Cedar Stars Academy head coach Austin Friel in his time with Lansdowne Yonkers F.C. Lansdowne Yonkers F.C Images
By Ralph 'Onz' Chery
Sept. 13th, 2018
Hopefully you picked up your phone or your laptop by now after finding out ex-Lansdowne Yonkers F.C. head coach Austin Friel will be coaching the club’s rivals Cedar Stars Academy on a long-term deal.
Hold on to your phone tight, Friel will start his career in charge of CSA against Lansdowne in the one-day tournament Rapaglia Cup on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. at Verrazano Sports Complex.
Friel won the Rapaglia Cup last year with the Yonkers based club alongside nine more trophies, including four CSL titles in which Lansdowne defeated Cedar Stars in the final last year and in the 2015-16 season.
Game pic of the 2017-18 CSL final when Austin Friel led Lansdowne Yonkers F.C. to a penalty kick win over Cedar Stars Academy. Picture by David Dupuy
The 37-year-old expressed how he feels before taking on his former side.
“There’s always a bit of buzz when you go up against a club you played or coached for,” Friel said. “I’m more excited to begin working with a very talented group of players that we have at Cedar Stars and making sure we get the results that we need to advance.”
When asked if he feels emotional before taking on the club he spent six years with and won his first individual award as a coach, the Region I Coach of the Year, Friel said: “Like I said there’s a bit of buzz, but we’ve all been through it before. I played for many clubs in my career. You just need to get on with it and focus on getting the result you need.”
Friel played for four clubs in Ireland in the last two years of his career, hence as he mentioned changes isn’t something unfamiliar to him.
It’s not the first time we witness a Cedar Stars-Lansdowne move either as former CSA winger Samuel Gehman transferred to Lansdowne during the offseason. Sikele Sylvester departed from Lansdowne to play for Cedar Stars last season but returned to the Irish club this summer. Midfielder Jonathan Okafor moved from Lansdowne last year to join the Stars. And right back Ethan Evans swapped from Cedar to Lansdowne in 2016.
Friel shared his reason of going from rivals to rivals: he liked the Stars since when he was playing against them with Lansdowne.
“I’ve always been very impressed with Cedar Stars and particularly over the last year or two,” he said. “I felt it was the next logical step at this point in my career. I’m very excited to work with [club owner] Oliver Papraniku, the players and everyone involved in the club.”
Lansdowne lost their previous match to their Irish rivals Shamrocks 3-1 last Sunday while CSA downed Zum Schneider F.C. 03 6-1.
Most would assume that Friel knows what to do exactly to defeat the Bhoys after building them for six years but the new Cedar Stars coach noted that it will be a different Lansdowne than the Lansdowne he coached.
“They have a new manager [Sean Kelly] and several new players, this will be my first time seeing this version of Lansdowne,” the Irishman said. “A lot has changed since our last time together. We’ll see Sunday if I know how to beat them.”
As for how the players feel about Friel’s move to CSA. Cedar’s attacking midfielder Christopher Katona, mentioned that the Irish coach is the club’s perfect match.
“He will be an instrumental piece in achieving our goals moving forward,” Katona said. “He is the perfect fit for head coaching Cedar Stars Academy. We are excited to have him and can’t wait to get started.”
And on Lansdowne’s end, striker Ovan Oakley is content of the thrill Friel’s move to Cedar adds to the league and can’t wait to verse his former coach this Sunday in the Rapaglia Cup.
Lansdowne Yonkers F.C. striker Ovan Oakley on the ball in last year's final verus Cedar Stars Academy. Picture by David Dupuy
“I think this brings some excitement to the league,” Oakley said. “I'm excited to play and see what the match up will be like. Austin is a smart manager and knows how to manage a team.”