TRANSFER WINDOW CLOSES: Series Futsal Men’s Preview & Predictions
By Kosta Diamantopoulos
Predicted Finish: Champions
Star Players: Scott Rogan & Elias Parthimos
It’s no secret that Series Futsal sides perform best with a chip on their shoulder and if you seek an example of this, look no further than Fitzroy FC right now. The Tigers are back with a bang after losing their head-to-head battles with both Campbellfield and Moreland last season, already defeating the Warriors in Round 2 with a brilliant score-line of 5-0. Since the kick-off of the opening round, the Tigers have conceded 1 goal whilst scoring a staggering 22, solidifying themselves as the side with all the momentum as we enter Round 4.
Unsung Hero: Andre Caro
Andre Caro’s stint at Fitzroy started strong in 2021 and saw some turbulence in the 2022/1 campaign, but it looks as if the Doctor and the Tigers are completely in sync as they have taken on the 2022/2 campaign with relentless intensity and incredible gameplay. Caro has had a solid start to the season and will look to continue to get the best out of his teammates as marksmen like Scott Rogan, Elias Parthimos & Corey Sewell have thrived in the current Fitzroy system.
Predicted Finish: Runners Up
Star Players: Cosimo Russo & Adam Cooper
As Moreland fight to claim their third Series Futsal Victoria title in the club’s history, they will also face a task that they failed previously – defending the championship. An outstanding 2022/1 season for the Blues will go down in history as one of the greatest squads in the competition’s history but a rocky start to the season has seen Deren Saban’s side defeat a valiant Altona, marginally scrape passed Carlton in penalties and dismantle a lacklustre Melbourne Aku, creating slight uncertainty surrounding how ready the club is to fight against a highly determined Fitzroy FC. Nonetheless, the Blues have kicked off the season in undefeated fashion and can still look forward to the remainder of the season with great optimism.
Breakout Season: James Norbury
20-year-old James Norbury is one of the fresher faces in the league, and with a natural ability to play futsal and learn from some of Australia’s greatest futsal-brains, there’s no denying that the youngster and Moreland FC are a recipe for a very bright future. In Series Futsal Victoria players can often breakout very young, and after slowly developing into a useful rotation player, Norbury could see himself develop into a role of high importance by the conclusion of the 2022/2 season.
Predicted Finish: 3rd Place
Star Players: Hayden Kanjo & Mazen Abdallah
After proving critics right with a terrible end to what looked to be the debut season of Campbellfield as a genuine title-contender, the Warriors will now have to prove their will to succeed together. Unity in the FOz Cup Grand Final proved the players can come together and overcome any obstacle, but to do this over the course of a 21-week season is still yet to be seen. After already losing to Fitzroy 5-0 in Round 2, new coach Sacid Cicek will rely on a mammoth victory over Moreland in Round 4 in order to keep his side’s early title hopes alive.
Rising Star: Najee Khalil
Coming off an 11-goal campaign, young gun Najee Khalil will look to continue building on his rapidly progressing development. Khalil plays as a tall target but will need to take advantage of his height and look to pose more confidence and hunger in his game style in order to take his game to the next level. The ambitious attacker has already notched a player of the match performance in the 2022/2 season against Altona in Round 3 and will hope to build off of this fiery beginning.
Western Wolves FC
Predicted Finish: 4th Place
Star Players: Lokmen Ramadan & Abed Chandab
The Wolves are very much a top four side and have been for many seasons, but with injury struggles and a squad list riddled with inconsistencies, Omar Chandab’s side hasn’t been able to push for a top two position for a number of campaigns in a row now. New signings Andres Delgado and Stephen Gustus are undoubtedly going to compliment the already talented Abed Chandab, Lokmen Ramadan & Joaquin Jimenez, but a loss to Aku and a clubs cup win against Moreland has left this side as the most unpredictable in the league.
Valuable Signing: Stephen Gustus
Missing from the top-flight for the last few seasons, Stephen Gustus is visibly getting back to full fitness and is ready to take on the best once again. The new Wolves signing is already showing great signs of being a strong leader out the back
Altona Knights FC
Predicted Finish: 5th Place
Star Players: Frano Saric & Khaliqyar Yousoufi
It has been a very positive start to the 2022/2 campaign for Altona Knights as one huge victory over Pascoe Vale, and two narrow losses to Moreland and Campbellfield have proven that the style of Altona is very hard for even the best teams to adapt to. The unorthodox ways of the Knights have seen the best players already struggle to break them down and when they do, they are faced with the incredible Frano Saric. The question is - how long will it last before teams find a way through early or the players begin to lose focus faster? How Altona fare in their clash against Carlton tonight could provide us with the information necessary to accurately predict a finish for both sides, but for now it is a decent 5th place finish in the safety zone.
The Main Threat: Khaliqyar Yousoufi
A name synonymous with scoring goals in Series Futsal Victoria, the gigantic Khaliqyar Yousoufi is looking likely to be Altona’s main attacking outlet for the entirety of the season. The signing could prove to be a valuable asset to the Knights and if he continues to develop his chemistry with his teammates, there is no telling how many matches he can drag his side over the line in.
FC Carlton Heart
Predicted Finish: 6th Place
Star Players: Fernando De Moraes & Tom Harris
Carlton Heart has provided us with some positive signs since their controversial return to Series Futsal Victoria, but overall, it has been a lacklustre period for the 3-time champions. With the signing of Tom Harris not showing much benefit to the Hearts just yet, the reigning Golden Boot and Young Player of the Season winner will hope to be the outlet for his attacking-deficient side as he begins to play on a weekly basis.
Breakout Season: Darcy Skopelitis
Youngster Darcy Skopelitis has been in the Series Futsal youth ranks for years and saw his role with Fitzroy last season begin to develop into one that saw sporadic appearances off the bench where he could notch the odd goal and get his confidence up. Perhaps due to impatience or confidence, Skopelitis made the move to the Hearts where he has seen limited minutes, but with his stunning goal being the equaliser against the Wolves in Round 3, we may see more of the 17-year-old. With signs of great hunger and drive, Skopelitis could certainly have an 8-12 goal season and stake his claim as a true rising star from the junior ranks.
Melbourne AKU FC
Predicted Finish: 7th Place
Star Players: Ruz Roslan & Gerardo Soto
The predicted finish may not look flattering to the newly promoted side, but it is only due to the impressive signs of the newly promoted Altona Knights & the quality within the Western Wolves & Carlton Heart. Aku can definitely have a positive first season in SFV but still may need to recruit in order to get the victories it will take to finish outside of the relegation zone. Aku’s representatives have already made it clear that wins aren’t everything for the club, so a successful season in correlation with a low position on the ladder is certainly a possibility for their 2022/2 season.
Most Valuable Asset: Gerardo Soto
Star goal-scorers like Ruz Roslan & Maxi Avram, and an elite, veteran player like Kui Mu will all benefit their side in their debut season at the top-flight, but new signing and proven player Gerardo Soto will be the fresh outlet Aku need to edge the mid-table teams in the closer encounters. We have already witnessed his influence in Aku’s penalty victory over the Western Wolves, which has solidified himself as a potential deciding factor in those fixtures where Aku aren’t exactly the overwhelming underdogs.
Pascoe Vale FC
Predicted Finish: 8th Place
Star Players: Ygor Suster & Mauricio Novak
Undoubtedly the hardest side to predict a finish for, Pascoe Vale are coming off an inconsistent yet successful season, but now face injury troubles and a vast downfall in form. At this point, the Lions have failed to register a single victory after three rounds and with goal-machine Behrad Behzadpour out for what could be the entirety of the season, Paul Vidic is seriously lacking the outlets he could rely on in the previous campaign. The selection of Mauricio Novak and Ygor Suster as potentially star-players is not a major credit to the Brazilian pair, but more of a result of a process of elimination, as the Pascoe Vale squad simply lacks the star-quality it once boasted years ago.
A Way Out: Mauricio Novak
Mauricio Novak’s return to the Lions could offer a resurgence closer to the middle of the season, as the captain has already claimed it will take a minimum of 6 weeks to truly begin implementing his plan and style with the current squad at Pascoe Vale. With that being said, the mid-season transfer window could be Novak’s escape route as he will look to bring in younger and more suitable talent, perhaps meaning that the current squad-members will need to prove themselves if they want to be a part of the Brazilian’s mid-season plans.