Italia Shooters have kept a low profile in their inaugural season in the CSL’s International Division, to contrast the almost daily activity and buzz associated with their Serbian opponents in this Sunday’s CSL Championship match, the end of a campaign that kicked off on May 19.
While Serbian White Eagles boast the top two goalscorers in the 12-team CSL - Gabriel Pop and Sasa Viciknez account for an incredible 50 of the 68 league and cup goals scored by their team – no player from Italia can be seen on the leading goalscorer chart. Italia Shooters managed just 32 league and cup goals all year.
The Serbs have nine players from Europe, some from First Division squads like goalkeeper Dusan Belic of Belgian side Sent-Trond, while most of the Italia players are from the Toronto environs, mostly from the Ontario Soccer League.
Coaching makes difference, of course, and Serbian head coach Dragoslav Sekularac, once considered one of the 20 top players in the world and the best player ever to come out of the former Yugoslavia is now a coach par excellence, while Italia Shooters’ owner-turned coach Tony De Thomasis has a university degree and has toiled over the years to grow De Thomas Financial, a highly respected investment firm in York Region. But he has been ably assisted by trainer and assistant coach Filipe Benito who spent five years in the Portuguese First Division.
“It is looking like a David and Goliath contest, but we should be careful not to jump to conclusions,” said FIFA man Dick Howard while looking at the comparisons. “So much depends on who plays as a team in this championship match, and let’s not forget Italia Shooters held Eagles to a scoreless tie in August, so an upset in not out of the question.”
THE TEAMS: Italia Shooters vs. Serbian White Eagles
WHY: It’s the CSL Championship, the final of a 130 games going back to May 19
WHEN: Sunday, October 15
WHERE: Esther Shiner Stadium, North York (Bathurst, just north of Finch)
KICKOFF: 5 p.m.
ADMISSION: A flat $25 unless you are a toddler, or infant, You get in for free.