Hamilton Spectator: Thunder - 3 coaches out, Lofranco new CEO, A-League 2004

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Three coaches resign from Hamilton Thunder
Owner appoints Markovic as head coach

By Josh Brown
Special to The Spectator

Hamilton Thunder coach Duncan Wilde resigned from his post after meeting team owner Italo Ferrari on Saturday to discuss the club's future.

Wilde leaves the second-year Canadian Professional Soccer League franchise atop the western conference with a 4-0-3 record.

"I'm very disappointed to leave the Hamilton Thunder," he said.

"Our views are in no way compatible. The time is right for me to leave with the team being in such a strong position."

Assistant coaches Billy Steele and Ammar Awad also resigned. Goalie and defensive coach Bosko Borjan will remain with the club.

Ferrari has already appointed Ivan Markovic as Wilde's replacement.

The Croatian has coached and managed clubs across Europe and will be on the sidelines for the Thunder's next game in London Friday night.

"There was no falling out," Ferrari said of Wilde's departure.

"We're still friends and may work together. The team is going in a different direction and it was just a friendly departure."

The Thunder recruited Wilde last winter to help mould the team into a top contender. The former Manchester United player helped lure talented strikers from around the world during the off-season and transformed the club into one of the top franchises in the CPSL.

But Thunder management hope this season is just a prelude to bigger and better things.

The club already has a 'gentleman's agreement' to join the country's top soccer circuit -- the North American A-League -- next season. Hamilton would join Calgary, Toronto and Montreal as the Canadian franchises in the 19-team league.

And with that in mind, Ferrari brought in Markovic and four Croatian players last weekend to help stabilize the club.

Former Ontario soccer commissioner Rocco Lofranco was also named as the team's new CEO.

Ferrari sees Markovic and Lofranco's deep experiences in the soccer world as essential in making the transition to the A-League.

He added that should the Thunder join the stronger league next season, he wanted the team to have an immediate impact.

"I want to make sure that we have as much technical help as possible so we don't slip and fall," said Ferrari. "Markovic is here to finish the project and to bring his experience of managing pro teams in Europe. I think it's an important element I want to bring to the team."

Wilde refused to comment on the club's new additions but it's clear that the increase in decision makers was an issue.

For now Wilde will concentrate on the summer camps at his Premier Soccer Academy.

But don't be surprised to see him back coaching in the CPSL as he's already been approached with a couple offers.

Thunder players were taken aback when told about Wilde's resignation on Sunday. They say Wilde was a determined coach who got along well with the entire squad.

"I think it's a surprise to everybody that he left and everyone is kind of disappointed as well," said captain Sergio De Luca.

"We're a bit worried because our coaching staff was a big part of keeping the team chemistry together.

"Midway through the season when you are faced with something like this it's very difficult. But this is soccer. Coaches come and go. Everyone still has a job to do."

Markovic ran the Thunder through a practice Sunday to get to know the club. Players said they were impressed by his vast experience in the game.

"From what I've seen so far in the training session he seems to know a lot about the sport," De Luca said. "I think he will be quite an asset to the team."

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