After a long post-season break, coaching change and squad reshuffle, the Melbourne Knights kick off their 2019 National Premier Leagues Victoria campaign against an Oakleigh Cannons team coached by Chris Taylor.
With the sudden departure of Aljosa Asanovic to Saudi Arabia, new head coach Micky Colina has taken the reigns and will be looking to get off to a flying start after an impressive pre-season.
After last week’s positive performance in the annual Friendship Cup against Sydney United 58, the Knights were able iron out the last kinks in the game plan and will be looking for a positive performance against an Oakleigh side packed with talent, which also carries the burden of expectation.
Hamish Watson, the club’s transfer deadline day signing from Team Wellington has received his International Transfer Clearance and will be available for selection. The striker was an impressive presence in the Friendship Cup and is looking to link up with new signings Atilla Ofli and Gian Albano to create a formidable forward line for the Knights in season 2019.
The club’s other visa signing for the 2019 season, Yutaro Shin succumbed to a hamstring injury during pre-season and is currently undergoing treatment with the hope of an early return.
Key to the Knights’ fortunes in tomorrow’s match will be the strong central midfield pairing of Joseph Franjic and Tomislav Uskok. Their winning mentality and experience at this level should control the tempo of the match and swing it in the Knights’ favour.
Looking towards Oakleigh, Chris Taylor has been able to assemble a formidable squad, taking with him four former players from his time at South Melbourne; most notably attackers Milos Lujic and Nick Epifano. Taylor was also able to add two new visa signings for the Jack Edwards based club in midfielder Joe Guest and striker Harry White. Both players spent the majority of their careers in the English national league level and have the pedigree to make a difference for Oakleigh.
On the other side of Oakleigh’s transfer dealings – some impressive names have departed. Most notably left footed midfielder Dean Piemonte made a last minute switch to Dandenong City whilst lumbering midfielder Wayne Wallace continues his career with Langwarrin. The other notable losses include the departures of Dusan Bosnjak to Altona, Andy Brennan to Green Gully whilst Kostas Stratomitros has moved to South Melbourne.
The Knights will be looking for a similar performance they exhibited at Jack Edwards Reserve in mid-2018 which saw a dramatic 93rd minute winner from now-departed striker Nate Foster to giver the club a 4-3 victory that night.
Get out to Jack Edwards early to support the Melbourne Knights in this early season test of strength between two sides that have eyes on the top five, knowing that an early positive result helps build momentum for the season.
Melbourne Knights FC Squad:
1. Harry Cakarun, 2, Luke Jurcic, 4. Tom Podaridis, 5. Ayden Brice, 6. Tomislav Uskok, 8. Gian Albano, 9. Hamish Watson, 10. Marijan Cvitkovic, 11. Nikola Jurkovic, 12. Corey Sewell, 13. Ivan Grgic, 14. AJ Inia, 15. Adrian Tardio, 16. Marcelo De La Plaza, 19. Anthony Duzel, 20. Jordan Gifkins, 25. Atila Ofli, 27. Joseph Franjic.
Yutaro Shin – injury
Daniel Visevic – suspended (3 weeks)
Round 1 Friday 15th February 2019
Venue: Jack Edwards Reserve
Pitch Condition: Very quick and even surface
Appointed Match Official: Lachlan Keevers
Forecast at 8:30pm: 19°C, winds of up to 19km/h, 0% chance of rain