The Hyundai A-League season is back on Friday with Adelaide United hosting Sydney FC in the 2018/19 curtain raiser.
And the anticipation for the first match of the new campaign is palpable only two days out from kick off.
Adding to the excitement of this weekend’s return is a long list of names set to make their maiden appearance in the Hyundai A-League.
Here are the debuts you can’t afford to miss!
Adam Le Fondre and Siem de Jong
Adelaide United v Sydney FC
If Sydney FC are to maintain their Hyundai A-League dominance in 2018/19, much will depend on the attacking exploits of their two big-name recruits.
Adam Le Fondre and Siem de Jong touched down in the Harbour City to replace the stardust of former Sky Blues Adrian Mierzejewski and Bobo, and early signs are the pair are up to the task.
But they’ll have to cut their teeth at an intimidating arena in Hindmarsh Stadium in Friday’s curtain raiser, and the streetwise physicality of Marco Kurz’s Reds offers a stern Hyundai A-League welcoming.
If both marquee arrivals can make their mark in this contest, both Le Fondre and de Jong could be set to take Australia by storm this season.
Keisuke Honda and Ola Toivonen
Melbourne Victory v Melbourne City
It’s one of the most – if not most – anticipated Melbourne derbies in the fixture’s history.
And that’s largely down to the long-awaited appearance of Keisuke Honda for Melbourne Victory.
Honda could be flanked by Swedish frontman Ola Toivonen in what could prove to be a stunning maiden Hyundai A-League showdown for the reigning Champions.
With Toivonen set to fill the boots of Besart Berisha and Honda to be deployed in close quarters, a burgeoning partnership between two of the biggest names to arrive in Australia this season might just steer the competition to new heights.
Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners
The Hyundai A-League has been inundated with an array of top-quality recruits from Spain in recent years.
And the latest Spanish schemer to arrive Down Under – Brisbane Roar’s Alex Lopez – will be targeting big things for John Aloisi’s side.
The 30-year-old made his professional footballing debut at just 17 years of age for Racing Ferrol and is an experienced La Liga veteran for Celta Vigo.
Look for Lopez to combine silk and steel in the Roar midfield as Brisbane aim to announce their title ambitions against Central Coast Mariners on Sunday.
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Wellington Phoenix v Newcastle Jets
With so many top-quality attacking players gracing Australian shores for the new season, Newcastle’s capture of Jair Eduardo has gone somewhat under the radar.
However, the Brazilian number nine will be out to prove his mettle when Ernie Merrick’s side travel to Wellington on Sunday.
The 30-year-old signed for the Hunter club following a stint in the Chinese second division, but his record of 46 goals in 110 appearances in the K-League shows what he’s capable of.
If Jair can hit the ground running in New Zealand, he’ll fancy his chances at keeping pace with the Hyundai A-League’s golden boot favourites.
Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers
At 27 years old, Jason Davidson has left his Hyundai A-League debut late.
But the former Caltex Socceroo will be out to show Australian fans what they’ve been missing during his formative years overseas when he runs out for Perth Glory on Sunday.
With Tony Popovic assembling an intimidating defensive line up at the back, Davidson’s pace and ability to get forward from the left could pose a valuable attacking instrument for the Western Australians.
Any licence to do so will be closely monitored in Sunday’s Round 1 finale as Glory aim to send a statement of intent to the rest of the competition.