ALM faces COVID ‘collateral damage’: Moon

George Clarke |

Brisbane coach Warren Moon says it’s inevitable that A-League clubs will suffer “collateral damage” as they bring players back from COVID-19.

The Roar were able to force a 1-1 draw against Sydney FC on Saturday night in their second match in the space of 72 hours.

After close to a month without games due to coronavirus, Moon’s side played Sydney in an FFA Cup loss on Wednesday before Saturday night’s 1-1 draw.

At the end they were hanging on but the Roar held firm with Nikola Mileusnic’s first-half goal enough to cancel out Anthony Caceres’ opener for Sydney and earn the Roar a point.

Moon made three substitutions six minutes into the second half and said balancing the fitness of his players returning from COVID-19 had shifted his plans.

“I’m a COVID coach, that’s what I am,” he said.

“Right now I’m not making substitutions based on the game. They were subs purely on who could go further and who couldn’t.

“Those first three were based on that. The boys put their hands up to play for this club through real adversity and I’m very pleased with their efforts.”

Brisbane were forced to play with 10 men for the last five minutes when Luke Ivanovic went down injured and Moon said he was sure other A-League coaches would encounter similar problems.

“That’s risk versus reward. Nobody’s got the answer on how we navigate this period,” he said.

“Luke’s only had one or two sessions and his quad has pulled up sore.

“Hopefully it’s not going to be too serious, but there’s going to be collateral damage along the way, not just at our clubs but other clubs too.”

While Mileusnic grabbed Brisbane’s second goal of the season, the return from Argentinian recruit Juan Lescano has been underwhelming so far.

Moon, however, said it was only a matter of time before the big forward found his feet in the competition.

“It’s early days for Juan and he missed eight weeks of pre-season with a serious injury.

Now he’s fit and he’s getting that pre-season now. He’ll be judged on that. There’s probably a lack of sharpness in what he’s doing, but there are also good things.

“We’ll probably see the best of him in the next five or six games and he will show us what his qualities are.”