Brisbane Roar midfielder Erik Paartalu has urged teammates to keep pushing for greater heights in the Hyundai A-League, even after a solid 1-0 victory over second-placed Adelaide United on the weekend saw them open up an 11 point margin at the top end of the ladder.
While only a catastrophic dip in form would prevent the Roar from claiming their first ever Hyundai A-League premiership, Paartalu was adamant the players had no plans to cruise through their final six fixtures but to finish off the season strongly.
“I think Adelaide had to win that game to keep in touch with us,” he said.
“They-ve still got a few games left but now we-re equal on the amount of games played so it will be hard for them.
“Now we just have to continue to playing our football to try and push the gap between us even further.”
In his first season with Brisbane, Paartalu has been a revelation in front of the back four with his ability to read play as well as provide a link between the team-s defensive duties and potent attacks earning him deserved plaudits from around the league.
Confident in his defensive responsibilities, the 24-year-old also admitted he had high hopes of adding to his one goal in Brisbane colours before the season-s end, which came earlier in the season in the club-s emphatic 4-0 win over Melbourne Heart.
“I would like to get forward a little bit more and score more goals but I-m just happy to be involved in such a great team,” Paartalu said.
“I-m just playing my part, that defensive midfield role.
“I-m sort of starting off the attacks and keeping the ball as well as breaking down the attacks when they happen.”
With Friday-s home clash against Perth Glory presenting Brisbane with an opportunity to go 20 games unbeaten in the league, Paartalu dismissed any hint of complacency within the squad by declaring each match presented a unique challenge to overcome, regardless of ladder position.
“I don-t think you can ever write off any team in the league,” he said.
“This league has a habit of biting you on your back side when you least expect it and I think Perth will be fired up.
“For us, it-s just about doing the same thing again, especially early in the game, to try and nullify their threats, take control of our passing game and keep the ball off them.”
Brisbane missed key players Thomas Broich and Ivan Franjic through injury for Sunday-s clash against the Reds, as well as skipper Matt McKay who was on Qantas Socceroos duty in Dubai.
With star German midfielder Broich a possibility to return to the starting line up against Perth on Friday, Paartalu welcomed the pleasing news but said Rocky Visconte staked his claims for a regular spot after his starting debut for Brisbane against his hometown club.
“It would be a massive boost for us to have Thomas back,” Paartalu said.
“Rocky hasn-t played a lot of football over the past couple of years and he-s still got a little bit to learn in terms of the shape we-re trying to play but there is no doubt he is a quality player and the run out would have done him good.
“Having Thomas back, he-s quite flairy and he-s one of those players you can give the ball to and he just takes care of the rest so it will be a big boost.”
Franjic remains in doubt for the match with a quad strain.
Brisbane Roar take on Perth Glory on Friday 7 January at Suncorp Stadium, kicking off at 7.30pm. Tickets are available at Ticketek.