Opinion

Fowler the gambler signals a brave new world for Brisbane

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Robbie Fowler may have given a sign of his daring approach to coaching after Brisbane Roar pulled off a surprise win against A-League champions Sydney FC in the FFA Cup.

The Liverpool legend was making his senior coaching debut for the former champions and he had no hesitation in gambling with two teenagers in the round of 32 clash at Leichhardt Oval.

Fowler's bravery in picking defender Jordan Courtney-Perkins and midfielder Rahmat Akbari in the starting line-up was rewarded with a deserved 2-0 victory against the odds.

It also showed Brisbane's fans who must be yearning for a return to the good old days that in Fowler they may have a coach who will chance his arm in the pursuit of success

Fowler was a composed figure as he stood on the touchline with his hands in his pockets throughout his senior managerial debut. He could have been watching a training session.

However at the final whistle he revealed his inner emotions by punching the air in absolute delight with the result and the manner it was achieved.

"It was a great performance against a really top team after a tough pre-season so everyone deserves to be delighted," Fowler said later.

"We started a 16-year-old kid in defence and a 19-year-old in the middle against the champions of Australia in our first game of the season and we scored twice away from home and kept a clean sheet. So, yes, I think it was close to a perfect game.

"The lad (Courtney-Perkins) was a bonus. He was brilliant and not many managers will come over and start a 16-year-old against the champions. This took a bit of bottle from me. Hopefully people will take heed of that and pay a bit more attention to myself."

Fowler is fully aware of being charged with the onerous responsibility of restoring the pride within a club that was seen as avant garde not too long ago.

Brisbane won three championships in four seasons from 2011, playing a type of modern football that had not been seen In Australia.

Brisbane's fortunes plummeted in the last few years and as home crowds fell to dire levels the club went for the jugular and appointed Fowler in a bold bid to bring the glory days back to Suncorp Stadium.

Some critics regarded the move as rather risky essentially since Fowler has little or no experience of senior management, although the man himself believes he is "happy and comfortable" in the dugout.

"We appreciate the history of this great club and we obviously want to emulate our teams of the past," Fowler said.

"It's like any club, we want to progress and get better and we're no different. But this was just the first game so we are not going to get carried away. I'm sure we will enjoy many highs this season and a few lulls too. We just need to keep doing what we're doing."

Brisbane fans who have suffered for too long have every reason to feel positive about the coming season after an impressive all-round performance from the team comprising many new faces.

They dominated the first half and took the lead with a deflected shot from Stefan Mauk and doubled their lead when Jay O'Shea blasted the ball home shortly after half time.

Sydney attacked desperately to get back into the game but their moves generally lacked cohesion and proper penetration. Brisbane defended diligently throughout the evening - with English captain Thomas Aldred excelling at centre-half.

The Sky Blues had their chances to find the net, particularly when striker Adam Le Fondre tested Jamie Young with a firm shot that the goalkeeper saved competently, but Brisbane would not be denied a morale-boosting victory.

Brisbane's reward for an impressive victory is a home tie with Central Coast Mariners in the round of 16.

It was a red-letter night for Brisbane football because former National Soccer League champions Brisbane Strikers sprang another surprise by knocking out Wellington Phoenix on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

The Strikers' reward is a home tie against Manly United in the next round.

Brisbane will be represented by a third team in the last 16 because Olympic FC's 5-2 win over Bayswater last week earned them a home tie against holders Adelaide United.