• Bruce Kamau (L), Kevin Muscat (C) and Roy O'Donovan (R) (Getty Images, AAP)
Pre-game antics, post-game snubs and everything in between, the opening round of the new A-League season offered fans plenty to ponder ahead of what will be an enthralling 2017-18 instalment.
By
Jonathan Bernard

9 Oct 2017 - 11:07 AM  UPDATED 9 Oct 2017 - 11:07 AM

Muscat’s all class…

That’s right, you read that wrong. After going back and forth midweek over player availability and recruitment, Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat upheld his poor reputation among both Sydney FC fans and Graham Arnold with his latest instalment of unsportsmanlike conduct.

With the full-time whistle signalling the end of a fierce and fiery fixture between two long-standing rivals, Arnold’s attempt to shake hands with Muscat ended up with the former snubbed and seething at the apparent disrespect.

Sydney’s 1-0 victory extends their winning run over Muscat’s men to four games and builds on last season’s dramatic penalty shootout triumph in the grand final.

While reports have since emerged that the two coaches shared a handshake in the dressing room following the incident, the season is long and, should Victory lose again, another 'classy' gesture from their head coach should be expected.

Were Melbourne City paying homage to Barcelona?

Last week, in light of local unrest during the Catalonia independence referendum, Barcelona were ordered to play their La Liga match against Las Palmas behind closed doors at an empty Camp Nou. 

In a stunning show of support for the Blaugrana, Melbourne City decided to play their opening round fixture on Friday night against the Brisbane Roar in similar fashion. No, wait, my bad, they just have no fans. 

Bruce Kamau’s brace ensured a comfortable 2-0 victory for City in front of what was reported to be an opening-night crowd of 9,589.

But one look at the deathly quiet stands and it looked like 9,000 of those were invisible.

Excluding the Melbourne Derby, City’s “Cahill effect” produced a paltry average crowd of 9,434 last season, ranking seventh above the Newcastle Jets – who finished bottom of the league.

So why exactly did the FFA select this fixture to kick off the new season? Your guess is as good as mine.

You can’t fault Mariners for trying

The Central Coast Mariners approached arguably the biggest F3 derby in recent memory with an array of pre-match antics that included an unkind billboard on the motorway and probably the rudest bottle of barbeque sauce you’ll ever see.

It looked to have payed off when new Spanish signing Asdrubal put the home side ahead after five minutes. But that was until Roy O’Donovan showed up.

The Irishman marked his first appearance back in Gosford since joining the Jets in brutal fashion, scoring the third-fastest hat-trick (38 minutes) from kick-off in A-League history, along with the first in the derby’s existence.

Despite the 5-1 deficit, would you believe the Mariners actually played well? Perhaps it all went wrong when Paul Okon’s front quartet featuring Daniel De Silva, Connor Pain, Kwabena Appiah and Asdrubal thought long balls over Nigel Boogaard (6’2”) and Nikolai Topor-Stanley (6’3”) would have some effect.

Oh well, after copping the heaviest defeat in F3 derby history, I guess you can’t fault them for trying.

No Poppa, no problem

In one night, Hayden Foxe managed to achieve something Tony Popovic couldn’t do in five full seasons in charge of the Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Wanderers’ 2-1 win over the Perth Glory on Sunday marked the first time the club have ever won their opening match of the season.

Caretaker coach Foxe played a full-strength side and his Spanish trio were simply superb throughout as the club put a difficult week behind them in front of a rejuvenated home crowd.

After a promising pre-season was capped off with a maiden FFA Cup semi-final berth, Popovic’s sudden departure left fans fearing the worst with the new season just days away.

Instead, Foxe has pulled off an impressive win over a strong Glory side that will be playing finals football this season.

With former Wanderers assistant Ante Milicic rumoured to take over as head coach in the coming days, has Foxe offered the board a chance to reconsider?

Are we looking at the bottom-of-the-table battlers?

Despite both sides finding the back of the net inside the opening 10 minutes, the only other highlight of this match was when the photographer behind the goal fell face-first after tripping over his own gear.

In truth, Adelaide United were the better side in this one, but struggled to take advantage of a Wellington Phoenix side playing without captain Andrew Durante and key midfielders Gui Finkler and Michael McGlinchey.

Young debutant Keegan Smith had a terrific performance for the Nix, with the 18-year-old shot-stopper keeping his side in the contest on numerous occasions.

Nevertheless, after watching this one, is is too early to say both sides will struggle this season?