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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 09 March 2019
SPORT 26 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 9 MARCH 2019 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Positive start for Ange’s Yokohama in new J-League season GEORGE STOGIANNOU Ange Postecoglou's JLeague team Yokohama F Marinos has made a winning start to its 2019 JLeague campaign, its second under the former Socceroo's boss. Marinos has won its two opening league games of the season, 3-2 away to Gamba Osaka and 2-1 at home to Vegalta Sendal, and sits in second place on the table. It was last season's 8-2 win against Vegalta Sendal when the Yokohama's attacking style under Postecoglou, turned heads in the JLeague.Despite that remarkable result, last season was a mixed one for Yokohama in Postecoglou's first year in charge. The team managed to reach the Levain Cup fi- nal which it lost. In the league, its season tally of 56 goals was the second highest but it also conceded the third most goals, eventually finishing 12th just above the relegation-promotion play-offs. This season, the coach is aiming for more consistent results. Speaking to the Japanese media on the eve of the new season, Postecoglou said: "Wherever I've been the first year is always challenging because we're turning things upside down. This year we've got a bigger squad of players who can play our kind of football, and hopefully with that we get more consistency. "Last year our best was very good and our worst was terrible, and now we're bridging that gap to be more consistent and make our Koutroumbis, Gersbach and Mourdoukoutas win Olyroos selection GEORGE STOGIANNOU Newcastle Jets utility John Koutroumbis had double cause to celebrate during the week with his 21st birthday coinciding with the announcement of his selection in Graham Arnold's Olyroos squad which heads to Cambodia later this month to play Group qualifiers for the 2020 AFC U 23 Championships.Koutroumbis is one of three Greek-Australian players to earn selection in the 24 man squad, alongside Socceroos capped defender Alex Gersbach and Western Sydney Wanderers defender Tass Mourdoukoutas. The 24-man squad will be finalised to 23 players after a training camp in Kuala Lumpur on route to the group qualifiers in Cambodia.For Koutroumbis, his selection means he has an opportunity to win his first national team cap, just months after his football career was put on hold whilst he underwent treatment for Stage 1 Thyroid cancer. Since returning to the football field, Koutroumbis has been in fine form of late for his A-League club the Jets as they make a late push for a finals spot. Koutroumbis even scored his first goal of the season in the Jets' upset away win over Melbourne Victory last round.In Cambodia later this month, the Olyroos will face three other nations in their Group H, including the host nation Cambodia, Taiwan and South Korea. The winners of each of the qualifying group automatically progress to the 2020 AFC U 23 Championships in Thailand in January. The four best second placed sides from all the groups, will also progress to the Championships. The 2020 AFC U 23 Championship will also serve as a qualifying tournament to determine the Asian representatives for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games. The Olyroos will be keen to be amongst these nations after failing to qualify for the last two Olympic Games.Olyroos and Socceroos boss Graham Arnold said after announcing the squad, "We have had three short camps in Canberra with the squad and during that time we have looked at 38 players. "The week that we have together in Kuala Lumpur will be vital in preparing us for the challenges that we will face in Phnom Penh, and we certainly appreciate the support of all the clubs that are releasing their players to participate in what is an important tournament for Australia. Junior are the two Brazilian forwards, whilst experienced Thai international defender Theerathon Bunmathan also joins. Ange Postecoglou is aiming for greater consistence from his Yokohama F Marinos team this season. PHOTO: GOAL.COM best even better." "I don't look at it as a de- fensive problem; a lot of the time we gave up goals after butchering 10 chances we had (on the attack). "It's not about focusing on one part of the field, it's about progressing what we're doing as a whole. The challenge this year is to show we've taken that to another level."He's made a handful of additions to the squad including two Brazilian forwards and a Thai defender. Edigar Junio and Marcos This season could be a crucial one in the club coaching career of the former Socceroos boss. If he can coach the Marinos to a successful year with silverware, it could open up the door to a move to one of the stronger European Leagues, under the aegis of the City Football Group, which holds a minority stake in the Marinos as well as a majority stake in Manchester City.Later in the year, the City Football Group executives will have a good chance to review Postecoglou's achievements in Japan when Manchester City visit Yokohama to play a friendly against the Marinos on 27 July. National second division working group to finalize model by end of March GEORGE STOGIANNOU The introduction of a National Second Division competition appears to be a step closer to becoming reality following last week's meeting of the National Second Division Working Group under the auspices of the FFA. The Working Group, which met last week under the chairmanship of FFA Board member Remo Nogarotto, consisted of most of the major stakeholders of the game, including all the State Member Federations, A-League club representatives, the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), and the AAFC (Australian Association of Football Clubs (AAFC) representing the NPL clubs nationwide. At the meeting, they agreed to form a smaller working group which will finalise the National Second Tier model by the end of March, consistent with the timetable of the New League Working Group (NLWG) set up to develop a new model for the A-League. First proposed in 2017 by the AAFC, many see a National Second Division as vital for the game to flourish in this country. Supporters believe it will improve the quality of the A-League as a product, by introducing promotion and relegation and thereby creating more interest for fans wanting to watch more meaningful games. This is Appointed Head of National Second Division Archie Fraser. PHOTO: SUPPLIED turn would make the game more appealing to broadcasters and sponsors. They also argue that a second tier will create a lot of aspiration for the clubs below.In addition, supporters argue that a second tier will open pathways for talented younger players, giving them greater match opportunities at senior level rather than being restricted to the youth academies. This will ensure a greater pool of talented young players and presumably spin off benefits for the quality of Australia's national teams. One of the most frequent criticisms of a second tier competition from sceptics, is that a fully professional second tier competition wouldn't be viable and that it's unrealistic to expect clubs in that league to be sustainable as fully professional clubs.However, the AAFC's appointed head of National Second Division, Archie Fraser, believes "The aspiration is that it will become a full time league and most of the clubs in that second tier league will be full time. The best thing for the game is to get a second division started. Create it and see what level we can develop it to. But often we want to start with the bar too high and that's what keeps people away."Speaking on the Daily Football Show midweek, Fraser stressed the need for a time frame for the introduction of the new league. "The key message is, let's get it started. The quicker the better." The aim of the AAFC is to get it introduced in 2020. Fraser went on to add, that although promotion and relegation between the ALeague and the second division, is a key element of the whole design, it doesn't necessarily mean they'll be there from the outset. He believes that promotion is likely to precede relegation at least in the early stages. "It may well be (initially) there's promotion, and no relegation"He elaborates,"I don't think anybody is thinking there's promotion and relegation right away. But I do think that a second division run properly will show and provide another option for expansion in a proven method, looking at what crowds are already in attendance, and what value those clubs could potentially add to the league without doing guesswork. So I think, there's a lot of certainty in that. "So I would think, it's second division first. I think we need a date from the ALeague of whoever's running it, to say that in some point in time, 'It will be five years or whatever it is, relegation will come in.' Because I think promotion will come in two forms. The A-League has to expand to 16 teams for the ALeague to be interesting. And where are those teams going to come from? And hopefully those teams will be generating some real interest, and some real clubs that are good enough to show that there is a pathway to either win the second division and /or apply to join the A-League through the process the ALeague puts in place."
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