School­mates go head to head in soc­cer tie

Central Leader - - News - By Scott Morgan

It’ll be mate against mate when Mi­los Nikolic takes the field for Cen­tral United against Mt Al­bert Gram­mar in their Chatham Cup soc­cer tie to­mor­row.

When the two sides met at the same stage of the com­pe­ti­tion last year, the 18-year-old was still at school play­ing for the Mt Al­bert team.

While he has stepped up to the big leagues af­ter fin­ish­ing his sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion last year, many of his friends still play for for­mer All White as­sis­tant coach Kevin Fal­lon’s Mt Al­bert side.

He says the friends he has spo­ken to aren’t ner­vous about the match, which they lost 5-0 in their pre­vi­ous en­counter. “They’re quite ex­cited to play against Cen­tral again and do bet­ter than last year.”

The Green­lane res­i­dent says the pro­fes­sion­al­ism in the Mt Al­bert Gram­mar team was great prepa­ra­tion for the step up to Cen­tral United.

“At Mt Al­bert you’re en­cour­aged to be fo­cused as a foot­baller so you can put in your best per­form- ance ev­ery week. We get ba­si­cally the same mes­sage at Cen­tral.”

And the mes­sage is ob­vi­ously get­ting through to the striker with 10 goals in his first sea­son of se­nior foot­ball.

Mi­los says he has no­ticed the dif­fer­ence in skill level af­ter play­ing in the men’s com­pe­ti­tion.

“There are more fo­cused sides – it’s def­i­nitely a bit tougher.”

As for the re­sult of the match, Mi­los is re­luc­tant to make a pre­dic­tion.

“I don’t like to call a game – I just go out there and do it. But it won’t be as easy as peo­ple think.”

Cen­tral United coach Peter Martin says Mt Al­bert Gram­mer suc­cess sto­ries like Mi­los’ mean his team have to be at their best.

“He’s made a re­ally easy tran­si­tion from school foot­ball to play­ing men’s foot­ball.

“It’s a huge pos­i­tive that Kevin brings to the game and that’s why we have to be wary of them. Some of the MAGS kids could play in the pre­mier league right now.”

The match takes place at Mt Al­bert Gram­mar from 2pm.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Ahead of the game: Mi­los Nikolic, left, takes on Hamil­ton Wan­derer’s James Am­phlett for Cen­tral United dur­ing the North­ern Pre­mier League ear­lier in the sea­son.

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