The Newsroom previews the opening round of the 2016/17 A-League season.
Brisbane Roar vs Melbourne Victory
The Roar have had an offseason to forget after the club was embroiled in ownership troubles which culminated in the FFA threatening to fold the club due to unpaid debts. Despite that, John Aloisi’s men will be looking to put the drama behind them when they host Melbourne Victory at Suncorp Stadium. Former Aston Villa and Socceroo midfielder Brett Holman signed a two-year deal, making him the club’s marquee man and he’ll be hoping to prove his worth to justify his price tag. Brisbane’s lethal strike force in Jamie Maclaren and Brandon Borrello will be boosted with the addition of Socceroo Tommy Oar. The 24-year-old signed towards the end of last season and showed glimpses of what he can do.
After a fairly underwhelming season, 2014/15 champions Melbourne Victory will be hoping to achieve the heights they reached in previous seasons. Kevin Muscat has recruited well in attack and defence, re-signing former wingers James Troisi and Marco Rojas as well as former Brisbane Roar centre-back James Donachie. With Besart Berisha leading the line, Victory arguably has the most deadly attacking line in the league and will certainly be looking to outscore teams and push for a premiers plate finish.
Western Sydney Wanderers vs Sydney FC
The A-League’s biggest fixture has been set up to be the most anticipated Sydney Derby yet as the two arch rivals will face-off at ANZ Stadium in front of an expected crowd of 60,000 plus. The Wanderers experienced heartbreak last season after they were defeated in the grand final by Adelaide United 3-1, resulting in their third final defeat in four years. Tony Popovic has recruited 11 players for the upcoming season including Nicolas Martinez, Jumpei Kukusami, and Kerem Bulut. A worry for the Wanderers going into this encounter is their record against the Sky Blues, having not defeated their rivals since January 2014.
Sydney FC will be looking to put the abysmal performances of the previous campaign behind after they failed to qualify for last season’s finals series. Graham Arnold will be hoping his marquee striker Bobo will deliver the performances all Sydney FC supporters are hoping to see from the Brazilian. Arnold has also strengthened his back line with the signings of Alex Wilkinson and Michael Zullo along with re-signing winger Bernie Ibini. The Sky Blues have an immense season ahead of them as they aim to end their six-year trophy drought.
Melbourne City vs Wellington Phoenix
Tim Cahill is set to make his A-League debut as he lines up for Melbourne City for the upcoming season. His arrival has certainly boosted City’s chances of a maiden A-League championship and with their backing of the City Football Group, there’s no reason why they can’t go on to challenge this season. John Van’t Schip has signed up to nine players including former Brisbane Roar midfielder Luke Brattan, Danish centre-back Michael Jakobsen, Nicolas Colazo and Bruce Kamau. After reaching the semi-finals last season, City will be looking to go one better this time round, and with the quality players they’ve brought in, that will definitely give them an edge against their nearest rivals.
Wellington Phoenix has put their licensing dramas of last season behind them as they look to push for a top six position this season. The New Zealanders have continued their tradition of signing players from the NSWNPL in Adam Parkhouse, Jacob Tratt and Ryan Lowry who plied his trade in the WANPL. Ernie Merrick also lured Kosta Barbarouses back to the club he began his career with as well as Brazilian Gui Finkler from Melbourne Victory. – Ben Owusu
Perth Glory v Central Coast Mariners (Saturday, 10pm)
Newcastle Jets v Adelaide United (Sunday, 5pm)
Photo of the A-League players at the season launch from the A-League Twitter feed.