Sorrento: Into 2016
Report by Jonathan Cook
Infographics: Adrian Petrilli
Sorrento coach Jamie Harnwell says a strong defence is the key to his side keeping up the high standards set in recent years.
“We need to be strong defensively,” he said. “We’ve struggled a little bit in the last year or so, in terms of coughing up cheap goals, to be a serious contender.
“If a team tears you apart with a great passing move or a bit of individual brilliance you have to hold your hand up and say well played but at times I don’t think we’ve been resilient enough.
“We have shown great character to come back from conceding goals but there’s only so often you can do that before you stop getting over the line.”
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Despite the coach’s concerns, the Gulls have developed a reputation as dogged and determined and possessing all the qualities that make them hard to beat. Harnwell is quick to point out that Sorrento have been more than a rough-and-tumble outfit for quite some time.
With the likes of his younger brother Todd and the creativity and goal-scoring nous of Jason Mirco leading the Gulls’ forward thrust in recent years, it’s easy to see where the stereotype starts to blurs.
Unfortunately for the former Perth Glory defender, 2016 will present him with at least two significant challenge - that being the loss of Mirco to rivals Bayswater midway through the Night Series, and defender Lewis Hall’s move to Victoria.
Todd Harnwell’s return to the fray – just months after hanging up his boots – will provide his older brother with at least some comfort.
“We have a few older players so we have to manage the squad well and there’ll be opportunities for younger players to come through,” Harnwell said.
“We’ve suffered some big losses so we’re just trying to push on after those and continue the work we’ve done over the past couple of years.
“We’re continuing to improve the type of football we play and we’ll try to get that little break in the FFA Cup and into the (Top Four Cup) finals.”
Former Perth Glory attacker Scott Bulloch and Sean Canham have plenty to offer in an attacking sense, while Nic Sabatini is back from an overseas venture.
Experienced duo Shaun Kilkelly and Steve McDonald will provide defensive surety, while the likes of Ryan Pearson, Daryl Platten, Danny Cain and Brad McDonald will also be important figures in Sorrento’s season.
Harnwell expects a much tighter race for the title this season.
“I think the top teams might even themselves out a little bit, this year,” he said. “I’m not sure if Bayswater will dominate as much as last year.”