Roar winger Brandon Borrello returned to Brisbane today from Japan with an impressive AFC Player of the Match trophy but the boom youngster certainly isn’t letting the accolade go to his head.
The 19-year-old netted the Roar’s winner just three minutes into Wednesday’s game against Japanese powerhouse Urawa Red Diamonds with a blistering low shot that squeezed inside the near post on the right.
His goal sealed the Roar’s first victory in AFC Champions League competition and continued the team’s form revival that has them eager to get back on the park against Western Sydney Wanderers at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday (4pm kick off).
“In the dressing room before the game we said let’s test the Urawa keeper with a few early shots and I did,’’ Borrello said, playing down the skill factor and composure he displayed in front of the packed Red Diamonds supporters’ end of Saitama Stadium.
It was clinical finishing from the Young Socceroo but Borrello preferred to praise the pinpoint pass he received from midfielder Thomas Broich – coincidentally the player of the match in Match Day One against Beijing Guoan – that gave him the early scoring opportunity.
“I just make the runs and the ball finds me,” Borrello said of the quality service he is getting with Broich playing in central midfield for the Roar’s last three games.
“The team just has to get the ball to Thomas, opposition defences are scared of him.”
The maiden Champions League goal in only Borrello’s second ACL game continued a season that has gone from disappointment to international attention.
The South Australian-born Borrello, who came into the Young Roar system through the Queensland Academy of Sport, dedicated the beginning of the season to the Young Socceroos but was crestfallen when Paul Okon’s squad surprisingly failed to qualify from the AFC U19 championships for a place in this year’s FIFA U20 World Cup.
But Borrello has put that disappointment behind him by working hard to gain a starting spot in the Roar side. His opportunity came a month ago when Dimitri Petratos injured his knee at training.
Since then Borrello has stunned opposition defences with his speed, enthusiasm and powerful shooting.
“It’s been a great season for me . . . I’ve scored a couple of goals, I’d like to score a couple more. Hopefully (the season) is going to get better and better,’’ he said.
“With each goal comes a load of confidence.”
Although the Roar have less than 48 hours to prepare for Sunday’s Grand Final re-match against the Wanderers, Borrello believes the last eight days on the road has been a boost for the Roar’s late season form rally.
The Roar drew 2-2 with Perth Glory to maintain their unbeaten Hyundai A-League record since the AFC Asian Cup break before flying to Japan for Wednesday’s AFC Champions League game.
Borrello says the back-to-back results have fired up the Roar for a strong finish to the season.
“It’s completing lifted us as a group . . . we’re Brisbane Roar and we go out to win every game,” he said, adding the short turnaround this weekend would not be an issue.
“All the boys hold ourselves to special standards so the (short) recovery is nothing new. The boys will get on with it tomorrow (the Roar train at Ballymore from 8.30am Saturday).
“We’ll be ready for Sunday. We need as many points as we can get and irrespective of who we play we want to do that.”
Borrello has also been busy off the field. After taking a year off studies following the completion of Year 12, he has recently enrolled in a Bachelor of Business course at Griffith University.
It is a fitting choice for the Champions League hero. Griffith University are the Roar’s front of shirt partners for this year’s AFC Champions League.