Kamau brace sinks Roar on opening night

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(Quinn Rooney/Getty Images AsiaPac)

Melbourne City (2) Kamau 45’ & 74’
Brisbane Roar (0)
9,589 at AAMI Park, Melbourne

Brisbane Roar’s 2017-18 campaign has began the same way the 2016-17 one ended, with a disappointing loss at AAMI Park. A brace from Bruce Kamau was enough to give the hosts a first up win to start the season, while the Roar looked off the pace for large parts of the game.

Goals
45’ (1-0) Bruce Kamau scored the first goal of the new season moments before the half-time break after Luke Brattan’s initial corner was headed clear to the edge of the box. The former Adelaide man controlled the ball before his shot found it’s way into the bottom corner.

74’ (2-0) Kamau then made the game safe 16 minutes from time after he got on the end of a Nick Fitzgerald cross, with his deflected shot going into the net at the far post.

Chances
3’- The first chance of the game fell to Joe Caletti in just the third minute after Massimo Maccarone spotted the midfielder in space on the edge of the 18 yard box, his shot however went just past the post of Eugene Galekovic.

6’- First chance for City came from a set piece after Schenkeveld flicked on Brattan’s initial corner. Stefan Mauk then proceeded to head the ball over the crossbar despite being unmarked.

19′- Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Nick D’Agostino combine, with the Roar youngster’s shot going just past the near post.

30’- Peter Skapetis is played in down the right hand side by Maccarone, however his cross just alludes the onrushing D’Agostino, who would have had a tap in.

40′- Injury replacement signing Ross McCormack blazes high and wide from 12 yards after some good work down the right hand side by Manny Muscat.

65’- First real chance for Massimo Maccarone in Brisbane colours comes from a Joe Caletti cross. The Italian marquee man’s header from the edge of the 18 yard box was easily saved by Galekovic.

69’- Peter Skapetis made a solid run down the right hand side for the visitors but his tame effort went straight at Galekovic.

84’- Moments after entering the game for his senior debut, youngster Rahmat Akbari combined nicely with Maccarone, however he was denied a debut goal as his shot was blocked by Galekovic.

Coaches comments John Aloisi
“It was always going to be hard because we’ve had a disruptive pre-season but there was an opportunity for some younger boys to get an opportunity who I thought did well. Disappointed to concede a couple of sloppy goals, but apart from that I thought we controlled the second half and created the better chances”

Team News
Brisbane Roar XI- Theo, Hingert, Papadopoulos, North, Brown, Caletti, McKay, D’Agostino, Skapetis, Ben Khalfallah, Maccarone.
Substitutions– Oxborrow for Ben Khalfallah (79’), Akbari for D’Agostino (84’), Devere for Papadopoulos (89’).
Unused Substitutes- Young, O’Toole.
Yellow Cards- D’Agostino (24’), Ben Khalfallah (47’)
Red Cards- Nil

Melbourne City XI- Galekovic, Muscat, La Rocca, Schenkeveld, Jakobsen, Brattan, Malik, Mauk, Kamau, Fitzgerald, McCormack.
Substitutions- Budzinski for McCormack (82’), Jamieson for Fitzgerald (82’), Crowley for Mauk (90+1’)
Unused Substitutes- Bouzanis, Carrusca.
Yellow Cards- Muscat (21’), McCormack (56’)
Red Cards- Nil

Stats, Facts and Figures
– Congratulations to Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Rahmat Akbari, who became the 132nd and 133rd players to represent Brisbane Roar in a competitive game.

Up next
Brisbane Roar return home to Suncorp Stadium for the first time in the 2017-18 season for their home opener against Adelaide United next Friday night. The game starts a run of four home games in five weeks for John Aloisi’ side, giving Brisbane a perfect chance to put tonight behind them and begin to pick up points.

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2017-18 Round 1 Match Preview

The long off-season has officially come to an end, with the A-League set to return tonight and for the third successive season Brisbane Roar will feature in the opening game of the season. In 2015 Brisbane ran out 3-1 winners at Parramatta Stadium against Western Sydney before a Luke Devere injury time equaliser earned Brisbane a point at home against Victory last year, this time the Roar are on the road once again as they take on Melbourne City.

Brisbane have primed themselves for this game with a couple of internal trial games over the past couple of weeks, with a 2-0 win over Sydney FC their last competitive game back on September 16th. Prior to that however due to injuries and experimentation Brisbane’s only other wins came against local sides, with losses to Western Sydney and Melbourne Victory –twice including the FFA Cup-.

Injury update
Daniel Bowles- Knee (indefinite)
Brett Holman- Calf (1 week)
Thomas Kristensen- Hamstring (2-3 weeks)
Dane Ingham- International Duty (1 week)
Eric Bautheac- Awaiting visa clearance (indefinite)

John Aloisi has been without a number of first team players with Daniel Bowles, Avram Papadopoulos, Thomas Kristensen, Brett Holman, Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Corey Gameiro all missing time over the course of the pre-season.

For round one however all except Bowles –long term knee injury- and Kristensen –hamstring injury- are back in training and available for selection this weekend, in addition to Dane Ingham who is away on New Zealand World Cup Qualifying duty.

Team news
John Aloisi will definitely be without midfield duo Thomas Kristensen and Brett Holman to start the season, with Holman a late addition to the injured list after being listed as day to day for most of the week. With the experienced duo out, opportunities open up for Joe Caletti and Nick D’Agostino to start, with the latter set to occupy a slightly unfamiliar #10 role behind marquee striker Massimo Maccarone.

Winger Eric Bautheac is still stranded in France waiting for a visa clearance which ensures that pre-season revelation Peter Skapetis will make his A-League debut. Due to the number of unavailable attacking players, Young Roar attacker Rahmat Akbari is likely to be given the chance to make his A-League debut from the bench.

Expected Brisbane Roar XI- Theo, Hingert, Devere, North, Brown, Caletti, McKay, Holman, Skapetis, Ben Khalfallah, Maccarone.
Substitutes- Young, Papadopoulos, Oxborrow, Brady, D’Agostino.
Omitted– O’Toole, Akbari.

The opposition
Melbourne City have undergone a transformation over the off-season with interim manager Michael Valkanis returning to his role as an assistant as former Wigan and Manchester United youth team coach Warren Joyce arriving as the new manager.

Joyce has managed to bring in a trio of visa players to strengthen his squad in the shape of Dutch defender Bart Schenkeveld, marquee Polish midfielder Marcin Budzinski and most recently injury replacement Scottish striker Ross McCormack. Add in ex Adelaide United trio Eugene Galekovic, Iacopo La Rocca and Marcelo Carrusca and it’s been a solid off-season for City.

Injury update
Fernando Brandan- Knee
Bruno Fornaroli- Ankle
Tim Cahill- International Duty

City will be without three important attacking players to start the season, with striking duo Bruno Fornaroli and Tim Cahill headlining those unavailable. With Fornaroli out until the new year atleast, City have brought in Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack as an injury replacement and the former Scottish international is set to make his starting debut tonight at the top of the City formation.

Fellow new signing Marcin Budzinski is reportedly however behind McCormack in terms of his fitness levels and could make his debut from the bench tonight, which could open up an opportunity for Nick Fitzgerald to make a start. At the back Eugene Galekovic had his share of injury concerns over the pre-season and there is fierce competition for the goalkeeping spot at City with last years starter Dean Bouzanis remaining, however Warren Joyce has indicated that the former Adelaide United captain will start the season as first choice.

Expected Melbourne City XI- Galekovic, Muscat, Jakobsen, Schenkeveld, Jamieson, Brattan, Kilkenny, Mauk, Kamau, Fitzgerald, McCormack.
Substitutes- Bouzanis, La Rocca, Malik, Carrusca, Budzinski.
Omitted- Tongyik, Arzani.

What have they done lately?
With the League season getting underway tonight City have been busy preparing themselves for the campaign with a run to the FFA Cup quarter finals in addition to friendly matches. In the FFA Cup, City moved past NPL Queensland side Peninsula Power 2-0 in the round of 32 and Hakoah FC 3-2 in the last 16 before being beaten 2-0 away from home to Sydney FC in a replay of the 2016 Cup Final.

Outside of the Cup games City played four pre-season games against A-League opposition, with wins over Central Coast (3-2) and Adelaide United (2-0) in addition to defeats against Newcastle Jets (3-1) and Adelaide United (2-1).

All-Time Record against Melbourne City

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Stats, Facts & Figures
– Fahid Ben Khalfallah and Rahmat Akbari could make their club debut tonight, and would become the 132nd and 133rd players to represent Brisbane Roar in a competitive game.

– Peter Skapetis, Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Massimo Maccarone, Mitchell Oxborrow, Connor O’Toole and Rahmat Akbari could make their A-League debut for Brisbane in this game.


2017-18 Season Preview Part 3- The opposition

With the new season just days away from beginning it’s time for our annual season preview where we take a look at the 2017-18 team. Today in part 3 we’ll look an in depth look at how the other nine A-League clubs shape up.

Adelaide United
Last season- 9th

Ins- Johan Absalonsen, Daniel Adlung, George Blackwood, Lachlan Brook, Ersan Gulum, Paul Izzo, Vince Lia, Daniel Margush, Karim Matmour.

Outs- Eli Babalj, Marcelo Carrusca, Sergio Cirio, Eugene Galekovic, John Hall, Kim Jae-Sung, Iacopo La Rocca, Jesse Makarounas, Marc Marino, Dylan McGowan, Riley McGree, George Mells.

After a disappointing title defence Adelaide have undergone a major overhaul ahead of the new season as new coach Marco Kurz seeks to return to the finals. The Spanish armada in Adelaide has moved on, with Danish winger Johan Absalonsen, Algerian international Karim Matmour and German attacker Daniel Adlung all arriving to add some quality and experience to a predominantly youthful and home-grown roster.

Likely Best XI

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Expectations
After a dismal title defence where they failed to get anywhere close to the finals, the goal this year will be for a return to the semi-finals at a minimum. With the influx of fresh new attacking talent to go alongside Papa Diawara the talent is there to push for a top four finish, and the lack of Champions League this time around will be an advantage. Their run to the semi-finals of the FFA Cup also indicates that the methods of the new boss are beginning to take hold for the Reds.

Central Coast Mariners
Last season- 8th

Ins- Asdrubal, Alan Baro, Wout Brama, Daniel de Silva, Tom Glover, Antony Golec, Tom Hiariej, Andrew Hoole, Ben Kennedy, Josh Rose, Kye Rowles.

Outs- Jake Adelson, Jacques Faty, Fabio Ferreira, Scott Galloway, Paul Izzo, Nick Montgomery, Ivan Necevski, Michael Neill, Roy O’Donovan, Jacob Poscoliero, Mikel Tavares.

Paul Okon has transformed the Mariners in his first full pre-season in charge and there can be little doubt this is now his team. The core of young players the club has developed over the past two seasons remains in tact, however visa flops Mikael Tavares and Jacques Faty have been replaced by Dutch duo Tom Hiariej and Wout Brama. The addition of Spanish striker Asdrubal will hopefully offset the departure of top scorer Roy O’Donovan, who has headed up the F3 to Newcastle.

Likely Best XI

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Expectations

While Central Coast were bundled out early in the FFA Cup by Blacktown, a late pre-season win over a strong Melbourne Victory side hints at progress. Having fixed the defence and midfield with the arrival of Hiariej, Brama and ex Victory defender Alan Baro, the biggest question regarding the Mariners is if they will have enough goals in their line-up. The loss of top scorer O’Donovan –in addition to Fabio Ferreira- leaves them looking for alternatives, with the likes of Connor Pain, Daniel de Silva, Trent Buhagiar and Andrew Hoole expected to step up on that front. If they can a return to the finals is a possibility.

Melbourne City
Last season
– 4th

Ins
– Marcin Budzinski, Marcelo Carrusca, James Delianov, Eugene Galekovic, Scott Jamieson, Iacopo La Rocca, Stefan Mauk, Ross McCormack, Connor Metcalfe, Ramy Najjarine, John Roberts, Bart Schenkeveld.

Outs- Anthony Caceres, Nicolas Colazo, Ivan Franjic, Corey Gameiro, Steve Kuzmanovski, Paulo Retre, Josh Rose, Thomas Sorensen.

Melbourne City have strengthened their side with a host of experienced overseas players along with some of Australia’s better young players ensuring they have an interesting mix. Of the experienced new signings, a lot will be expected of Marcin Budzinski who arrives as marquee player, while Ross McCormack has the task of filling in for club captain Bruno Fornaroli. Interestingly enough City’s recruitment has an Adelaide feel to it, with five of their recruits calling the South Australian capital home in the past.

Likely Best XI

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Expectations
Given the City Football Group’s expenditure on the side the expectations will no doubt be around winning the title, however their hopes of doing so will be dependant on the fitness of striking duo Tim Cahill and Bruno Fornaroli. New coach Warren Joyce excelled as a youth coach at Manchester United, but his first stint in the senior game ended abruptly in Wigan last year, which is just another question mark on a squad where there appears to be more questions than answers.

Melbourne Victory
Last season-
2nd

Ins– Kosta Barbarouses, Thomas Deng, Leroy George, Josh Hope, Cameron McGilp, Mark Milligan, Matias Sanchez, Christian Theoharous, Pierce Waring, Rhys Williams.

Outs– Alan Baro, Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Alastair Bray, Daniel Georgievski, George Howard, Rashid Mahazi, Marco Rojas, Lucas Spinella. Victory’s recruitment has been stellar with Socceroos midfielder Mark Milligan returning to fill a hole which in truth Melbourne has struggled with since his departure.

The while loss of Ben Khalfallah, Rojas and Baro will be felt by the Victory, they’ve been ably replaced by Matias Sanchez, Rhys Williams and the returning Kosta Barbarouses.

Likely Best XI

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Expectations
After falling short on Grand Final day despite having a lead, this year will be about finishing the job for Kevin Muscat’s men. While the recruitment is impressive and the first XV looks to be amongst the strongest in the league there’s a question over the Victory’s depth, and with Champions League at the back end of the season it could prove to be their undoing. If they can keep their best team on the park however, the three time Champions figures to be in contention once again.

Newcastle Jets
Last season- 10th

Ins- Jake Adelson, Joseph Champness, Daniel Georgievski, Glen Moss, Roy O’Donovan, Dimitri Petratos, Kosta Petratos, Mario Shabow, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Ronald Vargas.

Outs- Joel Allwright, Tomislav Arcaba, Kristian Brymora, Labinot Haliti, Andrew Hoole, Ben Kennedy, Aleksandr Kokko, Ma Leilei, Daniel Mullen, Morten Nordstrand, Mateo Poljak, Harrison Sawyer.

New Jets boss Ernie Merrick has opted for experience ahead of his first season in the Hunter with the arrival of proven A-League players Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Daniel Georgievski, Roy O’Donovan and Dimi Petratos who found his way to Newcastle via a stint in the K-League with Ulsan Hyundai. Of those who left only Morten Nordstrand was a regular contributor, although he’s been ably replaced by Venezuelan international attacker Ronald Vargas.

Likely best XI

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Expectations
After missing the finals for seven straight seasons, Newcastle are understandably desperate for a return to finals football and their recruitment is a strong signal of intent. Poaching the Joe Marston medallist Daniel Georgievski from Victory to fill a problematic position of left-back, while the signing of Roy O’Donovan from F3 rivals Central Coast should ensure the goals are there. If everything clicks for Ernie Merrick’s men, this could be the year finals football returns to the Hunter.
Perth Glory
Last season- 5th

Ins- Andreu, Jake Brimmer, Joseph Knowles, Scott Neville, Mitch Nichols, Jacob Poscoliero, Daniel Stynes, Xavi Torres.

Outs- Dino Djulbic, Richard Garcia, Lucian Goian, Rostyn Griffiths, Nebojsa Marinkovic, Mitchell Oxborrow, Kosta Petratos, Josh Risdon, Jordan Thurtell, Aryn Williams, Rhys Williams.

Perth Glory have strengthened their midfield considerably with the addition of Torres, Andreu and Nichols which should off-set the loss of experienced duo Richard Garcia and club captain Rostyn Griffiths. It’s in the backline however where questions will be asked, with the losses of Risdon, Williams, Goian and Djulbic ensuring a very different looking Perth backline this year.

Likely best XI

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Expectations
After just scraping into the finals, Perth found themselves 90 minutes from a Grand Final berth before running into a red hot Sydney FC side. While the attacking end of the pitch looks impressive and will trouble any defence in this league, it’s at the other end of the park where the questions lie.

Sydney FC
Last season
– 1st

Ins- Alex Cisak, Anthony Kalik, Adrian Mierzejewski, Paulo Retre, Luke Wilkshire.

Outs- Bai Antoniou, George Blackwood, Milos Dimitrijevic, Filip Holosko, Bernie Ibini, George Timotheou, Danny Vukovic.

Last season’s defending Champions have lost a couple of key contributors to their title winning side in the form of Danny Vukovic and Filip Holosko, however the arrival of Polish international Adrian Mierzejewski figures to provide an upgrade to a Sky Blues attack which was already potent. In goal, ex Leyton Orient shot stopper Alex Cisak joins, while former Socceroo Luke Wilkshire arrives home from Russia as an injury replacement for Rhyan Grant.

Likely best XI

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Expectations
Sydney FC will start favourites in their title defence and figure to be amongst the leagues leading teams once again. While they’ve lost a couple of key contributors their recruitment seems to have off-set that, and they look in a better place depth wise to deal with the rigours of the Champions League than Melbourne.

Wellington Phoenix
Last season- 7th

Ins- Ali Abbas, Scott Galloway, Lewis Italiano, Daniel Mullen, Andrija Kaluderovic, Goran Paracki, Dario Vidosic.

Outs- Kosta Barbarouses, Roly Bonevacia, Louis Fenton, Lewis Italiano, Vince Lia, Glen Moss, Alex Rodriguez.

It’s been an off-season of change in Wellington, with a new logo, coach and players as they enter their 11th season in the competition. The arrival of former Roar striker Andrija Kaluderovic adds to the intrigue around the Phoenix and ensures they should have a reliable goal scoring outlet, however the lack of a proven first choice goalkeeper at the other end could prove to be their undoing.

Likely best XI

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Expectations New Phoenix boss Darije Kalezić will have his work cut out in order to return the Nix to the finals given the upheaval of the off-season, but he does have a better squad to work with than predecessor Ernie Merrick. While the Phoenix figure to be competitive once again this season, the improvement of rival teams around them figures to see the Nix miss the out on the finals once again.

Western Sydney Wanderers
Last season- 6th

Ins- Roly Bonevacia, Mark Bridge, Alvaro Cejudo, John Hall, Chris Herd, Raul Llorente, Oriol Riera, Josh Risdon, Michael Thwaite, Mark Tokich.

Outs- Terry Antonis, Jackson Bandeira, Artiz Borda, Shannon Cole, Dimas Delgado, Ryan Griffiths, Emilio Martinez, Nico Martinez, Scott Neville, Mitch Nichols, Bruno Pinatares, Mario Shabow, Liam Youlley, Stefan Zinni.

It’s been another huge turnover of personnel in Western Sydney however the biggest of those changes occurred at the weekend when foundation boss Tony Popovic opted for a move to Turkey, with assistant Hayden Foxe put in caretaker duty. Before his departure Popovic overhauled his squad with the arrival of a number of impressive recruits which figures to given whoever takes over the chance to make a strong start.

Likely best XI
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Expectations
Prior to the departure of Popovic, the expectation surrounding Western Sydney was for a return to the top two at least given their string of high profile signings. On field Oriol Riera looks to be the striker Western Sydney have previously lacked, while the arrival of Chris Herd should help combat the leagues better creative midfielders. The question now is around their coaching appointment, how quickly they can get someone in, and how quickly the new boss can get his ideas across.
 


Season Preview Part 2- Brisbane

With the new season just days away from beginning it’s time for our annual season preview where we take a look at the 2017-18 team. Today in part 2 we’ll look an in depth look at how Brisbane Roar are shaping up ahead of the new season.

Last Season- 3rd

Ins- Erik Bautheac, Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Corey Gameiro, Massimo Maccarone, Emilio Martinez, Mitchell Oxborrow, Peter Skapetis.

Brisbane’s recruitment for the new season has been spearheaded by European imports Eric Bautheac and Massimo Maccarone, who between them have the unenviable job of replacing attacking duo Jamie Maclaren and Thomas Broich.

In addition to Maccarone and Bautheac, John Aloisi has strengthened his attacking options with the arrival of Fahid Ben Khalfallah, Corey Gameiro and Peter Skapetis, ensuring he has more attacking options at his disposal this year.

Outs- Manuel Arana, Brandon Borrello, Thomas Broich, Cameron Crestani, Joey Katebian, Nathan Konstandopoulos, Jamie Maclaren, Tommy Oar, Kye Rowles.

The outs are headlined by fan favourite Thomas Broich, who left the Roar after seven seasons at the end of the 2016-17 campaign. Broich was joined in the departures lounge by young attacking duo Jamie Maclaren and Brandon Borello who both swapped Brisbane for Germany.

Tommy Oar departed Brisbane for the second time to join Cypriot Champions Apoel which freed up a valuable marquee position, while Manuel Arana returned to his native Spain after one season in orange.

Best XI- Graphic and Text

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While Jamie Young let nobody down in the finals last season after Theo’s latest injury, John Aloisi is likely to revert back to Theo for the upcoming season as the now 36 year old shot stopper enters his 8th season in Brisbane.

Ahead of Theo figures to be a largely similar backline made up of Jack Hingert, Luke Devere, Jade North and Corey Brown. Both Hingert and Brown have now cemented themselves as first choice full-backs with stellar performances over the past 12 months and will be important parts of the team going forward.

Central defence is a tougher one to predict with Luke Devere, Jade North and Avram Papadopoulos all having strong claims for a starting spot however the combination and understanding that Devere and North have developed ensures they are likely to get first opportunity this season.

Midfield is another interesting area with experienced trio Thomas Kristensen, Matt McKay and Brett Holman the likely starters if all are fit and available, with youngster Joe Caletti breathing down their necks for a starting spot. Having starting midfield trio aged 33 or older is certainly a concern however each performed well last season and still have something left to offer.

Caletti was a revelation last year after getting his chance due to the congested fixture schedule and figures to get plenty of game time in 2017-18 as well, possibly as soon as round one given injury concerns to Holman and Kristensen.

The wide attacking areas have been overhauled ahead of the new season with ex Victory man Fahid Ben Khalfallah arriving early in the off-season. Eric Bautheac would be the nominal starter however his arrival in Australia has been delayed by visa issues which will give the likes of Peter Skapetis and Corey Gameiro an early chance to impress. Once those visa issues are sorted however, a lot will be expected of the former Nice and Lille man as John Aloisi looks to replace influential German Thomas Broich.

The addition of 38 year old striker Massimo Maccarone has been a big talking point over the off-season but the former Empoli and Italian international has looked sharp over the pre-season and figures to be a solid replacement for regular goal scoring threat Jamie Maclaren.

Back-ups
One of the strengths of Brisbane’s 2017-18 roster in comparison to their rivals is the depth of players at John Aloisi disposal. With Jamie Young, Avram Papadopoulos, Joe Caletti, Corey Gameiro and Peter Skapetis, Brisbane have players who are capable of starting for teams around the league and will keep the first team players on their toes.

Add in youngsters like Nick D’Agostino, Dane Ingham, Connor O’Toole, Emilio Martinez and others from the Young Roar squad and proven A-League squad players like Jacob Pepper, Daniel Bowles and Mitch Oxborrow and John Aloisi has more options at his disposal this year than in the past.

Pre-Season Form
It’s been a mixed bag for Brisbane in their preparations for the new season as they collected comfortable wins over local sides Lions, Peninsula Power and Olympic, in addition a 2-1 win on the Gold Coast against a China u-22 select side.

Things were a bit different when it came to clashes against A-League opposition with two losses against the Victory in the pre-season, including a 5-1 loss at Perry Park in the FFA Cup Round of 32. Another loss to Western Sydney -4-0 on the Gold Coast- added to the poor set of results, however a 2-0 win in their final pre-season game against Sydney FC ended things on a more positive note.

Expectations
After two straight seasons of falling just short of qualifying for the Grand Final, the expectations for Brisbane will be to once again be challenging for the silverware in the latter stages of the competition. Injuries to senior players and a potentially crowded fixture list should they qualify for the Champions League will prove obstacles, but this year’s squad is a deeper one than in previous years.

Provided foreign duo Eric Bautheac and Massimo Maccarone live up to their expectations, Brisbane should find themselves in the last four once again, then it will be a matter of learning from previous failings in the finals.


Season Preview Part 1- Off-Season recap

With the new season just days away from beginning it’s time for our annual season preview where we take a look at the 2017-18 team. Today in part 1 we’ll look at how the off-season played out with plenty of changes to the playing group along with a mixed bag of results on the field.

Off-Field Stability
In recent years the off-season has been plagued with off field distractions however in 2017 things have been much smoother allowing for the focus to be on the field and the preparations for the new season.

There’s also been limited turnover with the arrival of Danny Tiatto as Football Operations Manager the only change over the closed season as coaching duo John and Ross Aloisi re-committed to the club. W-League head coach Mel Andreatta will also return for a second campaign when the new season starts in November.

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Transfers Out
April 19th- Thomas Broich announces decision to leave
May 17th- Manuel Arana, Cameron Crestani, Joey Katebian & Nathan Konstandopoulos released
May 19th- Jamie Maclaren joins Darmstadt 08
May 27th- Brandon Borrello joins 1.FC Kaiserslautern
June 19th- Tommy Oar joins Apoel FC
June 26th- Kye Rowles departs Brisbane and joins Central Coast Mariners

Brisbane’s biggest name departures were known in advance when Thomas Broich flagged his intention to leave the Roar in the build-up to the Elimination Final against Western Sydney, while attacking duo Brandon Borrello and Jamie Maclaren confirmed their departures in the aftermath of the Matchday 6 Champions League loss to Ulsan Hyundai.

The June departure of Tommy Oar to Cypriot champions Apoel FC was more of a surprise, however the wingers departure did free up a valuable marquee position which would prove crucial in the recruitment efforts.

Re-Signings
June 22nd- Michael Theo and Avram Papadopoulos re-sign
June 30th- Jacob Pepper and Joe Caletti re-sign

As pre-season training drew closer, announcements surrounding the remaining out of contract players were made; firstly with the news that experienced first team duo Michael Theo and Avram Papadopoulos had re-signed for the 2017-18 season.

Following on from that was the news that breakout midfielder Joe Caletti had re-signed for a new season, with back-up utility Jacob Pepper set to join him for a second season in Brisbane.

Transfers In
May 26th- Fahid Ben Khalfallah joins Brisbane Roar
June 4th- Corey Gameiro joins Brisbane Roar
June 6th- Dane Ingham promoted from youth team
June 17th- Massimo Maccarone joins Brisbane Roar
August 4th- Mitchell Oxborrow joins Brisbane Roar
August 6th- Emilio Martinez joins Brisbane Roar as scholarship player
August 9th- Peter Skapetis joins Brisbane Roar, upgraded from injury replacement contract
September 9th- Erik Bautheac joins Brisbane Roar

Brisbane’s first signing for the new season was announced in late May as Fahid Ben Khalfallah joined Brisbane Roar on a one year deal, and he joined James for his first interview as a Roar player on the Brisbane Football Review podcast.

The signing of Ben Khalfallah was followed up by the arrival of former Wellington, Sydney and Melbourne City striker Corey Gameiro, and the promotion of young full-back Dane Ingham to a three year senior deal.

Brisbane’s biggest off-season move was confirmed on June 17 however when the club announced it had signed former Italian international Massimo Maccarone as a marquee player for the 2017-18 season to fill the boots of German bound striker Jamie Maclaren. While the signing of the 37 year old has been questioned by many, his experience in what is an otherwise youthful striking department should prove valuable over the season.

Attention then turned to rounding out the squad as midfield duo Mitchell Oxborrow and Emilio Martinez signed on to provide additional depth. Oxborrow arrived following a brief stint with  NPL Northern NSW side Broadmeadow Magic after his departure from Perth Glory was confirmed, while Martinez signed as a scholarship player after impressing for the Young Roar in their NPL Queensland campaign after arriving from Western Sydney.

While Peter Skapetis was initially signed as an injury replacement for Daniel Bowles, his stellar pre-season form forced the hand of John Aloisi as the former Stoke City junior signed a permanent one year deal in early August.

Brisbane then rounded out their recruitment with a second high profile arrival from Europe in the form of 30 year old French winger Erik Bautheac from French Ligue 1 side Lille. While Bautheac’s arrival has been held up due to visa issues, the French winger figures to play a big part in Brisbane’s 2017-18 campaign and is reportedly set to arrive by the end of the week.

Pre-Season and FFA Cup Games
July 26th- Lions FC 0-2 Brisbane Roar
August 6th- Peninsula Power 2-4 Brisbane Roar
August 9th- (FFA Cup) Brisbane Roar 1-5 Melbourne Victory
August 18th- Western Sydney Wanderers 4-0 Brisbane Roar
August 27th- China u-22 XI 1-2 Brisbane Roar
September 1st- Melbourne Victory 3-1 Brisbane Roar
September 9th- Olympic 0-3 Brisbane Roar
September 16th- Sydney FC 0-2 Brisbane Roar

Pre-season games began at Lions Stadium in Richlands as the Roar paid homage to their roots in the first edition of the Heritage shield, with second half goals from Shannon Brady and Rahmat Akbari giving John Aloisi side a first up win as they experimented with a new 3-4-3 formation.

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Up next was another hit out against Brisbane Premier League opposition in the form of Peninsula Power and after Dean Briggs gave the hosts an early lead Peter Skapetis got the first of many goals over the pre-season to level the scores. Power took the lead again through Thomas Strickland with Brisbane cancelling out that advantage midway through the second half with a Nick D’Agostino strike. D’Agostino was then replaced as Massimo Maccarone made his first appearance in Roar colours and scored less than five minutes after entering the game after he sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot, before an expert second goal just before the final whistle rounded out the scoring.

Attentions then turned to the FFA Cup Round of 32 where the Brisbane were at home for the second straight year and once again they failed to capitalise on that advantage. Victory proved far to good on the night with a Besart Berisha brace, in addition to goals from Mitch Austin, James Troisi and Mark Milligan proving more than enough. Peter Skapetis continued his goalscoring form with a late consolation for the Roar.

Another big loss to an A-League side soon followed with Western Sydney running out 4-0 winners at the tail end of a week long camp on the Gold Coast, before Brisbane returned to Robina to take on a Chinese u-21 side and after a niggly encounter they ran out 2-1 winners thanks to a late Massimo Maccarone penalty.

A trip to Ballarat for a second pre-season clash against Victory followed just days later and despite the score being closer this time around, Melbourne were still too good for an undermanned Roar with Skapetis continuing his form in front of goal.

That form continued as the Roar returned to Brisbane to take on NPL Queensland side Olympic FC and that goal scoring form continued as Skapetis opened the scoring for Brisbane before late goals from Maccarone and Shannon Brady rounded out the win.

Brisbane’s final pre-season hit-out before round one took them to Sydney for a clash with the defending champions and further goals from Maccarone and Skapetis netted John Aloisi’ side a much needed win over A-League opposition ahead of the new season.


Late Penalty gives Roar win on Coast

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Brisbane Roar (2) Skapetis 10′, Maccarone 87′ (p.k)
China u-22 (1) Wei Shihao 18′

A late Massimo Maccarone penalty has given Brisbane Roar a 2-1 win tonight against a 10 men China u-22 side on the Gold Coast.

After recently experimenting with a back 3 in recent trial games, John Aloisi reverted to a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Jade North and Luke Devere reunited in the heart of defence.  Peter Skapetis, Shannon Brady and Brett Holman supporting Maccarone in attack with Mitch Oxborrow and Matt McKay controlling midfield.

Brisbane Roar opened the scoring in the 10th minute after a Brett Holman through ball found its way to Peter Skapetis and the new signing sent his shot across the keeper and into the back of the net to open the scoring.

China u-22 equalised in the 18th minute after Wei Shihao found the back of the net after being left free in the box.

Both sides had chances to take the lead approaching half time, with Skapetis denied a second and Tang Shi’ shot from the edge if the box was acrobatically saved by Young.

The second half saw tensions rise after challenges from both sides, with the drama resulting in red card for Chinese midfielder Wei Shihao after he picked up a second yellow card.

There was yet more drama however with Brisbane awarded a penalty after VAR intervened to award a penalty for shirt holding inside the box, which Massimo Maccarone dispatched into the bottom corner to give Brisbane the win.

Brisbane Roar XI- Young, Hingert, Devere, North, Brown, McKay, Oxborrow, Holman, Brady, Skapetis, Maccarone.
Substitutions– Caletti for McKay, O’Toole for Brown, Akbari for Holman, Martinez for Brady.

China u-22 XI- Li Haitao, Liu Hao, Liu Yiming, Liu Junshuai, Liu Yang, Yang Ailong, Ju Feng, Nau Song, Tang Shi, Ba Dun, Wei Shihao.
Substitutions- Weiz Jingzong for Nan Song, Su Yuanzie for Ba Dun, Zhau Dau, Tang Shi.

Up next Brisbane Roar will travel to Ballarat for a pre-season encounter with Melbourne Victory on Friday night.


Victory defeat Roar in FFA Cup

Brisbane Roar (1) Skapetis 90’
Melbourne Victory (5) Austin 26’, Troisi 35’, Berisha 48’ (p.k), 74’, Milligan 52’ (p.k)
3,184 at Perry Park, Brisbane

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Brisbane Roar have bowed out of the FFA Cup at the Round of 32 stage for the third straight year, going down 5-1 to Melbourne Victory on Wednesday night at Perry Park.

A brace to former Brisbane striker Besart Berisha, in addition to goals from Mitch Austin, James Troisi and Mark Milligan were enough to send the 2015 Cup Winners into the last 16.

Goals
0- 1 (26’). Victory got in behind the Roar defence on the left with Kosta Barbarouses shot parried clear by Jamie Young into the path of Mitch Austin who had the easy task of putting the ball into the back of the net.

0-2 (35’) Melbourne then doubled their advantage ten minutes before the break after James Troisi capitalised on a defensive mix-up between Hingert and Kristensen, leaving Jamie Young stranded as his shot wound up in the bottom corner.

0-3 (48’) The game was essentially over three minutes into the second half after Jack Hingert was adjudged to have brought down Mitch Austin, with Besart Berisha converting the resulting penalty into the bottom corner.

0-4 (52’) Victory scored their second penalty in the space of four minutes, with Mark Milligan stepping up this time to convert after referee Chris Beath ruled that Jade North handled the ball inside the penalty area.

0-5 (74’) After an excellent through ball from James Troisi, Besart Berisha got his second goal of the game by coolly chipping Jamie Young from the of the 18 yard box.

1-5 (90’) Brisbane got themselves a consolation goal as the game ticked into second half stoppage time, with injury replacement Peter Skapetis getting himself a debut goal with his shot rocketing into the top corner.

Brisbane tested their new 3-4-3 formation once again tonight and while they’ve had success in two pre-season clashes today, this was the first test against A-League opposition. For Brisbane that meant the same starting XI which played the second half of Saturday’s win over Peninsula Power, with the only change being in goal where Jamie Young played in place of youngster Macklin Freke.

Victory meanwhile fielded arguably their strongest possible side for the contest, with only captain Carl Valeri missing from what otherwise was a strong side for last years Grand Finalists.

Both sides started the game with an attacking mindset as they swapped corners in the opening stages. Shannon Brady had the first chance of the game on 16 minutes after he was played in by Brett Holman, with Lawrence Thomas making a smart save on his near post.

It was however the Victory who opened the scoring after Kosta Barbarouses shot was parried into the path of Mitch Austin, with the Victory winger unmarked and able to capitalise on the opportunity.

Victory then doubled their advantage ten minutes before the break after James Troisi capitalised on a defensive mix-up between Hingert and Kristensen.

The game was decided in five second half minutes from the penalty spot with Besart Berisha and Mark Milligan beating Young. Firstly it was Hingert who brought down Austin in the box, before minutes later Jade North was adjudged to have handled the ball.

Berisha then got his second of the evening to make it 5-0 with 20 minutes to play after he lobbed Jamie Young after the through ball from Troisi.

Brisbane rescued a consolation goal late on through debutant Peter Skapetis, whose shot flew into the top corner of the net.

Stats and Facts
– Peter Skapetis became the 129th player to represent Brisbane Roar after entering the game as a second half substitute, and just the 10th player to score on debut for the club.

– Massimo Maccarone became the 130th player to represent Brisbane Roar after entering the game as a second half substitute, while Mitchell Oxborrow became the 131st.

– Brisbane Roar have now lost their last four games in the FFA Cup, and are still winless against A-League opposition in the Cup.

– Tonight’s 5-1 result is the equal biggest ever loss Brisbane have faced at the hands of the Victory, equalling the 4-0 loss from Round 15, 2015-16.

Coaches quotes Brisbane Roar boss John Aloisi- “We tried to play our football and we made a couple of mistakes and they punished us. The first two goals were poor ones to give away. Second half we wanted to start strongly but two penalties changed the game”

Melbourne Victory boss Kevin Muscat- “We knew we were looking reasonably sharp –in pre-season-, but you only really find out when you face A-League opposition and we were good value for the result tonight”.

Brisbane Roar XI- Young, Hingert, Kristensen, North, Ingham, Caletti, McKay, Brown, Holman, Brady, D’Agostino.
Substitutions– Skapetis for Ingham (57’), Maccarone for D’Agostino (61’), Oxborrow for Brady (71’).
Unused Substitutes- Bilic, Reardon.
Yellow Cards– Ingham, D’Agostino.
Red Cards- Nil.

Melbourne Victory XI- Thomas, Geria, Williams, Donachie, Nigro, Broxham, Milligan, Troisi, Austin, Barbarouses, Berisha.
Substitutions- Ingham for Berisha (76’), Hope for Troisi (80’), McGlip for Milligan (82’)
Unused Substitutes- Hatzikourtis, Theoharous.
Yellow Cards– Williams.
Red Cards- Nil.

Up next
For Brisbane Roar the FFA Cup is over for another year, with the next competitive game not coming until October when the A-League season begins.