Newcomers Western United gear up for A-League bow
A-League newcomers Western United are confident they can make an impression in their inaugural season, and their opponents are excited for the spark they'll bring to the competition.
For the first time since the Western Sydney Wanderers in 2011-12, the A-league will be rejuvenated by the introduction of an expansion club.
Marquee signing Panagiotis Kone has experience in Greece and Italy's Serie A, but it is the first time he's been involved with a new club and he says it is crucial to deliver early success, starting with Sunday's season opener against Wellington Phoenix.
"It's strange and it's new to me, new to everybody," the attacking midfielder said at Tuesday's A-League season launch. "It's my first time that I participate in a club like this. But everybody will do our best to make this club successful."
It's a sentiment shared by fellow marquee midfielder Alessandro Diamanti, who hopes to use his experience to bolster the fledgling club.
"I want to share my experience [with] my teammates, I want to share my attitude, a winner's attitude," he said.
While Western United's players are excited to get their season underway, their opponents, too, have been rejuvenated by their introduction.
"For those players that have been around the league as long as myself, you get to a point where you're looking for something new," Newcastle captain Nigel Boogaard said.
"It does almost feel like groundhog day when you're going to the same stadiums and you're playing against the same players every year.
"To have new teams, new stadiums, new experiences, it's obviously refreshing.
"It'll spice things up a little bit and change the dynamic of who dominates each year, you never know with new teams how they're going to go."
For Western United, the challenge now lies in building a fan base and delivering the type of performances that can generate interest going forward -- something their players are confident they can do under coach Mark Rudan.
Bar a heavy 6-0 loss to Melbourne Victory in one friendly, the newcomers have enjoyed a strong preseason and are confident of performing from game one in the competition.
"It was one big loss but it was a friendly game, we try a lot of things in this game," Kone explained. "We're a new team and I think we will show our quality in the championship."