast the Bergers trudged wearily into the rooms for a much needed break.The pattern of play continued after the break with the Greens enjoying the major moments and looking the most likely team to score. The Bergers were fortunate to stay in the match as long as they did with the woodwork denying both Mitrovic and Yuel from extending the Greens' lead. Bergers' sub Harry Noon tried to fire his team up with his physicality in the second half, producing some robust tackles. However, Greens' marksman Thurtell doubled his team's lead in the 80th minute with a well taken first time shot. With moments remaining Noon hit the cross bar with a long range shot in one of the Bergers few attempts on goal. Valentino Yuel received the Man of the Match award after the game, to the delight of his team mates. Greens coach John Anastasiadis was very pleased with his team's performance. Speaking to Neos Kosmos post match, he said, "I thought we were very good from go to woe. We worked very hard in preseason on certain thing, and we saw that evident at times during the game. There's still a few things we've got to be careful about. Our decision making and execution at times. But look, overall I'm delighted for the boys. A big effort against a very good opponent. I think the 2-0 scoreline flatters them (Bergers) a little bit. Nevertheless a win's a win, and another trophy, as you said." South turns to youth as injuries hamper pre-season GEORGE STOGIANNOU On the eve of a new NPL season, South Melbourne FC prepares to enter the fray, as a little bit of an unknown or even untested team. After flirting with relegation in 2018, the club appointed caretaker coach Con Tangalakis, as its senior coach for 2019 but not before unsuccessfully trying to lure Bentleigh Greens coach John Anastasiadis. Together with his assistant Esteban Quintas, Tangalakis has been busy recruiting nine new players to the senior squad and preparing the team for the new season. Speaking to Neos Kosmos just after one of its final pre-season practise matches, Tangalakis said, "As you know, we lost a lot of boys (from last season's squad). I needed to strengthen my defence. Definitely needed to strengthen my midfield ( I had no midfield), and restructure the forward line, because we lost six or seven players. There's a strong Greek fla- vour to the new recruits with seven of the nine new signings having a Greek background. Tangalakis has looked mainly to the local NPL scene for his new recruits with the likes of Nick Krousoratis, Perry Lambropoulos, Kostas Stratomitros and Exciting young footballer Gerrie Sylaidos is one of South’s many new signings. PHOTΟ: ZIMBIO Gerrie Sylaidos all coming from other Victorian NPL clubs. He's also picked up two youngsters, midfielder Zac Bates and defender George Gouroundaras from Melbourne City youth. The exceptions to the local recruits are Dean Bereveskos from NSW, and Melbourne born striker Vasilios Konstantinidis from Greece. Also joining these players in the first team squad will be players promoted from South's youth team such as exciting prospect Will Orford, Manny Aguek, Amir Jashari and Andrew Mesorouni. Complicating South's preseason preparation have been injuries to several of the senior players, such as Marcus Schroen, Kris Konstantinidis, Ethan Gage, Leigh Minopouolos and Jake Marshall. Tangalakis says, "They've all got slight injuries and haven't been training. So unfortunately we've had some hiccups with the squad I was looking at starting. But we're managing them. Hopefully get them right second or third round of the season." What it means is that Tangalakis could give some of his younger players the opportunity to play senior football, at the start of the season, as opposed to throughout the course of the season as originally anticipated. Tangalakis is aiming for the right blend of youth and experience, confident that with Brad Norton, Luke Adams, Kristian Konstantinidis, Leigh Minopoulos and keeper Nikola Roganovic, that South has a good mix of leaders and youth. He readily admits that it's still a work in progress. "Even though we've had a lot of training and practise games, we're still trying to find our feet. We've been scoring a lot of goals but we've also been conceding a lot of goals. And I think that comes down to the boys getting used to each other and the team structure." With just one of their opening six rounds of the season being at home, it promises to be a tough baptism for Tangalakis's new squad and it doesn't come any more difficult than the season opener away to Bentleigh Greens on Friday evening. Tangalakis is realistic in his objectives this season. Whilst conceding his young squad may struggle against some of the physically stronger and more experienced opponents, he is optimistic he has a squad that can not only be competitive but develop into a strong outfit in the longer term. "Look, coming off what we had last year and a whole new restructured squad, and a very young squad, if we can make finals, it will be a very successful year."
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