Brisbane sign Thomas Kristensen on one year deal

Brisbane have bolstered their midfield options with the signing of former Denmark international Thomas Kristensen on a one year contract. The Danish midfield arrives in Brisbane as a replacement for Spaniard Corona, who recently returned to former club Almeria.

“I have only heard good things about Australia and the A-League from my friend Morten Nordstrand. The offer to come to Brisbane is a once in a life opportunity for myself and my family. First and foremost I come here to help the club be successful and win a trophy. I am very excited about this new adventure.” Thomas Kristensen.

Kristensen arrives in Brisbane after two seasons with Dutch side ADO Den Haag where he made 48 appearances, helping them to mid-table finishes in both seasons. Prior to that, Kristensen spent six seasons with Danish FC. København, where he made 154 appearances, winning the league four times during his time with the club in addition to two Danish Cup wins.

Thomas also brings with him some international experience, with the midfielder representing his native Denmark on 11 occasions from 2008-2012 with those games split from both Senior internationals and unofficial friendlies.

Kristensen brings a defensive mindset to a midfield group which is currently stacked with players who provide creativity and attacking flair to the side and will join Matt McKay and Dimitri Petratos in the current best starting side. Recent signing Jacob Pepper, in addition to a batch of youngsters such as Joe Caletti, Nathan Konstandopoulos and potentially Joey Katebian who is currently training with the Roar trying to win a contract will be fighting for opportunities.

The signing of Kristensen takes Brisbane’s A-League roster up to 20 contracted players, with one or two signings still reportedly to be on the way with Aloisi reportedly chasing another attacking midfield option in addition to a versatile attacking player to replace those who have departed in recent months.

As mentioned, Brisbane now have 20 players under contract –including FT Youth player Joe Caletti- which meets the minimum requirements for the A-League squad. There are however a maximum of three spots left in the squad, with two visa spots currently open in addition to the potential of capitalising on the FFA’s centralised marquee fund should the opportunity arise. Below is the current squad by position.

Goalkeepers– Michael Theo, Jamie Young
Defenders– Jack Hingert, Jerome Polenz, Luke DeVere, Jade North, Kye Rowles, Daniel Bowles, Corey Brown, Connor O’Toole.
Midfielders– Thomas Kristensen, Dimitri Petratos, Matt McKay, Jacob Pepper, Joe Caletti.
Forwards- Brandon Borrello, Jamie Maclaren, Thomas Broich, Shannon Brady, Tommy Oar.

To wrap this up, here’s a few random thoughts on the Kristensen signing, the squad currently and what could, or should be coming before the start of the season.

– The one thing that really came across today is that he’s a winner. He’s won the Danish league on four occasions and the Cup twice which outlines his pedigree, but both he and Aloisi mentioned how much he wants to win here in Brisbane. That desire to win Championships adds to a group which is full of Championship pedigree which can only be a good thing given the nature of the league and how close they got last season.

– This is a signing that had to happen given the recent departure of Corona which left a massive hole in the middle of the midfield. With just young duo Jacob Pepper and Joe Caletti in the defensive midfield role, there was a glaring need for someone to step in. Given the fact that it’s a little over a week since Corona’s departure was announced, it seems like this was a priority signing for the football department to ensure the midfield was balanced ahead of the new season.

– With respect to Jacob Pepper, Kye Rowles and Connor O’Toole, this is the first major signing for Brisbane this off-season, and it’s a good one. There is however a need to continue the momentum that today’s announcement brings as there’s still some holes to fill in the squad. There’s still a lack of options in the final third behind Jamie Maclaren with just youngster Nichols D’Agostino in reserve, while the central defensive position is another where depth could be required.

– Today’s signing adds to the players with international experience on the roster, with six players currently in the squad having represented their country at senior international level. In addition to that Coach John Aloisi has also represented Australia obviously, while Michael Theo was part of the 2011 Asian Cup Qualification campaign but failed to get any game time.

– In terms of visa signings, Kristensen is the international player to join the Roar after represent his nation prior to joining. Kristensen follows in the footsteps of Shin Tae-Yong, Charlie Miller, Steven Bryce, Kosta Barbarouses, Jean Carlos Solórzano, Besart Berisha, Sayed Mohamed Adnan, Issey Nakajima-Farran, Liam Miller and Mensur Kurtishi. The majority of those players added something to the side either in the short or long term and hopefully Kristensen is the latest added to that list.

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NPL Queensland Update

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**Originally published over on the Football Central website

It’s been an interesting and competitive winter of football across the state with some good football played. As things stand, there’s just five rounds remaining in the 2016 Regular Season, and FNQ Heat have a one point lead at the top of the table, while early pace-setting Redlands United falling to fifth.  There are also at least six genuine contenders for finals places, with two others perhaps considered outsiders at this stage which should ensure that there’s plenty of excitement to come. Here’s the current table ahead of this weekends games.

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1st- Far North Queensland Heat (35pts)
Recent form- DWLWW.
Run in- Roar Youth (a), Redlands United (h), Brisbane Strikers (a), Moreton Bay United (a), SWQ Thunder (h).

Leading the way going into the final weeks of the season, the Heat have been consistent and currently hold the leagues second best defensive record with five clean sheets so far. Striker Jamie Carroll also leads the race for the Golden Boot with 13 goals for the season. Form on the road this season has been a big part of the Heat’s success this campaign with five wins out of seven, and they’ll need to continue that form away from home to hold onto the top spot with big clashes against the Strikers and Moreton Bay to come between now and the end of the season.

This weekend sees FNQ travel down to the Cleveland Showgrounds tomorrow afternoon to take on the Young Roar in a game which is a must win for the visitors. In the first meeting this season the Heat won a tight contest at Barlow Park 2-1, and if they’re going to maintain the charge towards home field advantage in the finals they have to avoid any slip-ups against a young Roar side which has been depleted in recent weeks due to call-ups to the A-League squad.

2nd- Brisbane Strikers (34pts)
Recent form- LWDWW
Run in- Sunshine Coast (a), Western Pride (h), FNQ Heat (h), Northern Fury (a), Brisbane City (h).

Despite going on a strong run of form over recent months where the Strikers became a genuine chance to take out the Premiership, they lost last weekend to the rapidly improving Olympic at home. Their strong form has been built upon having the leagues best defence this season, while the 12 goals from off-season recruit Rhys Meredith have ensured plenty of wins from the Albion based club.
The Strikers chances of picking up their first piece of silverware in the four seasons of the NPL Queensland are boosted by a favourable draw which will see them play three of their final five games at home. The round 20 clash against FNQ could well end up being the Premiership decider, while this weekend they face a potentially tricky trip up to Kawana to take on the stubborn yet inconsistent Sunshine Coast.

3rd-Gold Coast City (30pts)
Recent form- DLWWW
Run in- SWQ Thunder (a), Brisbane City (h), Olympic FC (a), Young Roar (h), Sunshine Coast (h).

City are arguably the inform team currently with a string of impressive wins in the last month, headlined by a comprehensive 4-0 score line against league leading FNQ. Results like that are a big part of the reason why they have the best attack in the league with 42 goals so far this year. The form of ex Brisbane Roar midfielder Ben Litfin -11 goals in 16 games- this season ensures that Gold Coast have one of if not the best player in the league this season.
Despite being five points back of FNQ with as many games to play, the remaining games offer great opportunity for City push for at worst a top two finish with just the one game against a side currently in the top 4 between now and the finals. This weekend’s trip to the improved but slumping SWQ Thunder who haven’t won in their last five games should result in three points which will push them closer to the top two

4th- Brisbane City (28pts)
Recent form- DWLLW
Run in- Northern Fury (h), Gold Coast City (a), Young Roar (a), Redlands United (h), Brisbane Strikers (a).

It’s been a mixed season for fourth placed Brisbane City who were expected to be amongst the contenders at the start of the season followed by a strong off-season recruitment campaign which included manager John Kosmina. While they still may end up playing in the finals series, their participation is less than certain, with City having Redlands sharp decline in recent weeks for the current presence in the top four.

City’s presence in the finals is even less certain when you look at their run in, with clashes against Gold Coast and the Strikers –both on the road- to come between now and the end of the season. The crunch game however could be the penultimate clash for the season when City host 5th placed Redlands.


5th Redlands United (27pts)

Recent form- LLWLL
Run in – Western Pride (h), FNQ (a), Northern Fury (h), Brisbane City (a), Young Roar (h)

Redlands season started off in spectacular fashion with seven wins from the opening eleven games which saw the Bayside club top of the table and into the FFA Cup for the first time. Since they clinched qualification last month against BPL side Rochedale Rovers they have won just one of their last five games, a run which has seen them drop out of the top four.
Despite being on the outside looking in before the round got underway, the chances that Redlands move back into the top four are strong. Clashes against Pride, Northern Fury and the Young Roar offer chances to accumulate points, while the penultimate round clash against Brisbane City could seal their spot.

6th- Olympic FC (25pts)
Recent form- WWLWW
Run in- Moreton Bay (a), SWQ Thunder (a), Gold Coast City (h), Sunshine Coast (h), Western Pride (h)

Olympics’ season is best categorised in two parts- pre Kirkham and with Kirkham. After Olympic spluttered out of the game with just two wins from the opening eight games, manager Jim Bellos moved into an front office role which allowed the club from Brisbane’s South Side to appoint BPL winning manager Terry Kirkham as manager.
With Kirkham at the helm, Olympic have gone from the basement of the table to sixth and a genuine chance of fourth straight finals berth, with the side winning six games out of nine since his appointment. The run in is also favourable for Olympic, with just one clash against a top four side between now and the finals and three straight home games to end the campaign. Tomorrow nights trip to Moreton Bay could be pivotal in outlining their finals hopes.

7th- Moreton Bay United (24pts)
Recent form- LWLLD
Run in- Olympic FC (h), Sunshine Coast (h), Western Pride (a), FNQ Heat (h), Northern Fury (h).

Last seasons defending Champions have played some good football at times this campaign, consistency however is what sees United on the outside looking in at the finals race. Just two wins from seven home games and five from 16 all told this season outlines the lack of consistency, while star striker Royce Brownlies’ lack of goals this season –just five this season compared to 14 in 2015- is also a factor in Moreton Bay’s malaise.
Despite their inconsistency they still remain a chance of defending their title due to their favourable schedule with four of their final five games at their Wolter Park base. There is however little room for error, and anything less than a win over 6th placed Olympic tomorrow night will likely end their finals hopes.


8th- Sunshine Coast FC (24pts)

Recent form- LDWWW
Run in- Brisbane Strikers (h), Moreton Bay United (a), SWQ Thunder (h), Olympic FC (a), Gold Coast City (h).

After undergoing a coaching change right on the eve of the season, Sunshine Coast have performed admirably this season, with results improving along the way. Despite their three straight wins and being just four games behind 4th placed Brisbane City they remain an outsider in terms of a top 4 finish with a tough run in to close out the season including a home game against second placed Brisbane Strikers on Sunday.

9th- Brisbane Roar Youth (22pts)
Recent form- DLWWW
Run in- FNQ Heat (h), Northern Fury (a), Brisbane City (h), Gold Coast City (a), Redlands (a).

Development and results are of course the primary goal of the Young Roar who are ineligible for the finals series, and in terms of player development it’s another strong campaign for the Roar with seven members of the Roar NPL side are currently training with the A-League side.

Striker Nicholas D’Agostino, whose 10 goals this season ranks him amongst the leaders in the Golden Boot chase sees him as the most likely to earn a professional contract with the Roar, while the likes of Mark Rodic, Joseph Champness and Jayden Prasad are also in contention. Result wise it’s been a solid year for the Roar, whose form at their nominal home Cleveland Showgrounds has been particularly strong.

10th- South West Queensland Thunder (20pts)
Recent form- LLLLD
Run in- Gold Coast City (h), Olympic FC (h), Sunshine Coast (a), Western Pride (a), FNQ Heat (a)

Despite being 10th on the table, this is already the best season to date for the Toowoomba side with six wins a vast improvement on previous seasons. Most of those victories however occurred in the early phase of the season, with a form slump which has seen the Thunder go on a five game winless streak to end any hopes of a push for the finals.

11th- Western Pride FC (15pts)
Recent form- DLDLD
Run in- Redlands United (a), Strikers (a), Moreton Bay (h), SWQ Thunder (h), Olympic FC (a).

It’s been another below average season to date for Western Pride, who are destined to miss finals for a fourth successive season. While the Pride’s away form has solid, it’s at home where they’ve let themselves down with just one win from nine home games this season which has left them in the bottom two this campaign. Pride however could play a big part in the finals race with clashes against Redlands, Strikers, Moreton Bay and Olympic to come before the end of the season.

12th- Northern Fury (2pts)
Recent form- LDDLL
Run in- Brisbane City (a), Young Roar (h), Redlands United (a), Brisbane Strikers (h), Moreton Bay (a)

Rounding out the table is Townsville based Northern Fury who’ve had by far their worst record in their four season existence in the competition. While Fury have never previously contended for a finals berth, they had however been improving in previous seasons, with a respectable 8th placed finish last campaign. This season however they are the only winless side in the competition, and with a tough run in, it’s unlikely to change between now and the end of the season despite being on a two game unbeaten run.

It’s shaping up as an interesting conclusion to the 2016 season and the race to see who will represent the state in the national NPL Finals Series at the conclusion of the season is hotting up. Over the course of the remainder of the season, we’ll keep you up to date as the business end of the season approaches.


Off-Season Transfer Recap

With the A-League now entering the pre-season it seems like a good time to recap the changes across the competition since Adelaide won their first Championship back in early May. It’s still too early to make any predictions for the upcoming season, and almost all sides still have some big recruitment decisions to make or announce but plenty has happened in the last six weeks or so.

Adelaide United
In: Ryan Kitto (Newcastle Jets), Marc Marino, Ben Garuccio (Melbourne City), Jesse Makarounas (Melbourne Victory).

Out: Craig Goodwin (Sparta Rotterdam), Eli Babalj (AZ Alkmaar- Loan Return), Pablo Sanchez (Released), Bruce Kamau, Ruon Tongyik (Melbourne City) Ben Warland, Mark Ochieng, John Solari, Dylan Smith (All released).

Current best available XI: Galekovic, Marrone, McGowan, La Rocca, Isaias, Mauk, Carrusca, Dugandzic, Cirio, Djite.
Reserves: Hall, Elsey, Garuccio, Mells, Makarounas, Kitto, Marino.

Starting with the defending Champions and Adelaide have managed to keep a large portion of their Championship winning roster in tact with just Craig Goodwin, Bruce Kamau and Pablo Sanchez moving on from the Grand Final winning side. In their stead are a few South Australians playing elsewhere in the league with Ben Garuccio, Marc Marino, Jesse Makarounas and Ryan Kitto adding extra depth.

The one position still to be filled by the Reds is the right wing role where Bruce Kamau established himself last season. They do however have a visa spot to play with so they could yet bring in a quality replacement. All up though things are looking relatively smooth for the defending champs.

Brisbane Roar
In: Kye Rowles (Palm Beach), Connor O’Toole (Adelaide United Youth), Jacob Pepper (Western Sydney).

Out: Devante Clut (Newcastle), Jean Carlos Solórzano (Rochedale Rovers), Shane Stefanutto (Retired), Javier Hervas (Zeljeznicar), Steven Lustica (Western Sydney), James Donachie (Melbourne Victory), Henrique Silva (Negeri Sembilan), Miguel Corona (Almeria).


Current best available XI:
  Young, Hingert, North, Bowles, Brown, Pepper, Petratos, McKay, Oar, Broich, Maclaren.

Reserves: Theo, Polenz, DeVere, Rowles, O’Toole, Caletti, Borrello, Brady.

It’s been another off-season of discontent in the river city with the clubs financial and ownership dramas once again in the foreground. There has also been a fair drain of talent off the roster leaving John Aloisi’ side looking rather thin at this stage.

The likes of Stefanutto, Corona, Henrique and Donachie have all moved on or retired, with just youngsters Rowles and O’Toole, plus ex Wanderer Jacob Pepper as additions. The focus for John Aloisi will likely be in the middle and front third where departures have left his options limited.

Central Coast Mariners
In: Ivan Necevski (Sydney FC), Jacques Faty (Sydney FC), Mickael Tavares (Sydney FC), Connor Pain (Melbourne Victory), Blake Powell, Kwabena Appiah (Wellington Phoenix), Jake Adelson, Adam Berry (Youth promotions).

Out: Luis Garcia (Retired), Anthony Kalik (Hajduk Split), Mitch Austin (Melbourne. Victory), Alistair Bray, Dan Heffernan, Tomislav Uskok, Francesco Stella (All Released).

Current best available XI: Necevski, Roux, Faty, Poscoliero, Neill, Montgomery, Tavares, Ferreira, Powell, Pain, O’Donovan.
Reserves: Izzo, Heward-Belle, Adelson, McGing, Ascroft, J. Rose, Berry, L. Rose, Appiah, McDonald, Bingham,  Buhagiar, Fletcher.

Last season was a  have undergone something of a transformation in terms of their squad with Tony Walmsley adding 8 players to his squad so far. Most of those recruits will add some much needed experience to the spine of the team, however they still do perhaps lack the game breakers to go on and make an impact in the competition.

With 24 players signed it’s likely that this is the squad which the Mariners will enter the new season with, however if there was to be any new additions a creative player to link the midfield to the front third would be a handy addition.

Melbourne City
In: Luke Brattan, Anthony Caceres (Man City- Loan), Bruce Kamau,  Ruon Tongyik  (Adelaide United), Manny Muscat (Wellington Phoenix), Daniel Arzani (FFA Centre of Excellence).

Out: Aaron Mooy (Man City), Harry Novillo (Manisaspor), Alex Wilkinson, Michael Zullo (Sydney FC), Ben Garuccio, Marc Marino (Adelaide), Patrick Kisnorbo (Retired), Aaron Hughes, James Brown, Jason Trifiro, Wade Dekker (All released).

Current best available XI: Sorensen, Franjic, Muscat, Chapman, Clisby, Malik, Brattan, Caceres, Kamau, Fitzgerald, Fornaroli.
Reserves: Bouzanis, Retre, Tongyik, Melling, Arzani, Gameiro, Kuzmanovski.

City have spent up big in the closed season with a number of additions, and the possibility of more to come. A big part of their squad building has been swaps with their big brother in Manchester, with marquee man Aaron Mooy departing for England while Luke Brattan and Anthony Caceres return to the A-League on loan moves.

The real position of need for City appears to be at back where they could do with both a central defender and a left back, however rumours are swirling that they’re about to take advantage of the FFA’s newly introduced third marquee rule and bring Tim Cahill to the A-League.

Melbourne Victory
In: James Donachie (Brisbane), Mitch Austin (Central Coast), Alan Baro (Ponferradina), Lucas Spinella, Stefan Nigro (Victory Youth).

Out: Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler (Wellington Phoenix), Thomas Deng (PSV Eindhoven-loan), Jesse Makarounas (Adelaide), Mathieu Delpierre (Retired), Dylan Murnane, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Joey Katebian, Archie Thompson (All Released).

Current best available XI: Vukovic, Geria, Donachie, Baro, Galloway, Broxham, Valeri, Bozanic, Austin, Ben Khalfallah, Berisha.
Reserves: Thomas, Nigro, Ansell, Georgievski, Mahazi, Ingham, Howard.

Victory have lost a number of key players in the aftermath of their Champions League exit with Delpierre Finkler, Barbarouses, Deng and long-time fan favourite Archie Thompson all moving on.

Replacements have been slow in arriving so far, but they have upgraded their backline with the addition of ex-Roar defender James Donachie and Spaniard Alan Baro. Creativity in midfield and another wide attack are amongst the likely players the Victory will bring in before the start of the season.

Newcastle Jets
In: Devante Clut (Brisbane), Wayne Brown (SJK Seinäjoki), Daniel Alessi (Western Sydney), Andrew Hoole (Sydney), Jack Duncan (Randers), Ivan Vujica (Dinamo).

Out: Mark Birighitti (Heading to Europe-TBC), Ryan Kitto (Adelaide), Cameron Watson, Enver Alivodic, Leonardo, Josh Barresi, Brendon Lundy (All Released).

Scott Miller has a reasonably well rounded squad entering the pre-season, however the one area that still needs to be addressed is upfront, where Newcastle have a bunch of unknowns outside of Nordstrand and the returning Andrew Hoole. The addition of Devante Clut will also add some much needed goals from midfield.

Of those that have departed the Hunter, the biggest loss would undoubtedly be goalkeeper Mark Birighitti who is trying his luck in Europe, however the addition of former understudy Jack Duncan ensures Newcastle will have solid options to choose from in goal.

Current best available XI: Duncan, Hoffman, Mullen, Boogaard, Vujica, Ugarkovic, Poljak, Clut, Brown, Hoole, Nordstrand .
Reserves: Kennedy, Cowburn, Alessi, Muata-Marlow, Jackson, Kantarovski, Cooper, Brennan, Haliti, Pavicevic.

Perth Glory
In: Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough), Joseph Mills (Oldham), Chris Herd (Chesterfield), Liam Reddy (Western Sydney), Brandon Wilson (Burnley), Nick Feely (Unknown).

Out: Ruben Zadkovich (Retired), Jerrad Tyson (Western Sydney), Gyorgy Sandor, Diogo Ferreira, Hagi Gligor, Krisztian Vadocz, Ante Covic, Jacob Collard (All Released).

Current best available XI: Reddy, Risdon, Djulbic, Lowry, Mills, R. Williams, Herd, Marinkovic, Harold, Castro, Keogh.
Reserves: Feely, Thurtell, A. Williams, Grant, Warren, Wilson, Oxborrow, Petratos, Garcia, Taggart.

Perth have been by far the busiest side this off-season in strengthening their roster ahead of the new season with the emphasis over in the west on bringing home the many talented West Australians playing elsewhere in the league and abroad.

To that end the additions of Williams, Herd and Taggart who is like a new addition despite signing in January make the squad much stronger and cover the losses of Covic, Sandor and Vadocz. A lot will still depend on marquee duo Diego Castro and Andy Keogh however.

Sydney FC
In: Alex Wilkinson, Michael Zullo (Melbourne City), Josh Brillante (Fiorentina).

Out: Jacques Faty, Mickael Tavares, Ivan Necevski (Central Coast), Ali Abbas (Pohang Steelers), Andrew Hoole (Newcastle), Zac Anderson (Emirates Club), Shane Smeltz (Kedah), Chris Naumoff (Retired), Robert Stambolziev, Jacob Tratt, Riley Woodcock, Alex Mullen, Anthony Bouzanis (All Released).

Current best available XI: Janjetovic, Ryall, Wilkinson, Jurman, Zullo, O’Neill, Dimitrijevic, Ninkovic, Holosko, Carney, Blackwood.

Reserves: Grant, Calver, Brillante.

After a disappointing season last time around Graham Arnold has cleaned house with 13 players departing the club, most of which spent large parts of last season out of the side due to form or fitness.

So far replacements are rather thin on the ground with just City duo Alex Wilkinson and Michael Zullo coming in, along with the recently announced Josh Brillante who returns to the A-League after a spell with Fiorentina in Italy’s Serie A. Out of contract duo Alex Brosque and Matt Simon are both expected to re-sign, although neither has done so at this stage.

Wellington Phoenix
In: Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler (Melbourne Victory).

Out: Manny Muscat (Melbourne City), Justin Gulley, James McGarry, Oliver Sail (Wellington United), Kwabena Appiah, Blake Powell (Central Coast Mariners), Ben Sigmund, Albert Riera (Retired), Troy Danaskos (Released).

Current best available XI: Moss, Fenton, Durante, Fox, Doyle, Lia, Bonevacia, Finkler, McGlinchey, Barbarouses, Krishna.
Reserves: Italiano, Ridenton, Rufer, Rodriguez, Watson, Rogerson.

News from across the Tasman has been a bit sparse in recent weeks with just Victory duo Gui Finkler and Kosta Barbarouses as confirmed signings at this stage which suggests that there are signings to come.

The main area which figure to be focused on in terms of recruitment are at the back, where Ben Sigmund’s retirement leaves a hole in the middle of defence and there appears to be a general lack of depth.

Western Sydney Wanderers
In: Jerrad Tyson (Perth), Steven Lustica (Brisbane), Bruno Pinatares (Cerro), Artiz Borda (Alaves), Jumpei Kusukami (Sagan Tosu), Robert Cornthwaite (Selangor).

Out: Mark Bridge (Chiangrai United), Dario Vidosic (Liaoning Whowin), Daniel Alessi (Newcastle), Josh Macdonald (Wollongong Wolves), Albero Aguilar, Andreu Guerao, Romeo Castelen, Golgol Mebrahtu, Federico Piovoccari, Matt Sim, Liam Reddy, Shayne D’Cunha, Alusine Fofanah, Jacob Pepper (All Released).

First XI: Redmayne, Neville, Borda, Topor-Stanley, Jamieson, Pinatares, Delgado, Nichols, Sotirio, Kusukami, Shabow .

Reserves: Tyson, Cole, Cornthwaite, Aspropotamitis, Hamill, Bandiera,  Baccus, Lustica, Scott, Youlley.

It’s been another off-season cull from Tony Popovic with 14 players moving on despite a top two finish and Grand Final berth. Of those who’ve moved on, perhaps the loss most closely felt will be Mark Bridge whose been an integral part of Wanderers since the club formed in 2013.

The squad has been strengthened at the back with Spaniard Artiz Borda and former Socceroo Robert Cornthwaite joining the squad. It’s upfront however where the holes are for the Wanderers with limited options as things stand as evidenced by youngster Mario Shabow being listed in the current best XI. There’s likely to be at least one new striker joining the red and black before October, while Brendan Santalab’s new contract is yet to be officially confirmed.


Corona departs Brisbane

Spanish midfielder Corona has left Brisbane Roar to return to his native Spain for family reasons. Last seasons Gary Wilkins medallist was at training this morning to farewell his teammates. In a message posted on the clubs official website Corona left a parting message.

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Corona departs Brisbane after playing in all 29 A-League games last season –one of just four players to play in every game-, scoring two goals along the way.

The Spaniard arrived in Brisbane in late September in the aftermath of the clubs financial dramas which resulted in Luke Brattan forcing his way out of the club, and just weeks before the season but quickly became a key part of the side in the heart of midfield.Playing in the middle of the midfield trio, Corona took up the duel deep lying midfielder role breaking up opposition attacks and kick-starting attacks for the Roar.

Corona has accepted an offer from his former side Almeria, whom he played 249 times for from 2007-2015, signing a two year playing contract before transitioning into a coaching role.

Corona’s departure leaves a massive hole in the midfield, arguably a bigger one than he filled a year ago due to the lack of depth currently in the middle of the park for Brisbane. Corona is the fourth midfielder to depart the club since the end of last season following Steven Lustica, Javier Hervas and Devante Clut in moving on.

That leaves just club captain Matt McKay, Dimitri Petratos, Jacob Pepper and a host of youngsters as options in the middle of the park, with Aloisi now set to reinforce his midfield before the season starts. Currently Brisbane have just 18 contracted players and just two visa players under contract, meaning there will be at least two new signings –maximum of 5- and plenty of cap space and visa spaces available to bring fresh talent into the side.

Replacing a quality and influential player such as Corona will be a massive task for Aloisi, he’s shown that questions surrounding his recruitment were unfounded last season however he’ll need to repeat the trick in the coming weeks to replenish a Roar side which is looking a little thin. In the meantime, best of luck back in Spain to Corona, thanks for the memories, it’s been fun.

Miguel Angel Garica Perez- Roldan (Corona)
Player Number– 113
Debut– Season 2015-16, Round 1 (Western Sydney- A)
Games– 29
Goals – 2


Pre-Season roster update

With pre-season now underway it seems like a good time to take stock of how the Roar squad shapes up ahead of the new season. Currently the Roar have 19 contracted first team players, plus youngster Joe Caletti on a full-time youth contract. That leaves at least one new signing to reach the minimum of 20, and up to four spots open in the maximum squad of 23, plus two further full-time youth places up for grabs. There are also three visa spots in the squad open, while both marquee contracts are accounted for with Thomas Broich and Matt McKay retaining their marquee status.

Brisbane Roar roster as at 14/7/2016
Goalkeepers– Jamie Young, Michael Theo.
Defenders- Corey Brown, Jerome Polenz, Jade North, Daniel Bowles, Jack Hingert, Luke DeVere, Kye Rowles, Conor O’Toole.
Midfielders- Corona, Matt McKay, Dimitri Petratos, Joe Caletti, Jacob Pepper.
Forwards- Jamie Maclaren, Shannon Brady, Thomas Broich, Tommy Oar, Brandon Borrello.

Starting in goal where things appear to be set with long-time #1 Michael Theo likely to back up Jamie Young who claimed the spot in goal at the end of last season. Left back is another position which seems to be sorted with Corey Brown the likely starter and youngster Connor O’Toole serving as his understudy.

Right back also appears to be sorted with Jack Hingert and Jerome Polenz in the role, however with the reports that Polenz could be about to depart the Roar there could potentially be a vacancy to fill. While that could be filled externally, there’s also a chance that Aloisi could use youngster Mark Rodic in that role who was recently named in the seven youngsters to be added to the pre-season training squad.

In the centre of defence, the roster appears to be full with new signing Kye Rowles joining the returning Jade North, Daniel Bowles and Luke DeVere. Despite that however there are fitness issues surrounding Luke DeVere which could lead to extra depth being acquired.

Moving into the middle third and Aloisi has a wealth of options at his disposal, with the likes of Corona, Dimitri Petratos, Matt McKay, new signing Jacob Pepper and full-time youth player Joe Caletti. Aloisi however is seeking further additions in the area with the search for another attack minded option, most likely a visa player, to round out his midfield mix.

In the final third Aloisi is also spoilt for choices with a number of options for the wide attacking roles. Two from the trio of Thomas Broich, Tommy Oar and Brandon Borrello will likely be the starters, while youngster Shannon Brady will provide solid depth. There could also be an opportunity for Joseph Champness or Jayden Prasad to force there way into the mix after they were invited to participate in the pre-season with the first team.

Upfront Brisbane will likely be relying on their Golden Boot winner from last season Jamie Maclaren, however the rumours of European interest in the fringe Socceroo have returned in recent days. That European interest plus the lack of central striking depth could both be reasons why Aloisi is reportedly shopping around overseas for further attacking strike power. Youngster Nicholas D’Agostino, who made his debut last season against Perth has been rewarded for strong form in the NPL with a spot in the extended pre-season squad.

There will likely be a bit of movement in the squad before the season starts in October with three visa spots to fill and potentially a fourth should Polenz move on, but with 19 contracted players plus FT youth player Joe Caletti and a host of other youth in the frame the squad looks to be in reasonable shape provided they add the midfielder and attacker Aloisi is looking for.

 


Things to look for over pre-season

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Pre-season training got underway on Monday at the Griffith University training base and it looms as an interesting pre-season on a number of levels. There promises to be a number of storylines to follow over the next couple of months with positional battles for a spot in the first XI, youth trying to emerge into the first team squad and the probability of a new signing or two to freshen up the squad. Here’s a look at some of the more interesting storylines this pre-season.

Positional battles
There’s always positional battles in the pre-season with a number of players trying to force their way into the starting line-up and for Brisbane in 2016-17 there figures to be plenty of competition for places in John Aloisi’ first XI, most notably in the goalkeeper, right back, centre back and left wing positions.

Starting in goal where Jamie Young, who has been considered the understudy since he arrived in 2014 will likely go into the season as the first choice keeper, although the experienced Michael Theo will be desperate to get his spot in the side back. Both are sure to get their chances this pre-season, and both are good enough to be starting goalkeepers in the league which will give Aloisi a selection headache if both are fit when the league kicks-off in October. Being in a contract year also makes this a big year for Theo, while Young signed a two year contract extension earlier in the year.

Another big battle over the course of the pre-season looks like being on the left hand side of the front three, a spot where Thomas Broich has been unchallenged since his arrival in 2010. The January arrival of Tommy Oar however complicates things with both doing their best work on the left side of the attack. While there will likely be a spot of both in the first XI this season, who plays wide on the left, and where the other fits into the side will be interesting to follow.

The really big positional battle however figures to be in the heart of defence where Brisbane have four central defenders, all of which are imperfect in one way or another. While Jade North was solid as the leader of the backline he is getting up there in age, despite that however he’s showing no signs of slowing down and figures to be the key man at the back for Brisbane this campaign.

Who plays next to him however will be interesting, with all three having a case to be made for and against them. Luke DeVere is the popular choice to partner North at the heart of defence, but while he’s a fringe National Team member when fit, he’s struggled for fitness over the past 18 months and will likely be given a cautious route back into the side.

If it’s not DeVere alongside North, Daniel Bowles is likely to be the man, however he will need take his game to another level to maintain the spot ahead of a fully fit DeVere. The other option is youngster Kye Rowles, who at just 17 is on the young side and will likely play a part in Australia’s u/20 WCQ campaign throughout the season, but he was one of Australia’s best at the u/17 World Cup last year and has a bright future.

North and DeVere likely start out in front for the spots at the heart of defence, but there’s plenty of competition for the two spots in the side. That’s just three positions which figure to be competitive next season, and there could be more when Aloisi adds to his squad.

New signings.
With just 19 contracted players currently, there will be at least one, if not 2 or 3 new additions to the squad over the course of the pre-season. Between now and when the season begins on October 7th there will be some new signings, but they may not be until late in pre-season. Think back a year ago, when Corona was signed with just two weeks to go in the season, while Javier Hervas arrived just two days before the first game of the season. What position those players play in is an unknown at this stage, and something I might cover later in the week.

Youth
One of the real fascinations about the pre-season is seeing the best of the youth side playing alongside the established first team and fighting it out of a spot in the A-League squad. John Aloisi confirmed in his first press conference of the season that there would likely be at least one spot on offer for one of the Roar youngsters, if not two.

That’s good news for the likes of Mark Rodic, Jayden Prasad, Joseph Champness and Nicholas D’Agostino who’ve all been invited to join the squad in pre-season after stellar seasons in the youth side. I might go through the merits of each of the youth squad members brought into the pre-season training camp later in the week. There’s also likely to be opportunities for the likes of Kye Rowles, Connor O’Toole, Joe Caletti and Shannon Brady to press for spots in the matchday squad.

There’s likely to be plenty more storylines to follow between now and when the season proper kicks off in October, both on the field and off it. Pre-season however is always a fun time because it means the season is just around the corner, and there’s just 85 days until the A-League season begins with the home opener against Melbourne Victory.


Off-Season Review

Plenty has happened while the first team squad have been on their annual break, so with pre-season starting today it’s a good time to take a look back at the events of the off-season.

April
28th– Clut departs Brisbane, joining Newcastle Jets on a 2 year deal.
29th– Roar branded City cat unveiled at South Bank.
29th– Jean Carlos Solórzano announces departure from Brisbane Roar.
30th– Shane Stefanutto announces retirement from professional football.

When the season eventually ended in late April, the early days of Brisbane’s off-season was dominated by the announcement of player departures. Long time left-back Shane Stefanutto retired after six seasons and 138 games for Brisbane, going on to play for NPL side Olympic and take up a position in the Roar media team. While attacking duo Devante Clut and Jean Carlos Solórzano announced their departures as their contracts expired joining Newcastle Jets and Rochedale Rovers respectively.

The other news of the month was the unveiling of the Brisbane Roar branded City Cat which roams up and down the Brisbane River along with ferries representing the cities other sports teams.

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Remember when the off-season consisted of positive news like this?


May

3rd– Javier Hervas and Steven Lustica confirmed as moving on as their contracts expire.
3rd– Roar add Kye Rowles and Connor O’Toole to the A-League squad,
duo sign 2yr deals.
7th– Javier Hervas joins Bosnian side Zeljeznicar
11th– CEO David Pourre announces departure.
11th– Local advisory board announced. David Pourre, Robert Cavalucci, Alicia Ferguson will be on it.
12th– Corona wins Gary Wilkins medal at annual awards night.
13th– Post-season training ends.
17th– Jade North signs 1 year contract extension.
28th– Jamie Maclaren makes Socceroos debut in a 2-1 loss to England.
29th– FFA give Bakrie Group a 24hr window to address concerns over financial and management of BRFC.
30th– Bakrie Group ask for a week long extension to respond to the FFA. FFA consider the request.
31st– FFA give Bakrie group a week to provide FFA a response to concerns over the management and financial position of BRFC.

The month of May began with further changes to the playing squad, with midfield duo Steven Lustica and Javier Hervas moving on as their contracts expired. Lustica ended up taking up a one year deal with Western Sydney, while Hervas returned to Europe with Bosnian side Zeljeznicar. Joining the Roar meanwhile are young defensive duo Kye Rowles and Connor O’Toole on two year deals. Central defender Rowles, 17, joins the Roar from Palm Beach after starring for the Australian u/17 side at the World Cup, while O’Toole, 19, joins from Adelaide’s youth side after a spell in Japan. Meanwhile experienced defender Jade North signed a contract extension.

At the clubs annual awards night Spanish midfielder Corona picked up the big award of the night, taking home the Gary Wilkins medal for winning player of the year. The big winner of the night however was Jamie Maclaren, who took home players’ player, members player, Golden Boot and young player of the year awards. On the women’s side, Angela Beard picked up the two big awards of the night including W-League player of the year, while Emily Gielnik won the Golden Boot.

The middle of May saw the announcement that Brisbane CEO David Pourre would be departing the role, although it was coupled with the announcement that there would be a Brisbane based advisory board on which Pourre would serve. Joining Pourre on that board are former LNP MP Robert Cavalucci and former Brisbane W-League player Alicia Ferguson.

After weeks of rumours surrounded further off-field stability, the FFA released a statement demanding that the Bakrie Group ease growing concerns surrounding the financial status and ongoing management of the club.  It had been reported in the media that the clubs financial situation was heading towards the same situation as last off-season, while Indonesian directors Raheem Soekasah and Demis Djamaoeddin reportedly were unreachable. In response the Bakries asked for a further week in order to respond to the FFA, a request which the governing body eventually accepted.

June
1st– FFA Grant Bakrie Group a 1 week extension on deadline.
1st– Medial staff quit over unpaid medial bills.
1st– James Donachie announces departure. Later joins Melbourne Victory.
4th– Shane Stefanutto joins NPL Queensland side Olympic FC.
6th– Bakrie Group pledge to inject 2mil capital and appoint a CEO to keep the licence.
6th– FFA release statement indicating satisfaction at the ownerships response.
7th– Former Roar striker Jean Carlos Solórzano joins BPL side Rochedale Rovers.
8th– Daniel Cobb announced as Brisbane MD and interim CEO.
8th– Reports Bakrie Group set to sell BRFC licence to Melbourne consortium lead by Daniel Cobb.
9th– Season 2016-17 A-League Draw released. Brisbane to play 1st game of season against Melbourne Victory.
16th– Henrique confirms departure from Brisbane Roar.
22nd – 7 Roar youngsters named in Roar pre-season squad.
23rd– Western Pride Youngster Hayden McHenery added to Roar youth squad. Jaiden Walker joins GC City.
24th– Roar W-League assistant coach Jeff Hopkins joins Melbourne Victory as W-League head coach.
27th– Stefanutto joins Roar media team.
30th– Brisbane drawn against Perth Glory FFA Cup Round of 32.

June began where may left off, with the clubs medical department reportedly quitting the role due to some unpaid medical expenses. The off-field situation would receive some more clarity however with the clubs owners committing to inject 2million worth of capital and appoint a new CEO. The developments would prove enough to satisfy the FFA, despite rumours swirling that the governing body would step in and take over the licence.

Just days later the Bakrie Group announced Daniel Cobb as both Managing Director and Interim CEO, however that wasn’t the end of Cobbs involvement in the Roar with the Melbourne based businessman leading a consortium which would eventually buy the licence from the Indonesian ownership group.

Since that date however there has been little news on that front which has lead to ongoing uncertainty. On field it was a month of further departures, with long serving import Henrique and home grown defender James Donachie departing. Both opted not to renew their contracts in Brisbane with Henrique opting for a new challenge and more game time in Malaysia, while Donachie used a mistake in his contract expiry date to join Melbourne Victory.

Another departure from Brisbane to the Victory, with W-League assistant coach Jeff Hopkins taking the head coaching role of the Victory side who missed the finals last season. Hopkins has been involved in both the Roar youth and A-League sides, but it’s with the W-League side where he had the most success with two Championships, a Premiership and four Grand Final appearances in as many seasons.

June was also the month that saw the A-League and FFA Cup Round of 32 draws released, with Brisbane starting their league campaign at home to the Victory in the first game of the season. They also received a home draw in the FFA Cup, with fellow A-League side Perth Glory making the trip East.

Rounding out June was the announcement that seven of Brisbane’s best youth team products would be apart of the pre-season campaign with the first team. Defenders Mark Rodic and Connor O’Toole, midfield duo Joe Caletti and Nathan Konstandopoulos and attacking trio Joseph Champness, Jayden Prasad and Nicholas D’Agostino all joined in training today. With vacancies in the youth side due to the promotions, several members of the u/18 squad joined the NPL setup, as did Western Pride midfielder Hayden McHenery who has impressed this season.

July
1st– FFA refuse to dip into centralised marquee fund to help Brisbane secure Brett Holman.
4th– Clare Polkinghorne, Tameka Butt and Katrina Gorry named in the Matildas Olympics squad.
4th– Brisbane docked 3 NPL points for a mistake on the team sheet.
5th– Brisbane’s FFA Cup clash confirmed at Ballymore. Aug 10th.
6th– Brisbane’s training and admin bases move back to Ballymore.
7th– European interest in Jamie Maclaren returns.
9th– Brisbane sign Jacob Pepper to a one year A-League deal.

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New signing Jacob Pepper

The month began with the announcement of the Matildas squad for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and three of Brisbane’s W-League stars made the cut. Defender and club captain Clare Polkinghorne, and midfielders Katrina Gorry and Tameka Butt making the cut for the tournament next month.

Finally, the off-season ended on a more positive note with the signing of midfielder Jacob Pepper on a one year deal. Pepper adds some depth and a more defensive mindset to a Brisbane midfielder which is stacked with attack minded players.

The off-season is now over and the preparations for next months FFA Cup Round of 32 clash against Perth, and the season proper beginning in October are now underway.  Despite that there’s still plenty of uncertainty around the Roar which is likely to continue for a little while yet, both on and off the park.