With the start of the National Premier Leagues (NPL) Queensland Men’s due to get underway this weekend, it’s the time to reflect on what has been an extremely active summer transfer window.
With over 170 transfers in and out of the NPL Queensland Men’s alone, a few signings in particular look set to make an impact in the league this season.
Shane Smeltz (free agent > Gold Coast United):
In one of the biggest signings of the off-season, Hyundai A-League’s second all-time highest goal scorer Shane Smeltz has come out of retirement to sign for NPL Queensland’s Gold Coast United for the upcoming season.
The 38-year-old striker who scored 24 goals in 58 international appearances for the All Whites expressed his excitement in linking up with former teammates, Gold Coast United coach Kristian Rees and player Michael Thwaite for the 2020 season.
After most recently playing for Borneo FC in Indonesia before his retirement, Smeltz will now return to the club where he scored 28 goals in just 38 Hyundai A-League appearances, and will no doubt look to rediscover his illustrious goal-scoring knack.
If he can form a strong partnership with new recruit Sam Smith, Smeltz will be able to push his side into top four contention for the 2020 season.
Jordan Farina (Eastern Suburbs > Lions FC):
The third-highest goal scorer from the 2019 NPL Queensland competition Jordan Farina will make the switch from one orange kit to another as he joins reigning Premiers Lions FC from Eastern Suburbs to replace the outgoing Marek Madle.
The prolific striker – who netted 23 goals in 24 games last season – will link up with a dangerous looking and dynamic Lions attack that is set to create plenty of goal scoring opportunities for Farina this season with teammates including Henry Hore, Joe Duckworth and Mitch Hore.
A player known for his consistency and composure in front of goal, Farina will need to put this to use to lead the Lions front line in 2020. If the form he produced last season is anything to go by, Farina may be in the Golden Boot race once again come season’s end and can help fire Lions to a third consecutive Premiership.
Sam Sibatuara (Dandenong City > Brisbane City):
Former Brisbane City FC captain and attacking midfielder Sam Sibatuara is returning to the NPL Queensland with his former club City following a short period in Melbourne with NPL Victoria side Dandenong City.
The 23-year-old Brisbane Roar Youth product and two-time Brisbane City Golden Boot winner helped Dandenong City to a mid-table finish last season, and will now look to pick up where he left off as he returns to his former club this year.
A 2017 Team of the Season player in his time at Brisbane City, Sibatuara will link up with Jean Carlos Solorzano, Adam Edgar and new signing Shannon Brady to form one of the league’s strongest attacks in 2020.
With a vast playing experience that spans across interstate NPL competitions as well as the top tier of Indonesian football, the former skipper will bring a wealth of experience and leadership to the Brisbane City squad for 2020.
Emilio Martinez (Free Agent > Brisbane Strikers):
Brisbane Strikers have acquired an attacking midfield talent of their own in the form of Emilio Martinez, who joins the club off the back of Youth stints with both Western Sydney Wanderers and Brisbane Roar.
The 21-year-old product of the Nike Academy has made waves in this league before, previously impressing for Brisbane Roar Youth before being signed to the A-League club’s first team for the 2017/18 season after impressing Head Coach at the time, John Aloisi.
A technically gifted playmaker that displays great awareness on the ball, Martinez is set to strengthen a Brisbane Strikers side who will be without last year’s attacking force Andy Pengelly.
Paul O’Brien (Heidelberg United > Gold Coast Knights):
Another player returning to the NPL Queensland after a successful stint interstate is former NPL Queensland MVP and Redlands United FFA Cup hero Paul O’Brien.
Since scoring the winning goal in a 2016 FFA Cup tie against Hyundai A-League Premiers Adelaide United, O’Brien’s career has gone from strength to strength. In 2017 he moved interstate to join NPL Victoria giants Heidelberg United FC, where he won three successive Premierships with the side.
The 30-year-old midfielder joins current NPL Queensland Champions Gold Coast Knights for this season amongst a host of other signings for 2020, and will form part of one of the strongest midfield’s in the league alongside Mitch Nichols, Max Brown and Roman Hoffman once he returns from injury to help the Gold Coast side push for their maiden title.
Marek Madle (Lions FC > Peninsula Power):
Despite only joining the NPL Queensland with Lions FC in mid-2018, Marek Madle fast became one of the most recognisable talents the league has to offer. Now moving to former FQPL Premiership winning side Peninsula Power, Madle will bolster the front line after the departure of 2019 Team of the Season player Dean Briggs.
After moving to Australia from Scotland in 2015, the Czech Republican star joined Brisbane-based club Holland Park Hawks in Queensland’s FQPL. After scoring a remarkable 23 goals in his 14 matches with the club, Madle caught the attention of then Lions FC Head Coach Warren Moon.
Continuing his scintillating goal-scoring form with Lions – with 38 goals in 41 games – Madle will bring his prowess to a Peninsula Power side that will push for the Premiership in 2020 and could create a strong partnership with teammate Tom Strickland.
Words: Darren Newell
Photo Credit: Gold Coast United, Lions FC, Roze Gallo, Brisbane Stikers, Bradley Kanaris / Stringer, Ian Judd – AQUA [PD] / Lions FC