AFTER a lengthy off-season, the Telekom S-League 2017/2018 season gets off today with two exciting matches at Lawson Tama.
Defending champions Marist FC take on debutants Henderson Eels in the opener in what is anticipated to be a thriller.
Marist underline their intention to defend the title with some international signings.
Brazilian trio Diego Maximo, Marcelo Oliveira, and Guilherme Guedes adds mixture samba flair to the champion’s title challenge.
Guedes was Marist’s top scorer in the recent OFC Champions League with five goals.
The towering striker had scored five goals in pre-season and Schmeling will hope his compatriot continues his scoring streak today.
Speaking exclusively to Star Sports yesterday, Schmeling said opening match of any tournament is always difficult.
“I think the first game is always hard, doesn’t matter which team you’re playing it will be extremely intense in an opener,” he said.
“On top of that we’re playing against a very potential title contender but the only thing is we need to be ready,” he added.
“Because if we want to retain the title, we need to be ready for our opponents,” the Marist coach Julian Schmeling said.
He added his players have been working hard in training and are raring to start the new season with a positive result.
Apart from the international signings, Marist will be banking on their seven Solomon Islands internationals Henry Fa’arodo, Atkin Kaua, Timothy Bakale, Robert Laua, Jeffry Bule, Zantas Kabini and Michael Boso.
Henderson Eels head coach Chris Aspira told Star Sports he is expecting a “baptism of fire”.
“Well it will be a good game against Marist in the opening match of the 2017/18 season,’’ he said.
“We respect Marist because they are the champions and defending champions of TSL,” Asipara added.
“We are sort of an underdog but we will give them a good game.
“And as a game of football the final whistle determine the winner,” he said.
Aspira had quite a good number of experience players at his disposal.
Alick Maemae, Dennis Ifunaoa, Tuti Zama Tanito, Fred Kini, Joses Nawo, David Muta and recent national team inclusions Clement Baegeni, Clifton Aumae and Andrew Rarangia will look to deliver for the debutants.
The opening match is set for 2pm, to be followed by the clash between Solomon Warriors FC and Real Kakamora FC at 4pm.
By SIMON ABANA