Words: Michael Flynn | Image: Pine Creek Pictures
Gold Coast City striker Jarrod Kyle says the team will not be distracted by thoughts of revenge when they kick off their PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues season in Cairns this Saturday night.
City will line-up against FNQ Heat at Barlow Park in a rematch of last year’s Semi-Final, which saw City eliminated 1-0 from the end of season play-offs.
City finished the regular season in second place but were controversially forced to forsake home ground advantage in last year's Semi-Final to the Heat, who finished the home-and-away season in third.
However, Kyle said he and his teammates are looking forward, not backward, as they commence their fifth season in the national second tier competition.
“Last year’s just out of everyone’s mind. No one’s thinking about last year,” Kyle asserted.
“It’s the first game of the season and a good chance for the boys to get a confidence-building win and come back with three points.”
Apart from the high-profile departure of last year’s league MVP Ben Litfin, City have retained key players from the squad that finished 2016 in second place in the league – including Kyle, captain Justyn McKay, and defensive juggernauts Eoghan Murphy and Martin Vazquez.
The 2017 squad also includes a number of players reared through Brisbane Roar’s youth set-up including former Young Socceroos representative Benjamin Lyvidikos, Matthew Schmidt and Thomas Miller.
They have also added new signings in the push for their first title since 2014 including midfielder Jacob Boutoubia from Sydney Olympic, English striker Sam Smith from Conference national outfit Woking FC, and last year’s Gold Coast Premier League Player of the Year Ethan Grimley, from Broadbeach United.
Kyle said he was particularly looking forward to forging a productive partnership with Smith, who made over 200 professional appearances in England over the past seven years.
“I think that whenever you throw two big strikers straight down the middle it makes it really tough for their back line,” Kyle explained.
“If that’s what’s needed to grind out results and that’s what needs to be done.”
Pre-season results were typically up-and-down for City as they refined their approach to the season ahead – testing combinations and blooding new players.
The team has taken plenty of positives from their constant improvement through the Kappa Silver Boot pre-season tournament and two friendlies against fully professional Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R&F.
“The Guangzhou games were really good for us. They were an opposition of a different calibre and that helped get us fit and moving,” Kyle said.
“I think this pre-season has been very good and hopefully we can take those positives and it all comes together this weekend,” he concluded.
PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues Queensland – Round 1
FNQ FC Heat v Gold Coast City FC
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Kick-off at 6:30PM
Barlow Park, Cairns
Gold Coast City FC Squad:
1. Ryan MESKELL (gk), 2. Riley DILLON, 3. Oskar DILLON, 4. Martin VAZQUEZ, 5. Matthew SCHMIDT, 6. Roman HOFMANN, 7. Justyn MCKAY (c), 9. Jarrod KYLE, 11. Nik MIRKOVIC, 12. Lachlan REUS, 13. Sam KING, 15. Eoghan MURPHY, 19. Ethan GRIMLEY, 20. Josh LANGDON (gk), 21. Sam SMITH, 22. Jaiden WALKER