Some of north-west Melbourne’s best talent has joined Western United for its inaugural National Premier League 3 season.
United is fielding both a senior and under-21 team in the NPL for the first time as it continues to grow its pathway from juniors through to the A-League side.
The NPL season kicks off for both sides on March 21.
NPL senior coach Ante Moric said he was pleased with the squad so far and believes the players have bought into the club’s values.
“The first two weeks have been really positive,” Moric said.
“We’ve had a chat with the boys and the mindset and the culture that we’ve spoken about has been great.
“The boys don’t know each other, which is hard, but they’ve come in and they’re believing, they’re working together.
“Most importantly there’s a togetherness here, I can see it already.
“That’s the framework of becoming a successful football club.”
Players from across Melbourne’s north-west are among the 29 players in the senior squad.
Caroline Springs’ Abel Walatee, Atwood’s Giovanni Stellitano, Delahey’s Sebastian Neceski, Meadows Heights’ Peter Lay, Mill Park’s Luka Krstevski, Rockbank’s Eligian Kifle, Wyndham Vale’s Sabit James, Kealba’s Samuel Ghobrial, Werribee’s Charlie Emery, Sunbury’s Nathan Dib, Hoppers Crossing’s Ajak Deu, Lalor’s Jake Anagnostopoulos, Truganina’s Manylauk Aguek, St Albans’ Adisu Bayew and Taylors Lakes’ Rhys Bozinovski are all part of the squad.
Former New Zealand international Vaughan Coveny has been appointed head coach of the Under-21 team.
United’s general manager of football Ante Kovacevic believes the NPL squads will be a breeding ground of future Western United footballers.
“Establishing our NPL teams is vitally important to the club. It will provide opportunities to the next generation of footballers to feed into our A-League team in the coming years,” Kovacevic said.
“We want to have these young players provided with an elite environment that helps instil the values and expectations of a professional football club.
“We’d also like to thank the NPL clubs that have assisted in nurturing these players throughout their development, and hopefully we can share in the satisfaction of seeing the players go on to bigger and better things in their football careers.”
The Western United NPL program will be based at City Vista Reserve in Caroline Springs with the squad’s training schedule aligning with the A-League program.
The club plans to establish additional NPL teams from 2022.