Category Archives: SPORTS

2017 Telstra SAP State Championships For Boys about to begin in Newcastle

u11s NNSW Newcastle SAP state team

Northern NSW Footballers to Test Themselves at Rescheduled Telstra State SAP Championships for Boys

More than 220 of the most talented young, male footballers in Northern NSW will have the chance to come together again at the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility this weekend to compete in the rescheduled Telstra SAP State Championships for Boys.

Earlier this year the Telstra State SAP Championships were scheduled in Coffs Harbour, however, heavy rainfall leading up to and during the Championships forced Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) to cancel and reschedule.

The Telstra SAP State Championships for Boys is contested by the Member Zones who support NNSWF’s strategic direction through the implementation of Licensed Skill Acquisition Programs (SAP’s). Squads representing the NNSWF Newcastle SAP and a composite NNSWF Select SAP will also participate in the 11 and 12 Years divisions.

The composition of the Telstra SAP State Championships for Boys has been amended to acknowledge the vital contribution of Licensed SAP’s to the development of players within NNSWF’s Talented Player Pathway. Skill development is clearly the primary focus of the Skill Acquisition Phase, however, players also have to develop their understanding of the game in order to apply these skills in an appropriate context.

Teams across Northern NSW will include, Macquarie Football, Hunter Valley Football, Northern Inland Football, Football Mid North Coast, North Coast Football, NNSW Newcastle SAP, and NNSW Select SAP.

The first matches commence at 5:00 pm on Friday, August 18th, with both 11 and 12 Years Boys matches played simultaneously on two fields – Field 1 hosting the 12 Years Boys and Field 2 hosting the 11 Years Boys.

The presentation ceremony for the Championships will take place from 6:35 pm on Sunday 20th August.




Japan frustrates Socceroos in World Cup Qualifier


Genki Haraguchi of Japan (centre) and Mile Jedinak of Australia (right) contest during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier game between Australia and Japan at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016. \ Photo: AAP/Julian Smith

Postecoglou laments wasted opening half

Despite keeping its undefeated record intact, the Socceroos have missed out on the chance to stay top of its World Cup Qualifying group following a 1-1 home draw against Japan last Tuesday evening. Saudi Arabia 3-0 home win over UAE in Jeddah on the same night, means that the Socceroos drop to second behind the Saudis on the World Cup Qualification Group table.

For those anticipating an even tussle between two of the strongest footballing teams in the Asian Football Confederation at Docklands stadium last Tuesday, the performance was quite a surprise even if the end results was more in keeping with the history of close matches between these two rivals.
There has probably never been a Socceroo-Japan matches in which the Australians have so dominated possession against one of the strongest sides in Asian football. The stats show the Socceroos had more than twice the amount of possession and played twice the number of passes than Japan. Likewise it’s difficult to recall a Japanese team that has been so defensive minded. Coach Vahid Halilhodzic set his team out in a 4-5-1 formation with AC Milan’s Keisuke Honda leading the line, indicative perhaps of the respect Hililhodzic had for the Socceroos and a clear admission that both he and the team could ill afford a second loss in the first four games of the qualifying campaign.

Socceroos boss Postecoglou, still looking for his first win against the Japanese, sprung a selection surprise beginning the match with a 4-4-2 formation, which whilst conceding some speed and width in attack, enabled him to introduce Massimo Luongo into a four man midfield. Up front partnering the in-form Tomi Juric, was striker Apostolos Giannou who was a late inclusion in this squad due to an injury to Dejenak. Postecoglou also started right back Ryan Mcgowan in place of Mark Milligan.

Australia suffered an early set back in the fifth minute when an early turnover of possession in a dangerous area allowed Honda to feed the ball to left sided midfielder Genki Haraguchi who calmly slotted a left foot shot past Matt Ryan. As in the last match against Saudi Arabia, the Socceroos had to find a way back into the match after conceding early.

From Australia’s point of view, despite its large share of possession, the first half was frustrating. Midfielders Rogic, Luongo and Mooys were closed down quickly, rarely linking with the forwards. The Socceroos rarely penetrated the Japanese back four and the team failed to play forward quickly enough, creating no clear cut chances.

Within seven minutes of the restart however, Australia was back on level terms, when marauding left back Brad Smith’s incisive cross found Juric who went down in the box under a Haraguchi challenge. Skipper Mile Jedinak calmly fired home the resultant penalty to lift the home team. Postecoglou sensed a pivotal point in the match and introduced Robbie Kruse for Giannou, changing to a 4-3-3 formation hoping to exploit a tiring Japan with more width and movement up front. Despite continuing to dominate possession and the midfielders Rogic, luongo and Mooys finding more space, clear cut openings continued to elude the Socceroos. In fact it was the counter-attacking Japanese through a goal-bound Yu Kobayashi header, who came closest to scoring, foiled only by a terrific Matt Ryan diving save.

Tim Cahill and Matthew Leckie joined the fray off the subs bench as the Socceroos pressed hard for an precious winner, but it was defender Matthew Spiranovic who came closest to scoring when he headed narrowly over the bar from a set piece with just minutes remaining. In the end the Socceroos had to settle for a point frustrated by its lack of clear cut chances despite bossing possession.

After the match, Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou blamed the early conceded goal and the static display rather than the team formation for what he described as a wasted first half.

“It was not the formation that let the team down,” he said. “It was because the team was very static and we were looking for solutions in the wrong way.
“I’m not leaning one way or another ( formation wise). I guess what we’re trying to do is create a scenario where we have multiple ways of breaking down the opposition. You’ve seen in these last four games both at home and away the opposition sitting off us. I don’t want us to be predictable.”

“We were poor in the first half, got off to a poor start, conceded a soft goal. They sat off, closed down the spaces, we just weren’t mobile enough. We wasted 45 minutes…We were rally static, there wasn’t a lot of movement, we were looking for things precisely instead of pressing the issues. We had half an eye on the scoreboard and you just can’t do that. The scoreboard will take care of itself. Instead of being a little too precise and too cute, we should have taken the game to them a bit more.”

“He (Juric) was okay tonight. He and (forward Apostolos) Giannou were a little bit too stagnant for us in the first half.(But) with Tommy he’s had an effect on the game.It’s good to see he’s certainly maturing and progressing well.”

Japanese coach Vahid Halilhodzic commented on his team’s approach and tactics.

“I knew many of my players were fatigued. Our tactics were based on the physical condition of our players and they did a good job, especially defensively.
“We let the opponent have the ball because we knew we would have chances to score.

“I knew everything about Australia and they are the Asian champions, sometimes you can’t take too many risks. I won’t comment on their goal, but we could’ve scored more, their keeper (Mat Ryan) made two great saves.

“We were not in danger, they didn’t create chances, we were well organised. When we got the ball we hesitated. We have to be more secure in our passing.

“I congratulated the players and asked them to win a starting place at their clubs and if they don’t play, to do extra training to be fit for the next camp.”

Australia’s next group qualifying match is on November 15th away to Thailand.

source:neos kosmos

Experienced Greece defeats creative Cyprus


Greece made it two out of two in the World Cup qualifiers beating visiting Cyprus 2-0 in Piraeus despite a rather lackluster performance on Friday. Two first-half goals by Costas Mitroglou and Petros Mantalos sealed it for the hosts.

The successful start to the tenure of German manager Michael Skibbe on the Greek bench continues. He opted for left-back Costas Stafylidis as a replacement for injured Andreas Samaris next to Yiannis Maniatis as holding midfielders, and they had plenty of work against a quite creative Cypriot side.

Yet Greece needed just 12 minutes to open the score, as Costas Fortounis took hold of a loose ball in the Cyprus box and fed incoming Mitroglou who slid the ball past Cypriot keeper Costas Panaghi.

Then three minutes before half-time Mantalos took advantage of an error by Panaghi and lobbed the ball into the net for Greece’s second goal.

Cyprus twice came close to pulling a goal back early in the second half via Nestor Mytides and Giorgos Efraim, and was unlucky not to score as the Greek defense appeared disorganized at times.

It is worth noting that when the 1,500 Cypriot fans chanted “Greece-Cyprus, Enosis”, the rest of the stadium offered a warm round of applause. Enosis, a historically charged word for the Cypriots, means Union in Greek.

Greece is now joint top of the table along with Belgium and on Monday it travels to Estonia. Cyprus, still on zero points, visits Bosnia next.

Larissa downs Olympiakos, as PAO and PAOK draw


New boys Larissa defeated champion Olympiakos on Sunday, offering AEK the chance to go alone on top of the Super League table on Monday if it beats Iraklis at home.

Olympiakos continued its string of poor performances that saw it miss out on the Champions League group stage in August, and lost 1-0 to a stubborn Larissa at the AEL FC Arena due to a Nikos Golias goal in injury time. The hosts beat Olympiakos for the first time in over 10 years.

For now Panathinaikos and Platanias are on top with seven points after their goalless draws on the road ended their perfect record from the first two games.

Panathinaikos drew at Panetolikos after a game full of chances but without any goals, although the Greens are fuming at having a goal canceled in the first half for offside, although on TV replays it appeared the goal should stand.

Hania team Platanias snatched a goalless draw at PAS Yiannina, that finished the match with 10 men, while PAOK also shared a goalless game with Xanthi at home, with the visitors playing with 10 from the 69th minute.

Veria, that saw its coach Alekos Vosniadis leave during the week, grabbed its first points of the season beating Panionios 2-1 away; similarly Atromitos, with caretaking coach Giorgos Korakakis on its bench after the sacking of Traianos Dellas, downed visiting Asteras Tripolis 1-0 at Peristeri.

First win for Levadiakos too, that saw off Kerkyra 2-1 at home on Sunday.

Greece beats Gibraltar 4-1 and banishes ghosts


Greece survived a first-half scare by Gibraltar to begin its campaign for qualifying to the 2018 World Cup with a 4-1 away win, all goals coming in the first half of the game on Tuesday.

Far from convincing against a particularly weak opponent, Greece let an early lead – through a Costas Mitroglou volley on the 10th minute – as Liam Walker capitalized on the second chance Gibraltar got in the game to equalize on the 26th, with a great shot to the top right-hand corner of the Orestis Karnezis goal.

The ghosts of the home and away losses to the Faroe Islands in the Euro 2016 qualifiers started haunting the Greece players, and it took an own goal by Scott Wiseman on the 44th to restore order at the neutral venue of Faro – as Gibraltar does not yet have a ground to comply with FIFA standards.

At that point the amateur players of the home team collapsed and Greece managed to score two more goals before the half-time whistle, first through Costas Fortounis from a great through ball by Mitroglou, and then by a solo effort by captain Vassilis Torosidis from the right. Three goals within four minutes.

Although goal difference will count at the end of the qualifying group, Greece could not add to its tally on the night, as it missed all the chances it created in the second half, partly due to the performance of the Gibraltar goalkeeper, Jordan Perez. Thankfully Gibraltar also ailed to covert its own couple of second-half opportunities.

In its next game on October 7 Greece will host Cyprus, who lost 3-0 at home to Belgium on Tuesday.


All three Greek teams can advance in Europa League

moledo_aik_web-thumb-largeAll of Greece’s three representatives in the Europa League have maintained their hopes of advancing to the competition’s play-offs after the first legs on Thursday, with Panathinaikos winning at home, AEK drawing in France and PAS Giannina losing by one goal in the Netherlands.

Brazilian central defender Moledo gave Panathinaikos a precious 1-0 home win over AIK Solna at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium, after a game the Greens dominated but had to wait until the 79th minute to score.

Having missed a number of chances and seen two goals disallowed, Panathinaikos scored the winner from a Giandomenico Mesto cross that Moledo sent home with a bullet header. AIK was twice denied by Panathinaikos keeper Luke Steele.

AEK frustrated its host, Saint Etienne to a goalless draw and is now well-positioned to win the tie with a good enough performance in Athens next week.

On its return to European soccer after four years in the wilderness, including going down to Greece’s third division, the Greek Cup holder played a waiting game in France without taking too many chances in the process. The hosts had possession but could not create a major chance to score.

PAS Giannina was much more composed than in its previous away game a week earlier at Odd Grenland, but still lost 1-0 at AZ Alkmaar.

The Dutch side was on top for most of the game and scored on the 36th minute through Derrick Luckassen with a diving header on the sole occasion where PAS keeper Alexandros Paschalakis was beaten on the night. The return leg, to be played at Peristeri, western Athens, is PAS’s chance to make history again.

All second-leg games will take place on Thursday, August 4.

Olympiakos fans jeer their team in goalless draw with Hapoel

kapino_hapoel_web-thumb-largeA poor Olympiakos conceded a goalless draw to Israeli champion Hapoel Beer Sheva after a quite poor match in Piraeus for the third qualifying round of the Champions League on Wednesday.

The Israelis, in their first ever season in the Champions League, seemed better prepared for the game, having already negotiated successfully the second round against Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova.

It was the visitors who missed the first half’s best chances, with Olympiakos escaping twice in the last 10 minutes, first through Alberto Botia and then via Alberto de la Bella.

The Greeks’ best moment was two minutes from the end when a Luka Milivojevic shot from outside the area was fingered to a corner kick by Hapoel keeper David Goresh. His Olympiakos opposite number, Stefanos Kapino, gave a similar answer to an Anthony Nwakaeme shot from close range in injury time.

The home fans actually booed their players off the pitch both at half-time and after the final whistle. If anything the Reds displayed they desperately need more reinforcements in the summer transfer period, and they seem to have not yet overcome the shock of the sudden departure of their manager, Marco Silva in June.

The return leg is scheduled for August 3 in Israel.

On Thursday AEK, Panathinaikos and PAS Giannina are involved in Europa League third-qualifying-round ties.

Greece sees off Mexico and prepares for Croatia

koufos_mexico_web-thumb-largeIt only took a decent quarter for Greece to turn things in its favor and top its group at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Turin, Italy, downing Mexico 86-70 on Wednesday.

After a miserable first half when Mexico actually led 35-33, Greece regrouped to score a 27-13 partial score in the third quarter and take the game beyond the Mexicans.

Yiannis Antetokounmpo scored 21 points for Greece, followed by Yiannis Bouroussis with 16.

In the semifinal of the tournament Greece will face Croatia on Friday, hoping to reach Saturday’s final, probably against host Italy. It will likely take a much improved performance from Wednesday’s against Mexico for the Greeks to see off Croatia.

England 1-2 Iceland: another humiliating exit from Europe


England suffered their worst humiliation since they were knocked out of the 1950 World Cup by USA in Brazil as Iceland shocked them in the last 16 of Euro 2016.

Manager Roy Hodgson resigned after the abject embarrassment of losing to a nation ranked 34th in the world – and with a population of just 330,000 – despite taking the lead through Wayne Rooney’s fourth-minute penalty.

Iceland equalised within a minute as England failed to deal with a trademark long throw and Ragnar Sigurdsson bundled home from close range.

England’s shameful performance was summed up by Iceland’s 18th-minute winner when goalkeeper Joe Hart was badly at fault – just as in the win over Wales – as he let Kolbeinn Sigthorsson’s shot through his hand.

Hodgson made changes as Iceland dug in, but the underdogs had as many chances as England before the final whistle blew on their Euro 2016 hopes and his four-year tenure as manager.

Is it all Hodgson’s fault?

The ultimate responsibility lies with the manager but, make no mistake, he was badly let down by players capable of so much better – not just on this black night for English sport but throughout Euro 2016.

Hart has had a nightmare tournament, young hopes such as Harry Kane and Dele Alli failed to live up to their performances last season, and captain Rooney, who had been England’s best player up until this game, chose this night to give one of his worst performances in an international.

England were shown up by the work-rate, desire and sheer physical commitment of their counterparts. Yes, Hodgson will take the blame and has paid the price but these highly paid Premier League players should not escape criticism.

A reputation scarred

Football Association chairman Greg Dyke had flagged up a quarter-final place as a minimum requirement, but Hodgson’s England could not even achieve that.

Hodgson’s thinking had been muddled even before England arrived in France, with constant changes of personnel and approach exemplified by the sudden re-introduction – and subsequent substitution – of Raheem Sterling, although the Manchester City forward did win the penalty from which Rooney scored.

England managers’ records
Manager England career Played Won Win %
Fabio Capello 2008-12 42 28 66.7%
Alf Ramsey 1963-74 113 69 61.1%
Glenn Hoddle 1996-99 28 17 60.7%
Ron Greenwood 1977-82 55 33 60%
Sven-Goran Eriksson 2001-06 67 40 59.7%
Roy Hodgson 2012-16 56 33 58.9%
Walter Winterbottom 1946-62 139 78 56.1%

As the game went on, Hodgson cut a detached figure, seemingly powerless to influence the game – and he waited too long to introduce the fearless pace and direct running of Marcus Rashford, who posed more problems in four minutes than most of those who had gone before.

Hodgson has never given off any sort of assurance during Euro 2016, unsure of his best team and strategy.

England have won one game out of four, with a last-minute winner from Daniel Sturridge against Wales – and this defeat will be a scar forever on Hodgson’s record and reputation.

England fans vent fury

England’s players slumped to the ground in despair and embarrassment when one final corner was wasted and Iceland had completed their landmark win.

It left them within range of the fury of England’s travelling support, who had gathered in their thousands as usual in Nice in the expectation of seeing them reach the last 16 of Euro 2016.

And they wasted no time in letting England’s players feel their full fury, frustration that had built up throughout the game exploding in anger directed at those who had failed to perform.

Goalkeeper Joe Hart held his hands up in apology to no avail as some supporters hurled England shirts and flags in the team’s direction.

When England left Brazil after their failure there in 2014, they were actually applauded at the end of a 0-0 draw in a dead rubber against Costa Rica – there was no such escape here as the supporters came to terms with one of the most embarrassing, painful nights in the history of English sport.

What next?

While England will begin to pick apart a wretched tournament, Iceland will go on to the quarter-finals and undoubtedly the biggest game in their history when they face hosts France at the Stade de France on Saturday.

Wales’ quarter-final against Belgium on Friday will be broadcast live on BBC One, with build-up starting at 19:30 BST.

The quarter-finals in full (all games start at 20:00 BST):

  • Poland v Portugal in Marseille, Thursday
  • Wales v Belgium in Lille, Friday
  • Germany v Italy in Bordeaux, Saturday
  • France v Iceland in Paris, Sunday

England goalkeeper Joe Hart: “As a group it is down to us. All the plans are put in place, we knew everything about Iceland – but ultimately we didn’t perform. Personally I didn’t perform.

“It’s not a question of wanting it, there’s nothing we want more – they are just words though. We were in a good place but we haven’t done it.

“We will get a lot of flak and we deserve it. We will learn from this and try and bring English football back to where it belongs. We have put it in a low place.

“We just couldn’t find a way back into the game. The next manager has a tough job on his hands. We worked hard but with no success. That is how this team will be remembered.”

England captain Wayne Rooney: “It’s a sad day for us.

“Sometimes not always the best team win. Once they got in the lead we knew it would be difficult to get the goal back because they are well organised.

“Going into the last 16 facing Iceland we were confident we could win the game. It’s disappointing but we have to move on.

“It’s tough. There are always upsets in football – it’s not tactics, it’s just unfortunate. We know we’re a good team.

“I can’t stand here and say exactly why it’s happened. Roy Hodgson will look back and think what he could have done differently.

“I’m still available to play. It’ll be interesting to see who comes in.”

Sydney Olympic sign former Schalke midfielder Rene Klingenburg who has eye on A-League


Sydney Olympic believe they have unearthed a gem after announcing the signing of former Schalke midfielder Rene Klingenburg as the wave of young foreign players to the state leagues shows no signs of slowing down.

The often forgotten fields of the National Premier League NSW are now blossoming into fertile grounds of talented visa-players who are prepared to gamble on breaking into the A-League via these semi-professional clubs.

Klingenburg, 22, follows the arrival of 13 players from Japan and South Korea who left the pathways of their more established football systems at home in pursuit of professional contracts this season.

After falling out with the Bundesliga giants’ youth ranks after clashes with staff and teammates, Klingenburg opted for a fresh start in Australia and joined Olympic for the remainder of the season where he hopes to impress professional clubs. A-League clubs were notified of his ability after just one training session with Olympic but overseas markets are also proving an incentive for the foreign players.

Olympic president Bill Papas believes it’s not just the lure of the A-League, but also the growth of the Asian market where clubs in South East Asia are becoming regular buyers of players in the state leagues.

“We are experiencing an influx of players from more established leagues to Australia who are eager to gain exposure and experience in a competition where they can also develop,” he said. “Being at the doorstep of one of the commercial markets being Asia, it’s obviously a huge incentive.”

It’s a significant gamble for foreign players considering so few graduated to the A-League from the state leagues, with Fabio Ferreira and Hiro Moriyasu the notable success stories. Tasuku Sekiya is one of the Japanese players lighting up the state leagues, emerging as one of the shining lights in an otherwise disappointing season for APIA Leichhardt. The fleet-footed forward was playing for lower league Japanese club Wesada United where he was noticed by former Australian-based player, Naoki Imaya, and offered the opportunity to further his development in Australia.

Sekiya has done his cause no harm this season but even if he fails to become a full-time professional in the A-League, he will go home with what he regards as two valuable assets: learning English and strengthening his weaknesses.

“I want to try to get into the A-League,” Sekiya said. “I want to play and I want to study English, I want both of these. [The NSW Premier League] is very physical, very strong. It’s different, Japan is very technical but Australia is physically very strong.”

Blacktown’s Japanese star Shu Sasaki was crowned second best in last year’s NPL NSW season and hopes his second year will finally help him achieve his dream of playing professionally.

“I just wanted to get an experience as a professional player or as a semi-professional player. I didn’t care about money so much. NSW Premier League is not a low level, it’s developing,” he said.