Youth in focus: Nectarios Triantis
Last week on 'Youth In Focus', we looked at a former Sydney FC academy graduate currently playing at the Western Sydney Wanderers in Calum Nieuwenhof. This week's player has played for Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers' academy. Nectarios Triantis eventually made his only professional appearance between the two clubs earlier this year on the 23rd of February.
Nectarios Triantis was signed by the Central Coast Mariners on the 26th July. (@ccmariners Instagram)
Last week Triantis only started his second professional game and appeared in the fourth of his young career. His current team, the Central Coast Mariners, hammered former team Western Sydney 3-0 at Commbank stadium last Saturday night.
His first start of the season for the Mariners, against Western United, raised eyebrows as many critics were unsure of what to expect from Triantis before the game. They were later left with only good things to say as he helped his team overturn a two-goal deficit to the reigning champions. Triantis kickstarted the comeback with a jaw-dropping long-range pass over United's defence which found Garang Kuol, who set up Jason Cummings directly after the through ball.
His performance last weekend against experienced striker Sulejman Krpic, who has played in the top divisions of many countries, pinpointed the maturity of the 19-year-old central defender on the big stage. It also highlighted his incredible passing range, with Triantis helping the Mariners escape the Wanderers' press on multiple occasions through neat short passes. He would look to play a long pass behind the defence on the odd occasion, opening the game up.
Having been lucky enough to train with him earlier in the year, before he signed with the Mariners, I saw his maturity and leadership skills first-hand. He led the group of six throughout the session by example with his intensity but also took time to individually help some of the younger players with more technical and physical aspects. These skills included using their body. He held these players to a high standard without adding unnecessary pressure, ultimately improving their game in one hour because of his ability to communicate.
Triantis' pass to Garang Kuol, which set up the first goal for the Central Coast Mariners in their round three comeback against Western United.
Triantis' performances can also be credited to Nick Montgomery's trust in each of his young players. This trust was certainly evidenced by the impact three of his substitutions made last Saturday night. 18-year-old Socceroos starlet Kuol grabbed two assists for 20-year-old striker Michael Ruhs, who netted two of the Mariners' three goals.
Montgomery holds high praise for his young players, as shown in his most recent post-match interview.
"[It's] not just Garang (Kuol) and Jason (Cummings), [there are other] future internationals for this team. Nectar Triantis, 19 years old, outstanding. Captain of the U20s, and tonight he just looked like he cruised through the game against some big visa players," Montgomery said.
He then went on to individually point out that Triantis is "a top player" who never really got an opportunity at Western Sydney. Montgomery confirmed that he immediately signed him to a three-year contract once he became aware that Triantis was available.
Another excellent pass from Triantis which set up a big chance for Cummings during the 3-0 win over the Wanderers.
So far this season, Triantis has completed 150 passes out of 167 made, which equates to a 90% completion rate. He also averages one clearance and one interception per game. He has also created two chances for his team, which is unusual for a central defender in the competition, let alone one of Triantis' age bracket. His ball-playing ability allows him to play in the heart of the defence and as a defensive midfielder, where he played most of his youth football.
One striking thing in his game is how he deals with his weaknesses. Aerially, Triantis can struggle, which is expected of a younger defender. But his defending style is similar to that of ex-Mariners defender Kye Rowles. Both players are as aggressive as possible with their direct opponent and try to maintain as much contact as possible. It allows them to put off their opposing striker whilst also being as elegant and composed as one can be in possession.
His game sense is outstanding, as seen last week. There was a moment in the box where he gave Krpic a slight tug, enough to put the striker off a clean strike but without enough aggression to drag him to the ground for a penalty. These are the small details not often seen in many Australian defenders, let alone an inexperienced and youthful one like Triantis.
The Young Socceroos captain is one to look out for as the season moves forward. We could add him to a long list of players whose next step after the Central Coast Mariners is directly into Europe. Should he continue his consistent performances until the end of the season, then a move abroad may well and truly be a question of when and not if for the intelligent defender.
Click here to check out last week's 'Youth In Focus' on Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder Calem Nieuwenhof.