June 03, 2015 10:12:54 UK
Frans Thijssen says he is handing over a potential championship-winning squad to new Brisbane Roar head coach John Aloisi.
Brisbane went from winning the double in 2013-14 to only scraping into the finals last season due to Perth Glory’s ban, but the Dutchman rates the squad as among the strongest in the A-League, even before Aloisi begins the job of signing new players for next season.
We didn’t win a prize but we came very close.
Thijssen, speaking as he prepared to take charge of the Roar for the final time in the friendly against Villarreal, said: “I think Brisbane Roar will be the favourites again. If you look at the team and our defenders, our midfield players, even our strikers where we had some changes, it’s very strong.
“We didn’t win a prize but we came very close – we had so many games and injuries (to our) experienced players.”
The Roar went into the campaign without two key members of the squad that had won the previous Grand Final – striker Besart Berisha and defender Ivan Franjic.
They saw skipper Matt Smith depart for Thailand in mid-season, while veteran keeper Michael Theo and two-time A-League player of the year Thomas Broich were among the players to go down injured.
Thijssen won 10 of his 27 games as interim coach, with the club failing to qualify for the knockout stages of the Asian Champions League and exiting the A-League finals in the first week after losing to Adelaide United.
Brisbane are 8.00 to win the 2015-16 Grand Final, with Melbourne Victory 3.75 and Adelaide United 7.00.
Meanwhile, captain Matt McKay says Thijssen has maintained the intensity in training since the end of the A-League campaign.
“Even before the appointment was made with John, Frans could tell you our training was the strongest it’d been all year,” said McKay.
“The players didn’t drop off once the season finished, we kept going and our training sessions have actually been longer and probably more intense.”
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