Melbourne Knights kick off their 70th Anniversary Season on the road against St Albans in NPL Victoria Round One action at Churchill Reserve on Sunday afternoon.
Sunday’s match marks the start of a new era for the Knights with Head Coach, Ben Cahn taking charge of his first competitive match and host of fresh faces set to debut for a new-look side.
Cahn, who brings a high energy, possession based brand of football to the Knights has a strong opening day record, winning all five of his round one matches during his time in Queensland with Olympic.
No less than twelve new players have arrived at the club as Knights seek a return to finals football for the first time since 2015.
Ivan and Josiip Franjic, Chris Oldfield, Gevaro Nepomuceno, Ciaran Bramwell, Steve Whyte, Corey Sewell, Mitch Hore, Josh Phelps, Tomas Karlovic, Felipe Sanchez and Matt Wiseman have all arrived at Somers Street ahead of the 2023 season.
Knights come into Sunday’s season opener after a strong pre-season which culminated with a 4-1 win over Eastern Lions last weekend.
Bramwell – who has been prolific in pre-season after arriving from Perth Glory, last season’s top scorer Albano and Nepomuceno – who makes the move to Knights after a 10 year professional career in Europe, all found the back of the net in that match and look set to cause opposition defences plenty of problems in 2023.
Standing in the way of Knights and three points at Churchill Reserve on Sunday evening are St Albans who finished 11th last season.
Former Knights duo Joseph Colina and George Ott are amongst the new arrivals for Ryan McGuffie’s side, who have also added Brian Summerskill, Troy Ruthven, Aaron Oppedisano and Jasko Keranovic.
Speaking to Football Victoria, Melbourne Knights Head Coach Ben Cahn said his side are ready to hit the ground running.
“I am under no illusions on the size of the challenge,” he said. “The league is very strong, there is some very good teams.
“There has been really good enthusiasm and energy from the boys, everybody pushing in the right direction, and we have been progressing nicely.
“It is the clubs 70th anniversary so it is a special year for the club and we are looking at bringing a playing style and results that go with it that fit the year of celebration for the club.”
Cahn added he was excited by the prospect of what this new look Knights squad could achieve this season.
“We have spoken between us as players and as a group that there is no point starting out the journey unless we aim to win it and believe we can win it that’s our starting point,” he explained.
“We have focused quite hard on our recruitment, we have kept the boys who were here and hungry wanting to improve and do well for the club.
“We have brought in people who we feel reflects the culture that we want to create here and players who would fit in really nicely with the way I want to play football this year.”
In what is set to be a blockbuster match in the opening round, Knights fans planning to attend can stop by Somers Street tonight after 6pm to collect new season merchandise and memberships, to rep the club away from home.
NPL Victoria 2023 – Round 1: St Albans Saints vs Melbourne Knights
Churchill Reserve, St Albans
Sunday, 19 February (5:00pm KO)
Melbourne Knights FC squad: 2. Jack MARTH, 3. Josh PHELPS, 4. Corey SEWELL, 5. Ivan FRANJIC (C), 6. Anthony DUZEL, 7. Mitch HORE, 8. Steve WHYTE, 9. Ciaran BRAMWELL, 10. Gian ALBANO, 11. Gevaro NEPOMUCENO, 12. Felipe SANCHEZ, 13. Chris OLDFIELD (GK), 16. Mohammed SUMAORO, 17. Trevor SSEMAKULA, 18. Jack MORTON, 19. Luka KOLIC, 21. Matt WISEMAN (GK), 27. Joseph FRANJIC, 33. Tomas KARLOVIC