With Bentleigh Greens’ win last week, four Greek sponsored teams will contest the FFA Cup in the round of 16, showing just how important the sport is to the community.
As the fourth and final Greek sponsored team to make it into the round of 16 for the FFA Cup, the feat isn’t lost on Bentleigh Greens coach John Anastasiadis.
A player in the NSL days and a legend in the Greek Australian football community, seeing his team and Sydney Olympic, Aris, and Olympic FC make it to the top 16 of the nation shows just how deep the love of football still is in the community.
“It’s the biggest sport for our community, no doubt about it,” Anastasiadis tells Neos Kosmos.
“The Greek community has been a leader in the sport of football in Australia and it continues to be so.
“It’s dropped off a little bit with the generational changes, but I still think there’s a strong bond between our community and soccer.”
Bentleigh Greens managed to upset local team Blacktown City this week to make it through to the next round.
Travelling up to Sydney, it seemed like the Greens brought the weather with them, as rain pelted down on the synthetic pitch, giving them quite an advantage.
City have been known to falter with inclement weather, and as the first droplets fell before the match, the local team weren’t feeling as confident.
Tipped as the best thing out of the A-League, City struggled to get a hold of the game, as they were unable to get past the Bentleigh defence, and get a good enough position for a strike.
After Greens striker David Stirton kicked the lone goal of the match, City came back with a vengeance, desperate to equalise.
Goalkeeper Alastair Bray kept the onslaught at bay and made several outstanding saves to keep the Greens ahead.
No one is prouder of the team’s efforts than coach Anastasiadis.
“They really put the pressure on us, but the boys held out, and they got their just rewards,” he says.
Currently, Bentleigh are in a bit of a comeback, not conceding a game in three matches.
Their NPL race continued Friday night, when the team took on fellow Greek team Port Melbourne Sharks.
Anastasiadis rested a couple of players, giving some players suffering from ‘niggly’ injuries a chance to recuperate.
Travelling interstate will have given the boys a real taste of professional football, but their opponents last night have the luxury of a full week of uninterrupted training.
Anastasiadis says the full fixture can work in the team’s favour.
“Sometimes playing a lot of games is good for the players because they don’t have to do a lot of training, no one likes training, so they’d rather keep playing all the time,” he says.
Bentleigh Greens will find out who their opponents for the next FFA Cup match when the final round 32 matches are played.
source: Neos Kosmos