A- LEAGUE: 2017-18

World Soccer - - World Service -

duo Oriol Riera and Al­varo Cejudo are good sign­ings, and when you add ex­pe­ri­enced A-League play­ers such as Josh Ris­don, Roly Boneva­cia and Michael Th­waite, the re­turn­ing Mark Bridge and fringe Soc­ceroo mid­fielder Chris Herd, coach Tony Popovic has ev­ery­thing in place to chal­lenge for a fourth Grand Fi­nal.

Mel­bourne City have a new boss in for­mer Wi­gan Ath­letic man­ager War­ren Joyce and last year’s FFA Cup win­ners have added ex­pe­ri­ence in Eu­gene Galekovic, Marcelo Car­r­usca, Ia­copo La Rocca and Ste­fan Mauk, who were all part of Ade­laide United’s cham­pi­onship­win­ning out­fit in 2016.

Ade­laide them­selves are also un­der new man­age­ment in the shape of Ger­man coach Marco Kurz, who re­places the out­go­ing Gui Amor. Kurz has been quiet in the trans­fer mar­ket, but the ad­di­tion of mid­field­ers Jo­han Ab­sa­lon­sen and Karim Mat­mour, plus de­fender Er­san Gu­lum, should freshen things up. Much will de­pend, how­ever, on the goals of Baba Di­awara, who showed prom­ise af­ter ar­riv­ing last sea­son and will ben­e­fit from a full pre-sea­son.

Bris­bane Roar have at­tracted crit­i­cism for a squad that in­cludes a num­ber of older stars, lead­ing to the in­evitable “Dad’s Army” nick­name, but in exMid­dles­brough and Em­poli striker Mas­simo Mac­carone they re­cruited the most recog­nis­able for­eign name dur­ing the close sea­son.

Perth Glory re­main the only Aus­tralian club yet to win a tro­phy in the A-League era and whether that will change this term de­pends upon their abil­ity to tighten up a very leaky de­fence. With that in mind, Ja­cob Poscol­iero and Scott Neville have been brought in, and the ac­qui­si­tion of Span­ish mid­field­ers An­dreu and Xavi Tor­res should help to pro­vide a more solid base.

Of the rest, Welling­ton Phoenix and New­cas­tle Jets both have new coaches, Dar­ije Kalezic and two-time ti­tle win­ner Ernie Mer­rick re­spec­tively, and both will look to re­build, while Cen­tral Coast Mariners are hop­ing to con­tinue their in­cre­men­tal progress un­der Paul Okon, who has signed one-time Perth golden boy Daniel De Silva, and Dutch­men Tom Hiariej from Gronin­gen and Wout Brama from Utrecht.

recog­nis­able... Mas­simo Mac­carone

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