They are the fresh faces and teen sensations lighting up the Hyundai A-League. We spotlight four of "the kids" taking the league by storm. We cannot wait to see how these players develop over the coming years.
Alex Gersbach (17 years of age) - Sydney FC
Graham Arnold has made a habit over the years of discovering and nurturing some impressive young talent - can add Gersbach to that list. The Miranda Magpies junior has enjoyed a breakthrough season in the competition, nailing down the left-back spot at the Sky Blues with a string of fine performances. Gersbach has rarely put a foot wrong since making his starting debut in front of more than 40,000 fans in the Sydney derby in round two – right in the middle of taking his HSC exams. An Australian under-17 international, Gersbach not only reads his defensive positioning and responsibilities impeccably but also provides a great option and crossing ability going forward. Undoubtedly a Socceroo option for the future.Meantime, he may be part of the Olyroos' Road to Rio 2016.
Daniel De Silva (17 years of age) – Perth Glory
De Silva is regarded as one of the most gifted young players to have ever emerged from Australia. Possessing fantastic skill and creativity, the Perth-born youngster is a genuine No.10 and has the ability to thrill the crowd with his vision and knack at picking out a killer pass. De Silva became the second youngest player to make his Hyundai A-League debut as a 15-year-old back in 2012 but it’s this season we’ve seen his best, making 11 appearances and scoring two goals as Glory have surged to the top of the ladder. It’s no surprise a club with the calibre of Serie A giants AS Roma worked so hard to sign him, with De Silva to become team-mates with the likes of Francesco Totti and Danielle De Rossi from next season. In fact, with Roma in Melbourne this July, that could be the first time we see him the giallorosso shirt. He could be another vital player for the Olyroos' Olympic qualification campaign.
Awer Mabil (19 years of age ) – Adelaide United
The Kenyan-born attacker is blessed with two qualities that his coaches love and opposition defenders dread – lightning pace and the confidence to run at and take on his marker. When Mabil turns on the afterburners it not only gets the crowd on their feet but there’s generally not a defender that can keep up with him. He has improved immensely under Spanish boss Josep Gombau over the last season-and-a-half and is beginning to add consistency to his eye-catching performances in terms of his crossing accuracy and goals. Mabil – who has four goals this season already – might have had an unsuccessful trial at Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam earlier this season but you can’t imagine it will be long until he’s snapped up by a club abroad.
Jacob Melling (19) – Melbourne City
It says a lot about the talent of Melling that in a squad that contains the likes of Robi Koren, Damien Duff and Aaron Mooy, the powerful teenager has emerged as a key component of City’s midfield. Melling started his career at Adelaide United, making nine top flight appearances for the club, but joined City looking for more opportunity – and has made the most of it. A combative player with huge engines and clever passing game, Melling’s emergence this season has coincided with City’s mid-year revival. He does a lot of the unfashionable work that often goes unnoticed but has allowed Koren, Duff and the other creative players do their thing in the attacking third.
And one to watch...
Braedyn Crowley (18 years of age ) – Newcastle JetsCrowley made his debut over the weekend in the Jets’ 1-1 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers FC. Signed after a superb season in the Queensland NPL with Northern Fury, Crowley is highly-regarded in the Hunter and was promoted to Phil Stubbins’ side after some exceptional performances in the NYL. The youngster hit the net 17 times for Fury last season and also took out the competition’s Young Player of the Year award. Despite some uncertain times at the Jets recently, Crowley is one to keep an eye on for the rest of the campaign.