Photos (Top to Bottom): Taroona keeper pulls off a save against Glenorchy Knights in last night's practice match; Local boy Amadu Koroma will play with Melbourne Knights against his former club; Things could get physical, as they did last night between Glenorchy Knights and Taroona [PlessPix]
Melbourne Knights arrive in Hobart at 8am on Saturday and will have breakfast at the Australian-Croatian Club in Glenorchy before relaxing at their motel in preparation for the game against Glenorchy Knights at 6pm at KGV Park the same day.
The visitors will also play a select XI comprising players from the Glenorchy Knights and the Tasmanian Institute of Sport at KGV Park at 4pm on Sunday before returning to Victoria on a 10pm flight.
Melbourne Knights coach, Ivan Duzel, 46, who is in his second year with the club, said he will bring a strong squad of 20 players to Tasmania.
It will include local youngster Amadu Koroma, who was with Glenorchy Knights last season but was signed by the Melbourne Knights a couple of weeks ago after a second trial with the club.
Duzel said he had been impressed by Koroma at the trial and was happy to sign him as the club enters a rebuilding phase.
He said last season was a difficult year for the club, which finished 9th in the Victorian Premier League, but things were going well and several new players had been signed from overseas, including a Brazilian, an Italian central defender, and two Croatians - a striker and an attacking midfielder - from that country’s second division.
They were not expected until the end of January and would, therefore, not be included in the squad coming to Tasmania.
“We’re bringing about 20 players, all of whom are under contract,” said Duzel, who was an attacking midfielder in his playing days.
“We have information about Glenorchy Knights from your local boy, Amadu Koroma, who played with Glenorchy last year and is with us now.
“He told us they finished third last year and he has been able to give us a comparison of the two sides.
“Obviously, we have more quality, but you never know.
“But, we are coming to show our quality and to win the game.”
The squad will include striker Jean Dubois, a Frenchmen, who scored 15 goals for Knights last season. He is not fully fit yet and may not complete the two games on this tour.
Duzel said the club’s pre-season preparations were going well, three or four weeks out from the season.
“When our four overseas signings arrive, we should have a quality squad,” said Duzel, who has been a coach for the past six years.
“The Victorian title is not one of our priorities this year because we aren’t in the financial situation where we can pay too much to players.
“What we are doing is developing again the Melbourne Knights and putting the club back on its feet.
“We are developing our young players and all the rest is a bonus.
“We had a very hard season last year. When I took over at the club, we had lost 22 players and we had to start again from scratch.
“We did a good job at the end of the day and had some quality in the team. Adrian Zahra, for example, went to Melbourne Heart.
“That’s a good sign for the future of the club and it shows we are a good place for youngsters to develop.”
Duzel said he had been told that the KGV Park ground had an excellent surface.
“That will enable us to play a quality game, with the ball to feet, quick passing and an attacking 4-3-3 style,” Duzel said.
“Let’s hope it’s going to work for us.”
The likely Melbourne Knights squad is: Ante Loncaric, Matthew Vrbec, Ryan Filipovic, Scott Lucas, Ben Surey, Bryan Bran, Daniel Rocco, Tomislav Skara, Liam Cannell, Josip Magdic, Ivica Pratz, Daniel Gleize, Gazmend Hajdini, Tiago Rodriques, Amadu Koroma, Tomislav Ples, Kevin Townson, Jean Dubois, Jacob Colosimo, Anthony Colosimo.