Brisbane Roar return to Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night for the first time in a month and Head Coach John Aloisi is excited about the upcoming period.
The Roar have played four consecutive away matches across the Hyundai A-League and AFC Champions League and tomorrow night return to the fortress to face arch rivals Melbourne Victory.
With a long list of home matches ahead to round off our campaign, Aloisi backs the Roar to take momentum into the Hyundai A-League finals series.
“Our last four games have been away. We have four [Hyundai A-League] games remaining, three are at home and we know how strong we are at Suncorp Stadium,” he said.
“We also have two of our three remaining AFC Champions League matches at home so this is a good period for us. We feel that we’re in good shape and will come into the finals as high up the table as possible.
“First of all, we’re looking forward to tomorrow’s game.”
The Roar and Victory have played out a number of epic clashes in recent times with the Roar snatching a 1-1 draw in stoppage time in their last meeting at Suncorp Stadium, preceded by a classic elimination final that featured three goals in the final 10 minutes.
The Victory got the better of the Roar in the side’s last meeting in January with as a spirited Brisbane comeback fell short in a 3-2 defeat.
“It was one of those games that they appeared to score every time they went forward. We started the game well and we feel if we can play at that level we can win here,” Aloisi said.
Both sides are without a host of experienced players as Roar Captain Matt McKay has been ruled out with a knee injury while Victory trio Besart Berisha, Marco Rojas and James Troisi are all absent through international duty.
Despite missing their three top goal scorers in this campaign, Aloisi expects a tough test from the second-placed Victory.
“It’s not great losing any player but we have Luke DeVere coming back and Tommy Oar isn’t far away. We’ve been playing well and we’re feeling that we’re in good shape,” Aloisi said.
“You want to play your best team but they’ll still be difficult to play against and do their best to win the game.”
Melbourne-born Greek defender Avram Papadopoulos has been named to play his first match at Suncorp Stadium after featuring in the side’s last four matches.
The 32-year-old has made an impressive start to his Roar career in the heart of defence and is looking forward to playing in front of the Brisbane faithful.
“This team has some very good players with good atmosphere and character and this is very important for me,” Papadopoulos said.
“I have spoken with the boys and they have said it’s a great stadium. I’m looking forward to playing my first game there.”
“It’s an important game for us and we’ll be looking to get three points.”
Hyundai A-League 2016/17 Round 24, Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory, Saturday, 25 March 2017. Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane. Kick-off 6:50pm (QLD time).
Brisbane Roar FC squad: 3.Luke DEVERE, 5.Corey BROWN, 6.Avram PAPADOPOULOS, 7.Thomas KRISTENSEN, 8.Jacob PEPPER, 9.Jamie MACLAREN, 10.Brett HOLMAN, 13.Jade NORTH (c), 15.ARANA, 19.Jack HINGERT, 20.Shannon BRADY, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 22.Thomas BROICH, 25.Kye ROWLES, 26.Nick D’AGOSTINO, 28.Brandon BORRELLO, 29.Joe CALETTI, 43.Tomislav BILIC (gk) **two to be omitted**
Ins: 3.Luke DEVERE (returns from injury), 8.Jacob PEPPER (promoted), 22.Thomas BROICH (returns from injury), 25.Kye ROWLES (promoted), 43.Tomislav BILIC (gk) (promoted)
Outs: 1.Michael THEO (gk) (suspended – 2 matches), 17.Matt MCKAY (knee – 4-6 weeks), 46.Cameron CRESTANI (not selected) Unavailable: 4.Daniel BOWLES (knee – season), 11.Tommy OAR (hamstring – 2 weeks), 24.Connor O’TOOLE (ankle – 3 weeks)
Melbourne Victory squad: 2.Jason GERIA, 4.Nick ANSELL, 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 11.Mitch AUSTIN, 14.Fahid BEN KHALFALLAH, 15.Alan BARO, 16.Rashid MAHAZI, 17.James DONACHIE, 19.George HOWARD, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI (c), 22.Stefan NIGRO, 31.Christian THEOHAROUS, 32.Cameron MCGILP, 35.Josh HOPE, 40.Matt ACTON (gk), 49.Pierce WARING **two to be omitted**
Ins: 19.George HOWARD (promoted), 22.Stefan NIGRO (promoted), 31.Christian THEOHAROUS (promoted), 32.Cameron MCGILP (promoted), 35.Josh HOPE (promoted), 49.Pierce WARING (promoted)
Outs: 7.Marco ROJAS (international duty), 8.Besart BERISHA (international duty), 10.James TROISI (international duty), 23.Jai INGHAM (international duty) Unavailable: Nil
Referee: Matthew Conger; Assistant Referee 1: Nathan MacDonald; Assistant Referee 2: David Walsh; Fourth Official: Jarred Gillett