Hyundai A-League Player Movements - May 2009

Here what's been happening in the Hyundai A-League off-season.

The Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season is less than 90 days away and most of the clubs are in pre-season training, except the Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets who are about to complete the group stage of the AFC Champions League.

There have been plenty of movements during the off-season and with the introduction of two new clubs, Gold Coast United and North Queensland Fury, this Hyundai A-League season promises to be bigger and better than ever.

Since the announcement of their admission to the Hyundai A-League last year, Gold Coast United has recruited aggressively with their highest profile signing being Qantas Socceroo Jason Culina.

Culina returns to Australia after an 8 year stint in Europe which includes Dutch Eredivisie Championships and UEFA Champions League appearances with PSV Eindhoven. With 38 A-International caps to his name, Culina will bring a wealth of experience to a club brimming with talent. Another Australian lured back by Gold Coast United is former Qantas Joeys goalkeeper Jess Vanstrattan. Having spent the last seven years in Italy with Verona and Juventus in the Serie A, Vanstrattan will be joined in the custodial department by former Queensland Roar goalkeeper Scott Higgins. Vanstrattan will be remembered by most football fans for his heroics in the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Cup in New Zealand, when Australia was runners-up to Brazil after a dramatic penalty shootout. The Australian team brimmed with talent including Scott McDonald, Josh Kennedy, Jade North, Iain Fyfe and Dylan Macallister.

Gold Coast United Head Coach Miron Bleiberg and his assistant, former Qantas Socceroos Captain Paul Okon, have hand-picked their defence to ensure there is plenty of Hyundai A-League experience with the likes of Michael Thwaite, Adam Griffiths, Daniel Piorkowski and Kristian Rees and so too have their midfield signings of Steve Pantelidis, Matt Osman, Steve Fitzsimmons and Zenon Caravella.

There will be an international element courtesy of the Brazilian trio of Robson, Jefferson and Milson, Dutch defender Bas van den Brink and up front prolific New Zealand international striker Shane Smeltz. Accolades seem to be falling into Smeltz-s lap at the moment having collected the 2009 Johnny Warren Medal, Hyundai A-League 2008/09 Golden Boot award and he was recently named the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Player of the Year. Partnering Smeltz will be another Australian returning home in striker Joel Porter. Porter recently completed a stellar season with Hartlepool in the English First Division where he bagged an impressive 18 goal tally.

Qantas Young Socceroos James Brown and Tahj Minniecon will add a good dose of youthful exuberance to the squad with Minniecon signed as Under 23 marquee player. Victorian striker Andrew Barisic and Queensland defender Richard Greer complete the inaugural Gold Coast United squad.

Fellow Hyundai A-League new-comers North Queensland Fury have also built their playing roster from scratch and pulled off a major coup with the signing of former England International Robbie Fowler. Fowler, also known as “god” to the Liverpool FC fans who watched his 183 goals and 369 appearances for the Merseyside club, is the fourth highest goalscorer in the history of the English Premier League with 163 goals. Fowler will be an inspiration to his fellow team-mates and a major draw-card to all football fans around the Hyundai A-League.

Continuing along the international theme, North Queensland Fury Head Coach Ian Ferguson has also enticed his former Rangers team-mate Scott Wilson from Scotland to join his squad as well as Brazilian Felipe who starred for Wellington Phoenix in their inaugural season of the Hyundai A-League. Also joining the Fury are Novocastrian striker Daniel McBreen who returns to Australia after spending the last 6 years in Europe and former Australian Youth International Fred Agius.

North Queensland Fury will also have a distinct Sydney flavour with Beau Busch, Jeremy Brockie, Robbie Middleby, Justin Pasfield, Brendon Santalab, Ufuk Talay and Jacob Timpano all having been involved for various lengths of time with Sydney FC.

Rounding out the Fury squad are a collection of players from other Hyundai A-League clubs in Chris Grossman (Brisbane Roar), Paul Kohler (Newcastle Jets), James Robinson (Perth Glory), Jason Spagnuolo (Adelaide United) and Chris Tadrosse (Central Coast Mariners) as well as Marton Vass who most recently appeared for the APIA Leichhardt Tigers in the NSW Premier League.

The recently rebranded Brisbane Roar (formerly Queensland Roar) will be looking to pick up from where they left off last season having narrowly missed out on qualifying for the AFC Champions League. Led again by the evergreen Craig Moore, the Roar have kept the bulk of their squad from last season with only Tahj Minniecon (Gold Coast United), Chris Grossman (North Queensland Fury) and Hyuk-Su Seo (released) leaving the ranks.

Brazilian Henrique will add flair; and the promotion of National Youth League Player of the Year, Adam Sarota, as well as Matt Mundy from their youth to the senior squad show-s that Frank Farina-s youth development policy is working well.

Last Season-s Hyundai A-League Premiers and Champions Melbourne Victory are another club that has consolidated their squad from their previous campaign.

Victory have re-signed Archie Thompson, Evan Berger, Grant Brebner, Billy Celeski, Matthew Kemp, Mitchell Langerak, Rodrigo Vargas and Nick Ward. The biggest question marks surround the status of Club Captain Kevin Muscat and Costa Rican talisman Carlos Hernandez. Discussions are ongoing with both players and decisions on their respective futures with the Victorian club are expected in the coming weeks.

Having lost Steve Pantelidis (Gold Coast United), Sebastian Ryall (Sydney FC) and Michael Thwaite (Gold Coast United), the Victory have also added New Zealand International Goalkeeper Glen Moss and promoted Qantas Young Socceroo Matthew Theodore from their National Youth League ranks.

Adelaide United has enjoyed an off season free of AFC Champions League commitments with many changes at Hindmarsh Stadium including the retirement of Paul Agostino, Daniel Beltrame and Michael Valkanis, along with the transfer of Sasa Ognenovski (Seongnam Ilhwa) and the release of Angelo Costanzo, Diego, Isyan Erdogan, Jonas Salley, Jason Spagnuolo and Robert Younis. The Reds have signed Adelaide born defender Iain Fyfe, Adam Hughes from Irish club Drogheda United, Michael Marrone from the National Youth League and also resigned Daniel Mullen who recently made his senior international debut for the Qantas Socceroos against Kuwait in Canberra.

The Central Coast Mariners haven-t stopped since the conclusion of the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season having participated in the AFC Champions League for the first time in their history. In January, Lawrie McKinna lost imposing midfielder Mile Jedinak to Turkish club Genclerbirligi and at the end of the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season Sasho Petrovski travelled up the F3 to the Newcastle Jets while Matt Osman is set to join Gold Coast United after the group stage of the AFC Champions League 2009. Returning to the Mariners on a two year contract is striker Adam Kwasnik who spent last season with the Wellington Phoenix. McKinna has also signed Englishman Shane Huke and former Perth Glory midfield Nick Rizzo on short-term deals for the AFC Champions League.

The Newcastle Jets have also had their first taste of the AFC Champions League action this year. Head Coach Gary Van Egmond has been very busy since the end of the last Hyundai A-League season signing defenders Angelo Costanzo, Ljubo Milicevic, and Nikolai Topor-Stanley along with strikers Donny de Groot and Sasho Petrovski. In addition, Van Egmond signed a number of players on short-term contracts for the Jets AFC Champions League campaign. Included in that group of players are Italian attacking midfielder Fabio Vignaroli, former Sydney FC defender Nik Tsattalios, former Sydney FC Youth player Sean Rooney and Novocastrians Peter Haynes, Mitchell Johnson and Joel Wood. Should these players impress Van Egmond, a longer contract may await them for the coming Hyundai A-League season.

Perth Glory Head Coach David Mitchell went on an extensive European scouting trip in the off season and returned with the prized signature of Qantas Socceroo Jacob Burns as well as two friendly matches against English Premier League Clubs Fulham FC and the newly promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers. Burns played under Mitchell at Parramatta Power in the old-NSL and most recently for FC Unirea Urziceni in Romania. Burns debuted for the Qantas Socceroos in 1999 and has nine A-international caps to his name.

Mitchell also re-signed Eugene Dadi, Adriano Pellegrino, Naum Sekulovski, Victor Sikora, Scott Bulloch, Tando Velaphi and Wayne Srhoj as well as promoting Perth Glory National Youth League players Howard Fondyke, Brent Griffiths, Andrija Jukic, Scott Neville and Anthony Skorich.

Club stalwart and former Qantas Socceroo goalkeeper Jason Petkovic retired at the end of last season after a 15-year professional career which includes 332 matches in the top Australian domestic competitions and 13 in Turkey with Konyaspor. Also leaving Members Equity Stadium were Nikita Rukavytsya and Dino Djulbic who transferred to Dutch (FC Twente) and German (Rot Weiss Ahlen) clubs respectively, whilst Nikolai Topor-Stanley and James Robinson moved to Hyundai A-League rivals, the Newcastle Jets and North Queensland Fury. Amaral, Hayden Foxe, Mark Lee, Josip Magdic, Nick Rizzo, David Tarka and Adrian Trinidad were also released during the off-season.

Wellington Phoenix begun their off season by strengthening their coaching department with Luciano Trani becoming Ricki Herbert-s assistant coach and former Celtic goalkeeper Jonathan Gould joining as the club goalkeeping coach.

Herbert added English striker Chris Greenacre from Tranmere Rovers and Brazilian midfielder Diego who spent the past three seasons at Adelaide United as well as resigning Tim Brown, Manny Muscat, Mark Paston, Tony Lochhead, Michael Ferrante, Daniel Cortes and Ben Sigmund.

Phoenix has lost their top goal scorer Shane Smeltz to Gold Coast United and fellow New Zealand International Glen Moss to Melbourne Victory, which is in addition to the retirements of New Zealand legend Vaughan Coveny and experienced Australian midfielder Richard Johnson as well as releasing Karl Dodd and Greg Draper.

Sydney FC has a new Head Coach in Vitezslav Lavicka who will be assisted by his fellow Czech country man Michael Zach. The appointment of Lavicka, a two-time winner of the Czech Coach of the Year Award, was announced by Sydney FC in February, and one of his first decisions was to recruit his former charge Slovakian midfielder Karol Kisel from Sparta Prague. Australia will not be foreign to Kisel who represented Slovakia at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Sydney FC also lured Qantas Young Socceroo defender Sebastian Ryall back to his hometown after a very successful season with Melbourne Victory. Alex Brosque, Adam Casey, Shannon Cole and Ivan Necevski were also re-signed and Kofi Danning, Brendan Gan, Antony Golec, Rhyan Grant and Matthew Jurman have all been rewarded for their National Youth League Championship winning performances with promotion to the Sydney FC senior squad.

Although retiring midway through last Hyundai A-League season, former Sydney FC club captain and Qantas Socceroos defender Tony Popovic will remain at the club as another assistant coach to Lavicka.

Defender Iain Fyfe has left Sydney FC to return to his city of birth at Adelaide United and Nik Tsattalios has gone to the Newcastle Jets on a short-term contract while Beau Busch, Robbie Middleby, Brendon Santalab and Jacob Timpano have all headed off to North Queensland Fury and Adam Biddle and American Mike Enfield have been released.

The first round of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season will kick off on Thursday 6 August featuring champions Melbourne Victory against AFC Champions League participants, Central Coast Mariners.

The round continues on Friday 7 August when Adelaide United host Perth Glory, while Saturday 8 August sees the beginning of what FFA CEO, Ben Buckley has described as a "beautiful rivalry" between Brisbane Roar and Gold Coast United, as well as North Queensland Fury and Sydney FC. The first round concludes with Newcastle Jets v Wellington Phoenix on Sunday 9 August.

Adelaide United

Re-signed: Daniel Mullen (2 years)

In: Iain Fyfe (Sydney FC - 1 year), Adam Hughes (Drogheda United, Ireland - 2 years), Michael Marrone (Adelaide United NYL - 1 year)

Out: Paul Agostino (retired), Daniel Beltrame (retired), Angelo Costanzo (released), Diego (released), Isyan Erdogan (released), Sasa Ognenovski (Seongnam Ilhwa, Korea Republic), Jonas Salley (released), Jason Spagnuolo (North Queensland Fury), Michael Valkanis (retired), Robert Younis (released)

Brisbane Roar

Re-signed: Craig Moore (1 year), Massimo Murdocca (2 years), Mitch Nichols (2 years), Andrew Packer (2 Years), Reinaldo (3 years), Danny Tiatto (1 year), Michael Zullo (2 years)

In: Henrique (Formiga, Brazil - 1 year), Matt Mundy (Brisbane Roar NYL - 2 years), Adam Sarota (Brisbane Roar NYL - 3 years)

Out: Chris Grossman (North Queensland Fury), Matt McKay (Changchun Yatai - on loan), Tahj Minniecon (Gold Coast United), Hyuk-Su Seo (released)

Central Coast Mariners

Re-signed: None

In: Shane Huke (Dagenham & Redbridge, England - 6 month ACL only), Adam Kwasnik (Wellington Phoenix - 2 years), Nick Rizzo (Perth Glory - 6 month ACL only)

Out: Mile Jedinak (Genclerbirligi, Turkey), Matthew Osman (Gold Coast United - post AFC Champions League). Sasho Petrovski (Newcastle Jets)

Gold Coast United

In: Andrew Barisic (Melbourne Knights, Australia - 1 year), James Brown (AIS, Australia - 3 years), Zenon Caravella (FC Omniworld, Netherlands - 2 years), Jason Culina (PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands - 3 Years), Steve Fitzsimmons (Beenleigh, Australia -1 year), Richard Greer (AIS, Australia - 1 year), Adam Griffiths (Newcastle Jets, Australia - 3 years), Scott Higgins (Eastern Suburbs, Australia - 1 year), Jefferson (Atletico Rorairama, Brazil - 1 year), Milson (Madureira, Brazil - 1 year), Tahj Minniecon (U/23 marquee: Brisbane Roar, Australia - 3 years), Matt Osman (Central Coast Mariners, Australia - 2 years), Steve Pantelidis (Melbourne Victory, Australia - 2 years), Joel Porter (Hartlepool United, England - 3 years), Daniel Piorkowski (Newcastle Jets, Australia - 2 years), Kristian Rees (Adelaide City, Australia - 2 years), Robson (Cabofriense, Brazil - 1 year), Shane Smeltz (Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand - 3 years), Michael Thwaite (SK Brann, Norway - 3 years), Bas van den Brink (FC Omniworld, Netherlands - 2 years), Jess Vanstrattan (Verona, Italy 2 years )

Melbourne Victory

Re-signed: Evan Berger (2 years), Grant Brebner (1 year), Billy Celeski (2 years), Matthew Kemp (2 years), Mitchell Langerak (3 years), Archie Thompson (2 years), Rodrigo Vargas (2 years), Nick Ward (2 years)

In: Glen Moss (Wellington Phoenix - 2 years), Mathew Theodore (Melbourne Victory NYL - 1 Year)

Out: Steve Pantelidis (Gold Coast United), Sebastian Ryall (Sydney FC), Michael Thwaite (Gold Coast United)

Newcastle Jets

Re-signed: Jobe Wheelhouse (2 years)

In: Angelo Costanzo (Adelaide United - 1 year), Donny de Groot (De Graafschap, Netherlands - 1 year), Peter Haynes (Broadmeadow Magic - 6 month ACL only), Mitchell Johnson (APIA Leichhardt Tigers - 6 month ACL only), Ljubo Milicevic (Melbourne Victory - 1 year), Sasho Petrovski (Central Coast Mariners - 2 years), Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Perth Glory - 2 years), Nikolas Tsattalios (Sydney FC - 6 month ACL only), Sean Rooney (Sydney FC NYL - 6 months), Fabio Vignaroli (S.S. Lazio, Italy- 6 month ACL only), Joel Wood (Broadmeadow Magic - 6 month ACL only)

Out: Ante Covic (IF Elfsborg, Sweden), Adam Griffiths (Gold Coast United - post AFC Champions League), Joel Griffiths (Beijing Guoan - On loan), Jesper Hakansson (released), Antun Kovacic (Ulsan Hyundai , Korea Republic), Mark Milligan (Shanghai Shenhua, China), Jade North (Incheon United FC, Korea Republic)

North Queensland Fury

In: Fred Agius (Adelaide City - 1 year), Beau Busch (Sydney FC - 1 year), Jeremy Brockie (Team Wellington, New Zealand - 1 year), Felipe (Wellington Phoenix - 2 years), Robbie Fowler (Blackburn Rovers, England - 2 years), Chris Grossman (Brisbane Roar - 1 year), Paul Kohler (Newcastle Jets - 1 year), Daniel McBreen (York City, England 1 year), Robbie Middleby (Sydney FC - 2 years), Justin Pasfield (Wollongong Wolves, 2 years),James Robinson (Perth Glory - 2 years), Brendon Santalab (Sydney FC - 2 years), Jason Spagnuolo (Adelaide United - 2 years), Chris Tadrosse (Central Coast Mariners - 2 years), Ufuk Talay (Avispa Fukuoka, Japan - 2 years), Jacob Timpano (Sydney FC - 2 years), Marton Vass (APIA Leichhardt - 1 year), Scott Wilson (Dunfermline Athletic - 2 years)

Perth Glory

Re-signed: Eugene Dadi (1 year), Adriano Pellegrino (2 years), Naum Sekulovski (2 years), Victor Sikora (1 year), Scott Bulloch (1 year), Tando Velaphi (2 years), Wayne Srhoj (1 year)

In: Jacob Burns (FC Unirea Urziceni, Romania - 3 years), Howard Fondyke (Perth Glory NYL - 2 years), Brent Griffiths (Perth Glory NYL - 2 years), Andrija Jukic (Perth Glory NYL - 2 years), Scott Neville (Perth Glory NYL - 3 years), Anthony Skorich (Perth Glory NYL - 2 years)

Out: Jason Petkovic (retired), Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Newcastle Jets), David Tarka (released), Dino Djulbic (Rot Weiss Ahlen, Germany), Nick Rizzo (released), James Robinson (North Queensland Fury), Adrian Trinidad (released), Amaral (released), Josip Magdic (released), Nikita Rukavytsya (FC Twente, Netherlands), Hayden Doyle (Perth Glory NYL), Hayden Foxe (released), Mark Lee (released)

Sydney FC

Re-signed: Alex Brosque (2 years), Adam Casey (2 years), Shannon Cole (3 years), Ivan Necevski (1 year)

In: Karol Kisel (Sparta Prague, Czech Republic - 1 year), Sebastian Ryall (Melbourne Victory - 2 years), Kofi Danning (Sydney FC NYL - 2 years), Brendan Gan (Sydney FC NYL - 2 years), Antony Golec (Sydney FC NYL - 2 years), Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC NYL - 2 years), Matthew Jurman (Sydney FC NYL - 2 years)

Out: Adam Biddle (released), Beau Busch (North Queensland Fury), Mike Enfield (released), Iain Fyfe (Adelaide United), Robbie Middleby (North Queensland Fury), Tony Popovic (retired), Brendon Santalab (North Queensland Fury), Jacob Timpano (North Queensland Fury), Nik Tsattalios (Newcastle Jets)

Wellington Phoenix

Re-signed: Tim Brown (2 years), Manny Muscat (1 year), Mark Paston (1 year), Tony Lochhead (2 years), Michael Ferrante (1 year), Daniel Cortes (2 years). Ben Sigmund (2 years)

In: Chris Greenacre (Tranmere Rovers - 2 years), Diego Walsh (Adelaide United, 2 years)

Out: Vaughan Coveny (retired), Karl Dodd (released), Greg Draper (released), Richard Johnson (retired), Glen Moss (Melbourne Victory), Shane Smeltz (Gold Coast United)