Season Preview Series: Central Coast Mariners

In the lead-up to the 10th of the A-League we’ll be doing an extensive preview of the league club by club- continuing today with Central Coast Mariners .

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Last Season: 3rd (Lost Semi final to Western Sydney Wanderers)
Central Coast’s title defence plans altered significantly after just five rounds when Graham Arnold departed for the J-League. Phil Moss then did an excellent job leading the side to a top 3 finish before losing in the semi-finals to the Wanderers. Add in a solid showing in Asia and it was a solid season.

New Kit:

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Squad:
1) Matthew Nash, 2) Storm Roux, 3) Joshua Rose, 5) Zac Anderson, 6) Brent Griffiths, 7) John Hutchinson, 8) Nick Montgomery, 9) Mitchell Duke, 10 Anthony Caceres, 11) Nick Fitzgerald, 12) Liam Reddy, 14) Malick Mane, 15) Matthew Sim, 16) Liam Rose, 17) Richard Vernes, 18) Glen Trifiro, 19) Matt Simon, 20) Anthony Kalik, 21) Michael Neill, 22) Tom Slater, 23) Isaka Cernak, 24) Hayden Morton, 25) Eddy Bosnar, 26) Kim Seung-yong.

In:
Anthony Kalik, Liam Rose (Both Australian Institute of Sport), Malick Mane (IFK Goteborg- season long loan)), Matthew Nash (Bonnyrigg White Eagles), Richard Vernes (Budapest Honved- Hungary (2 year loan)).

Out:
Mile Sterjovski, Adam Kwasnik (both retired), Justin Pasfield (Tampines Rovers- Singapore), Marcos Flores (Newcastle Jets), Marcel Seip- (FC Emmen- Netherlands), Michael McGlinchey (Wellington Phoenix).

Central Coast have had to them what is a typical off-season- they’ve lost a couple of key contributors in the shape of Sterjovski and McGlinchey and replaced them with a pair of youngsters with huge potential. They’ve also gone in a different direction when it comes to overseas recruitment by opting to bring younger players in on a loan basis as opposed to more experienced players on a more permanent basis.

Expected Starting XI:

1119269_Central_Coast_Mariners

Central Coast will be going into the season with one of the more settled line-ups with minimal changes from last season to this. The retired Mile Sterjovski is out, and will be probably replaced by loan signing Malick Mane. Apart from that it figures to be a settled line-up, with Nick Fitzgerald’s pre-season form likely winning him a starting spot leaving January signings Isaka Cernak, Kim Seung-yong and off-season buy Richard Vernes all fighting for one spot.

Pre-season form:
The Mariners haven’t played as many games as most clubs this pre-season, and they’re winless in their clashes against the A-League clubs (they’re also unbeaten with three draws). Add in their two wins in the FFA Cup and they’ve had a reasonable, if unspectacular pre-season.

Central Coast Mariners 4-1 Central Coast Mariners Academy
Melbourne City 1-1 Central Coast Mariners
Brisbane Roar 1-1 Central Coast Mariners
Central Coast Mariners 0-0 Newcastle Jets
Central Coast Mariners 1-5 Australia u/20’s

All-time record against Central Coast Mariners:

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On the surface of things the Mariners form and recruitment looks to be slightly underwhelming, however they’ve shown countless times they can find a replacement for anyone. They should be in the mix for one of the last finals spots once again which would be a solid achievement for Phil Moss and his men.


Season Preview Series: Newcastle Jets

In the lead-up to the 10th of the A-League we’ll be doing an extensive preview of the league club by club- continuing today with Newcastle Jets.

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Last Season: 7th
Newcastle’s season last time was similar to that of two years ago where they were close to making the finals before falling short on the final day of the season. That saw Gary van Egmond lose his job with former Adelaide assistant Phil Stubbins given the job in the off-season. It’s now his job to get a young Newcastle side to mature and emerge as a finals calibre side.

New Kit:
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Squad:
1) Mark Birighitti, 2) Scott Neville, 3) Taylor Regan, 4) Kew Jaliens, 5) Ben Kantarovski, 6) Adrian Madaschi, 7) Jeronimo Neumann, 8) Edson Montano, 9) Joel Griffiths, 10) Marcos Flores, 12) Sam Gallagher, 13) Josh Barresi, 14) Billy Celeski, 15) Andrew Hoole, 16) Jacob Pepper, 17) James Virgili, 19) Mitch Cooper, 20) Ben Kennedy, 21) Sam Gallaway, 22) Jonny Steele, 23) David Carney, 25) Brandon Lundy, 30) John Solari, ??) Allan Welsh.

In:

Adrian Madaschi (Jeju United- South Korea), Josh Barresi (Western Sydney Wanderers), Marcos Flores (Central Coast Mariners), Jonny Steele (New York Red Bulls- United States), Sam Gallagher (Hanoi T&T- Vietnam), Edson Montano (Barcelona SC- Ecuador (loan)), Jeronimo Neumann (Adelaide United), Billy Celeski (Liaoning Whowin-China), Allan Welsh (Croydon Kings- NPL South Australia).

Out:
Adam Taggart (Fulham- England), Joshua Brillante (Fiorentina- Italy), James Brown (Melbourne City), Connor Chapman (Melbourne City), Ruben Zadkovich (Perth Glory), Zenon Caravella (FNQ Heat), Joey Gibbs (APIA Leichhardt), Josh Mitchell (Liaoning Whowin), Craig Goodwin (Adelaide), Mitchell Oxborrow (Released).

Newcastle’s recruitment looks ok on the surface of things with Madaschi at the back, Celeski in midfield and Jeronimo upfront, however they will be relying on Marcos Flores returning from injury to deliver the ball to his fellow Argentine. The players they’ve lost however can’t be understated- in Adam Taggart and Josh Brillante not only did they lose two national team players, they freed up next to no salary cap space as they were both on rookie deals. Losing their captain from the heart of midfield is also a loss.

Expected Starting XI:
1119712_Newcastle_Jets

While we probably won’t see this XI on the park in the opening weeks due to Newcastle’s injury concerns in the midfield, you would think that a diamond midfield in a 4-4-2 would give them the best chance to get their best players on the park regularly. It’s tough to know however because there have been reports of a 4-3-3/ 4-2-3-1 in pre-season so it could be a case of changing it from week to week based on who is available.

Pre-Season:
The Jets pre-season has been rather underwhelming it has to be said, losing all their games against A-League opposition, including a 4-0 loss to Brisbane and an FFA Cup loss to Perth.
Newcastle Jets 3-1 Newcastle Jets NYL
Weston Workers 1-8 Newcastle Jets
Newcastle Jets 0-1 Juventus
Newcastle Jets 0-2 Perth Glory (FFA Cup)
Brisbane Roar 4-0 Newcastle Jets
Newcastle Jets 2-4 Sydney FC
Newcastle Jets 3-0 North Queensland All-Stars
Newcastle Jets 2-1 Wellington Phoenix

All-time record against Newcastle Jets:

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Newcastle’s recruitment looks solid however they’re relying on a bounce back year from Marcos Flores after knee injury which is a concern and the pre-season results are anything but encouraging. It looks like being a fifth successive season outside of the top six for the Jets.


Season Preview Series: Perth Glory

In the lead-up to the 10th of the A-League we’ll be doing an extensive preview of the league club by club- continuing today with Perth Glory.

Glory-logo-2009

Last Season: 8th
It wasn’t the season that the Western Australians were hoping with disharmony in the team related to the selection of sons Cameron and Ryan, manager Alistair Edwards was sacked after just 10 rounds. Following the interim appointment of Kenny Lowe results failed to improve which resulted in Perth missing the finals for the first time in three seasons. More will be expected of the now permanent head coach in his first full season.

Kit:

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Squad:

1) Danny Vukovic, 2) Jack Clisby, 3) Brandon O’Neill, 5) Rostyn Griffiths, 6) Dino Djulbic, 7) Youssouf Hersi, 8) Ruben Zadkovich, 9) Andy Keogh, 10) Nebosa Marinkovic, 11) Richard Garcia, 13) Diogo Ferreira, 14) Chris Harold, 15) Jamie Maclaren, 16) Sidnei Sciola, 17) Mitch Nichols, 18) Jack Duncan, 19) Joshua Risdon, 20) Daniel De Silva, 21) Scott Jamieson, 22) Cameron Edwards, 23) Michael Thwaite, 24) Matthew Davies, 25) Riley Woodcock,  26) Harry O’Brien, 30) Jordan Thurtell.

In:
Youssouf Hersi (Western Sydney Wanderers), Dino Djulbic (Al-Wahda- UAE), Mitch Nichols (Cerezo Osaka- Japan (Loan)), Jordan Thurtell (AIS), Diogo Ferreira (Brisbane Roar), Ruben Zadkovich (Newcastle Jets), Richard Garcia (Minnesota United- USA).


Out:

Jacob Burns, Travis Dodd, Steven McGarry (All Retired), Ryan Edwards (Reading- England (Loan Return)), Darvydas Sernas (Gaziantepspor- Turkey (Loan Return)), Adrian Zahra (Valletta- Malta), Shane Smeltz (Sydney FC), William Gallas (Released).
New manager Kenny Lowe has certainly stamped his mark on this Perth Glory with stalwarts of previous seasons moving on leaving Perth short on experience within the squad. Lowe has filled that gap in experience by bringing players in across all lines of the team with Djulbic in defence, Zadkovich in midfield and Hersi and Garcia in the front third all experienced players still with plenty to offer. Lowe has also stated his desire to see some of Western Australia’s best youngsters break through into the first team and players such as Riley Woodcock, Matthew Davies and Brandon O’Neill will in all likelihood get their chance as the season progresses. Former Brisbane championship winner Mitch Nichols is also back in the A-League on loan after an unsuccessful stint in the J-League with Cerezo Osaka, where he will be joined by a member of last season’s double winning team in Diogo Ferreira.


Expected Starting XI:

1118506_Perth_Glory
Perth’s starting XI looks very strong on paper, with a solid defensive pairing, quality midfield options in the shape of Zadkovich, Marinkovic, Nichols and Rostyn Griffiths- one of whom will probably miss out on a starting spot. In the front third Youssouf Hersi was a revelation in his time at the Wanderers, however it will be interesting to see how he goes outside of the rigid philosophy and shape of the Wanderers. In addition to that they’ve got youngsters Chris Harold, Daniel De Silva and Jamie Maclaren waiting in the wings. It, on paper at least, looks like a stronger team than last season.


Pre-Season:

Perth started out their pre-season with an impressive result against Spanish side Malaga and they continued that with some impressive results in the FFA Cup and against the local West Australian sides- with the exception of a 2-1 loss against a WA select XI. Against the A-League sides however, Perth have lost each of their four trials against their competition, with their only win against an A-League side coming in the FFA Cup against Newcastle.
Inglewood United 1-1 (4-3 p.k) Perth Glory
Adelaide United 1-0 Perth Glory
Perth Glory 1-1 Malaga
Newcastle Jets 0-2 Perth Glory (FFA Cup Round of 16)
Perth Glory 1-2 WA State Team
Gosnells City 0-6 Perth Glory
Cockburn City 0-3 Perth Glory
Rockingham City 0-10 Perth Glory
Adelaide United 1-1 Perth Glory
Melbourne Victory 3-0 Perth Glory
Sorrento 1-5 Perth Glory
Melbourne City 2-1 Perth Glory
St. Albans Saints 1-4 Perth Glory (FFA Cup Round of 16)


All time record against Perth Glory:


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After a disappointing season last time around and despite less than fantastic pre-season results Perth look set to pose a much stronger challenge this time around. The back-line looks to be more reliable while in the middle and front thirds they’ve added quality and speed and a goal scorer upfront who looks to be capable of scoring on a regular basis. They should figure in the finals race, where exactly will be determined based on how they click.


Season Preview Series: Adelaide United

In the lead-up to the 10th of the A-League we’ll be doing an extensive preview of the league club by club- today starting with Adelaide United.

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Last Season: 6th (Lost Elimination final to Central Coast Mariners) Adelaide started the season off the strongly despite still adapting to the new style under Josep Gombau winning seven of their opening ten games. They then however tailed off in the second half of the season, winning just two of their final eleven games resulting in an away final against the Mariners which the home side won.

Kit:

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Squad:
1) Eugene Galekovic, 2) Michael Marrone, 3) Nigel Boogaard, 4) Dylan McGowan, 5) Osama Malik, 6) Cassio, 8) Isaias, 9) Sergio Cirio, 10) Marcelo Carrusca, 11) Bruce Djite, 12) Mark Ochieng, 13) Dylan Smith, 14) Cameron Watson, 15) Ben Warland, 16) Craig Goodwin, 17) Awer Mabil, 18) James Jeggo, 19) Pablo Sanchez, 20) Paul Izzo, 21) Tarek Elrich, 22) Fabio Ferreira, 23) Jordan Elsey, 24) Bruce Kamau, 30) John Hall, 32) Nathan Konstandopoulos.

In:
Pablo Sanchez (CD Lugo- Spain), James Jeggo (Melbourne Victory), Dylan McGowan (Hearts- Scotland), Craig Goodwin (Newcastle Jets), Mark Ochieng, Dylan Smith, Ben Warland (All promoted from youth team).


Out:

Jacob Melling (Melbourne City), Daniel Bowles (Brisbane Roar), Jeronimo Neumann (Newcastle Jets), Michael Zullo (FC Utrecht- Netherlands (loan return)), Jake Barker- Daish, Jon McKain (both released).

Josep Gombau is edging closer to his stated ambition of having a roster of 18 South Australian players and five visa players with his recruitment including defender Dylan McGowan and left sided player Craig Goodwin. Both should prove solid acquisitions for the Reds, as should versatile attacker Pablo Sanchez. Early reports are that the Spaniard has slotted in nicely to what is a Spanish dominated attack. In terms of the departures, most have been covered with youngsters Barker-Daish and Melling replaced from within the clubs youth ranks, while young defenders from the AIS Ben Warland and Mark Ochieng replacing new Brisbane recruit Daniel Bowles. One player they may miss however is Jon McKain, whose experience and versatility saw him as a regular member of the side last season.

Expected Starting XI:

1118454_Adelaide_United_FC
There is some talk going around that Gombau is looking to implement a 3-5-2 formation which we’ve seen Louis van Gaal implement with differing success with Netherlands and Manchester United, however im not sure their personnel suits that formation as they seem to have a lack of central defenders. If they do play a 3-5-2 you can just move Malik from his holding midfield role back into the defence so it could be a case of switching between the two over the course of a game. Having weapons like Ferreira and Mabil available on the bench provides some strong depth in the front third.


Pre-season form:

Adelaide have had some pretty solid pre-season results, especially against A-League opposition with just one defeat in six games against those sides, including that win in the FFA Cup round of 16 last week against the Roar.

Adelaide United 1-0 Perth Glory
Adelaide United 1-5 Malaga
Adelaide United 1-0 Wellington Phoenix (FFA Cup)
Alice Springs All-Stars 0-10 Adelaide United
Adelaide United 1-0 Melbourne City
NorZone All-Stars 0-6 Adelaide United
Adelaide United 1-1 Perth Glory
Adelaide United 0-1 Melbourne Victory
Adelaide United 2-0 Melbourne City
Adelaide United 2-0 Brisbane Roar (FFA Cup)


All time record vs. Adelaide United:

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Based on their recruitment and pre-season form Adelaide should be right up there amongst the contenders for the prizes at the end of the season in year two of the Gombau revolution. They’re perhaps a little light on in the centre of defence if injuries strike but going forward they’ve got more than enough firepower to win games. They look to be one of the contenders for silverware going into the new season. 


Brisbane’s cup dreams dashed in Adelaide

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Adelaide United 2 (Djite 35’, Cirio 47’)
Brisbane Roar 0
4,053 at Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide

Brisbane Roar: Young, Hingert, North, Donachie, Brown, Miller, Brattan, Lustica, Petratos, Henrique, Broich. Substitutions: Kurtishi for Petratos, Solórzano for Henrique (80’)
Yellow Cards: Hingert, Donachie, Miller, Brattan
Red Cards: Nil

Adelaide United: Galekovic, Elrich, Boogaard, McGowan, Carrusca (68’), Isaias, Jeggo, Mabil (88’), Sanchez (83’), Cirio, Djite.
Substitutions: Kamau for Carrusca (68’), Konstandopoulos for Sanchez (83’), Ochieng for Mabil (88’) Yellow Cards: Boogaard.
Red Cards: Nil

Brisbane Roar have exited the inaugural FFA Cup in the round of 16 with a 2-0 loss away to Adelaide United tonight. A first half goal from Bruce Djite and a second just after the half time break for Sergio Cirio. From all reports it wasn’t the finest game that Brisbane has ever played and the brief clips we’ve all seen of the goals did little do dispel that; while the midfield from all reports was disjointed and struggled to gain control of the game. A lot has been made of the fact Brisbane has only beaten one (Newcastle who haven’t beaten anyone to date) A-League team out of four this preseason, but when you look at who hasn’t played in those game Brisbane still has a lot of room to improve. Hopefully that improvement happens over the next three weeks in the lead-up to round 1.

Up next: Brisbane reportedly have one more trial game in Brisbane in the lead-up to the new season, possibly against Olympic FC before they start their A-League premiership defence against the same opposition.


FFA Cup round of 16 Preview: Adelaide United vs. Brisbane Roar

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After last months 4-0 win over NPL Western Australia side Stirling Lions over in Perth, Brisbane are on the road once again in the last 16, this time taking on fellow A-League side Adelaide United. The build-up to this game lacks the drama and controversy of the round of 32 when Stirling were forced to move the game to a bigger, more suitable venue; this time around the main storyline of the tie is the fact that these two sides will meet again in just three and a half weeks when the season kicks off up here in Brisbane.
So far in the round of 16 it’s not been a successful round for the Queensland sides with Olympic FC putting up a spirited effort against Central Coast before losing 3-1, while the Strikers continued their dismal record in Adelaide which dates back to the NSL; losing 1-0 to Adelaide City. Queensland’s other remaining side in the competition, the NPL Premier and Champion Palm Beach Sharks will host the self declared pub team South Springvale at Robina.

Brisbane Roar:
2014 FFA Cup to date: Round of 32: Stirling Lions 0-4 Brisbane Roar (Henrique 30’, Brown 60’, Smith 64’, Solórzano 68’)

Brisbane were professional in their approach to what was a tricky tie last month away to NPL Western Australia side Stirling Lions, with an assured and composed display on a difficult pitch ensuring they avoided any potential slip up. Since that night in Perth, Brisbane have had some mixed results with a two wins and a loss in the Townsville Football Cup along with a 1-1 draw with Central Coast two weeks ago. Their final tune up was a behind closed doors training game with Palm Beach, which saw them run out 9-0 winners. The one thing is clear going into this game is that while Mulvey wants to win this game, he’s not prepared to show their full game plan to the reds in the process.

Selection wise Brisbane are going into this game at less than 100%, and perhaps with an eye to the start of the league in three weeks, Mike Mulvey has opted to leave three players behind in Brisbane. Michael Theo picked up a wrist injury in training in the last couple of days and hasn’t made the trip, while Shane Stefanutto has a minor groin injury. Matt McKay, who is yet to feature in pre-season, is also out, as is new loan signing Adam Sarota.

Mulvey confirmed yesterday that Jamie Young would make his competitive debut in goals, and you would assume that Corey Brown would deputise for Stefanutto at left back. The interesting selection decision then is who comes into the side in the midfield; or more to the point- where does Broich start? The two options would be that Broich starts wide left and Steven Lustica plays in a midfield role next to Brattan and Miller, or Broich plays that midfield role and one of Henrique or Solórzano comes into the XI. It’s tough to know which way Mulvey will go but at a guess I’ll say it will be Lustica in midfield and Broich in the front three where he’s thrived ever since signing.

Expected Brisbane XI:
Young, Hingert, North, Smith, Brown, Miller, Brattan, Lustica, Petratos, Kurtishi, Broich.
Substitutes: Reserve GK*, Donachie, Lambadaridis, Henrique, Solórzano.

*It’s not clear who the reserve GK will be, as regular youth team keeper Fraser Chalmers ended the season with an injury, and to my knowledge isn’t back in training yet. That leaves either his understudy Denver Crickmore, Brendon White who recently filled in as the bench keeper in the double header at Ballymore, or a short term emergency signing. Goal.com for example is suggesting that goalkeeping coach Jason Kearton could be registered as a player for the game. My money is on Brendon White to be on the bench, and for that whoever is on the bench in that role isn’t called upon.

Adelaide United:
2014 FFA Cup to date:
Round of 32: Adelaide United (Cirio 31’) 1-0 Wellington Phoenix

Adelaide are up against A-League opposition for the second straight round in the cup after beating the Phoenix last time around, but they’re also at home for the second straight round which is a bonus. The reds have had a reasonably solid pre-season campaign scoring a bunch of goals and getting wins against Perth and Melbourne City –twice in the lead-up to the season, with their only defeats coming in a recent trial with Melbourne Victory, and against Malaga back in July.

United have seen many of their players find the net in pre-season so it’s not entirely clear where the threat will come from as Djite, Mabil, Cirio, Jeggo and Carrusca have all been in goal-scoring form this pre-season. It’s also not really clear who will start for the Reds, but they seem to have a full strength squad to choose from. Given im not really sure who will play for Adelaide this really is just a guess. One quick note which may be of interest to Brisbane supporters- he won’t play in this game unless he’s signed today, but Rocky Visconte has recently been trailing with the reds in the hope of getting a contract.

Expected Adelaide XI:
Galekovic, Elrich, Boogaard, McGowan, Goodwin, Isaias, Malik, Carrusca, Ferreira, Djite, Cirio. Substitutes: Izzo, Cassio, Jeggo, Sanchez, Mabil.

All time record with Adelaide United:
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Brisbane’s record at Hindmarsh has improved in recent times with Brisbane winning their last four games at the venue, although all of those have been in the last 18 months. I know this technically isn’t a pre-season game, but the last time we played Adelaide away before the start of the season was in the Rado Vidosic era, and the Reds ran out 6-2 winners on that occasion. All up in this fixture Brisbane have won 11 of the 29 games played between the two, with the Reds winning 10.

It should be a close game between two of the better sides from last seasons competition, with kick-off set down for 7.30 Queensland time. It’s just a shame an arrangement couldn’t be made for these non televised games to be broadcast via live stream, but alas it’s not going to happen; this time at least. Updates will be limited to twitter using the hashtag #ADLvBRI and Fox will be cutting to the game if and when goals are scored. The draw for the quarter finals will also be conducted following the conclusion of the four games tonight, hopefully Brisbane will be one of the eight names in the pot.


Sarota returns on season long loan

(Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images AsiaPac)

(Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Brisbane Roar have this afternoon bolstered their midfield stocks with the signing of Adam Sarota on a season long loan deal from FC Utrecht. Sarota returns to Brisbane after three seasons at FC Utrecht and will be looking to re-start his career after an ACL injury saw him miss the best part of 12 months. Since returning, he struggled to regain his spot in the side towards the end of last season and despite making the preliminary 30 man Socceroos squad, was one of the first to be cut by Ange Postecoglou. Sarota, who was the 53rd player to play for Brisbane, making his debut in round 10 of the 2008-09 season against the Jets, returns to Brisbane to add to the 15 appearances he’s made to date.

Some are saying that the return of Sarota to Australia is a sign that he failed in Utrecht, but im not so sure about that. A quick look at his records on Soccerway suggests that after signing in 2010, Sarota went on to become a regular in the first team, particularly in 2012-13 before he injured his knee, and upon his return in 2014-15. Sarota had made just the one appearance this season however –a brief cameo off the bench- for the Dutch club under new manager Rob Alflen who took over at the end of last season after Jan Wouters was sacked.

Sarota's stats 2010-14 (Soccerway)

Sarota’s stats 2010-14 (Soccerway)

Sarota returns to a Brisbane side which looks vastly different to the one he left in 2010, with just Matt McKay and Luke Brattan remaining from those days. He’s also joining a side that is currently stacked in the midfield with any number of players fighting for those three spots in the side. Sarota, Brattan, McKay, Liam Miller, Steve Lustica, George Lambadaridis, Devante Clut and even Thomas Broich can all play in the midfield; and that doesn’t include youth players Patrick Theodore and Ben Litfin.

Infact Brisbane’s general depth is looking very strong across the park with 4 weeks to go before the season kicks off.

Goalkeepers: Theo, Young, Chalmers (youth).
Defenders: Hingert, Smith, North, Stefanutto, Bowles, Jackson (youth), Donachie, Brown.
Midfielders: Sarota, Brattan, McKay, Miller, Lustica, Lambadaridis, Clut, Litfin (youth), Theodore (youth). Forwards: Petratos, Kurtishi, Broich, Henrique, Solórzano, Danning, Borrello (youth), Ingham (youth), Brady (youth).