New Western Sydney Wanderers recruit Milos Ninkovic won’t have to wait long to face his old club Sydney FC after the 2022-23 A-League Men draw was announced on Thursday.
Ninkovic and the Wanderers will travel to the newly-built Allianz Stadium on November 12 in round six for his first game against the Sky Blues since leaving over the off-season.
The Serbia international – a two-time Johnny Warren Medal winner – played 181 games for Sydney before being lured to their bitter rivals by Mark Rudan.
Round six will be the final set of fixtures before the competition takes a month-long break as the Socceroos prepare for the World Cup in Qatar.
The ALM resumes on December 11, eight days before the World Cup final.
The first round of the season begins with a bang, with a grand final rematch between Western United and Melbourne City on Friday October 7 at AAMI Park.
New Melbourne Victory recruit Nani will get his first taste of ALM action the following day with the former Manchester United winger set to be thrown into a Big Blue with Sydney FC, who begin life at Allianz Stadium.
As well as their reunion with Ninkovic early in the season, Steve Corica’s Sky Blues have a clash with foundation player turned manager Dwight Yorke to look forward to when they face Macarthur FC in round four.
Yorke will begin his managerial career with the Bulls with an away trip to face a Brisbane Roar, buoyed by English import Charlie Austin at Suncorp Stadium on October 8.
Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets resume their rivalry at Gosford on the same day to open the season.
Wellington, who have spent most of the last few seasons on the road, return to Sky Stadium on October 9 against Adelaide United.
Perth Glory, who have encountered similar displacement due to COVID-19, are away to the Wanderers and Newcastle in the opening two rounds before returning to HBF Park to face the Mariners in round three.
The Australian Professional Leagues have made some subtle adjustments to the fixture list which means Saturday night’s primetime game on free-to-air partner Network 10 will not clash with any other games.
Midweek games have been scrapped except for congested periods around Christmas, Easter and Anzac Day with the majority of games to be played from Friday through to Sunday night.
Last year’s draw was heavily-impacted by floods and player shortages due to COVID-19, with 113 of 226 games across the men’s and women’s competitions forced to be rearranged.
“This season we hope for a more healthy environment in our community with COVID-19 reducing its impact on our daily lives,” A-Leagues commissioner Greg O’Rourke said.
“We have worked hard to reflect the feedback from the fans and deliver a draw that makes it easy to know when our games will be played, with 90 per cent of them being scheduled in just four time slots.
“Our Saturday night game returns to standalone status, and we have worked to deliver as many games as possible in the slots that each club has told us their fans prefer.”