Kanaridis confident ahead of maiden NPL season

New Monaro Panthers head coach Jimmy Kanaridis is confident that a balanced mix of youth and experience can help his side to a strong NPL season in his first year in charge.

The Panthers started the 2018 season strongly with a famous 1-0 win over Canberra Olympic but faded as the year dragged on, and the club parted ways with Zoran Glavinic towards the end of the season before appointing Kanaridis for 2019.

The new Head Coach has been a major name in the NPL age grades for the last few years and after a strong recruitment campaign that saw a lot of players publicly locked in early, said that he and assistant Colin Stirton have been getting ready for a first-grade role for a number of years.

“Colin and I have been planning for this for about three years,” Kanaridis said this week.

“We have been putting players on our ‘wish list’ so to speak, watching them develop and play.

“For us it was so that when we arrived in an NPL environment, we look and go ‘that is the type of player I want in my team.”

“And we got a lot of the players that we really, really wanted, and we put together a group where everybody plays for each other.”

Kanaridis is under no false impressions of the task at hand taking over a side that finished bottom in 2018, and has his sights set on development and proving to be a handful for the teams above them.

“If we can rock the top four this year or be close to it then we’ve done our jobs,” he said.

“But it really is about giving these players some self-belief that they can do it, and that is what we are working hard on.

“It’s not about the individual for us, it is about the team and if we perform as a team, I have no doubt we will be competitive.”

Kanaridis’ team romped to a 5-0 pre-season win over Illawarra’s Bellambi FC on the weekend and performed strongly in a 2-0 loss to Victorian side Murray United at the AIS in late January.

Him and Stirton have been pleased with the showings so far and know there is still work to be done ahead of the opening round visit to Riverina on April 6th.

“Against Bellambi it was a good result for us,” Kanaridis said.

“They finished second in their league last year so it was the first time we have put out a full-strength side and after 40 minutes I could take players off that I had seen enough of, and then the youth did the job as well.”

“Against Murray United it was hit and miss, but they are getting ready to start their season this weekend, while we are just getting through pre-season.

“If we had a couple of weeks preparation, I am confident that we could have beaten them.”

The Panthers now head to Wagga Wagga to take on Wagga City Wanderers there, and play almost every weekend until the season proper gets underway.

“We have a friendly just about every weekend between now and the season beginning,” Kanaridis said.

“With a new side we need as many games under our belt as we can to get the boys ready, so Colin and I can show them their roles and responsibilities and how we want them to perform on the park.”

Monaro kick off their season on Saturday, 6th April at Solar Mad Stadium in Griffith against the Rhinos.

Check out the full season fixtures here.


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