North Melbourne Special Report
In light of North’s recent scintillating form, it’s only fair that all of their hard work up until this point of the season earns some recognition, as they sit atop of the NIKE V-League ladder with a 5 point cushion.
The current 2011 V-League season has been a huge success on many levels for the boys of North Melbourne. In recent seasons, North has always maintained a high standard of Futsal under the Milton Sakkos regime, always managing to finish the season among the top four. But they have not been able jump that final hurdle of claiming a league title! That all seems about to change as North have managed to keep together a core of regular players week in week out. Gone are the days where the dark blues struggled for players and both managers, Milton Sakkos and Spiro Kargas had to take to the pitch to make up the numbers. Now Sakkos and Kargas have taken their partnership off of the pitch to make sure that their boys stay hungry, intense and focused with their eyes on the prize. The beauty of their double management style is that when one of them is unavailable, the other is always there to take over – a luxury no other side has!
Another key to North’s flawless season is their ability to change playing styles. Being the clear leader of all the teams in the goals scored department (North have bagged 112 in total and the next closest is Pascoe Vale on 86), one would have thought that North would be an all out attacking side, and with results like 13-2 against Albert Park and 14-4 against Essendon you wouldn’t be wrong! But their disciplined 2-1 win against serious title rivals Pascoe Vale, and even their 4-3 win over Fitzroy suggests that they can protect a lead and be content with maintaining possession while soaking up their opponents pressure. So with the flick of a switch North can adapt to combat any playing style they may be faced with.
North’s new recruits have also been a major factor why they are the raging 2011 title favourites. Sakkos has definitely patched up all of the holes that needed filling from last season! For example, their current keeper, Christos Apostolakis has been in career best form and could be considered the best keeper in the league! The addition of Japanese playmaker Hara Yoshinao has added another element to North’s game plan as he has come into the league and made an immediate impact. But no other inclusion into the side could be bigger than Fernando De Moraes. The return of the former Futsalroo captain has definitely lifted the spirits within the North Melbourne camp and signalled their intent for V-League glory. Even Tiago Priori who is in his first ‘full’ season has found his feet in the league and has combined (to devastating effect) well with the North lads.
Leading the table at this point of the season is a position that Sakkos and his troops have been somewhat unfamiliar with, but it’s fairly safe to say that the 2011 title is theirs to lose. And if they were to lift the NIKE V-League trophy aloft, they would be deserving winners, as they have done all of the right things to become champions in their dedication, organisation, recruiting and desire to improve on past seasons. Hopefully by seasons end, all of their hard work pays off.
Albert Park FC v FC Melbourne (4-6)
The first game to kick off Round 14 saw Albert Park in 12th and last position take on fellow cellar dwellers Melbourne in 10th. It was a clash where both sides would fancy their chances to take the three points, but the odds were with Melbourne as they had the more settled squad – Albert Park are still going through a rather large squad transition which manager, Alex Areggin, is still yet to settle. It was a tightly contested first half with Melbourne going into the break 4-2, lead by an Elias Stavridis brace. In the second half, Albert Park were able to break Melbourne’s momentum with two hard earned goals through Felipe Rilling and Rodrigo Covarrubias to really put the pressure on the dark blues. But goals from David Fletcher and Mus Eloor – both scoring doubles – was enough to see Melbourne escape with the points and keep their dreams of FOz Cup glory alive.
Metropolitan FC v FC Balwyn (3-3)
The second game saw two of the more physical side of the NIKE V-League in Metropolitan (6th) and Balwyn (11th) do battle for top honours. Metropolitan were the favourites ahead of kick off, but Balwyn seemed to have an air of confidence about them, due to their recent top form. Balwyn hit the ground running in the first half as they took a 2-0 lead through Ben Bodo and Tony Imeri and were instructed by manager Matt Obeid to protect that lead into the second half – which they were able to do so! Metropolitan suffered an even bigger set back going into the second half as Jason Barrientos extended Balwyn’s lead by 3 goals. But being experienced campaigners, Metropolitan somehow clawed their way back into the game with goals from Dino Redzepovic and Tomo Grgic to set up a nervy ending. It seemed that Balwyn were not able to handle their nerves as they would have hoped as burly defender, Tony Saric, turned the ball into his own net with only second remaining. It was a heart breaking result for Balwyn who could have climbed further away from the foot of the table and a wake up call for Metropolitan who seem to be not themselves of late!
North Melbourne FC v FC Prahran (5-2)
The clash at 8pm saw league leaders, North Melbourne take on Prahran who are knocking on the door of the top four in fifth. The first half started out with both sides just getting a feel for each other, as the score remained 0-0 up until the 10-minute mark, until the dead lock was finally broken by none other than Fernando De Moraes when he added two quick goals. Only for Prahran to draw one back soon after through Marcus Barbosa and complete the first half scoring. The second half saw North pull further away from Prahran as they added three unanswered goals through Hara Yoshinao, Tiago Priori and Adam Cooper. The score line rather flattered Prahran as they were able to clear no fewer than three certain goals off the line with some desperate defending. Ahmed Muktar continued his scoring form after bagging four goals last week by adding Prahran’s second of the night and completing the 5-2 score line. It was a fine performance from the North boys who seemed to have a firm grip on their opponents throughout the duration of the game, with stand out performances from keeper Christos Apostolakis, De Moraes and Cooper.
Pascoe Vale FC v CF Brunswick (9-1)
The encounter between title and top four rivals Pascoe Vale (2nd) and Brunswick (3rd) was definitely the glamour tie of the night and one game that the packed Futsal Oz stadium was looking forward too. The first half was played in a tug of war style, where Pascoe Vale were only able to gain a narrow 2-0 lead. This was mainly due to the organised nature of the Brunswick team that attack, defend and play as a ‘unit’. But the second half told a far different story to the first as the black and whites piled on 7 goals to 1. It could have been a lot worse for the Brunswick boys, as Pascoe Vale skipper, Andre Caro, was awarded with two long range penalties in which he was unable to convert either! Reds keeper, Brendan Chen – who returned to the Brunswick line up after a three-week absence – was able to get his hands on one of the Caro bullets, but was ruing that his return game was against a rampaging Pascoe Vale side who only had one scoreless field player in Ahmed Azzam, while Brenno Polatti, Vadim Mazurskiy and Joao Da Silva all scored two, and singles were added from Adam Husseini, Ernie Simsek and Caro respectively. Ruz Roslan was the only one to add a major for the usually heavy scoring Brunswick side, with the likes of quality players in Munya Nyadzayo, Danny Ngaluafe and Mike Sharples being held goal-less! A great win for Pascoe Vale who continue to pile the pressure on league leaders North Melbourne.
Ashburton FC v FC Essendon (6-10)
A game, which guaranteed goals, was the match between Ashburton (8th) and Essendon (7th) as the two leading goal scorers in James Blackburn (AFC) and Alex Stevanovic (FCE) with 26 and 28 goals respectively went head to head. The first started well for the ‘green machine’ as Simon La Manda opened the scoring, only for Essendon to respond with the next four goals with braces from Stevanovic and Hooman Shekari. Jimmy Blackburn pulled the score back with a well struck free-kick – just when his boys needed him – to make it 4-2 at the break. Ashburton’s scoring fortune continued into the second half as Moe Alghorabi and a Dima Nichiforenco double made it interesting. But it was Essendon’s steely defender, Alex Husseini, who stole the show as he put in one of the performances of the night with four well-worked goals! Strikes that Blackburn and Stevanovic would be proud of! With the score at 8-5, Blackburn pulled another goal back late in the game, but it wouldn’t be enough as Stevanovic claimed his third and Robert Shekari earned his first and his sides 10th in the 10-6 win. Ashburton will be left scratching their heads as they let yet another winnable game slip through their fingers, whereas Essendon continue to punish those who underestimate them.
Hume FC v Fitzroy FC (6-3)
The final game of the night saw 9th ranked Hume take on the newly established Fitzroy side in 4th. It was always going to be a tough game for the young boys of Fitzroy as they came up against a determined Hume, who would do anything to rejoin their place among the top 8 and avoid relegation, and to make matters worse for Fitzroy, they were to go into battle without their two ‘clear’ avenues to goal in Richie Ferguson and Lucas Johns. Hume, led by a starring performance from keeper Con Makris were able to obtain a 2-1 lead before half time. They could have kept a clean sheet for the half, only to give away a 6th foul penalty with only seconds remaining. A penalty which captain and leader, Shayan Rashidi coolly stepped up and converted. Wanting to skip away from their higher ranked opponents, Hume came out firing on all cylinders, and they did just that as Haider Noor topped the match scoring with a hat-trick, Moe Tankir bagged two and Mehmet Parlak scored a single. Shayan Rashidi added another to get his second for the match and Stephen Gustus’ single completed the Fitzroy scoring as they fell 3 goals short of Hume. A special mention needs to be handed out to Fitzroy defender Chris Yang who had many ‘clear-cut’ chances denied by Hume’s influential keeper Con Makris, who battled so hard he went off injured late in the game. It was a promising performance from Amin Keddad’s Hume who desperately needed the points, and if they consistently play like they did against Fitzroy, we may yet still see them sneak back into the top 8!
V-League 2011 Top Goal Scorers
- A. Stevanovic FCE – 31
- J. Blackburn AFC – 29
- M. Nyadzayo CFB – 27
- C. Holmes FCP – 24
- M. Avram FCP – 24
Round 14 Wednesday August 3
- 6:30 Albert Park FC v FC Melbourne 4 – 6
- 7:15 Metropolitan FC v FC Balwyn 3 – 3
- 8:00 Nth Melbourne v FC Prahran 5 – 2
- 8:45 Pascoe Vale FC v CF Brunswick 9 – 1
- 9:30 Ashburton FC v FC Essendon 6 – 10
- 10:15 Hume FC v Fitzroy FC 6 – 3
Round 15 Wednesday August 10
- 6:30 CF Brunswick v FC Melbourne
- 7:15 Pascoe Vale FC v FC Essendon
- 8:00 Ashburton FC v FC Prahran
- 8:45 Nth Melbourne FC v Fitzroy FC
- 9:30 Metropolitan FC v Hume FC
- 10:15 Albert Park FC v FC Balwyn
Go to futsaloz.tv to see video highlights of all the matches.