Roar focus switches to Champions League

Young Brisbane Roar defender James Donachie believes the postponement of Friday night’s match could be a blessing in disguise as the club prepares for its AFC Champions League opener against Chinese Super League club Beijing Guoan at Gold Coast Stadium at Robina on Wednesday night (7.30om kick-off).

Football Federation Australia called off the Roar’s Hyundai A-League clash against Melbourne Victory at Suncorp Stadium on Friday morning after taking advice from police and emergency services over the severe weather created by Cyclone Marcia. 

Roar players did a gym session instead of the match and managed to get back on the training field today. 

In a further boost for the club, all Hyundai A-League regulars were on the training field with the exception of Jean Carlos Solorzano, who has an injured hamstring and is still restricted to a limited program. 

Leading scorer Henrique, who was named on the bench for Friday’s game, trained strongly with the main group as did winger Dimitri Petratos, who has recovered from a knee injury and peppered the goals with powerful shots throughout today’s session. 

Donachie said the mood in the Roar squad was upbeat despite the washout of Friday’s blockbuster. 

“It’s always frustrating to not play . . . but it gave us a bit of a rest for Wednesday. We got two training session in over the weekend, so if anything, it (the postponement) was probably a positive,’’ he said. 

“It’s great (that everyone is fit and back training), I can’t remember the last time it was like that. Once Nico (Solorzano) is back the whole squad is back and that’s big news for us. It’s looking good.”

Wednesday’s clash with Beijing Guoan is the beginning of a busy few month against Asian opposition for Donachie and fellow Olyroos squad member Corey Brown. 

In addition to the Roar’s six (three home, three away) Champions League Group Stage matches between now and the beginning of May, Donachie also is likely to feature in the Olyroos’ challenge in the AFC under-23 Championship qualifiers.  

Australia is grouped with hosts Chinese Taipei, Myanmar and Hong Kong in a round-robin tournament from March 23-31. 

Ten group winners and five best-second placed teams qualify for the competition finals in Qatar in January. The top three teams at that tournament qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro. 

“It’s going to be a busy time, but the more games the better, “Donachie said. 

“I enjoy playing more games. The more you play the better you get.” 

With such a busy program of matches ahead – after Wednesday the Roar travel to Perth to play the Glory then head to Japan to play Urawa Red Diamonds – Roar interim coach Frans Thijssen is likely to begin rotating some of his players. 

Donachie said the Roar players understood some have to be rested at certain times in the coming weeks. 

“When I do get the chance to play I’ll just keep playing the way I am playing,” said the 21-year-old who has cemented his place in the Roar central defence since Thijssen was appointed three months ago. 

Brisbane Roar yesterday announced a 29-man squad for the competition. 

BRISBANE ROAR FC AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SQUAD:  1. Michael THEO (gk); 3. Shane STEFANUTTO; 4. Adam SAROTA; 5. Corey BROWN; 6. George LAMBADARIDIS; 8. Steven LUSTICA; 9. Andrija KALUDEROVIC; 10. HENRIQUE; 13. Jade NORTH; 14. Daniel BOWLES; 15. James DONACHIE; 16. Devante CLUT; 17 Matt McKAY; 18. Luke BRATTAN; 19. Jack HINGERT; 20. Kofi DANNING; 21. Jamie YOUNG (gk); 22. Thomas BROICH; 23. Dimitri PETRATOS; 26. Lachlan JACKSON; 27. Ben LITFIN; 28. Brandon BORRELLO; 29 Patrick THEODORE; 33. Luke DeVERE; 34. Shannon BRADY; 35. Mitchell HORE; 36. Fraser CHALMERS (gk); 37. Denver CRICKMORE (gk); 38. Nicholas D’AGOSTINO. 

Also in the Roar’s AFC Champions League Group G are two-time Asian champions Suwon Bluewings, from South Korea, and 2007 champions Urawa Red Diamonds, from Japan. 

The Roar host Suwon on Tuesday, March 17, and Urawa on Tuesday, May 5. Their away schedule is March 4 (Urawa), April 8 (Suwon) and April 21 (Beijing).

Tickets to the Roar’s three AFC Champions League Group Stage games at Robina are now available through Ticketek.

Adults are $10 and children $5 for pre-purchase and $12 and $7 at the gate. A discounted three-game ticket buy is available at $25 for adults and $15 for children

The ticket price includes free train travel to and from Robina. Gold Coast-based fans can also travel free to the game on Surfside bus routes, trains and the G-Link tram.

Trains will leave Brisbane Central for Robina every 15 minutes from 3.30pm on Wednesday. Go to Translink to plan your journey. 

Those intending to drive to the Gold Coast for any of the three matches should consult the stadium website for information on shuttle bus services from various park ‘n ride lots north and south of the venue.