Brisbane Roar’s Ivan Franjic says the team’s delayed return from New Zealand may prove an unexpected bonus, allowing time for the squad to bond following Sunday’s opening round win against Wellington Phoenix.
The team were originally scheduled to return on Monday, however gale-force winds in the New Zealand capital saw the team’s flight cancelled, delaying their return until late Tuesday morning.
Speaking on his arrival, Franjic (pictured with teammate Liam Miller) put a positive spin on the altered travel arrangements.
“I would’ve liked to have been home earlier but what can you do? It’s nature and better to be safe than sorry,” Franjic said of Wellington’s wild winds.
“We’re professionals, this is our job and there was a lot of team bonding going on over there which would’ve made us stronger,” he explained, “The boys went out for dinner, lunch, played a little bit of billiards.”
Roar fought back from a goal down to defeat Phoenix 2-1, Franjic proving the hero with an injury time winner following a penalty area scramble.
“It was a tough game in Wellington, they really pressed well. They were very fit and made it very hard to play out at the start,” Franjic explained.
“But it just shows the character of the boys because last year we lost these games 1-0, but coming back to win it 2-1 is very positive and a good start to the season.”
Roar line up against traditional rivals Sydney FC this weekend in their first home game of the campaign and Franjic said he and his teammates were looking forward to the challenge offered by the fellow first round winners.
“The most important thing is getting the three points away and coming back to play Sydney in front of a big home crowd and hopefully another three points this weekend,” the 26 year old explained.
“It’s Queensland versus New South Wales, we’re all excited and can’t wait to get out there on Saturday night.”
Asked about the threat of Alessandro Del Piero, Franjic said it was folly to focus solely on the highly-regarded Italian striker.
“I think they’ve got a few quality players, they’re not just one man. But we got to prepare ourselves and worry about ourselves and try and play the football we’re noted for playing.”
The fringe Socceroo affirmed his reputation as a possible World Cup bolter with his performance against Phoenix, setting up Besart Berisha for the equaliser early in the second half before striking the winner at the death.
Franjic said he was saddened to see former Socceroos coach Holger Osieck depart from the position over the weekend, “He was the one that gave me the chance, I was very grateful for that and it’s sad to see him go.”
“Hopefully they get the best candidate for the job,” he concluded.