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  • Writer's pictureChristian Marchetti

Season Preview: New era at Dolphin Stadium begins for Moon and Roar

With the new A-League season right around the corner, Front Page Football will be breaking down each club's chances and what we can expect from them in 2020-21.

Today we look at Brisbane Roar.

How did they fare last season?

The Roar significantly improved in season 2019-20, after a disastrous 2018-19 campaign.

They were able to finish fourth and qualify for the preliminary rounds of next year's Asian Champions League.

Now ex-manager Robbie Fowler had some teething problems to contend with at the start of the season, with Brisbane tenth after twelve rounds.

However, a strong end to the season, which included a crucial post-lockdown stabilisation period overseen by new coach Warren Moon, guided the Roar to finals football.

Unfortunately, Western United narrowly defeated them in the elimination finals last season thanks to Alessandro Diamanti's sublime free-kick.

Nonetheless, by the end of the campaign, Moon was in charge of a stubborn and resilient side that possessed dangerous attacking weapons.

What is expected of them this season?

Similarly to what we said about Adelaide United in their preview, finals is not a must but is a realistic target.

Although Moon had his teething period at the club last season, Brisbane has had a few significant changes to their squad ahead of the new campaign.

The losses include Aiden O'Neill, Brad Inman, Max Crocombe and even promising youngster Mirza Muratovic.

Meanwhile, the new Japanese duo of Riku Danzaki and Masato Kudo will need to adjust to a new country.

It is also unlikely Joey Champness will slot straight back into the A-League without needing time.

Expect a similar story to last season where the relatively new manager will need time to integrate the new players.

However, the quicker he can, the more likely it is that Brisbane will make finals again.

It will also be interesting to see how they adjust to the new surroundings with playing home games at Dolphin Stadium.

The Roar will play all their home games at Dolphin Stadium in 2020-21. (Getty Images)

The Roar played a handful of matches there last season before the lockdown.

Every game there had that close to the pitch atmosphere that was sorely lacking at Suncorp, and they looked a far more dangerous threat because of it.

Players to watch?

If Champness can get back up to speed with A-League football and get regular minutes, he could be an integral figure.

The 23-year-old went through a stunning breakthrough campaign during the 2017-18 season, as he was a vital figure of a Newcastle Jets' side that went all the way to the grand final.

With Inman gone and a spot in the wide areas now available, Champness could make it his own and restart his football career where he left off.

Another new signing Kudo comes highly recommended, with a vast array of experience in the J-League.

The 30-year-old netted 92 times in 259 games for Kashiwa Reysol from 2009 to 2015 and is the club's all-time leading goalscorer.

The four-time Japanese international could create a dangerous attacking partnership with the hard-working Scott McDonald.

More importantly, he can provide the goals needed that were sorely lacking last season; the Roar were the second-lowest scorers in 2019-20.

Any youngsters coming through?

Dylan Wenzel-Halls had his breakout in the A-League during that underwhelming 2018-19 campaign.

Still, he is yet to secure a regular place in the side.

The ex-Western Pride man was a serial goalscorer at NPL level, and has shown glimpses of genuine promise with some lovely finishes in the A-League, but needs more consistency at this level.

Wenzel-Halls made 16 A-League appearances for Brisbane last season. (Getty Images)

18-year-old Izaack Powell burst onto the scene in February 2019, becoming the youngest player to play for Brisbane at just 16 years of age.

He can challenge the inconsistent Corey Brown for a spot in the side at left-back.

Jordan Courtney-Perkins broke out last season under Fowler's guidance, who rated him very highly.

He could eventually complement the more experienced Tom Aldred in the centre of defence.

And how's the manager?

Warren Moon was given the job last season after Robbie Fowler decided to stay in England post-lockdown.

Although he was unable to build on Fowler's results, Brisbane steadied under the ex-Lions FC manager.

He was able to guide them to a finals spot despite the tough competition.

They kept their defensive solidity intact but still struggled offensively.

Moon will hope the signings of Danzaki and Kudo will add more goals.

It will also be interesting to see if the 38-year-old brings a variation to Brisbane's style this season, as he seemed content to stick with what Fowler had started post-lockdown.

One characteristic of Moon's coaching that sets him apart from other A-League rookies is his man-management skills.

Senior players such as Jamie Young praised him for his ability in that area last season.

Meanwhile, ex-Brisbane manager Miron Bleiberg said the same thing when they appointed Moon.

Moon has received many plaudits for his man-management skills. (Getty Images)

Moon will need those skills as he attempts to impose his ideas on this Roar squad, and embarks upon a new challenge in his first full season as an A-League coach.


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