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Australian A-League Season Preview/Predictions

October 23, 2013 Lifestyle No Comments Email Email

Australians have been eagerly anticipating the return of soccer, with the Australian A-League having gotten underway a couple of weeks ago. The 2013-2014 season promises to be one of the most exciting in recent memory. Not only do Australians have the A-League to be excited about, but they will be ready to cheer their national team at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil this summer. Australia were one of the first teams to qualify for the tournament, highlighting the improvements in their soccer over the past couple of decades. The A-League is now a division where players from all over the world come to play in.

The biggest plus point for the A-League, heading into the new season, is the fact that the competition’s foreign stars have remained with their respective clubs. Alessandro Del Piero is still Sydney FC captain, while Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono are also going to be involved this season. Heskey plays for Newcastle Jets, while Shinji Ono will line up for the Western Sydney Wanderers.

While Heskey and Del Piero often took the national and international limelight, Ono had a fantastic season for the Wanderers last term. He was involved in most of his team’s good play, and chipped in with eight goals during the regular season. The Wanderers will be expecting more of the same from Ono, who is one of Japan’s soccer icons from the past decade. Del Piero is approaching the end of an illustrious career, but still manages to produce moments of magic to delight fans and neutrals alike.

Emile Heskey may not have the class and quality of the aforementioned duo, but his strength, holdup play, and finishing ability have earned him plenty of admirers in Australia.

Many teams have changed up their squads in an effort to have a better season than last time around. No side has done this more than the Central Coast team. Their squad is vastly different to last term, with coach Graham Arnold ringing the changes after a dismal campaign last time. They have lost GK Mathew Ryan, Bernie Ibini, Pedj Bojic, Oliver Bozanic, and Patrick Zwaanswijk. While their team is expected to take a few months to gel, there are big things expected from Central Coast in the coming campaigns.

Attendance Growth:

The Football Federation of Australia’s chief David Gallop is very excited about the upcoming A-League season. Not only is he looking forward to the great soccer that will be on offer, but he is excited about the league’s growing popularity. Statistics have shown that there has been a 40% increase in overall attendances over the past two years, confirmed by ticket sales increase. Even getting the tickets from online sellers like Ticketbis Australia has become harder than ever. Also, television ratings have doubled in that time, with many new fans going towards the A-League.

There is no doubt that the mass influx of foreign players has helped with this, but the quality of football being played is also a factor. Teams in Australia are no longer simply retirement grounds for international players. They demand higher standards, both in terms of quality and fitness. This results in improved performances from their foreign stars, and higher standards from their domestic players.

Possible Expansion:

There has been talk that the A-League will expand to Asia in the next four or five years, especially if it looks to add more than the current 10 teams to its ranks. However, this move is some way away, and the FFA chief was not concerned about it just yet. The move to Asia will depend on whether or not the league can continue to grow in popularity, and if teams maintain a solid level of profitability.

Del Piero Pumped:

Despite being close to 40, and having played in far more competitive leagues, Alessandro Del Piero cannot wait for the next A-League season. He had this to say about the upcoming season:

“It was very long [Sydney FC’s pre season tour]. I’m not happy about that but it’s a new thing, training a lot alone first of all, and then July and August with the team. I think not only me but every player is happy this week we will start the A-League.”

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