The PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues South Australia 2016 Season commences tonight with the highly anticipated Round 1 clash between West Adelaide and Adelaide Olympic.
The derby plays out at Adelaide Shores Football Centre and begins a weekend full of exciting fixtures; from Adelaide City hosting Croydon Kings, South Adelaide against Raiders, West Torrens Birkalla matching up against Campbelltown City, MetroStars facing Adelaide Comets and concluding with Adelaide United and Adelaide Blue Eagles on Sunday.
Round 1 of the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leaguse South Australia 2016 Season is proudly presented by Puma.
Get the individual match previews for every game in Round 1 HERE
Full season preview and predictions for all clubs HERE
Adelaide Blue Eagles
Pipped to the PlayStation 4 National Premier League SA Finals and then defeated in the Grand Final, 2015 proved to be a year of what might have been for Adelaide Blue Eagles. Coach Gianluca Lagati has lost a key player at either end, with Captain Chris Annicchiarico suffering a long-term injury and Kym Harris departing for Victoria.
Yet the Marden club does welcome back Even Kounavelis from Melbourne and have also added the versatile Samuel Tesfagabr. That’s in addition to an already strong line-up which proved a major contender last season and is sure to be a challenger for honours once again in 2016.
Adelaide City, as usual, goes into the new campaign expecting to be competing for trophies. Damian Mori’s team was the League’s leading scorers last term and retain the core of a high-quality unit which knows how to win.
The coach will be well-served in goal with the return of Ben Moore and Luke Ostbye in addition to Ryan Veitch, while Nikola Mileusnic and Mamadi Kamara add technical ability and speed. The Black and Whites have lost two of last term’s exciting wide men, as Fumiya Suzuki and El Qioin El Wali have left. Nonetheless, this is a team which will be a force to be reckoned with this season.
It has been a busy summer for Adelaide Comets. The club has signalled its finals intent with a number of astute signings. This is headlined by ex-Croydon trio Chris Pepe, Andreas Wiens and Allan Welsh, plus Steven Grelli from MetroStars.
Theo Tsiounis is in charge of a much changed group – which lacks the leadership of the retired Elias Demourtzidis – but is one, which on paper, should be challenging for a top six position. Comets were finalists in 2014, but inconsistency hampered the club’s desire to repeat the feat last term. That could be set to change in 2016.
Promoted following a playoff victory over Pirates, Adelaide Olympic has returned to top flight action for the first time since 2006. A solid defence, the State League’s second tightest, aided Olympic’s cause. Now back in the Premier League, they aim to make a splash.
Coach Maurice Natale retains the nucleus of the squad which gained promotion, although it does lack the experience of Damien Di Mella and Michael Paleka, both moving on. Yet George Aslanidis and Michael Papacharalambous offer plenty of experience, while Fausto Erba will again aim to get amongst the goals this campaign. Survival is the first aim.
Promoted after only one season, Adelaide United pipped Adelaide Olympic and Cumberland United to the post on a dramatic final day of State League action. The Reds boasted the best attack and best defence in 2015.
Mark Jones replaces Michael Valkanis at the helm and the squad has a different look to it. Key figures such as Thomas Love and Doni Pollock are gone, but there is quality present in the form of new signing Jordan O’Doherty and Captain Dylan Smith. How this youthful side handles the additional pressures of the top flight will go a long way to determining its final standing.
Campbelltown City returned to finals action in 2015, although its stay proved to be a brief one. Joe Mullen’s team has a settled look about it. However the coach has lost a number of experienced players, including Michael Matricciani, Mark Graham and Todd McSorley.
He welcomes back Jake Halliday, while Tom Strain and Jacob Williams also join a team which can have lofty expectations this season. Campbelltown has not quite been able to replicate the form of its 2013 triumph in the two seasons since, but will again by fighting for a finals spot come the business end of the campaign.
Champions in 2014, Mark Brazzale’s Croydon followed that up by last season lifting the Federation Cup to qualify for the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32. One of the standout sides over the past four seasons; the Kings are well equipped to be targeting trophies once more.
Brazzale’s squad is mostly a settled one heading into the new campaign, although is hurt by the loss of three players to Adelaide Comets. However, Croydon moved quickly to secure the services of former Pirates man James Skeffington and excitement machine Elvis Kamsoba from Raiders. Both bolster the attacking ranks. Polonia Reserve will remain a difficult venue to visit.
By its own lofty standards, 2015 proved a disappointing season as MetroStars missed out on finals football for the first time since 2000. Coach Michael Pirone did lead his side through to the Round of 16 in the Westfield FFA Cup, but they lacked consistency.
The boss is without key contributors Perry Mitris, Steven Grelli, Anthony Solagna and retired pair Daniel Godley and David Menechella. However, Travis Dodd is a major arrival. That’s in addition to the experience of Issac Carmody in goals, as well as promising youngsters Bailey Truscott and Donovan Pollock. MetroStars will not want to be on the outside looking in for another season.
Raiders narrowly avoided relegation last season, a testament to the difficult year experienced on and off the field. Joel Porter replaced Carl Maynard halfway through, but has now had a pre-season to work with his team. The club expects to be fighting for trophies, now it must reach that level.
Raiders lost a number of promising young talents such as Jordan O’Doherty and Elvis Kamsoba, replaced by veterans Justin Bralic and Michael Paleka. The players return to the club of their youth and join Mimi Saric in being a steadying influence on what is a relatively young group.
Midway through last term South Adelaide looked set to be relegated, instead it roared through the latter stages of the campaign to comfortably avoid the State League for the second consecutive season. That happened thanks to the work of coach Danny Graystone and the squad to climb from danger.
The boss has retained the core of the group heading into the new season. The influential Justin Bralic has left, but the Panthers have brought in Guy Miller from Adelaide United and promoted a number of youngsters. Led by Captain Christopher Reed and tricky Jonathon Rideout, South will be out to shock the big boys again.
The hunters become the hunted. West Adelaide’s quest for silverware culminated last season, finishing first after the regular round and converting that to Grand Final success against Adelaide Blue Eagles. A dominant force throughout the season, coach Paul Pezos fulfilled what had been set out some years earlier.
The Blue and Whites are hungry for more. Now the team everybody wants to beat, Perry Mitris and Johnny Mavromatis add to what was already a deep squad. From goalkeeper Lewis Moss to Tom Briscoe in attack, there is quality throughout this West Adelaide squad. Pezos’ team start as the ones to beat.
West Torrens Birkalla
Steve De Giovanniello’s team were the surprise of 2015. West Torrens Birkalla at one stage led the League, and eventually made it to the Preliminary Final. It was a superb campaign which will be hard to top 12 months on.
Losing two of its most influential players – the Sergio Melta medallist Ryan Kitto plus Akira Miyayama – is a blow. However, Ian Kamau has signed and so too Fumiya Suzuki to cover the losses, plus Birkalla welcome back Adam Le Cornu from Victoria. Without the element of surprise this term, could Birkalla struggle? De Giovanniello has the team to suggest otherwise.