After easily bagging the 2017/18 W-League premiership, Brisbane Roar’s championship run was cut short in a shock semi-finals loss to Melbourne City. Can the Roar, revamped attack in hand, go two steps further than last season and win it all?

Last season

W-League: Premiers (1st)

Finals: Semi-Final

They’ll win the league because…

Of their incredible defensive solidity. Brisbane conceded just 12 goals in the 2017/18 regular season, the best mark of any team. Retaining the services of defensive core Clare Polkinghorne, Carson Pickett, Summer O’Brien and Kaitlyn Torpey ensures the Roar’s stinginess will continue into the coming season. All that’s left is for league-best goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold to officially recommit.

They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

They do lack a proven W-League goal-getter. Allira Toby was the Roar’s top-rated finisher last season, netting just 5 goals. While far from poor, Brisbane’s league-average goal tally (21 goals scored) was the one thing stopping them from mauling the league.

Freshly signed US National Women’s Soccer League attackers Yuki Nagasato and Chioma Ubogagu are Brisbane’s remedy to this. If all goes to plan for Head Coach Mel Andreatta, expect Ubogagu to lead the Roar’s front line all season long. It remains to be seen how many goals both Nagasato and Ubogagu can provide, however.

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Talk around the water cooler… Look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information.

The Roar seem to finally have found a W-League-appropriate home stadium that’s actually in Brisbane! Rejoice! The last few seasons have seen the Roar split most of their W-League home fixtures between Suncorp Stadium (too large) and AJ Kelly Park (too far away).

Half the Roar’s W-League home games will now be held at Lions Stadium, Richlands. Centrally located and appropriately sized, expect the move to banish last season’s AJ Kelly crowd deficits to the distant past.

The off-season brought…

Stability. All Brisbane needed to do this off-season was bring back their premiership-winning core. Mission accomplished (save the presumably returning Arnold). Bolstering their attack with Nagasato and Ubogagu hopefully addresses the squad’s only main weakness from last year- goal threat.

There’s not much more to say. Brisbane have ticked all the boxes this off-season.

Key player

The W-League’s 3rd most-capped player and Brisbane’s undisputed leader, captain Clare Polkinghorne will likely be the team’s most important member until the day she retires. She’s rightly one of Australia’s most celebrated female footballers and she’s the main catalyst behind the Roar’s defensive dominance.

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One to watch

The return of winger Hayley Raso will be a heart-warming story to follow. Injured during an August NWSL match for the Portland Thorns, Raso suffered a fractured back colliding with opposition goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe. In the impact’s immediate aftermath, she was apparently unsure of being able to walk again.

A less serious injury than first thought (no thanks to on-field emergency attendants), Raso has been powering through her recovery. Look for the breakthrough Matildas starter to come back hungry for the Roar this season.

Ins & Outs

Ins: Annalee Grove (Newcastle Jets), Jenna McCormick (Adelaide United), Yuki Nagasato (Chicago Red Stars), Chioma Ubogagu (Orlando Pride), Danielle Ward (Promoted), Leah Davidson (Promoted)

Outs: Tameka Butt (Melbourne City), Emily Gielnik (Melbourne Victory), Georgina Worth (Brisbane Roar NTC), Kirsten Veeren (TBC), Lucina Pullar (TBC), Amy Chapman (TBC), Ayesha Norrie (TBC), Cheung Wai Ki (Unattached),

Full Squad List

Goalkeepers: *1. ARNOLD, Mackenzie, 20. GROVE, Annalee

Defenders: 2. PICKETT, Carson, 4. POLKINGHORNE, Clare, 8. TORPEY, Kaitlyn, 11. TATHEM, Natalie, 14. O’BRIEN, Summer, (TBC) MCCORMICK, Jenna, (TBC) WARD, Danielle

Midfielders: 6. BOUREILLE, Celeste, 7. DAVIDSON, Leah, 10. GORRY, Katrina-Lee,

Attackers 12. TOBY, Allira, 15. LLOYD, Abbey, 16. RASO, Hayley, 19. PALMER, Hollie, (TBC) UBOGAGU, Chioma, (TBC) NAGASATO, Yuki

*all but officially recommitted

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