The Team: Rockdale City Suns have proven to be a handful for all teams since its promotion into the Premier League and the side is likely to be even stronger this season.
With coach Branko Culina at the helm, the side is expected to play an attractive style of football with some of the state’s best young talent at the Suns boss’ disposal.
Rockdale City remains strong defensively with Askin Oygur, Michael Cindric and Paul Kohler carrying a huge load of experience across the backline.
The youthful exuberance of Giorgio Speranza down the left flank has been very impressive for the Suns, and the young talent is expected to further improve on the good he has shown in his short career thus far.
In the middle of the park, Culina will have Sash Tirovski to call the shots – the experienced campaigner has also been handed the captain’s armband following Peter Apolovski’s retirement at the end of last season – and he will have more weight on his shoulders this season.
The likes of Alec Urosevseki also return from Sydney FC NYL duties meanwhile Husseyin Jasli has been around the traps long enough to understand what is required at this level. Add to the equation new signing Richard Cardozo and the Suns may well turn a few heads this season.
Finally, the late inclusion of former NSW Premier League Gold Medal winner and Sydney FC midfielder Brendan Gan is sure to add more spice into the Suns line-up.
The Pre-Season Cup saw the side pick-up a win and a draw (and two losses) in its four matches, however the signs are there to show Culina’s influence on the team. Once again the side will be a thorn in the side of many opponents as Ilinden Sports Ground again promises to be a fortress.
The Coach: Rockdale City Suns landed the signature of Branko Culina to take the reigns as head coach for the 2013 season, a massive coup for the club that has made tremendous progress since gaining promotion into the Premier League in 2010.
Culina brings in a massive amount of coaching experience, including two stints in the A-League with Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets.
Teamed up with assistant coach Ivan Petkovic – another master tactician with loads of coaching experience – Rockdale City’s future appears bright.
Culina is an ambassador for attacking, attractive football, and the Suns’ revamped youth policy will certainly come into play with some very talented players at the coach’s disposal.
The Suns have constantly been a menace for their more fancied rivals since promotion into the State League’s top-flight, and adversaries can expect to face some very stern competition when lining up against Rockdale City.
Player to watch: Richard Cardozo joins the club this season and is arguably one of the side’s biggest signings to-date. The attacking midfielder/striker has an impressive ‘CV’, having played his football not only locally, but abroad.
Rockdale City’s main problem in 2012 was a lack of goals scored, something that was momentarily fixed with the guest stint of A-League striker Dylan Macallister.
Cardozo brings a wealth of experience, pace, skill and passion into a team that will surely benefit from his presence.
Expect Cardozo to figure amongst the best performers in the competition in 2013.
Rising Star: Following in the footsteps of his brother, and teammate Giorgio, Roberto Speranza looks set to play a big role under Branko Culina in the first team. Having come off a fine season with the Sydney FC National Youth League side, Roberto Speranza possesses strength and endurance, mixed with a fine ability on the ball including an exquisite touch.
The younger of the two Speranza brothers can play anywhere across the backline or in midfield, and most impressively appears equally comfortable in any of these roles.
Roberto also possesses a remarkable set-piece delivery, goalkeepers beware if this young gun lines up a free-kick in and around the penalty-area.
2013 squad: Diego Barcena, Tom Gollins, Giorgio Speranza, Michael Cindric, Takuya Murayama, Adam Casey, Paul Kohler, Alec Urosevski, Richard Cardozo, David Talevski, Husseyin Jasli, Sam Munro, Seiya Kawamura, Anthony Perri, Sash Tirovski, Jun Kato, Keifer Dotti, Roberto Speranza, Alan Kovacevic, Ryan Norval, Askin Oygur, Aaron Liddell, Brendan Gan