Sport

Coach Mulvey keeps focus on matters at home in A-League

Brisbane Roar coach Mike Mulvey.
Brisbane Roar coach Mike Mulvey. Bradley Kanaris / Getty Images

THE chance for some more A-League silverware this season has almost gone for the Brisbane Roar.

Unless the premiers can find winning form soon, next month's Asian Champions League qualifier against Buriram in Thailand could offer the final opportunity to salvage something from a disappointing campaign.

New coach Mike Mulvey said while the match was extremely important, he was more focused on matters at home.

"When you're representing the A-League in the Champions League, it's really important for us that we put on a good show for Australia, and that's what we'll be doing," he said.

"When we get to the ACL that will be really important to us, but we'll do that preparation bit by bit as we get closer to the game.

"But right now, if we start thinking about that game, then we forget about what's really important right now ... and that is the A-League."

Because of a change of qualifying rules after last season, just one Australian team has automatic entry to the group stages this time around.

That opportunity has gone to last season's champions, the Central Coast Mariners, who have been drawn in a group with the Suwon Bluewings (Korea), Guizhou Renhe (China) and Kashiwa Reysol (Japan).

The Mariners open their ACL campaign at home against the Bluewings on February 27.

If Brisbane beats Buriram, it will join FC Seoul (Korea), Vegalta Sendai (Japan) and Jiangsu Sainty (China) in Group E.

Mulvey said the club had started researching the Thai side, which has its home base 400km west of Bangkok.
"We're doing all the normal intelligence that you gather," he said.

"But we've got very pressing things on our hands here, so we need to concentrate on each game as it comes."

Despite losing premiership midfielder Erik Paartulu to Chinese powerhouse Tianjin Teda last week, Mulvey said the Roar was not looking to bolster its squad specifically for the Champions League.

"In terms of the transfer policy, it's something that I'm not thinking short term, I'm thinking long term," he said.

Croatian media have reported leading club Hadjuk Split had agreed to loan midfielder Steven Lustica to Brisbane for the rest of the A-League season, and the duration of the ACL campaign provided the Roar qualified.

The 21-year-old has represented the young Socceroos and won the 2011 national youth player of the year award with the Gold Coast when Mulvey was coach.

Topics:  a-league asian champions league brisbane roar football mike mulvey soccer



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