It will be a totally different Sutherland Sharks outfit as the Shire based side prepares for its assault on the PS4 NPL NSW Men’s 1 competition with a new head coach and direction.
Former AIS boss Steve O’Connor has been appointed as the new man to lead the way for the Sharks taking over long time boss Robbie Stanton.
O’Connor’s work started early in the piece when the club lost the services of long serving club captain Nick Stavroulakis and former Player of the Year star attacker Panny Nikas, with the duo signing for rivals Sydney United 58 FC this season.
“Nikas and Stavroulakis were the heart and soul of the club and it will be difficult to replace both of them.
“Along with those two, as well as Nathan Elasi and Perry Moustakas, we lost a fair chunk of experience.
“With Elasi and Nikas, we also lost goals and whether you can replace them, I don’t know just yet.”
O’Connor has been busy searching for new recruits and looking to strengthening his side.
“We are utilising the Preseason Cup as an ideal platform in recruiting new players for this season as we still have a couple of trialists hoping to make a name for themselves here at Seymour Shaw Park.”
The club has moved swiftly in signing St George FC’s lively attacker Aleksandar Jovovic, former Men’s 2 Player of the Year winner Peter Crevani and ex-Marconi Stallions midfielder Sean O’Connell.
Former Bonnyrigg White Eagles and Bankstown City FC live-wire Shane Webb also makes his return to the top flight, adding more experience to O’Conner’s young squad.
“A few of these boys give us experience and hopefully they can gel with the young kids.”
O’Connor spoke about the youngsters and the opportunity they have been presented with the new approach the club has taken.
“It’s a transition time for us with new players coming in and seeing what our young players are capable of doing at this level.
“Also, the youngsters have an opportunity to force their way into the team for the future.
“I’m hoping they will put their hand up.”
The Sharks boss was content with his personal expectations for the season.
“We want to win as many games as possible and play the right style of football as well as being competitive.”
“Its early days and we have a lot of work to do and like I said, I’m waiting for players to take the next step.”
The club will look towards their number one keeper Nathan Denham as well as midfielder Jamie McMaster for inspiration from the back while the attack prowess of promising young gun Jordan Figon will be a feature clubs will need to be weary of.
O’Connor believes Sydney Olympic are the bench mark for the season but believes there are some more challenges to thwart the Blues for that title.
“Grant Lee has had his Sydney Olympic team for a couple years and they look good and of course Sydney United 58 FC, Bonnyrigg White Eagles, Rockdale City Suns and perhaps APIA.”
Notable Signings: Alex Jovovic, Peter Crevani, Sean O’Connell, Shane Webb
-By Nikola Pozder