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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 14 September 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 2019 25 SPORT Super League One: Difficult outings for PAOK and Panathinaikos After the short - and unsuccessful for the Greeks - break for the Euro 2020 qualifiers, Super League One picks up right from where it left off, with four teams being in the lead having won two of their opening matches. PAOK, known as the twoheaded eagle of the North, are in no mood to celebrate despite their win as the team are still licking their wounds from their early disqualification from all European competitions. This failure means they will have to try twice as hard in their domestic obligations, starting from Saturday’s game against Atromitos in Peristeri. The home side have lost a significant amount of their force from last season after the departure of many players (Koulouris, Bruno, Hatziisaias most notably) which means that anything but the three points will be considered a colossal failure on PAOK's part. Defender Fernando Varela's presence in the encounter is highly doubtful as he is still sides aiming for a win that will boost their morale. The yellows are still busy with their hunt for a manager after the departure of Savvas Pantelidis and despite the many conversations Angelos Charisteas has had with some high profile Spanish personalities such as Guti and Fernando Hierro, a successor has not been found yet. On the other side, spirits in the Panathinaikos camp are extremely low, especially after their disheartening performance against OFI, and an away win at one of the traditionally most difficult grounds of the Greek league could be the medicine they need. Panathinaikos hopes to walk away with a good result from Kleanthis Vikelidis. PHOTO: APE/MPE dealing with an injury, yet Portuguese manager Abel Ferreira should be able to count on the support of Chuba Ak- pom, Douglas Augusto and Omar El Kaddouri, who have all returned to training. At Kleanthis Vikelidis, the two greatest disappointments of this early part of the season will lock horns. Aris will host Panathinaikos, with both Meanwhile, in Piraeus, there will be a clash between two teams who are currently at the top of the ladder. Olympiacos will welcome newly promoted Volos at Karaiskakis, with the great game against Tottenham Hotspur for the first round of the Champions League group stage just a few days away. The visitors, who have start- Greens and Blues in Grand Final showdown at AAMI Park GEORGE STOGIANNOU If Bentleigh Greens win the NPL Grand Final on Sunday, the Cheltenham based club will create NPL history by becoming the first team to win three NPL Grand Finals and the first ever team to achieve the feat from outside the top four, eclipsing its feat in 2017 when it won the Championship after finishing fourth on the table. Their mere presence in the Grand Final is a lesson in overcoming the odds. Written off by many just three weeks ago after being completely outplayed by Avondale at home in the final home and away round of the season, the Greens have since shown resilience in bouncing back and defying predictions of an early finals exit by defeating both Green Gully a fortnight ago, and Heidelberg United 2-1 in last week's semi-final to make it to the Grand Final. Recently announced new coach Nick Tolios believes that considering the numerous coaching changes for the senior team, particularly in the second half of the season that "it's a credit to the club and the players in particular, for being able to stick together as a group and get themselves into a grand final. It's amazing". Now all that stands between them and a historical third Championship trophy in five years is the formidable Avondale FC, itself trying to create its own piece of history by winning its first ever NPL title. Both teams will have plenty of motivation to go all the way. Last year Avondale lost the Grand Final to Heidelberg United, but only after knocking Bentleigh out of the race in a dramatic semi-final win. Avondale takes impres- sive form into Sunday's final, ending Oakleigh Cannon's 17-match unbeaten run with a well-deserved 2-0 semi-final at Avenger Park last Saturday. Against the Cannons, Avondale started a very attack minded midfield featuring Joey Katebian as the playmaker in behind the front three, with the experienced Jonathan Germanos and Tasuku Sekiya playing a defensive midfield role to minimise the influence of Cannons playmaker Joe Guest. This tactic was very effective and it will be interesting to see whether Avondale use the same ploy against the Green's talismanic playmaker Tyson Holmes. Bentleigh coach Nick Tolios doesn't believe that Avondale will use Sekiya in the same way in the Grand Final, but that he'll probably revert to his customary playmaker role. Fans can expect an open, attacking game, between two teams which possess skilful players and like to play football and pass through the lines. In their last meeting at King- semi-final against Avondale, 3-1 with minutes remaining, only to lose 4-3 after Avondale scored three goals in rapid succession. That's the sort of football they're capable of. In his former role as Kingston City coach, Nick Tolios has coached against both these teams this year. "I think it's going to be a very Bentleigh Greens captain Jack Webster (L) will come face to face with Avondale centre forward Liam Boland on the AAMI Park arena on Sunday. PHOTO: FOOTBALL VICTORIA ston Heath, Avondale effectively prevented the Greens playing their preferred possession based game, by pressing them hard and high, forcing turnovers or long passes forward out of defence. The Greens no doubt will be trying to prepare for this tactic on Sunday. The Greens attacking options will be boosted by the return to the squad of winger Daniel Stynes from suspension. This will also allow them the option of playing Velibor Mitrovic as an attacking midfielder and dropping Holmes deeper if the game requires it. Avondale have a myriad of attacking options, so much so that their fans will feel hopeful of their team scoring enough goals to win, even if the opposition takes the lead. Gold- en Boot winner Liam Boland leads the front line. Out wide, they have pace to burn opponents on transition through wingers Stefan Valentini and Stefan Zinni, although Zinni is under an injury cloud after coming off early against the Cannons with what looked like a shoulder injury. Also under an injury cloud for Avondale is skipper and experienced keeper Chris Oldfield who missed the semi-final through a thigh injury. Defender Matt Reid also missed that game. But such is Avondale's depth, those players were hardly missed against the Cannons. They are a team that will back themselves to score, whatever the situation they find themselves in. The Greens know this only too well, after having led last season's NPL even game," he said. "I don't think it's going to be a game like the last game of the season. Bentleigh has shown it has what it takes to win a finals game the hard way, winning both their finals matches away. Avondale's strength is their squad compared with Bentleigh Greens at the moment. They've done an amazing job to get back to back grand finals. It's not easy, and with a change of coach as well. This year I think they've gone up another level and they've brought in players that complement their style. We all know they've probably been the benchmark all season." Grand Final day at AAMI Park on Sunday 15 September features the following three finals: 12.30 pm NPL Promotion/ Relegation Play-off : Bulleen Lions v Dandenong Thunder 3.30 pm WNPL Victoria Grand Final : Bulleen Lions v Calder United 6.30 pm NPL Victoria Grand Final : Avondale FC v Bentleigh Greens ed their campaign in great fashion, will hope to capitalise on this fact and walk away with a point or three. Ruben Semedo remains injured and will not participate in Saturday's game, while the condition of Miguel Angel Guerrero is unknown as coach Pedro Martins seems to have taken a preference to Youssef El Arabi. In other games, AEK host Lamia (with the Enosi asking for a moment of silence to be held before the match in honour the fallen during the Asia Minor Catastrophe) and table-leaders Xanthi welcome Asteras Tripolis. SUPER LEAGUE ONE, DAY THREE FIXTURES Saturday 14 September 7.00 pm Atromitos - PAOK 7.15 pm OFI - Panetolikos 9.30 pm Olympiacos - Volos Sunday 15 September 7.00 pm Xanthi - Asteras Tripolis 7.15 pm Panionios - AEL 9.00 pm Aris - Panathinaikos 9.30 pm AEK - Lamia Greek PM meets with the Greek tennis team Greek tennis superstar Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Poland's Hubert Hurkacz on Thursday at noon during their Davis Cup match in Tatoi. Tsitsipas won the match 2-0, bringing the score between Greece and Poland to 1-1. However, the Greek team went on to lose the final match in the doubles against a Marcin Matkowski-lead Polish side and was subsequently knocked out of the tournament. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was among the spectators, supporting Greece. He met with Tsitsipas after the game, and briefly spoke with him as well as Greece's national team, congratulating them for their efforts in the tournament. Tennis superstar Stefanos Tsitsipas and Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
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