Around the grounds: Cacace departs Phoenix, Macarthur FC sign Olyroo

Teen sensation Liberato Cacace has waved farewell to Wellington Phoenix after agreeing to link up with Kevin Muscat’s Sint-Truiden in the Belgian Pro League.

The 19-year-old flying full-back made 58 Hyundai A-League appearances and became a key component of the Phoenix’s rise to back-to-back Finals Series campaigns. 

The three-cap All Whites international starred in rookie head coach Ufuk Talay’s debut season in 2019/20 as the Kiwi outfit secured a top-three finish for the first time in club history.

"I would like to thank the club for everything they have done for me since I first started at the Phoenix Academy as a 16-year-old, and for the professional manner in which they have gone through this transfer agreement with Sint-Truiden," Cacace said in a club statement.

"Ufuk and the club know that it's been a dream of mine to play in Europe, and they're worked hard to help me achieve my individual goals and aspirations - alongside the club's goals - while I've been part of the club."

Talay added: "The coaching staff and I are proud of what Libby has achieved to get to this stage of his career, and we've long believed he will have a remarkable career whether it's here or in Europe.”


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Macarthur FC expand squad by adding Popovic

Macarthur FC continue to piece together their inaugural squad ahead of their debut Hyundai A-League season after announcing the arrival of Milislav Popovic.

The 23-year-old forward, born locally in Liverpool, moved from Blacktown City to Italian giants Lazio in 2013 and played in Germany and Austria before heading back down under to be named as the start-up club’s seventh signing.

“The opportunity to represent my local area on the national stage is a great honour for me,” the four-cap Australia under-23 international said in the signing announcement.

Rams head coach Ante Milicic added: “In Milislav, the fans can expect a big, strong, technical player with the ability to create and score goals.”

around the grounds

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Popovic’s Glory future in doubt, Franjic to leave

Tony Popovic’s Perth Glory future remains uncertain following media reports that the two-time Premiership-winning coach is on the brink of being appointed coach of Greek club Xanthi FC.

Glory’s owner and chairman Tony Sage revealed Popovic is under contract for next season but could not confirm the former Western Sydney Wanderers chief will still be in his post for 2020/21.

”He is contracted for next season and it's up to him to make a comment if he wishes to break that contract,” Sage said in a statement, as reported by AAP.

”Whatever he decides, the club is concentrating on the upcoming ACL season and signing seven new players to fill our roster.”

Meanwhile experienced defender Ivan Franjic has called time on his two-year stint in Western Australia, after helping Glory lift the Premiers Plate in 2018/19. 

Basha exits Victory, four more released

Albania international Migjen Basha will not return to Melbourne Victory after deciding that returning to Europe is in the best interests of his family.

The 33-year-old made 25 appearances as the Navy Blue finished 10th in 2019/20, their lowest position in club history, and the clear-out continued for newly-appointed head coach Grant Brebner.

Kenny Athiu, Ben Carrigan, Josh Hope and Giancarlo Gallifuoco have all headed for the exit door. Athiu turned out 36 times for Big V and was part of Muscat’s 2017/18 Championship-winning squad.

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Hyundai A-League Grand Final 2020

Sydney FC v Melbourne City
 Sunday, August 30
Kick-off: 6.30pm AEST
Venue: Bankwest Stadium
Broadcast: ABC ME delayed at 8.25pm, FOX Sports 507
Stream: MyFootball Live App, Kayo Sports, ABC iView 
Match Centre

LFWWS final