Walter Pless on Association Football
- Written by Walter Pless
- Published: 17 March 2017
South Hobart stole a march on the rest of the pack with their 3-0 win over Olympia last week in the opening round of the NPL Tasmania competition and they go into this weekend’s second round 2 points ahead of six of the other sides.
That’s a great start in anybody’s language and South can be expected to pick up another three points on Sunday when they face Northern Rangers at South Hobart at 2pm.
So, it is up to the other teams to win their games or risk South striding even farther ahead so early in the season.
South Hobart coach Ken Morton, ever the diplomat, praises certain qualities and players of Northern Rangers, but he is surely playing games.
South showed last week that the Rangers will be no match for South, even though new Rangers coach Lino Sciullli is a wily opponents in terms of tactics and instilling a fighting spirit in his players.
Morton watched Rangers draw with Claremce last Monday and us sure to have taken notes on their strengths and weaknesses and he will have his team primed to take home the chocolates.
The second round begins at KGV Park at 8pm tonight when Hobart Zebras take on Clarence United.
Zebras will be hot favourites, with Adam McKeown getting off the marl early last week with two goals and fly-in from Melbourne Mathew Sanders already a proven goalscorer.
Clarence were their usual selves against Rangers and Zebras have little to fear in this contest.
Zebras coach Peter Savill favours a direct style of play that often bypasses the midfield and Clarence can expect to be under constant and relentless pressure.
They will crack, but the only question remaining is how severe that crack will be.
Lightwood Park can expect fireworks at 2pm on Saturday when Kingborough Lions United host Olympia Warriors.
Former Lions coach Ian Shaw returns to face his old team, who will be coached by 21-year-old new boy at The Den, Gabriel Markaj.
Markaj is a source of intrigue for followers of the local game.
Is he a child prodigy, or is he merely talking the talk? That is the question occupying the minds of many. Does the emperor have new clothes?
I’ll let Markaj speak for himself and see what you think.
“It really doesn't need to be improved in any areas,” said Markaj.
“We just need time to adapt ourselves as we are completely new to this type of environment but we know at the club that what we have can be an unstoppable team once we finish our second cycle of conditioning and our third technical cycle.
“I don't expect much from them. I expect from my team what we worked on during the week.
“I think Olympia are going to be tough. I am sure they will try to push the game to a more physical game and try to press us high on the field, but we already showed that we are really good to come out with the ball on the floor and this week we reinforced it at our training and implemented a high pressing as their backline at this stage is really mechanic and slow and I think Benny and Debaba are going to take advantages from it.
“[I am] definitely (looking forward to the first home game. The club worked really hard to involve the whole club and we will have three games and more than 90 players playing and more than 300 juniors and many supporters will come along too.
“It's going to be a great game and me and the boys are looking forward to it!”
At least seven of those boys in the starting line-up are from interstate or overseas, so I gue4ss the message to the hundreds of juniors at Kingborough is that they, too, van make it.
Ian Shaw is relishing his return to The Den and will hope his side can do much better than last week.
“I was disappointed with the outcome last week, but definitely thought we provided a good contest,” Shaw said.
“I am expecting the unexpected. They will be tough and Markaj has built this game up to be a grudge match so it will be combative.
“We need to get more combinations in the front third and break down the defence for goal scoring opportunities.
“Sam Conway is back in defence, which is a positive, and other than that the team will stay the same.
“I expect a vocal home crowd, but I am looking forward to playing on their improved pitch.
“Football is a wonderful thing. Coaches come and go, but supporters remain. I can only suspect that they will support their team to the best of their ability.”
The remaining match of the round is at 4.30pm on Saturday at Valley Road, when reigning champions Devonport Coty host arch rivals Launceston City.
Devonport’s new coach Chris Gallo is playing his cards close to his chest.
“They were very positive after last week’s game,” he said.
“We knew he had to address a few issues, but they were very positive.
“I’m not sure yet if we can push for the title, but the good thing about this side is that they are so ambitious, young and mobile and they’re really eager and hungry to prove themselves as individuals and a collective, so I don’t think there is any limit on us.
“Launceston City will be good, They were good in the pre-season games, they’ll be organized and they’ll go about their business, and so will we, so I’m expecting a decent match.
“There are no changes to the squad. We will keep it as it is and see how we go. We need to make sure we have stability and familiarity with each other.
“Creating those football relationships on the park is important, so we’ll keep it as is at the minute.”
Launceston City coach, Ben Brookfield, said: “Yeah, if I'm honest, the boys were in a state of shock as to how we didn't win it [last week]. But, to come back and grab a point has led to an upbeat atmosphere at training.
“We've come out unscathed. Nathan Bartlett could be a 60/40 though.
“We need to improve in sticking the ball in the back of the net and staying focused in periods of transition and set pieces.
“I won't give away any tactics, but we'll go out there knowing we can take it right to them. We play a good brand so it should be great for the neutral. Devonport look like a team who play attractive football and an open game to boot.”