Life in the Hyundai A-League is rarely predictable. Even in late March, after the league table has taken shape and coaches have mapped their paths to the season’s conclusion, plot points are still being teased out. Stars are still to shine.
Today’s opponents have begun casting for the competition’s final act.
Four new faces have arrived at Western Sydney Wanderers since the turn of the year. Yusuke Tanaka, Sam Gallaway, Yojiro Takahagi and Kerem Bulut have all already been integrated into Tony Popovic’s team as the reigning AFC Champions League winners balance a continental title defence with domestic duties. Japanese pair Yusuke and Yojiro are best placed to make an immediate impact in Parramatta given their regional knowledge.
Versatile defender Yusuke forged a 10-year career in the J-League before making Wanderers his first overseas destination while midfielder Yojiro cultivated an even greater reputation by representing his nation as recently as 2013.
We can only hope for more of the sumo celebration seen on debut in Melbourne.
Similar movement has been made in the Hunter but for different reasons. Several experienced campaigners have been moved on to allow Phil Stubbins options for regeneration. Time will tell who grasps the spotlight.
Former Wanderer Daniel Mullen and impressive South Korean fullback Lee Ki-Je have boosted the Jets’ defensive stocks. The latter has adapted especially quickly after joining from K-League side Shimizu S-Pulse. His initial four-month contract is likely to become an extended stay if the 23-year-old agrees to remain in the Hyundai A-League.
Reinforcements have come further afield too. Experienced attacker Enver Alivodić has been tasked with increasing the club’s creative output following the departure of Marcos Flores. Striker Travis Cooper has also signed on a short term deal after exiting Dutch outfit VVV-Venlo. The Australian youth international has established a strong pedigree in his short career and will compete with Edson Montaño to be the side’s first choice centre-forward.
Both teams are searching for cohesion this Harmony Day. All are responsible for making it happen whether supporting or starring. Who will steal the show?
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