Ben Cahn is ready to revitalise one of Australia’s most successful clubs, and already has had some friendly advice from a World Cup Coach!
The 34-year-old has taken the reins at Melbourne Knights, departing NPL Queensland outfit Olympic FC after a five year stay.
Cahn guided Olympic to five successive Grand Finals, earning many plaudits for playing an attractive brand of attacking Football. He clearly caught the attention of the decision makers at Knights, who appointed him to lead the side in the upcoming 2023 NPL Victoria season.
Cahn told Kick360 the decision to leave was not an easy one.
‘Five years is a long time in Football’ he admitted. ‘I had some great memories at Olympic and grew an attachment for the club and community, but I am keen to test myself in a new environment.’
‘Obviously Knights have a rich history, and I was very impressed with the clubs vision moving forward. I’m excited and privileged to be handed the opportunity to help take this club into a new chapter.’
Knights who are celebrating their 70th anniversary this season, are a two time championship and four time premiership winner of the now defunct National Soccer League (NSL). They also launched the career of Socceroos great Mark Viduka, and have a stand at their Somers Street home named in his honour.
Recent years has seen the club starved of success though, with its last finals appearance coming back in 2015.
The new Knights coach has been busy to try and rectify this, overseeing ten new arrivals in a new look squad.
One of whom- midfielder Steve Whyte- was an important part of his Olympic FC side, and he joins Cahn in making the journey from Brisbane to Melbourne. Another new signing, winger Gevaro Nepomuceno is a Curacao international, who boasts Europa League experience as well as spending time in the Football League with Oldham Athletic.
Meanwhile defender Ivan Franjic returns to his junior club as captain, with brother Joseph appointed to the Vice Captaincy.
Franjic has represented the Socceroos on 20 occasions, and was part of the 2014 World Cup squad in Brazil, and a member of the victorious 2015 Asian Cup side.
‘Its great to have Ivan on board’ stated Cahn. ‘His experience will be a vital asset for us and I know just how much this club means to him and his family.’
Knights draw much of their support from Melbourne’s Croatian-Australian community and were recently visited by a delegation from the Croatian Football Federation, including national team coach Zlatko Dalic – who was named the clubs Number One ticket holder for 2023.
Dalic led Croatia to a 3rd place finish at the Qatar World Cup, whilst also making the final back in 2018- a mightily impressive achievement for a country with a population of little over four million.
Cahn was able to spend some time with Dalic, who he describes as having ‘legend status’ in the Croatian community.
‘It was great to have a chat with Zlatko, he was an incredibly nice man, we got to talk about our career paths and he told me to keep believing in myself.’
Knights get their season underway away at St Albans on February 19th, and Cahn is looking for a tilt at Finals football for the first time in 8 years.
‘Its not in my nature to begin a season without looking at the top’.
‘We want progress, its going to be a big challenge but we’re ready for it.’