In what would have been unheard of not so long ago, the Roar’s A-League success has helped Brisbane secure the Socceroos’ opening World Cup qualifier next month.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) boss Ben Buckley confirmed on Friday the Socceroos would begin their journey to Brazil 2014 against Thailand at Suncorp Stadium on September 2.
Buckley said Brisbane threatened to become the sporting capital of Australia – and all thanks to a stunning domino effect set off by the once battling A-League club the Roar.
The Brisbane Roar secured both the men’s and women’s titles last season, kick-starting a run that also featured the Queensland Firebirds’ unbeaten march to the trans-Tasman netball crown and former whipping boys the Reds’ Super Rugby triumph.
‘Brisbane is challenging other cities for the title of sports capital of Australia,’ Buckley said.
‘It would be fantastic to see the fans come out and put some pressure on those that claim they are the sports capital.
‘The Roar kicked it off, then the netball and the Reds. It demonstrates Queenslanders are passionate about all sports.
‘Their fans are quickly becoming renowned as some of the best in Australia – if not the best.’
Indeed the city almost became a victim of its own success.
The final hurdle to FFA booking Suncorp Stadium for the Socceroos’ qualifier was cleared on Thursday when the Queensland Government vowed to change legislation.
The law had prevented the venue from hosting more than 24 matches with crowds bigger than 25,000 per year.
Suncorp Stadium is home to the successful Reds, Broncos and Roar – and all had attracted bigger than expected crowds this year.
Buckley said the Roar’s success also ensured the FFA was confident of drawing a huge crowd next month, even with Harry Kewell’s availability up in the air.
Kewell missed the June friendlies on home soil and was not considered by Socceroos coach Holger Osieck for next week’s clash with Wales in Cardiff as he shops around for a new club.
But Buckley said they already had a Socceroos star locked in against Thailand – the only A-League player in the current Australian squad, Matt McKay.
‘Harry is an outstanding player and leader. He has demonstrated for many years he has great capacity to bring in fans,’ he said.
‘But having said that who would have thought Matt McKay 12 months ago would be one of the real heroes and sports stars in Australia.
‘People like to come out and watch him. Hopefully we showcase more stars of the future.’
McKay – who flew out on Friday to link with the Socceroos ahead of next week’s friendly in Cardiff – believed he had cemented his spot in the Australian squad.
‘I would like to think so,’ he said.
‘Being in the A-League for six years I finally got the just rewards with the Roar last season.
‘I think it shows that you can step up from the A-League and hold your spot.’