Coach Gunther Kronsteiner isn’t quite sure what to expect from his team as he begins his first full season with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Saturday night.
The Strikers play their home opener at 7:30 p.m. against the Ottawa Fury at Lockhart Stadium, and Kronsteiner is eager to see how much of a difference his offseason acquisitions will make.
Kronsteiner took over the team at midyear in 2013, between the spring and fall seasons. He took over a 2-2-8 team that finished last place in the spring season, and the Strikers improved to 5-3-6 in the fall under the Austrian’s guidance.
The team lacked a proven goal-scorer and had to replace a departed goalkeeper, so assistant coach Raoul Voss, a native of Germany, contacted his connections back home and signed two Bundesliga veterans — 39-year-old keeper Oka Nikolov, who spent 19 years at Eintracht Frankfurt, and 36-year-old striker Marius Ebbers, who played five years at St. Pauli.
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“We had a lot of talent, but we were lacking the tactical part, experience and decision making,” Voss said. “Oka and Marius have already acclimated to our group and are helping everyone get on the right mind-set. Oka is one of the most experienced keepers in Germany, a great personality and will bring stability to the back line. Marius is a finisher. We had a good amount of possession last year but had trouble finding the back of the net.”
Kronsteiner is optimistic, but said it is too hard to predict how his team will do because all the teams have new players.
“It’s very tough because there are so many new players you cannot really say where you’re standing right now,” he said. “Everybody is left in the dark. As we know, we are a little bit lacking in signing big-time players. We know this. We have limited funds for this, but we have enough to make a team. Other teams have more opportunities. We will see who is luckier and who was researching better, getting the right players on board. We are looking forward to a very interesting season.”
Tickets start at $12. All home games will be broadcast on www.sofloradio.com.