Sibiya brings experience

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:36 AM ET

On the eve of its very first game, the Winnipeg Alliance has injected more life into its lineup.

The local Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League club has landed former pro and Canadian team midfielder Sipho Sibiya, who will be inserted into the roster when the Alliance faces the Accelerators in a doubleheader in Saskatoon tomorrow night.

"I'm excited for the opportunity to help launch the team in Winnipeg and I'm looking forward to meeting the fans," Sibiya said in a statement.

Sibiya, 36, was both a player and an assistant coach with the national team. Unlike Wolde Harris, who was signed Tuesday, the 5-foot-10, 175-pound veteran has played 11 indoor seasons and is now the technical coach of the Prince George Youth Soccer Association in B.C.

"He has played professionally for as long as some of our young players have been walking," said Alliance co-coach Chic Devenney. "His leadership qualities and calming influence on the players around him make him an ideal fit for our young group."

And that will be important when the youngsters play before a live crowd in a hostile setting tomorrow.

"I'm excited about going there to play our first game but there is some apprehension, wondering if the players can keep their composure during the high-tempo play," Devenney said. "We've got to make sure they don't get predictable in their running and their passing.

"And I'm looking forward to seeing Wolde play and what kind of jump he'll give to the rest of the team. Hopefully, he can put the ball in the net and delay the game to let the other players move up the field. And we do have quality players."

One of those would be midfielder Damian Rocke, a Lucania product.

"We're excited about the game but overall, we're just excited abut the whole process of starting up the franchise and the possibility of what the future holds," said Rocke, 32. "Obviously, as a competitor, you want to win every time you play."

Devenney is expecting players such as Rocke, former Winnipeg Fury goalkeeper Steve Sawatsky, midfielder Rob Gale and defender Andrew Aiken to provide the local leadership.

"(Sawatsky) is one of the best goalkeepers I've ever seen," Devenney said. "And I'm expecting a lot from him. He has to be a strong influence on the younger players by communicating with them during play."

Meanwhile, the Edmonton Drillers have loaned two pros to the Accelerators -- Nikola Vignjevic and Todd Ratte -- for tomorrow night's match in an effort to offset Winnipeg's latest additions.


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