Simon Hill’s Ultimate A-League Season Guide

The waiting is over and the season is finally here – and this is everything you need to know about the clubs contending for A-League glory.

(Squad details correct at time of publication)


COACH – Carl Veart
HOME GROUND – Coopers Stadium
KEY SIGNINGS – Tomi Juric, Javi Lopez, George Timotheou


Carl Veart has gone back to basics following his appointment as coach, making the Reds a (seemingly) happier camp & more difficult to beat. 

They go into the new season cautiously optimistic on the back of an unbeaten run at the back end of last season, narrowly missing out on the finals.

Veart has strengthened in key areas – Juric in attack, Lopez in midfield and Timotheou in defence. 

He’s also installed local-born Stefan Mauk as captain, as he looks to connect back to the community. 

On the flip side, he’s lost Paul Izzo, James Troisi, Nikola Mileusnic, Kristian Opseth and Riley McGree.  That places big responsibility on James Delianov in goal – although Juric, the two Toure’s, Ben Halloran and Mauk, should ensure there are enough goals.

Tomi Juric


COACH – Warren Moon
HOME GROUND – Dolphin Stadium
KEY SIGNINGS – Masato Kudo, Riku Danzaki, Joey Champness


A raucous atmosphere for a start, at their new home in Redcliffe. 

We can also expect a return to a back four under Warren Moon, although their defensive record was good anyway last season. 

Intriguingly, he has – on paper at least – a much more potent attack. 

Kudo was a proven goal scorer at Kashiwa Reysol, Danzaki is an exciting prospect in the number ten role, Scott McDonald will always score, there’s Dylan Wenzel-Halls & the precocious Champness as well. 

Roar also have to deal with the Asian Champions League as Wellington are ineligible, so their squad depth could be tested if they make the group stage – but with Moon having had a full pre-season to implement his ideas, Roar are still tracking north, and not just geographically.

Masato Kudo


COACH – Alen Stajcic
HOME GROUND – Central Coast Stadium
KEY SIGNINGS – Oliver Bozanic, Daniel Bouman, Stefan Nigro


The continuing emergence of good young talent, which has been the shining light in a disappointing few seasons for the Mariners.

This season should see the likes of Alou Kuol and Dylan Ruiz-Diaz further develop with more match minutes. 

Although Ziggy Gordon’s departure is a blow, there is still plenty of experience too in the shape of Mark Birighitti, club stalwart Matt Simon, and returning Coastie, Olly Bozanic. 

The big questions are whether Daniel de Silva can string together a consistent run of performances befitting of his undoubted ability, and whether Daniel Bouman can hit the back of the net with any regularity.  If so, the Mariners may well have a better campaign.  

Oliver Bozanic


COACH – Ante Milicic
HOME GROUND – Campbelltown Stadium
KEY SIGNINGS – Adam Federici, Mark Milligan, Matt Derbyshire


For the Bulls to challenge. 

The squad would seem to be a match for most in the A-League, with a nice blend of youth (Michael Ruhs and Jake Hollman are two to watch) & experience (think Ivan Franjic, Tommy Oar).

  Throw in that dash of quality in Federici, Milligan, Derbyshire, the Spaniards Markel Susaeta & Benat Etxebarria, and there’s cause for real optimism in Sydney’s south west. 

Ante Milicic has intimate knowledge of start-up clubs, and he will have his team playing the “Postecoglou” way. 

The derbies with Sydney FC and in particular the Wanderers, should hot things up nicely in the Harbour City too.

Mark Milligan


COACH – Patrick Kisnorbo
KEY SIGNINGS – Andrew Nabbout, Aiden O’Neill, Ben Garuccio


Potentially for City to achieve their holy grail of a first title. 

While Paddy Kisnorbo is new to the job, he’s been in training for it for a while, learning under the erudite Erick Mombaerts. 

The big unknown remains whether they have what it takes mentally to get over the line in the crunch matches.

Nabbout & Garuccio should help bring that big-game experience, having played in World Cups and European derbies. 

Jamie Maclaren will score goals with metronomic regularity, while the arrival of O’Neill and the promising Taras Gomulka add to the options in midfield. 

The defence perhaps looks a little light in terms of depth, but City will again be hammering at the door.    

Patrick Kisnorbo


COACH – Grant Brebner
KEY SIGNINGS – Ben Folami, Callum McManaman, Rudy Gestede


With Grant Brebner and Steve Kean in tandem, a much more robust Victory. 

They have already shown improvement in qualifying for the knockout phase of the Asian Champions League, and Nick Ansell & Declan Ryan (or the emerging Aaron Anderson) will form a quick, aggressive central defensive partnership, to shore up the third leakiest defence in the A-League last year. 

The addition of Jacob Butterfield and Jake Brimmer should also provide much better protection in midfield.

Further forward, there’s an abundance of riches, with Gestede more than capable of getting Toivonen-type returns, Folami with a point to prove ahead of the Olympics, Marco Rojas now settled back in, and Callum McManaman, Robbie Kruse & Elvis Kamsoba providing the service.    

McManaman celebrates Wigan's famous FA Cup Final win over Manchester City in 2013


COACH – Craig Deans (interim)
HOME GROUND – McDonald Jones Stadium
KEY SIGNINGS – Ramy Najjarine, Valentino Yuel, James Donachie


A push towards stability. 

The Jets have had the most difficult off-season of any A-League outfit, with doubt surrounding the future ownership of the club, and Carl Robinson quitting to take charge of the Wanderers.

On the back of that, recruitment has been understandably affected, so any sort of finals challenge would be most welcome to the long-suffering Newcastle fans. 

Ramy Najjarine’s arrival should give them reason to smile though – the on-loan Melbourne City winger has huge potential, and regular first-team football will help his development. 

Roy O’Donovan will be good for a few goals as per, and there’s still plenty of experience at the back with Nigel Boogaard and Nikolai Topor-Stanley, supplemented by Donachie’s return from India. 

You can add to that the continuing emergence of Angus Thurgate, meaning it’s not all doom and gloom on the Hunter.

Angus Thurgate


COACH – Richard Garcia
KEY SIGNINGS – Andy Keogh, Darryl Lachman, Kosuke Ota


A new coach, and seemingly a new era in WA. 

A host of experienced players have departed (along with coach Tony Popovic), and a new generation is being brought through. 

We got a glimpse at the Asian Champions League, with the likes of Bryce Bafford, Mason Tatafu, Nick Walsh, Giordano Colli, Luke Bodnar and Josh Rawlins (average age just 18), all being given valuable experience at the highest level. 

Old heads such as Diego Castro, Neil Kilkenny, Liam Reddy and Bruno Fornaroli are still there to provide guidance and know-how, while Lachman and Ota arrive with solid overseas CV’s. 

How Garcia integrates Fornaroli, Castro, Keogh and Chris Ikonomidis (once he regains full fitness) into his line-up could provide for one of the more intriguing season narratives.

Andy Keogh fist bump


COACH – Steve Corica
HOME GROUND – Jubilee Stadium (Kogarah) Leichhardt Oval (Leichhardt)
KEY SIGNINGS – Calem Nieuwenhof (scholarship contract)


More of the same. 

The dominant force over the last few years, and even though there’s been little incoming transfer activity, the squad has remained largely untouched elsewhere, with the notable exception of Adam Le Fondre’s departure. 

Trent Buhagiar however, showed he was more than capable of filling that gap at the Asian Champions League in partnership with Kosta Barbarouses. 

There’s plenty of title-winning know-how, a rock-steady defence and the sublime skills of Milos Ninkovic to enjoy again, but also the emergence of bright young talents such as Calem Nieuwenhof, who was outstanding in Qatar. 

Can they be the first A-League team to win three-in-a-row?  Don’t bet against it. 

Sydney FC


COACH – Ufuk Talay
HOME GROUND – WIN Stadium (Wollongong), Sky Stadium
KEY SIGNINGS – Josh Laws, Mirza Muratovic, Tomer Hemed


For the Phoenix to again have to do things the hard way. 

COVID means they are based in Wollongong, but if they can make a home there, they can build on last season’s third placed finish. 

Ufuk Talay is a smart coach – last season everyone wondered where the goals were coming from after the loss of Roy Krishna, David Williams & Sarpreet Singh. 

The answers were Ulises Davila, Gary Hooper and David Ball.  Hooper has gone, but the other two remain, and while Talay has lost other talents such as Steven Taylor, Libby Cacace and Callum McCowatt, don’t bet against him pulling another rabbit out of the hat. 

Laws and Muratovic have Olyroos spots to aim for, while Hemed has EPL experience with Brighton.  Ben Waine & Sam Sutton are the next bright young things off the Academy production line. 

Ulises Davila


COACH – Carl Robinson
HOME GROUND – BankWest Stadium
KEY SIGNINGS – Graham Dorrans, James Troisi, Bernie Ibini


Yet another make-or-break for the Wanderers. 

Carl Robinson seems to be the right coaching choice – finally – and he’s been aggressive in his recruitment, which also sees Ziggy Gordon make the switch south from the Mariners.

Wanderers will be keen to get off to a good start, and with three of their first four at home, they have a big opportunity. The first away trip to Newcastle could be interesting on January 5th however! 

Dorrans brings six years of Premier League experience, and if Ibini can recapture the form & fitness that saw him win two Socceroos caps in 2014/15, then Wanderers should be much more of a threat in front of goal.  The only question is in goal, where Daniel Lopar was a late departure.

Carl Robinson


COACH – Mark Rudan
HOME GROUND – GMHBA Stadium (Geelong), Mars Stadium (Ballarat) AAMI Park (Melbourne)
KEY SIGNINGS – Lachlan Wales, Victor Sanchez


The avoidance of “second season syndrome”. 

Not a whole lot of transfer activity, although both Wales and Sanchez are useful additions.  Western made the finals in their first season with an experienced squad – the question now with their senior players (Diamanti, Berisha, Durante) a year older is, can they avoid a drop-off? 

Mark Rudan is a shrewd coach however, and perhaps his biggest signing during the off-season was the retention of Max Burgess. 

His undoubted talents could take centre stage again this season, and guide the club to a second-successive finals berth. 

Off the pitch, United’s new training base will commence in early 2021 – the precursor to the stadium that could be the real game-changer for the A-League.

Alessandro Diamanti