Hyundai A-League preview: Your club’s opening month

With the start of the Hyundai A-League just over three weeks away, clubs are busy fine-tuning preparations for what promises to be a thrilling opening month of the season.

And with sides desperate to start the season strongly, we take a closer look at each club’s first four games of the new campaign. 

Adelaide United: Jets (away), Wanderers (home), Victory (home), City (away)

The champions begin their title defence in the Hunter against a Newcastle outfit that will be desperate to get off to a good start under a new coach.

It’s the beginning of a tricky – but thrilling – first month for the Reds, with a grand final rematch against Western Sydney on Friday night in round 2.

Guillermo Amor will depart the Adelaide United.

A blockbuster against traditional rivals Melbourne Victory is a clash they always look forward to before a trip to City.

After going eight games without a win to start last season, how long will it take Gui Amor’s side to register their first three points in 2016/17?

Brisbane Roar: Victory (home), Jets (away), Mariners (away), Glory (home)

For the second straight season, Roar will officially open the season with a massive clash against Melbourne Victory at Suncorp Stadium.

New recruits Brett Holman and Thomas Kristensen are likely to start in what’s always a tasty clash, with both sides keen to land an early psychological blow.

Brett Holman

It’s the toughest of a reasonably good start to the season for John Aloisi’s side, with winnable road trips to the Mariners and Jets, followed by a home clash against Perth Glory in round 4.

Central Coast Mariners: Glory (away), Sydney FC (away), Roar (home), Wanderers (away)

Paul Okon’s reign at the Mariners gets underway in the west as they travel to Perth to meet the new-look Glory on a ‘Super Saturday’ in week one.

Clashes against fellow NSW clubs Sydney FC (round 2) and the Wanderers (round 4) both away highlight some huge early games for last season’s strugglers.

New Mariners coach Paul Okon alongside assist Ivan Jolic taking charge of his first training session. Image courtesy Jason Pratt Photography.

The new boss only match in Gosford in the first seven rounds comes in week three, with a clash against Roar.

It’s a tough start and they’ll want to get some points on the board to avoid a repeat of last season’s disappointing campaign.

Melbourne City: Phoenix (away), Victory (away), (Glory (home), Adelaide (home)

City will be without star recruit Tim Cahill on international duty as they start the season in New Zealand against Ernie Merrick’s Phoenix.

It’s a tough trip for JVS’s boys but most eyes will be on the round 2 clash and the next instalment of the Melbourne Derby at what could be a sold-out Etihad Stadium for Cahill’s Hyundai A-League debut.

Melbourne City strikers Bruno Fornaroli and Tim Cahill.

It’s then back-to-back home games AAMI Park for City.

First it’s Perth Glory in a Friday night blockbuster to start round three before Adelaide United – who eliminated them from the finals last season and have a host of ex-City players in their ranks – come to town the following week.

Melbourne Victory: Roar (away), City (home), Adelaide (away), Phoenix (home)

Revenge will be on Victory’s mind on the opening night of the season as they return to Suncorp to face Roar, the side that eliminated them in 2015/16.

Kevin Muscat’s troops are involved in some huge fixtures to start their season, none bigger than the round two derby against Cahill, Fornaroli and co.

Melbourne Victory stars Marco Rojas and Besart Berisha.

A road trip to long-time foes Adelaide United awaits in round three before their now traditional Monday clash pre-Melbourne Cup against the Phoenix the following week.

What an exciting start for all Victory players, coaches and supporters to look forward to.

Newcastle Jets: Adelaide (home), Roar (home), Wanderers (away), Sydney FC (home)

Whoever is at the helm of the Jets at the start of the season faces a stern examination with the Hunter club facing a tough opening month.

The Jets face last season’s top three sides in the opening three weeks, the only positive is that two of those matches are in front of their home fans against Adelaide and Brisbane.

Morten Nordstrand

Away games against the Wanderers and Sky Blues means there will be no interstate or international travel in the early weeks, which could be a big help as they hope to make a flying start to the season.

Perth Glory: Mariners (home), Phoenix (home), City (away), Roar (away)

With the calibre of player Kenny Lowe has been able to add to his squad, Glory will be confident of a big season and another finals appearance.

Perth Glory

But whether they can gel from round one is the question. It’s a relatively good start for Glory, with back-to-back home games against Mariners and then a Distance Derby clash with Wellington.

Away games against City and Brisbane the following fortnight will give a good indication of just how strong Glory could be in 2016/17.

Sydney FC: Wanderers (away), Mariners (home), Phoenix (away), Jets (away)

A Hyundai A-League record crowd awaits the Sky Blues in round one as they head to ANZ Stadium for the first Sydney Derby of the season. This will be an epic occasion.

And Graham Arnold’s side should be able to make a fast-start to the season after the Wanderers clash, with the long trip to New Zealand the only time they travel in the first month.

Alex Brosque is edging closer to a return from a hamstring injury.

Sydney FC have been the kings of the NSW over the last two seasons – unbeaten against all three other sides in the state.

With matches against them all in the first month, will they get off to a flyer?

Wellington Phoenix: City (home), Glory (away), Sydney FC (home), Victory (away)

The Phoenix will be out to make amends for a poor season in 2015/16, and the opening month is sure to challenge them.

While a home match against Melbourne City is one they will be confident of winning, they then need to travel all the way to Perth in round 2.

Wellington Phoenix: IN – Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler, Marco Rossi, Adam Parkhouse, James McGarry

Games against Sydney FC and then Melbourne Victory rounds out their first four, which should tell us a lot more about what kind of season Phoenix may have.

Home form will again be crucial if Ernie Merrick is to steer Wellington back into the finals.

Western Sydney Wanderers: Sydney FC (home), Adelaide (away), Jets (home), Mariners (home)

The Wanderers have never won the opening match of the season in their Hyundai A-League history, which doesn’t augur well for the derby in round one.

In fact, Tony Popovic’s side haven’t won any of the last seven clashes with the Sky Blues. Can they turn it around in the standout clash of the opening weekend?

Wanderers midfielder Mitch Nichols celebrates scoring last season.

It’s then a relatively kind draw for the Wanderers after that, with a grand final rematch in Adelaide in week two before consecutive home games against the Jets and Mariners.

If things go to plan they should be off to a strong start to the campaign.