IGA NPL NSW Mens 1 Round 1 Preview

The NPL IGA NSW Mens 1 competition is back for 2014 and it promises to be the biggest and most exciting season yet.

So at long last, football is back.

The NPL IGA NSW Mens 1 competition is back for 2014 and it promises to be the biggest and most exciting season yet.

With a number of players switching clubs there will be points to prove and scores to settle across the league and it all starts this weekend.


Bonnyrigg White Eagles v Rockdale City Suns, 7:30pm at Bonnyrigg Sports Centre

What better way to start 2014 than with a replay of last season's Grand Final match up between Bonnyrigg White Eagles and Rockdale City Suns.

As usual, many pundits have announced Bonnyrigg as the team to beat this year and there is no doubt that Brian "Bomber" Brown has a very settled squad of winners, led by their captain Chris Tadrosse.

Rockdale have turned over a lot of players, losing Brendan Gan, Alec Urosevski, Seiya Kawamura, Giorgio Speranza and their inspiration goalkeeper, Diego Barcena.

They do have experienced heads in Paul Reid, Paul Kohler and their captain Askin Oygur, as well as a proven winner in head coach Branko Culina.

They will take the confidence of their 3-2 win over Blacktown Spartans in the IGA Preseason Cup Final and will have every belief that they can settle the score with Bonnyrigg.


Blacktown Spartans v Sutherland Sharks, 7:30pm at Blacktown Football Park

Blacktown Spartans went down to Rockdale City in the IGA Preseason Cup Final, and although the scoreline (3-2) looked close, they were outplayed for most of the match.

Spartans have a number of ex-Olympic players in their ranks in Brett Studman, Emmanuel Giannaros and Phil Makrys (suspended for this match) and their experience will be crucial to their season.

Goalkeeper and captain Carlos Saliadarre was sensational last weekend too and will have to be at his best again this weekend.

Sutherland Sharks are always there and thereabouts and of course are one of the best footballing sides in the competition.

The midfield goals of Panny Nikas and his partnership with captain Nick Stavroulakis (suspended for this match) are the fulcrum around which Robbie Stanton builds his side and Stavroulakis will be particularly missed for this Round 1 encounter.

Marconi Stallions v Manly United, 7:30pm at Marconi Stadium

Marconi Stallions, the Premiers of two seasons ago, couldn't back up that effort in 2013 and with Jean Paul de Marigny now assistant coach at Melbourne Victory, Darren Iocca will take the reigns for 2014.

Their Grade 20s won the Premiership and Championship last season and the skipper of that side Harry Brown, has graduated to the first team squad this season.

Their captain and goalkeeper James Chronopoulos is one of the league's outstanding glovemen and a formidable presence between the sticks.

Manly United have, as usual, gone about their work with the minimum of fuss this season.

They will be hit hard by the loss of Matthew Sim to Sutherland (although he's currently on loan at the Central Coast Mariners) but they have picked up former Sydney FC striker Chris Payne, who was among the goals for the Mariners Academy last season.

They've retained the core of their side and their goalkeeper Dylan Mitchell, and could turn a few heads this season.


Sydney United 58 FC v Sydney Olympic, 3pm at Sydney United Sports Centre

Sydney United fell at the semi final stage last season, after winning the Premiership under their bright young coach Mark Rudan.

They progressed to win the inaugural National Premier Leagues Championship and they will start their dual title defence against their rivals Sydney Olympic.

Olympic have been the subject of much rumour and conjecture in the off season and Euro 2004 winner Sotirios Kygriakos will play for them in Round 2.

The much documented upheaval last season is in the past and head coach Grant Lee has had the chance to put his stamp on the squad. Former Adelaide United player Evan Kostopoulous is looming as an important figure.

St George v APIA-Leichhardt Tigers, 3pm at WIN Jubilee Oval

St George are the new kids on the block and they start their campaign at home to APIA-Leichhardt Tigers on Sunday afternoon.

St George flattered to deceive in the IGA Preseason Cup but with competition points up for grabs, this is a different ball game.

APIA-Leichhardt also had an iffy preseason campaign but with Billy McColl finally in for a full season, they have a rare chance to settle into the season. They'll be looking to show the new boys who's boss, ahead of the much-vaunted grand opening of their new Lambert Park facility next weekend.

South Coast Wolves v Blacktown City FC, 3pm at WIN Stadium

Wolves have been handed a huge boost, given that they will be playing out of WIN Stadium in Wollongong rather than their less illustrious former homes.

Jacob Timpano is their rock at the back and his experience will be a key part of their side yet again in 2014.

Blacktown City FC will again be under the guidance of Mark Crittenden, assisted by David O'Keefe and have named Travis Major and Zac Cairncross as co-captains.

They have big shoes to fill and Luke Roodenberg's experience was missed last year, but this is a fresh beginning as they look to take the three points back to their new look Lilys Football Centre.

More information about the competitions can be found at www.nplnsw.com.au