South Melbourne FC would like to confirm it has included four players from the club’s youth setup as part of the 2018 NPL Victoria senior squad.

Having already had a taste at senior level, Giordano Marafioti and Joshua Hodes have been rewarded for an exceptional season with South’s Championship winning Under 20s team under Sasa Kolman.

Marafioti, who was selected for the Australian Under 20 side last year, will provide Kolman with a fast and explosive option in the attacking third. As the reigning youth Under 20s MVP and Golden Boot winner, the club is very excited to see him play senior football.

Hodes is an up and coming right back. He has a fantastic defensive game and the ability to move further up the field with pace and creativity.

Our third youth signing promoted from the Under 20 squad is Ben Djiba. The dynamic winger provides another attacking option through the midfield and up front with his speed, spontaneity and footwork.

Giorgi Zarbos is our fourth and final promotion from the youth squad who, as a central defender, will add depth to our defensive stocks. His move to the senior squad will give him an opportunity to learn and gain some valuable experience at the top level.

Speaking to smfc.com.au, Senior Coach Sasa Kolman was thrilled to have the four boys join the senior squad. “While we have added some experience in key positions, it was imperative that we look towards our youth for the upcoming season. All four boys have been exceptional while I coached them in the Under 20s and each has had a tremendous pre-season. As well as the signed four, we have also have four other Under 20 players who have been a part of the senior squad’s training sessions in the past few weeks. Together with training they have gained experience playing senior football against Guangzhou R&F FC in our two friendly matches. Importantly, we will keep working closely with these players to further their development as footballers and young men to see them grow into senior players over the next few seasons.”

South Melbourne FC Director of Youth Football, Andrew Mesourouni, commented by saying “It’s a testament to the club to be in a position to promote so many youth players into our senior ranks. These young footballers are the future of this club and Australian football. I am so proud of the boys and there are many of the same smashing the door to break through. I wish Giordano, Josh, Ben and Georgi the best and I know they will be given the opportunity to entertain our supporters.”