Up to 11 new faces are set to be part of the new Melbourne Knights squad that boasts an Olyroo (Dragi Nastevski), two brothers (Andy and Rody Vargas) and the National Youth League Southern Division’s highest goal scorer last season (Anthony Pelikan).
The squad is coach Vlado Vanis’ bid to deliver a consistent top-six slot and a finals berth as the club continues to be rejuvenated to recapture its excitement and success of the 1990s.
At the hugely successful Guernsey Presentation dinner last Friday, six new faces got their strips: Saso Ognenovski (No 4), Joe Kozic (7), Joel Porter (9), Ivan Razov (17), Andy Vargas (18) and Toto Da Costa (22).
Three of the five vacant places are likely to be filled by former South Melbourne and Adelaide Sharks striker Jim Tsekenis, striker Xhezair Sulemani from VPL side South Dandenong and defender Antun Kovacic from VPL side Preston Lions.
Two spots remain, with Vanis looking at filling at least one with another overseas recruit.
While the new kids on the block might be basking in the limelight, the core of the squad consists of some tried and true performers – and the club’s favorite sons: goalkeepers Martin John and Lupce Acevski, defenders Rody Vargas, Jason Vukadin, Joey Rajher, Paul Magdic, Ransford Banini and Olyroo Dragi Nastevski. The midfield comprises Michael Bosevski, Alex Kiratzoglou and Zoltan Zold.The strike force includes Harry Matkovic, Anthony Pelikan and Adrian Cervinski.
A highlight of Friday’s dinner was a fashion show of the hot, new-looking merchandise collection that will be available soon. More than $50,000 was raised for the club on the night.
1. Martin John – goalkeeper
3. Rody Vargas – defender
4. Saso Ognenovski – defender
5. Jason Vukadin – defender
6. Joey Rajher – defender
7. Joe Kozic – midfielder
8. Dragi Nastevski – defender
9. Joel Porter – striker
12. Michael Bosevski – midfielder
14. Paul Magdic – defender
15. Ransford Banini – defender
16. Alex Kiratzoglou – midfielder
17. Ivan Razov – striker
18. Andy Vargas – midfielder
19. Anthony Pelikan – striker
20. Lupce Acevski – goalkeeper
21. Zoltan Zold – midfielder
22. Toto Da Costa – striker
24. Harry Matkovic – striker
25. Adrian Cervinski – striker
The oldest player is Da Costa, who turned 27 on August 9, while the youngest is Pelikan, who turns 19 next February 2.
Four players turn, or have turned, 22 this calendar year: Rajher on September 23, Nastevski on January 26, Andy Vargas on July 3 and Acevski on November 14.
Meanwhile, four players turn, or have turned, 23: Rody Vargas on October 20, Vukadin on August 21, Kozic on June 3, Porter on December 25 – Christmas Day!
The party month is August at Knights Stadium, with four players celebrating their birthdays: Vukadin (August 21), Kiratzoglou (August 27), Zold (August 20), Da Costa (August 9).
This is followed closely by November, with three birthdays falling: Magdic and Acevski (both November 14) and Cervinski (November 17).