The 2021-22 A-League Men’s campaign has brought about some impressive performances with multiple players having their praises sung.
However, there have been several players that have quietly gone about their business. With the regular season coming to a close, here’s a look at a player from each club that has flown under the radar despite their impressive form.
Adelaide United: Hiroshi Ibusuki
Having joined Adelaide United in January, the Japanese attacker since been quietly going about his business as a threatening goal scorer for his side. The 31-year-old has been one of United’s most dangerous players in attack, with six goals goal contributions for the season thus far.
Having lost Tomi Juric in the offseason of last year, United struggled in his absence, and Ibusuki’s arrival has a had a big hand in the club’s fortunes turning around. He’d make an immediate impact for the club, scoring a late goal to secure a draw against Melbourne City in his first appearance, before scoring a late winner against Newcastle eight days later.
Since joining the club, Adelaide have lost just five games and look a lot more dangerous with Ibusuki as the number one striker.
Brisbane Roar: Henry Hore
Plucked out of the Victorian NPL, Henry Hore has proven to be a hidden gem for the Brisbane Roar, looking comfortable at A-League Men’s level.
Despite the Brisbane Roar struggling this season, Hore has been one the few highlights in his first season at senior level. In 19 appearances for the club this season, 14 of which he’s started, Hore has scored five goals, leaving him tied alongside Juan Lescano and Nikola Mileusnic as the club’s top scorer.
His first A-League Men’s career goal was a late winner against the Perth Glory in Round Five, after being subbed on late in the game. Since then Hore has been given more minutes and has repaid the faith, ranked in the top three Brisbane players for shots on target per game, key passes per game and successful dribbles per game.
Central Coast Mariners: Beni Nkololo
Playing outside of his homeland for the first time in his career, Frenchman Beni Nkololo has enjoyed an impressive season abroad, flying under the radar despite his impressive performances.
Utilised as a wide player, Nkololo pace and skill has been a highlight for the Mariners, being one of the club’s most exciting players. He also sits amongst the top goal contributors for the club this season. Scoring six goals and assisting twice in the A-League Men’s competition this season, the 25-year-old has stepped up in the past month, scoring three times in the side’s last four outings.
Currently ranked as inside the top three Central Coast players for successful dribbles per game, shots on target per game and possession won in the final third, his work rate has been underrated this season.
Macarthur FC: Aleksandar Susnjar
Having been solid in his first season with Macarthur last year, defender Aleksandar Susnjar has been impressive once again in the 2021-22 season.
The centre-back has been a rock at the back for the Bulls the majority of the season, and while Macarthur have struggled for consistency in the second half of the season, Susnjar has not. Liking to play out the ball from the back, he is the Bulls number one ranked player for accurate passes per game, and plays a big part in building up the attack from defence.
Additionally he’s the Bulls number one player for clearances per game and tackles per game. Having played 18 out the 23 fixtures this season, the side looks stronger defensively when Susnjar is in the team.
Melbourne City: Aiden O’Neill
Despite playing arguably a career best season, City midfielder Aiden O’Neill has performances have been somewhat overlooked compared to his teammates in the Socceroos set up.
Surrounded by superstar players of the competition, O’Neill has been impressive in his own right, having been a workhorse in midfield for City. Playing a large part in setting up his side’s attack from midfield, he is also defensively sound, tracking back and winning back possession when called upon.
In addition to being a good passer of the ball, O’Neill is the second-ranked City player for possession won in the final third. Also, no player has made more successful tackles for City this season, ranked the number tackler at the club.
Being an effective two-way player, O’Neill has played an important role in City’s success this season.
Melbourne Victory: Leigh Broxham
Veteran Leigh Broxham has put in an underrated season for the Melbourne Victory having looked like the game had gone past him in the previous two seasons.
Having been utilised to plug holes in both defence and midfield in the past, now under Popovic, Broxham has been reverted back to playing purely as a defensive midfielder. Settled in the one position, the 34-year-old has rediscovered his touch as an important midfielder and is enjoying a late career renaissance.
Expected to be little more than a bench player heading into the season, Broxham has surpassed expectations.
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Newcastle Jets: Olivier Boumal
With the Newcastle Jets lacking firepower last season, former Cameroon international Olivier Boumal has proven to be a good piece of business since joining the club as a free agent.
In his 20 appearances for the club this season, Boumal has made six goal contributions, having scored four goals and made two assists. He’s been an important component to the Jets attack, being ranked second for successful dribbles per game, and third for big chances created per game.
One of the most consistent performers for the Jets, Boumal is threatening when going forward and has caused opposition defences headaches multiple times this season. Though has gone under the radar with his efforts.
Perth Glory: Darryl Lachman
Despite the Perth Glory lingering at the bottom of the table with the worst defensive record in the league, that cannot be put on centre-back Darry Lachman.
The 32-year-old has been one of the few consistent performers for the Glory this season. And while his fellow defensive teammates have been shaky at the back, Lachlan has been a calming presence who been mostly comfortably playing in a defence which comes under constant pressure.
Ranked as the Glory’s most accurate passer of the ball, Lachman has been impressive with his link up play out of defence. Additionally, he’s ranked inside the club’s top three players for tackles made per game and clearances per game.
Though the Glory have had its struggles both on and off the pitch, Lachman has been solid, putting in an underrated season. With his contract expiring at the end of the season, club’s could do worse than pursue Lachman on a free transfer in the offseason.
Sydney FC: Max Burgess
Having come across to the Sky Blues in the offseason to bolster their midfield, Burgess has been a reliable choice in his first season with the club.
Though Steven Corica has utilised him predominantly as a central midfielder, he’s proven to be adaptable when playing in wider midfield positions. Looking comfortable as both a left and right sided midfielder, and at times playing up the pitch further as a winger.
Having made six goal contributions for Sydney from midfield is an honest return. And though his goal and assist ratio isn’t as impressive as it was in his first season with Western United, he’s still been an important contributor for Sydney this season. Having played just the one game last season, Burgess is looking to be getting back to his best, though his performances has gone under the radar while doing so.
Wellington Phoenix: Jaushua Sotirio
Despite playing the best football of his career, Phoenix striker Jaushua Sotirio has largely gone unnoticed for his efforts.
Having never scored more than than four goals in a season, Sotirio currently leads the Nix goal scoring with six goals thus far. Additionally having made just four assists across his entire career, he currently has set up three goals this season.
Having made nine goal contributions this season, the 2021-22 A-League Men’s season is Sotirio’s most prolific yet.
Western Sydney Wanderers: Tate Russell
Though the Wanderers have been underwhelming in recent years, the emergence of Tate Russell has been a highlight. Despite an impressive 2021-22 campaign, Russell’s form has gone unnoticed.
Ranked inside the top three Wanderers players for successful dribbles per game, Russell hasn’t be shy to use his pace. Always eager to take the game on, Russell has been influential in driving the attack from defence with his overlapping run.
Having made six goal contributions for his entire career prior to the start of the 2021-22 season, Russell has, for the first time, recorded two record two goals and two assists in a single season.
Western United: Connor Pain
One of the most underrated players in the competition for the past several years, it’s been more of the same for United winger Connor Pain in the 2021-22 season.
Having contributed to six goals this season, Pain has been one of United most consistent performers this season. His pace and dribbling ability has been asset this season, with his attacking runs a crucial component to setting up his side’s attack.
Additionally he’s ranked inside the top three United players for successful dribbles per game, shots on target per game, key passes per game and chances created per game, proving to be an all-round capable attacking player.
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