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Finals format raises stakes for Roar

The task of winning three straight A-League championships has been made even tougher for the Brisbane Roar by a cutthroat 2012-13 finals format that offers no second chances.

The Roar will be under the pump from the outset after being forced to travel to Perth for what looms as a fiery season-opening grand final rematch against the Glory.

And in the second round, it takes on the man who led it to back-to-back championships - Ange Postecoglou - when he brings the Melbourne Victory to Suncorp Stadium.

But after running his eye over the draw released yesterday, Roar general manager Sean Dobson said the defending champion would relish the challenge.

Under the new finals format, every game will be a knockout clash, with the top two teams receiving a first-week bye rather than a double chance. The preliminary final has been scrapped.

''I think a more clear-cut, success-orientated series capped to three weeks works,'' Dobson said. ''It brings the season to a fitting climax.''


Rather than complain about not hosting its opener, Dobson said Brisbane would hit the road in the pre-season to ensure it had no excuses when it faced the Glory.

Pre-season games have already been booked in Tamworth, Coffs Harbour and Adelaide for Brisbane.

''We have placed a priority on sourcing games that will help boost the brand around the country but also get the team into the habit of travelling and producing on the pitch,'' Dobson said.

The stage is set for a spirited shootout in the west following Roar striker Besart Berisha's controversial match-winning goal in the 2011-12 decider.

''What has happened in the grand final has been said and done - we need to move forward,'' Dobson said.

''We are a side that will always push ourselves so, while an away game to Perth will be tough, it is not a bad way to start the season. It will be a good challenge to see where we are at.''

Dobson backed the now Rado Vidosic-coached Roar to be ready for whatever Postecoglou threw at it.

''To be honest, it will be good to see Ange again. You can't say enough about the legacy he has left here,'' he said. ''I think everyone is interested in what Ange comes up with at the Victory and how that plays out. No one will underestimate the change he can achieve there.

''But I have full faith Rado will not only be able to match them but better them.''

Football Federation Australia chief Ben Buckley said the new finals format replaced the ''repetitive nature'' of the previous system in which teams played each other three times in a four-week format.

''The decision to intensify the finals series … will provide the platform for a highly-energised and uncompromising cup-style finals format and allow for a more challenging and thrilling 2013 finals series,'' he said.

The new soon-to-be-named western Sydney team will have to wait until round three to enjoy its first derby clash.

The season - featuring Australia Day and New Year's Day triple headers - will kick off with the Melbourne Victory-Heart derby on October 5.

''I got a taste of it as a player and the atmosphere was incredible but it's my first game as coach - it's a baptism of fire,'' rookie Heart coach John Aloisi said of the derby.

Not everyone was happy at the Victory, it seems.

Managing director Richard Wilson said the club was ''largely pleased'' with the draw but added: ''While the club has the benefit of making only one trip to Perth and Wellington, it must finish the season with three of its final four games away''. AAP