Updated: 24 min 37 sec ago
Statistics revealed in Tuesday’s Sydney Morning Herald show the Wanderers have sold more full memberships than any other football club of any code in the region.
The report revealed the Hyundai A-League club have sold 2000 more than individual season tickets than Parramatta Eels, Penrith Panthers, Wests Tigers, Canterbury Bulldogs, and GWS Giants.
The figures show just how much the Wanderers have caught the imagination of the locals, still more than a month out from beginning just their third season.
The Wanderers are set to hit their 16,000 season ticket-holder limit in the next fortnight, with more than 15,300 of last year’s members retaining their seats.
The incredible demand has seen some fans pay up to $80 to join a waiting list for a season ticket, while Wanderers officials are offering to issue non-ticketed memberships to supporters.
Across town, derby rivals Sydney FC have just over half the membership numbers with almost six weeks to go until the start of the season.
The Sky Blues membership tracker has the harboursiders approaching 9,000 members (8917).
Wanderers' homeground, Pirtek Stadium, currently has a capacity of less than 22,000, with the A-League outfit already forced to re-design the seating plan to allow more fans in.
Both the Wanderers – and co-tenants Parramatta Eeels - are lobbying the NSW government to improve the facilities and capacity of the arena up to 30,000.
The team has just completed an extraordinary win in the quarter finals of the Asian Champions League against Guangzhou Evergrande.
Tony Popovic's men are now into the semi-finals against FC Seoul.
The 23-year-old striker enjoyed an awesome August, scoring crucial goals for the Wanderers and the A-League All Stars against Juventus.
His first-leg strike and second-leg penalty against Asian powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande sealed the Wanderers’s pregress through to the ACL semi final.
Now Juric in on the brink of lining up against European heavyweights when the Socceroos take on Belgium in a friendly on Friday morning in Leige.
The clash would pit the rising striker’s guile against the likes of Manchester City skipper Vincent Kompany and Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen.
“August was a good month for me,” an excited Juric told footballaustralia.com.au from the Socceroos camp on Tuesday.
“I worked really hard in pre-season and set myself a goal to be at a certain level once we reached the Champions League campaign.
“I managed to score the penalty against Guangzhou and I did well in the All Stars.
“Scoring in the All Stars (game) helped me lift my confidence a bit and gave me some confidence in myself after such a hard year last year coming back from injury.
“I got off to a great start thanks to having a great pre-season and I’m hoping to keep that going for the season now.”
Juric is likely to grab his opportunity with both hands after injury ruled out strikers Josh Kennedy and Adam Taggart from Ange Postecoglou’s 20-player squad.
To date the Wanderers’ ace has had to content himself with three caps at the 2013 East Asian Cup but is now gunning to make his mark against the Red Devils ahead of the Asian Cup in January.
Tim Cahill is likely to start up front but Juric can expect to be thrown into the action at some point, and admits he’s excited about the challenge.
“It’s something I haven’t experienced at that level but I’m excited by the challenge as well,” Juric said.
“I haven’t been in those waters before and I’d like to test it out.
“As a footballer you always want to play against the best and Belgium are one of those teams with such quality that they have and how many players they have playing in big leagues.
“It’s going to be a big challenge for us but I’m sure the boys will put in a great effort and work hard in training to make sure we’re prepared as we can be for these games.
The Socceroos play Belgium on Thursday September 4 atStade Maurice Dufrasne, Leige8.45pm (Friday 4.45am AEST) and Saudi Arabia on Monday September 8 at Craven Cottage, London 8pm (Tuesday 5am AEST)with bothmatches to be broadcast live on Fox Sports.
While Victorian NPL 1 side St Albans Saints will host Perth Glory at Knights Stadium in Melbourne’s west on the same night.
The stadiums were locked in for September 23 after lighting was considered satisfactory for both fixtures.
The clash between Palm Beach Sharks and South Springvale remains the only outstanding venue of the night, with Football Federation Australia yet to finalise a suitable ground.
The round of 16 will be held over two epic nights of Cup football.
The Sydney derby should be a classic with plenty of overlapping subplots.
Sydney's new coach Graham Arnold is an ex-United player. So is United's coach, Mark Rudan, who is also a favourite son and former skipper of the Sky Blues, and known to fans as the Big Blue Man.
Meanwhile Perth's Round of 16 clash with the Saints will bring back many memories for Glory signing, Diogo Ferreira.
TheMelbourne born midfielderhasstrong family ties to the Saints.
“As a junior I use to play against them all the time and Knights stadium is close to home,” Ferreira said
“My brother-in-law was also their keeper last year so he’s upset he retired and can’t play against me."
It was also as a St Albans junior, that current Glory operations manager and former player, Ante Kovacevic, learnt his trade.
For six years Knights Stadium was his home while playing forthe Saints sister club,Melbourne Knights.
“As a youngster, playing for St Albans was like a second home to me," Kovacevic said.
"I started there from the age of seven and the club made me feel like I was part of abigger family.
"It'sfostered a tight knit community for as long as I can remember and it’s pleasing to see the clubcompeting on a national scale."
Kovacevic said he expected the Saints to come out fighting.
“I think you’ll see a spirited clash between us and St Albans, their fans are passionate and will provide a good backdrop and colour to this Cup clash,” he added.
“It will bring back some fond memories which will no doubt come flooding back to me but of course I want Perth Glory FC to win and progress and win the cup.”
Fox Sports will broadcast live the Sydney derby as well as Tuggeranong United v Melbourne Victory (September 17), with live updates and crosses to the other games.
The Wanderers knocked out defending ACL champions Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday to become the second A-League side to qualify for the semi-finals of the competition.
Tony Popovic's men are set to undergo an intensive scheduleat the NAD Al Sheba Sports Complex in Dubai, which is the private facility of theHis HighnessSheikh Hamdan, Crown Prince of Dubai.
The facility has been open for 12 months and has hosted the likes of EPL giants Manchester United.
While in the United Arab Emirates the Wanderers will also take part inthe International Petroleum Investments Company Championship (IPIC) in Abu Dhabi against East Riffa Club and Al Jazira FC.
Wanderers CEO John Tsatsimas believes the opportunity not only offers the club exposure to new conditions but also to one of the best training centres in world football.
“This is a world class facility conducive to the preparation we need for the coming season,” said Tsatsimas.
“This season we are competing on a number of fronts and the opportunity to train at the NAD Al Sheba Sports Complex offers us conditions we have not yet experienced in a high performance environment used by some of the biggest teams in world football.
“Our pre-season tour to China and Japan last season was an experience that offered us both an understanding of the conditions we would face in this year’s ACL and the mentality to deal with the testing travel and playing conditions we would face in Asia.
"We need to acclimate to all the conditions that we may be required to play in whether that be during the hot summer months of the A-League or the Champions League.”
Wanderers will play FC Seoul away in the first-leg of the ACL semi-finals on 17 September, with the return leg set for 1 October at Parramatta Stadium.
The Sky Blues made it three wins from three games in the tournament following victories over Northern Fury (3-1) and Newcastle Jets (4-2).
In-front of over 4000 fans at Townsville Sports Reserve on Saturday night, Corey Gameiro and Marc Janko were on target to secure the win.
Gameiro has been in blistering form in pre-season and he continued his goal-scoring feats with a diving header from an Alex Brosque cross on 28 minutes.
The goal meant the forward finished the tournament as the highest scorer with a total of four goals in three games.
The result was put beyond doubt with fifteen minutes left to play with Austrian striker Janko scoring his first Sydney FC goal.
The 31-year-old showed composure to pick his spot with a left-footed strike in to the bottom corner of Michael Theo's goal.
Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold was happy with the performance but believes his side is still only at 50%.
“It’s great for confidence," Arnold said. "We’ve made a lot of changes around the squad and it’s great to see the players are buying into that.
“I’d like to give full credit to the players who worked extremely hard this week however I think we’re still only at 50%.
“Form at the minute means nothing, I’m just delighted that we’ve had a wonderful ten days up here, fitness has been the key ingredient, we still have a lot of work to do on the training field but we go home with no injuries.
“It’s great to win the Townsville Cup but at the end of the day I’d rather be holding a different trophy up in May next year.”
Arnold joined as coach of Sydney FC in May after an un-successful stint at Vegalta Sendai in Japan's J.League.
The 51-year-old had previously been at the Central Coast Mariners where he took out the 2012-13 Championship.
In an interview with Mike Cockerill in the Sydney Morning Herald, Arnold declared he has already fallen in love with the Sky Blues.
"I believe I'm at the biggest and best club," Arnold said.
"I believe that I've got the biggest challenge. Whether it proves to be the best job, well I'm hoping so. I'm happy here, I've fallen in love with the club quickly. There's a lot of good things going on around the club. So far it's been fantastic."
Arnold was approached by Sydney FC a few years ago but turned down the offer with the club enduring a tumultous period at the time.
"Everything is about timing," he said. "I never thought I'd come back to Sydney after my stint in Japan. It's just the timing was right.
"Last time I was talking to Sydney, they didn't have a CEO, I never got to meet the chairman [Scott Barlow] or the board. This time the way they went about it was totally different.
"I met Tony Pignata [CEO], Scott and the board. The amount of players they had off contract, the amount of places that were open, I could have a big imprint on the squad."
Arnold revealed he has been making changes to improve the culture within the team.
"I'm big on team-building, team culture, but I'm also big on no excuses for the players," Arnold said.
"You provide them with the best of everything, all the resources, all they have to do is turn up and perform.
"They'll get all the analysis from Rado [Vidosic], they'll get all the conditioning from Andrew Clark, they'll get all the man-management and leadership off me.
"They get paid well, we're putting in a gym so they don't have to leave the facility. We've reopened the kitchen, we've got a chef, they'll get great food after every session.
"We want them to feel Macquarie is like home. When they drive over that bridge, we want them to leave their egos behind. They come into the car park and it's all about mateship and the team.
"Bring the mentality of hard work every day, that's what I ask for, and that's what I expect."
The former Socceroo coach also appealed to the Sydney FC fans to help make Allianz Stadium a fortress.
"The Cove, from day one, has set the bar for supporters," Arnold said. "They're never going to be happy when we lose, but I can guarantee I won't be happy either.
"I will give 110 per cent to make sure we're successful, and playing good football. It won't be for lack of trying.
"All good supporters around the world are like a 12th man. We have to make the stadium a fortress. That's my appeal to the fans."
As for short-term goals Arnold says Asian Champions League qualification is the target.
"We're a big club, the fans have ambition, the board has ambition, I'm an ambitious person," he said. "Success is everything. It's going to be a big challenge, but I truly believe we have the quality to go a long way."
In regards to his long-term goals, Arnold said:"I want to be at this club for 10 years, and I mean that."
The Mariners' Scouting Network is the first of its kind in the A-League and will feature five scouts with specific regions of responsibility.
The first five scouts employed by the Mariners areBob Naumov(Northern NSW),Steve Kelly(Metro Sydney – South Inner West),Craig Midgely(Metro Sydney – North East),Luke Roodenburg(Metro Sydney – West), and former Mariners playerAdam Kwasnik(Central Coast).
Central Coast have produced a number of Australia's best young footballers, including Mat Ryan (Club Brugge), Trent Sainsbury (PEC Zwolle), Mustafa Amini (BVB Borussia Dortmund), Bernie Ibini (Sydney FC), as well as Mitchell Duke and Anthony Caceres (Central Coast Mariners) just some of the players to have progressed through the club’s youth set-up.
According to the Mariners media release, the network was established "to ensure that Central Coast continually signs talent not only with the ability to progress to its first team squad, but to represent Australia’s national teams at all levels."
"We are continually looking to evolve and improve the way we identify players and bring them into our system,” Central Coast Mariners head coach, Phil Moss, said.
“We believe that the establishment of our Scouting Network is a major step forward for the Mariners, as it guarantees that we will have more eyes on more players at more matches across the state and around the country.”
“Young players have always, and will always, be central to the plans of the Central Coast Mariners,” he said.
“We want to be, or even remain, the club that every young footballer in Australia wants to be at thanks to a combination of the system, facilities, professionalism, and opportunities we provide.”
The structure will be primarily overseen by the Mariners’ recently appointed Head of Youth Football, Stu Jacobs.
Jacobs linked with the Mariners in July this year having previously served as Head Coach of New Zealand’s U23 and U20 national teams, as well as an assistant coach at Wellington Phoenix – among a variety of other roles.
Jacobs said that each scout will assess players in their region based on a number of factors identified as key by the club’s football and management staff. Scouts will provide monthly updates on identified players, before Jacobs himself sights, reviews, then trials the most promising prospects.
“Our player assessment process covers numerous aspects including tactical awareness, technique under pressure, physical capacity, and last but certainly not least, personality,” Jacobs said.
“In keeping with the Mariners’ culture, every player our scouts consider will ultimately have the very best interests of the team they are playing for at heart.”
“Our scouts will be at NPL matches, national representative games and tournaments, Australian Institute of Sport training camps and matches, as well as regional and schoolboy representative trials."
The Mariners are ranked 133rd in theThe 2014 International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) Football Observatory report, which "takes into account the number of World Cup participants trained per club, as well as the number of league matches played by footballers per team up to the age of 23,” Mariners CEO Bruce Stalder explained.
“We were ranked 133rd, just behind clubs such as Juventus (Italy), Napoli (Italy), and FC Nürnberg (Germany), and just ahead of clubs including Fluminense (Brazil), Athletic Bilbao (Spain), and Inter Milan (Italy).”
“Part of our aim with our new Scouting Network is to push into the top 100 in the player development rankings for Russia 2018,” he said.
According to the CIES Football Observatory report, Central Coast Mariners were the top performing A-League club in regards to player development at Brazil 2014, with Brisbane Roar the second of the Australian clubs in 190th.
Sydney United and Brisbane Strikers make up the other Australian clubs in the top 300.
The full report can be viewed here.
Amor arrived in Adelaide in July and has been observing training sessions and supplying technical advice to the players.
The Spaniard made over 300 appearances for Barcelona which included five La Liga wins, three Copa del Rey's and the 1991-92 European Cup, which was rebranded as the UEFA Champions League the following season.
He was also capped 37 times for Spain and represented them at the 1996 Euro's and the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France.
Following his playing career, Amor acquired a UEFA Pro License and was appointed the Technical Director of Youth Football at Barcelona.
“To be appointed the Director of the Youth was a very amazing thing because it was familiar to me. It was where I started at the age of 11 and therefore when I finished my playing career I went back to youth development because it’s my passion," Amor told Adelaide United.
“Youth football, as we have been managing it in recent years, must carry on in the same line, methodology, style and philosophy. We have to maintain this because it’s what has given us, and will give us, success.”
Amor shares the same passion as Adelaide United coach Josep Gombau for developing young local players, stating that “when you give local players the chance, they respond and defend their team to the end.”
“I have came here tolearn and experience this kind of club, but also bring experience to improve the football department and theclub, with the objective to work together with the coaches and footballdepartment to bring the best for the club,” said Amor.
“From what I have seen, it is not a big difference between us and whatBarcelona are doing. It is something similar and somethingI am use to. But I haveliked what I’ve seen so far. The team is playing well but they can play better.
“And what I have seen with the youth, they are working verysimilar with what the seniors are doing. Michael (Valkanis) is working withus day by day, and thegames I have seen, they play very similar and have good players with goodpotential.”
Gombau, who worked with Guillermo at FC Barcelona, welcomed the new appointment.
“It is great for me as we get to work again together. We worked inthe Barcelona academy back in 2003. He was theTechnical Director of Youth Football and I was one of the coaches,” said Gombau.
“He can bring a lot of experience and knowledge to our club and he will also assist Valkanis with the youth team.
“The challenge is that in 2-3 years time to have a lot more SouthAustralians playing the style we want to play. We want to develop this young local talent as they are the future of our club.
“He has lot of experience, he played many years withFC Barcelona. He also worked with Johan Cruyff who is the father of thisstyle. He will bringa lot to us – it’s a big value to have him.”
McNamara, together with Central Coast Mariners Chief Executive Officer, Mr Bruce Stalder, joined a variety of local politicians, the club’s players and staff, as well as media, at the official opening as the Mariners shone the spotlight on the first part of their multi-million dollar development.
“I am delighted to officially open this new campus which will have a number of benefits for the community such as improved sporting and recreational facilities, increased tourism and visitation to the region, as well as the capability to provide venues for visiting teams such as the Socceroos,” McNamara said.
“The Federal Government has strongly supported the development of this Sporting Campus and is committed to funding projects that will not only boost productivity and growth but also help ensure the long term viability and longevity of our communities.”
Stage one of the Central Coast Mariners Centre of Excellence features an Aquatic Centre managed by YMCA Swim Schools, eight five-a-side and two seven-a-side all weather pitches leased to Soccer5s, plus a tournament sized football pitch which provides the primary base for Central Coast Mariners first team training.
The venue also currently features football offices, physiotherapy rooms, an on-site gym, two changing rooms complete with bathrooms and showers, and the licensed Copa Café attached to Soccer5s.
Check out some pics below of the stage one opening courtesy of David Earp.
Juric received a caution, his second of the quarter-finals, for raising his finger to his lips in a shoosh gesture after putting away the crucial penalty.
The strike ensured Wanderers progressed at the expense of Asian heavyweights Guangzhou Evergrande.
The Socceroo, who also scored the only goal in the first leg at Pirtek Stadium, will join fellow suspended teammates, Shannon Cole and Brendon Santalab on the sidelines for the September 17 clash against FC Seoul in Korea.
News of Juric’s suspension came after the triumphant Wanderers were greeted by euphoric scenes at Sydney Airport.
Red and Black supporters were out in force on Thursday night as the squad touched down to a hero’s welcome.
Thank you for the wonderful reception at the airport last night. Heres some player reactions: http://t.co/wEpoiLe6jE WS Wanderers FC (@wswanderersfc) August 29, 2014
Amazing thank u what welcome at home #ourfansnumber1 Labinot Haliti (@LabiHaliti) August 28, 2014
The loudest cheer was saved for Juric who was delighted by the reception.
“You don't get this every day when you come to the airport in Sydney, so it's fantastic to see the fans joining in like this,” the 23-year-old told the club’s website.
“I'm very proud to be a part of this. It's a fantastic result, we're into the semi-finals which is what we wanted."
Post-match Juric was just as euphoric with his club’s achievement.
“Words can’t describe this feeling that I have at the moment,” he told Fox Sports.
“I’m so proud of this team. We did our club proud and one another.
“All the fans back home I want to say thanks for all their support last game, it really helped us.
“For everything we’ve been through today, all the obstacles we’ve been through, to get to the semi-finals is a massive achievement.”
Chinese fans allegedly banged on the hotel doors of the Wanderers, called their rooms into early hours and pointed laser beams at players during the game.
The team bus was also involved in two collisions on the way to the match.
Moss guided the Mariners to third place last season after taking over the reins from J-league bound, and now Sydney FC coach, Graham Arnold in November.
He also led the club to within minutes of qualification for the knockout phase of the 2014 AFC Champions League.
The England-born former NSL defender spent three years as Arnold’s assistant before being promoted to the top post.
"I’m obviously very proud to have extended my contract with the Mariners, a club I love to work at and with,” Moss said on Friday.
The 42-year-old is just the club’s third coach since it was formed in 2004 with Lawrie McKinna at the helm.
“For (Chairman) Mike Charlesworth, the board, and our CEO Bruce Stalder to have entrusted me to head up our football department for the next three years underlines how committed Mike is to the club, and highlights that we’re all on the same page in regards to where we see the Mariners now and into the future” he said.
“Football is a team game and it takes a team effort to achieve success.
“Over the past few months, Mike has invested significantly in the club to allow us to begin putting in place a holistic football philosophy which not only concerns the first team, but also addresses youth and community pathways.”
Moss also acknowledged the role of his squad in helping him secure his extended deal.
“Our players represented the club tremendously last season,” he said. “We went through a tough patch in February, but the group showed its unity and ability as the campaign continued to not only finish high on the table.
“Certainly the performances of our players helped instill belief into everyone at the club that the future is bright, and I am looking forward to leading this wonderful club and football team into what promises to be a memorable 10th anniversary season.”
Moss has bolstered the squad’s attacking ranks in the off-season with Senegalese striker Malick Mane joining on loan from Swedish outfit IFK Göteborg for the 2014/15 campaign and former Hungarian youth international, Hungarian Richard Vernes, on loan from Budapest Honved for the next two seasons.
Bruce Stalder said Moss was the right person to take the club forward over the coming years.
“He has a wide range of experience in the game, from first team management through to youth development and grassroots and community football coaching.
“At just 42 Phil is one of the up-and-coming coaches in Australian football – as recognised by his recent involvement with the Foxtel A-League All Stars – so we’re delighted to have been able to provide him with the stability and support he needs to ensure that the Mariners continue to challenge for domestic silverware, and qualify regularly for the AFC Champions League.”
Antonis suffered a hamstring strain in Sydney FC’s 4-2 win over Newcastle in the Townsville Football Cup on Wednesday night.
It is not the first time injury has cruelled opportunities for the 20-year-old Antonis who suffered a torn quadriceps muscle on the eve of last year's U-20 World Cup.
Bresciano will join the squad after Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou initially rested the veteran to give an opportunity for several fringe players to impress ahead of the AFC Asian Cup.
“Terry Antonis has pulled up sore with a hamstring after Wednesday night’s game and after consultation with the Sydney FC medical staff it has been decided he will not make the long flight to Europe for the matches,” Postecoglou said.
“It is a shame for Terry because we were looking forward to getting him into the Socceroos camp and giving him an opportunity. Mark Bresciano will come into the squad, which certainly adds quality and experience for what will be two tough matches.”
The Socceroos face World No. 5 Belgium in Liege on September 8 before a clash with Saudi Arabia in London on September 8.
Both matches will be broadcast LIVE and exclusive on FOX SPORTS.
Del Piero will also serve as a brand ambassador for the ISL, which is set to run from October 12 to December 20.
The 39-year-old forward joins fellow World Cup winners David Trezeguet, Robert Pires and Joan Capdevilla in the competition, ending speculation that he was set to join Hungarian outfit Honved FC following twoyears with the A-League's Sky Blues.
Del Piero tweeted: "I'm pleased to announce that as of today I am a @DelhiDynamos player and ambassador of the new @IndSuperLeague"
He became a club legend during a decorated 19-year spell with Juventus and played 91 times for his country.
The 20-member squad includes 17 players from the ranks of A-League clubs along with Shayne D’Cunha (Blacktown City) hailing from the NSW NPL.
Harry Ascroft (VVV Venlo, The Netherlands) and Peter Skapetis (Stoke City FC, England) are the only overseas-based players named.
The Young Socceroos, who fly out for Vietnam on Monday, have drawn a tough group with hosts Vietnam and Asian powerhouse Japan.
The tournament, held in Hanoi from September 5-13, will be vital preparation for the team’s AFC U-19 Championship tilt in Myanmar the following month.
The quarter-finalists from that championship will qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup to be held in New Zealand next year.
“This is another opportunity for us to get more international match experience against competitive opposition in the lead up to the AFC U-19 Championship,” Okon said.
“The two group matches against Vietnam and Japan within three days will be a good challenge for us in conditions we are likely to face in Myanmar in October.
“From these matches we will be able to assess the level of preparedness of each player.”
Okon said there was everything to play for.
“At this stage no player is assured a position in the final squad for the AFC U-19 Championship and their performance at this tournament will be an important factor when it comes to selection time,” he said.
The Young Socceroos have been placed in Group B and will face host nation Vietnam in their first match of the tournament on Friday September 5, followed by Japan two days later.
The top two teams from the group will then advance to the semi-finals where they will face either Myanmar, Indonesia or Thailand on Thursday September 11.
The final and 3rd place play-off will to be played on Saturday September 13.
Young Socceroos Squad:
Daniel Alessi (Western Sydney Wanderers)
Harry Ascroft (VVV Venlo, The Netherlands)
George Blackwood (Apia Leichhardt/Sydney FC NYL)
Shannon Brady (Brisbane Roar)
Brandon Borrello (Brisbane Roar)
Anthony Bouzanis (gk, Sydney FC)
Jordan Brown (Melbourne Victory)
Daniel De Silva (Perth Glory)
Shayne D’Cunha (Blacktown City)
Scott Galloway (Melbourne Victory)
Ben Garuccio (Melbourne City)
Hagi Gligor (Sydney FC)
Paul Izzo (gk, Adelaide United)
Awer Mabil (Adelaide United)
Stefan Mauk (Melbourne City)
Christopher Naumoff (Sydney FC)
Liam Rose (Central Coast Mariners)
Peter Skapetis (Stoke City FC, England)
Jaushua Sotirio (Western Sydney Wanderers)
The Victory skipper, who was part of Australia’s World Cup squad, said he was thrilled to be staying at the club and was targeting a Grand Final finish in the upcoming campaign.
“The squad Kevin (Muscat) has put in place for this season is one of the most exciting in the competition and all the boys, including me, are itching to get things underway in October,” the 29-year-old midfielder said.
“Having missed out on a Grand Final spot by just one game these past two seasons, we are all desperate to go that one step further and are working extremely hard to achieve the success we know the fans of this Club deserve.
“As well this year, we’ve also got our first ever FFA Cup campaign to concentrate on and we are determined to be the first to lift that trophy in December."
Coach Kevin Muscat said the 2012/13 Victory Medalist, would continue to make a significant contribution to the success of the club.
“As captain, we’ve seen how important Millsy is to our side, both on and off the pitch,” Muscat said.
“There’s no doubt in my mind he’s one of the best players in the country right now, so it’s terrific for everyone involved in the club that Mark will be here for at least another three seasons.”
Milligan, who played in China and Japan before joining Victory in 2012, has been linked with numerous clubs overseas including English Premier League side Crystal Palace.
The Wanderers went into the match against Guangzhou Evergrande protecting a slender 1-0 lead after last week's quarter-final first leg at Pirtek Stadium.
And despite a 2-1 loss , the A-League side did just enough against the defending champions to advance on away goals.
Tomi Juric scored the crucial away goal from the penalty spot to give the visitors a shock lead 14 minutes after the break.
But goalkeeper Ante Covic was the real hero after saving a first-half spot-kick from Elkeson.
Goals from Alessandro Diamanti and Elkeson put it at 2-2 on aggregate and set-up a grandstand finish with the home side needing one more to advance.
But it was Tony Popovic's men who dug deep to pull off a momentous night for the club.
Click on the links below to see the action from Tianhe Stadium. Pics by Getty Images.
Protecting a slender 1-0 lead after last week's quarter-final first leg, the A-League side did just enough against the defending champions to advance on away goals in dramatic circumstances on Wednesday.
Tomi Juric scored the crucial away goal from the penalty spot to give the Wanderers a shock lead 14 minutes after the break, but goalkeeper Ante Covic was the real hero.
Covic saved a first-half spot-kick from Elkeson and kept out almost everything the star-studded Guangzhou attack threw at him.
Alessandro Diamanti's strike just after the hour mark gave the home side hope of a fightback before Elkeson set-up a grandstand finish with a goal in stoppage time.
But the Wanderers were not to be denied a famous result that sets up a semi-final clash with Korean giants FC Seoul.
Alberto Gilardino was denied by the woodwork as the home side started well and their early pressure was rewarded when Iacopo La Rocca clumsily brought down Elkeson to concede a penalty.
The Brazilian, however, blasted his spot-kick attempt down the middle, with Covic showing all his experience to stay big and parry it away.
Tony Popovic's side were holding on, but a rare foray forward 13 minutes after the break saw them grab the vital away goal.
Mark Bridge found himself one-on-one with Zeng Cheng and, despite getting a shot in, was brought down by the goalkeeper for a penalty, which was coolly converted by Juric to silence the home fans.
It meant Guangzhou needed to score three times to advance and they managed to get one back just two minutes later.
It was the Italians who combined with Gilardino nodding down for Diamanti to blast it under Covic with a powerful strike from just inside the box.
Gilardino, Elkeson and Dong Xuesheng all missed glorious chances in the latter stages before the Brazilian pulled another one back in stoppage time. But the Wanderers held on to become just the second Australian club after Adelaide United in 2008 to make the ACL semi-finals on what was a momentous night for the club.
The Wanderers head to China with a slender 1-0 lead after last week’s fiery quarter-final first leg in Parramatta.
With up to 60,0000 fans expected to pack the Tianhe Stadium for the second leg, Popovic’s troops face a daunting task to hold off the reigning champions to progress to the last four.
But the Wanderers boss is adamant his side won’t be overawed and declared they won’t park the bus for 90 minutes and try and old onto their slight advantage.
“We have proved in the ACL that we are a very positive team, we have scored in every match we have played and we have come here to score again,” Popovic said.
“Of course, we respect our opponent, they are the best in Asia but we cannot have a mindset to be negative, we have to be positive, we have to have belief and we will do everything we can to try and go to the semi-finals.
“The expectation is on Gaungzhou to go through, everyone expects them to go through but the group of players we have has a real strong belief, great character and they have a lot of good ability as well.
“If we can put that together we have a good chance to do ourselves proud as a club, the A-League proud and Australian football proud of beating such a giant of football in Asia.”
It promises to be a fiery reception for the Wanderers tonight after the controversial end to the first leg.
Guangzhou stars Gao Lin and Zhang Linpeng were sent off and will miss the return, while coach Marcelo Lippi is serving a touchline ban for storming the pitch to confront the referee.
“We can’t control what they do or who they play,” Popovic said of Guangzhou.
“What we do know is they are the champions of Asia and whoever plays will be of high quality. We can only control what we do as a team and our focus is on what we do on the pitch and not on our opponents.
“We showed in the first leg we can compete, now we have to do the job again in front of a big crowd supporting Guangzhou. It will be a challenge but one as a club we are really looking forward to.”
One of the best holding midfielders in the league, Brattan’s 90th minute thunderbolt against Melbourne Victory sealed the Premiers’ Plate for Roar last season.
The 24-year-old has been part of the club's set-up since 2008, coming through the National Youth League ranks but only truly finding his feet under coach Mike Mulvey.
“It was an easy decision to make, I love Brisbane and I love this club,” Brattan said.
“I want to continue to work hard and bring more success to Brisbane Roar.”
Petratos has been a revelation since arriving at Suncorp, after leaving Sydney FC under difficult circumstances and heading to Malaysia.
The 21-year-old attacker has held down a regular place in the title-winning Roar side since joining the club in July 2013.
Last season he scored five goals and was nominated for the NAB Young Footballer of the Year, after returning to haunt the Sky Blues with an impressive Boxing Day hat-trick.
“I am enjoying my football here in Brisbane which is important but I’m also learning every day from the coaches and other players which is just as important,” Petratos said.
“I’m proud to be a part of this club and I’m really looking forward to the season coming up.”
Mulvey said he was excited to see what more both Brattan and Petratos could bring to the side over the next two years, including this season’s defence of the Premiership and Championship as well as their Westfield FFA Cup and AFC Champions League campaigns.
“Luke and Dimi are two players who grew before our eyes last season,” Mulvey said.
“They both made telling contributions to our team’s success and I’m absolutely delighted they’ve decided to extend their time with Brisbane Roar.”
Fox Sports will broadcast both matches with live crosses to the other six games as the drama unfolds over two epic nights of Cup football.
Vikings Park in Canberra will play host to the match between Capital Football NPL club Tuggeranong United and Melbourne Victory on September 16 in what will be the biggest game in the ‘Tuggies’ history.
The other three matches on the night will see Belmore Sports Ground host Sydney Olympic and Victorian NPL club Bentleigh Greens, Queensland NPL outfit Olympic FC aiming to keep its Cup run going against the Central Coast Mariners at the Queensland Sports and Athletic Centre, and two NSL championship winners, Adelaide City and Brisbane Strikers, reigniting their rivalry at Marden Sports Complex.
The highly-anticipated Sydney derby will headline night two on Tuesday September 23.
Coopers Stadium will host the solitary all-A-League encounter between Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar, while recently crowned NPL Queensland Premiers Palm Beach Sharks will take on South Springvale and Perth Glory are away against St Albans Saints.
The venues for the Sydney derby and St Albans’ clash with Perth Glory are yet to be finalised as FFA ensure venues meet the required standard of lighting. A suitable ground is also still to be confirmed for the Palm Beach Sharks v South Springvale match.
The two matches in Adelaide will kick-off at 7.00pm ACST (local time) so they are played simultaneously with the other matches to ensure all games are featured in the coverage.
Tuesday, 16 September 2014
Tuggeranong United (ACT) v Melbourne Victory*
Vikings Park, Wanniassa ACT
Adelaide City (SA) v Brisbane Strikers (Qld)
Marden Sports Complex, Marden SA
Kick-off 7pm (local) 7:30pm (AEST) #ACvSTR
Sydney Olympic (NSW) v Bentleigh Greens (Vic)
Belmore Sports Ground, Belmore NSW
Kick-off 7:30pm #SOvBG
Olympic FC (Qld) v Central Coast Mariners
Queensland Sports and Athletic Centre, Nathan QLD
Kick-off 7:30pm #OLYvCCM
Tuesday, 23 September 2014
Sydney United 58 FC v Sydney FC*
Kick-off 7:30pm #SUvSYD
St Albans Saints (Vic) v Perth Glory
Kick-off 7:30pm #SASvPER
Adelaide United v Brisbane Roar
Coopers Stadium, Hindmarsh SA
Kick-off 7:00pm (local time) 7:30pm (AEST) #ADLvBRI
Palm Beach Sharks (Qld) v South Springvale (Vic)
Kick-off 7:30pm #PBSvSS
*Broadcast live on Fox Sports