Following a successful pre-season, Heidelberg United senior men’s Head Coach George Katsakis has shared his expectations for the upcoming NPL Victoria season.
The ‘Bergers went undefeated in their run of friendly games across the summer, with a result of six wins and one draw.
This pre-season comes off the back of an extended break after COVID-19 resulted in the cancellation of the 2021 season, akin to the sudden end to the season prior in 2020.
“If they’re competitive and they can honestly look at themselves and say that, and we’ve given it the best we’ve got, I don’t ask for any more,” Katsakis said.
“I’m a strong believer that premierships aren’t won in pre-season, traditionally we’ve even struggled at times.”
The cancellation of last year’s competition put a halt to proceedings, but Katsakis welcomed the unique opportunity that it presented to his squad.
It ensured that the players could go away and put in that extra work and doing those little things to keep in tip-top shape both physically and mentally – which has been showcased in the run of results that they have achieved in the friendlies.
“The cancelled season was not ideal, especially for football addicts like ourselves, including coaches and players,” Katsakis said.
“However, that early finish gave us the opportunity to get the players right and make sure that for the upcoming season they’ll be ready to go.”
Josh Pin, who was one of the squad’s most recent additions, joined the ‘Bergers from Queensland and has already began to impress with what he can bring to the table.
Katsakis praised Pin for his performances in their recent series of friendly games, with his impressive technical ability shown on the ball, as well as his physical attributes and the way he is keen to put himself around a tackle.
Other players such as ex-Socceroo Ivan Franjic and his brother Joseph were also earmarked as players that would add both experience and excitement to the team.
Additionally, Katsakis has confirmed a last-minute signing of Nigerian player JohnPaul McTheophilus, who put pen to paper to commit to Heidelberg United only half an hour before the transfer signing window closed.
“We had been looking for another player to bolster the teams defence, so hopefully he can fit that exact role that we’re looking for,” Katsakis said.
The men’s NPL Victoria season kicks off on Thursday, February 17, with the ‘Bergers coming up against long-time rivals South Melbourne at Lakeside Stadium, kicking off at 7:30pm.
“Traditionally, we go really well in our derbies and I’m hoping that we come off it with a positive result,” Katsakis said regarding the opening fixture.
“We’re looking to go out and get stuck in and put a real contest on, with a win being the desired outcome to get things rolling.”