New Kids on the Block


Aside from the big two, there were plenty of other Hyundai A-League debutants who made their mark in week 1.

Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton hogged the headlines this past month, understandably, given the high expectation around their Hyundai A-League debuts, but the opening round gave us our first glimpse of a number of other players also making their first appearances.

Of all the new boys, it was the Brisbane and Perth recruits that impressed the most.

In the West, Billy Mehmet earned man of the match honours in his first hit-out. The big man seemed to be everywhere, showing great mobility and combining fluidly with fellow front man Shane Smeltz.

Rewarded with the winner in the 77th minute, he almost had a second just before the whistle, only a low diving save from Galekovic preventing Mehmet from celebrating a double on debut.

If the work rate and performance from the former West Ham youth captain brought a smile to the face of under pressure coach Ian Ferguson, the blistering start from Glory teammate Andrezinho was the added fillip.

From his first touch, the Brazilian kept Adelaide on the hop, his mesmerising footwork proving too much for the Red-s defence. While he hasn-t yet had a chance to master the language and admitted that he has trouble following the Scottish brogue of his coach, there was no doubt that he was on message for what is required from him on the pitch.

With so many new faces at the club Fergie was expecting the side to take time to gel, but Andrezinho displayed the factors which will be vital to an improved season for the Glory: an attacking midfielder with plenty of pace and the South American flair to keep the fans entertained.

Brought in as an injury replacement for Dutchman Viktor Sikora, the former Brazil U20 international was superb in one-on-one situations, and while predominantly left-footed, his ability to excite on both flanks sent a strong warning to his future opponents.

His exuberant first half performance took it-s toll in the latter part of the match but as his match fitness improves, he certainly bears watching – a fact that John vant- Schip is no doubt already aware of before the Glory-s visit in Round 2.

Ahead of the Victory-s season opener, Fabio was flying under the radar at Melbourne where the focus was on his famous fellow debutant.

The A-League has seen any number of Brazilians sporting single monikers come and go with varied success, and while the left back had fairly decent outing, he showed undisciplined lapses – none more so than the penalty he conceded which unfortunately is what his first match will be remembered for. Improvement will be needed or Fabio may be under pressure to hold his position from the likes of Matthew Kemp.

Hot on the heels of the Etihad Stadium blockbuster, Ange Postecoglou was enjoying the performance of his new signings. Brisbane picked up right where they left off last season, due in no small part to Canadian international Issey Nakajima-Farran.

The flashy winger had a sparkling debut, the Roar-s creative style of play suiting him perfectly. A painter in his spare time, the 27-year-old, proved an artisan on the pitch, threatening the Central Coast goal and providing accurately stroked through-balls.

With most of his recent football played in Denmark, it-s hoped that the Queensland heat doesn-t prove too wearing later in the season, though Nakajima-Farran insists his two-year experience playing in the humidity of Singapore has him well prepared.

If Nakajima-Farran proved his worth, the signing of Besart Berisha also looks set to pay dividends. The Albanian international was unable to finish in his debut match, but provided plenty of work for Mariners keeper Matt Ryan.

Despite the losses of skipper Matt McKay, Kosta Barbarouses and Jean Carlos Solorzano, Ange Postecoglou-s recruitment looks to have them well placed to defend their title and prove once again the team to beat.