With our Westfield FFA Cup Quarter Final just around the corner, we pick out five Heidelberg players to keep an eye on during our upcoming clash.
One of the best young players in the National Premier Leagues, Sheppard is a 21-year-old English-born striker who has become one of the first players on Heidelberg coach George Katasakis’ team sheets every week.
His presence up front has seen him net seven goals this season, teaming up with now Central Coast Mariners striker Dan Heffernan as one of the most dangerous pairings in the NPL. His tall and physical frame is matched with his foot skills making him a perfect fit for Katasakis’ side. Sheppard had stints in the UK with lower league clubs Histon, Braintree and Leyton Orient, having shared a pitch with a young Harry Kane when the Tottenham Hotspurs striker was at loan at the O’s.
He came close to scoring against Sydney United 58 in the Round of 16, rattling the bar from a brilliant dead ball strike and will look to do the same come Tuesday.
Touted as ‘King Kenny’ in Victorian the football scene, the big striker played third fiddle to Heffernan and Sheppard this year but made his presence felt when he was given the chance to impress for the Bergers during the regular season and of course, in the FFA Cup.
The 22-year-old striker is another player in the shape that fits Heidelberg’s style, having a large physical presence while at the same time being extremely talented on the ball. Athiu signed with the Bergers at the start of the year after catching the eye of NPL clubs aplenty during his impressive three-season spell with NPL1 East side Box Hill United. He picked up the State 1 Player of the Year 2013 and went close to taking out the NPL1 player of the year last year, missing a number of matches through injury.
Athiu scored the sealer last time out for Heidelberg and if given the time and space, his raw talent could cause havoc to defenders of all classes.
Govas stole the headlines earlier in the year with a long-range goal against Green Gully that went viral online and the attacking midfielder has shown time and time again this season that he is one of the best strikers of the ball, whether it’s in open play or on the dead ball. Govas had spells with professional clubs overseas, most notably Portsmouth, before returning to Australia and later finding his way to the Bergers.
Although he hasn’t played consistently this season and in the FFA Cup, the Heidelberg camp may use Govas’ natural talents as an x-factor either from the start or off the bench and could play a part come Tuesday.
Captain courageous and a natural-born leader, English-born Byles came to Australia from the Southampton Reserve side in 2004 and arrived at Olympic Village. After a stint at South Melbourne, Byles returned to Heidelberg and has made the captain’s armband his own over the past two season.
Byles sits at the heart of the Bergers’ defence and his voice is constantly heard throughout matches, ordering his troops from the back. If Heidelberg have any chance of stalling City on the night, this man will have a lot to do with it.
Another dangerous winger in the Heidelberg forward line, Kosta Kanakaris poses another threat to the Melbourne City defence with his speed and aggression. Signed from Tasmanian side South Hobart, Kanakaris caught the eye of Heidelberg scouts, scoring the fastest recorded league hat trick in the country. Originally from Greece, Kanakaris spent times at professional clubs in his homeland before coming to Australia.
Used on and off by Heidelberg Head Coach Geroge Katsakis this season, Kanakaris predominantly played on the right wing for the Bergers, terrorising defenders with his turn of speed and killer strike. In the absence of Dan Heffernan, Kanakaris will be fighting for a starting position and if given the chance, the winger will deliver.