GWELUP Croatia got the defence of their Amateur Premier Division title off to the perfect start as they routed fierce rivals Fremantle Croatia 8-1 in Sunday’s Croat Derby at the Croatian Sporting complex.
Dejan Andric got the goals started with Isaac Koomson also getting on the scoresheet and Jake Verini scoring from outside the penalty area.
However, the day belonged to last season’s golden boot winner and Amateur League player of the season Benjamin Kouakou who put five past Fremantle.
His captain Sebastian Munoz was full of praise for Kouakou but quick to emphasise the efforts of the rest of the team.
“Benny’s quite a sensational boy as you can tell,” Munoz said.
“But it’s more about the team and we all work hard to get in those positions and if he is there (to score) he is there.”
Gwelup initially found Fremantle hard to break with Fremantle keeper Robert Pedri denying Kouakou, Nicolas Tatasciore and Andric on numerous occasions.
However, the wave of Gwelup pressure mounted when a half clearance landed to Andric just outside the goalkeeper’s area to rifle home.
Fremantle managed to pull themselves level moments later when Branimir Mikulic was brought down in the penalty area.
Mikulic dusted himself off and sent Thomas Dixson the wrong way with a well-taken penalty.
The teams were only level for five minutes before an over-lapping David Martins found Kouakou unmarked 5m out to slam home and give Gwelup the halftime lead.
Gwelup started the second half in relentless fashion as they found the brilliant Pedri exposed through a mixture of high pressing and swift counters and they doubled their lead after Andric had the space and time to stroll into the Fremantle box and set up Kouakou with a simple tap-in 2m out.
Kouakou turned provider after breaking through the Fremantle defence to find Koomson who had been left frustrated by a string of saves from Pedri.
Kouakou got his hat-trick minutes later after Munoz won the ball high and left Kouakou with another simple finish.
Verini got the goal of the day when he calmly turned his man and curled and unerring finish past Pedri and Kouakou added two more in the last two minutes of the contest to make it 8-1 to Gwelup with the pick of the two a driven volley from a tight angle.
A delighted Kouakou and Munoz spoke of the statement Gwelup were hoping to make with such an emphatic win.
“Everybody knows that we (want to) go up so we’re just pushing as hard as we can,” Munoz said.
“The boys know that and the mentality is there throughout the club and the committee and the players and hopefully we’ll go from there.”
“I feel really good to score five goals against one of the best teams in our league,” said Kouakou.
“We really want to win the league and get promoted and we’ll do everything it takes and beating teams like we did today will be the best thing for us.”