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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 18 May 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 18 MAY 2019 27 SPORT Chris Ikonomidis: ‘The secret to my A-League success’ The Young Footballer of the Year attributes his success to time spent in Europe during his teen years CON STAMOCOSTAS Just when he thought it couldn't get better, Greek Australian player Chris Ikonomidis, 24, was named NAB Young Footballer of the Year. His outstanding form, under the guidance of Tony Popovic, saw the young player win a recall to the Socceroos' squad mid-season where he played a starring role at January's AFC Asian Cup. He is also aiming to win his first Grand Final on Sunday when Perth take on Sydney. The attacker, who joined Glory from Lazio at the start of the campaign, attributes his fine form to his self-belief after spending several years in Europe as a teenager. "My secret is to be confident," he told Neos Kosmos. "I feel confident on the pitch and getting the ball and that helps and if you feel confident about getting it you know what you are doing and you feel calm. "All those technical and tactical sessions I had over in Italy in my youth years from the age of 16, I still draw on that stuff every game I play here in the A-League. I've already played different positions here at Perth Glory this season, on the wing, striker and number 10 Trequartista position and that helps give the team and myself an edge being able to move across the front positions." Ikonomidis' Perth teammate Diego Castro also received end-of-season accolades in- Chris Ikonomidis is the NAB Youth Footballer of the Year. PHOTO: A-LEAGUE cluding the Fox Sports Player of the Year award and he believes the Greek Australian will be crucial for Glory in Sunday's decider against Sydney FC. "The best thing for me is that we played in the finals together and we need to focus on the Grand Final and try to achieve the championship," he said. "He is an important player; he is growing up quickly as a footballer, he has performed well. As long as he is playing for our team it is better for us." Ikonomidis also revealed that the combinations on the field with his teammates have also been a big factor for his success this season. "That plays a big part," he said. "Knowing how your teammates want the ball, knowing what they do with the ball helps a lot. If you have a player who is fast and wants the ball in behind and doesn't want it at his feet, then that is how you have to play him out on the pitch to get the best out of him and eventually the best out of you." Castro spent several seasons playing in La Liga, the top league of Spain, and he believes that Ikonomidis also has what it takes to play with Messi and co. "He has potential to play for everything; we will have to see what level he gets to," he said. "He just needs to dream, he needs to think bigger, to dream bigger and we will see what happens in his next step. But for sure, if he keeps working that hard I predict a fantastic future for him." Meanwhile Ikonomidis be- lieves he has what it takes to play in Europe again. "You have to be open minded when you go there and try and learn as many things as possible and adapt to their footballing culture," he said "Because it's obviously very different to anything else in the world. Just to play their game and play to the best of your abilities. Modern football is always changing, it's crucial to know different positions and know them well. "The manager can change their ideas and formation quickly and you can soon find yourself without wingers or number 10's with false strikers, so you need able to adapt and it really helps yourself to be able to play different positions." Spartans continue on their winning path The Hawthorn Spartans managed to escape from Swinburne University with a confident victory ALEX ANYFANTIS The Hawthorn Spartans seem destined for glory. The eastern suburb team were able to walk away with a comfortable win from St James Park when the final whistle found them leading Swinburne Uni by 53 points. It was quite a hard contest however, as the home side put up a tough fight against the Spartans, never allowing them to gain a wide enough margin for the visitors to relax, and maintained the pressure throughout most of the game. That lasted until the final moments of the last quar- The Hawthorn Spartans have started the season in spectacular fashion. PHOTO: GEORGE DEMETRIOU ter however, when the win appeared to be too far out of reach for Swinburne, resulting in the widening of the gap in the score and the final 53 point difference. Brizzi undoubtedly stole the show with his five goal kicks, as he was the major contributor towards his side's success. This win takes the Spartans to second place on the table with four wins and only a single loss in five games, an impressive showing for a team that was recently promoted to the division. Today they host Old Ivanhoe at Rathmines Reserve at 11.40 am. SCORES 1st Quarter: 4 8 32 to 2 1 13 2nd Quarter: 6 13 49 to 3 5 23 3rd Quarter: 8 16 64 to 4 6 30 4rd Quarter: 14 18 102 to 7 7 49 Goal Scorers: A. Brizzi 5, T. Barber 2, J. Farah 2, D. Stratus 2, N. Criticos 1, A. Ioannou 1, S. Neohoritis 1 PHOTO: HEIDELBERG UNITED FC Old NPL rivals go headto-head at the village GEORGE STOGIANNOU As the NPL 1 season reaches the half way mark of its home and away season this weekend, a look at the table shows that only two of the six Greek-based clubs, Heidelberg United and Bentleigh Greens have established their credentials as finals contenders, sitting second and third on the table respectively behind the undefeated league leader Avondale FC. Last weekend, Heidelberg United played out a hard fought, top of the table 1-1 draw with Avondale in a grand final replay. On Saturday, Bentleigh Greens will have a crack at trying to expose a chink in Avondale's armour in what will be Greens' coach John Anastasiadis' penultimate game in charge of the Greens before his departure to the professional ranks of the A-League. The other four Greekbased clubs, sit at the bottom half of the table, a fair way behind the Bergers and the Greens, and have a bit of work to do to make up ground on the top six. Eighth placed South Melbourne enjoyed a confidence boost from behind with a 2-1 win away to then 6th placed Altona Magic on Sunday. On Saturday Souths faces another challenging match in Melbourne's version of the Old Firm derby when they travel to Olympic Village to take on traditional rival Heidelberg United. South will go into the match as underdogs against the more experienced Bergers, but if they can take their second half performance against the Magic into the game they will be able to pose some problems for the Bergers. Port Melbourne Sharks sit just below neighbours South Melbourne on the league ladder and this weekend were hoping to arrest a three match losing streak when they travelled to 13th placed Dandenong City on Friday evening [result not available at time of writing]. Eleventh placed Oakleigh Cannons made it back-toback wins for the first time this season last weekend thanks to a Joe Guest winner against Pascoe Vale last week. The Cannons will have to beat fourth placed Green Gully away from home on Saturday to make it three wins in a row. Former serial Golden Boot winner Milos Lujic continues to warm the bench with Cannons coach Chris Taylor preferring the younger Harry White and Wade Dekker in attack. Holding up the table is Kingston City which has just one point from its last seven matches. Coach Nick Tolios' side hit rock bottom after last weekend's disappointing 2-0 away loss to Dandenong City which climbed off the bottom of the table with the win. On Monday evening, Kingston City hosts sixth placed Hume City, a team enjoying good form in both league and cup, having recently knocked out Heidelberg United in the FFA Cup qualifiers.
11 May 2019
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