The Rockdale City Suns will head into the new PS4 NSW NPL Men’s 1 competition hoping they can better their 2014 finishing.
Coach Branko Culina has added some experienced faces to his line-up with the Suns looking like a strong outfit for the upcoming campaign.
The new additions are headed by former Blacktown Spartans pair Phil Makrys and Emmanuel Giannaros. Steve Grbevski also joins the Suns as well as Alec Urosevski coming ‘home’.
“These are players that have been around the National Premier Leagues for a while now and will make an impact as well as add experience to the team.
Culina spoke about some of the players that departed the club from last season.
“Although players like Tommy Arcaba, Tahj Minniecon, Tadhj Purcell, Paul Kohler and Sean Symons have departed, they have been adequately replaced.”
The former Sydney FC number one prides himself on the development of youngsters and has enjoyed giving rising stars an opportunity in the first team to prove their worth.
“We have a lot of good youngsters that have been here for a long time such as Nic Petrillo, who also spent time with the Central Coast Mariners, Idriss El Hafiane, Toufic Alameddine, Alec Urosevski and so on who are all under 21 years of age.
“We try to push the young guys and hope that they learn from the older players we have.
“If you have potential I will give you the chance and it’s up to you to take it.”
Culina spoke about his and the clubs philosophy on young players coming through.
“We want to get results for ourselves and fans while producing youngsters for the future and helping them move onto the Hyundai A-League like Max Burgess, Nikola Taneski and Petrillo.”
Last season, the Rockdale City Suns blew the competition away in the Preseason Cup, going on to win it against the Blacktown Spartans.
This year Culina will take a different approach to the season.
“We started strong last year winning the cup but we had a thin squad and that cost us during the season.
“This year we have chosen to prepare differently by giving more players an opportunity during the cup, that way ensuring we have a larger amount of players who can step up during the season in case of injuries, suspension etc.”
Culina believes his side still have a lot of work to do to be where he wants them to be for the season.
“We set high standards here at Rockdale and the players aren’t there yet.
“If the boys want to do better, they need to go that bit extra and the new players need to understand our philosophy here and how hard we work to reach our standards.”
Rockdale are one of only two clubs who have made the finals in the last two seasons along with the Bonnyrigg White Eagles with consistency and a core group of players, the key for Culina.
“We’ve kept the core of the squad from last season again with Askin Oygur, Takuya Murayama and Paul Reid.
“Marko Jesic is another who could be a key for us, he just needs to put his head down and he can expect big things.”
On his expectations for the forthcoming season, Culina wasn’t giving much away.
“We will prepare and go into every game knowing we can win rather than hoping we can win, we want to dictate how we play and make the step up with the players we have.
“We will be a team that will be difficult to beat and that will play attractive football.
“It’s all about the performance and if the football is there then the results will come.
“We need some luck as we didn’t have any last year and what we missed out on last year we expect to get this year.
“We won’t go around beating our chests saying we’ll be there and so on as long as we reach our potential we’ll be a handful for all teams.”
The Rockdale mentor also spoke about who his favourites were for the title this season.
“Bonnyrigg will be up there along with Sydney United 58 FC who have bought well and Sydney Olympic if they can repeat last season’s success.”
Notable Signings: Phil Makrys, Emmanuel Giannaros, David Dascal, Alec Urosevski, Steve Gurbeski
-By Nikola Pozder