Brisbane Roar look set to unveil their latest signing in Thursday’s A-League Men’s home game with Macarthur FC at Suncorp Stadium, with Keegan Jalacic fit and available to make his season debut.
The 21-year-old Queenslander returned to his hometown club late last week, having signed on loan from Belgian club Gent in the current transfer window.
Jelacic has been here before, coming through the youth ranks at the Roar and making two first-team appearances back in 2021, before going on to play for Perth Glory and Norwegian side Stabek in the interim.
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‘A really good ball carrier’
Head Coach Ben Cahn is full of praise for the Roar’s new recruit.
“Keegan has some of those rare traits – he’s a really good ball carrier, he can run at players and run behind opposition defences. I felt that in the last couple of games we’ve lacked that,” he said.
Cahn knows Jalacic well from his days coaching at local NPL side Olympic FC, where the attacking midfielder played after initially leaving the Roar.
It’s not just Cahn that has worked with the new signing before, with defender Kai Trewin having played with Jalacic in the Roar youth set up a few years ago.
“Keegan’s a great player, and since he’s been away from the club he’s gained a lot of experience, we’re lucky to have him and very excited that he’s back,” said Trewin.
The Roar secured their first win in a month after clinching a thrilling 3-2 victory over Newcastle Jets last Sunday having been 1-0 down at the break, Trewin saying this was a big boost to team moral.
“The way that the win happened, everyone’s very happy with the way it played out, we’re just looking to push on from there,” he said
First half woes
Despite the Newcastle win, which was the first in the new Ben Cahn era, their first half performance was not up to scratch, much as it wasn’t in the 2-1 defeat to Sydney FC a week earlier.
The Queenslanders will have to start the game better if they are to guarantee another three points against Macarthur.
“A couple of things contributed to the first half. Firstly, we weren’t quite there tactically, and secondly we weren’t quite there on an individual and energetic level,” said Cahn.
“It’s important for us to try and tighten up tactically, but also use the win to drive the intensity to start the game and play a better tempo early on.”
Two players who Cahn and his team will have to keep an eye on early will be French centre forward Valerie Germain and Mexican attacking midfielder Ulises Davila, who have scored 11 goals between them for Macarthur this season.
“There’s no doubt they are two of the strongest attacking players in the league, but we have some ideas on how we would like to stop them,” he said.
However, Cahn is quick to ensure the focus is on the way his own side play.
“More importantly it’s about us building on what we want to do and imposing ourselves on the game, we’ll hopefully have more control of the game and that in itself will limit their threat,” he said.
Macarthur have been on a poor run of their own in recent weeks, taking just three points from their last six games to leave them in 7th place on the ladder, one place above their opponents this evening.
Injured players ‘close’
Since Cahn walked into the role at the turn of the year, he has had to cope with existing injuries to several key players – defenders Scott Neville and Corey Brown being amongst them.
It seems his injury worries are starting to ease, with the Roar coach giving an update on their progress.
“Touch and go for this game, but we are hoping that by Newcastle next week we’ll have another three or four on board,” he said.
“Corey Brown will be close, Scott Neville is close, Burke-Gilroy is close and Henry Hore as well.”
If this week’s game is a little early for a few of those players, Cahn seems confident they will be back in contention for the away game at Newcastle next Tuesday.
After their biggest home crowd of the season against Sydney two weeks ago, the Roar hierarchy will be hoping a win and the new signings will bring the fans back to Suncorp for the game against the Bulls.
“They were outstanding for the Sydney game, it was a big crowd and the noise was brilliant,” he said.
“It would be a big step for us as a football club to give them something to celebrate at home this Thursday.”
It’s been a while between drinks in terms of a home victory for the Roar, with their last victory on home soil coming way back in late November.
As their coach highlighted, the local support could do with three points to lift them after a turbulent few weeks for the club, especially as it would lift their team back into the top six.
The introduction of new signing Jelacic may just be the catalyst they need.