The post-season migration of NPL players is well and truly underway, with several clubs providing new homes to players as coaches jostle to strengthen their playing lists.
Beaten grand finalist Oakleigh Cannons has swooped on disaffected former South Melbourne FC midfielder Iqbal Jawadi. The 22-year-old, Afghani-born Jawadi played 79 games for the Lakesiders and scored eight goals in three-and-a-half seasons after following coach Chris Taylor across from Dandenong Thunder in 2013. He enjoyed two successful seasons in 2014-15, becoming a fixture in the centre of the park, before he endured an injury interrupted season in 2016. Following the injury, he struggled to regain his place, seemingly falling out of favour, and missing out on South’s successful finals run.
Newly-promoted NPL 1 club Kingston City has wasted little time in trying to strengthen its squad for its return to top- flight football, announcing three new signings. It has signed Jawadi’s former Thunder teammate and fellow countryman, Afghani international Faisal Sakhizada, who featured prominently at the heart of Thunder’s defence last year. Sakhizada joined Thunder in 2013, playing 92 matches, and spent three of the four seasons playing for Thunder in Victoria’s top- tier competition. He impressed many observers in season 2016, forming a strong partnership with former Socceroo defender Simon Colossimo, as the club made a strong push for promotion back into NPL1. When injury struck late in the season, his loss proved irreplaceable and Thunder faltered allowing Kingston City to pip Thunder at the post. But certainly, Kingston coach Nick Tolios was impressed enough to sign the experienced defender. Sakhizada is Tolios’ second signing from Thunder, having also signed 22-year-old left sided midfielder Daniel Bennett, who joined Thunder from Canberra FC. Another Canberran to move to the Grange is 21-year- old full back Nathan Tidmarsh, whom Kingston has just picked up from Bulleen Lions.
Bentleigh Greens has moved quickly to fill some of the gaps created by recent departures, this week unveiling former Melbourne Knights pair Stipo Andrijasevic and Nick Glavan.
Twenty-two-year-old forward Andrijasevic is a former Melbourne City youth player who had become a crowd favourite at Somers St after joining the Knights from the Goulburn Valley Suns two-and-a-half seasons ago. He played in 67 matches for the Knights with a healthy scoring return of 28 goals.
Nineteen-year-old right back Glavan joined the Knights in 2016 from Melbourne Victory youth and featured strongly for the Knights this season. At Bentleigh Greens, he will re-unite with former Melbourne Victory teammate Kieran Dover.
Port Melbourne Sharks has also announced a couple of new signings this week. New Sharks coach Dom Barba has signed one of his former players from Bulleen Lions, versatile forward Takanori Nishimoto, who played 18 matches for the Lions, scoring four goals as the club survived its first year back in NPL 1 in 2016. Barba has also signed Scottish-born defender Michael McGowan, who captained Queensland club Redlands United to a Queensland NPL title and a sensational FFA Cup tie victory over current A-League champion Adelaide United.