by John Fotinos
Season 2023 kicks off in the Victorian NPL this week, with Heidelberg United FC set to take on Dandenong Thunder at Catalina St headquarters. After a sixth-place finish in 2022, before bowing out in a thrilling penalty shootout in the Elimination Final, the ‘Bergers squad has undergone a raft of changes ahead of the season opener.
Two familiar and much-loved club champions return, with custodian Chris Theodoridis back in goals after a season with Preston Lions, along with striker “King” Kenny Athiu, who had stints with Melbourne Victory and in Malaysia. He will reunite with partner in crime & 2022 Gold Medal Award winner Kaine Sheppard.
With the departure of experienced campaigners in Reuben Way, Joseph & Ivan Franjic, Kosta and Makis Petratos, along with Mallan Roberts and Brian Summerskill, the squad has seen arrivals of several players both young and experienced over the summer break.
The backline will be bolstered with the signings of goalkeeper Hayden Browne, defenders Shunsuke Murakami, Shigeto Musada, Daniel Dixon and Maksim Ilic. With regulars Ajdin Fethagic & youngsters Deion Nikolaidis and Matt Tsalikidis, the emphasis has been to add depth to the back half.
Midfielder Anthony Lesiotis has been added to the squad to bolster the engine room that will see the familiar faces of Adrian Zahra, Dominic Falla, Eoin Ashton, Anthony Theodoropoulos and Sean Ellis amongst the mix.
The forward stocks have been bolstered with the signing of striker James Wilson, and the speedy duo of Bilal Habib & Sabit James Ngor, who will all be pushing for starting spots along with the emerging Josh Pin.
Throw out the form book in the match this week, with both teams keen to make it a bright start to 2023. Dandenong Thunder will be buoyed by their recent last two visits to the Olympic Village, which has seen them garner two wins. However, the ‘Bergers have won their last two encounters, both within a fortnight last season at Dandenong – in the NPL & Australia Cup competitions.
An intriguing match up with two new look teams awaits this Friday (17th February) under lights at 8:30pm at the Olympic Village. With a hot day expected, the stage is set for a sizzling start to the new season.
Please note HUFC TV will not be covering any games this season. All the games and highlights can be streamed on Football Victoria.
2023 HUFC SQUAD LIST
|25||GK||Hayden||Browne – GK|