Enjoy KEEPUP’s season countdown with our club-by-club previews. Scroll down to the foot of the page to access your club’s article.
Bruising from a premature exit from the 2020/21 Isuzu UTE A-League Finals Series, Warren Moon’s Brisbane Roar are out to set the record straight in the new campaign.
A new-look Roar venture toward the 2021/22 season with a full head of steam, buoyed by an injection of youth into a squad hungry to represent their state with pride.
Juan Lescano, Jordan Holmes, Jez Lofthouse, Nikola Mileusnić, Matti Steinmann, Luke Ivanovic, Henry Hore
Masato Kudo, Jamie Young, Dylan Wenzel-Halls, Riku Danzaki, Macaulay Gillesphey
Coach: Warren Moon
Roar record: 32 games, 12 wins, nine draws, 11 losses
Warren Moon’s first full season as Roar boss ended in a fourth-place finish – the same as the campaign prior – and plenty of positivity for the future despite a disappointing Elimination Final loss to Adelaide United on home soil.
A foundation Roar player himself, the Brisbane boss is someone who identifies with the club’s Queensland core who is eager to let local talent shine.
We saw it first-hand last season with the rapid rise of 21-year-old former NPL Queensland striker Alex Parsons, and Moon’s recruitment of local pair Jez Lofthouse and Henry Hore only strengthens the contingent of young Queenslanders Moon has at his disposal this season.
Can’t take your eyes off: Jay O’Shea
Adding a touch of class to Brisbane’s midfield is Irishman Jay O’Shea. The 33-year-old has played two seasons in orange to date; in 2019/20 his seven score involvements included one goal and six assists, and he repeated that total the following season by putting four goals and three assists on the board.
O’Shea is at his most dangerous over a dead ball. He’ll take corners, he’ll take free-kicks, he’ll take any opportunity he can to swing the ball into dangerous areas for his side, reflected in his 154 created chances over his two Isuzu UTE A-League seasons to date.
The fact O’Shea has just nine goal assists to his name from those created chances beggars belief. If his Roar teammates can find a way to better utilise his silver service, O’Shea could find his attacking impact rise exponentially through the 2021/22 campaign.
Reasons to be cheerful
The Roar are a young side on the rise. The likes of Rahmat Akbari (21), Kai Trewin (20), Cyrus Dehmie (19) and Parsons (21) are joined by new recruits Luke Ivanovic (21), Jez Lofthouse (22), Henry Hore (22) and goalkeeper Jordan Holmes (24) in providing Roar fans with a glimpse into a bright future centred around a smorgasbord of emerging talent.
According to EA Sports FIFA 21, the Roar have the strongest player in the league on their books in captain Tom Aldred. With a physicality rating of 88, Aldred beats out the second-placed Matt Simon (87) to the top honour. Strikers beware: trying your luck against Roar’s steely centre-half could leave you in a world of pain.
Along with possessing the league’s strongest player, the Roar may just have the fastest as well. Off-season recruit Nikola Mileusnić once clocked a top speed of 36.2km/h whilst playing for Adelaide United – a scary turn of pace likely to cause opposing players all sorts of problems in 2021/22.
… and reasons to be fearful
Macaulay Gillesphey’s off-season departure is a massive blow for the Roar. The Englishman became a key figure in defence over the past two seasons, clocking 50 appearances. Who steps up in his absence remains to be seen, with further significance falling on the sturdy shoulders of Aldred to remain fit and dominate the defensive line moving forward.
Up front, the departures of Dylan Wenzel-Halls and Riku Danzaki leave the Roar without their two top scorers from 2020/21. So who will fill the void? Will it be Juan Lescano, Moon’s new recruit who spent time at both Liverpool and Real Madrid in his youth? Or will one of Brisbane’s brigade of young forwards – Parsons, Hore, Dehmie, Lofthouse – be up to the task?
Fans’ eye: by Connor Ross
Why I believe: I first started going to games in 2014. I was sat down toward the family end, and I kept looking across and seeing all these people down in the Den. I thought ‘that’s the crowd I want to be in’.
I moved to Sydney in 2018. I thought there was nothing there for people who were travelling interstate, or even Sydney locals, to get together and become a fan group, rather than 15 or 20 people scattered all over the place.
Over that off-season I started a Facebook group, and people got involved. I’ve made some lifelong friends out of it. We had people coming from all over the Eastern side of Australia to away days with us, and it was brilliant.
I moved back up to Brisbane in March this year, and it’s good to be back home and back amongst the home fans.
Who we believe: Last season Alex Parsons came through, and he would always put on a show. He’s probably the one I’d be most excited to see. That number 22 shirt, previously worn by Thomas Broich, will always be iconic in the Brisbane Roar fanbase. He’s got the opportunity to make it his own now, and we might be singing about two number 22’s.
That’s probably one of the most exciting things about this new era under Warren Moon – he’s bringing the youngsters through. People in Brisbane do love to see that. In Queensland we’re very proud of our state and proud of our people so when we have young Queenslanders coming through then we’ll always get behind them.
The magic of matchday is… Always pre-game at the Redcliffe League’s club, and then it’s a short walk to the stadium. It’s pretty easy nowadays that we’re playing out of Moreton Daily Stadium as there’s a pub on site.
The longest part about the walk is the Den is up the other end, as the pub is quite literally attached to the side of the stadium.
If I could change one thing about the club: I’d love to get more people involved in the Den.
I think more people should be going for the pure fun of standing, singing, yelling, hanging out with mates, watching football and hopefully watching their team win. There really is nothing quite like standing behind the goal late in the second half and watching your team put one in the back of the net to win the game.
When you’re around your mates and hundreds of other like-minded people standing there and jumping around, running into each other, that’s why I go to football games. That’s what you go to a game hoping for.
OUR ISUZU UTE A-LEAGUE SEASON PREVIEWS
By Tom Smithies and Matt Comito
Adelaide United: Can Veart steer them into the decider?
Brisbane Roar: Will the local lads surprise again?
Central Coast Mariners: A renaissance or brief ray of sunshine?
Macarthur FC: Attack looks great, but who replaces the veterans?
Melbourne City: Can anyone stop the champions?
Melbourne Victory: Can Popa resurrect the fallen giant?
Newcastle Jets: Can Papas find success with another overhaul?
Perth Glory: Are box office Glory title contenders?
Wellington Phoenix: Can the ‘Nix thrive early doors based in Wollongong?
Western Sydney Wanderers: Will Robinson rise to expectations?
Western United: Will more ‘Dia’ magic help United bounce back?