A NEW ERA of Australian domestic football launches tonight, with a fresh brand underpinning an exciting batch of players as reigning champions Melbourne City kick off the season.
Two ex-Premier League stars and a Socceroos great look set to debut in the Isuzu UTE A-League Men’s Round 1, after Western Sydney Wanderers last night confirmed the signing of former Everton and Manchester City midfielder Jack Rodwell, ahead of Saturday night’s derby against Sydney FC at CommBank Stadium.
Former Liverpool and England star Daniel Sturridge is on track to debut for Perth Glory at home to Adelaide United on Saturday night (HBF Park).
Fresh from six years in the German Bundesliga, Mathew Leckie is likely to join Socceroos teammates Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout in lining up for City tonight against Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park, after international duty.
Saturday’s Sydney derby is the first Isuzu UTE A-League Men’s match broadcast free-to-air on Network 10. Tonight’s City-Roar clash will be the first to launch on Paramount+, with the new streaming platform to broadcast all other matches live and exclusive.
Last season the youngest batch of players inspired an exciting season, and Olyroos Tokyo 2020 goalscorers Marco Tilio (Melbourne City) and Lachlan Wales (Western United) are among the next generation again on show.
A high number of Socceroos are also competing in the A-League this season, with Rhyan Grant, Andrew Redmayne (both Sydney FC), Chris Ikonomidis (Melbourne Victory), Curtis Good, Connor Metcalfe, Leckie, Maclaren and Nabbout (Melbourne City) all representing Graham Arnold’s national team in the past year.
A-Leagues Managing Director Danny Townsend said the sky was the limit, after the competition followed some of the world’s leading leagues in unbundling from the national football federation.
“This is a new era for Australian domestic football. We’ve made huge progress off the field in the past 11 months since unbundling and the stage is set for the players to shine,” Townsend said.
“It’s the most exciting collective batch of youngsters in the A-League since the NSL days, and the additions of high-profile international and Socceroos signings mean this could be the most entertaining season in the A-League era.”
A-Leagues Commissioner Greg O’Rourke said it was appropriate for City to kick-off the season at the venue they won their first A-League Men’s trophy less than five months ago.
“That was an historic moment for Melbourne City and it’s appropriate they unveil the 2021/22 season. I’d like to acknowledge the spirit and collaboration from all A-Leagues clubs during a challenging period for Australian sport. I’m really excited to see the players take the field and fans returning to the stands in their highest numbers since the beginning of 2020,” O’Rourke said.
ROUND 1 ISUZU UTE A-LEAGUE MEN’S FIXTURES (local time)
Melbourne City v Brisbane Roar, AAMI Park, 7:45pm kick-off
Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC, CommBank Stadium, 7:45pm kick-off
Western United v Melbourne Victory, GMHBA Stadium, 7:45pm kick-off
Perth Glory v Adelaide United, HBF Park, 10:05pm kick-off
Newcastle Jets v Central Coast Mariners, McDonald Jones Stadium, 4:05pm kick-off
Macarthur FC v Wellington Phoenix, Campbelltown Stadium, 6:15pm kick-off
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