Season 2022 is here, commencing this Friday night with champions Adelaide City hosting Campbelltown City at Adelaide City Park.
We’ve taken a look at each club’s status ahead of the new campaign.
Here we go!
*Please note, information in this article is referred to the 2022 Football SA Media Guide, which is sourced from information sent directly from clubs.
Last season: 2nd (League Finish) | RAA NPLSA 2021 Champions
Coach: Paul Pezos
Captain: Matthew Halliday
With Paul Pezos hired in 2021, his rebuild of the fallen giants was a massive success, as his squad ended Adelaide City’s long wait for an RAA NPL Championship as they beat Adelaide Comets in the 2021 Grand Final in a breathtaking penalty shootout. Their Grand Final win capped off an impressive season which saw Adelaide City dominate their competition during the regular season. However, in 2022, City will aim for revenge after their regular season ended in heartbreak as a 1-1 draw with Croydon FC and a last minute Adelaide Comets goal on the final day, meant Comets stole the league premiership out of their hands.
City wasted no time searching for players to improve their squad, signing the likes of Dakota Ochsenham, Vianne Kurikwimana, Juan Gutierrez and Matthew Dawber. After losing Championship winning goalkeeper Alex Woodlands to rivals Campbelltown, City found the perfect replacement in former Adelaide United Youth keeper Ochsenham. With the additional loss of Team of the Year striker Asad Kasumovic to Adelaide United, Kurikwimana arrives as Pezos’s goalscoring replacement, after a season which saw him score 3 goals in 11 appearances for Adelaide Croatia Raiders.
The late signing of Argentinean defender Gutierrez from Cumberland United, will provide much needed depth and experience to their defensive line as the club looks to spend time without star centre back Lachlan Barr, who signed a short-term contract with Adelaide United. Gutierrez will assist City Captain and Team of the Year defender Matt Halliday in defence. Adelaide City have also secured the signing of Matthew Dawber from MetroStars who makes a return to the RAA NPL after an unfortunate run of injuries. A fully fit Dawber will be a dangerous addition for City in 2022.
After maintaining the core of their title winning squad, City will look to improve on what was a successful 2021 season as Pezos’s men aim to make the Football South Australia competition their own. After missing out on the league premiership and Federation Cup, City are hungry to make this a treble winning season.
Squad: ALADIN IRABONA, ZAKARIAH WATERS, BRADLEY CORBO, NICHOLAS BUCCO, MATTHEW HALLIDAY, JOSEPH COSTA, CHARLIE DEVEREUX, THOMAS BROWN, KUR KUR, CRISTIAN ALOISI, JAI KING-BYRNE, LUKA CHIKWUBA, DAKOTA OCHSENHAM, JUAN GUTIERREZ, MATTHEW DAWBER, MOHAMMAD MEKAWIR, VIANNE KURIKWIMANA
Last season: RAA NPLSA 2021 League Premiers
Coach: Barney Smith
Captain: Allan Welsh
It was another impressive season for Adelaide Comets who were consistent as the entertainers in the division. Securing the premiership for a second consecutive season, Comets ended the season unbeaten in seven, topped off with a memorable final day 92nd minute winner from Nathan Andijanto to steal the Premiership from an Adelaide City side that looked uncatchable at one point. Adelaide Comets made their third consecutive appearance in the RAA NPLSA Grand Final, only to stumble at the final hurdle once again in a defeat to Adelaide City.
Allan Welsh was the centre point of the Adelaide Comets squad for another season, as the three-time Sergio Melta Medal winner contributed 9 goals in 19 games earning him a spot in the 2021 Team of the Year. Teammates Jayden LoBasso and Adam Le Cornu polled high in the 2021 Sergio Melta Medal votes, while Le Cornu earned a spot in the Team of the Year.
One major loss to Comets squad ahead of the 2022 season is young attacker Ninko Beric who moved back to former club FK Beograd. However, Comets have swapped youth for experience with the signing of former player Thomas Briscoe from Cumberland United as he makes his first return since 2018. During Briscoe’s time at Cumberland, the attacker looked lethal assisting his club to promotion into the RAA National Premier League SA, while contributing 35 goals in 55 games. 2021 saw Briscoe finish as equal runner-up in the Golden Boot race, scoring 12 goals. Joining Briscoe this season is former Foxtel National Youth League Player of the Year Dylan Smith from MetroStars, who will add flair and experience to his new side. Augustus Williams also joins the club after an impressive season with Port Adelaide, where he guided the team to promotion to State League One.
After the heartbreak of the previous three seasons, the drought of a championship must be constantly on the mind of the players and supporters of Adelaide Comets. Barney Smith will aim to take his side that extra step in 2022 as they look to have another shot at Football South Australia’s biggest men’s prize.
Squad: Thomas Briscoe, Allan Welsh, Dylan Smith, Augustus Williams, Adam Le Cornu, Julian Torresan, Scott Nagel, Jaiden Diamantis, Daniel Vaughan, Nathan Andijanto, Anthony Mavrolambados, Ryan Yates, Jayden LoBasso, Nikolas Ikonomopoulos, Stelios Zacharakis, Thomas Giannakopoulos, Lachlan Stead
Last season: 7th
Coach: Yianni Stamatelopoulos
Olympic got their 2021 season off to a very poor start winning only two of their first ten games, before gradually improving their form to climb the ladder. Despite this, Olympic stayed in contention for a place in the finals, however ultimately missed out by three points, ending the season with eleven draws and only six wins. Olympic were an exciting property towards the latter of the 2021 season as star players Fausto Erba, Lewis Moss and the explosive young brother duo in Kristin and Jason Konstandopoulos continued to impress. The club’s success came in the FFA Cup South Australian Qualifiers as they won the Cup Final against Adelaide City in an entertaining 2-1 win, booking their place in the FFA Cup.
Fausto Erba continued his impressive goal scoring record, ending the season as the equal runner-up for the 2021 golden boot scoring 12 goals in 18 games. Kristin Konstandopoulos was a major standout in the RAA NPLSA as he continued to impress, earning himself a spot in the 2021 Team of the Year, while brother Jason finished high in the 2021 Sergio Melta Medal tally, proving why the Konstandopoulos brothers perhaps are the hottest properties in South Australian football right now.
Olympic will enter the 2022 RAA NPLSA season with a similar squad to the previous, as they hope their team chemistry will result in a top six finish this season. They have, however, signed forward Dylan D'Agostino from Magpie Crusaders United in NPL Queensland, who joins after a season where he scored 2 goals in 18 appearances. The club has also signed former Joey’s fullback Adam Leombruno after his successful stint with Adelaide United Youth, who has proven his ability to play at a top level at such a young age during his time at United.
After retaining the core of their squad, Olympic will look to prove they’re worth as a top side in the competition. Coach Yianni Stamatelopoulos will hope that his squad can better their six wins in 2021 and look to make a return to the final’s series.
Squad: Christos Pounendis, Panagiotis Manidakis, Paul Wilson, Tito Bontor, Clifford Maina, George Katsigiannis, Lewis Moss, Kristin Konstandopoulos, Fausto Erba, Benkert Abdija, Ioannis Simosis, Dylan D'Agostino, Joshua Kavenagh, Michael Cittadini, Jason Konstandopoulos, Damian Ljujic, Rastko Ljujic, Jack Chivers, Ross Harkotsikas, Jacob Jones, Adam Leombruno
Adelaide United FC
Last season: 9th
Coach: Airton Andrioli
The young reds got their 2021 season off to a flying start before beginning to falter and gradually drop down the league table. Despite this, Airton Andrioli’s side continued to look dangerous showing their untapped potential.
To start the season, Adelaide United FC were able to record four big wins in six games over the likes of Campbelltown City, Adelaide City, Sturt Lions and Adelaide Blue Eagles. This form didn’t last long as their next win came in round eleven in a memorable match at the newly developed Summit Sport and Recreation Park in Mount Barker. United’s end to the 2021 season is one to forget as the team recorded one win in their last ten matches, surviving the drop by only three points.
United showed glimpses of performing at a top level last season as star players Jonny Yull and leading goal scorer Binyam Kebede demonstrated why they are two of South Australia’s brightest young talents. 2021 was a major challenge for the Young Reds as they looked to match the experienced players in the topflight of South Australian football. The departure of Kebede is a major blow for the squad heading into the new season, however Andrioli will continue to look at developing new stars as he’s done so frequently in the past. One major signing for the young reds is Jok Akuien who arrives from a championship winning season with Adelaide City where he proved to be one of the brightest fullbacks in the division.
With players such as Jonny Yull, Ethan Alagich, Alexander Popovic, Ethan Cox, Steven Hall and Nestory Irankunda all gaining experience with the Adelaide United A-League side, the upcoming season is looking bright for Adelaide United FC. With the likelihood of first team players Yaya Dukuly, Bernardo and former Adelaide City forward Asad Kasumovic playing with the squad for the 2022 RAA NPLSA season, Andrioli seems to have a strong team to push for a place in the top six.
Squad: Ethan Alagich, Jok Akuien, Mohamed Bility, Giuseppe Bovalina, Calum Campbell, Josh Cavallo, Harry Crawford, Ethan Cox, Louis D'Arrigo, Yaya Dukuly, Joe Gauci, Stevn Hall, Nestory Irankunda, Luka Jovanovic, Asad Kasumovic, Panagiotis Kikianis, Henry Lynch, Terence (Fergus) Lynch, Panashe Madanha, Vongai Maidza, Patrick McGregor, Jean Paul Mbembe, Noah McNamara, Arbi Mollas, Bernardo Oliveira, Bailey O'Neil, Sotiris Phillis, Alexandar Popovic, Jake Porter, Nicholas Samaras, Nicholas Stefanidakis, Fabian Talladira, Mohamed Toure, Musa Toure, Kane Vidmar, Kusini Yengi, Jonny Yull
Last season: 3rd
Coach: Michael Matricciani
Captain: Shaun Harvey
Although achieving their lowest points tally since 2017, Campbelltown City showed their class under coach Ian Fyfe, as he led his team to an impressive third place finish, bowing out in the first round of the final’s series.
Depth looked as major issue for Campbelltown in season 2021, as the club loss multiple star players that off-season. However, now former coach Fyfe eyed young talent to fill the void as he promoted and produced many young players including the likes of Nicholas Francese who played a vital role in many performances last season.
Under Fyfe, Campbelltown continued to look dangerous as star player Marc Marino demonstrated his undeniable qualities in front of goals. Marino ended the 2021 season winning the league golden boot, due to his best goalscoring season with 13 goals in 20 appearances. This earned the talented striker a place in the seasons Team of the Year, while teammates Jake Halliday and Alex Mullen also earnt spots within Team of the Year. Alex Mullen was unfortunate not to be named the 2021 Sergio Melta Medal winner, missing out by just 1 point to Hamish McCabe.
With former championship winning striker Michael Matricciani replacing Fyfe, Campbelltown have been busy improving their squad for the upcoming season. A major signing sees Josh Barresi return to the Newton based club after a short spell with South Melbourne. Barresi’s last stint with Campbelltown, saw him contribute 6 goals in 22 league appearances, while critically providing the first goal in their 2020 Grand Final. Campbelltown have also reunited with former fan favourite Yohei Matsumoto, who left the club for Adelaide Blue Eagles in 2020.
Despite Campbelltown’s respectful defensive record in 2021, Matricciani aimed to make additional reinforcements in the backline with the signing of former Adelaide City goalkeeper Alex Woodlands, while James Boffa joins fresh off a Championship winning season at Adelaide City. Talented central defender Jordan Marisic returns to the club as he reunites with his former boss after spending time at Hume City in the National Premier League Victoria.
With their squad remaining largely intact, the introduction of a new coach and the return of former players, there’s no reason why Campbelltown City can’t return to their former glory in 2022. Campbelltown will once again be favourites to challenge for the Championship.
Squad: Luigi Ditroia, Jake Halliday, Adam Piscioneri, Marc Marino, Alexander Mullen, Shaun Harvey, Daniel Mullen, Joel Allwright, Adam D'Agostino, Julian Ionni, Nicholas Francese, Antony Piscioneri, Anthony Ture, Yohei Matsumoto, Joshua Barresi, Jordan Maricic, Connor Centofanti, Alexander Woodlands, Luca Meggetto, James Boffa, Nicholas Harpas.
Last season: 8th
Coach: Travis Dodd
Captain: Luke Klimek
After an impressive 2020 season which saw Croydon FC finish 4th, the 2021 season was one to forget, which saw them experience only 2 wins in their first 15 games. However, a late resurgence from Travis Dodd’s men saw the team finish the season with five wins in seven games, and only losing one. They recorded a big win against former champions Campbelltown City, while preventing Adelaide City’s premiership dreams with a last round draw.
With former superstar Domenic Costanzo’s midseason return and the impressive form from the ever-reliable Patrick Caraccia, Croydon FC’s relegation worries were scrapped very quickly as they turned their sights on a top six finish. Caraccia was instrumental in Croydon’s late success with his talents earning him a third-place finish in the 2021 Sergio Melta Medal award while finishing as the team’s leading goal scorer with 6 goals. The incredible efforts from John Hall should not be overlooked, however, as his talents saw his side concede the fifth least in the competition, conceding less than top six rivals Sturt Lions, South Adelaide and Adelaide Olympic.
After an impressive end to the season, Dodd will look to carry that form into this upcoming season, while trying to maintain a familiar squad. Croydon recruited recently relegated Dion Kirk, a perfect addition to the squad, as the four-time championship winning midfielder looks to prove that he’s still a top midfielder in the league. Kirk contributed 8 goals in 22 appearances, despite being unable to prevent Adelaide Croatia Raiders from facing the drop. The club is also reunited with former prodigy Joseph Macheda who returns after spending a valuable year with Adelaide United Youth.
After finishing the season as the third lowest goalscoring team, Croydon FC will hope their new signings can improve this. With their impressive improvement towards the conclusion of the 2021 season, Dodd will hope his side can start in a similar fashion they ended 2021, as the club looks to once again break into the top six.
Squad: John Hall, John Panagaris, Lawand Hasan, Luke Klimek, Chris Vivian, Sebastian Goode, Adam Martinello, Dion Kirk, Antoni Trimboli, Luis Benedetti, Eric Scardigno, Froibert Niyonkuru, Peter Mercurio, Dominic Costanzo, Kristos Stefanopoulos, Joseph Macheda, Jarred Brazzale, Benson Nsegetse, Jarred Clark, Gianni Tramontin, Patrick Caraccia
Last season: 10th
Coach: Neil Young
Their second season back in the RAA NPLSA was one of mixed emotions, as Cumberland narrowly avoided the drop back down to State League One. Cumberland began their season in great form as new signing Jumar Oakley hit seven goals in his first eleven appearances, assisting the club to five wins in their first eight games. However, their excellent start did not last long, as the team only picked up a further ten points in their remaining 14 games.
The game that cemented Cumberland’s RAA NPLSA status for 2022, was their round 15 victory over fellow relegation rivals Adelaide Croatia Raiders, where Thomas Briscoes 88th minute winner saw Cumberland take the critical three points in the clash.
After losing star players Thomas Briscoe and Jumar Oakley, Cumberland’s recruitment was extremely important as it could determine their fate in season 2022. Lansana Smith joins the club after brief stints with Adelaide Croatia Raiders and Fulham United. Smith will have big shoes to fill this upcoming season as the young striker aims for a breakout season. Daniel Ryles also joins the club from Adelaide Cobras. The midfielder has a plethora of experience and can add great quality to the Cumberland squad. Chol Wel also arrives after spending last season at Adelaide Olympic and Adelaide Blue Eagles.
This upcoming season will be a real test for Cumberland United, who’ve proved more than capable of performing at the highest level. The biggest challenge will be regaining that early form from last season as they prepare for life without their star players.
Squad: Luke Schoen, Jack Schoen, Joshua Harvey, Tom Dittmar, Sam Carmichael, Habtamu Horne, Rocco Visconte, Harry Thannhauser, Thomas Visser, Daniel Ryles, Charlie Ince, Cohen Morris, Brayden Micallef, Riak Mayol, Wesley Weetra, Lansana Smith, Stavros Bakopanos, Minsung Park, Chol Wel, Benjamin Visser
Last season: 2nd (League Finish) | Final Series Champion (State League One)
Coach: Damian Mori
Captain: Chahine Noujaim
The newly named FK Beograd recovered from their final round heartbreak with an impressive finals series performance to be crowned the 2021 State League One Champions, confirming their return to the RAA NPLSA for the first time since 2015. FK Beograd’s second-place finish did not justify the talent displayed by the club during 2021, as the club recorded only three losses in 22 games, while only conceding 17 goals, the joint lowest in the competition. Although missing out on the league premiership to WT Birkalla, FK Beograd ultimately got their revenge in the Grand Final as goals by Stefan Simic and Kyle Markham secured their Championship.
With the club's RAA NPLSA return on the horizon, coach Damian Mori has looked at improving many areas of his squad, as he looks to challenge for a top-six finish and league glory. Damian has reunited with son Josh, after the forward joins the club from MetroStars. With the loss of last season’s leading scorers in Kyle Markham and Stefan Simic, Damian wasted no time in signing two of South Australia’s top young strikers in son Josh who scored 10 goals last season, and former FK Beograd player Ninko Beric from league premiers Adelaide Comets in a season which saw him score 6 goals in 21 league appearances.
Paul Redice’s signing from Modbury Jets looks like a smart pickup by Mori, as the midfielder has proven his ability to perform in the RAA NPL as his qualities earned him a Championship with Croydon FC in 2017. Mori has also signed former Adelaide United Youth defender Cooper Nunn who recently spent a year in the United States with Monroe College where he was named in the NJCAA Men’s Soccer All-American First team. FK Beograd has attracted the likes of Adelaide Blue Eagles player of the year Isaac Mullen to booster their strong midfield depth. The club has also beefed up the squad with RAA NPLSA talents such as Christian Sotira (Adelaide Blue Eagles), Stansia Velinov (Adelaide Blue Eagles), Filimon Asefa (Croydon FC), Gideon Arok (Central Coast) all arriving for the upcoming season.
With an impressive off-season, Mori will hope his team can quickly gel together, as the new kids on the block will have a massive point to prove. It looks to be an exciting season for the fans and players of FK Beograd.
Squad: Stanisa Velinov, Filimon Asefa, Ninko Beric, Chahine Noujaim, Massimo Falco, Paul Radice, Antonios Natsiopoulos, Isaac Mullen, Christian Sotira, Akok Akok, Thomas Love, Dealer Chamberlain, Nikola Jokic, Jordon Pudler, Evan Kounavelis, Jacob Butler-Bowdon, Joshua Mori, Jace Cummins, Cooper Nunn, Jacob Disotto, Fergus Shoemark
Last season: 4th
Coach: Robbie Saraceno
Captain: Anthony Solagna
In another season that showed so much promise for MetroStars, the way the season ended must have hurt. MetroStars only won two games in their first 14 matches and were on course for a top-two finish. However, a poor end to the season saw the club win one of their remaining eight matches, topped off with a final-day loss to relegated Adelaide Croatia Raiders. Things got worse for MetroStars as they were knocked out by newly promoted Sturt Lions in the first round of the Finals Series.
MetroStars had several high performers during the season within Fabian Barberio finishing equal third in the Sergio Melta Medal tally, while Hamish Gow proved to be a top talent finishing seventh in the medal tally demonstrating his potential to be one of the best in the league.
MetroStars experienced many major blows during the offseason as leading goal scorer Joshua Mori left for FK Beograd, while club legend Michael D’Aloisio announced his retirement. However, the return of former player Paul Blefari will booster the squad as season 2022 marks his return after a 13-year absence. Blefari joins after an impressive season where he helped Adelaide Victory to a top 6 finish in State League One. The signings of young duo Jackson Walls from Adelaide Croatia Raiders and Phillip Cash from Adelaide Victory could prove valuable signings, while experienced keeper Luke Ostbye from Playford City joins the club and will add great competition for the starting goalkeeper spot. MetroStars look to have found their new attacking sensations with Cameron Woodfin arriving from American outfit Chattanooga FC and Ren Nagamatsu arriving from Japanese side Artista Asama.
The club will continue to trust in their successful youth program, as the club announced that reserve players Francesco Schimizzi and Connor O’Rielly will join former reserves teammates Alessio Melisi, Luke Frangakis, and Ariath Piol amongst the first team. While former MetroStars junior Nicholas Pedicini arrives after spending time with Adelaide United Youth.
MetroStars will no doubt be pushing to challenge for the higher honors once again in 2022, as they hope the quality of their new signings can take the club to the next level.
Squad: 10 Anthony Solagna, 1 Isaac Carmody, 18 Fabian Barbiero, 12 Alessio Melisi, 23 Christian Esposito, 8 Rocky Callisto, 4 Justin Davis, 5 Tim Henderson, 7 Hamish Gow, 3 Luke Frangakis, 19 Cooper O’Donnell, 9 Tom Strain, 11 Ariath Piol, 6 Paul Blefari, 16 Francesco Schimizzi, 15 Nicholas Pedicini, 2 Connor O’Rielly, 20 Luke Ostbye, 22 Jackson Walls, 14 Phillip Cash, Cameron Woodfin, Ren Nagamatsu
Last season: 6th
Coach: Andrew Calderbank
Captain: Robert Parker
South Adelaide underwent a season of many highs and lows, which eventually climaxed with a sixth-place finish. South’s season came to an end after a heartbreaking penalty loss against Sturt Lions in the second round of finals football. In their first year back in the RAA NPLSA, South Adelaide proved why they are a team to be feared, as the club produced many iconic performances, memorably their 4-4 draw with Adelaide Croatia Raiders in round 17.
The Rideout brothers again proved why they are one of South Australia’s hottest properties, as Jonathan contributed to 12 goals earning him the runner-up spot for the league golden boot, also receiving a spot in the Team of the Year. While brother Alex produced 7 goals, finishing fifth in the Sergio Melta Medal race. Both Jonathan and Alex contributed to 50% of South Adelaide’s goals combined in 2021.
To back up their sixth-place finish in 2021, South Adelaide’s have strengthened their squad with the new signings of Trey Williams from Campbelltown City, Ryan Wood from Adelaide Blue Eagles, Melad Ahmad from Magpie Crusaders United in NPL Queensland, and Donovan Pollock from Modbury Jets. Williams arrives off a successful campaign with Campbelltown where he contributed to 5 goals as they finished third. The former Queen’s Park Rangers youth prodigy will provide the explosiveness and talent to assist the Rideout brothers in the attacking third. Wood arrives off a season that saw him make 20 appearances during his time between Cumberland United and Adelaide Blue Eagles. While new teammate Ahmad is a former FFA Centre of Excellence prospect who memorably contributed to a standout season while with WT Birkalla where he contributed to 6 goals in 11 appearances in 2020. New signing Pollock arrives with great goalscoring ability and incredible talent on the ball, with the former Jet scoring 9 goals last campaign to assist his team to a place in the State League One Semi-Finals.
After retaining most of his squad from season 2021, coach Andrew Calderbank will be extremely ambitious for this upcoming season. South have taken to life back in the first division better than most promoted sides, so there’s a big chance that they can cause another stir within the RAA NPLSA this season.
Squad: Ryan Veitch, Michael Goode, Robert Parker, Blake Lindsay, Jack Rudge, Jonathon Rideout, Alexander Rideout, Jai Conroy, Jack Ellis, Callum Nissen, Liam Wooding, Jackson Stephens, Brett Rayner, Declan Gray, Trey Williams, Thomas Parks, Declan Finney, Melad Ahmad, Donovan Pollock, Ryan Wood
Last season: 5th
Coach: Lino Fusco
Promoted to the RAA NPLSA from State League One in 2021, Sturt Lions felt right at home in their first season back, as they defied many people’s expectations throughout the year as one of the competition's top entertainers. The Lions started the season strongly recording three wins in their first five matches before experiencing a slight dip in form. Though, a strong second half of the season secured the club that valuable fifth-place finish, as they only felt three defeats in 14 matches. This great form lead Sturt’s fairy-tale story into the final series as the heroics from keeper James Kalppers sent the club into the Semi-Finals. However, their dream, unfortunately, came to an end as an extra-time goal from Adelaide Comets ended Sturt’s season early.
Alexander Sortini and Gonzalo Rodriguez both produced stellar seasons, which saw both stars earn top ten finishes in the Sergio Melta Medal race, while former Adelaide United legend Michael Marrone’s talent and experience proved vital in the latter of season 2021. With all three-star players remaining at the club in 2022, The Lions look at a dangerous side. Though, the departure of defender Cooper Mullins is a major loss for the Lions, as the fullback contributed to 7 goals, leaving a massive void in the squad.
Sturt’s already formidable attack has been given more depth as Tyreece Conway and Will Plush arrive from WT Birkalla. Conway is an explosive attacker with incredible goalscoring abilities, with the 19-year-old contributing to 8 goals in 13 games in his first season with the WT Birkalla first team at the age of 17. Conway placed 5th in the State league One Player of the Year votes in 2021. While teammate Plush will add additional experience into the squad, as he contributed to 12 goals over his past two seasons. The signing of young keeper Jed Gauci from Adelaide City will also provide great competition for first-choice keeper Klappers, while the arrival of Zack Gomes from Modbury Jets will offer great versatility in their defensive line.
Sturt will aim to bring their competitive form from the 2021 season into this upcoming season, as they look to back up an impressive first season back in the RAA NPLSA. After bowing out in the semi-final, Sturt will be prepared to put everything on the line to book a place in this year’s Grand Final.
Squad: James Klappers, Daniel Guastella, Jonathan Fusco, Tyreece Conway, Akira Kobaishi, Gonzalo Rodriguez, Alexander Sortini, Samuel Voigt, Samed Altundag, Toby Nelson, Jacob Atkinson, Lachlan Duffy, Ben Woollard, Caden Yates, Brandon Centofanti, William Plush, Michael Marrone, Luke Fusco, Zack Gomez, Jed Gauci, Cale Nagle, Valentino Esposito
Last season: State League One League Premiers | Runner’s Up (State League One Finals)
Coach: Jason Trimboli
Captain: Christopher Ashwood
The first State League One club to qualify for promotion to the RAA NPLSA in 2021 was WT Birkalla, who topped the league in dramatic fashion after a final day 1-0 win over Para Hills Knights. In 22 league gamers, WT Birkalla contributed to 14 wins in 2021. While WT Birkalla’s finals series didn’t end the way wanted, the players and coaches weren’t too concerned given they were guaranteed promotion back into the first division for the first time since 2018.
The final day of the season was the club's biggest highlight, as White City draw and a 90+ minute winner from former player Will Plush saw WT Birkalla become league premiers on goal difference. This was capped off with Jason Trimboli’s excellence on the touchline earning him the 2021 State League One Coach of the Year.
WT Birkalla ability to retain the majority of their championship-winning squad including the likes of leading goal scorers Luca Trimboli and Calvin Mbarga, Player of the Year David Makridis, star Jake Monaco and captain Chris Ashwood will provide great hope for the club this upcoming season. However, the loss of up-and-coming prospect Tyreece Conway to RAA NPLSA opponents Sturt Lions will hurt as helped largely in their promotion into the first division. The heartbreaking loss of first-choice keeper John Solari before deadline day means that WT Birkalla will be without a number one keeper for the start of the season.
Stefan Simic arrives from State League One rivals FK Beograd after the 24-year-old scored the final goal against his current club in WT Birkalla’s Grand Final loss. During his time at FK Beograd, Simic scored 22 goals in 44 league appearances. The attacker has tremendous experience in the RAA NPLSA at such a young age, as the forward has represented MetroStars and Adelaide Comets where he made the 2019 Grand Final.
Austin Ayoubi returns to his boyhood club in 2022 after a brief stint at Adelaide City where he won the RAA NPLSA Championship. Another forward arriving at WT Birkalla is Nathan Munro from Croydon FC, who makes his return to the club for the first time since 2014. Munro is a proven attacker in the league and will continue to prove dangerous this upcoming season. WT Birkalla has provided captain Chris Ashwood with defensive reinforcements with the signing of former Adelaide Blue Eagles defender Christian D’Angelo, while former WT Birkalla player George Mannion returns to the club after a stint in the United Kingdom with Colwyn Bay.
As the new kids on the block, WT Birkalla will have all to prove this upcoming season, as they look to have a smooth transition from State League One to NPL. Their first match against Adelaide Comets will be their first major test of the season.
Squad: CHRISTOPHER ASHWOOD, JOHN PAUL CIRILLO, CALVIN MBARGA, NICHOLAS HARPAS, JAMES POLLI, ANTHONY QUICI, YASMIN SUDIC, JAKE MONACO, DAVID MAKRIDIS, NOAH BENOUZEKRI, CHRISTIAN DANGELO, GEORGE MANNION, NATHAN MUNRO, AUSTIN AYOUBI, STEFAN SIMIC, LIAM CONWAY, CHARLIE YULL, LUCAS TSACONAS, ETHAN STEVENSON
IMAGE: 80kms Photography