Football West NPLWA Men's Season Preview
We're just days away from kick-off in the Football West NPLWA Men's Competition and it's looking like one of the tightest title races in some time.
Blayne Treadgold previews the upcoming season and runs the rule over all twelve clubs heading into the 2023 season.
Last season: 7th
Opening fixtures: Cockburn City (H) Perth Glory (A) Inglewood (H)
Player to watch: Chris Jackson
Following an encouraging run in the Pre-season Nightseries, Coach John O'Reilly will be bullish heading into the new season. The return of Chris Jackson and the inclusion of Daniel Robinson alongside Peter Jacobz and Angel Andres will provide plenty of attacking options much to the joy of the parochial Armadale supporters. Could be a big year.
Verdict: One to watch
Last season: 11th
Opening fixtures: Perth Glory (H) Inglewood (A) Kingsway (A)
Player to watch: Kotaro Yamamoto
Coach Glen Grostate will have his work cut out in 2023, after narrowly escaping relegation last season, Balcatta will be determined not to end up in another relegation scrap. The experience of Adam Tong, Trent Kay and Brent Griffiths will be a huge asset for the side, but they'll need some huge improvements across the park following a Night Series campaign where they failed to register a point.
Verdict: Will struggle.
Last season: 5th
Opening fixtures: Sorrento (H) Cockburn (A) Perth Glory (H)
Player to watch: Ndumba Makeche
Following a few lean years, Bayswater will be one of the sides to watch in 2023. Goals shouldn't be hard to come by for Gareth Naven's side with plenty of attacking options such as Ndumba Makeche, Teeboy Kamara, Samuel Dweh and Gustavo Catarcione, complemented by the experience of Declan Hargreaves, Thomas Southgate and Sam Mitchinson throughout the midfield and defense.
Verdict: Should bounce back
Last Season: 10th
Opening fixtures: Armadale (A) Bayswater (H) Perth SC (A)
Player to watch: Friday Zico
While all the recent talk has been regarding their ambitions to join the proposed national second division, Cockburn will be out to prove their mantle on the pitch as well. City will bank on South Sudanese International Friday Zico to lead the line, backed by City stalwarts Jesse Lazarro and Ivan Skorich as they look to improve on their tenth-place finish in 2022.
Verdict: With the extra threat of relegation, they'll need to fight tooth and nail.
Last season: NPLWA Champions
Opening fixtures: Inglewood (H) Kingsway (A) Stirling (H)
Player to watch: Noah Shamaki
The 2022 NPLWA Champions will again go into the season as one of the teams to beat. One of the keys to the success of Athena under the tutelage of Vas Vujacic seems to be the ability to keep hold of key players such as Ludovic Boi, Jason Saldaris, Chris Saldaris, Dennis Galan and Robert Petkov. Add in last-day hero Bayley Brown-Montgomery and the incoming Noah Shamaki and you've got a side that will be challenging once again in 2023.
Verdict: Top four contender
Inglewood United Last Season: 6th Opening fixtures: Floreat (A) Balcatta (H) Armadale (A) Player to watch: Michael Domfeh A tremendous run all the way to the NPLWA Night-Series Final will bring a mountain of confidence to Andres Oliveira's side. The inclusion of former NPLWA Gold Medal winner Michael Domfeh has already paid dividends with the centre-forward scoring on multiple occasions throughout pre-season. Slick combinations in the front third involving Roberto Del Borello, Ngide Ngendakumana and Shubham Mokala will be key to providing Domfeh the delivery he needs to thrive in front of goal. Verdict: Need to carry on from their positive Night Series campaign Olympic Kingsway
Last Season: Promoted to the NPLWA Opening fixtures: Stirling (A) Floreat (H) Balcatta (H) Player to watch: Tyler Garner Olympic Kingsway have already shown they mean business as they returned to WA's top flight by taking out the Pre-season Nightseries. Kingsway coach, David Tough has built a very well balanced side that features Tyler Garner and Josh Sampson pulling the strings in midfield with Captain Shane Cassidy marshalling the defence. They will however have to contend with front-loaded home fixtures due to Kingsway's ground being out of action late in the season due to the upcoming FIFA Women's World Cup. Verdict: Will make waves in 2023 Perth Glory Academy Last Season: 8th Opening fixtures: Balcatta (A) Armadale (H) Bayswater (A) Player to watch: Khoa Ngo Yet to make real waves in the NPLWA competition, the fortune of the Perth Glory Academy is often dependent on the senior A-league side. No doubt there is a stack of talent at the Glory with youngsters like Chris Donnell, Kaelan Majekdunmi and Joseph Forde all being pulled into the Australian U/20's National squad recently, but it may take a hand from some of the senior talent for Glory to challenge for the top four. Bizarrely, Perth Glory will play their home fixtures in Rockingham. Verdict: Could go either way Perth Redstar Last Season: 2nd Opening fixtures: Perth SC (A) Stirling (H) Sorrento (A) Player to watch: Darryl Nicol After falling just short on the final day of last season, the club formerly known as ECU Joondalup will have an axe to grind in 2023. Former Wellington Phoenix man Ryan Lowry will provide a solid anchor at the back alongside former A-league defender and Fulham prospect Riley Warland. Goals shouldn't be a problem with reigning NPLWA Gold Medalist Daryl Nicol having a great eye for goal. Redstar will however be without Captain Ellis Healing after suffering a season-ending knee injury. Verdict: In the mix for a top four finish Perth SC Last Season: 9th Opening fixtures: Perth Redstar (H) Sorrento (H) Cockburn (H) Player to watch: David Ninkovich As Marc Wingell leads the rebuild at Azzurri, it's hard not to be reminded that last year's 9th place finish was one of the lowest in their NPLWA history. While keeping much of their squad from last season, Wingell has added some classy additions. Perth will be looking to take full advantage in the first half of the season with nine out of ten matches played at home due to Dorrien Gardens being in use for the upcoming FIFA Women's World Cup in the backend of the season. Verdict: The big improvers Sorrento FC Last Season: 4th Opening fixtures: Bayswater (A) Perth (A) Perth Redstar (H) Player to watch: Mark Withers An interrupted pre-season saw Steve McGarry take the reins from Trevor Morgan in a last-minute coaching shake up at Sorrento. McGarry will have to make do with current stocks due to the recent closure of the transfer window. The departure of Chris Jackson, means there will be more reliance on former golden boot winner Gustavo Marulanda and American import Mark Withers. Verdict: May struggle early in the season Stirling Macedonia Last Season: 3rd Opening fixtures: Kingsway (H) Perth Redstar (A) Floreat (A) Player to watch: Kingsley Eshun Stirling fans will be hoping the inclusion of Kingsley Eshun could be enough to see Stirling go a couple better in 2023. The former QPR junior will look to team up with marksman Alex Tanevski in a partnership that could cause real trouble for the rest of the league. With some great balance across the park, Stirling should be in the conversation to go well in 2023. Verdict: Title contenders Photo Credit: Football West