The A-League is fast approaching, and with that comes the rush of pre-season friendlies, FFA Cup ties and transfer deals. But how is your team shaping up? In this article, we will dissect each team and how they are shaping up, to be ultimately prepared for the opening day of the season on October 7.
It has been a busy off-season for the Reds, with many players brought in, and shipped out. Among those to leave Coopers Stadium are Bruce Djite, Craig Goodwin, Stefan Mauk and Bruce Kamau. They will, however, be boosted by the resigning of Dylan McGowan, along with acquiring the signatures of Ben Garuccio, Ryan Kitto and Jesse Makarounas, as well as newest recruit Henrique. Initial signs are promising, however they were shockingly eliminated from the FFA Cup by State League side Redlands United, hinting that there is plenty of work to do before they open their season with a trip to the Hunter to face the Newcastle Jets.
The Roar have had an off-season to forget, with financial difficulties hanging over the club. With owners reluctant to pay bills and wages, they have strengthened their squad very little, with Thomas Kristensen, Jacob Pepper and Joey Katebian their only notable signings. They have however, lost the services of Jerome Polenz, Devante Clut, Corona, James Donachie, Henrique, Javier Hervas, Shane Stefanutto and Jean-Carlos Solorzano. They have resigned key centre back Jade North though, who was an ever-present rock at the heart of defence last season. To rub salt into the wound, they were defeated 2-0 by Perth Glory in the Round of 32 of the FFA Cup.
Central Coast Mariners:
After one of the most diabolical of seasons the A-League has ever seen, the only way is up for the Mariners. They have signed some decent prospects, including Connor Pain, Jacques Faty, Mickael Tavares, and Ivan Necevski, along with a few youth players, which suggests they are trying to move forward. They have however lost the signatures of some key players, such as Josh Rose, Mitch Austin, and Anthony Kalik and Luis Garcia. They were embarrassingly dumped from the FFA Cup by Victorian state league side Green Gully, courtesy of an incredible Liam Boland strike, which points to yet another long season for Mariners fans. They have also sacked manager Tony Walmsely and hired Paul Okon, former Australian under 18 and 20 coach.
Having signed Australia’s most prolific international goal-scorer Tim Cahill, the initial signs are very positive. Along with Cahill, in come Fernando Brendan, Josh Rose, Neil Kilkenny, Luke Brattan, Bruce Kamau and Manny Muscat. Out go Aaron Mooy, Harry Novillo, Jacob Melling, Alex Wilkinson and Jack Clisby, along with a few others. Fans will hope this can be their season, and a place in the quarter final of the FFA Cup supports this, having navigated their way past state league sides Floreat Athena of Western Australia and Brisbane Strikers of Queensland. John Van’t Schip will be looking to add the first trophy to the cabinet in 2016-2017.
The League’s most supported team the Victory go into the season on the back of a rather disappointing 6th place finish the previous year. They have strengthened with the signings of Marco Rojas, Mitch Austin, James Troisi, Alan Baro and James Donachie. They have lost key players in Gui Finkler, Kosta Barbarouses, Matthieu Delpierre and Archie Thompson, along with others. They also find themselves in the last 8 of the Cup, having beat the Newcastle Jets as well as Hume City. With no Asian Champions League to deal with this season, fans will hope for a more positive finish.
Scott Miller takes charge for his second season this campaign, and he will look to improve on last season’s 8th place finish. In come Aleksandr Kokko, Ivan Vujica, Wayne Brown and Devante Clut, among others. They have lost the services of Mark Birighitti, Enver Alivodic, Ryan Kitto, Leonardo and Cameron Watson however. They have also been dumped from the FFA Cup in the round of 32 by the Melbourne Victory, losing 3-1, where a moment of magic from Wayne Brown wasn’t enough to get the Jets over the line. They are hoping for more moments like these throughout the season, as they hope to secure a finals place for the first time in years.
Kenny Lowe’s men are looking bright for the season ahead, having knocked out Brisbane in the FFA Cup away from home. New signings include Milan Smiljanic, Rostyn Griffiths, Adam Taggart, Nick Feely, Rhys Williams, Joseph Mills and Brandon Wilson. They have also retained Johnny Warren medallist Diego Castro in a massive boost for the club. Among those going out are the likes of Diogo Ferreira, Krisztian Vadocz, Gyorgy Sandor, Ruben Zadkovich and Jerrad Tyson. Fans will be hopeful of a successful season, with many punters tipping the Glory as favourites for the upcoming season. With the plethora of Australian talent they have acquired, it is hard to disagree.
Last season was the first time a Graham Arnold coached side has missed making the finals, and he is eager not to repeat this feat. They did have Asian Champions League commitments last term, however without that this season there should be no excuses for the Sky Blues. In comes Bobo, Bernie Ibini, Danny Vukovic, Josh Brillante, Alex Wilkinson and Michael Zullo, replacing the departing Ali Abbas, Zac Anderson, Jacques Faty, Andrew Hoole, Christopher Naumoff, Mickael Tavares and Shane Smeltz. They have started brightly in the FFA Cup, defeating the Wollongong Wolves 3-0 in the round of 32.
The Nix are eager to improve on last season’s 9th place finish, and are looking to do so with the help of new signings Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler, Adam Parkhouse and Marco Rossi. They have also retained the signatures of Hamish Watson, Tom Doyle, Vince Lia, Matt Ridenton and Alex Rodriguez. It will be made difficult however as they have lost the services of key personnel such as Albert Riera, Manny Muscat, Blake Powell and Ben Sigmund. They have also been bundled out of the FFA Cup at the round of 32 stage, with a 3-2 loss to the Western Sydney Wanderers, having led 2-0.
Western Sydney Wanderers:
The final team to go under the microscope, the Wanderers have started their preseason brightly, with an FFA Cup triumph over the Wellington Phoenix. Among the new faces to come in is divisive figure Kerem Bulut, along with the likes of Jack Clisby, Jacob Melling, Robert Cornthwaite, Jumpei Kusukami, Steven Lustica and Bruno Pinatares. They have, however, lost players such as Scott Jamieson, Alberto, Andreu, Mark Bridge, Romeo Castelen, Jacob Pepper, Dario Vidosic and Federico Piovaccari. They are still in need of a quality number 9 though, and fans will hope a deal is done sooner rather than later.