ILLAWARRA MERCURY IPL PREVIEW

ILLAWARRA MERCURY 2015 PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW

With mass changes across most clubs, this year’s Premier League season is sure to be an intriguing one. Let’s take a look at some of the personnel changes as well as previewing their chances this year.

 

 

Albion Park White Eagles would be the first to admit that they underachieved in 2014 having finished in eighth position earning just over half the points of the premiers. There has been a real buzz around town about the 2015 White Eagles and whilst they haven’t exactly featured highly in the preseason competitions, you only need to look at the players coming in to see they mean business. They took Dapto Dandaloo to penalties in the opening round of the Fraternity Club Cup and have had the Bye in the FFA and Bampton Cups so they may be going into the season a little underdone. They have however a fine and well balanced team on paper and they are sure to pose a serious threat to the title race.

In : David Buchanan, Brian Montanari, Bryce Daenell, Shaun McCrae, Daniel Dafkovski, Mark Every, Christopher Nathaniel, David Polidoro, Peter Prandalos, Harrison Russell, James Togias, Richard Anana, Yahya Saeed

Out : Daniel Atkins, Tony Dulevski, Andrej Gacesa, David Graovac, Volkan Gudan, Dusan Kolonja, Ryan Olender, Harvey Rodriguez, Paul Ryrie, Daniel Treneski

Bellambi edged out Fernhill in the battle for relegation last year and I think they will be better for that experience. Like most teams, the first year in Premier League is likely to be the hardest.  Whilst I don’t think Bellambi will be able to keep pace with the top handful of teams, they are sure to be far from the easy-beats. I think they will win more games than last year and although they may still find themselves battling the bottom few places, they will know what it takes to keep themselves out of trouble. Bellambi pushed Wollongong United a long way before succumbing in the opening game of the Fraternity Club Cup before flexing their muscles in a 4-0 rout of Warilla in the Bampton Cup tie. They have brought in some exciting young Japanese players, they may just help Bellambi climb that table.

In : Brenton Lloyd, Yuya Kuwada, Sang Yu Park

Out : Christopher Hobbs

Bulli FC have been consistently up there for the past few seasons and they can once again expect to feature amongst the leaders given their signings. Having lost some experienced campaigners, Bulli bring in some good young players who are sure to bring more energy, pace and enthusiasm. Bulli have had a decent start to the year despite going down to the Fury in the Semi Finals of the Fraternity Club Cup. Bulli probably have the strongest midfield in the competition and if their front men can fire, they just might win it again. On their day, they are unstoppable and have the abilty to dismantle any of the other teams. They have to start as hot favourites for me.  

In : Julian Minutillo, Tobin Zoomers, Scott Best, Mitchell Cooper, Aaron Baker

Out : Dean Heffernan, Brendan Fordham, Bryce Daenell, Dave Buchanan

Cringila Lions didn’t have one of their finest seasons in 2014 however new rookie coach Chris Jackson will be looking to stamp his competitive spirit throughout the team. The Lions have had a reasonable start to their 2015 campaign reaching the Quarter Finals of the Fraternity Club Cup and then following that up with a narrow R1 Bampton Cup win over Wollongong Olympic. Cringila have picked up some strong young players with former Wolves players Keating and Kocic as well former Fury keeper Takacs looking to strengthen a defensive line that leaked over 50 goals last year.  I am not sure Cringila have enough fire power to make the playoffs although they will probably have a say at who else does. 

In : Daniel Atkins, Hugo Coronel, Jack Keating, Mathew Kocic, Michael Takacs, Nicky Rogers, Todd Sparks, James Eldered, Adam Wither

Out : Alex Todoroski, Esala Ali, Grant Wilson, James Townsend, Klim Gsorjeski, Nikola Nastovski

Dapto Dandaloo Fury finished runners up last year to Bulli in the Premiership however they did get their revenge beating them in the Grand Final. Dapto Dandaloo seems to have got the wood on Bulli a little recently as they also accounted them in the Fraternity Club Cup semi-final before going on to beat Wests Illawarra and take out the first piece of silverware for 2015. They also needed a bit of luck to get past a plucky opponent in their opening FFA Cup tie in what has been a busy preseason for the Fury. It’s been a solid start to the season for a team that looks to have strengthened even further. They will almost certainly be a serious contender for the Premiership however I think they will need to address those occasional lapses against the mid table teams if they are to take it out. 

In : Vaughan Patterson, Ricky Zucco, Jacob Timpano, Mitchell Del Turco, Mitchel Scazzariella, Cameron Morgan, Lachlan O’Connor, Ja Kon Wu, Nicholas Schon

Out : Noel Spencer(retired), Joe Crowley, Shaun McRae, Brad Welsh, Todd Sparks

Port Kembla have also lost some notable players however in somewhat of a surprise, they have lured back several ex-players who will be looking to repay their faith in them. Having finished fourth last year, Port will be looking to better that as they have proven to be one of the more consistent teams in the league of the last decade. Their preseason form has been patchy having gone down to South Coast United early in the Fraternity Club Cup. They were never really tested in their FFA Cup tie against Callala Bay so they may be a little underdone starting the season. I do however expect Port Kembla to make the playoffs again. They have recruited well across the park and if their players can fire, they may even find themselves as serious title contenders.

In : Mark Pincciolini, Harvey Rodriguez, Jarryd Vinton, James Volkanovski, James Ralston, Antonio Dege, Adam Martin

Out : Daniel Alliffi, Karuna Michael, Mitchell Scazerillo, David Polidoro, Matt Floro

Shell Cove were promoted to the Premier League following a resounding 2014 where they literally ran away with the title with weeks to spare. Life though in the top league is sure to be a lot harder and hopefully they will adapt quickly otherwise they could be in for a long season.  They appear to acknowledge that despite their 2014 success, fresh faces and further experience was required to make a good fist of this opportunity. Some influential and strong players have been brought in although I suspect they will need some time to gel as things are off to a shaky start with opening round losses in the Fraternity Club Cup and Bampton Cup. They host local rivals Albion Park in their opening game and I think this may just set the scene for the season. In saying that, I do think they will be reasonably competitive this year however given the calibre of the league this year, they are sure to find the going tough and may just find themselves in a battle to stay up.

In : Lawrence Drake, Tayfun Buyukkopru, Issac Lee, Won Lee, Michael Amed, Ferres Aoun, Sav Treneski, Josh Barret., Andrew Nanos, Vasko Mitkovski, Sammy Mehkavari.

Out: Nelson Grilo, Daniel Esteves, Ben Levai, Jason Milosevski, Val Tasevski, Robi Jonoski, James Petreski, Justin Petkovski. 

South Coast United surprised many people last year by finishing fifth ahead of Tarrawanna, Wollongong Olympic and Albion Park. They took some big scalps last year and many people thought that their success was not going to last. In fact, South Coast United have seemingly continued their resurgence with a reasonably strong start to their 2015 campaign. They accounted for both Port Kembla and Wollongong United before being taken out on penalties by the champions in the Fraternity Club Cup. They were however somewhat surprisingly beaten by Helensburgh in the opening round of the Bampton Cup. They have lost some creative players although their recruiting hasn’t been too bad. South Coast United’s depth I think will be their weakness and for that reason I don’t think they will make the playoffs although I think they will be thereabouts.

In: Sinan Dilber, Julian Cesta, James Kerr, Dean Kerr, Liam Unicomb, Brandon Belsito

Out : David Stojic, Jack Lombo, Lachlan O’Connor, Andrew Paine

Tarrawanna narrowly missed the playoffs last year after several seasons as serious challengers. It is difficult to gauge their form as they were narrowly beaten by Bulli in the opening round of the Fraternity Club Cup before comprehensively beating Thirroul in Rd1 – Bampton Cup. There are some notable losses this year for the Blueys however they have picked up some new players to the league who I am sure will be hoping will bring some consistency to a team that on their day can beat anyone. I expect Tarrawanna to be hovering around that last playoff spot however I really think it will come down to a few crucial games at the end of the day which will decide their fate.

In : Wand Jajaw, Scott Muilwyk, Ross Graham, Anthony Oliver, Pat Morales

Out : Vaughan Patterson, Blaise Gassin, Andrew Gamble, Todd Simpson

Wollongong United have lost double-season player of the year Robbie Shields to Marconi as well as several other notables. They do however have an uncanny knack of unearthing some strong players to the league so it will not surprise me if Wollongong United once again settle themselves in the top five. Despite exiting the Fraternity Club Cup in R2 and having a first round FFA Cup and Bampton Cup Bye, United have had a very busy preseason. They finished third last year and only 8 points behind the premiers and with a tighter competition expected, I think Wollongong United will press the favourites through the year.

In : Jordan Nikolovski, Matt Floro, Karouna Micheal, Klime Sekutkoski, Domenic Cutri, Nathan Scicchitano, Dane Treneski, Kota Kawase

Out : Sam Nastic, Robbie Shields, Billy Tsovolos, Mark Every, Brian Montanari, Scott Burleigh

Wollongong Olympic had an up and down season in 2014 and will be hoping for something a little better this year. Having lost half their regular starting line-up and coach, Olympic have opted for a fresh approach.  A few Bulli players have been lured by new coach John Cropper to Olympic whilst former A-League and State League player Paul Kohler returns to Wollongong. There is sure to be high expectations from the Olympic faithful this year however first round losses in both cup competitions to Cringila hasn’t been the ideal start. Olympic have the team on paper to certainly challenge for at least a playoff spot however they will need to be better at grinding out results this year if they are to feature post season.

In : Brendan Fordham, Paul Kohler, Alex Becerra, Rick De Boer, Valentino Merxhushi, Brendan Pattman, Graeme Smith, Nathan Smith, Nathan Sutcliffe, Brandon Lewis, John Cropper (coach)

Out : Brent Farnsworth, Julien Minutillo, Jarryd Vinton, Peter Prandalos, Gavin O’Brien, Mark Picciolini, Wayne Farnsworth (coach)

Woonona were good value for their ninth place finish in 2014. They don’t seem to have the same playing budget as most other clubs however this doesn’t stop them from being super competitive. In fact, Woonona look to have gone for a more youthful approach and judging by their preseason form, they will once again be highly competitive. Having gone out on penalties in the QF of the Fraternity Club Cup and overcoming a stubborn opponent in the FFA Cup, I think Woonona might be in for one of their strongest seasons for some time. I am not sure they have enough experience to make the playoffs but I think they will go closer than most people think.

In : Brad Jardine, Brendan Kearns, Hayden Nichol, Nathan Belsito, Nathan Mucci, Ryan Hunter, Gareth Jamieson, Godfrey Franco, Alex Morlando

Out : Paul Bitz, Pat Morales, Kyran Della Vedova, Paul Thompson, Josh Martin, Valentino Merxhushi




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