Roar's (young) shining lights

This season’s been a rousing success for Queensland Roar and coach FRANK FARINA, but he is already viewing an even brighter future at the club

This season-s been a rousing success for Queensland Roar and coach FRANK FARINA, but he is already viewing an even brighter future at the club

When Queensland Roar qualified for the finals for the first time last season, a lot was made of the team-s blend of youth and experience. It-s a formula that served the team well, and it-s continued to be the case this season. The team is now presented with the opportunity to go one further than last year and their blend of youth means they remain next year looks just as bright. We spoke to Roar coach Farina about the prominent young players in his side and why, in his words, they provide the backbone for a bright future in Brisbane.

GRIFFIN MCMASTER “Griffin has come on in leaps and bounds; he-s one of these unassuming characters. He trains hard all the time, but he seems to step up when he has to play games. He-s one of these players where nothing phases him and that-s what I like about him. He came in last season when Liam Reddy broke his thumb and he did ever so well, and what caught the eye - and didn-t surprise me - is that he played exceptionally well then. He-s ready for first-team football - I-ve got two keepers here who are first-team goalkeepers and I think that-s the biggest compliment I can pay him. He-d hold his own with any team in the league.”

LUKE DEVERE “Luke-s a solid defender who I believe will go on to play for Australia without any doubt; he-s turned out to be a very good signing, particularly for the future. He-s still got a way to go, because he-s very young, and in that position I don-t think he can play with anyone better than Craig Moore. He-s a good defender, there-s no doubt about that, and he-s solid in the air, but he can improve on his distribution and his playing out from the back - Craig Moore is the complete package and if Luke-s going to progress he-s alongside the best person he could be in this country.”

ISAKA CERNAK “He-s a player you look at and automatically like; he goes past people and can score goals. When I signed him he was completely fit and doing exceptionally well, but when he came back to us from the AIS he had a stress fracture in his back and it was almost career-ending for him. We-ve got him back through that and then he got a knee injury and it-s only now that he-s really coming good. I-ve got a lot of faith in this kid and he-s going to be a wonderful player; I-m really happy with where Isaka is at the moment. In the first half against Central Coast (last weekend) I thought he was sensational and that was in one of the biggest games of the season.”

MITCH NICHOLS “It-s probably too much of a wrap for the kid at the moment, but he-s one of those kids that reminds me a lot of David Platt, who was the captain of England. He reminds me a lot of David in his ability to make runs into the box to get into goal-scoring positions. David Platt was never an out-and-out striker or centre forward; David has this ability that he would just get into the box and make runs that you can-t coach and Mitch just has that ability. “He scored five goals for us thus far this season on limited appearances, but he could have had a lot more and he-s only just turned 19. He-s a fantastic link player from midfield to attack, and it-s not that he-s in Charlie-s (Miller) position or Charlie-s in his, they can both play in the same team, there-s no doubt about that. It-s fantastic to see young players when they get the opportunity to step up, particularly in the big games.”

MICHAEL ZULLO “I signed him from the state league and I just liked what I saw with him. He had a fantastic start to his career last season, with 12 or 13 games, but he fell a bit short at the start of this season. He didn-t get into the first team for a long while, but he-s been totally outstanding again. And Michael, like I say with all the young players, football is not something that happens for you; you have to work hard for it. “I think Michael realises that now and he worked extremely hard for having not been in the first team and now he-s in the first 11 and he-s called up to the national squad and he-s understanding exactly what it takes to be a top professional player. The way Michael played at the weekend I thought it was arguably one of the best games he-s ever played for us. He-s as fast with the ball at his feet as he is without the ball at his feet, so that again is something that you want to see in players and it-s just a natural ability.”

TOMMY OAR “He-s a natural talent; I-ve been watching him for some time. That free-kick, which was an absolute gem for us and a vital one against Wellington Phoenix (round 17) in the 91st minute, was no fluke. I-ve seen that kid score six or seven of those in the state league against men. He-s a natural player that loves taking people on; he glides past people. He-s got a wonderful left and he can score goals from free-kicks or general play and he-s only 17 and he comes from a fantastic family, and he stays grounded - he-s a lovely kid.”

TIM SMITS “Tim-s been scoring goals for fun up here in the state league. He started a number of games at the start of the season, or came on as a substitute, but he-s had limited opportunities in the latter part of the season largely due to Sergio Van Dijk-s form. Smits is someone I definitely want to keep around the club because he-s got potential and he-s still young; he-s a natural goal scorer who can score with both feet and he-s good in the air. We don-t want to lose players like that.”

ROBBIE KRUSE “You-d like to think Robbie has a future here, but he-s off contract at the end of the season. He-s had a very traumatic year, he broke in with Michael Zullo last year and Robbie had a very good year. Football is not just about your ability on the field and what you can do with the ball, it-s about your lifestyle off it and Robbie-s had a lot of problems with that this year and that-s why he-s not been involved a lot. Unless Robbie can get his head around that he-ll have a future at the club and if he doesn-t then he-ll struggle. It doesn-t just come to how technically gifted you are and how much talent you-ve got.”

YOUTH TEAMERS READY TO MAKE THE JUMP “I‘d already signed two of them at the start of the season: Adam Sarota, who-s made a couple of appearances for us already. I signed Adam on an A-League contract which doesn-t begin until March this year - he signed that before the youth league started. Matt Mundy, who-s played two or three games for us this year, he was the same and signed a youth league contract but also an A-League deal which starts this month. I think both of those players have impressed and they will push (the first team). I-m glad I signed them because I know for a fact someone else would have come in and signed them.”

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