Frankston-Peninsula Zagame's State Leagues Season Preview
Zagame's State Leagues Season Kicks Off
By Craig MacKenzie
Zagame’s State Leagues football kicks off this weekend and there have been major changes to some first team squads in the Frankston and Peninsula regions.
The two local sides I believe have the best chances of winning championships are Zagame's State League 1 title holder Mornington and ZSL 5 South outfit Baxter.
Mornington coach Adam Jamieson has been bemoaning the switch of star striker Ryan Paczkowski to Bentleigh Greens and he’ll be hoping that Michael Freeman, signed from 2015 Central Queensland Premier League Premiership winner Frenchville Sports Club, will offset the loss of the talented Englishman.
Jamieson also has signed striker Mohsen Chehimi from Endeavour United and has enticed veteran goalscorer Nick Waite to pull the boots back on.
But it’s Northern Irishman Sammy Stewart who may prove to be the pick of the newcomers to Jamieson’s squad.
Stewart boasts stints with Glenavon, Aberdeen, Lisburn Distillery, Portadown and Cowdenbeath, which suggests that he should have a major impact at ZSL 1 level.
Langwarrin and Casey Comets also have been touted as title contenders in ZSL 1 and it appears that South Springvale and Clifton Hill will head the assault on league honours.
I like Jamie Skelly’s revamp of the Comets’ first team squad highlighted by the signing of Korean winger Sang-Hyup Han, central defender Mitch Walsh from Heidelberg United and English striker Ryan Hughes and there’s no doubt that it is much stronger than last year.
At the very least that should translate into a season without the club having to look over its shoulder to see how close it is to the relegation zone.
Frankston Pines finished seventh in ZSL 1 last season and Danny Verdun’s resignation as head coach triggered a mass player exodus and new head coach Billy Rae has had to rebuild the squad big time but there are signs that his side might be competitive once more.
Of the local ZSL 2 South-East outfits Peninsula Strikers look stronger than neighbouring Seaford United and Strikers gaffer Craig Lewis has high hopes for the 2016 season.
“As a group we sat down and took a holistic view of the club, of ourselves and of what we can achieve this year,” Lewis said.
“This group of players is humble but ambitious and very, very focussed and if they stick to the commitment they have made to themselves and to the club then we’ll go okay this season.”
In stark contrast is the situation at Seaford United where there has been off-field upheaval prompted by the surprise resignation of head coach Darren Roberts for personal reasons.
The former Wolverhampton Wanderers player resigned three weeks out from the league start and his assistant Paulo Pinheiro has stepped into the breach.
Billy Armour has strengthened his Skye United squad and surely the ZSL 4 South outfit won’t become embroiled in a relegation battle yet again.
Armour has brought 10 new players into his squad with rumours that one or two others may be signed so I expect Skye to at least be very competitive this season.
Mind you all the talk is about Springvale City, which looms as the team to beat in that division.
Don’t be fooled by Baxter coach Roy Kilner naming just a 15-man first team squad, pruned back from the 21-man squad named last season.
His starting line-up is stronger this year and he doesn’t have the depth problem he had to manage last season.
“There are some new teams in ZSL 5 South this season that we’ve never played (Sandown Lions, Pakenham United) so it’s not easy to assess our chances of winning the championship,” Kilner said.
“Having said that we’ve added a new keeper, a new sweeper and a new striker and we’ve now got guys in the reserves who can step up.
“Let’s just say that if we don’t finish in the top two I’ll be very, very disappointed.”
No doubt ZSL 5 rival Rosebud Heart and senior coach Scott Morrison have similar ambitions with perennial top scorer David Greening still leading the frontline but how the side reacts to the moves of keeper Sean Skelly and defender Chris Sibson to Seaford and the retirements of Adam Poole and Simon O’Donnell remains to be seen.
Nevertheless Heart’s pre-season results are encouraging and include a 2-2 draw with ZSL 4 Hampton Park United and a 10-3 thrashing of another ZSL 4 side, Elwood.
Here are the first team squads for 2016 with the previous club of new signings listed in brackets (Strikers and Seaford have named one large squad for both firsts and reserves):
GOALKEEPERS: Daniel D’Alfonso, Francis Beck. DEFENDERS: Heath Goss (Mornington), Matt Owens (Mornington), Jake Kidder, Frank Ntim, Paul Swann. MIDFIELDERS: Daniel Sharratt, Bryce Ingram, Marcus Oliphant, Brendan Norris, Dan Disseldorp. FORWARDS: Liam Kilner, Rhys Wilson, Mark Pags (Gretna, Scotland).
GOALKEEPERS: James Laminski (Bentleigh Greens), Hewad Safi (Springvale White Eagles). DEFENDERS: Andrew Bayliss-White (Seaford Utd), Edward Cerantonio (FC Jove Espanol), Kyle Crawford, Matthew Davis (Swinburne), Laeburn Stringer (Swinburne). MIDFIELDERS: Jordan Avraham, Jack Carter, Declan Seca, Nick Lekakis (Kingston City), Rashid Noor (Doveton), Elvin Prasad (Rewa FC, Fiji). FORWARDS: Matthew Hames, Graham Hill (Dandenong City), Nick Robers (Noble Park), Christopher Hodgson, Ioasa Saemo, Jacek Wrobel (Swinburne).
GOALKEEPERS: Robert Acs, James Foster. DEFENDERS: Dylan Kilner, Andy McIntyre, Alex Van Heerwaarden, Kurt Wagner-Goldsworthy, Michael Hoogendyk (Frankston Pines). MIDFIELDERS: Johnny Guthrie, Nick Thorogood, Boris Ovcin, Grant Lane (Frankston Pines), Sam Scott (Launceston FC, England). FORWARDS: Josh Calle, Caleb Nicholes, Koray Saut, Nabil Mozaffaruddin, Anthony Selemidis (Springvale White Eagles).
GOALKEEPERS: Kris McEvoy (Frankston Pines), Dylan Tervitt (Nunawading). DEFENDERS: Nathan Yole, Danny Black, Steve Elliott, Simon Webster, Chris McKenna, Tom Hawkins, Andy Skledar, Charlie Jones. MIDFIELDERS: Scott Webster, Craig Smart, Paul McEvoy (Frankston Pines), Chris Reid (Manningham), Sam Stewart (Cowdenbeath, Scotland). FORWARDS: Wayne Gordon, Shane Tagliaferro, Nick Waite, Jack Heseltine, Mohsen Chehimi (Endeavour Utd), Michael Freeman (Frenchville SC, Queensland).
GOALKEEPERS: Jason Giccominato, Richard Ojo Ailoba (unattached), Sam Grigg (Box Hill Utd). DEFENDERS: John Watson (Rosebud Heart), Isaak Barr, Seun Yinka-Kehinde, Conor Keely, Tas Tairi, Marco Elhassan, Axel Quintanilla, Jordan Vacouftsis, llir Qaniu, Jarrod Nardino (Mornington), Callum Richardson (Rosebud Heart), Michael Millar (Springvale White Eagles). MIDFIELDERS: Cameron Leopold (unattached), Joey Buccello, Josh Woods, Lindrium Tairi, Mark Szcezesnowicz, Adrian Pace, Kevin Garcia, Ben Meiklem, Harry Chapman (Rosebud Heart), Bailey Brown (Mornington), Francesco Brancato (Swinburne), Dion Stallbaum (Seaford Utd). FORWARDS: Mathew Morris Thomas (Seaford Utd), Ali Osmani, Ibrahim Ibraimi, Paul Presti, Alex Hopson, Xavi Wilkinson (Mornington), Connor Zyskowski, Aeden Thorning, Steve Windsor (Doveton), David Jones.
GOALKEEPERS: Brad Klarenbeek, Hayden Hicks (Swinburne). DEFENDERS: Matthew Pearce, Beau Sharpe (Rosebud), Stewart Pearson, Ryan Monk (Sacred Heart (Colne) FC, England), Dino Vosjan. MIDFIELDERS: Daniel Hodge, Carlo Cardosa, Cory Osorio (Rosebud), Luca Biancardi (Polisportiva San Cesario, Italy), James Liddle (Barwon FC), Patrick Acha, Zac Karolidis. FORWARDS: Dave Greening, Blake Hicks (Swinburne), Aaron Young (Rosebud).
GOALKEEPERS: Sean Skelly (Rosebud Heart), Paul Digiorgio. DEFENDERS: Daniel Walsh, Luke Murray, Tristan Stass, Cameron Syratt, Jason Allizi, Chris Sibson (Rosebud Heart), Terry Reddick, Dan Cameron, Nathan Dugina, Marcus Haringcaspell. MIDFIELDERS: Luke Locasto, Michael Gross (Bentleigh Greens), Josh Tsung, Dean Snoxel, Stefan Soler, Andrew Curd, Cameron Bryden, Jamie Baxter, Adam Martin, Jake Martin. FORWARDS: Dylan Waugh, Alex Roberts, Mitchell Lander, Li Nam Wang (Hampton Park Utd), Conor McFall, Rory Carmichael, Nicholas Antonie, Mitchell Butler.
GOALKEEPERS: Jonathan Crooke (Matamata Swifts, NZ), Lee Herron. DEFENDERS: Brent Brown (Frankston Pines), David Cori, Rob Schreurs, Billy Painting (Seaford Utd), Sean Ellicott (Mazenod), Michael Putson (Sandringham). MIDFIELDERS: Mark O’Connor, Marcus Collier (Seaford), David Popa (Baxter), Daniel Jones, Luke Camerota, Nick Theodore. FORWARDS: Daniel Attard, Matt Wilson (Peninsula Strikers), Dogan Dagli (Keysborough), Daniel Castillo (Frankston Pines).
ROUND 1 FIXTURES
Saturday, 2 April, 3pm: Mornington v Clifton Hill (Dallas Brooks Park), Langwarrin v Frankston Pines (Lawton Park), Heatherton Utd v Peninsula Strikers (Bosnia and Herzegovina Centre), Bayside Argonauts v Skye Utd (Shipston Reserve), Baxter v Sandown Lions (Baxter Park), Casey Panthers v Rosebud Heart (Prospect Hill Reserve).
Sunday, 3 April, 3pm: Seaford Utd v North Caulfield (North Seaford Reserve).
Opinions and predictions expressed in this article are those of the author only.