2017-18 W-League Season Preview

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(Chris Hyde/Getty Images AsiaPac)

After the Matildas occupied centre stage in recent times with a win in the Tournament of Nations and two high profile home internationals against Brazil, season 10 of the W-League begins this weekend

While Brisbane were the league’s dominant force in the early seasons, playing in each of the first four Grand Finals and winning two including the inaugural decider in 2009. In more recent times however Brisbane have found themselves on the outside looking in having missed the finals in two of the last three seasons as Melbourne City have asserted their dominance on the competition.

Last Season– 7th After a win at home against Sydney in front of a record W-League crowd, Brisbane went on to miss the finals for just the second time in the 9 years of the competition with just the four wins for the season. Underpinning their failure to make the finals was the second lowest goals scored for the season -15-, which was just one more than Western Sydney.

Ins- Celeste Boureille (Canberra United), Wai Ki Cheung (Hong Kong), Ayesha Norrie (Melbourne Victory), Carson Pickett (Seattle Reign), Hayley Raso (Canberra United).

Outs- Angela Beard (Melbourne Victory), Maddy Evans (Retired), Malli Forbes, Sunny Franco (Western Sydney Wanderers), Nina Frausing-Pedersen, Brooke Spence, Cortnee Vine (Newcastle Jets).

Coach
– Mel Andreatta
Squad Goalkeepers– Mackenzie Arnold, Georgina Worth.
Defenders– Summer O’Brien, Carson Pickett, Clare Polkinghorne (c), Kaitlyn Torpey.
Midfielders– Celeste Boureille, Amy Chapman, Katrina Gorry, Ayesha Norrie, Natalie Tathem.
Attackers- Tameka Butt, Wai Ki Cheung, Abbey Lloyd, Hayley Raso, Allira Toby.

Draw
In previous seasons Brisbane have played a handful of home games at Suncorp Stadium, but in 2017-18 five of the Roar’s six home games will be played as part of double headers with the A-League team. Brisbane’s only home game away from Suncorp Stadium will be at A.J Kelly Park in Redcliffe on Brisbane’s northside, a ground at which the W-League side have won just twice in seven matches.

In terms of the opposition Brisbane will play home and away against Adelaide United, Canberra United Melbourne City and Perth Glory. Meanwhile Brisbane will play home games only against Melbourne Victory and Newcastle Jets, where as games against both Sydney FC and Western Sydney will be played away from home.

Here’s the full draw
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2017-18 Season Preview Part 3- The opposition

With the new season just days away from beginning it’s time for our annual season preview where we take a look at the 2017-18 team. Today in part 3 we’ll look an in depth look at how the other nine A-League clubs shape up.

Adelaide United
Last season- 9th

Ins- Johan Absalonsen, Daniel Adlung, George Blackwood, Lachlan Brook, Ersan Gulum, Paul Izzo, Vince Lia, Daniel Margush, Karim Matmour.

Outs- Eli Babalj, Marcelo Carrusca, Sergio Cirio, Eugene Galekovic, John Hall, Kim Jae-Sung, Iacopo La Rocca, Jesse Makarounas, Marc Marino, Dylan McGowan, Riley McGree, George Mells.

After a disappointing title defence Adelaide have undergone a major overhaul ahead of the new season as new coach Marco Kurz seeks to return to the finals. The Spanish armada in Adelaide has moved on, with Danish winger Johan Absalonsen, Algerian international Karim Matmour and German attacker Daniel Adlung all arriving to add some quality and experience to a predominantly youthful and home-grown roster.

Likely Best XI

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Expectations
After a dismal title defence where they failed to get anywhere close to the finals, the goal this year will be for a return to the semi-finals at a minimum. With the influx of fresh new attacking talent to go alongside Papa Diawara the talent is there to push for a top four finish, and the lack of Champions League this time around will be an advantage. Their run to the semi-finals of the FFA Cup also indicates that the methods of the new boss are beginning to take hold for the Reds.

Central Coast Mariners
Last season- 8th

Ins- Asdrubal, Alan Baro, Wout Brama, Daniel de Silva, Tom Glover, Antony Golec, Tom Hiariej, Andrew Hoole, Ben Kennedy, Josh Rose, Kye Rowles.

Outs- Jake Adelson, Jacques Faty, Fabio Ferreira, Scott Galloway, Paul Izzo, Nick Montgomery, Ivan Necevski, Michael Neill, Roy O’Donovan, Jacob Poscoliero, Mikel Tavares.

Paul Okon has transformed the Mariners in his first full pre-season in charge and there can be little doubt this is now his team. The core of young players the club has developed over the past two seasons remains in tact, however visa flops Mikael Tavares and Jacques Faty have been replaced by Dutch duo Tom Hiariej and Wout Brama. The addition of Spanish striker Asdrubal will hopefully offset the departure of top scorer Roy O’Donovan, who has headed up the F3 to Newcastle.

Likely Best XI

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Expectations

While Central Coast were bundled out early in the FFA Cup by Blacktown, a late pre-season win over a strong Melbourne Victory side hints at progress. Having fixed the defence and midfield with the arrival of Hiariej, Brama and ex Victory defender Alan Baro, the biggest question regarding the Mariners is if they will have enough goals in their line-up. The loss of top scorer O’Donovan –in addition to Fabio Ferreira- leaves them looking for alternatives, with the likes of Connor Pain, Daniel de Silva, Trent Buhagiar and Andrew Hoole expected to step up on that front. If they can a return to the finals is a possibility.

Melbourne City
Last season
– 4th

Ins
– Marcin Budzinski, Marcelo Carrusca, James Delianov, Eugene Galekovic, Scott Jamieson, Iacopo La Rocca, Stefan Mauk, Ross McCormack, Connor Metcalfe, Ramy Najjarine, John Roberts, Bart Schenkeveld.

Outs- Anthony Caceres, Nicolas Colazo, Ivan Franjic, Corey Gameiro, Steve Kuzmanovski, Paulo Retre, Josh Rose, Thomas Sorensen.

Melbourne City have strengthened their side with a host of experienced overseas players along with some of Australia’s better young players ensuring they have an interesting mix. Of the experienced new signings, a lot will be expected of Marcin Budzinski who arrives as marquee player, while Ross McCormack has the task of filling in for club captain Bruno Fornaroli. Interestingly enough City’s recruitment has an Adelaide feel to it, with five of their recruits calling the South Australian capital home in the past.

Likely Best XI

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Expectations
Given the City Football Group’s expenditure on the side the expectations will no doubt be around winning the title, however their hopes of doing so will be dependant on the fitness of striking duo Tim Cahill and Bruno Fornaroli. New coach Warren Joyce excelled as a youth coach at Manchester United, but his first stint in the senior game ended abruptly in Wigan last year, which is just another question mark on a squad where there appears to be more questions than answers.

Melbourne Victory
Last season-
2nd

Ins– Kosta Barbarouses, Thomas Deng, Leroy George, Josh Hope, Cameron McGilp, Mark Milligan, Matias Sanchez, Christian Theoharous, Pierce Waring, Rhys Williams.

Outs– Alan Baro, Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Alastair Bray, Daniel Georgievski, George Howard, Rashid Mahazi, Marco Rojas, Lucas Spinella. Victory’s recruitment has been stellar with Socceroos midfielder Mark Milligan returning to fill a hole which in truth Melbourne has struggled with since his departure.

The while loss of Ben Khalfallah, Rojas and Baro will be felt by the Victory, they’ve been ably replaced by Matias Sanchez, Rhys Williams and the returning Kosta Barbarouses.

Likely Best XI

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Expectations
After falling short on Grand Final day despite having a lead, this year will be about finishing the job for Kevin Muscat’s men. While the recruitment is impressive and the first XV looks to be amongst the strongest in the league there’s a question over the Victory’s depth, and with Champions League at the back end of the season it could prove to be their undoing. If they can keep their best team on the park however, the three time Champions figures to be in contention once again.

Newcastle Jets
Last season- 10th

Ins- Jake Adelson, Joseph Champness, Daniel Georgievski, Glen Moss, Roy O’Donovan, Dimitri Petratos, Kosta Petratos, Mario Shabow, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Ronald Vargas.

Outs- Joel Allwright, Tomislav Arcaba, Kristian Brymora, Labinot Haliti, Andrew Hoole, Ben Kennedy, Aleksandr Kokko, Ma Leilei, Daniel Mullen, Morten Nordstrand, Mateo Poljak, Harrison Sawyer.

New Jets boss Ernie Merrick has opted for experience ahead of his first season in the Hunter with the arrival of proven A-League players Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Daniel Georgievski, Roy O’Donovan and Dimi Petratos who found his way to Newcastle via a stint in the K-League with Ulsan Hyundai. Of those who left only Morten Nordstrand was a regular contributor, although he’s been ably replaced by Venezuelan international attacker Ronald Vargas.

Likely best XI

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Expectations
After missing the finals for seven straight seasons, Newcastle are understandably desperate for a return to finals football and their recruitment is a strong signal of intent. Poaching the Joe Marston medallist Daniel Georgievski from Victory to fill a problematic position of left-back, while the signing of Roy O’Donovan from F3 rivals Central Coast should ensure the goals are there. If everything clicks for Ernie Merrick’s men, this could be the year finals football returns to the Hunter.
Perth Glory
Last season- 5th

Ins- Andreu, Jake Brimmer, Joseph Knowles, Scott Neville, Mitch Nichols, Jacob Poscoliero, Daniel Stynes, Xavi Torres.

Outs- Dino Djulbic, Richard Garcia, Lucian Goian, Rostyn Griffiths, Nebojsa Marinkovic, Mitchell Oxborrow, Kosta Petratos, Josh Risdon, Jordan Thurtell, Aryn Williams, Rhys Williams.

Perth Glory have strengthened their midfield considerably with the addition of Torres, Andreu and Nichols which should off-set the loss of experienced duo Richard Garcia and club captain Rostyn Griffiths. It’s in the backline however where questions will be asked, with the losses of Risdon, Williams, Goian and Djulbic ensuring a very different looking Perth backline this year.

Likely best XI

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Expectations
After just scraping into the finals, Perth found themselves 90 minutes from a Grand Final berth before running into a red hot Sydney FC side. While the attacking end of the pitch looks impressive and will trouble any defence in this league, it’s at the other end of the park where the questions lie.

Sydney FC
Last season
– 1st

Ins- Alex Cisak, Anthony Kalik, Adrian Mierzejewski, Paulo Retre, Luke Wilkshire.

Outs- Bai Antoniou, George Blackwood, Milos Dimitrijevic, Filip Holosko, Bernie Ibini, George Timotheou, Danny Vukovic.

Last season’s defending Champions have lost a couple of key contributors to their title winning side in the form of Danny Vukovic and Filip Holosko, however the arrival of Polish international Adrian Mierzejewski figures to provide an upgrade to a Sky Blues attack which was already potent. In goal, ex Leyton Orient shot stopper Alex Cisak joins, while former Socceroo Luke Wilkshire arrives home from Russia as an injury replacement for Rhyan Grant.

Likely best XI

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Expectations
Sydney FC will start favourites in their title defence and figure to be amongst the leagues leading teams once again. While they’ve lost a couple of key contributors their recruitment seems to have off-set that, and they look in a better place depth wise to deal with the rigours of the Champions League than Melbourne.

Wellington Phoenix
Last season- 7th

Ins- Ali Abbas, Scott Galloway, Lewis Italiano, Daniel Mullen, Andrija Kaluderovic, Goran Paracki, Dario Vidosic.

Outs- Kosta Barbarouses, Roly Bonevacia, Louis Fenton, Lewis Italiano, Vince Lia, Glen Moss, Alex Rodriguez.

It’s been an off-season of change in Wellington, with a new logo, coach and players as they enter their 11th season in the competition. The arrival of former Roar striker Andrija Kaluderovic adds to the intrigue around the Phoenix and ensures they should have a reliable goal scoring outlet, however the lack of a proven first choice goalkeeper at the other end could prove to be their undoing.

Likely best XI

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Expectations New Phoenix boss Darije Kalezić will have his work cut out in order to return the Nix to the finals given the upheaval of the off-season, but he does have a better squad to work with than predecessor Ernie Merrick. While the Phoenix figure to be competitive once again this season, the improvement of rival teams around them figures to see the Nix miss the out on the finals once again.

Western Sydney Wanderers
Last season- 6th

Ins- Roly Bonevacia, Mark Bridge, Alvaro Cejudo, John Hall, Chris Herd, Raul Llorente, Oriol Riera, Josh Risdon, Michael Thwaite, Mark Tokich.

Outs- Terry Antonis, Jackson Bandeira, Artiz Borda, Shannon Cole, Dimas Delgado, Ryan Griffiths, Emilio Martinez, Nico Martinez, Scott Neville, Mitch Nichols, Bruno Pinatares, Mario Shabow, Liam Youlley, Stefan Zinni.

It’s been another huge turnover of personnel in Western Sydney however the biggest of those changes occurred at the weekend when foundation boss Tony Popovic opted for a move to Turkey, with assistant Hayden Foxe put in caretaker duty. Before his departure Popovic overhauled his squad with the arrival of a number of impressive recruits which figures to given whoever takes over the chance to make a strong start.

Likely best XI
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Expectations
Prior to the departure of Popovic, the expectation surrounding Western Sydney was for a return to the top two at least given their string of high profile signings. On field Oriol Riera looks to be the striker Western Sydney have previously lacked, while the arrival of Chris Herd should help combat the leagues better creative midfielders. The question now is around their coaching appointment, how quickly they can get someone in, and how quickly the new boss can get his ideas across.
 


Season Preview Part 2- Brisbane

With the new season just days away from beginning it’s time for our annual season preview where we take a look at the 2017-18 team. Today in part 2 we’ll look an in depth look at how Brisbane Roar are shaping up ahead of the new season.

Last Season- 3rd

Ins- Erik Bautheac, Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Corey Gameiro, Massimo Maccarone, Emilio Martinez, Mitchell Oxborrow, Peter Skapetis.

Brisbane’s recruitment for the new season has been spearheaded by European imports Eric Bautheac and Massimo Maccarone, who between them have the unenviable job of replacing attacking duo Jamie Maclaren and Thomas Broich.

In addition to Maccarone and Bautheac, John Aloisi has strengthened his attacking options with the arrival of Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Corey Gameiro and Peter Skapetis, ensuring he has more attacking options at his disposal this year.

Outs- Manuel Arana, Brandon Borrello, Thomas Broich, Cameron Crestani, Joey Katebian, Nathan Konstandopoulos, Jamie Maclaren, Tommy Oar, Kye Rowles.

The outs are headlined by fan favourite Thomas Broich, who left the Roar after seven seasons at the end of the 2016-17 campaign. Broich was joined in the departures lounge by young attacking duo Jamie Maclaren and Brandon Borello who both swapped Brisbane for Germany.

Tommy Oar departed Brisbane for the second time to join Cypriot Champions Apoel which freed up a valuable marquee position, while Manuel Arana returned to his native Spain after one season in orange.

Best XI- Graphic and Text

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While Jamie Young let nobody down in the finals last season after Theo’s latest injury, John Aloisi is likely to revert back to Theo for the upcoming season as the now 36 year old shot stopper enters his 8th season in Brisbane.

Ahead of Theo figures to be a largely similar backline made up of Jack Hingert, Luke Devere, Jade North and Corey Brown. Both Hingert and Brown have now cemented themselves as first choice full-backs with stellar performances over the past 12 months and will be important parts of the team going forward.

Central defence is a tougher one to predict with Luke Devere, Jade North and Avram Papadopoulos all having strong claims for a starting spot however the combination and understanding that Devere and North have developed ensures they are likely to get first opportunity this season.

Midfield is another interesting area with experienced trio Thomas Kristensen, Matt McKay and Brett Holman the likely starters if all are fit and available, with youngster Joe Caletti breathing down their necks for a starting spot. Having starting midfield trio aged 33 or older is certainly a concern however each performed well last season and still have something left to offer.

Caletti was a revelation last year after getting his chance due to the congested fixture schedule and figures to get plenty of game time in 2017-18 as well, possibly as soon as round one given injury concerns to Holman and Kristensen.

The wide attacking areas have been overhauled ahead of the new season with ex Victory man Fahid Ben Khalfallah arriving early in the off-season. Eric Bautheac would be the nominal starter however his arrival in Australia has been delayed by visa issues which will give the likes of Peter Skapetis and Corey Gameiro an early chance to impress. Once those visa issues are sorted however, a lot will be expected of the former Nice and Lille man as John Aloisi looks to replace influential German Thomas Broich.

The addition of 38 year old striker Massimo Maccarone has been a big talking point over the off-season but the former Empoli and Italian international has looked sharp over the pre-season and figures to be a solid replacement for regular goal scoring threat Jamie Maclaren.

Back-ups
One of the strengths of Brisbane’s 2017-18 roster in comparison to their rivals is the depth of players at John Aloisi disposal. With Jamie Young, Avram Papadopoulos, Joe Caletti, Corey Gameiro and Peter Skapetis, Brisbane have players who are capable of starting for teams around the league and will keep the first team players on their toes.

Add in youngsters like Nick D’Agostino, Dane Ingham, Connor O’Toole, Emilio Martinez and others from the Young Roar squad and proven A-League squad players like Jacob Pepper, Daniel Bowles and Mitch Oxborrow and John Aloisi has more options at his disposal this year than in the past.

Pre-Season Form
It’s been a mixed bag for Brisbane in their preparations for the new season as they collected comfortable wins over local sides Lions, Peninsula Power and Olympic, in addition a 2-1 win on the Gold Coast against a China u-22 select side.

Things were a bit different when it came to clashes against A-League opposition with two losses against the Victory in the pre-season, including a 5-1 loss at Perry Park in the FFA Cup Round of 32. Another loss to Western Sydney -4-0 on the Gold Coast- added to the poor set of results, however a 2-0 win in their final pre-season game against Sydney FC ended things on a more positive note.

Expectations
After two straight seasons of falling just short of qualifying for the Grand Final, the expectations for Brisbane will be to once again be challenging for the silverware in the latter stages of the competition. Injuries to senior players and a potentially crowded fixture list should they qualify for the Champions League will prove obstacles, but this year’s squad is a deeper one than in previous years.

Provided foreign duo Eric Bautheac and Massimo Maccarone live up to their expectations, Brisbane should find themselves in the last four once again, then it will be a matter of learning from previous failings in the finals.


Season Preview Part 1- Off-Season recap

With the new season just days away from beginning it’s time for our annual season preview where we take a look at the 2017-18 team. Today in part 1 we’ll look at how the off-season played out with plenty of changes to the playing group along with a mixed bag of results on the field.

Off-Field Stability
In recent years the off-season has been plagued with off field distractions however in 2017 things have been much smoother allowing for the focus to be on the field and the preparations for the new season.

There’s also been limited turnover with the arrival of Danny Tiatto as Football Operations Manager the only change over the closed season as coaching duo John and Ross Aloisi re-committed to the club. W-League head coach Mel Andreatta will also return for a second campaign when the new season starts in November.

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Transfers Out
April 19th- Thomas Broich announces decision to leave
May 17th- Manuel Arana, Cameron Crestani, Joey Katebian & Nathan Konstandopoulos released
May 19th- Jamie Maclaren joins Darmstadt 08
May 27th- Brandon Borrello joins 1.FC Kaiserslautern
June 19th- Tommy Oar joins Apoel FC
June 26th- Kye Rowles departs Brisbane and joins Central Coast Mariners

Brisbane’s biggest name departures were known in advance when Thomas Broich flagged his intention to leave the Roar in the build-up to the Elimination Final against Western Sydney, while attacking duo Brandon Borrello and Jamie Maclaren confirmed their departures in the aftermath of the Matchday 6 Champions League loss to Ulsan Hyundai.

The June departure of Tommy Oar to Cypriot champions Apoel FC was more of a surprise, however the wingers departure did free up a valuable marquee position which would prove crucial in the recruitment efforts.

Re-Signings
June 22nd- Michael Theo and Avram Papadopoulos re-sign
June 30th- Jacob Pepper and Joe Caletti re-sign

As pre-season training drew closer, announcements surrounding the remaining out of contract players were made; firstly with the news that experienced first team duo Michael Theo and Avram Papadopoulos had re-signed for the 2017-18 season.

Following on from that was the news that breakout midfielder Joe Caletti had re-signed for a new season, with back-up utility Jacob Pepper set to join him for a second season in Brisbane.

Transfers In
May 26th- Fahid Ben Khalfallah joins Brisbane Roar
June 4th- Corey Gameiro joins Brisbane Roar
June 6th- Dane Ingham promoted from youth team
June 17th- Massimo Maccarone joins Brisbane Roar
August 4th- Mitchell Oxborrow joins Brisbane Roar
August 6th- Emilio Martinez joins Brisbane Roar as scholarship player
August 9th- Peter Skapetis joins Brisbane Roar, upgraded from injury replacement contract
September 9th- Erik Bautheac joins Brisbane Roar

Brisbane’s first signing for the new season was announced in late May as Fahid Ben Khalfallah joined Brisbane Roar on a one year deal, and he joined James for his first interview as a Roar player on the Brisbane Football Review podcast.

The signing of Ben Khalfallah was followed up by the arrival of former Wellington, Sydney and Melbourne City striker Corey Gameiro, and the promotion of young full-back Dane Ingham to a three year senior deal.

Brisbane’s biggest off-season move was confirmed on June 17 however when the club announced it had signed former Italian international Massimo Maccarone as a marquee player for the 2017-18 season to fill the boots of German bound striker Jamie Maclaren. While the signing of the 37 year old has been questioned by many, his experience in what is an otherwise youthful striking department should prove valuable over the season.

Attention then turned to rounding out the squad as midfield duo Mitchell Oxborrow and Emilio Martinez signed on to provide additional depth. Oxborrow arrived following a brief stint with  NPL Northern NSW side Broadmeadow Magic after his departure from Perth Glory was confirmed, while Martinez signed as a scholarship player after impressing for the Young Roar in their NPL Queensland campaign after arriving from Western Sydney.

While Peter Skapetis was initially signed as an injury replacement for Daniel Bowles, his stellar pre-season form forced the hand of John Aloisi as the former Stoke City junior signed a permanent one year deal in early August.

Brisbane then rounded out their recruitment with a second high profile arrival from Europe in the form of 30 year old French winger Erik Bautheac from French Ligue 1 side Lille. While Bautheac’s arrival has been held up due to visa issues, the French winger figures to play a big part in Brisbane’s 2017-18 campaign and is reportedly set to arrive by the end of the week.

Pre-Season and FFA Cup Games
July 26th- Lions FC 0-2 Brisbane Roar
August 6th- Peninsula Power 2-4 Brisbane Roar
August 9th- (FFA Cup) Brisbane Roar 1-5 Melbourne Victory
August 18th- Western Sydney Wanderers 4-0 Brisbane Roar
August 27th- China u-22 XI 1-2 Brisbane Roar
September 1st- Melbourne Victory 3-1 Brisbane Roar
September 9th- Olympic 0-3 Brisbane Roar
September 16th- Sydney FC 0-2 Brisbane Roar

Pre-season games began at Lions Stadium in Richlands as the Roar paid homage to their roots in the first edition of the Heritage shield, with second half goals from Shannon Brady and Rahmat Akbari giving John Aloisi side a first up win as they experimented with a new 3-4-3 formation.

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Up next was another hit out against Brisbane Premier League opposition in the form of Peninsula Power and after Dean Briggs gave the hosts an early lead Peter Skapetis got the first of many goals over the pre-season to level the scores. Power took the lead again through Thomas Strickland with Brisbane cancelling out that advantage midway through the second half with a Nick D’Agostino strike. D’Agostino was then replaced as Massimo Maccarone made his first appearance in Roar colours and scored less than five minutes after entering the game after he sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot, before an expert second goal just before the final whistle rounded out the scoring.

Attentions then turned to the FFA Cup Round of 32 where the Brisbane were at home for the second straight year and once again they failed to capitalise on that advantage. Victory proved far to good on the night with a Besart Berisha brace, in addition to goals from Mitch Austin, James Troisi and Mark Milligan proving more than enough. Peter Skapetis continued his goalscoring form with a late consolation for the Roar.

Another big loss to an A-League side soon followed with Western Sydney running out 4-0 winners at the tail end of a week long camp on the Gold Coast, before Brisbane returned to Robina to take on a Chinese u-21 side and after a niggly encounter they ran out 2-1 winners thanks to a late Massimo Maccarone penalty.

A trip to Ballarat for a second pre-season clash against Victory followed just days later and despite the score being closer this time around, Melbourne were still too good for an undermanned Roar with Skapetis continuing his form in front of goal.

That form continued as the Roar returned to Brisbane to take on NPL Queensland side Olympic FC and that goal scoring form continued as Skapetis opened the scoring for Brisbane before late goals from Maccarone and Shannon Brady rounded out the win.

Brisbane’s final pre-season hit-out before round one took them to Sydney for a clash with the defending champions and further goals from Maccarone and Skapetis netted John Aloisi’ side a much needed win over A-League opposition ahead of the new season.


2016-17 Season Preview- Opposition

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve taken an in depth look at the 2016-17 Brisbane side, covering all of the first team players and the youngsters who are waiting in the wings for an opportunity. Today with the new season kicking off on Friday night we’ll take a look at the nine opposition clubs and who figures to be the teams to beat.

Adelaide United
Last Season: 1st
Manager: Guillermo Amor

In: Ryan Kitto, Marc Marino, Ben Garuccio, Jesse Makarounas, Henrique, Nikola Mileusnic, Sergi Guardiola, James Holland.

Out: Eli Babalj, Bruce Kamau, Ruon Tongyik, Craig Goodwin, Pablo Sanchez, Stefan Mauk, Bruce Djite, Mate Dugandzic.

Squad
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Last seasons’ Champions have undergone an off-season makeover with five members of their Grand Final side moving on, including last seasons duel top scorers Bruce Djite and Pablo Sanchez.

Hopefully filling that loss of goals will be Sergi Guardiola, who arrives on a season long loan from Granada. Former Brisbane fan favourite Henrique and James Holland add to the sides starting line-up while they’ve also added to their South Australian contingent with Garuccio, Marino and Kitto.

Central Coast Mariners
Last Season: 10th
Manager: Paul Okon

In: Jacques Faty, Mickael Tavares, Ivan Necevski, Connor Pain, Blake Powell, Kwabena Appiah.

Out: Alastair Bray, Mitch Austin, Josh Rose, Anthony Kalik, Francesco Stella, Dan Heffernan, Tomislav Uskok, Luis Garcia.

Squad
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After a poor season last time around with just the three wins, the Mariners have looked to strengthen the spine of their side adding Sydney trio Ivan Necevski, Jacques Faty and Mickael Tavares to what is a young side. Former Wellington striker Blake Powell will also add to the firepower.

The off-season however has been one of upheaval off the park as well, with Tony Walmsley being sacked following a loss to Green Gully in the FFA Cup Round of 32. In Wamsley’s place is Paul Okon, who gets his chance in the A-League after years in the Young Socceroos coaching set-up. With the bulk of the recruitment done prior to his arrival however he’ll need to make do with what he’s got in the interim.

Melbourne City
Last Season: 5th
Manager: John van’t Schip

In: Manny Muscat, Bruce Kamau, Ruon Tongyik, Luke Brattan, Daniel Arzani, Neil Kilkenny, Fernando Brandan, Tim Cahill, Josh Rose, Michael Jakobsen, Nicolas Colazo, Braedyn Crowley.

Out: Alex Wilkinson, Michael Zullo, Aaron Mooy Jack Clisby, Jacob Melling, Harry Novillo), Marc Marino, Ben Garuccio, Patrick Kisnorbo.

Squad
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City completed the coup of the off-season with the arrival of Tim Cahill as a marquee player, and his partnership with Bruno Fornaroli figures to be one of the storylines of the season. While City look strong in the middle and front thirds if they have a weakness, it’s at the back, particularly in the full-back areas where they are potentially light on.

Across the board however City have one of, if not the best squad in the league and figure to be right in amongst the contenders over the course of the season. Should they fail to meet the expectations, it could be the end for van’t Schip with the City Football Group surely expecting a return for all of their investment.

Melbourne Victory
Last Season: 6th
Manager: Kevin Muscat

In: James Donachie, Mitch Austin, Alan Baro, James Troisi, Marco Rojas, Alastair Bray.

Out: Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler, Mathieu Delpierre, Archie Thompson, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Dylan Murnane, Jesse Makarounas, Joey Katebian, Connor Pain, Thomas Deng, Danny Vukovic.

Squad
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Victory will probably start favourites once again this season with Kevin Muscat re-inventing his squad following last seasons disappointing conclusion to the season. Troisi, Baro and Rojas have come in to replace Finkler, Delpierre and Barbarouses respectively, while Austin and Donachie add to the teams impressive depth.

The one question mark is in goals where Lawrence Thomas is yet to fully nail down the position and with limited options behind him they will need to hope he delivers upon his potential. On the whole however Victory possess probably the most complete side in the league this season and should be there when the silverware is handed out.

Newcastle Jets
Last Season: 8th
Manager: Mark Jones

In: Devante Clut, Wayne Brown, Daniel Alessi, Andrew Hoole, Jack Duncan, Ivan Vujica, Andrew Nabbout, Alesandr Kokko.

Out: Cameron Watson, Enver Alivodic, Leonardo, Brandon Lundy, Ryan Kitto, Mark Birighitti.

Squad

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Newcastle will be hoping that the return of Jones to the club can return the Newcastle spirit to the Jets because on paper at least it appears they have a squad that can push for the finals.

The squad has a group of talented youngsters who broke through at other A-League clubs but failed to be regulars and are looking for regular playing time, with the likes of Clut, Alessi, and Hoole all falling into that category. Jones however will be dealing with the same situation as Okon with limited spots open to him to bring players in to the squad.

Perth Glory
Last Season: 5th
Manager: Kenny Lowe

In: Rhys Williams, Joseph Mills, Nick Feely, Liam Reddy, Brandon Wilson, Rostyn Griffiths, Milan Smiljanic, Joel Chianese.

Out: Gyorgy Sandor, Ruben Zadkovich, Diogo Ferreira, Hagi Gligor, Krisztian Vadocz, Jerrad Tyson, Ante Covic.

Squad
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A theme of Perth’s recruitment has been to acquire Western Australian with 14 currently on the books including the return of Rhys and Rostyn Williams. The U-turn of Chris Herd is a loss but with Smiljanic coming in as a replacement Perth will see them lose nothing, and while the losses of Zadkovich, Sandor Vadocz and Covic will hurt they’ve replaced them well.

Should all of Perth’s recruits gel the Glory could be set for a return to the top of the table, a place they made their own for the majority of the 2014-15 season before salary cap breaches saw them removed from the finals picture.

Sydney FC
Last Season: 7th
Manager: Graham Arnold

In: Alex Wilkinson, Michael Zullo, Josh Brillante, Danny Vukovic, Bernie Ibini, Bobo, George Timotheou, Charles Lokolingoy, Bai Antoniou.

Out: Jacques Faty, Michael Tavares, Ivan Necevski, Ali Abbas, Zac Anderson, Robert Stambolziev, Christopher Naumoff, Jacob Tratt, Riley Woodcock, Alex Mullen, Anthony Bouzanis, Andrew Hoole, Shane Smeltz.

Squad
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Wellington Phoenix
Last Season: 9th
Manager: Ernie Merrick

In: Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler, Marco Rossi, Adam Parkhouse, Jacob Tratt, Ryan Lowry.

Out: Ben Sigmund, Manny Muscat, Justin Gulley, James McGarry, Oliver Sail, Albert Riera, Troy Danaskos, Kwabena Appiah, Blake Powell.

Squad
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Wellington have recruited strongly this season with Victory duo Barbarouses and Finkler bolstering the Nix attack and Italian defender Marco Rossi coming in to replace the retiring Ben Sigmund in defence. Aside from Sigmund, Wellington have retained most of their important players with just Riera, Muscat and last seasons revelation Blake Powell moving on.

The big problem for the Wellington is they start the year without their All Whites players due to the international break, something which will impact the start to their season and test their already somewhat thin depth. If the Phoenix can keep their best team on the park this season finals should be on the radar.

Western Sydney Wanderers
Last Season: Second
Manager: Tony Popovic

In: Jerrad Tyson, Steven Lustica, Bruno Pinatares, Artiz Borda, Jumpei Kusukami, Robert Cornthwaite, Jack Clisby, Jacob Melling, Kerem Bulut, Nicolas Martinez, Emilio Martinez.

Out: Alberto Aguilar, Andreu Mayoral, Romeo Castelen, Golgol Mebrahtu, Federico Piovoccari, Matt Sim, Liam Reddy, Josh Macdonald, Mark Bridge, Shayne D’Cunha, Alusine Fofanah, Daniel Alessi, Dario Vidosic, Jacob Pepper, Scott Jamieson.

Squad
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Last seasons beaten Grand Finalists have undergone a major overhaul once again going into this season with Alberto, Andreu, Castelen, Bridge, Vidosic and Jamieson, all of whom played a big part in the team last time around all moving on. In their place are a bunch are imports Pinatares, Borda and Martinez who should look to solidify the spine of Tony Popovic’s side.

The big question mark on the Wanderers is the potential lack of firepower with the lack of a big name striker upfront to put the ball in the net, although the return of fan favourite Bulut could help. Left back, where Jack Clisby is the likely starter is also a potential problem area. A finals appearance could be on the cards for the Wanderers, although they are likely to be an outsider for honours this season.


2016-17 Season Preview- Strikers

With the new season set to get underway in just 6 days time, our annual season preview series is here and over the next two weeks we’ll take an in depth look at the 2016-17 team. Previously we’ve covered the Goalkeepers, the right backs, the left- backs, central defenders, central midfielders, Attacking Midfielders right wingers, and the left wingers, today we preview the finial position in the team; the strikers.

Last season was a breakout year for Jamie Maclaren, who went from super sub with Perth Glory to the most prolific Australian striker in the history of the A-League before earning his National Team debut. This year figures to be more of the same for Jamie, although there’s a couple of talented youngsters’ waiting in the wings for a chance.

Jamie Maclaren
Jamie’s importance on the 2016-17 side cannot be underestimated with Maclaren scoring 20 of the teams 52 goals last season, becoming just the second Brisbane player after Besart Berisha to score that many in a season for the Roar.

Last seasons stellar form earned praise from experts and fellow players alike with calls for a Socceroos debut a constant over the second half of the season, with Ange Postecoglou giving him the chance in the post-season friendly against England. It was a tough first test for Jamie on the international stage but there’s plenty more to come, and should the goal scoring for of last year translate to this it could be sooner rather than later.

Should those goals continue to flow this season, the question regarding the future of Maclaren is likely to crop up once again, with the strike in significant demand from various suitors towards the end of last season. Maclaren chose to stay with Brisbane for the second year of his two year deal, however with that due to expire at seasons end, and the likelihood of further overseas interest he won’t be short of options for his next contract. For now though the focus will be on performing here once again with Brisbane, and allowing National Team and contractual matters to sort themselves out.

Joey Katebian
2015 was a good one for Katebian, scoring 33 goals for Melbourne Victory in NPL 2 Victoria helping his former side win promotion. That run in front of goals saw Katebian score make his debut for the Victory in their FFA Cup run, going on to make two appearances for the club before being released at the end of the season.

Appearances have been rather thin in the pre-season for Katebian, which probably means that the majority of his football will be in the National Youth League, although a substitute’s appearance or two over the course of the season can’t be ruled out.

For Melbourne Katebian mostly played upfront, including in a game last season against the Young Roar in the NYL down at the Cleveland Showgrounds. On that day Katebian was the standout for the Victory despite Brisbane’s 3-1 win.

Nicholas D’Agostino
D’Agostino was on fire in the NPL Queensland this season, scoring 10 goals in 11 matches before being withdrawn to prepare for pre-season with the A-League side where the young striker has made a couple of substitutes appearances in the games.

Those goals in the NPL however were enough to secure a one year deal with Brisbane and the a trial with Belgian side Genk, which despite falling through shows that he’s on the radar of clubs in Europe.

While there’s no doubt D’Agostino would do a job in the A-League if given the opportunity, it’s unlikely that he will get more than a handful of in the first team this season so the majority of his playing time will likely be in the National Youth League.
Last season Jamie Maclaren was one of the biggest success stories for both Brisbane and the league as a whole becoming one of the league’s best strikers, and with just young duo Joey Katebian and Nicholas D’Agostino in reserve to Maclaren, the form of Brisbane’s #9 will be pivotal to the sides’ success this season.


2016-17 Season Preview- Left Wing

With the new season set to get underway in just 7 days time, our annual season preview series is here and over the next two weeks we’ll take an in depth look at the 2016-17 tea. Previously we’ve covered the Goalkeepers, the right backs, the left backs, central defenders, central midfieldersattacking midfielders and right wingers today we’ll look at the left wingers.

If there’s one outfield position that looms as the selection battle to watch over the course of the season it’s on the left hand side of midfield with both Tommy Oar and Thomas Broich having strong claims on the role. Both will likely get their chance over the course of the season and the decision on who starts could well come down to a tactical choice between two different types of wingers.

Tommy Oar
After playing just a bit part role following his arrival in January, this season figures to see the fringe Socceroo re-establish himself as an important member of the first team squad.

Last season was a disrupted one for Tommy who departed English side Ipswich Town just months after signing for the Championship side, before going on to make just the six appearances late in the season with the Roar.

As a player Oar brings a different style to the left hand side for the Roar, with the 25 year old being a more direct and pacy proposition for defences as opposed to Broich who uses his quick feet to create chances for his teammates. As a duo it could prove to be an effective tandem with coming off the substitutes bench midway through the second half to offer fresh legs and create a different problem should Brisbane be chasing the game.

This year is an important one for Oar, who will be desperate to regain his place in the National Team set-up ahead of next years’ Confederations Cup. In the pre-season Oar has been a regular in the sides before a recent injury which has kept him out of the previous two matches, and perhaps tellingly in the FFA Cup Round of 32 loss to Perth it was Oar who started on the left hand side ahead of Broich.

Thomas Broich
Having been considered an automatic started since arriving in 2010, this could be the year that Thomas Broich transitions from the starting line-up to a substitutes role.

As mentioned in the above discussion around Tommy Oar, playing time and starting appearances could come down to tactical decisions as much as how either player performs.

Despite all of that however, Thomas is still amongst the most talented players in the league and even with diminished playing time he still figures to have a big impact on the outcome of Brisbane’s 2016-17 season.

This pre-season has seen Thomas feature regularly in the side, although perhaps in a sign of things to come he was dropped to the substitutes bench for the FFA Cup loss to Perth. With his contract up at the end of this season and the recent public comments about winding down, this could be the last season we see Thomas in orange.

Joseph Champness
While Oar and Broich are likely to command the majority if not all of the playing time on the left, youngster Joseph Champness is another promising young winger waiting in the wings of the clubs youth ranks.

Like Prasad on the right Champness arrived in the Young Roar squad at this time last season following a successful season with Moreton Bay United, and has been a regular in the National Youth League and NPL Queensland campaigns.

Champness made 14 appearances in the NPL this past season, scoring four times playing mostly from the left hand side but he has shown the versatility to play on the right at times.

Over the course of the pre-season, Champness has been in and around the first team squad, appearing in a couple of games but was an unused substitute in the FFA Cup lost to Perth. Champness has also been part of the Young Socceroos squad, scoring the winner in the AFF u-19 Championships and was today named in the squad for the AFC u-19 Championships which double as the qualifiers for next years’ u-20 World Cup in South Korea.

The left wing position figures to be fascinating with an interesting one with two outstanding options at John Aloisi’ disposal, and it’s a luxury that the other nine managers in the league would love to have. With Oar missing a couple of games with injury I wouldn’t be surprised if Broich is preferred in round one, but both will feature prominently.