Airton’s assessment

Adelaide United’s Assistant Coach and Head of Youth Football, Airton Andrioli, provided his thoughts on the Young Reds’ season in the National Premier League South Australia (NPLSA).

Andrioli also discussed Luka Jovanovic and Panashe Madanha’s promotion to the senior side following impressive campaigns in the local competition.

After 18 rounds and with four matches remaining, United Youth lie one point outside of the top six on 23 points and tackle MetroStars this weekend.

Thoughts on the season

Andrioli has been largely content with his team this year, intimating the inconsistency that appears is a common thread in a young group. However, with the squad training together over the last five weeks, it has coincided with an improvement in results. The Young Reds are unbeaten in their previous three matches and have lost only twice in their last seven.

“I think we still obviously continue to do the same thing as we’ve done before, providing the players with that environment where they can flourish and develop,” he explained.

“It’s been a good season obviously it’s always a little bit up and down when during the season we don’t have all the players together.

“The last month has been very good for us because if you can train together as a group, then you prepare for the games and we’ve had some very good performances the last five weeks.

“We’ll continue on, four games to go, so we’re hoping we can get a few more results and I think it’ll be a good feeling and good reward for the boys if we could potentially win a few more games and make finals.”

Photo by Joe Janko.

Duo promoted on scholarships

Jovanovic and Madanha are the latest pair to be rewarded for their promising displays and undeniable potential. The duo signed scholarship contracts until the end of the Isuzu UTE A-League 2023/24 campaign earlier this month. Andrioli praised their work ethic and resilience.

“I think it’s a good point to point out to the players that if you work hard and if you’re prepared to do the hard yards, you get rewarded at this Club,” he noted.

“As we all know, we want to promote young players. We want our South Australian boys to be able to move forward and Luka and Panashe had a tough last 12 months.”

Jovanovic, 17, has scored 10 goals in the NPLSA this season and is best utilised as a striker or attacking midfielder but can adeptly feature as a winger.

“Luka came from a bad injury and credit to him worked extremely hard to get himself back into fitness and has done well throughout the season,” he said.

Madanha, also 17, has featured predominantly as a winger, but has demonstrated he is capable of operating as an auxiliary right-back.

Andrioli added: “Panashe as well didn’t play the whole of last year and again he also worked really and now they got rewarded with an opportunity to be in the A-League squad.

“Hopefully more players will follow up in the same way and we can have more players keep getting the opportunity to move up.”

Alignment between Youth and Senior teams

The synergy between both the Youth and Seniors sides has never been more fluent with Andrioli and Carl Veart sharing the same philosophy. It means when players make the step-up to the first-team the principles and instructions remain the same. The 57-year-old stressed this approach is not ground-breaking, but something fundamental to a successful development program.

“I think it’s extremely important (the streamlined approach),” he said.

“It’s not really anything in football that hasn’t been done before that we have a magical formula – it’s nothing about that.

“We just believe in the same thing and we work very closely together. All the training that we provide those young boys is exactly what they’ll face when they go up to the next level.

“So for them it’s just a matter of stepping up a level regarding the intensity and all of that, but they can quickly adjust and adapt.

“Being on the same page, sharing the same view and same philosophy I think is paramount for us and that’s been working really well for us since I’ve come into the Club and continue to work together with Carl.

“We know each other for a long time and I think that makes a huge difference.”

MetroStars next up

Andrioli expected a difficult encounter against the fourth-placed outfit. In the reverse fixture, Adelaide surrendered a two-goal first-half lead to fall 3-2 back in April.

“Metro is a very tough team to play,” he admitted.

“But if we look back at what we’ve been doing for the last five weeks, even looking back at the game against Adelaide City (two weeks ago), which for me we played one of the best games I’ve seen these young boys play for a long time, we should be encouraged by that.

“And we’ll do the same thing, we’re going to go there with the same mentality, the same philosophy, we want to win every game playing football the way we play and that’s what we take into the game and hopefully we can get a good result as well.”