Joe Pangallo previews a Round One clash between two recent Champions.
Croydon Kings will be hoping they can repeat their heroic display of last season’s Round 22 rout of their visitor West Adelaide in their first-round match of the PlayStation 4 National Premier League Season at Polonia Reserve.
Both teams are former Champions of the league in recent times, but both had a mediocre 2016 season by their own standards.
West Adelaide were out of the blocks and flying last year, but faded by Round 22.
Croydon, in contrast, found themselves fighting for survival for most of the season.
The pressure of relegation finally bringing out the best in the Croydon boys, evident in their 3-0 round 22 win over West Adelaide at home.
Credit to Brazzale and his playing group who never lost faith in each other last season, even when results weren’t going their way. The character they displayed to lift themselves off the canvas and go into battle time after time galvanised the team. It was that character that saw them fight off relegation.
Brazzale faces another tough challenge this season to get his side back into the finals race.
The loss of Elvis Kamsoba has been well-covered by the signing in the off season of Paul Radice (WT Birkalla).
Radice has been finding the back of the net consistently in the pre-season competition, an element in Croydon’s game that was lacking last year.
The Kings also welcome back Frankie Violi after a horrific run of injuries.
The Kings will need to bring grit and determination to the contest on Saturday if they are to have any chance to steal a victory against a hungry West Adelaide outfit.
Rocky Visconte will once again be the Kings’ barometer. Croydon will be benefit immensely if he can stay fit and healthy.
West Adelaide, under the guidance of new Coach Robbie Ditroia will be looking to dictate terms early in the first-round contest through their silky ball magnet Ricardo Da Silva.
The duel between Visconte and Da Silva will be a highlight of the game. The vanquisher of that clash will set up their side for victory.
West Adelaide welcome back the Rideout brothers, Alex and Jonathan.
Alex will be a handy inclusion in the midfield, while striker Jonathan will be a good support up front for Tommy Briscoe and the fleet footed winger Perry Mitris. The inclusion of three quality Greek imports will also be a welcome addition to the fold to add further depth.
Mitris has been burning up the training track in the pre-season, and is looking forward to pulling on the boots on Saturday for a contest for premiership points. He concedes that it will be a tough game.
“The team has been training really hard. We think we have prepared ourselves well for a long season, but it’s difficult to assess where we are at, until we play a game under match day pressure,” Mitris said.
The memory of the 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Croydon in their last outing for points still lingers true. Mitris and his team mates want to re-write the script and get some revenge.
“The loss in the Round 22 game of last season will be good motivation for us to get our season off to a good start. We are going to back our ability to beat them.”
“We have a new game style under Robbie (Ditrioa), and the players have been learning their role within the structure. I think we are all bonding well, and the confidence is building.
“We are all looking forward to kicking a ball in anger,” Mitris added.