Robbie Fowler gives us roar of approval
LIVERPOOL ambassador and legend Robbie Fowler knows first-hand just how competitive Australian footballers are.
Fowler played in the A-League for two seasons from 2009, for the now-defunct North Queensland Fury and Perth Glory.
Football in Australia - once heavily criticised - is quickly gaining respect around the world, particularly after the Socceroos' history-making Asian Cup triumph earlier this year.
And that is why Fowler believes the Brisbane Roar will offer his team a stern challenge at a sold-out Suncorp Stadium, for tonight's blockbuster exhibition game.
The Reds were highly impressive in their 4-0 win over the Thai All Stars in rain-soaked Bangkok to kick off their tour Down Under, but Fowler is expecting a tougher challenge from the Roar in Brisbane.
"It'll be more of a test for us over these next two games (also including a game against Adelaide United next Monday night), but we've got a good start. I know there are some fantastic players out here," he said.
"Looking at the Brisbane team it was by far the best team when I was here.
"Ange (Postecoglou) was the manager and they were playing unbelievable football (before winning up two championships), and you can see why he became the Australian manager.
"I would never talk badly about the A-League because I loved my time down here."
Fowler said new Reds recruit from Burnley, Danny Ings, would be one to watch tonight, after impressing in the big win over the Thai All Stars.
"His movement off the ball was fantastic. His movement when the ball was up front was very good and his runs were quick," Fowler said.
"He was a stand-out."
Fowler said the big crowd in Brisbane tonight could expect a high-quality game, despite it being so early in the pre-season.
And that is also despite the fact the Reds will be without stars Raheem Sterling and Mario Balotelli, who are both on their way out of the famous club.
"The players have had eight weeks off and now all of a sudden they're getting back into it. But the players did a lot better than I thought they would (against the Thai All Stars)," Fowler said.
Despite his long association with Liverpool - Fowler is the sixth-highest scorer in English Premier League history with 163 - he said a rendition of Liverpool's classic You'll Never Walk Alone at Suncorp Stadium - would give him goose bumps.
"Being over here and hearing You'll Never Walk Alone (when Liverpool played the Melbourne Victory at a packed MCG in 2013) was fabulous and people at the club still talk about it," he said.
"This time in Brisbane, I'm expecting the same thing."
Roar goalkeeper Jamie Young played under Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers in the Reading youth system, and said he was looking forward to playing against the team of his former mentor tonight.
"He had a drive and charisma he instilled in the younger blokes, so it was a great time," Young said.