McKay eyeing double

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Two-time premiership winner Matt McKay says Brisbane Roar must win the A-League Finals Series to be deemed the nation’s best, despite flagging his dislike of the knockout nature.

McKay captained the Queensland club to its first Grand Final win in 2011 before returning from a two-season sojourn abroad to help capture a second Premiers’ Plate against Melbourne Victory last weekend.

“I don’t like it,” McKay said.

“I liked it the old way [with] a reward for finishing first and second but that’s what has been dealt.”

The Socceroo did however find positives with the revamped structure, set for its second season.

“It’s good [that] it makes it a nice pressure game in those semi-finals,” he said.

“If you want to call yourself the best team in Australia you’ve got to win those games so we want to do that.”

With the club having sealed its second premiership McKay expects the final three matches of the season will help to fine tune performance.

“This is the perfect opportunity to practice what we want to do in the finals,” the midfielder said.

“It’s a bad habit when you’re losing so we don’t want that, we want to keep our roll going.

“We want to keep going into finals in top form and then we’ve got no excuses.”

Brisbane boss Mike Mulvey expressed his desire for the Premiers to make Suncorp Stadium impenetrable before the knockout finals, starting against Melbourne Heart on Friday night.

“That home ground advantage is a massive thing to have,” Mulvey said.

“That’s why I’m absolutely, 100 per cent, aiming for good quality performances at home to give us that psychological edge and also that confidence.

“That’s what we want to make sure happens – that we have got such quality of performance under our belt, that we have got such self-belief and confidence and that we have got the fans behind us that nothing can stop us.”

In confirming defenders Jade North and James Donachie would return to the squad – and tipping Ivan Franjic as “probably” one week away – Mulvey was hopeful of striking a balance between Roar’s strongest side and keeping his players at their peak.

“We’re almost at full health but we will not risk anybody,” the coach said.

“Obviously Luke Brattan hasn’t trained all week but he put in a shift this [Thursday] morning. Shane Stefanutto is the same.

“But I don’t want to rule them out because they’re a really important part of the whole group and we want to play our strongest team.”

Meanwhile McKay, who is expected to be part of Australia’s 2014 World Cup squad, played down the Socceroos’ tricky group for the home-based Asian Cup in January 2015.

“It’s a tough draw but it’s not a bad draw,” the 45-times-capped player said.

“I think it’s great to get Korea [Republic] in a group game and that will be like a final for us.

“It’s exciting times for the national team and everyone wants to be a part of it. If the Roar has success then I’m guessing there will be more of our players involved.”

Matt Dorman

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