THE Latrobe Valley Soccer League championship season kicks off on Sunday.
Sale United will have a challenging start, away to premier Traralgon Olympians.
Keen to pick up where it left off after winning the grand final, Olympians has attracted some new faces and is buoyed by the prospect of another strong year.
Coming off victory in the annual Kendall Cup pre-season tournament, the Swans will again field a mixed bag with regulars and RAAF players in the squad.
Last season Sale held the premiers to a 3-3 draw, but Olympians won the return match 4-1.
Sale will need to improve to finish higher than seventh and a strong showing against Olympians will give it a confidence boost.
CROSSTOWN rivals Moe United and Newborough-Yallourn United will clash. NYU had a good season to finish fourth and play in the final of the Battle of Britain Cup, while Moe struggled and finished ninth.
TRAFALGA R Victory will host league champion Falcons.
The Morwell club will be looking to avenge its final round loss to the Victory last season. That result was sealed Trafalgar a maiden finals berth.
Trafalgar could have finished higher up the ladder, if not for some unlucky results.
Falcons was the runaway league champions, claiming the silverware with three rounds remaining.
Falcons played in the preliminary rounds of the FFA
Cup, but was beaten 3-2 in a high action encounter.
MONA SH and Fortuna have been rivals since 1960 with the latter narrowly claiming bragging rights, 53-34 wins.
Monash finished fifth last season, while Fortuna had a horror season to end in eighth.
This season both will be rebuilding in an effort to get up the table.
The experienced David O’Dowd is at the helm for the Lions and they are expected to raise the bar this season.
Monash still needs a couple of goal-scorers as its recent FFA cup match suggested.
Monash had the better of Fortuna last season with a 1-0 win but Fortuna drew the return.
EAST Gippsland United will host Traralgon City, which is set to again be a strong contender come finals time.
The Roosters finished third last season and took out the Battle of Britain Cup, and will also celebrate its 50th anniversary this season.
Last season, Traralgon City gave the Eagles 8-1 drubbings in both games, but this time around the Easterners will be more competitive with reports of new players and an enthusiastic attitude.
CHURCHILL have the bye in round one.
The Rams appear to have picked up some promising players, and has welcomed back others.