Nothing less than a win will do for Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night. Having had their smoothest pre-season in recent memory, the Roar were expected to start their new A-League campaign flying. Instead they are still without a victory after four games, two of those having been at home against last season’s two worst teams, Central Coast Mariners and Wellington Phoenix. While it’s not yet panic stations, it’s time for the Roar to start firing. It’s won’t be an easy night for them, with Melbourne City having beaten Brisbane in last season’s finals series as well as this year’s FFA Cup. City too haven’t been totally convincing this season but were still sitting comfortably in third spot on the ladder heading into round five. The Roar and City have developed a strong rivalry in recent seasons, which should ensure the hosts have their minds on the job from the opening whistle. Brisbane have been hurt by slow starts this season, and they can ill-afford another one on Saturday night. They trailed 2-0 less than 20 minutes into their last-start clash against Western Sydney Wanderers. On a positive note, the way Brisbane fought back to earn a point in a 2-2 draw would give them confidence heading into their battle with City. We will know after the game whether last weekend’s break for the FIFA international window came at the right time for the Roar. With the momentum Brisbane had from their strong finish against Wanderers, the weekend off might have come at the wrong time. But considering the Roar’s indifferent start to the season, the break perhaps came at the perfect time. It’s almost a fresh start on Saturday night, and there would be no better way for the Roar to kick-start their campaign than by beating a genuine title contender.
A great thing about football is that is throws up stories such as that of Martin Boyle. The Scotsman had not set foot in Australia until earlier this week, and now is on the verge of making his Socceroos debut on Saturday night against South Korea at Suncorp Stadium. The Hibernian winger is eligible to represent Australia via his father Graeme, who was born in the Sydney suburb of Balmain. A seemingly humble truck driver, Graeme seems to have installed similar hard-working values into his son. Still only 25, Martin Boyle has worked his way up the ranks of Scottish football, having started his career with third-tier Montrose.
He’s now starring for Hibs regularly in the Scottish Premier League. Boyle is so committed on and off the field that he’s even asked his Hibs and Socceroos teammate Mark Milligan about the second verse of Advance Australia Fair. Now that’s dedication! A bonus for the Socceroos is that Boyle not only plays his club football with the experienced Milligan, but also striker Jamie Maclaren. Boyle and Maclaren have forged a good combination at Hibs, and that understanding between them Is bound to help the Socceroos not only against the South Koreans, but also at January’s Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates. Maclaren is yet to score for Australia, but with Boyle feeding him crosses, the former Brisbane Roar marksman maiden Socceroos goal is surely just around the corner. Boyle also know where the back of the net is. Socceroos coach Graham Arnold might just have found a gem. Scotland’s loss is Australia’s gain.
JAMIE Maclaren used to score goals for fun at Suncorp Stadium when he played for Brisbane Roar. Now let’s see if he can find the back of the net at “The Cauldron” for the Socceroos. The jury is still out on whether Maclaren has what it takes to lead Australia’s attacking line on a permanent basis. Six appearances into his Socceroos career, he’s yet to find the back of the net. Still only 25, Maclaren still has time on his side to establish himself in the green and gold. Unfortunately, Socceroos coach Graham Arnold doesn’t have the same of time to settle on his best starting team before January’s Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates. It’s why Australia’s game against South Korea in Brisbane on November 17 is so important. Some are saying it’s just a friendly and means nothing, but to players such as Maclaren it means everything. The Socceroos are crying out for someone to regularly find the back of the net now that Tim Cahill’s international career is over –apart from an upcoming five-minute farewell cameo against Lebanon in Sydney. Arnold wants to give Maclaren every chance to prove himself in a Socceroos jersey, and rightly so considering the former Perth Glory marksman scored 40 goals in two seasons after moving to Brisbane Roar. Maclaren struggled at German club Darmstadt after leaving Brisbane at the end of the 2016-17 A-League season. But a successful loan move to Scottish outfit Hibernian was just what he needed and propelled him into Australia’s 2018 World Cup squad. While he didn’t play in Russia under then Socceroos coach Bert van Marwijk, Maclaren’s confidence would have been boosted by his squad selection. But just being part of a 23-man squad is no longer good enough. With the Asian Cup just around the corner, now is the perfect time for Maclaren to strike. And what better place for Maclaren to open his Socceroos’ account than at Suncorp Stadium in front of thousands of fans who adored him when he wore the orange of the Roar.