Finals format makes Roar 3-peat tough
The task of winning three straight A-League championships has been made even tougher for the Brisbane Roar by a cutthroat 2012-13 finals format that offers no second chances.
The Roar will be under the pump from the outset after being forced to travel to Perth for what looms as a fiery season-opening grand final re-match against the Glory.
And in the second round, they take on the man who led them to back-to-back championships – Ange Postecoglou – when he brings the Melbourne Victory to Suncorp Stadium.
But Roar general manager Sean Dobson said the defending champions would relish the challenge after running his eye over the draw released on Tuesday.
Under the new finals format, every game will be a knockout clash with the top two receiving a first-week bye rather than a double chance. The preliminary final is scrapped.
“I think a more clear-cut, success-orientated series capped to three weeks works,” Dobson told AAP.
“It brings the season to a fitting climax.”
Rather than complain about not hosting their opener, Dobson said Brisbane would hit the road in the pre-season to ensure they had no excuses when they faced the Glory.
Pre-season games have already been booked in Tamworth, Coffs Harbour and Adelaide for Brisbane.
“We have placed a priority on sourcing games that will help boost the brand around the country but also get the team into the habit of travelling and producing on the pitch,” Dobson said.
The stage is set for a spirited shootout in the west following Roar striker Besart Berisha’s controversial match-winning goal in the 2011-12 decider.
“What has happened in the grand final has been said and done – we need to move forward,” Dobson said.
“We are a side that will always push ourselves so, while an away game to Perth will be tough, it is not a bad way to start the season.
“It will be a good challenge to see where we are at.”
And Dobson backed the now Rado Vidosic-coached Roar to be ready for whatever Postecoglou threw at them.
“To be honest, it will be good to see Ange again. You can’t say enough about the legacy he has left here,” he said.
“I think everyone is interested in what Ange comes up with at the Victory and how that plays out. No one will underestimate the change he can achieve there.
“But I have full faith Rado will not only be able to match them but better them.”
Football Federation Australia CEO Ben Buckley said the new finals format replaced the “repetitive nature” of the previous system where teams played each other three times in a four-week format.
“The decision to intensify the finals series … will provide the platform for a highly-energised and uncompromising cup-style finals format and allow for a more challenging and thrilling 2013 finals series,” he said.
The new soon-to-be-named western Sydney team will have to wait until round three to enjoy their first derby clash.
The season – featuring Australia Day and New Year’s Day triple headers – will kick off with the Melbourne Victory-Heart derby on October 5.
“I got a taste of it as a player and the atmosphere was incredible but it’s my first game as coach – it’s a baptism of fire,” rookie Heart coach John Aloisi said of the derby.
Postecoglou added: “I’m a Melbourne boy. I have looked on jealously over the last few years at the fixture – to kick off the season with it is a special thing.”
Not everyone was happy at the Victory, it seems.
Managing director Richard Wilson said the club was “largely pleased” with the draw but added: “While the club has the benefit of making only one trip to Perth and Wellington, it must finish the season with three of its final four games away”.
© AAP 2013
HIGHLIGHTS OF 2012-13 A-LEAGUE SEASON DRAW RELEASED ON TUESDAY
- Season starts on October 5 with Melbourne derby and concludes with defending champions Brisbane Roar travelling to Perth for grand final re-match on October 7
- Roar take on former mentor Ange Postecoglou for the first time when they host Melbourne Victory in round two
- Inaugural Sydney derby clash featuring soon-to-be-named western Sydney franchise in round three
- New cutthroat finals format, with every game a knockout fixture, however top two teams receive a first-week bye and move straight into semi-finals; preliminary final scrapped
- Fixture highlights include a Good Friday match in Newcastle; Australia Day clashes in Melbourne, western Sydney and Perth; New Year’s Eve showdown in Gosford and Adelaide; New Year’s Day matches in Brisbane, Melbourne and western Sydney
- Community fixtures will return with games in Dunedin, Launceston and Campbelltown
New-look finals format:
Week one elimination finals: 3rd v 6th, 4th v 5th
Week two semi-finals: 1st v lowest-ranked week-one winner, 2nd v highest-ranked week-one winner
Week three grand final: Top-ranked semi-final winner hosts lowest-ranked semi-final winner