Adelaide United Youth face newly promoted Raiders in their National Premier League SA 2019 season opener, in what has been touted as one of the most anticipated iterations of the competition in recent memory.
After reaching the second round of the Finals Series following an impressive fifth-place finish in the regular season, the Young Reds will be keen to build on that under the guidance of Head Coach, Paul Pezos.
However, it certainly will not come easy with a host of clubs making a number of quality signings during the offseason – strengthening their respective squads.
United Youth Captain, Louis D’Arrigo, believes it will be a highly competitive year.
“I think this year will be very interesting because there’s been a lot of teams signing a lot of new players,” he said.
“I think it’ll be a good season, it’ll be tough but who knows what will happen this year.”
Having secured a maiden Finals berth last year before suffering a stoppage-time 1-0 loss to MetroStars in a second Elimination play-off, D’Arrigo stated the objective for this season was simple.
“I think our goal is to make finals (again) and hopefully go on from there,” he said.
“I know it will be tough but obviously that’s our goal and maybe (push for the) top three as well.”
The midfielder admitted he was not entirely sure what to expect from Raiders, but stated it will more than likely be a physical battle at the Croatian Sports Centre on Saturday.
“I don’t really know much about them but I’m sure it’ll be a very physical and tough game,” he said.
“So hopefully we can start the season off with a win and that’s what we expect.”
D’Arrigo also expected the new faces who featured in the Foxtel Y-League 2018/19 season over the summer will continue to improve. Yared Abetew, Dom Costanzo, and Al Hassan Toure all joined from Croydon, while several Reds (who did feature in the Youth Team last year) were promoted from United’s Reserves side.
“I think we’ve lost a few key players,” he explained.
“But I think we’ve signed some good players to replace them and will do as good as last year and even better.
“But they proved themselves in the NYL season so they just have to keep improving themselves for the NPL.”
D’Arrigo wore the armband during the Foxtel Y-League and will continue in that role, something he said which is a massive privilege.
“I love being able to be called the Captain and love being able to lead the boys,” he added.
“It’s a good feeling… and I just want to play as good as I can and hopefully when my chance comes to take it in the first-team.”
Adelaide United Youth 2019 squad:
2.Cooper NUNN, 5.Noah SMITH, 6.Ryan YATES, 7.Taras GOMULKA, 8.Jai KING-BYRNE, 9.Ninko BERIC, 10.Kusini YENGI, 11.Carlo ARMIENTO, 12.Yared ABETEW, 17.Aladin IRABONA, 18.Lachlan BROOK, 19.Al Hassan TOURE, 20.Cameron COOK (gk), 21.Dom COSTANZO, 24.Pacifique NIYONGABIRE, 27.Louis D’ARRIGO (c), 28.Kristin KONSTANDOPOULOS, 30.Isaac RICHARDS (gk), 33.Apostolos STAMATELOPOULOS, 34.Jared CLARK
Adelaide United Youth face Raiders in Round 1 of the National Premier League 2019 season on Saturday, 23 February at Croatian Sports Centre. Kick-off is at 3.00 PM.