THE 2018 Norzone soccer season will kick off on Friday, April 13, after Cyclone Marcus struck a late goal. Plans to kickstart the season on April 6 were blown away by Marcus’ 130km/h winds on March 17.
But Football Federation NT boss Bruce Stalder said work to repair damage to league and club training and playing facilities was nearing completion.
“It’s always exciting when you have a season start and this one’s no different,’’ he said.
“This one had another layer when the cyclone came through last week and left a lot of devastation around Darwin.
“A lot of people had trees down and we weren’t immune to it, with a lot of damage occurring across our training and playing venues.’’
Stalder said the lack of playing pitches was the big worry.
“The problem is a lot of the teams haven’t had a chance to train,’’ he said.
“They’ve done their physical work like running on the road but there’s been no ball work and that’s important.
“So we’ve talked to everyone regarding risk management and what’s been happening at the stadium with a couple of fences down, trees on top of them and a bit of scoreboard damage.
“We’ll wait a week and go on Friday, April 13, which is a great Friday night.’’
Seven teams will compete in a revamped Men’s Premier League with Uni Azzurri returning and Palmerston merging with Darwin Rovers.
The women will have a fiveteam competition.
“We were hoping for six but we’ve decided to move at a steady pace to get the girls really entrenched in the game and confident,’’ Stalder said.
“Then there’s the great midweek competition that is the FFA Cup. The NT final of the Cup will be in July after a series of elimination games.
“Hopefully from there we’ll get an A-League club up here, the millionaires against the tradies like in 2017.’’
Hellenic are the reigning men’s champions after a runaway win in the league.
The Blues are celebrating their 60th year in the competition and are desperate for a repeat performance and NT representation in the FFA Cup.
“It’s a big year for us being our 60th year,’’ skipper John Trikilis said.
“The FFA Cup is the main one we’re going for, beginning with Olympic on May 8.’’
Bad news for the Blues is the absence of prolific striker Geoffry Lino, who has signed with a Sydney club.
“We’ll be OK, we’ve got a few signings we’ll reveal before kick-off,’’ Trikilis said.
“Alot of teams haven’t had the chance to train”
B RU C E STA L D E R
News Copy from The NT News