Despite five new coaches and a number of new foreign recruits, a new free to air broadcaster ( Channel 10), there’s been a relatively low key build-up to the start of the A-League season which kicks of tonight at AAMI park in Melbourne, with Melbourne City hosting Brisbane Roar.
Perhaps it’s the anxiety surrounding the Socceroos’ World Cup qualification matches against Syria taking place this week casting a shadow over the domestic game. Then there was the unexpected departure of Wanderes’ coach Tony Popovic to an overseas coaching job in Turkey.
Maybe there’s also a lowered sense of expectation surrounding the challengers to reigning champion Sydney FC’s crown.
The Sky Blues are already a strong favourite to win a historic back to back Premiers’ plate.
Saturday’s Rd one action kicks off on the Central Coast.
Central Coast Mariners v Newcastle Jets, Central Coast Stadium 5.35 pm, Sat 7th Oct
Mariners’ boss Paul Okon has recruited heavily with 11 new signings including an exciting midfield contingent of Wout Brama, Tom Hiareiej and Daniel De Silva.
Adding spice to the contest is the return of former Mariners’ striker Roy O’Donovan to his former hunting ground as the Jets’ new frontman. Coaching the Jets is the league’s most experienced manager Ernie Merrick.
Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC, Etihad Stadium, Sat 7th Oct, 7.50 pm
Match of the round status belongs to the Big Blue derby which is a replay of last season’s grand final. Victory will have to make do without three of its key players Milligan, Troisi and Barabarouses, all missing due to International duty, whilst Sydney’s already impressive team will be further strengthened by the impressive recruits of Luke Wilkshire and Polish international attacker Adrian Mierzewski, who adds further creativity up front for Sydney.
Local NPL club South Melbourne will be taking a close interest in this match as they host Sydney in a midweek FFA Cup semi-final.
Wellington Phoenix v Adelaide United ( Westpac Stadium 3 pm, Sunday 8th October)
Both these teams have new coaches at the helm. Phoenix has Darije Kalezic whilst Adelaide has a new German coach Marco Kurz. Kurz has brought with him a couple of impressive overseas recruits, and the team has impressed in pre-season making it to the FFA Cup semi- finals. Wellington on the other hand will have to make do without the service of several All-Whites missing due to international duty including skipper Andrew Durante.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Perth Glory ( Spotless Stadium 6.00 pm, Sunday 8th October)
Former coach Tony Popovic’s assistant Hayden Foxe will be in charge for the round one visit of Perth Glory. Early season form suggests that 31 year old new Spanish striker Oriol Riera may be the solution to the Wanderers’ long standing goal scoring problems.
Glory’s defence was its Achilles heel last season and has undergone several changes for the new season. It will need to keep a close rein on Riera, Bonevacia and Cejudo, if they’re to take anything from this match. Interestingly two of Glory’s midfield recruits, Mitch Nichols and Andreu will debut against their former club the Wanderers.