Brisbane Roar might just surprise a few this season

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Brisbane Roar headed into their A-League Men’s season opener against reigning champions Melbourne City with a range of obstacles to overcome.

Despite injuries, travel restrictions and a title-winning opposition, Warren Moon’s team showed that they can match it with the very best in the upcoming season.

Kicking off a league campaign at the home of the champions is never an easy task. For Brisbane Roar, that task was made a whole lot tougher by their circumstances ahead of their match with Melbourne City.

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Brisbane had lost several key players during the off-season, including goalkeeper Jamie Young, centre-back Macaulay Gillesphey and their two top scorers from last season, Dylan Wenzel-Halls and Riku Danzaki.

The Queensland team’s personnel troubles were exacerbated by the absences of Gillesphey’s centre-back partner from last season, Tom Aldred, and new signing Juan Lescano, both of whom had succumbed to minor injuries in the lead-up to the contest.

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Perhaps the biggest challenge of all for Brisbane was the extreme travel conditions imposed on them. The Roar faced a fly-in-fly-out situation, arriving in Melbourne on the afternoon of the match before returning to Brisbane in the evening, a scenario which Moon revealed post-match he had only found out about a few days prior.

The Roar head coach hardly disguised his dissatisfaction with the process in his post-match press conference.

“I’m gobsmacked…we’re playing against one of the best teams in the land and we’re not arriving in Melbourne until three o’clock in the afternoon,” he said.

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Considering all of these factors, one could be forgiven for concluding that what was initially a very difficult first game of the season had now become effectively impossible.

Brisbane did lose the game. However, they put forward a performance which very nearly won them a point against Melbourne City, earning them plenty of admirers in the process.

Instead of being run ragged by the high intensity of Patrick Kisnorbo’s championship team, which now included an all-Socceroo front three, Brisbane took their hosts all the way to the final whistle in a thrilling contest.

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“I have to say I’m incredibly proud of the boys and the effort they put in tonight,” Moon said following the game.

“I thought we were well set up. In the first half we were structurally sound and they didn’t create too many chances.”

Brisbane’s coach didn’t shy away from acknowledging the difficulties which had confronted his side, but lauded his team for their ability to overcome the circumstances.

“Despite all that, we overran our opponents and were the stronger team to finish the game,” he said.

“We felt we deserved something in the end.”

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Not only did the Roar perform admirably on the night, but the prominence of young players in the team suggests a strong philosophy of promoting young players is underpinning the team’s approach to the season.

“What we’re trying to do as a club is provide opportunities to young players,” Moon said.

Goal-scorer and Roar debutant Luke Ivanovic was specifically praised for his performance, alongside fellow young gun Rahmat Akbari. Both are examples of Brisbane’s willingness to give young players the opportunities which they had been lacking at other clubs.

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The performance against Melbourne City is a positive sign for the Roar. Although they didn’t come away with any points, Moon’s team showcased their resilience and strong organisation.

With so many young players present, and a handful of more experienced heads to come back into the side, perhaps Brisbane could be the dark horses of this A-League Men’s season.

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Oscar Rutherford
Sports tragic studying Law/Arts at Monash University. Second-best paid Oscar working in football who has been to China.

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