Rojas close to starting as Roar brace for tough stretch

Joel Gould |

Marco Rojas (L) in action for the Roar against Western United in their A-League Men clash.
Marco Rojas (L) in action for the Roar against Western United in their A-League Men clash.

Brisbane’s acting head coach Ruben Zadkovich says A-League Men veteran Marco Rojas is closer to getting a start as the Roar prepare for five tough games that will define their season.

Rojas has played four games off the bench since signing for the Roar, including the 2-2 draw with Western United on Friday night. He had scored 40 goals in his previous 140 games for Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix.

The Roar, eighth on 22 points, play five of the top six sides in sequence. Next week they host Melbourne Victory, then visit Sydney FC, before hosting Macarthur and making two away trips to Phoenix and Western Sydney. On 22 points, three points outside the top six, the Roar need to go on a run to play finals.

A match-fit and firing Rojas will be integral to their quest. The 32-year-old forward, who took a six-month sabbatical from the game before joining Roar, showcased his instinct for goal when he would have certainly scored had Ayom Majok been able to curl a ball to him unmarked at the far post against United.

Former Ligue 1 attacking midfielder Florin Berenguer got his first start in three games since an injury lay-off against United and set up the Roar’s first goal with an inch-perfect corner for striker Thomas Waddingham to score.

With the Roar’s best player Jay O’Shea replaced at halftime against United with a calf injury, and his availability in doubt in weeks ahead, the impact of the pair will be vital.

Zadkovich said Rojas was on the cusp of starting.

“Guys like Flo Berenguer and Marco Rojas are still needing match minutes,” Zadkovich said.

“I have been trying to push for Marco to get more and more. He trained really well this week and in that 45 minutes (against United) made an impact.

“We have a nice little window to train into the Victory game (on March 3) and I expect guys like that to get even stronger.”

The Roar have conceded 42 goals this season, the worst defensive record in the ALM. It is an area they must improve against the top sides in the next month.

“There have definitely been some areas in the last two games where we need to improve (defensively),” Zadkovich said.

“We have an interesting squad. There is a lot of technical and tactical players but we don’t have the enforcers that you sometimes need in those contests. It is something we are working on as a group.

“There are no easy games but we look forward to playing the tough teams to be honest.

“There is no better thing for a team that is building and growing to test itself against the best and that is something we will embrace.”

AAP