Sydney FC have promoted PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men’s Championship winners Bai Antoniou and Charles Lokolingoy to one year scholarships for the Hyundai A-League 2016/17 season.
The scholarship program is available to players under 20 years of age and will see the players integrate with the Hyundai A-League squad as official members.
Lokolingoy joins the squad off the back of a phenomenal NPL 2 season, where the towering striker finished as the league’s top scorer with 27 goals in 28 games, including finals series.
The 19 year old emigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo aged 11, and represented the Sutherland Sharks before plying his trade under the tutelage of Sydney FC Hall of Fame Member Steve Corica and current Foxtel National Youth League Head Coach Rob Stanton.
Lokolingoy’s performances have seen him called up to the Young Socceroos for recent friendlies, and the NPL 2 Golden Boot said he can’t wait to begin his maiden professional campaign.
“I’m very excited for the time ahead, there’s a lot of hard work to do but I can’t wait,” Lokolingoy said.
“After a solid season in the NYL and NPL I’m really confident of stepping up. I’m hoping I can get a chance so I can deliver.
“Coming through the youth system at Sydney FC has helped me a lot. I’ve continued to learn about the technical side of the game and the playing system, and after two good years with the youth team I’m ready to take everything I’ve learned to the first team.”
Antoniou finished the PS4 NPL 2 NSW Men’s Premiership and Championship winning campaign as the league’s third highest scorer with 20 goals, and has featured in the Sky Blues Foxtel National Youth League squad since 2014.
The pacey forward featured for the Joey’s as a junior and has earned a one Young Socceroos cap, as well as numerous appearances in camp with the U20 national side.
Antoniou paid credit to Foxtel National Youth League and NPL Head Coach Rob Stanton for his progression to a scholarship.
“It’s a dream come true to sign,” Antoniou said.
“I was a Member of Sydney FC when they first started in the A-League and I never thought I’d get the chance to play for such a big club.
“Rob Stanton has a good relationship with Graham Arnold and knows what it takes to make the step up to the next level. He drilled into our heads all season what we need to do and where our attitude and performance needs to be to get to a professional level.
“I had a good season under Rob Stanton, he’s helped improve areas in my game and I feel like I am ready for this bigger challenge.”
Head Coach Graham Arnold said he’s been impressed with the pairs’ form over the course of the NPL season and is looking forward to working with the duo in 2016/17.
“Charles and Bai have had exceptionally successful seasons with the Sydney FC youth team and National Premier League side,” he said.
“They are both exciting attack minded players who have fitted in to the first team and style of play very well when called upon. I’m very pleased they will get the chance to prove themselves over the course of this season.
“They will give us some wonderful options going forward and I look forward to helping them develop into Hyundai A-League players.”
Sydney FC Memberships are now on sale for the Hyundai A-League season 2016/17. Click here to become part of the Sky Blue Family.