‘The adrenaline was pumping’: Mlinarić reflects on encouraging Roar debut

Anton Mlinaric

The thrill of a high-profile professional debut against the reigning Australian champions has left defender Anton Mlinarić hungry for more with Brisbane Roar ahead of Sunday’s second successive trip south.

Mlinarić, 19, strode out for his Isuzu UTE A-League bow against title holders Melbourne City on the opening night of the new season and proceeded to hold his own against Socceroos trio Mat Leckie, Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout.

While a daunting prospect for some, the young centre-back grew into the contest after an intense early examination and came away with nothing but excitement for this weekend’s return to AAMI Park.

“The first 20 minutes the adrenaline was pumping a bit,” Mlinarić said.

“But once I got settled down it felt normal and in the second half the team performed well.

“Defensively, as a team, we were very good. We were structured well against them. Kai [Trewin] next to me played well – all of us kept them pretty quiet.

“It was good from that point of view because they have some top players.

Anton Mlinaric

“I’m excited [for the next one]. I don’t know how it feels to play at home yet, but when you first walk out it’s the best feeling. I wish I could have that feeling every day to be honest.”

Mlinarić was supported by almost 650 games of Isuzu UTE A-League experience at the back with Trewin, Jack Hingert, Scott Neville and Corey Brown for company.

“Everyone is always talking,” the former Australia Under-17 international said. “There’s so much experience around. We’ve got a young squad but very experienced, lots of appearances.

“They guided me through it. It was good.”

Next up for Warren Moon’s men is a second successive away day in Victoria, this time against Tony Popovic’s Victory.

Mlinarić believes he and his team-mates are well set for a strong showing as they build towards a long-awaited home match on 4 December.

“You work so hard to make your debut and now it’s just about moving forward and improving each game,” he said.

“It’s good the first game is out of the way.

“I can be more comfortable now, play my game – be strong defensively, be good on the ball. And the team can build from that second half.”