Ben Cahn will be looking for three points that could propel his side into the top six. PHOTO: Provided.

Ben Cahn will be looking for three points that could propel his side into the top six. PHOTO: Provided.

The Ben Cahn era starts at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night, with the new Brisbane Roar men’s coach’s team determined to get back to winning ways against an in-form Sydney FC.

Much has been made of a turbulent fortnight at the Roar, with Ross Aloisi leaving just prior to Christmas and interim coach Luciano Trani suffering a humiliating 8-1 defeat at Melbourne City in his only game in charge.

Yet, Cahn was taking it all in his stride when he met the media ahead of Saturday’s game, emphasising his coaching philosophy as the way to get his team’s fortunes back on track.

“Dominate Possession”

Despite being the youngest coach in the Roar’s history at just 35 years old, the new man in charge has built an impressive résumé in his 15-year coaching career, and one word was central to his plans for Saturday’s game and beyond.

“I want players to dominate the game with possession, I want them to play with close distances and enjoy combining with each other,” said Cahn, when explaining his approach.

Although keeping the ball seems central to Cahn’s philosophy, Roar fans can also expect to see lots of pressure off the ball too.

“I expect a high level of running and pressing to try and win the ball back when we don’t have it,” he said.

“We want the ball for as much of the game as we can.”

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Maintaining possession maybe easier said than done against a Sydney team that have won their last two games, including an impressive 3-1 victory over league leaders Wellington last time out, where they enjoyed 62% possession of their own.

Cahn acknowledges that defensive discipline will be critical on Saturday too, especially given the recent mauling in Melbourne.

“Defending our own half resiliently and with numbers will be important [against Sydney], but more than the structure it’s the mentality to protect our own goal,” he said.

Positive reaction

One player Cahn’s team will have to be wary of is Sydney’s Joe Lolley, who has registered five goals and four assists already this season and has been increasingly influential for the Sky Blues in recent weeks.

Roar defender Jack Hingert, who could be tasked with marking the ex-Nottingham Forest winger depending on how the teams line up, is up for the challenge.

“I am aware of how he [Lolley] plays, and I’ll use that knowledge and my experience to try stop him. We’ll also focus on us as a team and myself going the other way as well,” he said.

Hingert was also full of praise for his teammates after an unsettling period at the Queensland club.

“It’s important we have a reaction, and you can see it at training this week – the energy and intensity has been really high and it’s been really positive,” the experienced full back added.

“We’ve played well against Sydney recently, so that gives us confidence.”

Brisbane’s last game against the Sky Blues – a comprehensive 3-0 victory back in October – certainly seems a long time ago given recent events, but it does highlight what a good season the Roar were having prior to the pre-Christmas meltdown.

Berenguer back

There is also positive news on the injury front for Brisbane ahead of Saturday’s game, with influential midfielder Florin Berenguer set to return.

“Flo’s good for this weekend,” Cahn confirmed, before updating the status of key defender Corey Brown.

“Corey is tracking really well – he’s still a way off but hopefully not too far.”  

Berenguer in particular is a big inclusion, with the French playmaker having scored two goals in his first six appearances for the club before going down with a quad injury in late November.

He hasn’t featured in the last five matches, the last three of which have all ended in comprehensive defeat for the Queenslanders.

His return to the starting lineup is certainly a boost ahead of what promises to be a pivotal game in the Roar’s season.

With three consecutive home games – two of which are against teams in the bottom half of the ladder – to come in the next few weeks, this January stretch could define whether the team’s goal of finals football is a realistic ambition.

Three points at home to Sydney on Saturday night would be a huge step in the right direction, and a shot in the arm for beleaguered Roar fans.

It might even stop the focus on how young their new coach is, and start answering the question of whether his possession-based football philosophy can bring a turnaround in Brisbane’s fortunes.   

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