The countdown is well and truly on with the National Premier Leagues 3 NSW Men’s competition set to light up our weekends when it commences on March 6.
There will be a new man in the hot seat at Bankstown City this season with former professional and ex-Australian youth international Shane Cansdell-Sheriff taking the reins at Jensen Park.
Most of the squad that finished runners-up last season has signed on for the upcoming campaign with the likes of the Triantis brothers Chris and Peter, Theo Kofinas and Nikola Todoroski all penning deals while the signing of Mounties defender Michael Cklamovski has bolstered their stocks.
There will also be a new man between the sticks with Jair Fernandez gearing up in goal after most recently playing for Dulwich Hill in 2019.
Scott Belgre has been busy in the offseason as he prepares his Bankstown United for a third season in the NPL 3 competition.
Defensive lynchpin Steven Wright will once again be a commanding voice in defence and will be club captain for the upcoming campaign. The experienced centre half will hand the on field duties to Rai Coletta who has proved to be an inspired acquisition since his arrival from Marconi last season.
Mitch Cross will once again be terrorising opposition defences alongside newly appointed vice-captain and midfield maestro Eros Bergamin.
Meanwhile, Belgre has been quick to shore up a defence which conceded a concerning 25 goals last season, having brought in Stefan Dubocanin from rivals Bankstown City, Ali Nasreddine (St George) as well as Marconi junior Nick Railz.
Canterbury Bankstown will be gearing up for their second season in the NPL 3 competition with the same coach in Wally Savor at the helm.
The youthful squad which exceeded expectations last season has been bolstered in the offseason with the signatures of St George duo Shaqil Ali and Chris Katsaros as well as St George City FA’s Alam Dabel.
Goal machine Andrija Mandic has departed the club for Mounties Wanderers while Kris Nicolaou has been snapped up by Rydalmere.
Central Coast United are back for their second season in the competition with a number of astute signings as they look improve upon their 9th placed finish.
A familiar face in Josh Swadling returns to the Pirates after a stint away with Northern Tigers in the NPL 2 competition while Ryan Frame will be a new addition to Stu Davis’ side.
Yuki Moirkaka will call Pluim Park home once again after spending last year in Queensland while the spine of the side will remain intact with club legend Daniel McFarlane, Corey Atkinson, Alex Arbelo and Jack O’Mally all re-signing for the club.
Central Coast youth product Cayleb Murray has been promoted to the first grade squad and will provide options in midfield as 16-year-old Mason Wells looks to build upon his first season in men’s football.
Dulwich Hill will be fielding a younger squad in 2021 with an average age of 24 in Paris Svilicich’s side.
Nathan Sansom returns to club and will be given the armband for the upcoming campaign where he will feature alongside the likes of Goncalo Paradanta, Daniel Fornito and Jamie Dib.
Aaron Pessego will be back for his 10th season at the club where he will be joined by ex-North Shore Mariners duo Braden Cheng and Daniel Oliniran.
Alex Nicolosi and Bright Appiah will also link up with Dully as Anthony Foti returns to NPL football after a profitable season with Enfield Rovers in the Canterbury District’s Bill Brackenbury Cup (BBC).
Foti was the competition’s top goalscorer and will undoubtedly be one to watch for Dully this season.
Dunbar Rovers will once again be striving for consistency when their season kicks off at home to the Rams.
The eastern suburbs side have tied down their leading goalscorer, Tod Bamber, who notched seven goals last term with coach Christian Soares handing the Englishman the armband for 2021.
Bamber will be featuring alongside another NPL 3 show-stopper with midfielder Conor Earley re-joining the club.
The Rovers were also quick to snap up German centre back Jan Schmidt who arrives at the club with quite the pedigree. The Frankfurt born defender has coached at the highest levels in Germany and joins the club from nearby Hakoah.
Soares has also tapped into the club’s youth setup with the promotion of defender Kieren Young who was an integral member of last season’s U/20 title-winning side.
Heading to Christie Park where Gladesville Ryde Magic will be pushing for silverware this campaign after the announcement of a raft of key re-signings.
The Gaitatzis brothers will once again be donning the blue and white and legendary goalkeeper Kiriakos Tohouroglou has been convinced to play on for another season.
There have been some new faces through the door at Gladesville with Nathan Mellino signing on after an extended period with NPL side APIA Leichhardt Tigers meanwhile Panayioti Gotsis makes the switch from Sydney Uni.
Two former youth stars return to the club with Daniel Rigby returning after a few years with NWS Spirit and he will be joined by Dexter Luksich who returns home following a season with Blacktown Spartans.
Inter Lions have been busy over the break with coach John Theo securing the signatures of Uni duo Daniel Axford and Jonathan Karipis alongside Steven Katsionis who joins from Hakoah Sydney City East.
The men from Concord will welcome back Mathaias Da Silva who took last season off. The crafty midfielder will slot back into a highly potent attack that features the likes of Nico Paras, Meco Tripodi and Zac Ribeiro.
Jason Breton will be hoping to have Lynwood Park rocking once again with his new-look Macarthur Rams side that will include a trio of former SD Raiders players.
James Raiti, John Fahmi and Matias Suazo have all made the switch from Nicky Carle’s side while there will be a new face in goal with ex-Bonnyrigg White Eagles under 20 shot stopper Stevan Savicic linking up with Breton’s side.
There has also been the usual transfer activity between Macarthur and Camden Tigers with Anthony Haddad returning to Lynwood Park.
Gavin Rae has managed to keep the majority of his Championship-winning side intact while adding a few new faces in the process.
Kris Nicolaou joins Rydalmere Lions from the Berries as Rae handpicked a few more star players from the higher leagues.
Rising young gun Thomas Gittany comes in from Mt Druitt Town Rangers while Lewis Fraser and Mandlenkosi Ndlovu make the switch from Blacktown Spartans and North Shore Mariners, respectively.
The reigning champions will also be able to call upon one of their favourite former sons Mitchell Gibbs who has once again returned to the club after a spell with NPL NSW Men’s club APIA Leichhardt FC.
The new arrivals will hopefully offset the departures of experienced defender Matthew Clowes and Louis Zacharopoulos who weighed in with some invaluable goals throughout the 2020 campaign.
The newly rebranded Inner West Hawks will be kicking off the season with some drama after parting company with their head coach.
The Hawks will consist of an almost entirely new squad however there will be a familiar face wearing the armband with club stalwart Peter Yannopoulos given the honour in 2021.
Experienced NPL star Nick Mouzourakis will be an important figure in the Hawks’ new squad as will Nikita Andricopoulos who joins from the Berries.
Jordan Seib returns to the club from Dunbar as does Radwan Jirjnazi who re-joins from Bankstown City.
The inner west club have also added to their defensive stocks with the addition of Colombian centre back Nicolas Zamoras Arias.
A new season will be a breath of fresh air for Sydney University after they narrowly escaped the dreaded wooden spoon on the final matchday last year.
A number of Uni’s established players departed the club in the offseason with the aforementioned Axford and Karipis heading to Inter and Pana Gotsis (Magic).
Peter Crevani will be back in Uni colours after a seven year absence as he makes the switch from Dully.
Meanwhile, other new additions include Jordan Barrett from Magic, Cameron Szyszka who links up with the ‘students’ from Rockdale Ilinden’s U/20’s side, Paul Lee (Berries) and Marco Pennisi.
Football NSW wishes the clubs, coaches and players all the best for what promises to be another entertaining season.
-By NPL 3 NSW Men’s Chief Writer Samuel Greco Schwartz (Twitter handle: @SamuelGS97)