League's youngest coach living in the moment ahead of ‘great opportunity’ in Finals Series
It has been a whirlwind 38 days for the Hyundai A-League’s newest head coach, Warren Moon, and the Brisbane Roar foundation player insists he has not stopped to let the magnitude of the situation sink in.
This time last year, Moon was preparing Lions FC for a trip to Redlands United knowing a win would clinch back-to-back NPL Queensland Premierships. Moon got the result he wanted, a 2-0 triumph, and his side lifted the title by four points – but a semi-final loss to Brisbane Olympic ended their 2019 Championship defence early.
Little did he know that 364 days later, the 38-year-old would be preparing Brisbane Roar for a crunch Hyundai A-League Finals Series clash against newcomers Western United – in a locked-down hub, amid a global pandemic, after guiding his hometown club to a fourth-placed league finish.
Moon was thrust into the Roar hot-seat on July 16, 2020 after it was revealed ex-boss Robbie Fowler would not be returning for the restart. The competition's youngest head coach is under contract until the end of the campaign and he is well aware of the opportunity to make a name for himself in Sunday’s Elimination Final – but insists that thought could not be further from his mind.
“It would be great but, at the the end of the day, it would be big for the club, it would be big for the state, it would be big for all of the people that have sacrificed a lot to be here,” said Moon, who has held the position of Roar's Academy General Manager since August 2019.
“Always when you win something, it means a lot – whether it’s personal, or as a collective or to the fans.
“Our mindset is to try and be successful as a collective, that’s what we’re trying to do.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to come in at this time but I haven’t thought about that too much.”
Moon revealed that Brad Inman and Mirza Muratovic are struggling with injuries ahead of Sunday’s encounter, and both have been monitored throughout the week, but one man raring to go is former Green and Black star Scott McDonald.
The 37-year-old ex-Socceroo has netted seven goals in his maiden Hyundai A-League campaign and will be motivated to become the lead villain in the fairytale story of the competition’s newest club after his short-lived stint with Western United was ended prematurely.
“You can look at [McDonald’s] form since he’s returned, he’s been excellent for the team,” Moon said.
He added: “He’s been no different in training. He’s a winner, he’s a leader and obviously influential in our team so it’s been normal for him. He’s been great around the group.”
Moon admits Besart Berisha, Alessandro Diamanti and Max Burgess are the threats that could pose the Roar problems in Sunday’s must-win battle – but believes his own outfit are ready for the challenge.
“I think [Western United] are dangerous,” Moon said.
“They won six out of seven because they had to to make the finals.
“They are a good side, but we’re also a good side… we don’t fear any side and we’re confident about what we can do.”
Elimination Final 2
Brisbane Roar v Western United FC
When: Sunday, August 23
Kick-off: 6pm AEST
Venue: Bankwest Stadium
Broadcast: ABC ME delayed at 8.25pm, FOX Sports 507
Stream: MyFootball Live App, Kayo Sports, ABC iView