Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Roar embrace A-League title defence chance
By Laine Clark
The "underdog" tag usually embraced by Queensland teams has been rejected by the Brisbane Roar ahead of Sunday's A-League elimination final against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium.After almost letting their title defence chances slip, only one label matters to a relieved Roar right now - finalists."We have given ourselves a chance to defend our title and that's all we can ask for," veteran defender Shane Stefanutto said.Adelaide United finished six points ahead of Brisbane to clinch a top-four finish and a home final yet have been quick to grab underdog status ahead of this weekend's knockout clash.Bookies agree after the Reds picked up just nine points in their final 10 games, installing the Roar ($2.40) as slight favourites ahead of the hosts ($2.85).In contrast, former Socceroo Mark Bosnich believes the Roar should be considered a chance of sealing three straight championships due to their stellar past finals form.Brisbane enter the playoffs as the second-best performing side behind only minor premiers Western Sydney after grabbing 18 points from their last 10 games."If there is one team you can put money on as a dark horse to win the whole thing it is Brisbane Roar," Bosnich told Fox Sports."They have the experience of winning one-off games in the last two years and secondly they are hitting form at the right time."Adelaide have some serious thinking to do because the way things are going ... they are going to get beaten and beaten badly."But Stefanutto said on Wednesday: "I don't know what others are thinking of us."A lot of people thought we would not make the finals."We didn't have a good start to the year and now we are in there."All we know is that we had to get into the finals to give ourselves a chance to defend our title and the first part of the jigsaw is complete."But there's still a long way to go as to what we want to achieve this season."Two-time champions the Roar locked up fifth place with a deserved 3-1 win over Sydney FC in their regular-season finale at Suncorp Stadium last Thursday night.The victory capped a remarkable rise since Mike Mulvey took over from Rado Vidosic as coach in late December with the Roar one point clear of dead last.