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Jan 23, 2008

Packer schools Roar youngsters on finals

Former Sydney FC championship winner Andrew Packer has been schooling Queensland's young guns in the pressure of finals football, but that didn't stop the Roar completing preparations for their A-League finals debut with a training field tiff.

Sasa Ognenovski and goalkeeper Griffin McMaster clashed as the squad warmed down in Brisbane, with the big defender lashing out at the rookie shot-stopper.

Ognenovski, well noted for his intensity on both the training track and playing field, threw a cup of water in McMaster's face before appearing to push the `keeper.

The pair stared each other down for a short time before reconciling their differences and shaking hands.

Coach Frank Farina said he didn't see the incident, but added his team were in good spirits heading into the first leg of the minor semi-final against Sydney FC at the Sydney Football Stadium.

"A lot of them are on their toes a little bit, but I think that's normal leading up to a big game," Farina said.

"The boys have all been in good spirit this week."

Sydney will carry a significant edge in terms of finals experience into the two-legged elimination showdown.

But Packer - who won the inaugural title with Sydney before switching to the Roar last season - has done his best to teach young stars Michael Zullo, Robbie Kruse and Tahj Minniecon about what to expect on Friday night.

"I've had a few chats with the young boys, like Zullo and Tahj and Robbie," said Packer, whose Roar lost 2-0 to Adelaide last week to blow their chance of claiming the minor premiership.

"Especially after last week, I think we can be a lot better this week.

"I've been having a chat to those guys and letting them know what to expect. Apparently it's going to be a big crowd so it might be the biggest crowd for them, so (I've told them) just to relax and enjoy the experience.

"They're really excited, all the boys are, they're looking forward to it.

"People like Zullo and Tahj and Robbie, they light up the crowds and I'm sure they can do that down there as well."

Korean defender Hyuk Su Seo has been cleared to make his comeback from injury after missing the Roar's last two games with a calf injury.

He is likely to replace midfielder Danny Tiatto, who will miss both finals matches against Sydney after being suspended for two games following his red card against Adelaide on Sunday.

The Roar declined a chance to train on the SFS on Thursday, instead flying to Sydney in the afternoon.

Farina said he would finalise his run-on team after the squad completes a light walk in Sydney on Friday morning.