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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 10 August 2019
SPORT 24 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 10 AUGUST 2019 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM FFA releases A-League draw in transition season GEORGE STOGIANNOU After some deliberation, the FFA finally released its long awaited 2019-20 Hyundai ALeague season draw on Thursday in what is a transition season for the A-League competition. The expansion of the competition to 11 teams with the addition of Western United posed some decisions for the FFA regarding the length of the season. Instead of lengthening the season from 27 to 30 rounds, in which each team plays each other three times as in previous seasons, the FFA has opted to limit the season to a 29 round season with each team playing a slightly reduced number of games - 26 instead of 27. Each team will play six of the other teams three times over the course of the season, and the remaining four teams twice, thus totalling 26 matches for each team. The addition of an 11th team means that for one team each round there will be a bye so that each team will have three byes over the course of the season, in addition to the 26 matches played, thus making for a 29 round season. For the first time 11 teams will be vying for the A-League trophy this season. This way the A-League be- lieves it will maintain the frequency of each of the big derby and marquee matches to the same number as pre- vious seasons (three) without blowing out the length of the campaign. The other challenge with the scheduling was to arrive at a fair and equitable way of distributing the marquee matches amongst the clubs without compromising the integrity of the competition whereby some teams were favoured by only having to play stronger teams twice. Other changes introduced include earlier kick off times in a bid to make the matches more family friendly for local fans attending the games. "The question was about how, how is it best to be fair and equitable? There were a lot of conversations about how to do that, bench marking from other codes. What we said was we'll have opponent match-up weightings (combined with) marquee games without making it too lopsided," said FFA Head of Leagues Greg O'Rourke. stor The A-League is hoping that the arrival of the newest team Western United and the return of Western Sydney Wanderers to its Parramatta base at the new Bankwest Stadium will be a boost to the competition. The opening round of the season scheduled to kick off in just over two months, begins with a Friday evening clash which carries its own rivalry, last season's FFA Cup finalists Adelaide United and Sydney FC. The following evening Melbourne Victory hosts Melbourne City with two new coaches at the helm. Also featuring in the opening round, is the debut of Western United, which flies to New Zealand to take on coach Mark Rudan's former club Wellington Phoenix. Mixed results for Greek clubs in Europa League AEK walked away with a comfortable 0-2 win from Romania against Craiova, Atromitos remained goalless against Legia, while Aris suffered a heavy 3-0 loss in Norway by Molde Fans of Hellenic clubs representing the nation in the Europa League were left with contrasting feelings after Thursday night's results. For AEK, it was a walk in the park as they faced little opposition by Romanian side Universitarea Craiova, who they defeated 0-2. Manager Miguel Cardoso, in his inaugural game as coach, introduced striker Marco Livaja to the game in place of Klonaridis just before the half-time break and the Croatian made all the difference between the two teams. Initially he served the ball into the area to an unmarked Mantalos, with the captain heading it home to open the score on the hour mark. Then Livaja himself put his name on the scorer board, receiving the ball by Paulinho inside the area and blasting it past a helpless Nicusor Bancu. The result leaves the "Enosi" as clear favourites for the return game next week. Atromitos were also successful in their bid to leave the opposition home ground with a good result, drawing level with no goals against Legia Warsaw in Poland. The "Peristeriotes" came under a lot of pressure from the home side yet held their lines close and with Spyros Ris- vanis as their rock in defence kept the Warsawians away from Balasz Magyeri's goal. This gives them a small advantage for next week's return game in Athens, although they will need to perform much better up front if they hope to advance to the play-offs. Aris, on the other hand, have their work cut out for them for their rematch against Molde at Kleanthis Vikelidis, after they were annihilated 3-0 by the Norwegians in the first leg of the tie. It all seemed to be going well for Giorgos Pantelidis' men (who was not on his team's bench due to being penalised for his behaviour in last week's game against AE Limassol) up until the 27th minute when the home side exchanged the ball nicely, sending it to an unmarked Eikrem who had little trouble putting it past Cuesta. As if that wasn't enough, four minutes later the Norwegians scored again with Hestad after a massive error in the Aris defence. The final nail in the coffin was struck by Ellingsen just three minutes before the 90. Atromitos made life difficult for the Legia forwards and were able to escape Poland with a good result. PHOTO: APE/MPE The visitors ended the game with 10 men on the pitch after Fran Velez was sent off on the 64th minute.
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