Jurman ready for ACL start


AFC Champions League opponents FC Tokyo are next on the Brisbane Roar horizon and when it comes to this particular competition, Matt Jurman is your go-to man.

AFC Champions League opponents FC Tokyo are next on the Brisbane Roar horizon and when it comes to this particular competition, Matt Jurman is your go-to man.

He-s just 22-years-old but Jurman is more experienced in the continental competition than almost all of his teammates after featuring in all six of Sydney FC-s AFC Champions League fixtures in 2011.

His former club-s Asian campaign was disappointing, with the Sky Blues registering just one a victory alongside two draws and four losses in their group stage fixtures against Japan-s Kashima Antlers, Shanghai Shenhua of China and South Korean club Suwon Samsung Bluewings.

Despite their inability to progress to the round of 16, Jurman was upbeat about his familiarity with the tournament – his last appearance for Sydney came against Kashima Antlers at Tokyo-s National Stadium last May, where he also scored his first and only goal for the club.

“It was a good experience for me,” Jurman said ahead of the Roar-s first ever AFC Champions League fixture at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday night.

“I only played the last 10 or so games in the A-League with Sydney then played all the ACL games.

“We obviously didn-t get the best results and we didn-t get to the next stage but I think here at Brisbane, it
will be good to test ourselves against the best in Asia.

“I-d never scored a goal for Sydney, that was my first one in my last game.

“We went up 1-0 which was good but ended up losing but it was great to score and I guess even more special because it was ACL.”

The Wollongong-born defender is not the lone AFC Champions League representative within the Roar camp.

Kofi Danning, teammate at Sydney and now Brisbane, made limited appearances in the same campaign while goalkeeping pair Michael Theoklitos and Andrew Redmayne also acquainted with Asian football.

Theoklitos notched up six AFC Champions League appearances in Melbourne Victory-s 2008 season while Redmayne was part of the Central Coast Mariners squad that contested the title the following year.

And in terms of continental competitions, the experience in the Brisbane squad isn-t limited to Asia.

Veteran full-back Shane Stefanutto played for Norwegian club Lillestrom in UEFA Cup qualifiers and prolific striker Besart Berisha created history when he became the first Albanian to score in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League when he made the scoresheet for Hamburg against CSKA Moscow.

To add to that, some Roar players have the ability to draw upon the experiences of national team duties within the Asian Football Confederation.

Jurman, alongside teammates Rocky Visconte and Mitch Nichols, formed a key part of the most recent Australian under 23s squad that attempted to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.

While the Qantas Olyroos weren-t successful – Australia were winless and goalless in their first five fixtures in the third round of qualifying – Jurman was still able to draw positives and apply them to the upcoming club competition.

“We-ve played against a lot of Asian teams over the past three or four years,” he said.

“Now, I know to some extent what to expect from different countries, how the people are and what the teams do.

“Some of the teams will play a very different style to the way the teams in the A-League play.

“I think it-s good for us to be able to go to Asia and show what we can do on another level.

“We want teams to think about what we-re going to do and not about what they-re going to do.”

With that in mind, Jurman didn-t try to hide the fact that failure to qualify for the international event was providing him with further drive to achieve AFC Champions League success with the Roar.

“It was a massive disappointment not to be going to the Olympics in London,” he said.

“Now I-m more club focused and I want to do well with Brisbane.

“Hopefully I can help the team do well in some way playing in Asia.”

Brisbane Roar face FC Tokyo in their first ever AFC Champions League fixture on Tuesday, 6 March 2012. Kick-off at Brisbane Stadium is at 7.30pm. Tickets available through Ticketek.