I’m pumped! Fizzing! Juiced! Season 13 of the A-League (11th season for the Nix) is underway after what has felt like the longest of off-seasons. The fact that the league is having it’s opening round at the same time as an international window isn’t ideal but it hasn’t stopped myself and thousands of others from tuning in, keen to see how their team will fare in their first hit out.
Wellington will host the opening Phoenix match of the season when we take on Adelaide United at Westpac Stadium on Sunday at 5pm (NZ Time). Starting strong is obviously a priority in any competition and the Nix, under new coach Darije Kalezic, will be keen to make an early statement that they are determined to be a team in the playoff picture this season.
It’s been an active off-season for the Nix this year. After the departure of Ernie Merrick halfway through last season, the club has signed Darije Kalezic with Rado Vidosic coming onboard as his assistant. Vidosic is an experienced A-League campaigner with stints at the Roar, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory in various coaching capacities. His input and advice will come in handy as Kalezic comes to terms with the style of play in the A-League.
The coach isn’t the only new thing to happen during the off-season as the team launched a new logo and a slight rebranding. While still featuring the symbol of the Phoenix it also includes the Maori phrase “E Rere Te Keo” which is a rising call to work hard and prevail against the odds. Rather fitting for a New Zealand based club fighting to keep their place in an Australian competition.
Along with a coaching change, there’s been several new inclusions into the Wellington squad along with a few farewells. Last season’s player of the year Kosta Barbarouses has decided to return to the Victory after an inconsistent season in yellow & black. Crowd favourite Roly Bonevacia will be suiting up with the Wanderers which will be hard to watch. Glen Moss (Newcastle), Vince Lia (Adelaide) and Alex Rodriguez (Boavista) are the other key departures making room for new personal.
Coming in to the side are some familiar faces to the A-League in Scott Galloway, Dario Vidosic, Ali Abbas and Daniel Mullen, all having played for a variety of clubs throughout their careers. Also signed is Croation Gorin Paracki and Andrija Kaludjerovic who while having a small stint with Brisbane a couple of years ago, will be largely unknown to most supporters.
As mentioned earlier the Nix will open their season against Adelaide on Sunday. The Reds have completed a largely successful pre-season and many are tipping them to have a much improved season after some key signings of their own in Karim Matmour and Daniel Adlung.
The Nix will be slightly depleted as some of their internationals suit up for the national side against Japan, making it tricky to pick who will take the field in the starting eleven. Coach Vidosic has already confirmed that youngster Keegan Smith will start in goal which has come as a surprise to many as it was assumed that Italiano would take the starting spot after the departure of Moss.
Here’s my predicted eleven…
. Galloway Mullen Rossi Abbas
. Paracki Ridenton
. Krishna Finkler Vidosic
Round one is always hard to predict and preseason form only counts for so much. While I can see us coming out strong it’s hard for me to see where the goals will come from. I do however have some faith in our new look backline so I’m going with a 1-1 draw to start the season, which honestly wouldn’t be a bad start.Google+