PHOTO: Brisbane Roar ready for the Canberra challenge | Credit: Getty Images

Brisbane Roar. The Favourites. The Matildas. The Queenslanders. The Goalkeeper.

There were so many two word descriptions for the Roar in the lead up to this W-League season that we all thought the competition would be a race for second place.

Fast forward five months and Brisbane have a new two word mantle. The underdogs.

Taking the hard road to the Championship, from fourth place, was done last year by Sydney FC, but that was by a young, carefree team, on a roll and on a mission.

On paper, Brisbane is a near unbeatable proposition.

Nine Matildas, including the bulk of the Matildas’ backline, midfield, and a good dose of strikers. And did somebody say the FIFA World Player of the Year Nadine Angerer in goals!

Brisbane had a relatively long preseason due to the luxury of maintaining a predominantly home based squad. They even fitted in a pre-season camp in Byron Bay, off the back of a relatively busy international schedule over Australia’s winter for their many Matildas with trips to Europe and the USA.

Despite their strong favouritism, Brisbane kicked off the season with a shock 3-0 loss to surprise packets Canberra United who had started training as a squad only a week before the season.

The Roar suffered defeats at home to Melbourne Victory and also to Adelaide United, and only managed their first win at home in Round 8 in January over Perth Glory.

The Roar do have a stunning record away from home this season though, with four wins including 1-0 against Canberra and wins over Newcastle Jets, Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory, and a draw to Adelaide. Their one sore point was a thumping 0-4 loss to Sydney FC.

Roar have suffered the heart wrenching loss of Amy Chapman to her third ACL reconstruction and famously donned wristbands emblazoned with Amy’s name in their next match. Brisbane will be boosted though with the surprise selection for the semi-final is captain Clare Polkinghorne who recently suffered a quadriceps injury on top of a recent hamstring strain.

Roar have momentum on their side leading into the semi final, with a 1-0 win over Melbourne, but they did that the hard way, working tirelessly in defence to contain a spritely Victory offence particularly in the second half. Their goal came from a deft Katrina Gorrie free kick from outside the box.


One explanation for Brisbane’s position could be their format adjustment midway through the season from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3. While the majority of Roar players have been exposed to this system through national coach Hesterine De Reus, they are still finding the best way to penetrate defences.

Midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight spoke after last week’s match about the team wanting to build confidence going into the semi-finals.

Having lost Amy Chapman early, and missing Clare Polkinghorne in recent weeks, Brisbane have been slotting in new players to the team. Ayesha Norrie made her first starting appearance last week and impressed as has Matildas u/17 captain Sunny Franco.

The question remains as to whether the Roar have enough cohesion through their midfield and backline to keep out the likes of Stephanie Ochs and Michelle Heyman, or the lightning Ashleigh Sykes and Sally Rojahn, in a sustained manner.

Brisbane certainly have made their chances count this season, and will continue to be dangerous from deadball plays and brutal from outside the 18 yard box if given space.

But with Canberra’s unity the talking point this year, and acceleration and pressure against the flashy Sydney FC team in recent weeks, Brisbane will need all of their experience, physicality and wily touches from the likes of Butt and Kellond-Knight to prevail this week.

Match Winners

The world's best player in 2013 returns just in time for the finals| Credit: Getty Images The world's best player in 2013 returns just in time for the finals| Credit: Getty Images

Nadine Angerer (Goalkeeper)

Angerer has been in and out of the Roar team all season, but her big match experience is needed this week, and will be crucial for Brisbane if the match goes to penalties.

Playing against a team that scored three on her in her first experience of the W-League, she will be shoring up her defence to maintain a clean sheet.

Katrina Gorry (Midfielder)

In the midfield, Gorry is the general. Though she starts the game from right midfield, she quickly makes tracks through the centre of the field, marshalling the play through transition and springing her attack past the defensive lines.

Where she doesn’t see options up front and has room to move, it’s go time with her powerful shot that has goal keepers clutching at air.

Hayley Raso (Striker)

Up front the former Canberra United premiership and championship winning striker will be looking to do the damage. Her pace is well known to Canberra United, having played with Canberra last season.

United know that Raso will turn a long ball that looks to be running over the goal line into an opportunity, and that she will be looking to spring their offside trap.

Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Nadine ANGERER (gk), 2. Laura ALLEWAY, 4. Clare POLKINGHORNE (c), 5. Brooke SPENCE, 6. Joanne BURGESS, 7. Kim CARROLL, 8. Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 9. Larissa CRUMMER, 10. Katrina GORRY, 11. Vedrana POPOVIC, 13. Tameka BUTT, 14. Natasha WHEELER, 16. Hayley RASO, 17. Emily GIELNIK, 18. Sunny FRANCO, 19. Ayesha NORRIE, 20. Kate STEWART (gk) (one to be omitted)