Aloisi backs patched-up Roar in ACL opener

Brisbane Roar have suffered a string of injuries but coach John Aloisi has insisted his starting XI to face Muangthong United in the AFC Champions League (ACL) will be strong no matter who plays.

Defenders Corey Brown (hamstring) and Daniel Bowles (knee) will miss Tuesday night’s match at Suncorp Stadium, while midfielders Matt McKay (broken nose) and Thomas Kristensen (hamstring) are “touch and go”, according to Aloisi.

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In some good news, full-back Jack Hingert will make his return from an ankle injury, while centre-back Luke DeVere should recover from a knock sustained in Saturday night’s 2-2 draw away to Perth Glory.

Aloisi backed the rest of his squad to step up against Muangthong regardless, just as they have throughout their past six matches that have come in the space of 22 days.

“We just have to worry about the players we have available and I’ve got complete confidence in them, and it showed again on the weekend,” Aloisi told reporters on Monday.

“I said from day one, we’ve got a squad and young boys coming through that know their roles, they know their jobs, good talented players and no matter who I put out on the park they’ll put in a good performance.”

Jamie Maclaren

Aloisi started two teenagers against Glory in Dane Ingham and Joe Caletti, while another – Nick D’Agostino – came off the bench.

Brisbane’s coach highlighted the performance of Caletti, who anchored Roar’s midfield alongside Jacob Pepper at nib Stadium.

“The way we want to play football, he’s [Caletti] definitely suited and that’s why we brought him in and we’ve been working closely with him,” Aloisi said.

“He was outstanding on the weekend.”

Brisbane will start their third ACL group stage this week, with the Queensland-based A-League outfit having never previously advanced to the knockout stages of Asia’s premier club competition.

In 2012, Roar failed to win a game in their maiden ACL campaign and in 2015 they bowed out after two wins, one draw and three defeats.

But having overcome Global FC and Shanghai Shenhua to qualify for Group E, Aloisi is convinced his side can thrive in continental competition.

“We’ve proven already that we can compete in Asia in terms of the two qualifiers that we had to deal with,” he said.

Brisbane Roar forward Brandon Borrello celebrates one of his four goals against Global FC in the ACL on Tuesday night.

Aloisi is wary of 2016 Thai League champions Muangthong, who have a number of Thailand internationals on their books plus former La Liga striker Xisco.

Muangthong have started the 2017 season with consecutive wins including a 1-0 triumph over Sukhothai on Saturday.

Roar defender Jade North, who has signed a contract extension for the 2017/18 season, can’t wait to test himself against Muangthong, South Korea’s Ulsan and Kashima Antlers of Japan in the ACL.

“We really want to do well in the Champions League because we’re playing the best in Asia,” he said.