Loizou pins Borough's hopes on Opara
HARINGEY Borough manager Tom Loizou is backing livewire striker Lloyd Opara to take the coming season by storm and lead his side up the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division. Loizou, who arrived at Coles Park in April...
By Ian Cooper
HARINGEY Borough manager Tom Loizou is backing livewire striker Lloyd Opara to take the coming season by storm and lead his side up the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division.
Loizou, who arrived at Coles Park in April, has spent the summer busily rebuilding his side, making wholesale changes to the team that finished fourth from bottom in the last campaign.
But while almost all of last season's squad have either moved on or been shipped out, powerful centre-forward Opara has stayed, and has been labelled the key man.
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The ex-Peterborough player has moved clubs an astonishing 24 times in nine years, but Loizou insists the 25-year-old has finally found his feet at Coles Park.
"This season is all about Lloyd. When he's in the right mood there's absolutely no way of stopping him," Loizou told the Journal.
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"I brought him in at the end of last season and he scored four goals in six matches, so we know he'll get us loads of goals. It's about keeping him in the right frame of mind. We just hope we can hang on to him for the whole season."
While the majority of the players Loizou has brought in are either teenagers or in their early 20s, the manager knows Opara's experience could prove vital as the games come thick and fast.
Loizou himself brings a wealth of experience in his first full season in charge, having previously managed current League One side Leyton Orient, and having spells at both Cheshunt and Enfield.
That blend of experience and youth is the combination Loizou hopes will see Haringey enjoy a successful season. But, while he is eager to avoid a repeat of last year's relegation dog-fight, he warns that this campaign will be one of transition.
"We're one of the sides in the division with no budget, so we have to bare that in mind, but some of the players from last season may not have been quite good enough," the boss added. "The minimum target is mid-table, but I think anywhere in the top third is achievable, and that would be a bonus.
"We've brought in a lot of young players - our new right-back is 18 and our left-back 19 - and we've brought in guys such as Lee Jay from Canvey Island who have played at a higher level. But they will need time to adapt into the side."
Time may be in short supply for Loizou's new-look side, who face two games in the opening week of the season, including a local derby.
Borough kick off their league campaign at home on Saturday against Welwyn Garden City, kicking off at Coles Park at 3pm.
And on Tuesday night, August 11, they host north London rivals Kentish Town, who are now managed by former Haringey youth team manager Rakatahr Hudson.
"It's not the easiest of starts," Loizou added. "Kentish Town will be a much better side than they were last season [when they narrowly escaped relegation].
"When Rak left most of the under-18 players went with him, so it looks like we'll be playing our own youth side!