NPL Preview: Wanderers v Sutherland

The Young Wanderers are finally back in action this weekend as the NPL NSW competition begins with a home clash against the Sutherland Sharks.

The Wanderers will be playing in their second straight season in the competition after a strong end of the 2023 season saw them go unbeaten in nine of their final 12 games, resulting in a 12th placed finish, eight points away from the relegation places.

Much if the resurgence was down to the efforts of key players such as Marcus Younis, Zac Sapsford, and Nicolas Milanovic, who were transformational in attack during the latter half of the season, whilst mid-season signing Anthony Pantazolpoulos was also key in helping the defensive performances improve thanks to his versatility.

Several players in the A-League Men’s squad are registered to play in the NPL side this season, including Alex Badolato, Aidan Simmons,

Oscar Priestman and Lachie Brook, though their availability will be more limited whilst the A-League season is still ongoing.

This means the likes of Pantazopoulos, Doni Grdic, Adam Bugarija, and Ryley Hollingdale will play a key role in the side in the opening weeks of the season.

New faces in the side include Taiga Harper – who made his A-League Men debut last week – Roman Culina, Marcus Fernandez, and Angelo Kalamvokis to name a few.

Coach Andrew Christiansen remains with the side, and will be assisted by Martinho Garces and Richard Cardoso in the dugout.
Their opponents on the weekend have also undergone much change, with former Rockdale Ilinden coach Steve Zoric coming in and bringing a raft of new players, including Matthew Moric, Nenad Vekic and Jay McGowan.

They will still be led by classy captain at the back Mitch Stamatellis, and will take faith from the fact they defeated the Wanderers twice last season, firstly in a tight 1-0 win at Wanderers Football Park, before grabbing a 2-0 win later in the season at Seymour Shaw.

This would represent the Wanderers’ last defeat of the season, as well as Sutherland’s last win, with a poor run of form seeing the Sharks slide down the table to finish behind the Red and Black on goal difference.

It will be a tough match to call given the new faces in both sides, but the Wanderers will look to get off to a winning start like they did last year when they defeated the Central Coast Mariners on the opening weekend.

NPL NSW Round 1
Western Sydney Wanderers FC vs Sutherland Sharks FC
Saturday 17th February, 7:00pm
Wanderers Football Park