Wollongong Wolves coach Jacob Timpano hopes a strong base of South Coast locals sprinkled with a dash of star continental quality will guide the club to some much-needed silverware when the 2018 NPL NSW Men’s campaign kicks off in March.
Timpano’s Wolves finished three points shy of the top six in 2017 but is confident his charges will have the consistency to turn heads when the new season resumes.
“I was quite happy with the way we went last season, our points total usually gets you into the top six and we would have but for a couple of narrow losses,” he said.
“We beat almost every team in the competition so this year we need to avoid dropping points where we shouldn’t.”
The Wolves have proven capable of matching it with the best in recent years and Timpano says keeping hold of a consistently maturing and developing core group will be key in determining the club’s fortunes on the field.
The real difference maker for Wollongong could prove to be the arrival of 36-year-old Japanese midfielder Takuya Nozawa, a seasoned J-League veteran who has five league titles to his name.
Nozawa will link up with former Kashima Antlers teammate and current Wolves forward Yuzo Tashiro and Timpano says the Japanese pair will improve Wollongong’s potential to make decisive moments in crunch matches.
“That’s the key, these are the players that are really going to effect the game.
“They’re going to help us achieve our goals and help us build on what we achieved last year.”
While the addition of Nozawa is sure to whet the appetite of Wolves fans the South Coast outfit will no doubt regard the retainment of A-League veteran Nick Montgomery as equally important to their finals chances in 2018.
Montgomery played a crucial part in Wollongong’s improvement towards the back end of last season and will prove a valuable mentor to the litany of local talent present in the Wolves roster.
The South Coast has traditionally been a flagship breeding ground for quality Australian footballers and Timpano cites attackers Josh Macdonald and Peter Simonovski as players to watch out for in 2018.
Timpano is also excited by the arrivals of former Newcastle Jets youth Ryan Ensor, Mariners prospect Michael Stojanovski and exciting attacker Quivi Fowler who recently spent time with Eredivisie outfit Vitesse.
Wollongong get their campaign underway by welcoming competition heavyweights Blacktown City to WIN Stadium on March 11.
-By Jacob Windon