Brisbane Roar interim head coach Frans Thijssen has made a prediction that will put fear into the minds of future opponents – he believes his high-achieving Socceroo Matt McKay will become an even better player as the club pushes for a berth in the Hyundai A-League finals.
Thijssen made the confident call after McKay scored a brilliant solo goal in a man-of-the-match performance in Saturday night’s 2-2 with Perth Glory.
The former Dutch international knows a thing or two about scoring goals – he netted nearly 100 in a glittering career – and rated McKay’s goal as “top class”.
The Roar captain picked up the ball about 30m out, brushed off two solid challenges and fired an unstoppable left-foot shot from just inside the box into the far corner of the goal.
“Great goal, good run, good finish. (Matt) played a great game. He worked so hard, he is so important to the team, he did a great job,” Thijssen said.
“It is handy to have a player like that in midfield – who works hard, never gives the ball away.
“If he starts scoring goals he is even more important. He will be a better all-round player and even more dangerous.”
McKay’s goal-scoring record for the Roar has been consistent if not spectacular.
He has scored in all eight seasons he has played in Brisbane, but only once (2008/09) has he netted more than three in the one season.
As the 32-year-old approaches 170 games for the club, McKay has now scored 20 goals in all competitions. Saturday’s effort was his first for the season.
McKay, an Asian Cup winner with the Socceroos last month, admits he wishes that his goal-scoring total was more impressive but he relishes the challenge that he can contribute more to his team by netting more regularly.
“Throughout my whole career I haven’t scored enough goals, I know that and I’d love to score more,” he said.
“I’ll keep trying to score more . . . I’ll do whatever I can to help the team.”
As the Roar flew from Perth to Japan overnight to play J-League runners-up Urawa Red Diamonds in their next AFC Champions League Group Stage match, the Brisbane players were looking to take positives out of Saturday night’s inspiring away draw.
Thijssen was in no doubt his team could have taken all three points had Corey Brown not been sent-off in the 76th minute but the commendable away result continued the Dutchman’s fine record since he took over in late November.
The stats are impressive as the transition at the club continues. Under Thijssen’s guidance, the Roar have lost only twice in 10 and are undefeated in four since the AFC Asian Cup break.
In their last eight games the Roar have lost only once. Despite six of those eight being on the road, the Roar have found the net 13 times – nine in the last four and six in three consecutive away games .
The challenge now is to bring that form to the Champions League, especially after last Wednesday’s heart-breaking stoppage time loss to a 10-man Beijing Guoan.