NSW Premier League Round 1 Preview


Bonnyrigg White Eagles open proceedings on Saturday evening against ?new boys? South Coast Wolves at Bonnyrigg Sports Club. The White Eagles have been tipped as a serious contender following a strong off-season both on the playing field and on the transfer market. Coach Brian Brown will be eager to unleash new striker Brad Boardman from the opening whistle, meanwhile new signings Shane Webb, Daniel Severino and Vuko Tomasevic will each be raring to go for their new club.
South Coast Wolves will be out to change the opinions of many on-lookers in 2009 that saw Wollongong Community FC finish last on the League ladder. Coach Trevor Morgan has assembled a relatively young group, though will be looking at the Premier League experience of Lisandro Berbis and Jason Trifiro to mount a challenge on Saturday evening.
Across at Marconi Stadium, last season?s grand-finalists Marconi Stallions open their 2010 campaign against West Sydney Berries. The Stallions have faced a difficult preparation for the new season with a smaller playing squad and their two new African imports Aguy Tape (Cameroon) and Ali Yamgue (Ivory Coast) missing the entire pre-season, though coach Lee Sterrey will be expecting a lot of new signing Matthew Hall who is currently injured and rising star Daniel Ott.
The Berries on the other hand enter season 2010 with much expectation on their shoulders. The squad made a huge leap forward under coach John Calleja in 2009, narrowly missing out on a finals berth. The side, again to be marshalled by experienced captain Aheleas Kotsopoulos, has maintained the core of last season?s squad, though with the addition of some very experienced campaigners has improved greatly the depth across the park. An exciting opening match is expected on Saturday evening.
On Sunday evening, Sydney Olympic meets defending champion Sutherland Sharks at Belmore Sports Ground. The Blues lacked ?mongrel? at times in 2009, and despite the heavy favourites tag at the start of last season, failed to reach the finals series. New boss Pat Marando is convinced his newly assembled group ? which possesses a fine mix of youth and experience ? will be a different team in 2010. Olympic will have to do the 2010 season without former Socceroo keeper Mark Bosnich who has retired from the game but has become one of the club’s new directors.

The Blues will need to get out of the blocks quickly as Sutherland Sharks are eager to re-live the fine achievements of 2009. Robbie Stanton has lost a number of key elements from the 2009 Premiership winning squad, none bigger than Brad Boardman and Panni Nikas, though the additions of Ben Vidaic and Scottish import Steve McConologue promise to provide the Sharks with a wealth of experience. In the opening ?official? match of the season, the Blues carry the home ground advantage, though the Sharks led by George Souris will certainly prove a tough opponent to overturn.
At Jensen Park, Bankstown City will be all guns blazing to get one over their 2009 elimination semi-final nemesis, Manly United FC.  Bankstown has lost a number of experienced players from last season?s squad, including the likes of Shane Webb and Phillip Makrys, though player/coach Peter Tsekenis will be hoping to find goals from new signing Almir Dizdaric in-front of the Lions home crowd.
Manly United FC enters the campaign perhaps a little under-done in comparison to previous seasons with the loss of a number of senior players in the off season. Coach Phil Moss will be hoping to cause what would be an opening day upset in case of a win on Sunday, though will require his experienced heads to lead a relatively young group of players into battle.
Blacktown City FC welcomes back Aytek Genc to the senior coaching role on Sunday as the team plays its first official match at the newly named Lily Homes Stadium. Blacktown City FC has performed well in pre-season, and despite the hype surrounding this ambitious side, all personnel on board know that the task at hand will be a tough one. The Blacktown outfit welcomes A.P.I.A Leichhardt Tigers in a match where both sides will rate their chances of success.

The Tigers finished 2009 on a downer will a low-table finish, raising expectations around the club for a much better showing in 2010. Franco Parisi and Robbie Younis are expected to find the goals this season, though the influence of Nick Rizzo out of midfield could well be the telling tale for the visitors on Sunday. The home side will be eager to unleash the talent of experienced midfielder Luke Roodenburg who returns to the club following two seasons away from the NSW Premier League competition.
In the final match of the opening round, 2009 first past the post winners Sydney Unitedn opens its campaign with a home clash against the newly promoted Rockdale City Suns from the Super League competition. The Reds will unleash David Zdrilic in his new role of player/coach, as the side remains relatively strong with the core of the 2009 side unchanged at Sydney United Sports Centre. New signings Michael Cindric, Peter Zorbas and Shane Lyons promise to provide Zdrilic with many selection headaches this season as the Reds, on paper at least, appear to field the most established squad in the competition.
For the new boys, Rockdale City Suns, there couldn?t have been a more difficult tie in their opening match to the competition than this trip to Edensor Park, though the morale across the group following pre-season appears to be high. Pece Apolevski will carry much of the responsibility on his shoulders this season with his speedy runs down the right-flank certain to provide the Suns with much flair throughout the campaign, though the opening round tie is certainly going to be a stern test on Sunday.
-By Joseph Carlucci