Phoenix boss Ufuk Talay says he’s found the final piece of the Wellington puzzle after signing ex-Premier League striker Gary Hooper on Thursday.
But as the Wellington boss revealed recruiting the star Englishman was a signing coup long in the making.
Hear from Talay, Hooper and teams from around the league as we look ahead to all the Round 2 Hyundai A-League action.
Talay delighted with Hooper signing
The Phoenix worked long and hard behind the scenes to lure Englishman Gary Hooper to the A-League, and Wellington boss Ufuk Talay couldn’t be happier with his squad following his acquisition of the star striker.
“For me I’m personally very happy to have Gary (Hooper) here with us,” Talay said.
“I think he’s going to add a lot of value to our team.
“We’ve been speaking about this for quite a while, it’s been on-going and a lot of work has gone into creating this team.
“Gary is our last piece of the puzzle and we’re very excited and very happy to have him here.”
The ex-Premier League striker is best known for stints at English side Norwich City and Scottish Giants Celtic where he scored 82 goals in 138 appearances for the Hoops.
After his most recent spell at English Championship side Sheffield Wednesday Hooper is relishing being in a brand new footballing environment at the Phoenix.
“For one it’s a new challenge,” Hooper said.
“It’s completely different to what I’m used to, and I’m excited for a new challenge basically. I’m here to play football, score goals and get in the top six.
“You’ve seen the record; I’ve scored in all the leagues in England and Scotland and hopefully I can do it out here.”
Barbarouses prepares for Sydney FC home debut
Kosta Barbarouses impressed on debut for the Sky Blues in Adelaide last Friday night, and he’s looking forward to making his first home appearance for his new side against Wellington at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday afternoon.
“I can’t wait for my home debut,” Barbarouses said.
“The Cove have always been a fantastic fan base from the outside looking in for many years.
“It looks like they love their team and players and I’m really looking forward to building a good relationship with them and the fans.”
Adelaide’s Marrone faces former side
Adelaide defender Michael Marrone is preparing to face his old side in Melbourne City not once, but twice in the space of days as the Reds travel to AAMI Park for Round 2 of the Hyundai A-League before hosting City in the FFA Cup Final on Wednesday at Coopers Stadium.
“It’s exciting, I don’t think there’ll be any fatigue,” Marrone said.
“(The FFA Cup Final) will be a home game so that’s a bonus as well, and a packed Coopers Stadium so that will be great.
“Of ocourse there’s going to be a little bit more on the line on Wednesday with a chance to win a trophy and to celebrate with the team, but you just want to go out and win every game.
“They’re a changed side from last year; they play attacking football and they’re really dangerous.
“We’ll have to play well to get a result.”
City’s Galloway eyeing Adelaide double
Scott Galloway has reminded everyone just where his loyalties lie as he looked ahead to Melbourne City’s two games against his former side Adelaide United this week.
Galloway departed the Reds in the off-season, and is more than confident in his side’s ability to take three points off Adelaide this weekend before travelling to Coopers Stadium to lift the FFA Cup on Wednesday night.
“We want three points in the league to really kick start our league campaign,” Galloway said.
“Something bigger for us is getting the three points and winning the Cup. You want to do the double.
“To go back there to the place I won (the FFA Cup) last year and try and take it away from them now is going to be great.”
MATCH PREVIEW: Melbourne City v Adelaide United
Kurz demands improvement in Victory attack
After his side’s 0-0 draw with Melbourne City in Round 1 last weekend, Marco Kurz hopes his side show a little bit more in the final third against Western Sydney when they face off at Marvel Stadium this evening.
Kurz’s first game in charge of Victory ended in a scoreless draw and he’s aware his side need to improve offensively if they are to avoid dropping points again tonight.
“I wasn’t disappointed with the game, I think we had a really good first half,” Kurz said.
“The final pass, the crossing, the last decision we can do better, and it’s our job to bring it to the pitch on Friday.
“We have a home game, we are looking forward and yes we’ll start to be better in the game against Western Sydney.”
Wanderers star Georgievski reveals how to beat Victory
From his three seasons spent in Melbourne, Wanderers defender Daniel Georgievski knows what it will take for his side to defeat Victory at Marvel Stadium tonight.
“They’re always there to win, no matter what,” Georgievski said.
“That was the philosophy that has always been implemented at the club when you get there.
“The team that goes harder and stronger for longer will be the team that wins, and that’s how it’s always going to be when you’re playing Victory.
“I did spend three good seasons with Victory, there are a few people I do know (there) but that’s none of my concern; I’ll speak to them after or before the game but during the game it’s all about the badge.”
Popovic applauds Hyundai A-League new boys United
Tony Popovic knows from his time at the Wanderers just how big the task at hand is for Mark Rudan and Western United in their first Hyundai A-League campaign.
Popovic oversaw Western Sydney’s first competitive game against the Mariners back in 2012 which ended 0-0, but Rudan and United went one better last weekend notching an impressive 1-0 victory over Wellington in their first ever game.
“I can appreciate how hard it is as a start-up club to win that first game, and how important that is as a new football club,” Popovic said.
‘They’ve already achieved that, so congratulations to them.
“We’re looking forward to playing them in their first match at home... we know they’ll be confident and they’ll want to get a big crowd and a good backing there.
“We know there’s a big challenge ahead but it’s one we think we’re ready for.”
Berisha ready to carry scoring load against Glory
The sky is blue, grass is green and Besart Berisha is scoring goals in the Hyundai A-League.
Could we have expected any less on his return to Australia?
Berisha returned from his one-season hiatus to join the newly formed Western United, and was the difference in the 1-0 win against Wellington on Sunday afternoon.
“Games like in Wellington give us a lot of confidence and motivation to go to the next time, which is now a home game and I hope a lot of supporters come out,” Berisha said.
“You have to score goals for your team, your club.
“Of course I want to do this, but the most important thing is really I came here to help the team with my experience, with my game, the way I play and try and help as much as I can.
“It’s very exciting, first game at home. I'm hoping we get a lot of support.”
Novocastrian Hoffman relishes F3 Derby battle
For Jason Hoffman, the F3 Derby means that little bit more than any other game.
Being from the area Hoffman knows what to expect when the sides walk out at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday night, and what a win will mean for the fans back home.
“There’s a bit of tradition here which is nice for the fans and players involved,” Hoffman said.
“Being a Newcastle born and bred guy I understand maybe a little more than others what it means.
“You always want to beat your brother in anything you do and it’s almost that relationship we have with the Mariners.
“You want to make sure that rivalry is there, and you come out on top.”