Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 31 August 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 31 AUGUST 2019 25 SPORT 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 through 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 games instead of 27 games as in last year. The way it works is that 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 into the competition to be fair and equitable? There were a lot of conversations about how to do that, benchmarking from other codes. What we said was we’ll have opponent match-up weightings (combined with) marquee games without making it too lopsided.” For the first time, 11 teams will be vying for the A-League trophy this season. 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. This way, the A-League be- lieves it has been able to maintain the frequency of each of the big derby and marquee matches to the same number as previous 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 just twice. Other changes introduced include earlier kick off times in a bid to make the matches more family friendly to local fans attending the games. FFA Head of Leagues Greg O’Rourke said: “The question was about how, how is it best 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. On 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. NPL do or die finals for Cannons and Bentleigh GEORGE STOGIANNOU Whilst fans of Heidelberg United can continue to bask in the warm glow of yet another Premiership Plate for one more week, fans of the Oakleigh Cannons and Bentleigh Greens, who finished in the NPL top six are preparing for the heat of do or die battles in the two elimination finals this Saturday. Bentleigh Greens travel to take on Green Gully in the earlier kick off game, whilst later that day Oakleigh Cannons host Hume City at Jack Edwards Reserve. In many ways, the Cannons' and Bentleigh Greens' second halves of the season have been the inverse of each other. Whilst the Cannons have risen dramatically, the Greens have slipped. The Cannons last tasted de- feat in Rd 10 before embarking on a remarkable 16 game undefeated run, catapulting the team from 12th to 3rd spot on the ladder. In contrast, since the mid-season departure of long serving coach John Anastasiadis to the A-League, Bentleigh has won just four of its last 13 games and is winless in its last five matches going into the elimination final against Green Gul- Oakleigh Cannons playmaker Joe Guest has been a key player in the Cannons resurgence. PHOTO: OAKLEIGH CANNONS TWITTER ly on Saturday. In the second half of the season, it has slipped from second to fifth spot on the table. Although Bentleigh is yet to lose to Gully this season, most would consider it to be the underdog going into this match, considering Gully's form in contrast, has been strong with a run of 11 games undefeated in the second half of the season, only ending in the last round with a 3-0 loss away to Oakleigh. For Saturday's home elimination final against Bentleigh Greens, Gully will be without suspended defender Jordan Hall, but there are reports that they will be boosted by the return of the league's Golden Boot winner Alex Salmon from serious injury, as well as Jeremy Walker. In contrast to the Bentleigh Greens, the Cannons will go into Saturday's home elimination final against Hume City as warm favourites. From the struggling team at the start of the season, the Cannons under coach Chris Taylor have emerged as a genuine threat to both of the top two teams Heidelberg United and Avondale FC. In Taylor, the Cannons have a coach with a long and successful finals record, whose experience will be invaluable in the pressure atmosphere of finals football. Commenting on the Cannons' Facebook page immediately after last week's win over Gully, which saw the team earn a third place finish in the league, coach Taylor said, "I suppose we'll keep using that as a benchmark from where we've come from, but it's over a whole season. I've said from day one it's a marathon and not a sprint. We're third in the league. It's not bad considering where we were." Looking ahead to Saturday's elimination final against Hume City, coach Taylor said that they are their nemesis this year. "They've beaten us twice. Once in the Cup (in a penalty shootout), once in the league. We've drawn when we went there. We're looking forward to it. They've got a tough game on Wednesday in the Cup. We've every reason to be confident for next week," he said. The matches between these two teams this year have been very tight affairs with just three goals scored in three matches. Still, Oakleigh is a much more confident and improved footballing side since they last met. The Cannons' possess goal scoring threats in UK imports Harry White and Joe Guest aided by Wade Dekker. Guest is also one of the league's best playmakers and set piece specialists. For Hume, their key players up front include James Brown, Marko Delic and Mitch Cooper. If the Cannons win their elimination final, Avondale FC awaits them in a semi-final showdown, whilst Heidelberg awaits the winner of the other elimination final between Green Gully and Bentleigh Greens. If however Hume City defeats the Cannons, they will go on to meet the Bergers next week and Avondale will meet the winner of the other elimination final. The scoreboard paints a pretty clear picture. PHOTO: GEORGE DEMETRIOU Spartans thrash Essendon to advance to final The Hawthorn Spartans annihilated their opponents by 87 points in the first game of the play-offs ALEX ANYFANTIS Despite the excellent season they've had thus far, not even the most optimistic of Spartans fans could've predicted how easily their team would clinch a place in the final. The Hawthorn Spartans annihilated PEGS by a margin of 87 points, making short work of their opponents who were no-one to scoff at, as they themselves had completed the regular season in second place, with just two more losses than the Spartans. Yet the way the two teams played made it look like the difference between them was that of heaven and earth. The game was played at Rathmine Reserve, due to the fact that the Spartans had finished first in the regular season and maintained the home advantage. From early on, the home side took control of the competition and even though they didn't really manage to score a lot of goal kicks, they took the lead into the second. It got worse from there for the visitors, who tried to put up a good contest and even though they found their way to some goal kicks of their own, they just couldn't keep the Hawthorn side out of their own goal. Heading into the third quarter, the Spartans began to wear their opponents down and make use of the depth of their own squad. This resulted in the margin of their win just getting larger and larger, as it appeared that the Essendon players had all but given up on advancing. While the date and venue have yet to be specified, the final match of the season is expected to be played on either Saturday 7 or Sunday 8 September, with the Spartans aiming to lift their fifth piece of silverware in the last eight years. SCORES 1st Quarter: 5 2 32 to 1 1 7 2nd Quarter: 8 5 53 to 3 3 20 3rd Quarter: 11 7 73 to 5 8 38 4th Quarter: 18 17 125 to 5 8 38 Goal kickers: A. Brizzi 3, W. Eagle 3, A. Karim 2, S. Neohoritis 2, N. Criticos 1, M. Dabab 1, J. Farah 1, J. Gaggin 1, D. Korlos 1, A. Mitropoulos 1, C. Pana 1, D. Stratus 1.
24 Aug 2019
07 September 2019