Familiarity breeds contempt but not among A-League's final four

There aren't a lot of options for players in a 10-team competition and there are many players - as well as a coach and an assistant coach - involved in the A-League semi-finals who are very familiar with the clubs still in the championship hunt.

Aaron Mooy

Aaron Mooy will be hoping to play in a Grand Final for Melbourne City next week after two for the Wanderers in 2013 and 2014 Source: Getty Images



It is a long list, but The World Game has cut it down to an exclusive eight-pack, two from each club, and detailed their history among the four teams remaining on the 2015-2016 competition.

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at Coopers Stadium on Friday night and at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday.

ADELAIDE UNITED



IACOPO LA ROCCA


The Italian was one of many astute signings by coach Tony Popovic when he was pulling together the squad for Western Sydney's inaugural campaign in the A-League.

La Rocca missed the 2012-2013 grand final, which the Wanderers lost to the Mariners, because of suspension, but played in the decider the following season, when they lost to Brisbane.

The highlight of La Rocca's time at the Wanderers came when he was in the team that made history by becoming the first Australian club to win the final of the AFC Champions League, in 2014.

La Rocca was primarily known as a defensive midfielder, but United coach Guillermo Amor has slotted him into central defence with great results.

TAREK ELRICH


Another former Wanderers player now at United, fullback Elrich has blossomed since making the move in 2013. Former Reds coach Josep Gombau freed him up from the more restricted role he had under Popovic at the Wanderers and his attacking forays became a feature of the Reds' performances.

Elrich even got a call-up from Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou. Amor retained the 29 year-old in the role - although Elrich's campaign has been hampered by injury near the business end.

MELBOURNE CITY



AARON MOOY


Mooy went to Britain while he was a still a teenager and ended up playing for St Mirren in the Scottish Premier League. He returned to join the Wanderers for their maiden season and the promising signs were there straight away, but he couldn't crack it for the midfield role to show off his full talents.

He was used mainly as a defensive midfielder, with Japanese marquee man Shinji Ono employed as the midfield playmaker, and after two seasons at Wanderland he left to join City, which saw him as the main man in midfield.

The rest is, of course, history. Mooy has become a dominant player in the A-League and become a regular for the Socceroos. It is anticipated he will leave City at the end of the season, in a move likely to smash the Australian transfer record, to have a crack in Europe.

NICK FITZGERALD


Fitzgerald came off the bench for Brisbane Roar in the 64th minute of the 2011-2012 season grand final and shared in a 2-1 win over Perth Glory. He was briefly with the Mariners before joining Roar and was back on the Central Coast for a long period after that.

But midway through this season the attacking midfielder was released to join City and John van't Schip has used him on the right-hand side in the front line, supporting the competition's leading goal-scorer, Bruno Fornaroli.

WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS



MITCH NICHOLS

Midfielder Nichols won back-to-back grand finals under Postecoglou's coaching at Brisbane in 2011 and 2012. He then followed Postecoglou to Victory before having a stint with Japanese club Cerezo Osaka that didn't work out.

Nichols returned to the A-League last season, playing the second half of it with Perth Glory, and when Wanderers coach Tony Popovic came calling the playmaker viewed it as the opportunity to get his career back on track.

He was right. Nichols has had a great season and is equal top scorer for WSW this season with 10 goals.

ANDREW REDMAYNE

Redmayne sat on the bench as back-up goalkeeper to Michael Theo for Roar in those 2011 and 2012 championship wins. That was after a stint at Central Coast Mariners and before he joined Melbourne Heart, which became City while he was still there.

After cutting veteran Ante Covic, the Wanderers signed Redmayne and he began this season as first-choice goalkeeper. But it has been a battle for him, with ex-Mariners 'keeper Liam Reddy signed by the club mid-season.

Redmayne was dropped for Reddy after Round 19, but then Reddy was dropped for Redmayne after Round 25 and "Redders" was solid in back-to-back wins to finish the regular season.

BRISBANE ROAR



JOHN ALOISI (COACH)

Aloisi, the former star striker, came back to Australia at the end of his European career and played for Sydney FC, Central Coast Mariners and finally Melbourne Heart.

He went on to coach the Heart, but was sacked in December, 2013, midway through his second season in charge, after a horror run of outs for the team.

Heart, of course, became City after the enormously wealthy City Football Group took control of the club. Aloisi, meanwhile, briefly worked for Melbourne Victory in youth coaching before getting another chance at A-League level with the Roar this season, on Ange Postecoglou's recommendation.

Taking a club that was in dire financial trouble in the pre-season to a whisker of the Premiers' Plate - ultimately finishing third - and a semi-final spot has shown Aloisi spent his time away from the coaching ranks wisely.

ROSS ALOISI (ASSISTANT COACH)

Aloisi captained Adelaide United in the 2006-2007 season grand final, when the Reds were thrashed 6-0 by Melbourne Victory in a game that saw Archie Thompson remarkably score five goals.

Retiring after a stint with Wellington Phoenix, midfielder Aloisi went into coaching and was building a strong reputation in the women's game, at United and then as an assistant to Alen Stajcic with the Matildas, before his younger brother, John, called on him to come on-board at the Roar.

If you can't trust your big brother, who can you trust?


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6 min read
Published 22 April 2016 at 12:20pm
By Greg Prichard
Source: SBS