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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 16 February 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 16 FEBRUARY 2019 27 SPORT Cannons ready to fire this season GEORGE STOGIANNOU Oakleigh Cannons fans will be hoping their team's strong finish in the league last season continues into the start of the new league season and all the way into the finals later in the year. The Cannons lost just one of their last ten matches, on a run which took them to within a penalty shoot-out of reaching the Grand Final, giving the eventual champion Heidelberg a real scare along the way. Cannons coach Chris Taylor has been active recruiting players in the off season, turning over half the squad by signing ten new players, including three of his former charges at his previous club South Melbourne. Serial Golden Boot winner Milos Lujic, and skilful winger Nick Epifano are the marquee signings whilst utility Matthew Foschini returns to the club he played for three seasons ago. Joining them are two British footballers, left footed nuggetty midfielder Joe Guest and striker Harry White. Promising young striker Marcus Dimanche joins from Springvale White Eagles, whilst defenders Blair Govan, Ramazan Tavsancioglu and Matt Green also come into the squad along with keeper Rory Brian. Notable departures from Jack Edwards this season are stalwarts Dusan Bosnjak (to Altona Magic) and Dean Piemonte (to Dandenong City). Taylor has also appointed a new senior captain this season, in defender Tom Matthews, explaining that his performances in the finals last year earned him the position. Speaking to Neos Kosmos on the eve of the season, coach Taylor says "We're aware it's a new squad coming together and it will take a little time to gel." The Cannons snapped up the much sought after services of the former South Melbourne coach, a third way into last year's competition. Taylor says, "Last season's team was basically inherited and while we felt, as the season got on, we got stronger, you try to put your own stamp on it. And for me, it's a little bit of a cultural change within Some of the Cannons new signings L to R: Milos Lujic, Marcus Dimanche, Blair Govan, Matt Green PHOTO : OAKLEIGH CANNONS FC FACEBOOK the rooms. That's what we're trying to do. Not necessarily in the way we're trying to play. You know, add a little bit more experience in certain area and enhance the leadership." A couple of the signings who have experience winning silverware under Tay- lor are Lujic and Epifano. Taylor commented of the significance of those signings, "The statement we're trying to make is that we want winners. They've both been there and done it before. Milos has won two or three championships and Nick's not far off. So we're trying to bring in Kingston Banks on Deeper Squad and Continuity GEORGE STOGIANNOU NPL club Kingston City heads into a new campaign with what coach Nick Tolios describes as probably the strongest squad he's coached in the club's six years in the NPL. The club has managed to retain almost all of the players who finished last season, including mid-season signings Alex Caniglia, Ajden Fetahagic, Nate Cavaliere and Ryan Love. Added to that squad is the return of several key players from long term injury (Erhan Yalaz, Chris Irwin, Simo Jovanovic, Ali Sulemani and winger Mouad Zwed) and the signing of just two new players (forward Max Etheridge from Mornington and midfielder Jun Gho Kim from Sunshine George Cross), making Kingston along with Heidelberg United, one of the clubs with the fewest player turnover in the off season. Speaking to Neos Kosmos, Tolios said, "I think this year, if everyone's fit, I have 18 players I think are capable, all of them, starting. All of them can do their roles. This is probably the strongest squad for the six years in the NPL since I've been here." After finishing 10th in 2017, and seventh last season, Tolios says the goal this year is to reach the finals. He acknowledges that the task will be anything but easy saying that, "I think the league has strengthened with the two teams promoted (Dandenong City and Altona Magic).Big powerful teams in Victorian football, they've hit the ground running with some great signings, spending good money to bring in some quality players." For clubs with more modest budgets, such as Kingston, reaching the finals represents a significant achievement. Tolios is hopeful that the added depth and continuity of his squad, as well as what he calls, " a fantastic changeroom and culture", will hold the team in good stead this season. The team from The Grange, have developed a reputation as one of the more exciting teams in the NPL, noted for their pace, quick ball movement and creating a high number of scoring chances in each game. Tolios says, "I think ( opposition) teams will be worried about that. I think they've realized what we're about and how we go about winners and that's the culture we're trying to develop down there." For a club which has appointed one of the most successful NPL coaches, and two of the league's biggest stars, expectations will be high on the eve of a new season. Most pundits are tipping the Can- nons to be amongst the frontrunners of the competition. When asked if the players are feeling the pressure of increased expectation, Taylor responds by saying, "There's no pressure. I feel that if we get things right, we'll be very formidable and probably hard to beat. But this season is probably the most even I've seen the league and there's several teams out there, they've recruited really well and got strong squads. You just can't afford to be too complacent. It (the league) has got a habit of bringing you back to earth. We've just got to focus on what we need to do. We've been a little hot and cold in the pre-season and that's something that needs to change. But there's pressure at any club. People expect to win. It's a competitive environment. We're no different. We want to go out and win things this year. But there's no guarantee. If we perform to what we know we can do, I think we're a good chance of winning things." The Cannons' season kicked off last night at home against Melbourne Knights. WWE signs rights deal with Greek broadcaster SKAI Good news for wrestling fans in Greece. American entertainment company WWE has signed a rights deal with Greece's commercial broadcaster, SKAI Group. Announced on Monday, the agreed deal covers its flagship wrestling programs Raw and SmackDown. "SKAI shares our vision and passion for engaging and entertaining our fans," WWE Co-President, Michelle Wilson said. "This partnership... al- lows us to deliver actionpacked, family-friendly entertainment to our fans throughout the country." Weekly screenings will commence as of next month on March 2, with a two-hour version of Raw at 12 noon on Saturdays and SmackDown at 12 noon on Sundays. Both will feature Greek commentary for greater accessibility for local fans and viewers. For those who miss screenings, both shows will be available on the broadcaster's video-ondemand platform, SKAI TV Online. SKAI TV's programming director, Loizos Xenopoulos said they are "looking forward to a long and successful collaboration" with WWE. Kingston is hoping that last season’s club top scorer, Damian Iaconis, once more reaches double figures in his goal tally this coming season. our game plan and how we set up." "So, because we haven't had that many changes, teams will be looking to slow the game down, but I'm hoping this year, we've sort of adapted a little bit too- and changed it up." Tolios's assistants in the coaches dugout this season will once again be Billy Theodoropoulos, joined by a new face, Sam Poutakidis. The Reds kick off their NPL season with a Hellenic derby away to Port Melbourne Sharks, this evening.
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