Whisper it quietly around a code that has lurched from crisis to crisis in recent years, but there’s suddenly an air of optimism as the new A-League season dawns.
Brisbane Roar will take on Sydney FC at Suncorp Stadium as the A-League returns after international break.
Let’s be honest, international breaks are boring. And when England comes up against teams like the Czech Republic or Montenegro to qualify for the Euros, it’s obviously going to be a thrashing for England.
So fans really look forward to the return of league football, and the A-League especially.
Sydney FC will be looking to show that they can still compete for the A-League championship after handing the minor premiership to Perth Glory after a 2-0 loss against Melbourne City.
Sydney have actually been doing well in most aspects recently, except getting the ball into the net.
It is something that Steve Corica has been asked about a lot in recent weeks, but when asked about it in a pre-match press conference, he said Daniel De Silva and Siem de Jong were returning.
This is a shame any because it eliminates any possible strategy changes, as the speculation about his job has been building up in recent weeks. But unfortunately it seems that nothing will change tactics-wise, unless he is holding his cards very close to his chest.
Meanwhile, Brisbane Roar put up a strong performance against Melbourne Victory, and they mentally have the advantage against Sydney in this clash.
Brisbane Roar have sustained an injury crisis, but in doing that have uncovered a gem in Dylan Wenzel-Halls.
The 21-year-old star has been incredible already for Brisbane Roar, having netted four goals and bagged two assists in 15 matches.
In recent weeks Darren Davies has been playing him in what is in my opinion his best position, in the hole and slightly behind the striker.
One of his best qualities is his ability to use his pace when getting the ball in behind as well as his quality on the ball. He is effective on either wing, and he deserves a place in the Olyroos squad.
That said, Henrique has been excelling in a selfless striker role, bouncing off the wingers and midfielders. His clever flick-ons and cheeky dribbles have made him the perfect person to play in that position.
Predicted starting line-up
GK: Jamie Young
LB: Stefan Nigro
CB: Ruon Tongyik
CB: Jacob Pepper
RB: Daniel Leck
LM: Eric Bautheac
CM: Matt McKay
CM: Alex Lopez
RM: Tobias Mikkelsen
CF: Dylan Wenzel-Halls
Steve Corica has confirmed that marquee Siem de Jong and young star Daniel De Silva are set to return, but he confirmed that neither of them are signing.
This means that this game will determine Anthony Caceres’ future at Sydney FC.
After coming on a mid-season loan deal, he has been a solid player, but hasn’t really been thinking outside the box as he should be doing in his position.
De Jong and De Silva both have played in that position, and it is likely that Steve Corica will favour either one of them over Caceres, so it is really do or die for him.
His loan expires at the end of the season, and it is likely that he will be transferred to another A-League club if Sydney don’t offer him a contract.
After Ben Warland tore his ACL against Melbourne City, it has opened up a spot in the heart of defence.
Jacob Tratt should cement his spot, and it is likely as Aaron Calver is set to leave, so Sydney won’t be looking to try and make him their first-choice centre back before the end of the season.
The fact Tratt hasn’t been selected means that Jop van der Linden could be looking for a revival at Sydney.
Josh Brillante has also been promoted after an apparent J-League deal fell through, and it is likely that he will return into the starting line-up.
Predicted starting eleven
GK: Andrew Redmayne
LB: Michael Zullo
CB: Jop van der Linden
CB: Alex Wilkinson
RB: Rhyan Grant
CDM: Brandon O’Neill
CDM: Josh Brillante
LAM: Milos Ninkovic
RAM: Anthony Caceres
ST: Reza Ghoochannejhad
ST: Adam Le Fondre
This will be a tight game, but Sydney will come out on top.
The final score will be 2-1 to Sydney, with Adam Le Fondre getting one goal and Rhyan Grant getting another. Milos Ninkovic will get man of the match.