Roar hoping maroon shirts will give Sydney the blues
FOOTBALL: Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold wasn't getting caught up in the hype, but the Brisbane Roar is embracing tonight's "state versus state” battle.
The Roar will don maroon shirts for the first time when they host the ladder-leading Sky Blues in their A-League encounter at Suncorp Stadium.
"It's not rugby league, it's football,” Arnold said on Thursday.
"It doesn't matter what colour jerseys they're in. They're still the same human beings - same bodies, same talent, same quality.
"It could also bring bad luck. They've never worn maroon.”
But Roar skipper Matt McKay is hoping his side can continue the domination Queensland has enjoyed over New South Wales in rugby league wearing the famed maroon.
"Up here we don't have a derby,” McKay told Fox Sports. "So for us it's very special to have this.
"Even if they don't want it (a traditional match), we're looking forward to the challenge on Saturday night.”
Just as the Blues have struggled to beat the Maroons in league's State of Origin series in the past 10 years, the Sky Blues have struggled in Roar territory over the past decade, winning just three times in 17 visits to Suncorp Stadium.
"I don't know about (having) a psychological edge,” McKay said. "Each season changes so much with the turnover of players and style.
"But in saying that ... Suncorp has been like a fortress for us. Hopefully that will continue.”
Rivalry aside, McKay and the third-placed Roar won't be underestimating the visitors - a side that may be wearing a light shade of blue but is red-hot in every aspect of the game.
Sydney FC has won all six games it has played this season, netting a competition-high 17 goals and conceding a competion-low two.
Alex Brosque (four goals), Milos Ninkovic (four), Bobo (three) and Filip Holosko (three) form a formidable attack.
"Their front four is very good obviously,” McKay said. "But (it is) the whole squad ... the defence has started really well and only conceded two goals.
"We've played them in the pre-season and we know they're a great outfit.
"We'll have to be on the top of our game to get the three points.”
McKay welcomed the return of the Roar's own danger man, Jamie Maclaren, from Socceroos duty in Thailand.
"It's great having him back,” he said. "I'm not the manager. I don't pick the side. But whether he plays 30 minutes or 90, he's a great addition for us to have back.
"He's our talisman. He's a confident boy - always has been, always will be.
"He had a little dent over there (as part of the Australian side that drew 2-2 with Thailand), but we want him to be confident and he will be.”
With one more win the Sky Blues will equal the best-ever start to an A-League season with seven straight.
Brisbane defender Jade North added fuel to the fire on Wednesday saying that Sydney had been "quite lucky” in so far producing an unblemished record.
Arnold hit back by saying: "From what I've seen, we're the fittest team in the country by a fair bit and the stats clearly show that we're scoring a lot of goals in the last 15 minutes of games and running over the top of teams.”