A stack of international player movements since the start of 2014 is a reminder - as if Australian football fans need a reminder - of the global nature of the Hyundai A-League.

In a month where a Lithuanian striker moved from Turkey to Perth, a Socceroo returned home from New York, and over a dozen A-League players relocated to or from eastern Asian countries, the cosmopolitan stage of Australia's national league is clear to see.

Australia's early 2014 transfer window also saw the movement of several Australians and New Zealanders within the country, as all squads hone in for the run in to the 2014 finals, and the Mariners, Wanderers and Victory also gunning for Asian Champions League success.

A-LEAGUE PLAYER MOVEMENTS 1 January to 5 February 2014 (includes loan moves)

ADELAIDE UNITED Gains: Ryan Griffiths (Beijing Baxy, China), Michael Marrone (Shanghai Shenxin, China). Losses: Antony Golec (Western Sydney Wanderers), Steven Lustica (Brisbane Roar).

BRISBANE ROAR Gains: Steven Lustica (Adelaide United), Jean Carlos Solorzano [COS] (Puntarenas, Costa Rica). Losses: Kwame Yeboah (Borussia Monchengladbach, Germany).

CENTRAL COAST MARINERS Gains: Eddy Bosnar (Guangzhou R&F, China), Isaka Cernak (Perth Glory), Bernie Ibini (Shanghai SIPG, China), Kim Seung-Yong [KOR] (Ulsan Hyundai, Korea Republic), Matt Sim (Sutherland Sharks, NSW), Glen Trifiro (Sydney United, NSW). Losses: Daniel McBreen (Shanghai SIPG, China), Michael McGlinchey [NZL] (Vegalta Sendai, Japan), Trent Sainsbury (Zwolle, Netherlands).

MELBOURNE HEART Gains: Dylan Macallister (Eastern Salon, Hong Kong), Golgol Mebrahtu (Western Sydney Wanderers).

MELBOURNE VICTORY Gains: Tom Rogic (Celtic, Scotland). Losses: Jonathan Bru [MAU] (released), Mitch Nichols (Cerezo Osaka, Japan).

NEWCASTLE JETS Gains: David Carney (New York Red Bulls, United States), Joel Griffiths (Qingdao Jonoon, China).

PERTH GLORY Gains: Rostyn Griffiths (Guangzhou, China), Nebojsa Marinkovic [SER] (Hapoel Haifa, Israel), Darvydas Sernas [LIT] (Gaziantepspor, Turkey). Losses: Isaka Cernak (Central Coast Mariners), Ryo Nagai [JPN] (Cerezo Osaka, Japan).

SYDNEY FC Gains: Milos Dimitrijevic [SER] (Red Star Belgrade, Serbia), Sasa Ognenovski (Umm-Salal, Qatar). Losses: Tiago Calvano (BRA) (released), Brett Emerton (retired), Yairo Yau [PAN] (Sporting San Miguelito, Panama).

WELLINGTON PHOENIX Gains: Roy Krishna [FIJ] (Auckland City, New Zealand), Hamish Watson (Team Wellington, New Zealand).

WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS Gains: Antony Golec (Adelaide United), Golgol Mebrahtu (Melbourne Heart), Daniel Mullen (Dalian Aerbin, China).

Some A-League debutants over January 2014 have put the spotlight on a range of player source countries, some new to the Australian national league, others long-established.

Darvydas Sernas is the first Australian national league player from Lithuania, and in fact apart from a small number of Ukrainians over the years, Sernas is the first player from any former Soviet republic to play in Australia's top flight.

While several African-born players have made it to A-League ranks over the past few years, talented youngster Alusine Fofanah became the league's first player from Sierra Leone when he made his debut for Western Sydney in mid-January.

Although Wellington's Ray Krishna becomes the first Fijian to play in the A-League, there was Fijian presence in the very first match in the National Soccer League (NSL) in 1977 with Keni Kawaleva a part of the Canberra City team which hosted West Adelaide in NSL match number 1.

With the January signing of Milos Dimitrijevic, and earlier arrivals Nikola Petkovic and Ranko Despotovic, the Serbs are suddenly in favour at Sydney FC. All three Serbians started in Sydney's 5-0 rout of Melbourne Victory - Sydney's biggest away win in the A-League. Excluding the more 'traditional' source countries Brazil, the Netherlands and New Zealand, this was the first time three imports of the same nationality have started for an Australian A-League team. We need to go back to the 1992/93 NSL season to find more than three imports of the same nationality playing for an Australian national league team, when Preston fielded Macedonians Nikola Avramovski, Spase Najdovski, Zoran Tasevski and Zoran Trajcevski against Melbourne Croatia in their Round 11 match.

Together with Perth Glory's Nebojsa Marinkovic, the Serbian contingent is prominent this season, as it was throughout the first decade of the NSL.

Players from 25 different nationalities now make up the 2013/14 Hyundai A-League season.

And with the league's first French (William Gallas) and Chilean (Pablo Contreras) national team players joining this season, players from around 55 different nationalities have now taken part in the A-League since it kicked off in 2005.

But it's not just the A-League where overseas stars have come to play in 2013/14. This summer's Westfield W-League features players from a dozen countries, with a prominence of players from the leading country of women's football the United States. The W-League's eight Americans are spread across Canberra United and Western Sydney Wanderers (3 each), Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory. And in terms of quality female players, none - officially - can be more internationally prominent than Brisbane Roar goalkeeper Nadine Angerer who was recently announced FIFA Women's World Player of 2013.

All over the world, the growing internationalisation of football is increasing debate about the right mix of local and overseas players.

The prominence of star players from abroad can certainly add quality and glamour to a national league. The flip side however is reduced opportunity for the domestic playing contingent; leagues and teams potentially losing 'local' identity, and lesser-experienced home-grown players available for national teams.

Finding the right balance is essential.

In the meantime there's a great and diverse spectacle as players from right across the globe mix it with the best local talent on the national men's and women's stage. Get out there and enjoy it.

Follow Andrew Howe’s Aussie football stats updates on Twitter @AndyHowe_statto

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and do not reflect those of Football Federation Australia.
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Comments (9)
Massive improvement in the standard of play and watchability, but who's in charge of coverage in the media. Its either non-existent or scant.
John  |  
19 Mar 2014 12:39 PM
I can very safely draw a comparison even with the EPL and A league. I get all the EPL games on DSTV where I am now both on Saturdays and Sundays. The top 4 or 5 teams play decent football at times but the bottom? give me a break, saw the Hull City V Sunderland FA cup gig yesterday and I am a Hull city supporter. The quality of the game? I saw much better games in the A League when I lived in Australia 2 years ago. The EPL is over rated and it is not as good as it is made out to be, just look at the performance of the EPL clubs in the European championships. The only valid reason why there will continue to be a drop in the number of Australian players going overseas is that they can make a better living in Australia now and they have a chance to be selected for national duties when they play in the A League. So this business about the comparison between the NSL and A league is a waste of time, the NSL was semi pro at best and there is no way players from the NSL made their mark in Europe playing in the NSL only, Most were from the AIS in Canberra and they were first detected from the U15 state championships where most came from the state academies, as I remember only Frank Farina made it to the AIS bypassing the QAS in QLD. Enjoy what you have and it will continue to get better as the cream remains in Australia not like it was in the NSL days where only the rest played as the best were overseas, one could say that the NSL only rated # 3 in the pick of players, the first crop played in the top leagues in Europe, the second crop in the second tier leagues of Europe and the 3rd crop in the NSL. Cheers
oz  |  
10 Mar 2014 07:39 PM
Great article and I think alot will agree that ofcourse we would like to see alot of our young and local talent play in the A-League but I just think that the sport in this country need foreign players look at the EPL alot of foreign players bring different skills exciting style of play which makes it so exciting to watch. I think leave the visa rule how it is for a few more years to get most of the word out to other players, managers, clubs that the A-League is so close to being one of the great leagues in the world. I was watching the Japanese league recently and was surprised how many foreign players were playing. We need a few more years as the hyundai A-League is relatively young
Daniel  |  
10 Mar 2014 04:08 AM
Your dreaming more high quality players that played in the NSL have made it further than any A-league players. wake up and remember the high quality games we used to watch and the massive crows that used to attend. soccer in the country is stagnant with most clubs broke. AUS players coming back to play means we cant even cut it in Asia or second rate euro sides. currently half our sides squads are made up of average overseas players that could be made up of young talented Australian players.
paul  |  
1 Mar 2014 05:30 PM
Andrew, what you say is correct. The local game has definitely improved since the start of the A League. I came to Brisbane from London in 1967. (I have been a lifelong Arsenal supporter). The current standard of football is leagues ahead of the standard of those days. The A League has brought a high standard of professionalism to the game. In the last few years it has attracted a significant number of international players of a high calibre - admittedly at the ends of their careers and not as effective as in their glory days, but a tremendous influence on the game imparting their experience to the young players. The sad thing is that when Manchester City comes to play against our clubs later in the year the contrast between them will be enormous. Man City will have players costing millions to buy from their former clubs and who receive unbelievable salaries and they will play a team like Brisbane Roar which will have experienced professionals on relatively modest pay rates and young up and coming lads who play their hearts out. When you think about the differences between our clubs and players and those of the top EPL teams you must expect inequalities. However, I think that the difference in ability will not reflect the difference in cost. I, like David, could not watch football in this country, but I took a look at the A League a few years back and was pleasantly surprised at the improvement. I have been a supporter of the Roar now for a number of years and have noticed a significant improvement in the game. I would much rather watch an A League game than AFL, mainly because having played it in my youth I understand it. Stuart.
Stuart  |  
25 Feb 2014 07:20 PM
@Frank Sorry Frank but don't agree with your comment. I'm originally from Liverpool UK and I can't watch the A-League - it's mostly lacks excitement and the skill level is deplorable. Thankfully I can watch the EPL on Pay TV . I will say this though, I really like the AFL. It's fast and exciting to watch and I guess those who watch it can say they are watching the best exponents of the game in the world. Loads of my friends overseas watch it too.
David  |  
22 Feb 2014 10:02 PM
Whilst it is good to see an influx of foreign players to the A League and Australian players returning to the A League I feel it is unfortunate that many of the overseas players despite their great playing ability are bringing in to many tricks which gain them free kicks and which are fooling our local referees. They do this by various methods by dragging a foot and/or putting a foot out sideways so that contact is made with the opposition, backing into a player or simply by overreacting to a slight touch with a defender. Local referees fall for all these tricks on a regular basis. When certain teams play the Fox commentators say that XXX was fouled on say 10 occasions when in fact they were only fouled on one or two occasions and the remainder were when they caused themselves to go down either by subterfuge or by deliberately making contact with the opposition. Another thing that concerns me is when young players go overseas too early. Some by their own instigation and others by their club's grab for money. Too many times we see them getting no pitch time overseas and coming back with their tails between their legs. It is good to see young players getting the opportunity but they need to be ready. Do not know how to overcome this.
Kevin  |  
17 Feb 2014 12:32 AM
...what a difference when you compare the World Game and all it's players from across the Globe & all the AFL has too offer and shout about are players from regional corners of Australia like Ballarat & Geelong or Darwin, how exciting, NOT...!!! Bring on the (AUSTRALIAN) A-League..!!!
Frank  |  
10 Feb 2014 04:57 PM
Fantastic article Andrew, amazing to see the global reach of the Hyundai A-League
Tony  |  
9 Feb 2014 10:44 AM

Andrew Howe

Andrew Howe is a football fanatic and statistician who provides Football Federation Australia with a wealth of historical stats and data on Australian football.