Pre-Season 2016 Preview- Brisbane Roar v Central Coast

Tomorrow Brisbane Roar will play their final pre-season game against an A-League side before the start of the season, in a clash against Central Coast Mariners at Spencer Park.

Brisbane’s pre-season has been a mixed one so far with just the one win from three clashes, and they’ll be looking to secure a win against an A-League side before the season starts.

Omori factor
The most intriguing element of this clash is the news that Japanese born left back Hiroki Omori will play some part in the clash as trial, with the view to potentially joining the Roar for the upcoming seasons should things go well.

Omori, 26, was a member of the Brisbane Strikers squad in this seasons NPL Queensland campaign, making 17 appearances in 2016 with one goal to his name.

Where Omori really caught the eye however was in the clubs run to the Round of 16 in the FFA Cup, where his performance against Melbourne City at Perry Park forced John Aloisi to give him the chance.

It’s unknown at this stage if Omori will start or come off the bench, but Full-Back is a position that Brisbane are a little light on in with only Jack Hingert, Corey Brown and youngster Connor O’Toole as options in the roles.

Brisbane selections
While Omori is set to play some part in the game, it’s been reported that midfield duo Thomas Kristensen and Brett Holman will miss the game. Kristensen has according to reports has been on a light training program, while Holman only started training this week and is not yet ready for game time.

The rest of Brisbane’s side however is fit and available for selection, and for them this game looms as an important one as it’s the last major hit-out before the start of the new season next month and could be a vital one in shaping the starting line-up for the game against Melbourne Victory.

Mariners’ preseason
The big news from down in Gosford over the off-season was the sacking of Manager Tony Walmsley following the Mariners 2-1 loss to Green Gully in the FFA Cup.

In Wamsley’s place is Paul Okon, who arrives on the Central Coast after a stint with the Australian u/20’s side. Arriving so late in pre-season however has meant that he’s relying on the group recruited by Walmsley, and it will be interesting to see how they line up tomorrow.

So far under Okon the Mariners have played two games this week on Tuesday with the a win and a draw from two clashes against a Capital Football select side in which the Mariners played a half squad in each game.

Squads
Brisbane
– 1. Michael Theo, 3. Luke DeVere, 4. Daniel Bowles, 5. Corey Brown, 7. Thomas Kristensen, 8. Jacob Pepper, 9. Jamie Maclaren, 10. Brett Holman, 11. Tommy Oar, 13. Jade North, 17. Matt McKay, 19. Jack Hingert, 20. Shannon Brady, 21. Jamie Young, 22. Thomas Broich, 23. Dimitri Petratos, 24. Connor O’Toole, 25. Kye Rowles, 26. Nicholas D’Agostino, 28. Brandon Borrello, 29. Joe Caletti, 33. Joey Katebian, 39. Nathan Konstandopoulos.

Central Coast– 1. Ivan Necevski, 2. Storm Roux, 4. Jacob Poscoliero, 5. Harry Ascroft 6. Blake Powell, 7. Fabio Ferreira, 8. Nick Montgomery, 9. Roy O’Donovan, 10. Mickael Tavares, 11. Connor Pain, 12. Trent Buhagiar, 13. Kwabena Appiah, 14. Adam Berry, 15. Brad McDonald, 16. Liam Rose, 17. Josh Bingham, 19. Jacques Faty, 20. Paul Izzo, 21. Michael Neill, 22. Jake McGing, 24. Jake Adelson, 28. Matthew Fletcher, 40. Tom Heward-Belle.

Brisbane Roar vs. Central Coast Mariners
Saturday September 10th
Spencer Park 3.00pm


NPL u-23 All-Stars game squad announced

The NPL Queensland u-23 All-Stars squad which will take on the Roar later this month was announced today and it brings together some of the most talented footballers in the state.

Gold Coast City and Brisbane City are the two most represented clubs in the 18 man provisional squad with four players a piece from each side, while Premiers Brisbane Strikers.

One of the big features of the squad is the presence of a number of players who’ve previously represented the Roar’s youth side with six players in the provisional squad.

Jaiden Walker, Sam Cronin, Benjamin Lyvidikos, Luke Pavlou, Mitchell Hore and Benjamin Litfin will all definitely get the chance to play their former side, while Samuel Sibatuara finds himself on the stand by list.

Perhaps surprisingly, just the one player who played in Saturday nights season finale –Cameron Nucifora of FNQ Heat- has been selected in the provisional side, while Kai Halliday from Redlands is one of the players on the stand by list.

That stand by list could come into play, depending on the result of Brisbane Strikers’ participation in the 2016 NPL Finals Series, which will see the Queensland Premiers host ACT Premier Canberra Olympic at Perry Park on September 17th.

A win in that game would then see the Strikers play in a Semi-Final the following week, a game which would clash with the All-Stars clash with the Roar.

Goalkeepers- Samuel Nickolls (Sunshine Coast FC), Shane Vitikangas (Gold Coast City) Defenders: Scott Halliday (Brisbane City), Jake Marshall (Brisbane Strikers), Kai Smith (Brisbane City), Jaiden Walker (Gold Coast City).

Midfielders- Finn Beakhurst (Moreton Bay United), Matthew Capelo (Moreton Bay United), Sam Cronin (Olympic), Benjamin Lyvidikos (Gold Coast City), Cameron Nucifora (FNQ Heat), Luke Pavlou (Brisbane City), Mitchell Hore (Brisbane City), Benjamin Litfin (Gold Coast City).

Forwards- Joseph Duckworth (Western Pride), Fraser Hills (Brisbane Strikers), Luke Marsh (Brisbane Strikers), Bonventure Thomas-Remijo (Western Pride).

Shadow Players- Kai Halliday (Redlands United), Mustafa Jafari (SWQ Thunder), Mory Kone (Gold Coast City), Samuel Langley (Redlands United), Samuel Sibatuara (Brisbane City), Martin Vazquez (Gold Coast City)

Brisbane Roar vs. NPL Queensland/23
Saturday September 24th. 3.00pm
Queensland Sports & Athletics Centre


Recap of Pre-Season clash with BPL Select

Brisbane Roar (4) – Petratos 31’, Maclaren 38, Bowles 85’, Leck 88’
BPL Select (0)

Goals

1) Dimitri Petratos 31st minute- A mistake in midfield from the BPL select side sees the Roar gain possession in a good position, and after some build up work from Brandon Borrello and Matt McKay, Petratos beat Jake Reesby with a powerful effort to make it 1-0.

2) Jamie Maclaren 39th minute- Flowing move from the Roar down the left hand side results in a tap in at the far post for Maclaren which put Brisbane up 2-0.

3) Daniel Bowles 86th minute- After an initial corner was cleared by the BPL Select side the ball fell to Jesse Daley on the right side near the corner flag, and his low cross allowed Bowles to tap in and make it 3-0 late on.

4) Daniel Leck 88th minute- Youngster Leck rounded out the scoring late on as fellow youth teamers Katebian and Daley combined to tee up Leck, with the BPL side switching off. 4-0 to the Roar.

Here’s a few thoughts on last nights game
Work to do– The biggest take away from the game is that while the team picked up their first win of the 2016 pre-season, there’s a lot of work to do before the team is ready to play before the round one game in October. While there were some good aspects to the play, there’s still a lot to work on, with ball movement slower than previous years while there was a lack of cutting edge for large periods as well.

Recruitment- Last night was also the first opportunity to see new signings Thomas Kristensen and Joey Katebian in action, with Kristensen playing 67 minutes while Katebian played the second half off the bench. Kristensen looked a handy enough acquisition playing the midfield- more on that later-, while Katebian struggled to have the same impact as Maclaren.

On recruitment, it was also evident that while the club has made three signing so far since the end of last season, there’s still a glaring need for more options before the season starts. Amongst those needs are a more experienced back-up for Jamie Maclaren, while an additional creative midfielder to add a bit of extra spark to the side could also be a useful addition. With three visa spots available to John Aloisi there’s plenty of scope to make further additions.

DeVere- The game against the BPL Select side was also the first chance to see Luke DeVere in action, with the central defender playing his first 45 minutes for the first team since his injury against Villarreal in June of last year. While there wasn’t a lot of defending to be done in the game, DeVere looked composed enough on the ball and did his defending duties well.

Midfield- The most interesting aspect of last night to watch was the midfield where the set-up seemed to be slightly different to last season with the departures of Steven Lustica and Corona seemingly changing the shape of the midfield. Last season it was primarily Corona as the deepest lying of the midfield two, with Petratos and McKay playing ahead of him in the midfield.

Last night however Matt McKay seemed to be sitting a little deeper, playing alongside Thomas Kristensen in a kind of duel pivot role, with Dimitri Petratos acting as a no.10 and Thomas Broich drifting from his left wing role centrally more often. It’s too soon to judge if the changes will be beneficial or not, or if it’s going to be a pattern this season but it was an interesting adjustment to see.

Youth- While we’ve only seen two pre-season games now –in addition to two more closed door games on the Gold Coast- one of the major themes of the pre-season has been the inclusion of youth in the squads. There hasn’t however been a regular group of youngsters included with 10 different youth team players getting a chance to prove themselves in first team action. Of the group, Konstandopoulos is the only one to have played in all four games and looks the best chance to secure a first team deal.

So far the following young players have been given their chance in the first team this pre-season; Cameron Crestani, Matthew Schmidt, Mark Rodic, Joe Caletti, Nathan Konstandopoulos, Jesse Daley, Joseph Champness & Jayden Prasad.

It will be interesting to see who features from here on out with just two confirmed games between now and the start of the season, although I’ll have more on the youth side later this week.

Line-ups
Brisbane Roar XI– Young (46’), Hingert (46’), DeVere (46’), North (71’), Brown, Kristensen (67’), McKay (67’), Petratos (46’), Borrello (46’), Broich (76’), Maclaren (46’).
Substitutes- Theo, Katebian, Pepper, Leck, & Oar (46’), Konstandopoulos & Rodic (67’), Crestani (71’), Daley (76’)
Unused Substitutes- Schmidt.

BPL Select first half XI- Reesby, Davies, Fujitani, Fetahagic, Shepherd, Jankovic, Bonotto, Briggs, Cheshire, Madle, Cameron.
Second half XI- Cuminao, Takahashi, Ryan, Nagta, Smith, Roper, Strickland, Brown, McCaskill, Campbell, Jomanday.

Up next- It’s two weeks of training for the Roar before their next trial against Central Coast Mariners on September 10th. For the BPL Select side they return to their clubs with the 2016 Semi-Final series set to begin next weekend.


BPL Select squad announced, as Roar announce a further game

The Brisbane Premier League select squad which will take on the Roar this Saturday at QSAC was announced today and as you would expect it’s heavily dominated by Premiers Lions FC.

Lions lead the way with six players in the 22 man squad, while Rochedale Rovers and Holland Park Hawks have the second most in the squad with five players each.

Peninsula Power have three in the squad, while Albany Creek, Logan Lighting and Eastern Suburbs are represented by one player each.

Due to commitments in the 2016 Canale Cup Final, players from Mitchelton FC and Capalaba weren’t considered for the squad. The full squad is below.

Goalkeepers: Brandon Cuminao (Rochedale Rovers), Jake Reesby (Peninsula Power).

Defenders: Phil Davies (Rochedale Rovers), Ajdin Fetahagic (Lions FC), Takumi Fujitano (Lions FC), Uryu Nagata (Rochdale Rovers), Michael Ryan (Easts), Nathan Shepherd (Lions FC), Dan Smith (Holland Park), Kenya Takahashi (Lions FC).

Midfielders: Andrea Bonotto (Peninsula Power), Dean Briggs (Holland Park), Max Brown (Logan Lightning), Lewis Cameron (Rochedale Rovers), Marko Jankovic (Lions FC), Sam Roper (Holland Park).

Forwards: Riley Campbell (Albany Creek), Greg Cheshire (Rochedale Rovers), Andrew Macaskill (Holland Park), Marek Malde (Holland Park), Sekou Jomanday (Lions FC), Tom Strickland (Peninsula Power). Brisbane Roar and the Brisbane Premier League Select squad will play this Saturday evening at QSAC, however the Roar have other games in Brisbane coming up between now and the start of the season.

Brisbane Roar meanwhile are expected to field a strong side in this match -for the first half at least- with the game likely to be the first chance for people to see new signings Joey Katebian and Thomas Kristensen in action.

In addition to the game announced last week against Central Coast Mariners in early September, the Roar today confirmed a game against an NPL Queensland u-23 select side, which will also be held at QSAC in late September.

The games are likely to round out the pre-season for the Roar with the game against the NPL u/23 side to take place just 13 days out from the season opener against Melbourne Victory.

It’s not quite the Roar Roadshow of years gone by, but it’s not too bad either.

Brisbane Roar vs. BPL select
Saturday August 27th. 7.30pm
Qld Sports & Athletics Centre

Brisbane Roar vs. Central Coast Mariners
Saturday September 10th. 3.00pm
Spencer Park, Newmarket.

Brisbane Roar vs. NPL Qld u/23
Saturday September 24th. 3.00pm
Qld Sports & Athletics Centre


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.


Seven Roar youngsters to join pre-season

Seven of Brisbane’s best young players will take part in pre-season when it kicks off next month as a reward for stellar form in the opening half of the 2016 NPL Queensland season. Joe Caletti, Joseph Champness, Nicholas D’Agostino, Nathan Konstandopoulos, Connor O’Toole, Jayden Prasad and Mark Rodic.

Caletti, 17, joined Brisbane in January as an understudy for Spanish midfielder Corona, although he’s been used sparingly since his arrival with just the three games in the NPL so far this season with his passing range suggesting he has plenty to offer moving forward.

Champness has been one of the best players in the youth side this season since his transfer from Moreton Bay United, with his dynamic performances on the left side of the front three leading to four goals in twelve games so far this season.

D’Agostino has been the standout player of this years youth side, with his goalscoring exploits amongst the best in the NPL. After making his first team debut against Perth in round 5 last season, has scored 10 goals in 11 games so far this season and figures to play a part in the A-League squad this upcoming season.

Konstandopoulos, 19, joined the Brisbane youth setup in March for this seasons NPL campaign where he’s made 10 appearances this season in the midfield. Prior to his time here in Brisbane, Nathan spent time with his hometown side Adelaide United, where he made two appearances back in the 2013-14 season, including one against Brisbane where the Reds scored a late winner.

O’Toole, 19, has made five appearances for the Young Roar at left full-back this season in the NPL following his signing with the first team squad after arriving for a trial period following stints with Adelaide’s youth side and Japanese Football Academy Seiritsu. Given his first team contract which kicks in for the next A-League season, it was a given that he would be apart of the pre-season program.

Prasad, another new signing this season after transferring from Redlands, has been a solid contributor in the attacking third in his first season with the Roar, with four goals in eleven games so far despite spending equal amount of time in both in the starting side and on the bench.

Finally, Rodic, who arrived midway through the last pre-season as a trialist, has been a solid if unspectular member of the backline, with twelve appearances in the NPL this term along with a full season in the National Youth League.

Of the seven players, Champness and D’Agostino have been the best performing players so far this season in the NPL of those selected, however the brief glimpses we’ve seen of Caletti have indicated he has the potential to be a very solid #6.

As always with things like this there are players who are unlucky to be left out, and in this case defender Cameron Crestani and midfielder Jesse Daley are those players in this case. Crestani has been the best defender in the side, while skipper Daley is an all action midfielder whose put in a string of impressive performances this season.

With the seven players mentioned above switching their focus towards the first team’s pre-season space has opened up in the youth squad, with Western Pride midfielder Hayden McHenery joining the side.

While a lot will be made of this, im not sure how much it really means for Brisbane’s 2016-17 A-League squad. This time last season, four players- Luke Pavlou, Mitchell Hore, Abrahim Yango and D’Agostino- were given a similar opportunity, however two of those departed at the conclusion of the pre-season while Hore moved on after the NYL campaign.

Regardless of that however, it’s always promising to see so many good young players get their chance in the pre-season and most likely the FFA Cup campaign which kicks off in August.