Brisbane Roar manager Mike Mulvey will be seeking his first competition points in New Zealand this Sunday when his side open their A-League season against Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.
Roar boast an impressive record in the New Zealand capital, losing only once in seven visits to the stadium known affectionately as the ‘cake tin’; however, Mulvey is yet to taste success across the Tasman in the A-League.
As caretaker coach of the ailing Gold Coast United, Mulvey’s side fell 2-0 to the New Zealanders in late 2012; however, this weekend’s trip will be the first for Mulvey with a squad of his own design.
Amongst the changes at Roar this year is the addition of experienced midfielder Liam Miller as complimentary play maker to the overburdened Thomas Broich.
Another high profile recruit is returned fan favourite Matt McKay, who will be absent from the travelling squad after linking with Holger Osiek’s Socceroos for upcoming fixtures against France and Canada.
Regular Socceroos squad members Jade North, Ivan Franjic and Roar captain Matt Smith are all expected to make the trip across the ditch.
It promises to be a tricky match for the Roar manager in his first full season in charge, with Phoenix desperate to reinvent themselves after four years under the guidance of All Whites coach Ricki Herbert.
Former Melbourne Victory maestro Ernie Merrick took the helm at Phoenix during the off-season and has suggested he will attempt to add an extra attacking dynamic to Wellington’s workmanlike reputation.
Merrick has recruited strongly with former Johnny Warren Medal winner Carlos Hernandez reuniting with his former Victory mentor, as well as fellow Costa Rican international midfielder Kenny Cunningham.
Of potential interest to Roar fans is the recruitment of Queenslander Joshua Brindell-South. The 20 year old joins Phoenix from NPL Queensland club Moreton Bay United Jets on a one year deal.
Phoenix will be without defenders Leo Bertos and Andrew Durante for the clash, who are on international duty with the All Whites in the United States, meaning the versatile Brindell-South could be a surprise selection in the season opener.