For clubs with local rivals, the derbies are the first games fans are looking for – and with Macarthur FC in the A- The league this season, its supporters and that of the Western Sydney Wanderers don’t need the schedule list browsing too long to find their historic first meeting. Here are my top six in the first rounds of the new campaign.
The pair will kick off the season at BankWest just two days after Christmas, and this could mark the start of a rivalry as intense as the Wanderers-Sydney FC affair.
Macarthur has already stated that they want to be « noisy neighbors » and the clatter of cowbells (already a feature of their prep games) should ensure they keep that promise. After the two clubs set up their training base in Fairfield, they’ll exist cheek to cheek, and that creates the kind of narrative that makes for a great Derby fare. What impact will the two Spaniards Market Susaeta and Benat Etxebarria have on the A-League? Are the hikers finally about to get it right under Carl Robinson? This could be a fire-&-sulfur affair with so much to prove on both sides.
The W-League season also starts on the same evening in the same place. The Wanderers are now a force to be reckoned with in women’s games. Dean Heffernan led them to their very first finals last season and eventually missed a game before their first appearance in the Grand Final. With the FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil in three years’ time, the W-League will be scrutinized like never before. Which of the emerging & newbies will claim the right to play alongside Sam Kerr & co in front of a sold out home audience in 2023?
Three days later, last season’s A-League Grand Final repeats itself between Sydney FC and Melbourne City. Two clubs that are again expected to be big contenders for silverware.
Patrick Kisnorbo was transferred to coaching government following the departure of Erick Mombaerts and has already made some useful signings in the form of Aiden O’Neill, Andrew Nabbout and returning Ben Garuccio. Can he be the man to deliver the club’s elusive first championship? However, Sydney away is the acid test for any A-League club in modern times and while the reigning champions have been relatively calm in the transfer market, they are the team to beat. They also have the advantage of being fit after their efforts in the AFC Champions League. No A League team has ever finished three-goal – can Sydney FC make history this year?
This night will also be a double header, with the W-League clash between the same two clubs – also a Grand Final rematch. City beat Sydney twice last season, including on the occasion when a goal from Steph Catley was enough to give City a fourth record championship. Sydney, the only club to have broken Melbourne City’s stranglehold in the past four seasons, will take revenge – and win a fourth title themselves to match City’s record.
Central Coast Mariners have claimed the New Years Eve game. Fans are traditionally spoiled with the fireworks on the bay after seeing their favorites on the most picturesque A-League grounds.
There’s an added bonus this year with F3 rivals Newcastle Jets as the opposition. The mutual agreement between the clubs that allows fans to travel to the away derby and enter as part of their membership package means that the stands should be full (CoVid approval). .
The Mariners, who gave Alen Stajcic his first win as coach in a five-goal thriller in the Hunter in March 2019, welcome Oliver Bozanic to his spiritual home in Gosford. This is the big breakout year for rising stars. Dylan Ruiz-Diaz and the exciting Alou Kuol?
The Jets are entering a new era and have loaned Ramy Najjarine of Melbourne City, one of the most talented young players in the competition. Olyroos John Koutroumbis, Angus Thurgate, Connor O’Toole and Najjarine all need big seasons to qualify for Tokyo 2021.
In the second round of the new season, Melbourne Victory will play in front of their home fans for the first time since Grant Brebner and Steve Kean were confirmed as head coaches on a full-time basis.
Brebner added Olyroos, Ben Folami and Dylan Ryan to their roster, and along with imports from Jacob Butterfield and Callum McManaman, Victory should be set for a much better campaign.
But you’re off to a difficult start. Brisbane Roar were the best improved team in the A-League last season. After Warren Moon had a full preseason to get his message across, they’ll put a rigorous test – especially with precocious Joey Champness, who has returned from his musical break in the United States.
This game has brought us some real success in the past – do you remember the 3-3 draw in Docklands in August 2009 that featured some of the best goals you will ever see?
Looking to the future, there are plenty of weekdays to keep us entertained and one that catches the eye is Aug.. January between Western United and Wellington Phoenix.
Mark Rudan’s team did exceptionally well in their debut season to make it to the finals. In Alessandro Diamanti they have the best entertainer in the league and in Besart Berisha they have the best top scorer of all time. Rudan led the club to their first A League win against Phoenix in the first round of last season – but the Nix later demanded their revenge and won the other two games of the previous season.
When Phoenix beat Western 3-1 at Ballarat in December 2019, they were in the middle of an unbeaten run of nine games in which they dreamed of a first grand final.
Unfortunately CoVid stepped in and made life very difficult for the men from Ufuk Talay. They lost quite a bit of quality in the off-season, but Libby Cacace is kind of an academy product that Phoenix fans can be proud of, and if it can be successful in Belgium it will be reflected in both the club and the A- well. league. Also don’t forget, Talay had similar problems last season and could surprise a lot of people. Can you do the same again? Mirza Muratovic (who joined from Brisbane) and Josh Laws are two young guns who could push for the selection of Olyroos, while Ben Waine and Sam Sutton could be in Tokyo to represent the OlyWhites.
In Round 6, Perth Glory welcomes Adelaide United to HBF Park. Two Australian coaches – Richard Garcia and Carl Veart – are given the chance to run their home clubs. They offer the local flair of these two passionate & teams. Fans identify with.
Andy Keogh is returning to WA for the third time – with Diego Castro and Bruno Fornaroli already on site and Nick D’Agostino & Chris Ikonomidis, who also challenges, Perth seems to have ample firepower.
The Reds seemed a lot more together under Veart’s temporary leadership when the A-League resumed after the Covid break last season. Established first-team players Riley McGree, Nikola Mileusnic and Paul Izzo have all moved on to the next phase of their careers and the South Australians will be watching their progress with interest.
But their departures open the door for the next generation. Who will be the next player on the conveyor belt of talent to follow in their footsteps, and those like Al-Hassan Toure, his brother Mohamed and Louis D’Arrigo, who filled Isaias’ boots with such confidence last season?
That’s the nice thing about the A-League – twelve months ago the Toures were barely recognizable, now they are firm fan favorites!
That game also scored eight goals in July. New imports, rising stars and attacking football? A-League fans are looking forward to this this season. Now it’s up to the players to deliver. Attach it!
On your marks, get set, go!
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The newly appointed head coach Carl Veart will usher in a new era in the city of churches and take on Western United with a trip across state lines.
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A cacophony of cowbells will ring in the ears of the A-League teams for the first time in 2020/21 when Macarthur FC bows in the A-League.
And the Bulls are sure to give a welcome reception they’ll remember on a season opener trip against local rival Western Sydney Wa
Western Sydney Wanderers FC, A-League, Central Coast Mariners FC, Melbourne City FC, Melbourne Victory FC, Brisbane Roar FC, Adelaide United Football Club, Perth Glory FC, W-League, 2021
World news – AU – Simon Hill’s six best games in the first rounds of the 2020/21 season
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