We’re just over a month away from the beginning of Hyundai A-League 2016/17 season and it promises to start with a bang in an explosive opening round.
It all gets underway on Friday, October 7 as Kevin Muscat takes his new-look Melbourne Victory to Suncorp Stadium to play Brisbane Roar.
With new signings like Caltex Socceroo James Troisi, ‘Kiwi Messi’ Marco Rojas and defender Alan Baro, Victory has recruited well and will be after revenge after Roar ended their finals charge last season.
Who will make a winning start to Season 12?
It’s a “Super Saturday” triple header the following day, starting in New Zealand with Wellington Phoenix’s clash with Melbourne City.
Bruno Fornaroli, who lit up the Hyundai A-League with 25 goals last season, offers star appeal but the Phoenix have their own stars, with Gui Finkler, Kosta Barbarouses and Roly Bonevacia set to super-charge their season.
Paul Okon’s first competitive game in charge of the Central Coast Mariners rounds out Saturday’s fixtures with his side making the trip to Perth to play Glory.
The former Socceroos skipper faces a huge task to turn the Mariners fortunes around and it’s a tough opening test against the likes of Diego Castro, Andy Keogh, Adam Taggart, Rhys Williams and co.
But the standout fixture on Saturday is undoubtedly at what will be a heaving ANZ Stadium with the first Sydney Derby of the campaign.
With Western Sydney Wanderers playing home matches at Homebush in 2016/17, a new Hyundai A-League regular season crowd record could be set at the 80,000 seater ANZ Stadium.
The Sky Blues have enjoyed the local bragging rights in recent seasons and are unbeaten in the last seven Sydney Derbies.
Both sides are stacked with exciting, attacking talent with the likes of Jumpei, Nichols, Bulut and Santalab going head-to-head against Bobo, Brosque, Ninkovic and Ibini.
It promises to be another gripping and classic derby night in the Harbour City.
And finally, champions Adelaide United round out the first weekend in the Hunter against the Newcastle Jets on Sunday afternoon.
It’s a case of new beginnings for both clubs with the Jets under new Chinese owners, while Gui Amor has lost a host of players from his title-winning squad. Can the Reds get off to a strong start in their quest to go back-to-back.
Can’t wait to find out. Just 35 sleeps to go until Round 1!