The National Premier Leagues returns to South Australia on Friday night as last year’s double title winners Campbelltown City host Adelaide Blue Eagles in the NPL Game of the Week.
The Red Devils and the Azzurri sides will clash on Friday night at Steve Woodcock Sports Centre in the opening match of the season in the South Australian capital – and it promises to be a cracker.
City proved the stand-out South Australian side of 2019 after winning the Premiership-Championship double in an all-conquering campaign, but will be under a new coach in 2020.
Former Newcastle Jets boss Phil Stubbins takes the managerial reins at the club following the retirement of long-time coach Joe Mullen, who guided the Red Devils to their first national NPL title in 2018 amongst his many titles at the club.
However, the Mullen name remains heavily involved at the Red Devils with former Hyundai A-League midfielder Daniel Mullen, son of Joe, again signing on; while his cousins Matt Mullen and Alex Mullen are also back on board for 2020.
Adding further depth is another former Hyundai A-League player in Joel Allwright, while there promises to be goals in their ranks with last season’s leading goal scorer Luigi Ditroia and Grand Final hat-trick hero Marc Marino also recommitting to the club for 2020.
In the opposition camp, there are no such changes at the helm for the Azzurri, with Vojo Gluscevic returning for another season in the coaching hot seat.
However, there has been plenty of off-season transfer action as the club looks to improve on last year’s fifth-placed finish – their first season in the state’s top flight since 2017, under the leadership of returning captain and defender Christopher Annicchiarico.
Former Red Devils’ Japanese forward Yohei Matsumoto has been lured to the Azzurri after earning selection to the NPL SA All Star side with ten goals last year, while midfield twins Hamish and Liam McCabe initially went in the other direction at the end of last season before an about-face saw them return to the Blue Eagles for 2020.
Also coming into the squad are Argentinian forward Dante Cacciavillani from Italian outfit Union San Giorgio Sedico, dynamic attacking midfielder and long-range specialist Hirofumi Kochi from Para Hills Knights and Adelaide United youth product Christian Aloisi.
Despite the clubs having collected a bevy of senior titles between them in South Australian competition in their histories, the Red Devils have proved the more successful of late with two Premierships and four Championships in the NPL era.
Get the latest fixtures and results from the National Premier Leagues across Australia:
National Premier Leagues - Game of the Week
NPL South Australia
Campbelltown City v Adelaide Blue Eagles
Friday, 21 February, 2020
Kick off: 7.30pm local, 8:00pm AEDT
Venue: Steve Woodcock Sports Centre