NPL 2 Youth Grand Final Previews

This weekend 128 players across four age groups will take to the new synthetic pitch at Jensen Park to compete for honours in their respective NPL2 Youth Grand Finals. 

Some great matches will be on display as hundreds of family members and friends descend on Jensen Park. We had a look ahead at the Grand Final day. 

U13s – Sydney University vs Nepean FC – 12.30pm

First up we have the top two sides in the U13s competition, both were only separated on the league table on goal difference. They only played each other once this season in a match that ended goalless as neither side were able to make the breakthrough. This weekend both sides will look to their creative midfielders Sebastian Hayward for Nepean & Oscar Gultekin for Uni to unlock their opponents tight defence. 

The Clean Sheet spoke to Nepean FC 13s Head Coach Paul Chester about what reaching the final meant to him and his team. ‘This season has been an amazing journey. From the transition (from) SAP to youth football, to now playing in a grand final. The season as a whole has been a season to remember and (I am) very proud of how the squad conducts themselves on and off the field, and most importantly the football style we play. Think it’s a great fitting to have the top two sides in the final. 

We contacted Sydney Uni for a comment but at the time of publication had not received a reply.

U14s – Western NSW Mariners v Camden Tigers – 2.15pm

14s final features Camden Tigers who are the reigning grand final winners in this age group having won the 2018 13s final however The Tigers finished runners up in the 2019 competition. Western NSW Mariners easily clocked up the most kilometres in travel this year, the country NSW based side went about their business and finished 3rd in the competition. Both teams feature significant fire power up front and will be looking for their main boys Jack Zitigani for Camden & Bailey Callaghan for Mariners to come up with the crucial goal in the big dance. 

We spoke with Scott ‘Mutto’ Mutton the coach of Western NSW Mariners who had the following to say about his side ‘A Grand Final appearance is well deserved by a group of players who have applied themselves well over the season and the finals despite the travel implications. It’s a credit to the players ability and attitude being part of a close knit unit has enabled the team to be rewarded in playing finals Football. 

Such a great opportunity for the players to experience a Grand Final day, to develop further and grow as players. 

They will look to continue their flowing football in the GF knowing that Camden Tigers present a difficult opponent and welcome the chance to get the win this time against them (Camden winning their previous encounter 2-1). 

We spoke to Tigers coach Adam Mammoliti who had this to say of his side:

We were crowned champions last season, and are thrilled to be in the grand final for the second year running. Having only joined NPL 2 last season, and having the majority of players come straight from park level without a SAP background, is an outstanding achievement. As a coach, I couldn’t be prouder of the boys. We are like a family, and the boys play for each other. We are looking forward to Saturday.

U15s – Bankstown City vs Dunbar Rovers – 4pm

The penultimate final for the day is the U15s which features runners up Bankstown City (for whom the game will be like a home game with Jensen Park being their home ground) against Eastern Suburbs based side Dunbar Rovers who finished the regular season in 4th place. In their one match early this season it was Dunbar who ran out victors 3-1, but a lot of football has been played since it really will be anyone’s game come Saturday afternoon. 

Coaching staff: Zach Messina (Head Coach) Daniel Kitchen (Assistant Coach) Adam Davidson (TD) 

We spoke with head coach Zach Messina and the rest of his staff ahead of the final showdown for 2019. 

‘Throughout the season we have worked towards a specific goal, to play attractive football while striving to be the best team in the league – we have a chance on the weekend to fulfill this desire. 

We faced off once this season against Bankstown City and were victorious, 3-1. However, this result was quite early in the season and, as such, I expect a completely different match to last time.The atmosphere and nature of the game should provide some excellent viewing at Jensen Park Synthetic. 

I look forward to coaching this talented group of players for the final time this season and am extremely looking forward to the match this weekend. 

We contacted Bankstown City for a comment but at the time of publication had not received a reply.

U16s – Dulwich Hill vs Gladesville Ryde Magic – 6pm

The last match of the day features NPL2 Youth Club Champions Dulwich Hill against Gladesville Ryde Magic. 2nd vs 3rd. Only one match between the sides way way back in round one Dulwich ran out 3-2 winners that day but both sides have had 26 matches to build all in preparation for the battle for honours at Jensen Park. Both teams were built on incredibly tough defence throughout the season, we anticipate a cagey affair with neither group of players wanting to lose what will be their last ever Youth Grand Final. 

Jason Breton and Liam Breton made it a family affair of coaching and managing the side this year, we spoke to them about this weekend. 

‘The lads deserve all our credit – we played a very good semi final the other night with very high quality football and may have won by more but I am super excited that this young team will have a wonderful opportunity to represent this great club and our badge (in the Grand Final).’ 

Hear from Slav Draganoff and Daren Horvat the U16s staff for GRM ‘Looking ahead to the grand final weekend, the boys deserve every success after a season of hard work and diligent effort. They were not deterred by cold nights, wet nights, drills upon drills, injuries, the laughs and the tears and most of all the overwhelming display of camaraderie. 

Looking ahead to this weekend, we had a vision and relied on the potential of a dedicated group of 16 boys to place themselves in a position (that) they rightly deserve. They will give it everything they have – not only for themselves but for each other. 

For us as coaches, that’s what it is all about and that’s why we are here.’ 

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