The Alou Kuol of 2021-22? Our A-Leagues Pod’s verdict

The Official A-Leagues Podcast is up and running for 2021/22, and with it comes an avenue for you to get your fix on all things A-Leagues with a new episode dropping every Monday.

Host Daniel Garb is joined by former Australia internationals Robbie Cornthwaite and Amy Chapman to bring you insight, opinion, analysis and a healthy serving of laughs as they unpack all the weekly A-Leagues action.

Garb, Chapman and Cornthwaite kick off proceedings with a preview of the 2021/22 Isuzu UTE A-League season, which gets underway on Friday, November 19. The agenda includes how all 12 teams will fare, predicted Johnny Warren Medal and Golden Boot winners and more – including an exciting question to ponder: who will be the ‘Alou Kuol’ of the 2021/22 campaign?

Last season a teenage Kuol burst onto the scene, striking Central Coast Mariners up the table with an early flurry of goals which saw the Sudanese-born forward top the Golden Boot charts before a late-season fade.

In the aftermath of his brief but brilliant Isuzu UTE A-League stint Kuol secured a move to German side VfB Stuttgart, where he’s excelling for the club’s reserve side in the Regionalliga Sudwest. 

Kuol made his European move off the back of a scintillating burst of form in the Isuzu UTE A-League

As Melbourne City and Brisbane prepare to kick off proceedings in the 2021/22 Isuzu UTE A-League campaign Garb, Chapman and Cornthwaite debated: is there another exciting youngster lying in wait to set the league alight?

LISTEN: The Official A-Leagues Podcast – season preview and predictions

“I’ve got two because I’m indecisive like that,” Chapman replied. “But I think (Marco) Tilio was unbelievable toward the back end of that season, we’re all excited to see what he can bring and if he gets a full season with quality players around him, he’s exceptionally exciting.”

Tilio takes possession during City’s 3-1 Grand Final win over Sydney FC

With 10 starts and 1044 Isuzu UTE A-League minutes to his name to date, Tilio has shown us a glimpse of his capabilities. The 20-year-old flew toward the end of the 2020/21 season, jumping at the opportunity to replace Jamie Maclaren in City’s starting lineup as the Golden Boot winner – who bagged 25 goals in 24 games last season – departed for international duty.

Tilio starred in City’s Grand Final win over Sydney FC, before venturing to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic Games where he scored for the Green and Gold in a stunning 2-0 win over Argentina. 

Chapman will watch with eagerness to see how Tilio fares in 2021/22 – however minutes will come as a premium in a City attack featuring the likes of Mathew Leckie, Andrew Nabbout and Jamie Maclaren. 

“If I’m talking about a proper unknown it’s the Brisbane local Cyrus Dehmie,” Chapman continued. “He’s been unbelievable in the lead-up games, he scored a hat-trick against Lions in the FFA Cup, he’s certainly one to keep an eye out (for).”

There’s opportunities for Dehmie to assert himself on the league if the 19-year-old Roar striker fancies it. Brisbane’s two top scorers from 2020/21 (Dylan Wenzel-Halls and Riku Danzaki) have since departed the club, leaving Dehmie to compete with the likes of Juan Lescano and Jez Lofthouse for opportunities in the Roar attack. 

Should Dehmie seize his chances early, he could find himself becoming a mainstay in Brisbane’s starting lineup.

Dehmie celebrates netting one of three goals against Lions FC in the FFA Cup

“I’m going to go for (Bernardo Oliveira),” Cornthwaite said, opting to back in a player close to home as his young gun to watch in 2021/22. “The (son of) legendary left-back at Adelaide United Cássio.

“Al Hassan Toure has been moved on because Bernardo is going to play in front of him. He’s a tricky, creative number 10/winger, coming inside and floating around the edge of the box. 

“At 17 years of age, he plays for Australia, he’s got an Aussie passport, he’s one to watch for me.”

Like father, like son? Reds fans will hope the saying rings true in this instance. Bernardo Oliveira joined the Reds on a two-and-a-half-year deal in the off-season after spending 17 months at Melbourne City. 

He joins the club where is father Cássio played 150 times between 2007-14. The Adelaide faithful will sit forward in their seats when Bernardo goes near the ball in 2021/22, eager to see what the son of a club legend can produce in the earliest days of his professional career. 

Bernardo Oliveira controls the ball during Adelaide’s FFA Cup clash with Floreat Athena

“Ben Waine, he’s my pick,” said Garb, picking the 20-year-old Kiwi striker to continue his rapid rise this season.

“I know he’s not Aussie, he’s a Kiwi, but he scored (seven in 22 games total) last season and he’ll get opportunities at the Phoenix in this campaign. Only 20 years of age, I think he’s one for New Zealand football to get hugely excited about. 

“From an A-League point of view I think we’ll really enjoy him coming through this season.”

In 2020/21 Waine became the youngest Phoenix player to score five goals in a single season, and just the fourth player in the club’s history to net in four consecutive games. Records fell around the young striker as he relished the opportunities granted to him by head coach Ufuk Talay to leave his mark on the competition.

Waine prepares for the 2021/22 season at a Phoenix pre-season training session

Waine stands to benefit from playing and training alongside former Norwich City and Celtic striker Gary Hooper this season, as well as the hard-working David Ball. Together the two Englishmen can light the path for Waine to follow.

But Garb has tipped one more youngster to make a splash this season, jostling with Dehmie for a chance at igniting at the Roar after being deprived of opportunities in Sky Blue.

“I like Luke Ivanovic,” Garb said. “I think he’s got a bit about him. 

“I’m not sure he’ll quite be that level of player, but I think he deserved more of an opportunity at Sydney FC. He didn’t get it because of their quality. 

“I think he’ll be afforded that at Brisbane so I think he can emerge.”

The Roar have a new number nine in Luke Ivanovic this season