Ibby Haydar hopes to bow out on a high with Banksia Tigers


It will be an emotional Champion of Champions All-Age Men’s Final match for Banksia Tigers’ tough tackling skipper Ibby Haydar who will be donning the boots one more time for the Football St George association side as they take on Eastern Suburbs FA’s Glebe Gorillas at Valentine Sports Park this Sunday afternoon.

The 34-year-old, who also played in the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition winning titles with Sydney Olympic and Sydney United 58, will be calling it a day at the Tigers, a club he’s been at for five solid successive seasons.

“First and foremost, this Sunday is a big game, an occasion Banksia Tigers hasn’t found itself in, in the history of the club,” Haydar stated to Football NSW.

“It’s a testament to the club and where it’s heading.

“This is a massive game, to take out the Champion of Champions title would be the icing on the cake on what has been a massive year for us.

“On a personal level, this will be my fifth and final year at the club.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, representing my community along with some of my good friends has been amazing. I don’t regret it one bit, having left the NPL at just 29.

“I’m glad that I will be playing my last football game for this club and in a final as huge as the Champion of Champions.

“Hopefully it’ll be a good sending off.”

It’s been a fruitful year for the Tigers squad coached by another former NPL NSW Men’s star in Hussein Akil with the trophy cabinet packed to the brim following an eventful 2022 local grassroots season.

“It’s been a very successful year; we’ve won every trophy that we could possibly go for taking out the local Premier League Seniors and Reserve Championship titles as well as winning the Premiership.

“This squad deserves all the silverware and success it’s had, and we are hoping to fill that cabinet one more time with this title.

“The club itself is absolutely buzzing.

“We had our end of season awards ceremony a few days ago and the club was making a big deal out of it.

“It’s not every day that you have your team make it to the final of this competition, so we hope to repay the club’s kindness with a victory.”

The Tigers squad boasts some familiar names those following the NPL NSW Men’s competition would be well aware of.

Gun goalkeeper Jordan Nikolovski, Wassim Hijazi, Hussein Salameh and Josh Da Silva are just some of the names that’ll be on show come Sunday.

Da Silva especially is the x-factor Haydar believes, can turn a game on its head with his talent.

“We’ve got a few players both young and experienced that are quality, but Josh Da Silva is the one.

“He’s an extremely talented footballer, technically very sound and has an eye for goal as well.

“He can definitely dictate a game and will be very important for us on Sunday.”

Standing in their way will be a tough outfit in the Glebe Gorillas, a team that is sure to push Haydar and co till the very end.

“To be honest I don’t know too much about Glebe except that they’ve been winning their games in COC quite convincingly.

“However, I’m sure Hussein Akil will be doing his homework and will inform us of how we need to attack this game which by no means will be an easy one.”

There to ensure the atmosphere will be electric will be the club’s parochial Tigers fans hoping to cheer their team to victory.

“What many people don’t know is that Banksia Tigers has an average crowd greater than some NPL NSW Men’s clubs that I’ve played against. It’s quite amazing.

“The game will be played at Valentines Sports Park late Sunday evening, so I’m not sure how many will make the journey but confident there will be a few.

“Those that won’t be able to make will be definitely tuning into NPL.TV to watch it you can be sure of that.”

Banksia Tigers take on the Glebe Gorillas in the All-Age Men’s Champion of Champions Final this Sunday at 5:15pm on Field 2 at Valentine Sports Park.

Those not able to attend the match can catch it live and exclusive only on NPL.TV