Newly appointed Brisbane Roar Isuzu UTE A-League Men’s Head Coach, Ben Cahn fronted the media for the first time at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
Cahn, recognised as one of the most promising coaching talents in the country, will make his coaching debut for the Roar in Saturday’s Round 11 clash against Sydney FC at Suncorp Stadium.
Cahn’s coaching career includes successful stints at Melbourne Knights, Central Coast Mariners, and Brisbane Olympic FC. His accolades include being named 2023 NPL Victoria and 2020 NPL Queensland Coach of the Year, leading Melbourne Knights to an outstanding NPL Victoria season and an Australia Cup Semi Final in 2023.
The 35-year-old discussed his first days on the job, expectations for the weekend and season ahead as well as his journey into the professional football with the media on Wednesday.
Cahn on being appointed Brisbane Roar Head Coach:
“I’m massively honoured and very, very grateful to the club for backing me and giving me this opportunity. It’s all come so quickly, the last couple of days have been a real blur. You can probably hear in my voice I’m a bit exhausted already but of course you know really excited.
It’s something I’ve worked hard for, for a long, long time and you know have believed I’m ready for a long, long time. So yeah in at the deep end and ready to get stuck in.
Look it was just a phone call and a quick discussion and then I was sitting by the phone waiting and then that call came through and it was basically right we’re on, let’s go, we train tomorrow. I think we found out 4:00pm on Monday and training first thing Tuesday morning. So yeah it’s been as I said – a whirlwind.”
Cahn on the group and early approach:
“The players have been through a lot over not just this season, the ones that have been here for a longer period have had a lot of disruption and they’re a resilient group but they’re obviously sceptical.
They’re obviously on the back of a of a heavy defeat so it was probably quite a nervous group in regards to where we go from here and what the future looks like but hopefully with the first couple of sessions they can see clearly the direction we want to go in and they’ve been outstanding, professional, really delivered high levels on the training pitch and hopefully we can build on that and take that forward.
I only work in one way, I don’t know any other way and that’s to train the way I like to train and try to implement the playing style that I like to play, well aware that, that takes time. Three sessions in a week is a small amount of time but we’ve set the direction very clearly, the expectations of how we want to play and what we want to do and what we need from the players now is that strength, that resilience and that belief to turn around what happened last week and in the last few weeks and come back and deliver something special this weekend.”
Cahn on his coaching style:
“I drive high standards and I expect high standards but I also expect that everybody in the environment enjoys what we do. We all got into football and we all started playing football because we played in the street the playground, the park, whatever it might be and I think as you go further down that journey it’s easy to lose that, so we’ll try bring back the enjoyment but of course alongside that the expectations are that everybody works and we can outwork anybody that we play against.
“The problem now is it’s almost a default answer when you put coaches on the spot, how do you want to play attractive playing style, you know possession based build up.
I think I’ve got a good record of delivering that I’m very, very passionate about delivering a playing style that dominates the game through possession, will work exceptionally hard out of possession.
How quickly we can get there’s yet to be seen but we you know we expect to play good football and entertaining football and we really want to dominate the game but above that it’s not an aesthetic thing it’s because I believe that’s the best way to control a game and win games of football and we’re here to win games of football.”
Cahn on moving forward after a heavy defeat last weekend:
“Look, ironically or not it’s not really been spoken about, I wasn’t here, it’s not something I want to dwell on and looking at how the players have reacted this week, they’ve been good.
The focus is on looking forward and making sure we’re focused on where we want to go. How quickly that happens is yet to be seen, but building something takes time but also the boys have been great, they’ve bought in they’ve made outstanding progress this week already and we’re very confident we can get a good result against Sydney FC.”
Cahn on Saturday’s match against Sydney FC:
“It’s a tough game, Sydney are in really good form. I was very impressed with them against Wellington, so they’ll be confident and you know they’re doing some really good things there obviously with Ufuk Talay taking over. But, we’re working on our own processes and we’ll go and impose ourselves on the game as best we can.
The meaning of the game – the first game’s always going to be the first game and whoever we play we have to bounce back from what happened last week.
It’s certainly you know not the conditions that you want to come into as a Head Coach in your first A-league job, but you know being a young coach from outside of the A-league my chance was never going to come in eassy conditions so it’s a challenge that I’m willing to embrace.
Everywhere I’ve been I’ve embraced challenges and this one’s no different and you can’t really look at the bigger picture and you can’t really look at what’s happened in the past. We can only look at what we can do and that’s number one, preparing for Sydney FC this weekend and number two, building the road map for where we want to go in the future.”
Cahn on club’s expectations for the remainder of the 23/24 ALM season:
“I think at this stage top six is what we’re aiming for. I I firmly believe we can go on and deliver further than that. This squad is resilient, they’re hungry, we’ve got players coming back from injury, there’s potential to do some business in the window.
I’m not here just to focus on next season, we’re here to try and get as much as we can out of this year and that’s playing finals football and then seeing where we can go from there, that would where we would like to be at the end of the year.”
Cahn on the scale of the challenge ahead:
“The A-league is the A-League and it’s the highest level of football in this country, but everywhere I’ve been there are different micro challenges that you have to face that make the job overall more difficult.
When you come into a professional football club, they’re far more resources and they’re full-time players and we’ve obviously got a great staff behind us and a club that’s willing to back the direction and journey that we’re all going on.
So there are parts of it that are easier than working in the NPL but in terms of the expectation and the current situation that we face with recent results and the disruption to the squad it’s a fairly big challenge, it’s up there.”
Cahn on his coaching journey:
“I think you have to remember that the normal pathway for a coach is to come out of professional football and you’re sort of early to mid-30’s, go down the coaching licenses pathway, go through as an assistant coach, whatever it might be.
I’ve been doing this for a long, long time, I’m about 15 years into this journey so age really is irrelevant to me and I’ve delivered an unbelievable amount of training sessions in my lifetime, I’ve overseen an unbelievable amount of games and the age might be something externally looked at but for me it’s not a factor and I’ve been ready for this for a long time.”
Cahn on the young players at the club:
“There are some fantastic young players, there are more than the ones you’ve just mentioned and I enjoy working with young players and pushing them to be the best they can be and it’s really on them for how hard they want to go and to see where they can end up.”
On his pride leading the club as a Queenslander:
“It’s surreal it’s extremely special, there were times where I’ve been in the stands at Suncorp watching Ange’s teams and dreamt of being able to lead Brisbane Roar and take them in another special direction and yeah that phone call came and that opportunity is here and I’m going to do everything I can to take it.”