Five players to watch in new-look Magpies Crusaders
WITH a handful of NPL Queensland regulars temporarily moving elsewhere in search of state league football this season, Magpies Crusaders coach Tom Ballantyne will field a new-look squad in the Mackay Premier League.
While the likes of Kyren Walters, Ezra Kennell and Jordy Vleugels remain, other notable names – Dylan D’Agostino, Marko Milutinovic and Willem Lejeune for example – have moved on.
But with every position vacated comes a chance for another player to impress, and Ballantyne offered up five players Mackay football fans should keep an eye on early in Magpies Crusaders’ Mackay Premier League campaign.
ONES TO WATCH:
Masi Benjamin (Wing/Forward)
Benjamin joined the club from Townsville in pre-season and his main attribute quickly became apparent.
“He’s … very fast,” Ballantyne said.
Benjamin impressed early, but struggled at first to pick up the intricacies of Ballantyne’s game plan. The coach believes exposure to that plan in the Mackay Premier League will do the speedy winger a world of good.
“He was really close to getting what we wanted out of him,” Ballantyne said.
“He’s fast, he can finish, he’s got a good eye for a dribble and he can attack with pace quickly.
“Now he has a chance to work on that tactical aspect of his game.”
Denzel Bobongie (Midfield)
The 16 year old impressed in pre-season and was rewarded with an NPL debut in Round 1 against Peninsula Power.
Bobongie is one of the club’s brigade of impressive young players.
“He rarely turns the ball over.
His pass possession completion rate is very high, even at training.
He has good energy and tactically very smart for his age,” Ballantyne said.
“I’m very keen to see if he can establish himself.”
Jayden Salam (Forward)
Ballantyne hopes to shift Salam anywhere along the front line and hinted at a deeper position if the stars align.
The pacy forward is a “good technical dribbler with a very good long range shot on him” according to his coach.
Jayden Tower (Goalkeeper)
Tower boasts a name befitting of a man tasked to play between the posts.
The one-time Newcastle Jets trialist impressed in his NPL debut against Gold Coast United earlier this season.
“His hands are like glue,” Ballantyne said. “He has good distribution and organises the defence really well.
“Now it’s a chance for him to work on the little weaknesses in his game.”
Jayden Bell (Centre Back)
‘We’re collecting Jaydens’ was the quip from Ballantyne as he rattled off namesake after namesake. Including Jaiden Brown, Magpies Crusaders has four on the books for 2020.
Newcomer Bell is a burgeoning centre half whom his coach labelled a “good organiser” with a “great tactical understanding of the game” and whose presence on the pitch belies his age.