Forget what you heard, Brisbane are still the team to beat in the Hyundai A-League – at least acording to vanquished Central Coast coach Graham Arnold.
Forget what you heard, Brisbane are still the team to beat in the Hyundai A-League - at least according to vanquished Central Coast coach Graham Arnold.
Arnold's Mariners came to fight and played a smart game in their season-opening grand final re-match, but the Roar showed they'd lost little over the long off-season, dominating possession and grinding out a well-deserved 1-0 win.
Returning to Suncorp Stadium - the site of their sensational grand final defeat - on Saturday night, Central Coast came confident of retribution, but left with their own coach conceding Brisbane held the edge and were a smart bet to repeat in 2011-12.
"Brisbane were the better side - we have to be honest. They moved the ball around quicker and better," Arnold said.
"People have asked me who I think the favourites are and I say Brisbane. I've known Ange (Postecoglou) for a long time... he's not going to bring in duds, he's going to bring in good quality players that can fit in the system that he wants to play."
"Whoever is more consistent than Brisbane will win the competition."
Having lost just once last season, the Roar were charged with the task of proving their off-season recruitment had had adequately covered the loss of instrumental skipper Matt McKay and goal-sharks Kosta Barbarouses and Jean Carlos Solorzano.
Thomas Broich and goalscorer Mitch Nichols showed they could control the centre of the park, while there was plenty of promise displayed by imported forwards Besart Berisha and especially Issey Nakajim-Farrran.
Ange Postecoglou, the reigning Hyundai A-League Coach of the Year, claimed Brisbane's new signings had delivered and that the side had shown they were still the competition pacesetters.
"I was really pleased with the boys. Right from the first minute we played our football," he said.
"Overall ... I really couldn't ask for anything more. It sets up a really good foundation for us to keep improving. This is our benchmark and it's not a bad place to start from."
"It's hard for foreigners coming in - they've got no idea what the football's like. But I thought Issey was very exciting in the first half... they're going to improve but for a first-up performance they were very good."
Nineteen-year-old Central Coast goalkeeping marvel Matt Ryan, Joe Marston Medallist in last year's final, gave Brisbane's signings his informed stamp of approval.
"All due respect to the players they've lost in the off-season, but they've recruited just as well," said Ryan.
"Tonight they kind of just picked up where they left off, and full credit to them, they set the benchmark last year and continued the roll on to the first game."