These six players in the 20-25-year-old bracket are catching the eye this NPL NSW season.

A-League clubs, take note.

*All images courtesy of FNSW


Tariq Maia

Sydney United

Age: 21

Position: midfielder

Like many NPL players, goal-scoring midfielder Maia has been part of an A-League club’s set up. In his case, Wanderers around four years ago in their NYL side.

He is a Western Sydney local starting his junior career with Wetherill Park Westerners up to U10s at which point he joined Southern Districts.

Maia is a goal-scoring midfielder who seems to pop up late to score important goals; he recently bagged a stoppage-time winner over the Sharks, and an 82nd-minute goal against league leaders the Wolves to earn a 2-2 draw.

He has found the net in the club’s FFA Cup run, too.

He’s now maturing at NPL level and could well be ready to take on the A-League.


Sam McIllhatton

APIA Leichhardt Tigers

Age: 20

Position: midfield


Some may remember a baby-faced McIlhatton coming on for Sydney FC at ANZ Stadium. in the 75th minute against the superstars of Arsenal back in 2017.

Arnie was always willing to give kids a go on the big stage. But we haven’t heard too much more from this talented kid.

He has flown under the radar in recent times after he caught the eye at Sydney FC’s NPL 2 side almost three years ago.

He helped them smash all-comers that year but transitioning to the club’s A-League set up proved a little more difficult.

McIlhatton continued with the Sky Blues’ second tier outfit last year but this season, at the Tigers, Sammy has really shone.