Hakoah Sydney City East FC have worked far too hard to let their chance at the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s slip after just one season.
For Coach Mark Robertson, achieving promotion to the state’s top-flight is the realization of a five-year dream.
“I think excitement is the best word for it,” the former Sydney FC and Perth Glory player said.
“There’s no pressure on us, we’re coming in as the underdogs because we are newly promoted, but we don’t mind that.”
Robertson said he would be trusting the players that got the club promoted last season to keep his team in the division this year.
“The ones that I have had with me for the last five years, they’ve done the hard yards with me,” he said.
“We were playing in the state competitions just two years ago … it’s been a slog and obviously there have been the lows that have gone with the highs.
“But I think the boys I’ve kept, they know how I like to play and what I expect and they have helped the new boys that I have bought in really settle in.
“I can’t see us conceding too many goals. We’ll be solid defensively.”
Robertson, who also played for Burnley and Swindon Town in England, says he has taken pride in building a squad of players from the eastern suburbs who live locally around the club.
“They all live in the eastern suburbs. They don’t travel to training and games from an hour away. We try and keep it local,” he said.
“Whenever you represent your local area, I believe you do it to 20 per cent extra capacity.”
More than that, he believes that his players – many of which were cast out of other NPL set ups – will prove themselves worthy of New South Wales’ top-flight.
Player to watch: Deklan Gilmartin
One of Mark Robertson’s Hakoah “originals”, Deklan Gilmartin has risen through the ranks comfortably and his coach is expecting another big year from one of his most trusted players.
“He’s a stand out talent,” Robertson said.
“It doesn’t matter what level he plays at. He always rises to the occasion.”
SQUAD: Hussein Akil, Costa Andricopoulos, Jacob Bandur, Dylan Blumberg, Nathan Bowden-Haase, Jeremy Butnaru, Anthony Costa, Domenic Cutri, Aaron D’Mello, Deklan Gilmartin, Neil Jablonski, Lee Jones, Bradley Karpin, Ilan Kessler, Matthew McKenzie, Jordan Mundell, Paul Orgad, Gavin Rae, Michael Randall, Brad Walker, Remy Wolanski