Marconi Stallions coach Peter Tsekenis alongside club assistant Peter Papoythis have moved swiftly in recruiting Dunbar Rovers FC young gun Ahmad Taleb for the remainder of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s season.
The 19-year-old migrant from Beirut who only played street football before coming to Sydney in 2016 hopes to make an impression at the ‘Palace’ when the Stallions face traditional rivals Sydney Olympic on Saturday afternoon.
Signed on for the 20’s Stallions side, Taleb will be pushing for a place in the club’s senior squad where already Tsekenis has unearthed a number of young guns that have come through the system including Marty Fernandez, Lachlan Sepping, Mason Ingram, Aiden Milicevic and Dimos Vlachos.
“Ahmad is a rough diamond we hope will further develop now coming on board at the Stallions – he has been on our radar for a little while.
“We can see the raw talent he possesses, and we are looking forward to working with him on his footballing journey.
“Flea (Peter Papoythis) saw first hand how Ahmad developed watching matches at Hensely Athletic Field.
“As a club, our plans and objectives are clear that we want to identify talent coming through the system and with the likes of Marty, Lachlan, Mason, Aiden and Dimos as well as Brandon Vella, Liam Youlley, Mark Rodic, Yianni Nicolaou (who is now overseas), Damian Tsekenis (Central Coast Mariners NYL), David Ilic, Paolo Laxamana, Bailey Rule (who is now overseas) you can see that the ingredients are there for future senior players prepared to take it to the next level,” Tsekenis stated to Football NSW.
The story of Taleb however is quite unique to say the least.
One of Dunbar Rovers’ passionate Club Directors Peter Hennessy knew firsthand what a talent Ahmad was when he first came to the club.
“After playing some organised football with St George Football Association side Kogarah Waratah, he trialled for our NPL 2 NSW Boys Youth U16 squad. He made an immediate impact in his first trial game as he scored two quick and almost identical goals by racing away from the halfway line and slotting the ball past the goalkeeper. When the keeper had to go off injured, he went in goal and without gloves, pulled off an unbelievable diving save to stop a free kick going into the top left-hand corner of the net. We knew he was something special before he played his first competition game.
“He exploded onto the scene quite literally, scoring 20 goals in his first 11 games, ending up the top goalscorer in the U16’s competition that season, but also in the U18’s, where he played up on a regular basis. He helped the U18’s to a double that year, scoring a goal in the Grand Final at Edensor Park. He also played U20’s and a number of games in First Grade, scoring away to the eventual league winners Rydalmere Lions.
“At that point he could have gone to any NPL top tier U18’s club but he listened to our advice and gained valuable First Grade exposure as a teenager by remaining at Dunbar. In addition, he went on a month-long trial with Kelly Cross at Sydney FC and gained important experience on what it will take to make it as a player.
“Ahmad got more game time in First Grade in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He was part of the double winning U18’s again in 2019, making him the only player at the club who has four NPL NSW titles under his belt.
“He is Dunbar’s first home-produced youth player who has gone on to sign with an NPL top tier club in our state.
“Special thanks to his coaches Will Cullen, Matías Martinez Díaz, Mike Dixon, Rob Seib and Seamus Mccorry as well as Danny Fee for the guidance they have provided him over the last four years. Special mention to Gene Katliakas who was with him every step of the way.
“Dunbar’s clear mission is to provide opportunities for young, talented players to play First Grade. Ahmad is a case in point of how a young player can develop his game in NPL 3 and still get noticed by the big clubs down the track.
“We wish Ahmad all the best at Marconi and we know he is in good hands with Peter Tsekenis and Peter Papoythis. He will always be a Dunbar Rover and will always be welcome back at the club.”
Some of Marconi Stallions’ rising young guns playing senior football in the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition.
Mason Ingram, Marty Fernandez, Lachlan Sepping, Aiden Milicevic and Dimos Vlachos