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By ESPN Staff

Gold Coast bolster A-League roster

Gold Coast United signing Zenon Caravella wryly admits he'll feel like the meat in the sandwich when the expansion A-League club take on local rival Queensland Roar.

Caravella is the nephew of Roar coach Frank Farina who has also allowed him to train with the Brisbane-based club to stay fit ahead of his debut with the Coast.

The 25-year-old midfielder has been lured back to Australia, after a two-year stint with second division Dutch club FC Omniworld, by United coach and Farina's predecessor Miron Bleiberg.

There's little love lost between Farina and the outspoken Bleiberg and the Roar-Coast duel promises to be the A-League's most intense and entertaining in 2009-10.

"From what I've heard and read they are bit like opposite magnets," Caravella told AAP on Friday.

"It should be a good derby there."

The son of Farina's sister Julie, workhorse Caravella was one of six new signings confirmed by Gold Coast on Friday.

United also announced deals with Newcastle defender Daniel Piorkowski, former Adelaide United stopper Kristian Rees, Central Coast Mariner Matt Osman, former New Zealand Knights midfielder Steve Fitzsimmons and former Young Socceroos workhorse Steve Pantelidis.

They take the club's stocks to 10 with goalkeepers Jess Vanstrattan and Scott Higgins, Wellington striker Shane Smeltz and Newcastle defender Adam Griffiths already on the books.

Caravella, who played the inaugural A-League season with the now defunct Auckland-based Knights, was encouraged by the quality of the signings and expected a far more prosperous time in the A-League in his second time around.

"You want it to be competitive, you don't want it to be like the NZ Knights," he said. "They were great guys but too many were passed their used-by date."

Bleiberg finally got his man after taking Cairns-raised Caravella to South Korea for a post-season trip with the Roar in 2006.

"Zenon was outstanding when he played for the New Zealand Knights and at the end of that first season I took him to Korea when Queensland Roar went on a short tour there," the colourful coach said.

"I didn't sign him the following season because I had Matt McKay and Massimo Murdocca, who are similar players, but I kept in touch with him after he left for Holland.

"He was already a good player and a good athlete before he left, but after his spell in Holland he has come back an even better player."

Caravella, who knocked back approaches from Italian Serie B clubs to sign with the Coast, said Farina had no problem allowing him to train with the Roar after he had already agreed to a deal with Bleiberg's team.

The Coast have yet to fill their marquee position but have Socceroos midfielder Netherlands-based Jason Culina in their sights, while Bleiberg is understood to have had a productive scouting mission in Brazil and the United Kingdom.


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