Papas ready for A-League chance

Arthur Papas said he would be ready to coach in the A-League if the chance came his way and that he has players in his Green Gully side who are capable of rising to that level as well.

Arthur Papas

Arthur Papas has guided Green Gully to the quarter-finals of the FFA Cup Source: Getty Images

Papas takes his team on to the national stage again on Tuesday night, in a FFA Cup quarter-final clash against Canberra Olympic at Deakin Reserve in Canberra.

The 36-year-old is highly regarded in football circles and is strongly tipped as an A-League coach of the future, having gradually built an impressive profile in Australia and overseas.

His name came up in speculation for both the recently vacant Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets jobs, which eventually went to Paul Okon and Mark Jones respectively.


Asked about his ambition to coach in the A-League, Papas told The World Game: "It's flattering to be linked with A-League jobs as a head coach. At the same time as I enjoy working for the club I'm with at the moment, I'm extremely ambitious still.

"You've got to get as many results as you can and tick as many boxes as possible, so that when the day comes you're ready and you're able to go in there and do the job that's required.

"I'm sure when that day comes it's not going to be a problem for me. I will have done the hard yards and educated myself correctly to make sure that I make the most of my opportunities.

"I'm certain there are players within my group this year who have the capabilities to play at professional level as well.

"We shouldn't forget that guys like Ivan Franjic and Sasa Ognenovski and so many other players came through these sort of pathways and maybe were missed early on, but with the correct identification  and the right opportunities they went on to make fantastic careers."

Unless Bentleigh Greens can cause a stunning upset by beating A-League club Melbourne Victory in the other cup quarter-final still to be played, tonight at Kingston Heath, the winner of the Canberra Olympic-Green Gully clash will be the only non-A-League club to qualify for the semi-finals.

Papas said his team was ready, despite not having played in a genuine competitive game since their 3-1 cup quarter-final win over Melbourne Knights on August 30.

"We arrived in Canberra yesterday and had a session out on the match ground last night," he said on Tuesday. "We got an opportunity to get on the pitch and see what it's like and get the players accustomed to it. The pitch is in good condition.

"It's 28 days since the Knights game, but we've had a couple of friendly practice matches over the last fortnight, which is important, because they (Canberra Olympic) have been playing grand finals and other competitive games during that time.

"That's why I think the first 15 minutes of the match will be very important for us, to try to settle in and then get on top and stay there."

Canberra won the NPL Capital grand final 3-0 over Canberra FC on September 11, and on September 17 they were eliminated 3-2 by Brisbane Strikers in the first stage of the NPL championship.

Green Gully made the finals of the Victorian NPL in fifth place and lost their elimination final 5-2 to Oakleigh Cannons on August 26.

As much as he respects Canberra Olympic, Papas said he believes there is a difference in the depth of quality of the leagues the two teams play in that will give Green Gully an advantage in the cup clash.

"I went and saw their grand final victory and we've studied the videos of their FFA Cup matches, plus their game against Brisbane Strikers," Papas said. "We know their team really well. They've had an outstanding season  in their own competition and the FFA Cup.

"They beat the team (Redlands United) that knocked Adelaide United out of the cup, so they've obviously got plenty of quality and this will be a tough game for us.

"But I think if there is an area we can exploit in terms of our fitness and our ability to run out games, the reality is that, if we compare the leagues, the Victorian league is a very strong league across the board.

"Canberra Olympic have some tough games in their league, but they probably also have some games that aren't as tough. The depth of the two leagues, in terms of playing tough games on a weekly basis, is probably the difference at the moment.

"The top teams in their league are able to compete with any teams across the country, but I think we're used to playing a very competitive game every week. It doesn't matter who you play in our league, it's a given that it will be a tough game.

"I think, overall, the midfield will be a very interesting battle in this game. Our ability to be quite mobile in the midfield will hopefully can give us an advantage."

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Published 27 September 2016 at 11:19am
By Greg Prichard