The Hyundai A-League takes a mid-season break while the hugely-anticipated Asian Cup takes centre stage in Australia over the next few weeks.
The hiatus is a chance for some sides to take a well-earned break after a fantastic opening few months, while others have plenty to work on as they aim to make a charge for the finals late in the season.
Here’s what your favourite club is up to over the next couple of weeks.
It’s been a busy start to the season for the Reds, who claimed an historic Westfield FFA Cup crown to go with their strong Hyundai A-League start. After their impressive road win over Perth in oppressive conditions on Monday, the Reds were given a full week off and will return to training next Tuesday, January 13. Coach Josep Gombau won’t change too much, sticking with their regular training schedule ahead of their first game back against Newcastle Jets on January 24.
Brisbane Roar FC
Frans Thijssen gave his Roar squad four days off after their loss to Wellington in their last match. But with plenty of work to do to stay in touch with the top six – as well as an upcoming ACL campaign to prepare for – it will be right back into an intensive fitness and ball work program. Thijssen has a number of double-sessions (training morning and afternoon) planned to get his side up to the level he wants over the second half of the season. Off the field, leading-scorer Henrique is expected to get his Australian Citizenship confirmed on Australia Day, with the players given the day off to help celebrate. They return at home to Wellington on February 2.
Central Coast Mariners
The Mariners squad was given a full week off after their drought-breaking win over Melbourne City last Sunday. The whole squad returns to training at the start of next week and like Brisbane have both the Hyundai A-League and an ACL qualiifer to prepare for in February. Coach Phil Moss will work his squad hard in a few double-sessions while he has an intra-club match planned for next week also. The Mariners have a tasty clash against Sydney FC – and former boss Graham Arnold – on the Central Coast first up on January 24.
Melbourne City FC
Just like they did in pre-season, City will utilise their resources to the fullest to get out of Australia during their break. The entire squad leaves on Thursday for a 12-day training camp in Abu Dhabi. John van ‘t Schip’s team will train at the New York University Abu Dhabi Campus, while they are scheduled to play two friendly matches as well. The first of those games will be against local club side Al Jazira on January 11 at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium. Western Sydney Wanderers FC head to AAMI Park to meet City for their first game back on Sunday, February 1.
Following their hard-earned 2-1 win away to the Wanderers, Victory coach Kevin Muscat will give his side four days off to rest up before getting straight back into training. Despite having lost just two of their first 14 games, Muscat said after the clash with Wanderers they have plenty of things to work on and they will use all the time at their disposal to do just that. A top-of-the-table clash away to Perth Glory will be where Victory resume on January 25.
The majority of the Jets squad were given eight days off after their last match against Sydney FC on January 3. Only a few players will return to training on Friday, with the rest to follow after the weekend. Coach Phil Stubbins has a rigorous training schedule set down ahead of the return to action with a trip to Adelaide on January 24. It’s not all hard work though with the club hosting a corporate golf day on January 16, with all players and coaching staff involved.
The league-leaders have played a lot of matches in the first half of the season, including their march to the Westfield FFA Cup decider. Because of that coach Kenny Lowe gave them a week off training. A number of players took the opportunity to travel back home interstate to see family while others holidayed around Western Australia with their partners and family. It’s back to the track on Monday though as they look to stay at the top of the ladder for the rest of the season. The club also has a number of community and social events planned over the next couple of weeks to help re-launch the season, which starts on the field with a home clash against Victory on January 25.
After four games in 13 days before the break, Sky Blues coach Graham Arnold gave his troops four days off before they return to the usual training regime. Although 10 members of the squad – who haven’t featured much during the first half of the season – trained right through to help build up their match fitness. All members of the Sydney squad will also take time to work at the club’s holiday coaching clinics, training the young kids, as well as meeting the club’s members at their Premier Members lunch. Sydney travel to Gosford to face the Mariners on Saturday, January 24.
Coach Ernie Merrick has rewarded his squad for being the form side of the competition by giving them an eight-day break after their last game, which was their third in eight days. It will then be a return to normal training for the squad, although there is a chance a friendly match could be arranged given they don’t play another competitive game until they have to travel to Brisbane to face Roar on Monday, February 2.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC
If there’s one side that needed a break it’s the Wanderers who have had a horrendous match and travel schedule due to winning their AFC Champions League as well as their involvement in the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco. The squad were given five days off after their final game against Victory on January 6. They return to training next Monday where they will travel for a gruelling week-long training camp in Coffs Harbour. Their first game back is a trip to Melbourne City on February 1.