Brisbane Roar captain Matt Smith has shaken off a slight injury concern to confirm his involvement in tomorrow night’s Hyundai A-League season opener against Central Coast Mariners at Suncorp Stadium.
Brisbane Roar captain Matt Smith has shaken off a slight injury concern to confirm his involvement in tomorrow night-s Hyundai A-League season opener against Central Coast Mariners at Suncorp Stadium.
The skipper suffered a back spasm during yesterday-s training session at Ballymore Stadium but said it would take more than a minor injury to keep him off the sublime Suncorp Stadium surface in tomorrow night-s blockbuster - his first official fixture wearing the captain-s armband.
Smith will feature as a key figure in the team as Brisbane look to kick-off their title defence with three points against the familiar opponents.
“I-ll definitely play - I wouldn-t miss this chance for the world,” Smith said.
“I had a bit of an issue yesterday but it-s come up a thousand times better today and with the same sort of progress tomorrow, I-ll be fine for tomorrow night.
“I-ll be doing everything I can to make sure I-m right for the game”.
Despite talk in the build-up for the Grand Final rematch that the Mariners would be out to take revenge following the heart-breaking way they lost last season-s decider, Smith reiterated that his side were concentrated on their own preparations and their performance during the 90 minutes.
“We-re trying not to focus too much on them, we-re just trying to focus on ourselves,” the English-born defender said.
“It-s been a long time since the Grand Final and both teams have had a lot of time to prepare for this season and we-re going to try and make sure we do the talking on the pitch”.
Head Coach Ange Postecoglou is expected to play Albanian import Besart Berisha and Canadian winger Issey Nakajima-Farran alongside either James Meyer or Henrique as part of a three-pronged attack while Smith-s partner in the heart of defence is still yet to be determined with Bahraini international Mohamed Adnan and former Sydney FC young gun Matt Jurman up for consideration.
Postecoglou said he had no hesitations about throwing his newest players into the mix, dismissing the ideas of starting them off the bench.
“That-s what we brought them in for, they-re all pretty comfortable but look, it-ll be how quickly they adjust to the football here rather than their own abilities as footballers,” Postecoglou said.
“Traditionally, very few foreigners have felt comfortable straight away so I expect a period of adjustment for them but at the same time, the best way to adjust is to go out there and play but we are confident they-ll do a good job.
“All will be revealed tomorrow night as to how they-re travelling but they-re all pretty keen to get going and pretty excited about the game”.
Ivan Franjic and Shane Stefanutto will take up their usual positions either side of the central defensive partnership while holding midfielder Erik Paartalu will fill the hole in front of the back four as he did all throughout Brisbane-s Premiership and Championship-winning 2010/11 season.
Elsewhere on the pitch, 22-year-old Mitch Nichols is expected to figure in the midfield next to last year-s Brisbane Roar Gary Wilkins medallist Thomas Broich as support for the attacking trio.
Brisbane Roar kick off their title defence tomorrow night at Suncorp Stadium against Central Coast Mariners. Kick-off is at 7.45pm and tickets are available from Ticketek.
Brisbane Roar v Central Coast Mariners Saturday, 8 October 2011 Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane Local kick-off: 7.45pm Referee: Chris Beath
Head-to-Head: Played 23 - Brisbane Roar 11 wins, Central Coast Mariners 3 wins, 9 draws
Brisbane Roar Squad: 1. Michael Theoklitos (Gk), 2. Matt Smith (C), 3. Shane Stefanutto, 4. Matt Jurman, 5. Ivan Franjic, 6. Erik Paaratlu, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 9. Kofi Danning, 10. Henrique, 11. Issey Nakajima-Farran, 16. Mohamed Adnan, 17. Mitch Nichols, 18. Luke Brattan, 19. Jack Hingert, 20. Andrew Redmayne, 21. James Meyer, 22. Thomas Broich *three to be omitted*
Unavailable: 12. Matt MUNDY (knee injury - 4 weeks), 14. Rocky VISCONTE (hamstring strain - 4 weeks)
Central Coast Mariners Squad: 1. Mathew Ryan, 2. Daniel Mcbreen, 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Brad Porter, 6. Patrick Zwaanswjik (C), 8. Rostyn Griffiths, 9. Bernie Ibini-Isei, 10. Adriano Pellegrino, 11. Oliver Bozanic, 12. Troy Hearfield, 14. Michael Mcglinchey, 15. Brad Mcdonald, 16. Trent Sainsbury, 17. Michael Baird, 19. Matthew Simon, 20. Justin Pasfield, 21. Sam Gallagher, 23. Adam Kwasnik *four to be omitted*
Unavailable: 7. John HUTCHINSON (On loan), 13. Stuart MUSIALIK (Adductor - 2 weeks), 18. Alex WILKINSON (Forearm - 1 week), 22. Mustafa AMINI (Groin - 4 weeks)