The newly renamed Capital Premier League (CPL) will provide a stern test for the eight teams who will all enter the 2022 season eyeing off the ultimate prize, top spot, and a place in the elite NPL1 division for next season. Often uncompromising, utterly unpredictable, but always entertaining, the second tier of the men’s game in the National Capital is well worth your time and effort. Here we preview the 2022 runners and riders.
Head Coach: Talal SAFAR
ANU FC are a perennial title challenger in this league and were only a whisker away from promotion to the NPL last season, just ending up behind the O’Connor Knights when the season was curtailed. Under new Head Coach Talal Safar they have added quality in the middle of the park with Hassan Alnuwaysir crossing from White Eagles and the Students will be looking for him to perhaps consolidate for the loss of their engine in Sam Carters. There’s no doubt that Safar will add another level of professionalism into the club and their results in pre-season were impressive, a 2-2 draw against Canberra Croatia a standout. Strode through to the Quarter Finals of the Australia Cup Qualifying as well and must be considered for top spot.
In: Jean Mauro ARAVENA (Overseas), Hassan ALNUWAYSIR (White Eagles), Joel INGRAM (Toowong FC), Bruno MELO (Monaro Panthers U23), Braulio MELO (Monaro Panthers U23)
Out: Sam CARTERS, Cuynet CAGLAR (White Eagles), Rowan PETERKIN, George OWEN
9/2/22 v Tigers FC (n) L 1-5 (L, Hynes (p))
12/2/22 v Wollongong United (AIS) D 1-1 (Alnuwaysir)
20/2/22 v West Canberra Wanderers (n) L 1-2 (Deans)
26/2/22 v Canberra Olympic (n) W 3-2 (Deans (2), Lopez)
8/3/22 v Canberra Croatia (n) D 2-2 (Alnuwaysir, Manley)
Head Coach: Ray JUNNA
After a difficult season, the Brindabella Blues have brought in one of Canberra’s most accomplished coaches in Ray Junna, the former Canberra United W-League Head honcho widely regarded as one of the top men in his position in the region. Their recruitment has been good, notably the inclusion of Jordan Host, an ex-National Youth League player who will bring extraordinary quality to the squad. The return of the prodigal son in Curtis Schaeffer, after his hiatus at NPL Belconnen United, will be a huge boon, the Blues missed his direct goal threat when he departed mid-season in 2021. The team is likely to be youthful and energetic and possess enough quality and nous to push their way up the table. A competent Australia Cup showing against Queanbeyan City suggest they will be competitive.
In: Jordan HOST (Wollongong), Christian JUNNA (Tigers FC), Gee KANGERI (Gungahlin United NPL18), Luke OLIVIER (Gungahlin United NPL18), Curtis SCHAEFFER (Belconnen United)
Out: Niko BLASKOVIC (Sabbatical), Josh GUNTHER (Sabbatical), Steven KLUG (White Eagles), Zac LAWRENCE (White Eagles), Kristian NEL (West Canberra Wanderers)
8/2/22 v Canberra Olympic (AIS) L 1-5 (Schaeffer)
27/2/22 v O’Connor Knights (n) W 3-2 (Schaeffer, Fisher, Charles)
11/3/22 v Gungahlin United (n) L 1-3 (Kangeri)
19/3/22 v Weston-Molonglo FC (n) W 4-2 (Host, Menham, Kangeri, Ward)
Head Coach: Goran JOSIFOVSKI
There has bene a big refresh of Queanbeyan City’s squad as Goran Josifovski moves from player to coach and there already appears to be a better balance of quality and grit in the ranks. With City’s favourite son back at the helm, hopes are high amongst the Queanbeyan faithful that success, and promotion, could be on the cards. Josifovski has recruited some superb talent including some exotic overseas quality in Bhutan international Tshering Dorji and Guatemalan U23 star David Ramos. With Michael Mensah adding physical strength to the attacking third, and Weston-Molonglo FC attacker Abderrahim Dellahi also signing, City are stacked in the attacking third. Should these new signings click with the established crew, City should be a good bet for a top two finish and a solid promotion push.
In: Joel BAIRD (Monaro Panthers U23), Gianni CORRIGAN (Canberra Olympic U23), Martin CROME (Monaro Panthers U23), Abderrahim DELLAHI (Weston-Molonglo FC), Jordan DIAZ (TBC), Tshering DORJI (ThImpu City), David RAMOS (Colorado Rapids U23), Ryan GULEVSKI (Gungahlin United), Michael MENSAH (West Canberra Wanderers), Andrew SELLERS (Weston-Molonglo FC), Alexandre URICARU (Gungahlin United)
Out: Michael ADAMS (O’Connor Knights), Alan GASTON, Michael KITA (O’Connor Knights), Rory LARKIN, Emmanuel PONCE (Sydney), Mark SHIELDS (Canberra Olympic)
5/12/21 v Canberra Olympic (n) D 1-1 (Crome)
17/12/21 v Sydney Soccer School (n) L 1-3 (Dellahi)
5/2/22 v Gungahlin United (h) L 1-2 (Mensah)
12/2/22 v Tigers FC (h) D 0-0
20/2/22 v O’Connor Knights (h) L 1-3 (Zygmunt (og))
26/3/22 v Canberra Croatia (h) L 2-5 (Ramos, N. Felizzi)
Head Coach: Mitch STEVENS
Mitch Stevens has performed a minor miracle in the off-season at relegated Tuggeranong United, not only keeping hold of some of the best young talent in the region, but also adding to his playing stocks with the acquisition of some real standouts. Luke Stevens, Wagga City Wanderers’ mercurial playmaker, was highly coveted by several clubs, but has committed his future to Tuggeranong along with Pat Hislop, an exciting addition to the attacking ranks. Perhaps the real coup is the signature of former Northern NSW Player of the Year and Golden Boot winner Sam Walker, with the ex-Broadmeadow Magic man bagging seven goals in back-to-back matches in pre-season, three in the cup and four in a remarkable rout of Gungahlin United. With the teenage defensive duo Harrison Buesnel and Tarisayi Mbogo both pillars of strength, United will be heard to beat and are in with a real chance of bouncing straight back up.
In: Adam FIRYCH (Weston-Molonglo FC), Patrick HISLOP (Sabbatical), Luke STEVENS (Wagga City Wanderers), Sam
WALKER (Broadmeadow Magic)
Out: Jenno CERUTI (West Canberra Wanderers), Eddie COGGAN (O’Connor Knights), Daniel FULTON (State League), Marco GAYER (Canberra Croatia), Shane MURRAY (Interstate), Andrew SLAVICH (O’Connor Knights), Jonathan TUREK (Belconnen United), Regan WALSH (O’Connor Knights), Jakeb WISEMAN (West Canberra Wanderers)
12/2/22 v Weston-Molonglo SL (AIS) W 4-0 (Kiddey, Richards, Walker, Doherty)
20/2/22 v Monaro Panthers (a) L 0-4
10/3/22 v Canberra Olympic (n) L 0-1
27/3/22 v Gungahlin United (a) W 5-1 (Walker (4), Richards)
WAGGA CITY WANDERERS
Head Coach: Dave LEONARD
There’s been relatively little change at the Wagga City Wanderers as Head Coach Dave Leonard has managed to retain many of the players who performed well at this level in 2021. The Wanderers, like Yoogali, suffer for having to make long round trips to the capital every other week, but comport themselves well on their travels and are more than a handful at home. Speaking of handfuls, striker Jake Ploenges might prove to be a real one during the year. Having gone the whole of 2021 without a goal, the big striker bagged six in four games in pre-season including a goal against Monaro Panthers in the Australia Cup Qualifying. They will play neat, and attractive, football, relying on pace out wide and the occasional direct ball up front. Were Grand Final winners in 2020 and will hope to push for the top four again.
In: Jayden KINCES, Nashwan SULAIMAN
Out: Luke STEVENS (Tuggeranong United), Tin Kit TAM, James THOMSON, Prince THOMPSON
13/2/22 v Albury United (a) W 3-1 (Ploenges (2), Lucas)
19/2/22 v Hanwood United (a) W 3-1 (Matherson (2), Ploenges)
26/2/22 v Leeton United (a) W 5-0 (Ploenges (2), Okot (2), Lucas)
Head Coach: Mark BOYD
Experienced Coach Mark Boyd has returned to Canberra following a stint in the NPL in Sydney and will take over a Weston-Molonglo FC team that will bear little resemblance to the one that finished the 2021 season. Having lost a raft of senior players, including many of the starters from last season, Boyd has had to think outside the square in his recruitment and has cast the net wide across Canberra. Experienced head Chris McEwan joins from West Canberra Wanderers whilst the feisty John O’Gorman has been promoted into the CPL squad and was impressive in their short Australia Cup run. Pre-season has been rough for the Magpies, but the win over Burns FC in the cup hinted that midfield brothers Daniel and Xavier Graham could be key to any success.
In: Josh ARLOTT (Promoted), Josh DEHELEAN (Sabbatical), Will KHONG (West Canberra Wanderers Youth), Jed LLOYD (Sabbatical), Chris MCEWAN (West Canberra Wanderers), Vanh NGUYEN (White Eagles), John O’GORMAN (Promoted), Caleb CULLEN-RUA (White Eagles), Foti SGOURIS (Sabbatical)
Out: Loay ALBUSHI (Overseas), Abderrahim DELLAHI (Queanbeyan City), Geordie FREEMAN (Belconnen United), Adam FIRYCH (Tuggeranong United), Ardan LAW (White Eagles), Daniel NICOLETTI (White Eagles), James NOJA (Sabbatical), Angus RECKORD (Sabbatical), Andrew SELLERS (Queanbeyan City), Josh WADE (Weston SL)
12 Feb South Coast Flame (a) – Cancelled
26/2/22 v White Eagles (h) L 1-3 (O’Gorman)
19/3/22 v Brindabella Blues (n) L 2-4 (McEwan, O’Gorman)
Head Coach: Zoran MILENKOVIC
There has been a large turnover of playing staff at White Eagles as Head Coach Zoran Milenkovic looks to build a squad that can challenge for promotion to the top-flight. Renowned as a great man-manager Milenkovic will aim to get the best out of his new recruits who include the impressive Cuneyt Caglar, signed from ANU FC, and the experience of the likes of Mitch Steenbergen and Aaron Cashman. There is also a welcome return for midfield powerhouse Ohio Asikhia, who netted in the cup loss to Queanbeyan City, and will prove a threat at set-pieces. In Ed McCarthy they possess a real match-winner, a player who can score brilliant goals out of nothing, but they require more consistency across the board to be considered challengers. Milenkovic could be the man to provide this, so don’t rule out the ‘Weagles’ from top-four contention.
In: Ohio ASIKHIA (Sabbatical), Cuneyt CAGLAR (ANU FC), Aaron CASHMAN (West Canberra Wanderers), Martin DENG (West Canberra Wanderers), Stephen KRESKAS, Steve KLUG (Brindabella Blues), Ardan LAW (Weston-Molonglo FC), Zac LAWRENCE (Brindabella Blues), Daniel NICOLETTI (Weston-Molonglo FC), Mitch STEENBERGEN (O’Connor Knights), Danny TODOROSKI, Charlie WILLIAMS (Monaro Panthers U23)
Out: Hassan ALNUWAYSIR (ANU FC), Gabriel AYUEL (O’Connor Knights), Jacob AYUEL (O’Connor Knights), Eric BONNETT (Retired), Ryan BROSE (Interstate), Caleb CULLEN-RUA (Weston-Molonglo FC), Rohan MAXWELL (Sabbatical), Vanh NGUYEN (Weston-Molonglo FC)
19/2/22 v Canberra Olympic (AIS) D 2-2 (McCarthy, Asikhia)
26/2/22 v Weston-Molonglo FC (a) W 3-1 (McCarthy, Caglar, own goal)
1/3/22 v Belconnen United (a) L 0-2
6/3/22 v Gungahlin United (AIS) L 3-6 (Caglar (2), Townsley)
12/3/22 v West Canberra Wanderers (n) L 1-7 (Santrac)
Head Coach: Sante DONADEL
As ever, the off-season has seen plenty of coming and going in Griffith as Yoogali go around for another season, aiming on improving on last term. A run to the semi-finals of the Australia Cup Qualifying, and a last-gasp loss to eventual winners Tigers FC, showed just what they possess, and new coach Sante Donadel will hope to draw on their indomitable spirit again in 2022. The loss of visa players Calvin Roddie and Danny Roche will hurt them but there is new talent coming in once more, likely to shake-up the Division. The youngsters that they blooded in 2021 will be back with more experience and the away trip, the longest for any Canberra team, always makes them a threat at home. Expect more Donadel’s to emerge to the forefront as 2022 progresses and expect Yoogali to showcase all their character and fighting spirt allied to some quality football.
In: Daniel FEBO, Ben HASTIE, Ryce MACINTOSH, Adam OROCK
Out: Mitch BAGIANTE, Calvin RODDIE (Interstate), Danny ROCHE (Interstate)
12/3/22 v Mudgee Wolves (h) D 1-1