ERIC Bautheac could hardly have imagined a crazier debut A-League season.
From arriving late because of visa problems, to sitting in a physiotherapist’s room with 13 injured teammates, to having the number peel off his jersey on a farcical January night, the French winger can only shake his head at what’s happened since he signed with Brisbane Roar last September.
“It’s been a rollercoaster,” Bautheac said,
But the tough times have been worth it, with Bautheac and the Roar having defied the odds to qualify for an elimination final on Friday night against Melbourne City at AAMI Park
(43 points, 3rd)
(35 points, 6th)
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(41 points, 4th)
(39 points, 5th)
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“It’s a chance for us because nobody believes in us ¬ only we believe in us,” he said.
“The pressure is not on us, it’s on Melbourne City. If we lose, people will say it’s normal.”
That wasn’t the case on January 23 when the Roar were expected to cruise to an AFC Champions League playoff win against Filipino club Ceres-Negros at the Queensland Sports and Athletics Centre.
But in front of just 1279 fans, the Roar lost 3-2 on a shambolic night that included the humiliation of numbers falling off the shirts of Bautheac and three of his teammates.
“I was thinking ‘what’s this?’ … it’s not professional,” the former Lille star said.
“It was embarrassing. I left my team on the field for 10 minutes a man short while we were looking for another shirt.
“After it everybody was very sad. It was the Champions League, a match against a team from the Philippines ¬ it’s not normal for us to lose.”
It only added to what had already been a frustrating start to Bautheac’s Roar career.
A delay in obtaining his visa meant he didn’t arrive in Australia until just before Round 3 of the A-League.
Lacking fitness due to being delayed in France, Bautheac tore his hamstring in December as the Roar stumbled from one injury to next.
“When I was injured, we had 14 players in with the physio. I have never seen that in my career ¬ it was crazy,” he said.
“It was normal that I got injured because I didn’t have a proper fitness base when I arrived here and I played straight away.”
Bautheac said even now he was still not fully fit. However, he has still been good enough to be part of a Roar revival, with Brisbane having won seven of their past 11 A-League games to reach the playoffs.”
“Eleven games ago we never thought about making the finals. It was just one game at a time,” he said
“This team is full of good people and the culture here is very good. For the first time in my life, I am part of a team that’s truly together.
“In France, the players are very different. Their mentality is selfish.
“The combinations here are good because we are friends off the field and that’s very important.”