Extra Time: Hyundai A-League stars raring to go for first whistle

The waiting is almost over and with less than 12 hours until the start of the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 season, a host of the competition’s top stars have spoken about their excitement.

The lengthy off-season is one reason why many players are champing at the bit but for some, like Perth Glory defender Matthew Spiranovic, Round 1 comes with added motivation.

Spiranovic and fellow new signing Brendon Santalab will come up against their old club, Western Sydney Wanderers, with Perth manager Tony Popovic preparing for the same task.

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“After 17 weeks of pre-season, you’re sort of itching just to get out there,” Spiranovic said.

“To start playing for real points [is great]. Given the history of the clubs, ’Popa’ now coaching Perth Glory, and, you know, for myself and a couple of others having played at Western Sydney at some point [in] the last few years.

“[It is] nice to be playing the first game at home in front of our supporters so I’m confident we will put in a good performance.”

Perth’s arduous off-season has created many headlines and Adelaide United star Craig Goodwin says the Reds have been working extremely hard, too.

“I think we’ve built a good squad this year and I think, definitely with Marco [Kurz], under his coaching, we’ll be one of the fittest teams this year,” Goodwin said.

Marco Kurz

“It’s a really interesting season for us. If we can improve on what the club did last season, then it’s going to be a successful campaign.”

The Hyundai A-League 2018/19 season will be notable for the high-profile international signings that grace our shores and none are bigger than Melbourne Victory’s Japanese playmaker Keisuke Honda.

Honda’s glittering CV indicates the 32-year-old will make a big impact Down Under and he has already dubbed Melbourne as “one of the most beautiful cities in the world”.

Fans can expect plenty of goals from Sydney FC striker Adam Le Fondre, who has a goal ratio of better than one in every three matches in a long and distinguished career in the United Kingdom.

And while the bulk of Le Fondre’s goals were scored in the lower leagues, 12 goals from just 11 English Premier League starts in the 2012/13 campaign at Reading leaps off the page when perusing his statistics.

Le Fondre said he has come to Sydney to “win trophies” as the Sky Blues look to continue their successful era - this time under new manager Steve Corica.

“That’s Sydney’s expectations, we expect to win. I’ve come [here for] the same. I want to win trophies,” he said.

Adam Le Fondre by Sydney harbour

“The gaffer, since I’ve come in, he’s always talking positively to me about how I can effect the game and how I can effect the opposition’s defence and create chances and score goals.”

Another player with a swag of British experience is Steven Taylor, the 32-year-old centre-back having made nearly 200 English Premier League appearances with Newcastle United.

Now at Wellington Phoenix, Taylor has promised fans that he will “always give 100 per cent” as the New Zealand-based club look to transform their fortunes under Mark Rudan.