#AFCChampionsLeague2017 preview for Hyundai A-League clubs

Adelaide United's Kim Jae-sun, Wanderers' Terry Antonis and Brisbane Roar's Brandon Borrello.

Monday, 24 April 2017

John Duerden @JohnnyDuerden
The ACL returns this week. How will Roar do in Thailand ahead of Sunday’s blockbuster with Victory in Melbourne? The revitalised Reds and Wanderers are also in action.

Muangthong United vs Brisbane Roar (Wed night)

If there were those in Korea Republic, Japan and Australia who underestimated the Thailand Premier League champions when the draw was made, they are doing so no longer.

With four games of the six down and two to go, Muangthong is top of the group with eight points. A win at their compact stadium will secure a place in the last 16 and even a draw could be enough.

“We know what we have to do,” said Muangthong head coach Totchawan Sripan at the weekend. “We also know that the game will be very difficult and that Brisbane is a good team.”

The Kirins have plenty of talent with a number of stars who play for the Thailand national team. Chanathip Songkrasin gave the Caltex Socceroos some major headaches in Bangkok in November as two nations played out a 2-2 draw in qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Brisbane Roar and Muangthong United played out a 0-0 draw at Brisbane Stadium on Tuesday night.

The diminutive playmaker is off to Japan soon and helping Muangthong to the knockout stage would be a welcome parting gift. There is also sharpshooter Teerasil Dangda and two of the best full-backs in Asia in Tristan Do and Theerathon Bunmathan, who scored a spectacular free-kick on Saturday.

One plus for Brisbane is that influential midfielder Sarach Yooyen is injured and will not play.

That has not been a problem domestically as the champion has won eight and drawn one of the ten games so far, the latest being a slightly disappointing 1-1 draw at Ratchaburi.

The one defeat was inflicted by Buriram United where Muangthong, accustomed to dictating proceedings, were in the unusual position of being put on the backfoot and struggled.

That could provide some encouragement for an experimental Brisbane who have one eye on Sunday’s blockbuster semi final with Victory, and a trip to Thailand these days is a tough ask.

Just ask the national team.

Urawa Reds vs Western Sydney Wanderers (Wed night)

Six points behind with just two games remaining, Western Sydney Wanderers need nothing less than a win but it is not going to be easy. Far from it.

Urawa needs just a draw to be certain of a place in the knockout stage but head coach Mihailo Petrovic said Saturday that he is targeting a win.

The Reds have reason to be confident. There can’t be a tougher assignment in Asia this week than Wanderers’ trip to Saitama Stadium just north of Tokyo.

Urawa is back to the kind of best that took the team to the top of Japanese football in 2006 and a continental title the following year.

The Wanderers' Kearyn Baccus flies high for a header against Urawa on Tuesday night.

Incredibly, neither feat has been repeated but this year could be the one. The Reds are top of the J.League and is on course to win the title that many think it deserved in 2016.

A 3-2 win on Saturday over Consadole Sapporo in front of 37,000 fans was the fifth successive win in all competitions.

In Asia, Urawa has nine points from four games, recovering from the 3-2 loss at Shanghai SIPG on Matchday 3 to defeat the cash rich Chinese club at home last time around.

Yet Urawa, who let a ten point lead at the top of the 2007 J. League slip with five games remaining, will know that it is not over until it is over.

At the very least for the 2014 continental champion, there is the 4-0 home loss in the opening game in February to avenge for coach Tony Popovic and his men.

Not to mention banishing the bitter disappointment last Friday night in Brisbane, when their domestic season ended in heart-breaking circumstances.

Gamba Osaka vs Adelaide United (Tue night)

If the other two games feature Hyundai A-League teams that are at the bottom of their groups travelling to the home of the leaders, this Group H clash is different.

Adelaide looked down and out with just a few minutes remaining in Matchday 3.

A loss at home to Jeju United would have almost certainly spelled the end of their hopes. Yet the Reds fought back to a 3-3 draw and then went to Korea Republic to defeat the islanders on their own soil.

The victory put the team second, level on points with Jeju and one ahead of Gamba. Should Adelaide win in Japan and Jeju lose in China at the already-qualified Jiangsu Suning then the Australians  are through.

Adelaide United and Gamba Osaka players ahead of kick-off in their ACL opener on Wednesday night.

It won’t be easy. Gamba Osaka famously defeated United in the final of the 2008 tournament and after winning 3-0 at the Hindmarsh Stadium in the opening game,will be confident.

More so after a 6-0 thrashing of Omiya Ardija on Friday – giving the hosts an extra rest day – put the Kansai club up into second.

What was impressive was how all six goals came from different players.

Yet Adelaide can’t be written off. With the ACL their only remaining competition to play for, they’ll be refreshed and ready as they finished their domestic season on April 15 after missing out on the Finals Series.

Gamba has lost both home games so far in the group, most notably a 4-1 loss to Jeju and the Reds can have hope of staying in the hunt for the last 16 and also a little revenge for 2008.

Source : Football Federation Australia

Western Sydney Wanderers defender Jack Clisby on his breakout season

Jack Clisby has enjoyed a superb debut season with Western Sydney Wanderers.
Thanks, Popa. That’s the message from Western Sydney Wanderers fullback Jack Clisby ahead of the 2016/17 Hyundai A-League Finals Series.

In his first season under Tony Popovic, the fully committed fullback has played 24 of the Wanderers’ 27 games.

“The coach has believed in me and he’s backed me,” said Clisby as his side began preparations for Friday’s sudden-death clash with Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium.

“I feel like I have developed over the year.

Defence: Jack Clisby (Wanderers)

“I think [I’ve improved] both defensively and offensively and especially fitness-wise.

“I don’t think I could get up and down the line that frequently before.

“A lot of things off the field as well – professionalism, healthy eating – all that good discipline stuff.

“It really does have an effect on your fitness and frame of mind,” he said.

NO ROAR HOODOO FOR WANDERERS

Western Sydney head into Friday’s game on a six-match unbeaten streak.

But they’ve taken just two points from a possible nine this season from the Roar.

“I don’t think there’s particularly any issue,” said Clisby.

Wanderers midfielder Mitch Nichols and Roar defender Luke DeVere were looking to spread the Christmas love in their Rd 12 clash in Brisbane.

“At Spotless Stadium, we thoroughly dominated the game but we were struggling to score goals in that period of the season.

“The two performances away were actually good performances.

“We were unfortunate to lose one of those games in the end.

“Heading into this Friday, we’re ready to take on Brisbane,” warned Clisby.

STOP MACCA, STOP ROAR

The ginger fullback knows he and his fellow defenders will need to be at their best to contain joint Golden Boot winner Jamie Maclaren.

Jamie Maclaren is the April nominee for the Hyundai A-League, NAB Young Footballer of the Year 2016/17 Award.

“We’ve played him a few times this season and we know how he likes to play,” said Clisby.

“Hopefully it’s something we can address in the changing room and make sure we try to limit him as much as possible,” he added.

 

Source : Football Federation Australia

Brendon Santalab has been named Western Sydney Wanderers’ player of the year

Brendon Santalab has been named Western Sydney Wanderers' player of the year.

Striker Brendon Santalab has capped off a remarkable Hyundai A-League season by being named Player of the Year at this year’s Wanderers Medal.

In what was his most prolific season yet, Santalab broke the Club’s all-time goal scoring record, which now stands at 37 goals, and finished the regular season with a Club-high tally of 14 Hyundai A-League goals.

Forward: Brendon Santalab (Wanderers)

It is the first time the 34-year-old has been named Player of the Year, which is voted by Wanderers players, in his four seasons with the Red & Black.

 

Argentine marquee Nicolás Martínez was another big winner on the night, claiming the Rod Allen Award: Media Player of the Year, as voted by media representatives, as well as the Members’ Player of the Year, as voted by the Club’s 20,021 Members.

Nico Martinez on the ball against Adelaide United.

Youngster Keanu Baccus won the Foxtel National Youth League player after an impressive season where he also made three Hyundai A-League appearances.

Full list of award winners:

  • Hyundai A-League Player of the Year presented by NRMA Insurance: Brendon Santalab
  • Westfield W-League Player of the Year: Caitlin Cooper
  • Members’ Player of the Year presented by Coffee Emporium: Nicolás Martínez
  • Rod Allen Award: Media Player of the Year: Nicolás Martínez
  • Foxtel National Youth League Player of the Year: Keanu Baccus
  • Powerchair Player of the Year: Abdullah Karim
  • Hyundai A-League Golden Boot presented by Nike: Brendon Santalab
  • Westfield W-League Golden Boot: Katie Stengel
  • Chairman’s Award: Bernie McLeod and Lawrence Gilbert
  • Guardian Funerals Wandercrew Volunteer of the Year: William Renton

 

Source : Football Federation Australia

Analysis: Hyundai A-League hat-trick heroes

Jamie Maclaren (Roar), Brendon Santalab (Wanderers) and Besart Berisha (Victory).

Jamie Maclaren (Brisbane Roar), Brendon Santalab (Western Sydney Wanderers) and Besart Berisha (Melbourne Victory).

Red-hot Roar man Jamie Maclaren added his name to the list of 2016/17 Hyundai A-League hat-trick heroes last weekend. But how many triples have we seen this season and how does “Macca” compare to Bruno and “Santa”?

The Roar marksman scored three times in eight explosive minutes during Brisbane’s emphatic 5-1 win over the Mariners at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.

 

It also helped earn him a selection as a reserve for this week’s FIFA 17 Team of the Week.

It was the fifth hat-trick of the 2016/17 A-League season…

Andy Keogh, Perth Glory v Melbourne City, round 3

Besart Berisha, Melbourne Victory v Wellington Phoenix, round 4

Besart Berisha, Melbourne Victory v Western Sydney Wanderers, round 10

Brendon Santalab, Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne City, round 24

Jamie Maclaren, Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners, round 25

That surpasses the number of hat-tricks in three of the last four seasons, with two rounds and the Finals Series still to come.

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But there is still some way go to match the lofty heights of 2014/15, which saw nine hat-tricks netted.

SANTA NOT HAPPY WITH SINGLES

Brendon Santalab is making a habit of scoring in clumps.

In nine of the games in which he’s scored this season, Santa has gone on to get at least one more goal four times.

It means 64% of his goals for the Wanderers (nine out of 14) have come as part of a brace or hat-trick.

BRUNO KEEPS BANGING THEM IN

While he hasn’t scored a hat-trick this season, Melbourne City talisman Bruno Fornaroli has had more multi-goal games than any other player.

His five braces account for 59% of his total goal scoring tally for the season.

In a record-breaking debut A-League campaign in 2015/16, the Uruguayan scored 25 goals in 29 games, including a hat-trick and six braces.

MULTIPLE GOALS MEAN THREE POINTS

Not surprisingly, all five hat-trick scorers this season have led their side to victory.

And of the 40 instances of a player scoring two or more goals in a game, all but five of them have been in a winning effort.

 

Source : Football Federation Australia