June 6, 2003

Brampton Guardian: Hitmen Gunning for Rivals
Hitmen gunning for rivals

Square off against defending champs and fabled Juventus


For most teams the beginning of a new season is something to get excited about.

That goes twofold for the Brampton Hitmen of the Canadian Professional Soccer League (CPSL).

The local CPSL squad will kick off the season against the defending champion Ottawa Wizards tomorrow at Victoria Park Stadium beginning at 4 p.m.

But the Hitmen may be a little pre-occupied for its opener, having its sights squarely focused on an exhibition tilt with the famed Juventus Primavera next Sunday afternoon at the Victoria Park pitch beginning at 2 p.m.

Juventus will bring the reserve squad to Brampton for the Father's Day match. The 26 time Italian Seria A champs just recently fell in penalty kicks to A.C. Milan in the Champions League Cup final.

Tickets for the event at $15 for adults and $7 for children under the age of 12 Tickets can be purchased through the CPSL at 905-856-5439 or at the Hitmen head office at 905-790-0770.

Both contests will be tough as the Hitmen hope to build on the late-season successes of last year. The core of that team will be returning, including captain Phil Ionadi.

The Hitmen will need his leadership if they are to compete in these two games. And they'll need solid efforts from returning players like Sean Roberts, Adolfo Mella, Kurt Mella and Marcin Wysocki.

The Hitmen, who finished with a 4-10-5 mark last season, will be looking to improve offensively this season they have added 10 new faces to the lineup in hopes of improving in that department. They were the lowest scoring team in the league last season.

With that in mind, coach/owner Steve Nijjar has added three strikers to the fold. Adding some scoring will be Gabor Kutics, Ruben Flores and Gonzalo Blanche.

Roy Blanche, Gonsalo's brother, has joined the team's goalkeeper trio with returnees Paulo Ceccarelli and Sam Virdo. Ceccarelli is currently on the injury shelf but Nijjar is hoping for a quick return.

The Hitmen have also shored up the defense with Scot Hourston and Alvaro Yaques while newcomers Diego Limuci, Maxiliano Andrada, Glajda Limuci and Dan Zabalet will patrol the midfield.

Other returnees include Milodrag Akmadzic, Luca Centurione, Daniel Cerros, Luca Centurione, Jatinder Thind, Wesley Gilbert and San Holmes.

"This is our third year," reminded Nijjar. "We want to be contenders."

And based on last year's performance in the last half of the season, they should be able to do that. They forced Ottawa to a shootout before losing in the Canada Cup semifinals..

"We felt they were lucky to beat us," admitted Nijjar. "We asked to play Ottawa first this season. It will be a good gauge."

Nijjar hopes his team is ready for the kick off to the season this weekend and subsiquent match with Juventus.

"We've been working hard for the past three months," added the coach, who has watched his squad win five straight exhibition tilts after losing its opener.

As an added bonus, any adult who attends tomorrows CPSL opener and pays the $10 admission fee can get a ticket for the Juventus game for an added $10- or a $5 discount.

"We have a very talented team," added Nijjar. "It's my job to bring them together."

He hopes the gel together quickly so they can get off to a quick start in the league standings, and be competitive against one of the top club teams anywhere in the world.

Let the games begin.

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