Tough days for two champions

It was a gesture that spoke a thousand words. As Roar Head Coach Frans Thijssen and Western Sydney Wanderers boss Tony Popovic shook hands and chatted quietly at the end of tonight’s game, it was easy to see they knew each other’s pain.

Current AFC Champions League winners Western Sydney has just won the Hyundai A-League Round 11 catch up game 4-1 in a commanding performance over the reigning Hyundai A-League Champions.

It was a significant turnaround in fortunes for Western Sydney after they had battled through a gruelling period of AFC Champions League travel, a crowded Hyundai A-League season and injuries to key players. 

But as Popovic spoke softly to Thijssen, their heads both nodding, it was clear in the concern on the Roar coach’s face that he knew his team’s toughest days were only beginning.

Their third match in seven days is this Saturday in Melbourne with trips to South Korea and China looming and the current absence of eight senior players through international duty or injury.

The Wanderers had put the mountain behind them and it showed as they had extra spring and speed in their steps. They even scored the Roar’s goal when a Luke Brattan corner bounced off the knee of Wanderers defended Jonathan Aspropotamitis in the 41st minute.

But a pair of classy goals by Kerem Bulut and stylish efforts by Nikita Rukavytsya and Romeo Castelen well and truly sealed the points for the visistors – their first away win of the season.  

Thijssen said the score line was tough to take but not surprising under the current circumstances. 

“It was always going to be a difficult game, we knew that beforehand and in the end it was difficult but everyone did their best,” Thijssen said.

“I can’t blame anyone, everyone did their job.”

Thijssen defended the decision to play defensive midfielder Brattan as a central defender. Brattan was named man of the match.

“Not a gamble at all,” he said. “(Brattan) is always involved in the build up from the back.”

Thijssen said it would likely be a very similar squad that heads south tomorrow for the Melbourne City away match on Saturday night at AAMI Park. 

“We don’t have many options,” he said.

Brisbane Roar 1 (Own goal - Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS 41’)
Western Sydney Wanderers 4 (Nikita RUKAVYTSYA 20’, Kerem BULUT 44’, 89’, Romeo CASTELEN 58’)
Hyundai A-League 2014/15 Rescheduled Round 11
Wednesday, 25 March at Suncorp Stadium
Referee: 
Lucien Laverdure
Crowd: 6,813

Brisbane Roar: 21. Jamie YOUNG (gk), 2. Jerome POLENZ, 3. Shane STEFANUTTO (c), 4. Adam SAROTA, 8. Steven LUSTICA, 9. Andrija KALUDEROVIC (12. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO 70’), 16. Devante CLUT (6. George LAMBADARIDIS), 18. Luke BRATTAN, 19. Jack HINGERT, 23. Dimitri PETRATOS (34. Shannon BRADY 46’), 28. Brandon BORRELLO

Substitutes not used: 26. Lachlan JACKSON, 36. Fraser CHALMERS (gk)

Yellow cards:  8. Steven LUSTICA 83’

Red cards: Nil

Western Sydney Wanderers: 1. Ante COVIC (gk), 3. Yusuke TANAKA, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 6. Antony GOLEC (25. Sam GALLAWAY 27’), 7. Labinot HALITI, 10. Yojiro TAKAHAGI, 12. Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 14. Kerem BULUT (38. Steve KUZMANOVSKI 90’), 17. Romeo CASTELEN, 18. Iacopo LA ROCCA, 37. Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS

Substitutes not used: 20. Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 33. Nick KALMAR

Yellow cards: 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY 83’

Red cards: Nil