2016 Division 1 Preview

After months of preparation, the 2016 Lotto NRFL season gets underway over Easter weekend with a full round of matches in the Premier League, Division One and Division Two all taking place on Good Friday.

Good luck for the season, hopefully the new campaign will bring glory to your club as the fight for local pride in the upper North Island starts all over again!

ellerslieEllerslie AFC

Coach: Chris Wallace
Grounds: Michaels Ave Reserve
Strip Colours: Red/Black
Four points off second place, and missing out on promotion, Ellerslie will be hoping to improve enough this season to gain promotion back to the Premier League.
From the coach
2016 is the second year of a two-year project at Ellerslie – with short-term goals of protecting our player base and putting further work into our youth development pathway among other things high on our list of things to tick off this season.To put the icing on the cake, our goal would be to win promotion at the end of this season – this will be no mean feat as the competition for promotion spots will be tough again this year. Any team relegated from the Premier League will be strong and last year’s relegated side Waitakere look to be a contender straight away. Also need to watch out for Hibiscus Coast and North Shore who have been challenging for promotion spots in recent years. Also watch out for Papakura to be a bit of a dark horse this season after their promotion from Div 2 last season.Our squad this season contains a lot of players from 2015, with a few notable absentees, and a few new exciting signings and promoted players from our development pathway. But we will still be looking to play a high energy, committed and passionate style as we did last season.

In: Pete Jones (Glenfield Rovers), Christian Niyonsaba (Fencibles United), Jason Mann (Melville United), Art Twigg (Three Kings United), Daniel Ford (Wellington), Stefan Milosevic (Eastern Suburbs), Sohail Basha (Mangere United), Ricky van Staden (Christchurch), Adam Barkley (Bay Olympic), Kojo Norku (Manurewa), James Foad (international), Baljeet Singh, Harpreet Singh, Campbell Ng, Tom Durkin, Dylan Horgan, Ben Coates (all promoted)
Out: Andrew Wallace (Onehunga Mangere United), Conor Tracey (Three Kings United), Robby Robinson (Te Atatu), Zach Margison (overseas), Dominic Higgins (overseas), Mike Ritchie (injury), Josh Anthony (work), Tevin Smith (not playing), Mladen Milovanovic (not playing), Conrad Benefield (not playing), Marcus Wright (Wellington), Luke De Ruiter (not playing), Junho Hong (not playing), Ben Shaw (overseas), Harrison Sage (Waitakere City)

hibiscus coastHibiscus Coast AFC – The Coasters

Coach: Craig Daly
Grounds: Stanmore Bay Reserve
Strip Colours: Green/White
Hibiscus Coast will be pushing for promotion having narrowly missed out by four points last season.
From the coach
After coming so close to promotion in the last two seasons, our goal is obviously to be a bit more consistent throughout the year to make sure we pick up every available point that we possibly can.The addition of the new players that have committed to being part of the unique Coast environment, together with those that are returning from a break, have added strength in depth and hopefully this will be a factor as the season goes on.We have also secured the services of Andy Peat and Grant Young to provide additional coaching resources and support to both the first and development teams, so we are well placed to take the next step in our journey.

In: James Lawson (Birkenhead United), Cody Doherty (Birkenhead United), Jalil Heitkamper (Germany), Sam Barnfield (unattached), Mitch Cairn (unattached), Harry Bolton Roberts (Birkenhead United)
Out: Tommy Miller (Glenfield Rovers), Leo Neill (retired), Josh Dale (UK), Angelo Molina Vergara (Chile)

mangereunitedMangere United

Coach: Stan Morrell
Grounds: Centre Park
Strip Colours: Blue/Black
Mangere United’s defence need to sharpen up after having one of the worst defensive records last season, leaking 54 goals.

manurewaManurewa AFC – Rewa

Coach: Nathan Christie
Grounds: War Memorial Park
Strip Colours: Blue/Yellow
Futsal Whites captain Marvin Eakins recently led the New Zealand side to a silver medal at the 2016 OFC Futsal Championships.
From the coach
The goal for Manurewa in the previous seasons I have been involved with the club has been to retain a presence in the league, with steady on-field improvement year-on-year. This season is no different. Having experienced such massive player churn each of the past three seasons, retaining key players from previous years, promoting quality youth and targeting other South Auckland-based players to retain the culture and regional bias of the club moving forward was a priority.Getting early commitments was also key to attracting more quality and depth to the squad, all moves coming with an eye to providing greater player stability in the future. Losing 80 combined years of NRFL experience with Hoani, Scott and Mitch moving on was always going to be hard to replace but I feel the club was able to re-tool with youth, skill, calm heads and the ability to move the day after a game. I think that should hold us in good stead as the season progresses.To do well in this league you have to score goals and I believe the players we have been able to retain and sign have signalled that intent this season. This league has steadily levelled out the past few years and will create weekly dog fights. I expect the relegation battle will go down to the wire and, at the other end of the spectrum, I believe it will be a close promotion race as well. Every team has the ability to take points off any other team on their day. I’m sure we’ll be seen as an underdog from the outset but will be more than happy to play spoiler each week.

In: Brad Rathbun (Three Kings United), Christian Acosta (Waiuku), Justin Horan (Metro), Keiran Nevey (Papakura City), Stephen Carmichael (Three Kings United), Ricky Lines (Onehunga Sports)
Out: Hoani Edwards (retired), Mitch Healy (retired), Scott Foster (retired), Michael Jenkins (rugby), Gino Vuksanlekaj, Callum Crake, Kojo Norku, Sheldon Hamer, Doné Matthews, Lindsay Marc

metroMetro FC

Coach: Mike Taylor
Grounds: Phyllis Street Reserve
Strip Colours: Red/Black
Metro need to find their scoring boots this season to improve on their mid-table finish of last season. The side only scored 32 goals, with only the three bottom teams scoring less.
From the coach
Our goals for the season are simple, to improve on the performances of 2015. We have acquired some fantastic performers at this level in areas which we felt our squad was lacking previously. It’s great to have acquired a perennial goal scorer such as Jaryd Gray and we look forward to his combination with Leo Berlim, Jamie Shields and the returning Rizal Ganief. Jamie adds his skill and pace to the side along with Jono Lewis, who brings great experience to our backline. Krith Kumar comes in to provide competition to Jono Mannes in goal and it’s great to have such promising young players such as Harry Lissington, Ashley Ngadela and the returning Botan Ibrahim.We have been lucky not to lose the experience of players who didn’t make the top team in 2016, who will be passing their knowledge on to our very young reserve side, players such as Amir Khosravi and new coach, Matthew Norris.The teams to look out for this season appear to be a long list, with the division looking to be the most competitive in a long time. Usual suspects such as Ellerslie, North Shore United and Hibiscus Coast will be up there, but our neighbours Mt Albert have recruited well, Mangere are always a challenge and new teams such as Papakura and Oratia have a great set up and will prove a challenge for any team.
Overall, we are very happy with our squad this season, and we look forward to welcoming all the sides to Phyllis Street over the course of the season – nothing is quite the same as Friday night football!

In: Jaryd Gray (Auckland United), Jamie Shields (Auckland United), Ben Cliffe (Albany United), Jonathan Pledger (Auckland United), Jonathan Lewis (North Shore United), Botan Ibrahim (Mangere United), Krith Kumar (Mangere United), Rizal Ganief (EDC Burnaby, Canada), Ashley Ngadela (North Shore United), Harry Lissington (North Shore United), Marvin Youhana (Clendon United), Mohammed Haj (Auckland United)
Out: Lucas Cardoza (unknown), Matt Norris (reserve team coach)

mapMt Albert-Ponsonby – The Mount

Coach: Scott MacKay
Grounds: Anderson Park
Strip Colours: Blue
Mt Albert-Ponsonby have appointed Scott MacKay as head coach for 2016 and his aim will be to improve on the side’s eighth-placing in 2015.
From the coach
Our goal for the season is to play to our potential and if we achieve that, then we should have some successes. Expectations are that we will be competitive, and with the mixture of youth and experience from new, as well as returning Mt Albert-Ponsonby players, we will certainly have the enthusiasim!Pre-season has been as expected long and hard, with the players working on fitness and technical aspects of their game. Our pre-season games has been solid.Looking at the league, there are a number of teams that have the potential to go up including Ellerslie, Metro, Hibiscus Coast, Waitakere and Papakura. From a Mt Albert-Ponsonby perspective, we believe we have recruited well and have an excellent management team in place that can bring some success to the club.

In: Mack Waite (Bay Olympic), Richard Jones (Three Kings United), Jonny Cantle (Bay Olympic), Dan Ridgely (Bay Olympic), Jacob Mathews (Western Springs), Shravan Sharma (Mangere Utd), Jared Gibbs (Bay Olympic), Eliott Cooper (Glenfield Rovers), Shaneel Sharma (Mangere Utd), Nick Hindson (Three Kings United), Kevin Flavin (North America)
Out: Malcolm MacCrae (Te Atatu), Vinne Paget (unknown), Michael Paget (unknown), Daniel Turner (retired), Rory Kelly (unknown)

nsuNorth Shore United – Shore

Coach: Tom Fawdry
Grounds: Allen Hill Stadium
Strip Colours: Red
Previous coach Paul Temple has taken up a role as head coach of the Wellington Phoenix Football Academy and is replaced by Tom Fawdry.
From the coach
We have assembled a very strong squad to push for promotion this season. We have aspirations to build upon the progress made last season and are aiming to start in a strong position.Experienced players, such as Sam Jasper, Claudio Amad and Sam Jenkins have been added to the squad. Nick Sugden is another notable signing from Onehunga Sports and will provide the team with an exciting attacking option. Established players such as Ed Sillars, Marcel Nolde, Alan Llunes and Olly Ceci have been retained and will be an essential part of the squad.The group have had a very strong pre-season campaign and will look to continue their form into the season.

In: Tom Fawdry (Onehunga Sports), Nick Sugden (Onehunga Sports), Sam Jasper (Glenfield Rovers), Sam Jenkins (Birkenhead United), Joey Omatani (East Coast Bays), Dave Fahy (Albany United), Claudio Amad (Tawa), Mingi So (East Coast Bays), Declan Lynch (Bonagee United)
Out: Jack Henry-Sinclair (Wellington Phoenix), Reid Drake (Central United), Jaryd Gray (Metro), Jonathan Lewis (Metro), Ashley Ngadela (Metro), Jamie Shields (Metro), Luke Johnson (school football), Cory Hitchen (East Coast Bays)

oratiaOratia United

Coach: Steve Cain
Grounds: Parrs Park
Strip Colours: Green/Yellow
Mark Withers was a constant threat up front for Oratia in 2015, scoring 20 goals, and will be looking to do the same as the team competes in Division One for the 2016 season.
From the coach
As a club we are looking forward to the season and hoping to replicate the success of last year’s promotion.This year we have also looked at the player development aspect within the club and the reserves will contain many young players who we feel will be the first team players of the future.Transfers
In: Karlo Pavic (Onehunga Mangere United)
Out: Hayden Pett (unknown)

papakuraPapakura City – Kura

Coach: Jason Heather
Grounds: McLennan Park
Strip Colours: Blue/White
Papakura City’s David Allan took out the Division Two Player of the Year in 2015 and will be a key player as the side competes in Division One for the 2016 season. Unfortunately for coach Jason Heather, he has lost the services of last season’s Golden Boot winner, Valerio Nawatu.
From the coach
After a very successful 2015 campaign, we are keen to compete and rise to the challenge of playing at a higher level. For us, this season is all about finishing in the highest possible position, we’re not interested in consolidation but pushing ourselves to be the best we can be.We have set targets among the squad and each player has an individual goal set for them. Losing Kieran Nevey back to Manurewa was disappointing but our squad depth is more than adequate for us to fill that gap.The signings of Derek Sinclair and Dominic Winter are especially pleasing for me as I have worked with these players in the past and know the value they can provide on game day. Derek will also serve as a mentor to the many young development players we have coming through the ranks.

As for clubs to watch out for, I think we are in a good position not to know much about our opposition week after week as this will not distract us from sticking to the way we want to play football; adapting to various situations on the pitch has featured highly in training.

Pre-season has been a mixed bag with a win, loss and draw to Albany, Glenfield and Hibiscus Coast respectively. They have taught us a lot about how we are adapting as a new team into a new environment and we’re ready for the challenge ahead.

In: Shouhib Khan (Waitakere City), Dominic Winter (Waiuku), Lachlan Woods-Davidson (Onehunga Sports), Philip Paul (Papatoetoe), Derek Sinclair (Waiuku)
Out: Kieran Nevey (Manurewa), Valerio Nawatu (Luatoka, Fiji)

waitakere cityWaitakere City – Waitak

Coach: Jake Butler
Grounds: Fred Taylor Park
Strip Colours: White/Black
Waitakere City will be hoping for a better season than last year. With just four wins, 59 goals against and only 20 for, the team was relegated from the Premier League.
From the coach
We have recruited really well and have a fantastic bunch of guys eager to get out on the pitch. We will play with hunger and pace. Every game will provide a tough test, especially away from home so we will have to be fully committed and prepared if we want to achieve promotion.Transfers
In: Alex Gibson (Waitakere United), Josh Armitt (Waitakere United), Steven McDonald (Musselburgh Athletic, Scotland), Jake Butler (Waitakere United), Dylan Manickum (Waitakere United), James Olausen (Western Springs), Harrison Sage (Ellerslie), Mitchell Watts (Waitakere United), Jordan Hearn (Waitakere United)
Out: Not supplied

franklinFranklin United

Coach: Carlos Roberto Paulette
Grounds: Massey Park
Strip Colours: White/Blue
Franklin United replaces Waiuku in the NRFL this season, as the new club is a venture between Waiuku and Pukekohe.
From the coach
There is no question that Franklin United are the new kids on the block.Getting a venture like this off the ground is very exciting and has a very positive long-term outlook. But it is definitely not without its challenges. The early weeks are likely to be the most difficult for Franklin while we find our feet and a rapidly evolving squad stabilises.There are some strong and well-established clubs in Division One this year and we are expecting to have to front up each and every week. We’re imagining that trips over the bridge will be some of the toughest, with the likes of North Shore and Hibiscus Coast having been regular top-four contenders and you can never discount a club with a history like Waitakere City. Ellerslie looks to be a great model for how successful club operation brings results on the pitch. And the rest of the field would always be considered solid mid-table contenders. It looks to be shaping up to be a very interesting season!

We look forward to meeting the challenge head on and learning on our feet to make Franklin United successful and sustainable!

In: Not supplied
Out: Not supplied