Goalkeeper: Matthew Ryan (Central Coast Mariners)
It’s hard to believe that Ryan is still only a teenager, and he could very well be on our television screens as a top class goalkeeper for the next 20 years. Last season’s recipient of the Joe Marston Medal in the A-League Grand Final has been instrumental in the Mariners rise to the top of the ladder and you can count on one hand the number of mistakes he has made this season.
Honourable mention: Ante Covic (Melbourne Victory)
Right Back: Michael Marrone (Melbourne Heart)
Melbourne Heart full back Marrone featured in the Socceroos squad for the recent game with Saudi Arabia, just reward for a strong domestic season. With Heart now set to embark on their first foray into the finals, Marrone will continue to be a key figure in John Van’t Schip’s starting eleven.
Honourable mention: Ivan Franjic (Brisbane Roar)
Left Back: Josh Rose (Central Coast Mariners)
With Pedj Bojic on one side and Josh Rose on the other, Central Coast possesses probably the most exciting full back combination in the A-League. Rose has enjoyed another excellent season since returning to Australia following a spell in Romania and will be hoping to go one better than last year’s Grand Final defeat.
Honourable mention: Byun Sung-Hwan (Newcastle Jets)
Centre Half: Michael Thwaite (Gold Coast United)
It’s been a difficult year for the Gold Coast United playing group with uncertainty over the club’s future but one of the things to have remained consistent throughout is the form of captain Michael Thwaite. The defender is set to head for pastures new in the offseason with plenty of potential suitors interested in securing his signature.
Honourable mention: Patrick Zwaanswijk (Central Coast Mariners)
Centre Half: Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix)
Wellington Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante is one of the league’s unsung heroes, and many Kiwis are baffled at the fact that he has never gotten a look in for Australia at international level. Durante recently signed a deal that will see him remain with the Nix until at least 2015, great news for a club very much on the up.
Honourable mention: Matt Smith (Brisbane Roar)
Defensive Midfielder: Erik Paartalu (Brisbane Roar)
Roar midfielder Erik Paartalu has all the attributes required to dominate the middle of the park. The 25 year old has been superb over the past two seasons and was rewarded for his form with a first call up to the Socceroos squad. Paartalu was ever present in Roar’s record 36-game unbeaten run.
Honourable mention: Jacob Burns (Perth Glory)
Central Midfielder: Liam Miller (Perth Glory)
Liam Miller arrived in the west with a big reputation having learned his trade at two of Britain’s biggest clubs – Glasgow Celtic and Manchester United. Capped 21 times by the Republic of Ireland, Miller has oozed class in midfield for Glory and has played a huge part in the club achieving its highest ever A-League points tally.
Honourable mention: Tim Brown (Wellington Phoenix)
Attacking Midfielder: Mitch Nichols (Brisbane Roar)
2011 was very much a breakthrough year for 22 year old Nichols who picked up his first Premiership medal and established himself as a key part of the league’s best footballing side. An excellent passer of the ball, Nichols has also chipped in with an impressive nine goals from his midfield position.
Honourable mention: Fred (Melbourne Heart)
Right Winger: Paul Ifill (Wellington Phoenix)
It’s no coincidence that Wellington won just one of their opening six games of the season while Paul Ifill was absent through injury. The 32 year old Barbados international is a nightmare for defenders with great pace and a very good eye for goal. As the Nix get set for a home final they will be hoping Ifill can add to his current goal tally of seven.
Honourable mention: Ben Halloran (Gold Coast United)
Left Winger: Jeremy Brockie (Newcastle Jets)
New Zealand international Jeremy Brockie is one of the main reasons why the Newcastle Jets have featured so heavily in the race for finals football. His powerful and direct play has yielded a number of important goals as well as the odd spectacular effort, most memorably a stunning volley against Sydney FC earlier in the season.
Honourable mention: Harry Kewell (Melbourne Victory)
Striker: Besart Berisha (Brisbane Roar)
Albanian striker Besart Berisha is quite simply a goal machine. In his first season of A-League football he has scored 19 goals to date and provided the perfect outlet for the creative talent of Thomas Broich and Mitch Nichols amongst others. Roar fans were understandably delighted when he agreed a new contract to stay in Brisbane for another two years.
Honourable mention: Eli Babalj (Melbourne Heart)