Cameron Crestani and Xisco Jimenez of Muangthong United battle for the ball in the Asican Champions League tie on Tuesday.
Cameron Crestani and Xisco Jimenez of Muangthong United battle for the ball in the Asican Champions League tie on Tuesday. Chris Hyde

Roar defenders shooting for the same goal

FOOTBALL: Avraam Papadopoulos and Cameron Crestani might be at the opposite ends of their playing careers but both defenders have the same goal - securing a Brisbane Roar contract for next season.

After five years of youth team football, 20-year-old Crestani is finally getting his first-team chance at the Roar.

The Stanthorpe product made his A-League debut off the bench in Brisbane's 2-2 weekend draw with Perth and backed it up with an impressive 90-minute display in the Roar's 0-0 AFC Champions League draw with Thai champions Muangthong United at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday night.

"I think the coaches have probably found the perfect time for me," said Crestani, who has been given an opportunity due to Brisbane's busy domestic and continental commitments as well as a spate of untimely injuries to first-team regulars.

For the same reasons, 32-year-old Greece international Papadopoulos has been brought to Brisbane for the remainder of the season.

The Melbourne-born Papadopoulos, who left Australia with his family when he was three, was among the spectators at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday, having only arrived in Brisbane a few days earlier.

"I feel very good, and I think Brisbane is a very good team ... I will give my best service for the team," the former Olympiacos skipper said.

Both Papadopoulos and Crestani know their form for the rest of the season will be crucial to their chances of earning new contracts.

In Crestani's case, it would be his first fulltime professional deal as he is now too old to be offered another youth team contract.

"I'm just focusing on each game, but long-term I'm trying to get a contract here. Hopefully it all goes well enough to stay at the club," he said.

"Credit to the club, they've kept me here, continued to develop me and do the right things by me. It's a real family culture around the club. It's a pleasure to be here."

Papadopoulos has been on the Roar scene for less than a week but is already getting a similar vibe.

"Of course I'd like to stay in the future," Papadopoulos said. "This for me is a big opportunity. I like it so much. Even though it's the other side of the world, I feel quite comfortable here.

"The people are very friendly."

Still finding his fitness after a few months without a club, Papadopoulos won't be considered for selection when the Roar return to A-League action on Saturday against Wellington Phoenix at Suncorp Stadium.

But with Luke DeVere still battling a calf problem, Crestani is again a chance to partner Jade North in the heart of Brisbane's defence.

"I'll put my hand up," Crestani said.

News Corp Australia


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