One of the most highly-anticipated AWFA seasons awaits Border soccer fans this year.
Several club representatives were on hand for the competition’s season launch at the Commercial Club on Thursday.
As usual, there has been plenty of hype ahead of round one, which is only nine days away, as to who can upstage reigning league and cup champions Myrtleford in 2018.
Wangaratta has been regarded by most rival clubs as the team to do it.
“The big boys Myrtleford and Wangaratta are going to be very hard to topple and anyone that finishes ahead of them will win the comp,” Albury United coach Scott Kidd said.
“Where we’ll sit, we’ll know five or six rounds in.”
The Devils have recruited well over the off-season and are determined to improve on their fourth place finish and opening round exit of the cup finals last year.
Reigning Murray United under 20s best and fairest winner Troy Pawlik is among the inclusions and has slotted into the side nicely.
“It’s been good, I wasn’t with the team last year, but I know the boys were disappointed with how it ended,” Pawlik said.
“We’re just excited for round one.
“Myrtleford and probably Albury City (will be the ones to beat), they’re always consistently good.”
Cup finalists Cobram Roar have lost coach Adam Gatcum and star import Billy Marshall to Goulburn Valley Suns, but striker Bill Puckett has taken the reins.
The Roar will be expected to be in the mix once again, while the addition of Trent Rixon at Melrose keeps them right in the hunt.
However, with Wodonga Heart confirming it won’t have a senior men’s team, 11 teams will be scrambling for eight spots in the cup finals.
Among the teams that missed out last season was Twin City Wanderers.
Newly-appointed coach Lee Botting wants to erase that from the club’s memory bank immediately.
Englishman Tyler Curran headlines the new additions, while Wangaratta product Josh Taylor has returned from Victoria’s state league to take over as goalkeeper.
“I have an abundance of absolute skill, it’s just bringing it out of them,” Botting said.
“Last year it was about fitness and suspensions, but this year they’re going to be fit and there’s going to be no suspensions.
“The discipline is a key factor, there’s plenty of players, but you start running out of them and I don't want them on the sideline watching.”
Round one kicks-off on March 18.