2017 NPL Queensland Season PreviewPosted: February 23, 2017
After a brief break following the end of the 2016-17 National Youth League season, Brisbane begin their 2017 NPL Queensland season as the winter competition gets underway.
In the recently concluded NYL, Brisbane put in some strong performances but once again fell just short of qualifying for the Grand Final from Conference A, finishing two points behind eventual champions Melbourne City.
As mentioned over the last couple of weeks, a number players in the Young Roar set-up have moved on, leaving holes in the squad that have to be filled. Since the end of the National Youth League the likes of goalkeeper Andre Jannese, defender Hayden McHenery, midfielders Henry Hore, Danny Kim, Joseph Champness and Jayden Prasad, plus attacker Joe Duckworth.
Add in those who left at the end of the 2016 NPL Queensland campaign and it figures to be a very different squad in 2017. The only confirmed addition to the fold is Moreton Bay winger Finn Beakhurst, with the rest likely to be made up of gradates from the QAS side.
Working out who is in the squad is an interesting one due to both the recent transfers of players out of the system and the current A-League injury crisis which will see a bunch of players who were likely to play in the NPL not available as they compete for playing time in the A-League.
That means that for the first part of the NPL season the likes of goalkeeper Tomislav Bilic, defenders Cameron Crestani, Connor O’Toole, Dane Ingham and Kye Rowles, midfielders Joe Caletti and Nathan Konstandopoulos, plus attackers Nicholas D’Agostino and Shannon Brady are unlikely to feature in the early rounds.
With that in mind the NPL side in the early rounds is likely to be made up with players who were on the fringes over the summer NYL competition. That means the likes of Macklin Frecke, Adam Sawyer, Aaron Reardon, Daniel Driver, Daniel Leck, Mark Rodic and Nicholas Panetta, in addition to new signing Finn Beakhurst should get regular football in the next few weeks.
As always for the Young Roar the expectations are more about player development and putting in solid performances rather than aiming for a spot in the finals places. For those players who are entering their second season in the set-up it’s a big few months as they try and catch the eye of John Aloisi and his coaching staff, with a view to being involved in the A-League sides pre-season later on in the year.
In addition to the Young Roar playing in the senior NPL Queensland competition, Brisbane will once again be fielding a side in the u-18’s competition which is essentially the QAS/NTC program.
This season however there will be a third Brisbane Roar side in the NPL competitions, with an u-20’s side set to be fielded in that competition for the first time which will open up further opportunities for younger players to enter the Brisbane youth system.
All three of these side are set to play the 2017 season at A.J. Kelly Park in Redcliffe, with the clubs new training base still in progress. It’s highly likely that these teams will eventually play the majority of their home games at the new training base, but for 2017 they’ll be playing up on the Peninsula.
Switching focus to the rest of the competition and the favourites figure to be perennial contenders Brisbane Strikers, who will be looking to win their first Championship in the NPL era of the state league.
Their biggest challenge is likely to come from Cairns based FNQ Heat, who ran them close in the Premiership race last season, while Olympic FC could be an outsider to keep an eye on given their strong recruitment over the summer under new boss Terry Kirkham. Gold Coast City and Western Pride, who both have a range of talented young players also figure to have good seasons.
Last seasons Champions Redlands have seen the majority of their squad move on to both rival clubs in the NPL Queensland, and to clubs in the stronger NPL Victoria and could find it tough to defend their title. Captain Michael McGowan, midfielder Paul O’Brien and goalkeeper Brendan White figure to be big losses for Red Devils.
Round 1 fixtures
Olympic FC v Brisbane Roar- Saturday 6.00pm at Goodwin Park, Yeronga.
Moreton Bay v Northern Fury- Saturday 6.00pm at Wolter Park, Albany Creek.
FNQ Heat v Gold Coast City- Saturday 6.30 pm at Barlow Park, Cairns.
Brisbane City v SWQ Thunder- Saturday 6.30pm at Spencer Park, Newmarket.
Western Pride v Brisbane Strikers- Sat 7.00pm at Briggs Road Complex, Ipswich.
Sunshine Coast v Redlands- Sunday 2.00pm at Sunshine Coast Stadium, Kawana.