The National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Men’s competition starts on Saturday! We have the usual mix of familiar faces and new names who are set to battle it out over the next six months for the Premiership and Championship. Every team enters this season with a high quality squad, so this league could very well be the most closely-fought in the state.
Last season: 7th, 38 points, 11 wins, 5 draws, 10 losses
The Rooty Hill outfit were in the finals mix for most of 2019 before a late blip saw them finish one place outside the top six. Former assistant coach Bret Hewit has been promoted to the head coaching role and is looking to build the club’s ethos of promoting youth, as demonstrated by the squad having 17 players under the age of 23.
Fifteen players have been retained, most notably top scorer Connor Eldridge, flying winger Lachlan Rose, midfielder Finley Hayhurst and defender Josh Orchard. Andre Carle and Christian Nascimben are among the players brought in, both have previously spent time with Spartans. Nathan Separovic provides vital experience after playing a part in North Shore’s successful promotion campaign, while a couple of former A-League Academy players in Mitchell Evans and Alex Gollan will be looking to make their mark.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles
Last season: 3rd, 48 points, 14 wins, 6 draws, 6 losses
At the halfway point of last season, Bonnyrigg occupied eighth place, but they were brilliant in the second half of the campaign. Nine wins and a draw in a ten game sequence had the White Eagles soaring up the table. They then narrowly missed out on making the Grand Final, and unsurprisingly well respected coach Wayne O’Sullivan is back for his first full season in charge of Bonnyrigg having masterminded the turnaround.
Ray ‘Whiz’ Miller captains the side for another year and is joined by fellow club stalwarts Jimmy Chronopoulos, Nikola Zonjic and David Vrankovic. Recruitment has been strong – Mun-soo Gil returns to the club and adds quality to the midfield, striker Radovan Pavicevic has signed from Sydney Olympic, while there is also the former Central Coast Mariners duo of Jack Kuipers and Aidan Taouil.
Central Coast Mariners
Last season: 8th, 37 points, 10 wins, 7 draws, 9 losses
Central Coast Mariners legend Nick Montgomery will take charge of the youngsters in yellow and navy after a good summer. The Mariners finished second in Y-League Group B behind eventual Y-League Champions Sydney FC, and are looking to transfer these performances against their peers into results against more experienced sides.
Dan Hall, Matthew Hatch and Michael Katsoulis are back for another year, but it is largely a new squad. Defender Jack McLaughlin has made the switch from North Shore Mariners, and he is joined by a host of promising attacking talent. Central Coast have definitely cast their net far and wide – Damien Tsekenis (Marconi), Harry McCarthy (Manly), Reuben Awaritefe (St George City) and Alou Kuol (Goulburn Valley Suns) are among those hoping to be the next Mariners player to sign an A-League scholarship contract.
Hakoah Sydney City East
Last season: 12th (NPL 1), 11 points, 3 wins, 2 draws, 17 losses
Their four year stint in the top tier is over, now Hakoah find themselves competing against a host of clubs with NPL 1 aspirations. Luka Hrzina has been handed the reins after leading the Hakoah U16 team to the 2019 Premiership, and he has built a new-look squad with only six players from last season, while emphasising the value of teamwork.
The Eastern Suburbs outfit will be hoping that success on the futsal court leads to outdoor success after signing 2019 Futsal Premier League Golden Boot Bruno Mendes. The Brazilian wasn’t the only Hakoah player to receive accolades for his indoor prowess, as Robbie Ezekiel (a.k.a. Mr. Hakoah) was named Player of the Year. Other notable acquisitions include Josh Da Silva, who has returned to Sydney from Portugal, and Giovanni Kachan, another Brazilian who can play in defence or midfield.
Last season: 2nd, 53 points, 17 wins, 2 draws, 7 losses
Hills ended last season with six of the best in the 2019 Grand Final. Despite Daniel Fogarty leaving for Mt Druitt Town Rangers and Kento Sakurai heading to Mexico, the north-west Sydney side are looking a good chance to once again be fighting it out for trophies.
Greg & Wade Giovenali return to the squad, as does Glen “Killer” Kelshaw, and their spirits are high after leading Dural Warriors to 16 consecutive wins and a Futsal Premier League 2 Championship over the summer. Dural connections have also been used to sign left back Nathan Niski from Stanmore Hawks, while former Blacktown City youth players Jarrod Dodds and Adolph Koudakpo have been retained. Elsewhere, the loss of Fogarty’s speed has been offset by the acquisition of Joshua Mbakwe from North Shore Mariners, and Yusuke Maruyama adds creativity as either an attacking midfielder or a forward.
Last season: 4th, 43 points, 13 wins, 4 draws, 9 losses
Brian Brown starts his second year in charge of Mounties and is looking to build on a solid season which saw the club fall one game short of the Grand Final. Experienced campaigners Jacob Poscoliero, Sean Rooney and Theo Kofinas are back, joining a number of fresh faces.
Former Hills goalkeeper Shaun Catlin and winger Jordan Parfait bring Grand Final winner’s medals with them as they make the switch from north-west to south-west Sydney. They’re not the only teammates who have moved together, with Sam Gallaway and Amar Adilovic signing from Bonnyrigg. Tynan Diaz has relocated from APIA and will captain the side, while Dominic Furness swaps one yellow & black team for another after playing for Spirit FC in 2019. Brown also wants to give youth a chance, and speedster Michael Jeffrey is one of four players promoted from the U20s.
Last season: 6th, 42 points, 11 wins, 9 draws, 6 losses
They’ve been one of the most consistent clubs in this division over the past few seasons. Northern Tigers are on the prowl for their fourth consecutive finals appearance and should be strong contenders after retaining the majority of last year’s squad.
Skipper Lucas Dawson is closing in on 200 appearances for the club, but he’s not the only long-time Tiger – the likes of Liam McConaghy and Ally Brown have also played plenty of games in green & white. A couple of the players brought in for 2020 are familiar: Tigers junior Elliot Carwardine is back after two years with Western Sydney Wanderers, while Joshua Swadling returns to North Turramurra after spending the second half of last season with Hakoah. Head coach Adam Hett has also continued the Tigers philosophy of providing opportunities for their youth by promoting William DiMartino and Hamish Mahon to the 1st Grade squad.
NWS Spirit FC
Last season: 5th, 43 points, 13 wins, 4 draws, 9 losses
Spirit FC have improved every year under David Perkovic’s stewardship, finishing ninth in 2017, seventh in 2018 and fifth last year. The Christie Park outfit look like they’ll be tough to beat again, combining a core group of players from the 2019 squad with a host of exciting signings.
Headlining the additions is former Philippines international Jason de Jong, who brings valuable experience to the midfield from his time in the Netherlands and Belgium. Kota Odakura, another midfielder, is the other visa player. In the Spirit forward line, Mitchell Davidson joins from Mounties, making this the fourth different club where the talented lefty has worked with Perkovic, and Michael Konestabo is fit and firing after missing the whole of last year with an ACL injury. Add to this the retention of Duncan Stewart, Grant Cornwell, Louis Bozanic, Jake Harris and Andy Robertson – Spirit could very well be contenders.
Last season: 2nd (NPL 3), 57 points, 18 wins, 3 draws, 5 losses
Newcomers to the NPL 2 Men’s competition, SD Raiders (led by head coach Nick Carle) have a clear vision for 2020, with a young squad comprised mostly of players who played in the Southern Districts area as juniors and live locally.
The majority of the promotion and Grand Final winning squad has returned. Goran Ljuboja and James Raiti are the co-captains, Raiders veteran John Fahmi (over 150 games for the club) has a chance to show what he can do at this level, and 19 year old Matthew Barkho is already a key member of the team. Despite this being the first season in this division for the Raiders, Matias Toro Suazo, Toshihisa Saikawa, James Letta and Charles Abou Serhal all have played in NPL 2, while the same is true for offseason signings Noah Chianese, Adrian Valenti, Simon Nicholas and deadline-day acquisition Alvaro Malmierca.
St George City FA
Last season: 11th, 27 points, 8 wins, 3 draws, 15 losses
St George City FA passed their first NPL 2 test last year: staying in the division. Now it’s time for another year of consolidation, although the quality in their squad suggests there’s no reason why they can’t challenge at the top of the table if everything clicks for them.
Changes over the summer mean that only a small number of players are returning, although the ones that have stayed – most notably Hiten Satoh, Steve Kuzmanovski and Taci Kumsuz – are fully capable of making an impact. As for the players coming in, it’s hard to look past Jason Romero because the last thing he did in this league was score a hat trick in the 2018 Grand Final. Recruitment has been spread all over the park: midfielder/skipper Tarik Ercan, goalkeeper Tomi Romic and defender James Markovic are among the acquisitions, as are the wide pair of Jordan Morfitis and Nathan Roberts.
St George FC
Last season: 10th, 27 points, 7 wins, 6 draws, 13 losses
They survived relegation in 2019 by the skin of their teeth, but the players at St George FC are more than good enough for the club to aim a lot higher this time around. The majority of last year’s squad has been kept, meaning there is a strong spine from defence to attack. Shot stopper Anthony Costa, defender Jacob Bandur, midfield workhorse Bradley Bartels, captain Hussein Akil and Spanish goal wizard Juan Carlos Romero are all back for another year as the Saints try to march into the finals.
This core group of players will be helped by a few smart signings. The unmistakeable Bruno Pivato has returned to St George FC, while 2018 NPL 2 Golden Boot Mani Gonzalez joins from Blacktown City. Meanwhile, Perry Fotakopoulos and Evan Patramanis are set to add competition to a midfield that provides plenty of options.
Western Sydney Wanderers
Last season: 9th, 36 points, 10 wins, 6 draws, 10 losses
Well knwon coach Arthur Diles starts his third full season in charge of the Wanderers 1st Grade side and is looking to continue the Red & Black’s strong reputation for youth development. Defender Mohamed Al Taay will once again captain the side, while the likes of Jarrod Carluccio, Lochlan Constable, Rory Jordan and Jacob Vasiliou are also back for another campaign.
There are a few players who could break out in 2020: Mark Natta has shown tremendous promise in the centre of defence, Peter Grozos (younger brother of Kosta) & Ali Auglah are both tricky left-footed attackers, and Alessandro Lopane could well see game time this year as an attacking midfielder. Three players have joined from other clubs. Jamie Percevski returns to Western Sydney after a stint at Fortuna Düsseldorf, Dauntae Mariner joins from Brisbane Roar, while Paolo Bonanni has made the switch from Sydney FC.
by Eric Subijano (@eric_subijano)