A tale of two cities for BLK Silver Boot’s Group C?

Rafe Griffin (@griffofootball)

One of the BPL’s best second half of the season improvers, a club having to live up to their spirit to overcome large squad turnover in the off-season, a former A-League coach hoping to turn around a proud club’s fortunes and a rebadged club make for an intriguing BLK Silver Boot Group C.

The contenders

Albany Creek

Excelsior had a 2015 Silver Boot to forget, shipping eleven goals in the two matches they played but that was only early in Pouria Nabi’s tenure at the club. As the squad gelled, results gradually started to go their way finishing in the top half of the BPL table with only three defeats in the second half of the season.

2016’s hopes in the tournament will be aided with the return of the bulk of last year’s squad and by a trio of recruits from Mitchelton in Tom Laxton, Billy Lumley and dependable centre-back Paul Mikula.

Albany Creek defeated Capital One club Southside Eagles 1-0 in a trial in early January before comfortably defeating the BPL’s North Pine 6-2 last weekend.

Brisbane City

The highest profile coaching signing in the off-season has been former A-League coach and Socceroo John Kosmina. With that profile will come high expectations for a club that has underperformed in the past two years of the NPL after making 2013’s Grand Final.

Last year’s squad has been bolstered by some quality signings. Jason Park who was at Ipswich Knights in 2014 returns to Queensland after a stint in the NSW NPL. Greg King and Scot Coulson have made the short journey from Brisbane Strikers while Tim Allen comes back to the club to don the goalkeeping gloves.

Prolific goalscorer Antonio Murray will be even hungrier for goals this season after being denied his chance to finish the NPL’s top scorer last year after the cancellation of Brisbane City’s final game of the season.

Murray scored a hat-trick in Brisbane City’s only pre-season match, a 9-0 win over Capital Two Annerley.

Capalaba

Coach Geoff Hurford has faced a massive upheaval over the off-season so the tournament shapes up as one where they’ll be focused on performances rather than results.

The addition of attacking midfielder George Barbarouses, returning after a year off, will add flair and creativity to the Bulldogs.

Capalaba have played three pre-season matches so far with mixed results. There were defeated pre-Christmas by Lions 3-0, recorded a 3-2 win against Redlands and had a 1-1 draw with Brisbane Knights last Saturday.

Gold Coast City

The newly monikered NPL club (formerly Palm Beach) lacked goalscoring firepower in 2015 when 2014 Golden Boot Chris Lucas moved to the NPL Victoria. Last year, they scored the third least goals in the competition but on the back of a stingy defence, still managed a credible fifth-placed finish.

The club will welcome the return of 2014 Premiership winning players in Daniel Dragecevic, Troy Ruthven and Riley Dillon.

Coach Grae Piddock will need to implement squad management during the tournament with the club also participating on Saturdays in Peninsula Power’s Macron Cup.

City defeated Logan Lightning 3-1 in a friendly in mid-December.

Player to watch

dykes

Lyndon Dykes (Gold Coast City) – The Australian Schoolboys representative made an immediate impact when he signed at Redlands six weeks into last year’s competition, so much so that it coincided with that club’s change of fortunes.

He’ll form a large part of Grae Piddock’s plans to bolster his side’s goal scoring capability.

Tip to progress to finals

Presuming Gold Coast City prioritise this tournament, they would go in as favourites, If that doesn’t occur, the group will open considerably.

Brisbane City with their recruitment should improve on last year’s NPL effort while Albany Creek will be better with a year under their belt. Capalaba may need time to gel after the off-season turnover.

Those variables make it a very tough group to pick but maybe Albany Creek may sneak it.

Pool games (Fridays)

22 January 6:30pm Brisbane City v Albany Creek

22 January 8:30pm Gold Coast City v Capalaba
28 January (Thursday) 7:30pm Capalaba v Albany Creek
29 January 8:30pm Gold Coast City v Brisbane City
5 February 6:30pm Capalaba v Brisbane City
5 February 8:30pm Gold Coast City v Albany Creek

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