LANGWARRIN has agreed terms with Japanese defender/midfielder Ryo Takahashi.
The 23-year-old has been signed from current Singapore Premier League champion Albirex Niigata.
Takahashi and his Niigata teammates denied ex-Langwarrin and Socceroo star Bailey Wright from celebrating a league title in his first season in Singapore as Wright’s club Lion City Sailors finished runner-up.
Playing primarily at right back Takahashi made 19 appearances for Albirex Niigata last season scoring three goals and being credited with assists for two others.
He became a free agent on 1 January and recently concluded successful negotiations with Langy businessman and major sponsor Greg Kilner.
Takahashi arrived over a week ago and after two training sessions played in last weekend’s hitout against Goulburn Valley Suns in Shepparton.
He is from Tokyo and was promoted to FC Tokyo’s J1 League senior squad in 2018.
He also played for Tokyo University before signing a one-year deal with Niigata last January.
Takahashi is expected to play in midfield for Langwarrin.
“Initial contact with Ryo wasn’t through Bailey but once we heard about him we obviously went through Bailey when we did our background check,” Langwarrin head coach Jamie Skelly said.
NPL rules allow a club to have up to four visa players as long as at least one is from the Asian Football Confederation.
Langy’s current visas are Jin Jeong, Archie Macphee, Tom Youngs and Rogan McGeorge.
Adding Takahashi to that list potentially presents Skelly with a tough decision if Macphee’s application for permanent residency isn’t granted before Tuesday 6 February.
That’s the deadline set by Football Victoria for lodgement of final squads for this season’s renamed VPL1 competition.
Skelly wants to keep all five players but that’s in the hands of Immigration.
“We’re also potentially bringing in one or two more but we’re very close now to finalising the squad,” Skelly added.
“It would only happen if the name of someone significant came up who would improve the squad.”
Skelly also has signed 19-year-old winger Dante Avian from Brunswick City.
Avian is a product of Melbourne City’s academy.
Takahashi and Avian’s first outing as Langwarrin players went well with the visitors to John McEwen Reserve in Shepparton running out impressive 3-1 victors on Saturday.
MacPhee, Youngs and Allen Dzemidzic scored for Langwarrin.
However last week wasn’t all about signings as Langy said farewell to defender Jaiden Madafferi.
A number of tributes to the defender were posted on social media when news broke that he had chosen to step away from the sport.
“I left on my own terms,” Madafferi said.
“I’m just not feeling it at the moment and I’ve decided to take some time off.
“I want people to know that just in case the stories get mixed up.”
Meanwhile this Saturday the focus of the local game switches to Lawton Park and the 11th official staging of the annual Steve Wallace Cup.
The event commemorates the life of local soccer icon Stephen William Wallace who was 54 years old when he died on 19 July 2011 and was a former Langwarrin player, coach, president, life member, club council representative and Bayside League referee.
COVID-19 rules impacted on the event in 2022 and forced a series of one-off 90-minute games so no winner was declared but the tournament returned to a more familiar format last year with the host club winning the trophy for the third time.
However Langwarrin has a way to go to match the feat of Mornington who won the tournament five years in a row.
Previous Wallace Cup winners are: Casey Comets 2013; Mornington 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018; Moreland Zebras 2019; Langwarrin 2020, 2021, 2023.
Here is this year’s draw with matches on pitch 1 (top pitch) and pitch 2 (main pitch):
11am Mount Eliza v Seaford Utd (pitch 2)
11.45am Peninsula Strikers v Somerville Eagles (pitch 1), Skye Utd v Baxter (pitch 2)
12.30pm Frankston Pines v Mount Martha (pitch 1), Mornington v Rosebud (pitch 2)
1.15pm Baxter v Seaford Utd (pitch 1), Skye Utd v Mount Eliza (pitch 2)
2pm Rosebud v Somerville Eagles (pitch 1), Mornington v Peninsula Strikers (pitch 2)
2.45pm Baxter v Mount Eliza (pitch 1), Langwarrin v Frankston Pines (pitch 2)
3.30pm Skye Utd v Seaford Utd (pitch 1), Peninsula Strikers v Rosebud (pitch 2)
4.15pm Mornington v Somerville Eagles (pitch 1), Langwarrin v Mount Martha (pitch 2)
5.15pm Semi-final (pitch 1), semi-final (pitch 2)
6.15pm Final (pitch 2).
In other news Mornington has released its pre-season schedule without kick-off times which the club will announce closer to the match dates:
Saturday 20 January, Wallace Cup, Lawton Park*
Tuesday 30 January, v. Caroline Springs George Cross, City Vista Pavilion & Sports Field
Tuesday 6 February, v. Doveton, Waratah Reserve
Saturday 10 February, v. Beaumaris, Dallas Brooks Park
Saturday 17 February, v. Nunawading City, Dallas Brooks Park
Saturday 25 February, v. Knox City, Dallas Brooks Park
Friday 1 March, v. Boroondara-Carey Eagles, Dallas Brooks Park
Last weekend a number of pre-season friendlies featured local clubs. Here are the results:
Langwarrin U23s 8 (Jed Hagenaars 3, Even Bowles 2, Jack Geddes, Kyle Eichenberger, Jaylen Faithfull) Skye Utd 1 (Noah Musso); Rosebud 1 (Davis Markulin) Somerville Eagles 4 (Marcus Anastasiou 2, Jake Meggs, Conor McFall); Seaford Utd 0 Monash Villareal 5.
Skye head coach Phil McGuinness offered a blunt assessment of his team’s 8-1 mauling:
“We were absolutely murdered,” he said.
“We had a team full of trialists and they battered us for 90 minutes.”
At Olympic Park on Friday evening State 4 side Somerville proved too strong for its State 5 host.
The match was played in three 30-minute periods due to the heat.
The first period found both teams moving the ball around well showing an eagerness to play out from the back.
Marcus Anastasiou broke the deadlock when a Conor Mcfall diagonal found him one-on-one with Rosebud keeper Colin McCormack and despite being on a tight angle Somerville’s top scorer made no mistake with a low strike to make it 1-0.
Within minutes of the kick-off to the second period Somerville went further ahead after an inswinging Mcfall corner found an unmarked Jake Meggs who volleyed his attempt past McCormack.
In the final period Anastasiou grabbed his second when he got on the end of a brilliant pass from Tom Simmons and lobbed McCormack to make it 3-0.
Minutes later a tiring Rosebud failed to deal with Somerville’s press and a cheap turnover proved costly when Mcfall beat an opponent then smashed the ball home from the edge of the area to make it 4-0.
Rosebud refused to give in and created a series of great chances only to be denied by Somerville custodian Nick Bucello.
The ’Buds kept at it and were rewarded late in the contest when Davis Markulin got free at the back post and headed home to complete the scoreline.
*Wallace Cup format changed
AFTER consulting participating clubs organisers have decided to change the format of the Steve Wallace Cup and have added the Steve Wallace Plate to the annual tournament to be held at Lawton Park on Saturday.
Based on Football Victoria standings at the end of last season six teams will contest the Steve Wallace Cup and six teams will contest the Steve Wallace Plate.
Langwarrin, Mornington, Peninsula Strikers, Skye United, Frankston Pines and Baxter will contest the Steve Wallace Cup.
Somerville Eagles, Mount Martha, Mount Eliza, Rosebud, Seaford United and Langwarrin Bayside will contest the Steve Wallace Plate.
In both the Cup and Plate there will be two groups of three teams with each team playing the others in their group once (ensuring that each team plays two games).
Group winners will progress to the final.
Two pitches will be in use, pitch 1 (top pitch) and pitch 2 (main pitch).
Here is the draw:
1pm Seaford Utd v Rosebud (pitch 1); Baxter v Skye Utd (pitch 2)
1.50pm Langy Bayside v Mount Eliza (pitch 1); Mornington v Peninsula Strikers (pitch 2)
2.40pm Rosebud v Mount Martha (pitch 1); Skye Utd v Frankston Pines (pitch 2)
3.30pm Mount Eliza v Somerville Eagles (pitch 1); Peninsula Strikers v Langwarrin (pitch 2)
4.20pm Mount Martha v Seaford Utd (pitch 1); Frankston Pines v Baxter (pitch 2)
5.10pm Somerville Eagles v Langy Bayside (pitch 1); Langwarrin v Mornington (pitch 2)
6.15pm Wallace Plate final (pitch 1); Wallace Cup final (pitch 2).