NSW state league football is back with the return of the PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 competition.
Round 1 comes hot on the heels of the PS4 Preseason Cup, which was won by Sydney United 58 FC last weekend against Sydney Olympic.
MATCH OF THE ROUND
Rockdale City Suns v APIA-Leichhardt Tigers, 3pm SUNDAY at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City Suns host the season’s first Match of the Round at home to new-look APIA-Leichhardt.
Rockdale have made great strides in the past two seasons under the experienced Branko Culina, and with the experienced Askin Oygur and Paul Reid at centre half and centre midfield respectively, they have the know-how and guile required. Alec Urosevski’s return up front also gives the Suns a lethal edge in attack.
APIA have a real "galacticos" look to them, after the signings of Brett Studman, Nathan Elasi, Nick Olsen, Corey Biczo, Adrian Ucchino, Sean Symons and Adam Griffiths.
The experienced Michael West and Franco Parisi remain, but arguably their biggest coup was the resigning of Blake Powell, who was last season’s APIA player of the year.
Marconi Stallions v Parramatta FC, 7.30pm at Marconi Stadium
Marconi Stallions start their season at home to newly promoted Parramatta FC on Saturday evening.
The Stallions lost their captain and goalkeeper James Chronopoulos at the end of last season and he will be a big loss to the Bossley Park based side.
Parramatta coach Franco Cosentino was Marconi’s grade 20’s coach before taking on the first grade gig at Parramatta and leading them to promotion in 2014.
Marconi will be favourites, but don’t underestimate the Eagles.
Sutherland Sharks v Blacktown Spartans, 7.30pm at Seymour Shaw Park
Sutherland Sharks are in a rebuilding phase and they start their season at home to another side with plenty of new faces, Blacktown Spartans.
Sutherland lost key midfielders Panni Nikas and Nick Stavroulakis, while the departure of livewire forward Nick Olsen will also hit them hard.
New coach Steve O’Connor has big shoes to fill after replacing Robbie Stanton, but he has been hard at work getting his squad ready for 2015.
Spartans, too, are rebuilding after their massive effort last year. Shu Sasaki has arrived from Marconi and will provide plenty of spark, while captain and goalkeeper Carlos Saliadarre will lead from the back.
Sydney Olympic v South Coast Wolves, 3pm at Belmore Oval
Sydney Olympic went through the Preseason Cup with five wins from five before going down in the final last weekend.
But they’ve shown the sort of ability that took them to the grand final last year and with Taiga Soeda and Go Shirai back for another year, they certainly have the cattle to go far again.
They open up against South Coast Wolves, who had a mixed Preseason Cup, not that that will concern coach Nahuel Arrarte.
Wolves went on a strong run after Arrarte’s appointment last year, but this will be a bigger test with a full preseason under his belt.
Blacktown City v Sydney United 58, 3pm at Lilys Football Centre
Blacktown City are another team with a hard act to follow after winning the Waratah Cup and the Men’s 1 Championship in 2014.
They have bolstered their squad with the inclusion of promising young defender George Timotheou and striker Christos Tomaras.
United won the Preseason Cup final courtesy of a Mark Cindric goal and with Justin Pasfield between the sticks and Nick Stavroulakis in midfield, they already look a stronger side this time around.
Manly United v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, 3pm at Cromer Park
Manly are hosting Back to Manly Day this weekend and are hoping for a big turn out as they welcome Bonnyrigg White Eagles to the Northern Beaches.
Manly will be keen for an upset, although such results are traditionally difficult to come by against Brian Brown’s men.
Bonnyrigg won’t pay too much attention to Preseason Cup results now the main event is here, and they will go in as heavy favourites.
– by Matthew Lopez, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Editor