The Queensland Roar have started the 2006/2007 A-League season with a bang. Since its inception into the inaugural season last year, the Roar have had a glowing reputation of playing slick attacking football, creating a lot of chances, but also had a notorious knack of not being able to finish most of them.
So what culminated was a lot of hoo-hah and a disappointing 6th placed finish, meaning not qualifying for the finals. With the off-season proving to be further non-enthusing because of:
* the sale of key strikers Alex Brosque (Sydney FC) & Michael Baird (Uni Craiova)
* no significant additions to the coaching staff
* no statement of intent to signify any impending changes
Hence, things seemed pretty bleak.
Hoewever, 1 month later and now Queensland are top two of the table unbeaten, with 3 wins and a draw. The best part is they are scoring goals right, left and centre. The 5-0 trashing of the New Zealand Knights at Suncorp has made it 11 goals in 4 games with 2 conceded and 3 clean sheets.
These are amazing stats bearing in mind last season’s troubles. So what was the chief changes of keys to the success so far if you like. Well, I’m glad you asked the question:
1. Signing 4 strikers from 4 continents: Simon Lynch (Dundee), Ante Milicic (Newcastle Jets), Reinaldo (Brazilian signed from last season) and Yuning Zhang (Shanghai) has given the Roar a totally new look, potent and balanced attacking line.
2. The Emergence of Matt McKay: His 2 goals against the Knights and recent call up to the Socceroos squad speaks of the massive improvement of the Brisbane native.
3. An Improved backline: 3 clean sheets were not expected after the sale of last season’s first choice keeper Scott Higgins to Falkirk, Scotland. However, Luke Willis has stepped up while Liam Reddy (Jets) has proved to be an excellent acquisition.
4. Sasa Ognenovski: This tough tackling and heart on sleeve defensive player has added that bit of grunt to last season’s tamer roar. Signed from the Fawkner/Whittlesea Blues in the Victorian State League, he may yet prove to be the one that prevents the team from Victoria to emerge victorious.
So the question remains, just as Portsmouth in the EPL: Can the Roar keep this going?
Time will tell…