The squad may have had to wait almost a month since the end of the competitive season but there’s no denying the excitement in the Brisbane Roar camp ahead of tonight’s LFP World Challenge match against Villarreal CF at Suncorp Stadium (7pm kick-off).
With Sydney FC hosting Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea FC over recent days, AS Roma, Manchester City and Real Madrid to hit Australian shores next month and Liverpool FC also to visit Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane captain Matt McKay said there was a real buzz around Australian football at the moment.
“The calibre of players that are coming to Australia, there’s no way we could have attracted them 10 years ago,” he said.
“Villarreal is a massive game for us in that we get to test ourselves again. We’ve got Liverpool in July and it’s great for our club, great for the league and great for young football fans to see their international heroes.”
The Roar has hosted overseas clubs in the past, including Scottish Premier League side Celtic FC in 2009 and England’s Everton in 2010, and McKay said it was important for the players to make the most of the opportunity in front of them.
Midfielder Luke Brattan made his senior debut for the Roar as a fresh-faced 19-year-old in the Celtic clash almost six years ago and has gone on to be one of the club’s most consistent performers in the Hyundai A-League.
“The players have got to realise we’ve got a really good opportunity, these friendlies don’t come around (too often) and we’re at a great venue here in Suncorp Stadium that means we can attract these type of teams,” McKay said.
“Villarreal are a big team, we’re going to enjoy the occasion. A lot of the young boys, this is their first taste of (I’ll call it) international football and it’s a good test to see where they are at.”
Since the club’s final AFC Champions League match on 5 May, the Roar players enjoyed a short break before returning to the training paddock to prepare for the La Liga club and McKay was confident in his team’s preparation.
“The players didn’t drop off once the season finished, we kept going and our training sessions have gotten even longer and probably more intense,” he said.
The 32-year-old was named in Ange Posteocoglou’s 23-player Socceroos squad for Australia’s FIFA World Cup qualifier against Kyrgyzstan on 16 June and tonight’s LFP World Challenge match is ideal timing for McKay in his preparation for the match in Bishtek.
“I’m very fortunate that the game falls on 3 June, it’s given me a good month of training with the team and I’m grateful for that,” he said.
“The 90 minutes will be great going into this international. We’ve got a probably pretty torrid camp in Dubai leading into that match in Kyrgyzstan and we’ll do our work there as well to make sure we’re ready for that World Cup qualifier.”
Tickets for Brisbane Roar v Villarreal CF tonight start from just $16 for kids and $28 for adults and include transport to and from Suncorp Stadium. To purchase, please click here.
Tonight’s match is not broadcast on Australian TV but the match will be live on ABC 612 Brisbane via the ABC Radio app or ABC Grandstand website worldwide.