“Fit To Burst” Strikers Ready For Rovers Cup Challenge

May 04, 2017 by

Brisbane Strikers coach Sean Lane says his players are primed, eager and ready for their mouth-watering Westfield FFA Cup qualifier showdown with Rochedale Rovers at Underwood Park on Saturday night

The match throws together the two clubs currently positioned second in the second-tier PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues Queensland competition (Strikers) and first in the third-tier Flight Centres Brisbane Premier League (Rovers) in a knockout contest to determine who progresses to the next round of local qualifiers for Australia’s national Cup football competition.

Should the winner of Saturday’s contest go on to win in two subsequent knockout rounds they will qualify for the Round of 32, where the national phase of the competition begins and teams to into the draw to play interstate opposition that includes Hyundai A-League teams.

It will be the first time the Strikers and Rovers have met in a competition match since the 2007 BPL Grand Final – a memorable season-concluder won 5-4 by Rovers in extra time – and is probably the pick of the Round 5 Brisbane Zone qualifiers.

The contest is given extra lustre by the fact that both teams have been in superb form in their respective competitions in recent weeks. Both go into the weekend looking for their fifth successive win.

For his part, Lane expressed total confidence in his players’ ability to continue mining a rich seam of form.

“Everyone’s fit and firing and we’ve got a full squad to select from,” said Lane, confirming that skipper Michael Angus, who missed the Redlands match with back spasms, is back in the selection frame.

“The players have been superb. They’ve done everything that has been asked of them. They look sharp in training, their level of intensity in everything that they do is of the highest quality and they are driving each other.

“I couldn’t ask for any more”.

There is always a danger, of course, for any team becoming accustomed to winning comfortably, that it might go into its next contest in an over-confident frame of mind. But Lane said that would not happen against Rovers this weekend.

“There certainly won’t be any overconfidence. We’ll treat Rochedale like treat every other team – with the respect they deserve,” Lane said.

“All I can say to our supporters is that we’ve prepared this week to win the game at the weekend. That’s the mood in the camp. Training’s been good, our preparation’s been good and all we’re looking at is getting the result”.

While Strikers made a statement about their pre-Cup form in last Friday’s dismemberment of defending PS4 NPL Queensland champions Redlands, Rovers made a similar one the following night in disposing of Albany Creek Excelsior 4-1. Rovers opened with a rush and were two goals up within five minutes after long-range goals to former Brisbane Strikers winger Tomas Ross and experienced forward Kado Aoci.

Seiji Shuzuno added another goal each side of the half time break to underline the emphatic win that took Rovers to the top of their league table. Lane has done his homework on Rovers and was guarded in his assessment of what they have to offer against his team.

“We’ve had a look at their games and we certainly know what they’re about and we played them in pre-season (when Strikers won 2-0),” Lane said.

“Scott MacNicol’s got them well organised and he’s got some good players there. We certainly don’t think it’s going to be easy, that’s for sure. It’ll be a tough match against a very good opponent.”

While aware of the attacking threat posed by Rovers, Lane said he was confident in his team’s defensive abilities – and who could blame him, given they’ve conceded only one goal in their last four games?

The Strikers coach also knows he has an attacking arsenal capable of contributing goals from any position. When fullback Sam Knight comes to the party with two goals as he did against Redlands, while more regular goal scorers are left craving the next opportunity to satisfy their appetite for goals – you know you are doing good business in possession of the ball.

Two of those looking to make the most of any opportunity to add to their respective tallies will forward Greg Cheshire (pictured, 6 goals this season) and midfielder Jake McLean (2 goals), both of whom will be returning to their former home ground in search of a big performance.

But should the contest be so tight as to require more than ninety minutes of football to get a result, Lane believes Strikers will have the legs to do exactly that.

“Since the start of the season we’ve gotten stronger in the last twenty minutes than we were in the first twenty minutes. We just run over the top of teams,” Lane said.

“Our boys are in supreme condition. They are almost fit to burst and if it went for two hours I’d back them in”.

Kick-off at Underwood Park in the main match is scheduled for 6.00 pm, but spectators who arrive early will have the opportunity to watch an exhibition match between a Under-11s selection from the two clubs that kicks off at 4.30.

The main match will also be live streamed by Football Brisbane on its Facebook page.

Photo: Albert Perez

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