BLK Silver Boot Group D to kick off Sunday

Rafe Griffin (@rafegriffin)

The defending BLK Silver Boot Champions, last year’s BPL Champions, a club that always shows fighting spirit and a team that has made a major off-season statement in terms of recruitment will be out to make it past the group stages of the tournament.

The contenders

Easts

The defending champions of the Silver Boot come into the tournament with a practically unchanged squad that saw them put together a late-season charge to finish second in 2015’s BPL.

That stability should ensure that they will once again be contenders. Ramone Close will be looking to replicate his outstanding tournament from last year where he scored six times during the pool stages and claimed another in the final.

Easts are yet to play a pre-season match.

Ipswich Knights

After almost being relegated in 2014, the Knights turned around their fortunes, grinding out results in 2015 and go into 2016 in a much more comfortable position.

Coach Stewart Drinkeld is faced with another challenge though as he deals with the retirement of many of the older heads from last year’s squad. On the plus side though, speedster Andy Butler joins from Lions while South Sudan international Emmanuel Peter returns for another campaign.

Ipswich Knights won their only pre-season hit-out so far, 4-1 against Bayside United.

Lions FC

Lions are another club that has had to deal with losing high-profile players from the club during the off-season. A host of players including attacking duo Shoheel Khan and Kado Aoci, midfielders Alex Janovsky and club stalwart Shaun Carlos have all moved onto greener pastures.

That presents Premiership-winning coach Warren Moon with a similar scenario to last off-season where he took control of the club and had the task of integrating new signings with existing squad members.

Peter Gaffney ventures west from Wolves while Welsh import Jack Lewis looks a very tidy signing and very confident on the ball if his effort at left back in the trial against Olympic is anything to go by. Josh Ahern again links up with Moon after a year at the NPL’s Brisbane Strikers.

Lions have defeated Capalaba and Olympic while suffering a loss to Brisbane Strikers in the three pre-season matches they have played to date.

SWQ Thunder

The Toowoomba-based club has signaled their intentions of turning around the situation of not yet recording a win in two seasons of the NPL Senior Mens competition and they’ll be looking to repeat the feat of recording a win in the tournament after accounting for Wolves last season.

Quality signings at both ends of the park have been made with 2015 NPL Premiership winning ‘keeper Luke Borean and up-and-coming striker Mustafa Jafari making the move to the Darling Downs. They’ll be joined by Ben Barrowclift and Kevin Doyle from Toowoomba Premier League club Willowburn as incoming coach Chris McLeod attempts to add experience to his mainly youth-based side.

This will be the first match for the Thunder in their pre-season preparations.

Player to watch

Mustafa Jafari (SWQ Thunder) – Showed huge potential when he was at Olympic with impressive performances off the bench during the 2014 FFA Cup campaign. That has led him to make the move up the range in order to seek out starting first team opportunities to further his football dream.

Tip to progress to finals

The winner of Lions v Easts looks to be the one that will progress further in the competition. What do you go with? The team that has had squad changes but has already strung together pre-season results or a team that hasn’t yet seen competitive action but has retained stability in their ranks. Ah, the beauty of predicting pre-season football.

I’ll go Lions on the back that they might have something to prove on the back of effectively being knocked out of last year’s edition by Easts.

 

 

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