Thoughts entering the final third of the season

There’s just six games remaining in the 2015-16 regular season, and with Brisbane set to play arguably their biggest home games of the season in the next month in the chase for a third Premiership it looms as a big end to the season. Here’s some random thoughts I had about things entering March.

1) John Aloisi made his biggest call to date as Brisbane manager by benching the clubs marquee player Thomas Broich for Saturday’s trip to Adelaide. Based on his performances in recent weeks, it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t a risk worth taking, but it didn’t work and he should be back in for Friday nights clash with the Wanderers.

2) The Adelaide game showed Aloisi is prepared to make big calls on the selection front by leaving Broich out, but perhaps it’s time to go further. Michael Theo, Shane Stefanutto, Matt McKay and perhaps even Corona could be looking over their shoulder this week given the recent run of results. Brisbane have excellent depth with the likes of Jamie Young, Luke DeVere, James Donachie and Devante Clut waiting in the wings; perhaps it’s time to consider giving a couple of them a run.

3) The month of March was always going to be season defining for the Roar with big home games against Western Sydney, Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC to play, and it’s shaping up that way as they will play sides sitting 1st, 5th and 6th on the table while also travelling to take on 4th placed Melbourne City. Entering March Brisbane sit 3rd on the A-League table and are still a chance of a top two finish, but if the recent run of poor form continues, finals are not yet locked in with Perth Glory just 7 points back.

4) As mentioned Brisbane enter March sitting 3rd on the table, just three points behind league leaders Western Sydney who visit Suncorp Stadium on Friday night and it’s a must win game for Brisbane if they’re to mount any sort of challenge for the Premiership. The good thing for Brisbane is that four of their last six games of the regular season are at home, and they’ve got an excellent home record this season. So far this season in 10 home games, Brisbane have won seven and lost just the one, picking up 23 points along the way and scoring 20 goals.

5) This season Brisbane’s road form on the other hand been far from fantastic, with 12 points out of a possible 33 picked up away from Suncorp Stadium. In comparison, when Brisbane won the Premiership in 2013-14 they picked up 22 points out of 39, while even last season when we finished 7th Brisbane picked up 20 points out of 42. This season, even if Brisbane win their final two road games of the regular season, the maximum points we’ll end up on is 18.

6) Since Melbourne destroyed the Roar 4-0 in round 15, Brisbane have picked up just 7 points from a possible 21, while continuing to concede a bucket load of goals. In those 7 games, Brisbane have conceded 20 goals, including hauls of 4 against Victory, 4 and 3 against Adelaide and six against Perth.  Going into that round 15 game Brisbane were top of the table and full of confidence, however coping two goals in the opening minutes of the game seemed to drain that confidence out the side and in truth we’ve only briefly regained it since.

7) While today’s signing of Tommy Oar will be a boost as we head towards the business end of the season, it won’t fix the issues that the team have at the other end of the park. Still it’s a fantastic to see a home grown talent like Tommy return to the Roar and with a potential front three of Borrello, Oar and Maclaren long term that end of the field looks in good shape.

8) The impact that the return of Oar will have on both Henrique and Thomas Broich will be an interesting one to watch. Broich was dropped for the 1st time in his Brisbane Roar career at the weekend and while it should be possible to fit both Broich and Oar into the same XI, perhaps the days of Broich being an automatic starter are in the past. For Henrique, who is out of contract in May and has made noises about leaving due to not getting enough game time, today’s arrival is another person to compete with for one of the positions in the front third.

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Tommy Oar returns to Roar

Brisbane Roar have received a huge boost in the lead up to the finals with the return of winger Tommy Oar on a two and a half year deal.

The deal will keep the 24 year old here in Brisbane until the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

In his first spell with the Roar, Oar made 23 appearances for Brisbane chipping in with two goals, primarily during the 2009-10 season where Brisbane missed the finals under Ange Postecoglou.

At the end of that season Oar, and fellow teammates Adam Sarota and Michael Zullo headed for Eredivise club FC Utrecht. Since then Sarota has returned to the Roar on a loan deal in 2014-15, while Zullo has returned to the A-League with Adelaide and Melbourne City.

Oar meanwhile excelled in Europe, playing out his five year contract with Utrecht where he became a key part in the Dutch side scoring 14 goals in 105 matches. Over that time Oar reportedly attracted the interest of some top European clubs, including Benfica and Ajax but a move failed to materialise so he signed a contract with English Championship side Ipswich Town.

After struggling for game time in England, Oar was released in January, just six months into his contract with the winger sighting home sickness.

The signing is a big one for Aloisi, but it will be interesting to see where he fits into this Roar side. Having Borrello, Broich, Maclaren, Henrique, Oar and Solórzano –if he returns by seasons end- for the front third is a strong mix.

The signing of Oar takes Brisbane’s 2016-17 squad to 14 players, with 8 players out of contract at seasons end.

Amongst those out of contract are attackers Jean Carlos Solórzano and Henrique, who was recently linked to Thai Premier League side Suphanburi. Others out of contract include North, Donachie, Stefanutto, Hervas, Clut and Lustica.

Brisbane Roar squad for 2016-17 as at 10/02/2016
Goalkeepers:
Michael Theo, Jamie Young.
Defenders: Corey Brown, Luke DeVere, Jack Hingert, Jerome Polenz (fgn).
Midfielders: Thomas Broich (fgn) (marquee), Joe Caletti (FT NYL), Corona (fgn), Matt McKay (marquee), Tommy Oar, Dimitri Petratos.
Forwards: Shannon Brady, Brandon Borrello, Jamie Maclaren.

In other news today Brisbane Roar and the AFL club Brisbane Lions have announced a collaboration that will allow members of both fans access to one game of the other code.

5000 Brisbane Lions members will be able to secure a ticket to the clash against Melbourne Victory on Saturday week, while 5000 Roar members will be able to attend the match against Collingwood on May 14.
 


Round 21 Preview- Adelaide United vs. Brisbane Roar

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Round 21 sees Brisbane travel to South Australia for a clash against the league’s inform team in the shape of Adelaide United.

The two enter the clash on the opposite end of the spectrum, with Adelaide sitting on a twelve game unbeaten run while the Roar will be looking to bounce back from a poor defensive showing against Perth.

The focus this week for Brisbane has been to tighten things up at the back after shipping six last week, and with the finals approaching time is running out to shore things up before the business end of the season.

Since the start of 2016, Brisbane have conceded 18 goals in 8 games whereas in the preceding 12 games they conceded just 11.

The good news for Brisbane is they’re still scoring them regularly at the other end, with Jamie Maclaren right there amongst the top strikers in the league. Infact Maclaren has scored in each of his last four games to take his tally to 12 for the season.

Adelaide on the other hand arrive in this game as the leagues inform team, unbeaten in twelve matches on a run which has seen them move to third on the ladder and last up they picked up their first win away to rivals Melbourne Victory in five years.

Things have certainly clicked for the Reds, and the form of winger Craig Goodwin is a big part of, with his surging runs down the left a big part of Adelaide’s attacking arsenal.

At the other end of the park the league’s second best defensive record, in part due to the emergence of youngster Jordan Elsey whose gone from being a squad player to a key part of the starting XI this season.

These two sides have already met twice this season, with Brisbane capitalising on a disorganised Adelaide side in round four with a 3-0 win at home before Adelaide turned the tables just six weeks ago in a 4-1 win.

That night Brisbane were without key attacking duo Brandon Borrello and Jamie Maclaren, but the Roar’s problems were at the other end where they had no answer to Adelaide’s attacking threat.

Squads
Brisbane Roar squad 1) Michael Theo, 3) Shane Stefanutto, 5) Corey Brown, 7) Corona, 8) Steven Lustica, 9) Jamie Maclaren, 10) Henrique, 13) Jade North, 14) Daniel Bowles, 16) Devante Clut, 17) Matt McKay, 18) Javier Hervas, 19) Jack Hingert, 20) Shannon Brady, 21) Jamie Young, 22) Thomas Broich, 23) Dimitri Petratos, 28) Brandon Borrello. *two to be omitted.

Adelaide United Squad 1) Eugene Galekovic, 2) Michael Marrone, 4) Dylan McGowan, 6) Stefan Mauk, 7) Pablo Sanchez, 8) Isaias, 9) Sergio Cirio, 10) Marcelo Carrusca, 11) Bruce Djite, 14) George Mells, 15) Ben Warland, 16) Craig Goodwin, 17) Mate Dugandzic, 20) John Hall, 21) Tarek Elrich, 23) Jordan Elsey, 24) Bruce Kamau, 25) Ruon Tongyik. *two to be omitted.

Expected line-ups
Brisbane Starting XI- Theo, Hingert, North, Bowles, Stefanutto, Petratos, Corona, McKay, Borrello, Broich, Maclaren.
Substitutes- Young, Brown, Lustica, Hervas, Henrique.
Omitted- Clut, Brady.

John Aloisi will no doubt be tempted to make sweeping changes to his side following the poor defensive showing in Perth last weekend, but according to reports he’ll make just the one.

James Donachie has picked up a minor knee injury and is set to miss the match, with Daniel Bowles into the starting side to face his former team while Corey Brown will likely be the defensive cover on the bench.

Adelaide Starting XI- Galekovic, Marrone, McGowan, Elsey, Elrich, Mauk, Isaias, Carrusca, Cirio, Goodwin, Djite.
Substitutes- Hall, Warland, Dugandzic, Sanchez, Kamau.
Omitted- Tongyik, Mells.

Adelaide would be crazy to tinker with a side that has gone twelve games unbeaten and picked up a first win in Melbourne for 5 years last week, and with the full squad from last week available to him it’s unlikely he’ll tinker with his team.

If anyone were to be included, it would likely be young George Mells on the bench.

Recent form
Brisbane- LDWWL
Adelaide- WWDWW

Top Scorer
Brisbane- Jamie Maclaren (12)
Adelaide- Marcelo Carrusca (5)

All-Time Record against Adelaide United

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2016 Roar NPL Season Preview


With the 2016 NPL season kicking off tomorrow I thought id write a brief preview of the Young Roars prospects ahead of the new season. If you’re interested, I’ve written a more in depth preview of the league as a whole which you can read here.

The Roar’s 2016 season starts with a local derby against the Strikers at Perry Park tomorrow evening, and after suffering two losses from two last season, a win in the opening round would double as both a good start to the new season and some bragging rights.

Player wise, the squad is largely the same as the one which competed in the NYL over the summer, with just a handful of changes. New signing Joe Caletti is set to make his first appearance for the Roar, and will potentially be joined by fellow new recruit Aidan Fetahagic who arrives from Western Pride after originally agreeing a move to Bosnia. Joseph Champness and Jayden Prasad, who made their Young Roar debuts in the NYL will also be embarking on their first NPL campaigns with the club.

Just today the club confirmed the arrival of former Adelaide United midfielder Nathan Konstandopoulos to complement the groups midfield. Konstandopoulos, now 19, made a couple of appearances in the A-League for Adelaide back in 2014 and has played three seasons of youth football for the South Australian club.

Brisbane this week named a 30 player group which I assume is meant to cover both their senior NPL side and the u/18’s group for the upcoming season, and there’s one or two surprises which we’ll get to. Firstly though- here’s the playing group by position.

Goalkeepers– Tomislav Bilic, Andre Jannese, Finn Matheson.
Defenders– Cameron Crestani, Tom Jarrard, Mark Rodic, Matthew Schmidt, Jaiden Walker.
Midfielders– Joe Caletti, Jesse Daley, Daniel Driver, Nathan Konstandopoulos, Thomas Miller, Adam Sawyer.
Forwards– Joseph Champness, Nicholas D’Agostino, Aidan Fetahagic, Dane Ingham, Jayden Prasad, Dylan Wenzel-Halls.
Unknown– Jamie Dimitroff, Henry Hore, Danny Kim, Nathan Konstand, Daniel Leck, Connor O’Toole, Nicholas Panetta, Aaron Reardon, Lachlan Strogosz, Lachlan Weier.

Most of those I’ve listed as unknown are likely to be apart of the u/18’s side, although we’ll no doubt get to see some if not all of them in the NPL senior side as the season unfolds.

Amongst the most notable not named in the squad which took part in the NYL are big striker Harrison Sawyer, who famously netted six goals against Adelaide in the 10-0 romp at the Cleveland Showgrounds in December and Mitch Hore, who captained the side throughout the campaign.

That takes the number of players who left the youth setup at the end of the 2015 NPL season to 15 players, and when you include players who departed mid-season and the elevation of Shannon Brady to the A-League squad the number rises to 19.

The full list for those who missed the October news is:

Released mid-season 2015– Fraser Chalmers, Ben Litfin, Lachlan Jackson.

Released October 2015– Denver Crickmore, Jordan Lampard, Lachlan Gorry, Austin Ludwik, Conor O’Neill, Stephen O’Neill, Luke Pavlou, Samuel Sibatuara, Patrick Theodore, Alex Krisic, Shelford Dais, Abrahim Yango and Josh Grommen.

Released January 2015– Mitch Hore, Harrison Sawyer.

Promoted to A-League– Shannon Brady.

The above illustrates that this is a transitional season for the clubs youth side, with the focus on younger players who have the potential to grow in the future, rather than retain players who the coaching staff feel are not good enough for the first team squad.

Despite that however, there are some interesting prosects in the 2016 group worth keeping an eye one, with striker Nicholas D’Agostino at the head of the bunch. After making his A-League debut in November, he’s definitely on the radar of head coach John Aloisi and with Devante Clut and Jean Carlos Solórzano likely to leave at seasons end- a strong run of NPL form could propel him into the first team.

Others worth keeping an eye on are Joe Caletti and Andre Jannese, both of whom were poached by Aloisi from the FFA Centre of Excellence and Melbourne Victory respectively, and if they develop as predicted they could prove to be long term replacements for the ageing Michael Theo and Corona- whose contracts both expire in May 2017.

Also at the back are full-backs Jaiden Walker and Matthew Schmidt, both of whom have been in the side for a while and have improved gradually. Schmidt in particular could mount a strong case at left back with Stefanutto retiring at seasons end and Corey Brown yet to cement a spot.

In the midfield, Jesse Daley has emerged as a potential option for the Roar in the future with a solid NYL campaign and is worth keeping an eye on, as is Dane Ingham whose performances on the flanks have moved him up the pecking order.

It promises to be an interesting season for the Young Roar, with plenty of potential within the squad. Kick-off in the first game of the new season is set for 6.00pm at Perry Park, however be warned that this week it clashes with the A-League side’s trip to Adelaide.


Round 20 Preview- Perth Glory vs. Brisbane Roar

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Round 20 of the 2015-16 season sees Brisbane travel west to take on Perth Glory for the final time this regular season, with both sides desperate for the win for differing reasons.

Brisbane, who came from behind to rescue a point last week at home to Newcastle, will be seeking to either return to, or extend their lead at the top of the table with just seven games remaining after the weekend.

Perth meanwhile have gone on a five game unbeaten run which has seen them rise from the lower reaches of the table to just three points behind 6th placed Sydney FC, and if results go their way this weekend a win over the league leaders could see the Glory end the weekend in the top six.

As mentioned Brisbane had to come from a goal down to pick up a point last week, with defensive blunders from Corey Brown and James Donachie costing Brisbane in the end. The Roar however were lucky that they still managed to go outright top after results in the other games of the round fell in their favour.

They will need to eradicate those defensive errors this weekend however as Perth showed last week they’re more than capable of capitalising on mistakes at the back in their 2-1 win on the road against Sydney FC.

The return of Stefanutto at left back should help in that regard, with Corey Brown’s brain explosion for the penalty a further sign that the home grown full-back is not yet ready to produce week in, week out.

The home side also enter this encounter on the back of a solid run in recent weeks which has seen them score ten goals and concede just four in the past month as they picked up maximum points.

Marquee player and top scorer Diego Castro looms as the big danger for Brisbane, with the Spaniard getting better and better as the season goes along. January additions Andy Keogh, Kristian Vadocz and Shane Lowry have also added strength, experience and quality to a side lacking in all three over the first half of the season.

The two previous encounters this season have been reasonably close affairs with Brisbane picking up narrow wins in matches played here in Brisbane, with Henrique coming off the bench and scoring in both games.

The big story of the week is likely to be the first return to Perth of Jamie Maclaren, who left the Glory in the off-season as the fallout over their breaching of the salary cap played out.

Maclaren has been fantastic for Brisbane this season with 14 goals in 11 games, however there have been doubts over his fitness this week after he left the training ground on Monday with a slight hamstring strain.

Despite that he’s set to make the trip to Perth and should play a part in the encounter, and he’s player that Perth will know well, but will also be desperate to keep quiet on Saturday night.

Brisbane Roar squad 1) Michael Theo, 3) Shane Stefanutto, 5) Corey Brown, 7) Corona, 8) Steven Lustica, 9) Jamie Maclaren, 10) Henrique, 13) Jade North, 14) Daniel Bowles, 15) James Donachie, 17) Matt McKay, 18) Javier Hervas, 19) Jack Hingert, 20) Shannon Brady, 21) Jamie Young, 22) Thomas Broich, 23) Dimitri Petratos, 28) Brandon Borrello.
*two to be omitted.

Perth Glory squad 1) Ante Covic, 2) Alex Grant, 3) Marc Warren, 4) Shane Lowry, 6) Dino Djulbic, 7) Gyorgy Sandor, 9) Andy Keogh, 10) Nebojsa Marinkovic, 11) Richard Garcia, 12) Jerrad Tyson, 13) Diogo Ferreira, 14) Chris Harold, 17) Diego Castro, 18) Mitch Oxborrow, 19) Josh Risdon, 21) Kosta Petratos, 23) Kristian Vadocz, 29) Aryn Williams.
*two to be omitted.

Expected line-ups
Brisbane starting XI– Theo, Hingert, North, Donachie, Stefanutto, Petratos, Corona, McKay, Borrello, Broich, Maclaren.
Substitutes– Young, Bowles, Lustica, Hervas, Henrique.
Omitted– Brown, Brady.

There is likely to be just the one change to the Brisbane side which came from behind to rescue a point at home to Newcastle last week, with veteran Shane Stefanutto likely to return at left back after a three week absence in the place of Corey Brown.

There have been question marks over the fitness of Stefanutto in recent weeks after he was left out for a further two games after his mandatory one game ban for yellow cards, however it seems John Aloisi has decided to risk his preferred and more stable option at left back if those injury clouds remain.

As mentioned above, should Maclaren’s hamstring tightness keep him sidelined, Henrique is the obvious candidate to replace him in the starting side, with youngster Shannon Brady coming onto the bench.

Perth Starting XI– Covic, Risdon, Djulbic, Lowry, Warren, Sandor, Vadocz, Marinkovic, Castro, Harold, Keogh.
Substitutes– Tyson, Grant, Ferreira, Petratos, Garcia.
Omitted– Williams, Oxborrow.

Perth are also a settled side at the moment and that should only improve with the return to fitness of experienced defender Dino Djulbic. It’s likely the return of Djulbic will shuffle youngster Alex Grant onto the substitute’s bench, with Aryn Williams the man most likely to make way from the matchday squad.

Outside of that it’s unlikely that Kenny Lowe will tinker much from a side which has catapulted into finals contention in recent weeks.

Recent form
Brisbane– DWWLL
Perth– WWWWD

Top Scorer
Brisbane– Jamie Maclaren (11)
Perth– Diego Castro (9)

All-Time Record against Perth Glory

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Four named in Matildas Olympic Qualifying squad

On the back of a stellar W-League season, four Brisbane players were today named in Alen Stajic’ Matildas squad for the AFC women’s qualifying tournament for the 2016 Olympics later this month.

Defender and club captain Clare Polkinghorne, midfielders Katrina Gorry and Tameka Butt, along with striker Emily Gielnik were all named in the squad. Another Brisbane player, Angela Beard, had been in numerous camps over the past month in preparation was overlooked for the tournament.

Undefeated Premiers and Champions Melbourne City are well represented in the squad with five players from their squad including captain Lisa De Vanna and W-League Golden Boot Larissa Crummer.

Australia’s campaign begins at the end of the month with a game against Asian Champions and host nation Japan, before further clashes with Vietnam, South Korea, North Korea before finishing up with a game against China. Australia has to finish in the top two in the pool to qualify for the Olympics.

Matildas squad for the AFC women’s Olympic qualification tournament Goalkeepers: Lydia Williams (Canberra), Casey Dumont (Sydney), Mackenzie Arnold (Perth).
Defenders: Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane), Laura Alleway (Melb. City), Stephanie Catley (Melb. City), Alanna Kennedy (Sydney), Caitlin Cooper (Western Sydney).
Midfielders: Elise Kellond-Knight (Potsdam-Germany), Tameka Butt (Brisbane), Katrina Gorry (Brisbane), Aivi Luik (Melb. City), Chloe Logarzo (Newcastle).
Forwards: Larissa Crummer (Melb. City), Lisa De Vanna (Melb. City), Emily Gielnik (Brisbane), Michelle Heyman (Canberra), Kyah Simon (Sydney).

Match Schedule
February 29th– Australia vs. Japan
March 2nd– Australia vs. Vietnam
March 4th– South Korea vs. Australia
March 7th– North Korea vs. Australia
March 9th– Australia vs. China PR


Maclaren exits training with hamstring tightness

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(Chris Hyde/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Brisbane striker Jamie Maclaren left the training track this morning after suffering some tightness in his right hamstring. As his teammates completed the session, Maclaren sat on the sideline as he iced the troublesome hamstring.

The injury places his participation in Saturday’s game against Perth Glory, in what would have been his first return to his former club after departing the West Australian side in the off-season.

Maclaren has been in excellent form this season for Brisbane with 11 goals this season in 15 games this season, a record which sees him sit third on the A-League Golden Boot standings.

Brisbane’s record without Maclaren isn’t pretty reading with just one win in four games without their star striker, a result that came way back in round six also against Perth Glory.

Should Maclaren miss the match, it would be highly likely that Henrique would get another chance in the starting line-up, with Devante Clut getting a long awaited chance in the squad on the bench.

Henrique himself has been in the news this week following reports he was seeking a move to Thai Premier League side Suphanburi, with the Roar refusing to let him leave in the middle of the season. That news places doubts on the Brazilians long term future at the Roar, but that could change again now he’s got another chance to start.

The match-up seems to be a good one for Henrique, whose netted five goals all up against the Glory, a record which includes two in two against Perth this season, and four goals in his past five games over the past two seasons..

Maclaren would join an injury list that includes Shane Stefanutto –Groin-, Jerome Polenz –Quadriceps- and Jean Carlos Solórzano –Thigh-.