Roar depart after ‘best possible preparation’ in Mackay
BRISBANE Roar returned to southeast Queensland on Sunday having ticked every box on manager Warren Moon’s pre-season checklist since arriving in Mackay earlier in the week.
Since the club touched down on Tuesday the message out of the Roar camp has only been positive, as the three-time champions of Australia went to work preparing for a late-December A-League start.
A week’s worth of gruelling training sessions, community visits and sight seeing was capped by a thoroughly entertaining pre-season friendly against local NPL Queensland side Magpies Crusaders on Saturday night.
Moon had plenty to smile about in the post-match.
“We only focused on one moment of the game tonight – with the ball. We haven’t worked on any other moment in terms of our defensive structures,” the manager explained.
“We were focusing on some key things with the ball and we certainly saw some things tonight to know we’ve progressed from the start of the week to where we are now.”
The visitors were given an early scare when Magpies Crusaders went 1-0 up through Masi Benjamin.
And though the Roar ended the night with a comfortable win, Moon agreed that both teams got all they wanted from the occasion.
“I thought the Magpies in the first half an hour really acquitted themselves well,” he said.
“Probably that sharpness and extra quality from us took control, and obviously that third goal (a penalty) was a bit of a killer for them. But for 30 minutes you could see it was a good contest and the good players from Magpies really showed up.”
On a night of constant moving pieces and rotations, Moon chose one highlight the performance of one young star whom Roar fans should keep a close eye on.
“Keegan Jelacic started tonight and I thought he was a standout,” Moon said.
“ (18) years old, he’s got the world at his feet and if he really pushes on he can be a very good player for us in the A-League.”
Jelacic bagged the visitors’ go-ahead goal after veteran Scott McDonald’s earlier stunner from outside the area to return parity to the scoreboard.
The Roar’s gamut of attacking players all found the back of the net in the end; McDonald, Wenzel-Halls and Alex Parsons all bagged braces, while Jelacic and Jai Ingham chipped in with one each.
Joey Champness looked dangerous deployed on the right wing in his first true minutes for the Roar since returning from Los Angeles, where he left his burgeoning hip-hop career as JOWIC on hold.
In all it was an entertaining end to a productive week in Mackay, with Moon happy to declare the Roar would welcome a return to the region in the not too distant future.
“This is something for us now, knowing we can safely come here for a pre-season and have the best possible preparation. It’s something to look at for the future for sure,” he said.