The Roar
The Roar



This is the best start to an A-League season ever. Now it's time to cash in

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7th February, 2021
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Alou Kuol’s rise from Victoria’s second division to the A-League as a matchwinner is the sort of story only football can tell, but the task ahead is to capitalise on an incredible start to the season.

Has this been the best opening to an A-League campaign ever? It’s hard to remember a time when we’ve seen so many gripping contests match after match.

Kuol’s introduction off the bench changed the game in Central Coast’s favour on Sunday, with the Sudanese-born striker heading the Mariners to a barnstorming 3-2 win over Western United.

The 19-year-old took both of his goals with aplomb before delivering a more subdued post-match interview on Fox Sports than we’re used to seeing after the full-time whistle.

Why? Perhaps because the Mariners are growing accustomed to the feeling of winning.

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The result was another step on coach Alen Stajcic’s road to redemption, and while you get the impression he’s not the type to want to settle scores, it’s hard not to cheer on every victory as some sort of personal vindication for the former Matildas coach.

And on the back of Matt Simon scoring in his 200th game for the club last Wednesday – and again yesterday – it’s easy to portray the Gosford side as the feel-good story of the season.

Except they’re not exactly the only ones.

Central Coast Mariners A-League fans

(Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

Brisbane Roar’s systematic destruction of Melbourne Victory in Saturday’s 5-2 win in Redcliffe was noteworthy for a couple of reasons.

For one thing, it will force a national media that focuses slavishly on clubs from Sydney and Melbourne to acknowledge the fact the Roar are the hottest team in the league right now.

And that includes Fox Sports, whose commentary is starting to draw criticism from the Roar’s online support base for downplaying the achievements of Warren Moon’s men.


Make no mistake, the 5-2 scoreline flattered a truly dreadful Victory side on Saturday, and had Dylan Wenzel-Halls or Scott McDonald converted a few more chances in the second half, the Roar could easily have racked up eight goals or more.

And for all the talk about the move to Redcliffe alienating fans, what it has actually resulted in is a vastly improved match-day atmosphere to the one generated at Suncorp Stadium.

The Roar deserve more credit than they’ve been getting, but Moon’s not the type of coach to go out and demand it. Nor is Richard Garcia.

Dylan Wenzel-Halls of the Roar celebrates after kicking a goal

Dylan Wenzel-Halls (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

And a top three that currently reads Central Coast, Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory – all led by coaches who prefer to let their football do the talking – is no doubt the worst nightmare of the bean counters who remain obsessed with clubs being based in major metro markets.

But as refreshing as it’s been to just sit back and enjoy the football – and how often in the A-League have we been able to say that? – we shouldn’t lose sight of the bigger picture.


With the A-League’s COVID-affected broadcast deal ending in July, it’s incumbent upon the 12 clubs in a competition now free of Football Australia’s oversight to secure another broadcast deal for next season and beyond.

And given the allure of a ready-made cheque from Fox Sports, it’s easy to see why the clubs themselves might be tempted to roll over and take the easiest financial route available.

But is that the right move for the game?

There are enough folks on good salaries to figure that out, but in the meantime let’s hope some of them are using this incredible start to the campaign to strike while the iron is hot.

Because the matches so far this season have been so enjoyable that they deserve a wider audience.

The A-League hasn’t always done the best job of selling itself to football fans, but there can be no better advertisement than the quality of games we’ve seen to date.

The cards are on the table. It’s time to cash in.