NPL Queensland side Olympic FC have pulled off an impressive double signing, bringing in experienced pair Zac Anderson and Isaka Cernak.
The duo have amassed more than 150 A-League appearances between them, and both had been recently plying their trade overseas, which has included stints in Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and Malaysia.
In what is quite a coup for the club, Olympic FC Head Coach Ben Cahn was delighted to land the pair, particularly after losing club stalwart Kazuya Ito to retirement; and seeing striker Tasuku Sekiya return to his native Japan to begin a trial with J2 outfit V-Varen Nagasaki.
"Both Zac and Isaka have played at good levels of the game," Cahn told FTBL. "They’ve been around some great coaches and professionals, and will bring a wealth of experience to our group."
Towering 29-year-old defender Anderson was part of the victorious 2013 Central Coast Mariners Grand Final squad, and Cahn is looking forward to seeing his new recruit in the Olympic backline.
"Zac’s a strong personality and will add a robustness to us, particularly in helping us get through some of our tougher games.
"He’s also very comfortable on the ball and building from the back, and will improve us in every aspect."
Midfielder Cernak has made 79 A-league appearances for a host of clubs, as well as representing Australia at both U23 and U20 levels.
He will combine his playing duties with coaching Olympics’ Under 23 women and SAP girls programs.
"Isaka goes about his business a bit more quietly, but he’s had a great career and will be a valuable asset for us," said Cahn.
"His footprint on the club will be big as he plays an important part in our women’s programmes."
Cahn also took aim at critics who claim the club is trying to buy the title, insisting the pair had turned down more lucrative offers in favour of Olympic.
"I’ve heard a few comments as to whether clubs like ourselves should be signing ex-pros," he said.
"To be clear, both these boys had some big offers from clubs in Victoria and here in Queensland.
"They’re on the same contracts as everyone else and are fully committed to integrating into the club and the broader community."
Cahn added: "We’re hoping their impact will reach far beyond just the pitch.
"At the end of the day there’s no substitute to playing with better players - they can help our group improve further.
"Already in training, we’re seeing the guys lift their levels. You can’t put a price on that; it’s so valuable for us."
Former Brisbane Roar winger Shannon Brady has also made the move to Goodwin Park, and coupled with talented young duo Jez Lofthouse and Daniel Leck resigning for 2021, many have Olympic as firm favourites to take out the title, having been pipped to the post in the last three successive Grand Finals.
For Cahn though the tag has no real burden.
"I don’t take too much attention of that to be honest," he said. "At different times of the year some people will say we’re no good, some will say we’re doing really well. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion- that’s football.
"Given what we’ve done in the past few years, we’ve a strong belief of being at the top and competing, but once you’re at the top, it all comes down to fine margins."
Fixtures for the NPL Queensland competition are yet to be released, but the opening round is likely to get underway in early March.