Brisbane goes back to back in yet another amazing late comeback


Hyundai A-League Grand Final
Brisbane Roar
(Berisha 84, 90+4)

Perth Glory (Franjic o.g 51’)

Sunday, 22 April 2012
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Jarred Gillett
Crowd: 50, 334


Brisbane Roar are champions…again! Just like in 2010/11 Brisbane Roar have won the Grand Final, and yet again they did it the hard way. Last year it was two goals in 5 minutes in extra time from Henrique and Paartalu, this year its two goals in 10 minutes with the winner in the 97th minute both from Berisha. Amazing.


Starting Line-ups:        


Substitutions: Brattan for Paartalu (65’), Fitzgerald for Murdocca (65’), Meyer for Henrique (74’)

Un-used Subs: Redmayne, Jurman
Yellow Cards: Franjic
Red Cards: Nil

Substitutions: Neville for Dodd (76’), McGarry for Smeltz (80’)

Un-used Subs: Young, Mitchell, Andrezinho
Yellow Cards: Miller, Burns, Heffernan x2, Vukovic, Mehmet
Red Cards: Heffernan


Brisbane went in with their customary 4-3-3 as expected and had some success with the fullbacks coming forward joining the attack. As expected Dodd and Howarth struggled to check their runs and the duo provided multiple crosses for Berisha and co. The wingers for Brisbane however had a much tougher time being kept in check by Glory’s fullbacks very well. Infact Brisbane had to move Broich more central in the 2nd half so that he could have an impact on the game.


Perth also went in as expected with a 4-4-2 formation but without Andrezinho and they really struggled to create much going forward. It’s not often a team goes through an entire Grand Final without creating a chance but that was the case for the Glory. Smeltz was kept very quiet although some of that was probably due to his facial injury. Jacob Burns –who I  think has now probably got his Joe Marston medal by now- was like a man possessed out there, he just ran and ran and ran managing to break up a large number of Brisbane attacks.


The 1st half was typically cagey for a Grand Final with the two best chances for Brisbane’s Mitch Nichols with a 1st time shot to the near post and Ivan Franjic turning a shot just past the post from the edge of the box. Brisbane controlled most of the possession as usual with Glory having sporadic half-chances on the break. This biggest issue of the half however was an ugly contact between Matt Smith and Shane Smeltz which left the Glory striker requiring stitches.


The 2nd half kicked off where the 1st ended with some end to end football and chances for both teams with Broich having a good shot on goal which was well stopped by Vukovic. Glory then went straight down the other end on their right hand side where Dodd had some room to move, although the best he could do was two low crosses across the box. Unfortunately for Franjic and Brisbane the 2nd of those low crosses deflected off his ankle and into the corner of the net. Unlucky- but thems the breaks. Brisbane, for the 2nd straight Grand Final were left with it all to do. For Perth- it was probably the exact script they had written- defend stoutly and hit Brisbane on the break.


Of course the goal meant that the onus was on Brisbane to chase the game and be more attacking than they already were. Postecoglou however made two changes that I didn’t see coming by bringing off last years hero’s in Paartalu and Henrique who were replaced by Brattan and Meyer. It was the other change which was the most important however with Fitzgerald replacing Murdocca and Broich moving into a more central role where he had more space. For Glory they made two changes of their own which were about being more defensively solid- while maintaining a counter attacking threat.


Just as it was beginning to seem like it wasn’t going to be Brisbane’s day- they got the equaliser. Stefanutto got the ball to Broich in an area on the left side just outside the box and he put in a great ball and Berisha who managed to evade Pantelidis at the near post and stick the ball into the back of the net. Super goal and game on in the Grand Final.


Once the 1st goal went in Brisbane rode the wave of emotion created by the 50,000 crowd and kept pushing for the winner with Fitzgerald going close at the near post following a good cutting run to the edge of the box. At the start of injury time Glory did themselves no favours when Heffernan got himself sent off for a 2nd bookable offence. The 2nd yellow was probably a decent challenge to make, but the 1st one was a daft challenge on Broich when the ball was long gone.


Just as it seemed like we were heading to extra-time for the 3rd straight final- Brisbane won possession just inside their own half with 93.58 of 94.00mins played. They got the ball forward to Broich on the edge of the area. Thomas turned and played the ball in behind for Berisha who had one shot blocked, before being adjudged to have been felled by Miller- more on the controversy of the decision in a moment-. Berisha picked himself up and after running around like a bit of a fool celebrating the awarding of the penalty, stepped up and sent Vukovic the wrong way before taking off and celebrating in the corner. 2-1 Brisbane with virtually the last kick of the Grand Final. Back to back Grand Final victories infront of a packed house, yet another amazing Orange Sunday.

But was the awarding of the penalty correct? That’s the question that the Glory players, official and fans along with some sections of the Australian football family have been asking. From my vantage point on the halfway line behind the Roar bench, my gut feeling was straight away- penalty and having looked at the replays I still think it is a penalty, but im far less certain of that now having looked at it. Imo Miller impeded Berisha by knocking him off balance in a situation where he would have likely got a shot on target. Is it harsh on Perth? Yes. Is it an incredibly tough decision for the referee to make? Yes. But somebody has to make the tough calls, and luckily from a Brisbane perspective this one went the Roars way. Infact for all the replays I’ve seen of this, the one replay im yet to see is what Gillet saw-because id be curious to see what he saw of the incident. To me that’s far more interesting than what a super slow mo from a different angle shows.


Player ratings:

Brisbane: Theoklitos 7, Franjic 7, Smith 7, Adnan 7, Stefanutto 7, Paartalu 6, Murdocca 6, Nichols 7, Henrique 7, Berisha 8, Broich 8, Brattan 6, Fitzgerald 7, Meyer 6.


Perth: Vukovic 7, Risdon 7, Van den Brink 7, Pantelidis 7, Heffernan 6, Dodd 7, Burns 8, Miller 7, Howarth 6, Mehmet 6, Smeltz 7, Neville 6, McGarry 6.




Hyundai A-League Grand-Final Preview: Brisbane Roar vs. Perth Glory


It’s finally here! Orange Sunday II- The sequel is less than 48 hours away now and by this time Sunday we will have a 2011/12 Champion and the build up to the Grand Final is beginning to really ramp up now in both Brisbane and Perth. A little warning- this preview is longer than most with a more extensive breakdown of the 3 clashes this year, key players and both teams tactical plan.


**The below squads are not official as of Friday April 20 at 7.00pm, but the match officials are correct.

2012 Hyundai A-League Grand Final

Sunday April 22, 4.00pm

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Referee: Jarred Gillet

Assistant Referees: Matthew Cream, Matthew Cheeseman

Fourth Official: Ben Williams

Head-to-head: Played: 21 Wins: Brisbane 13, Perth 3, Draw: 5
Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Michael Theoklitos (GK), 2. Matt Smith ©, 3. Shane Stefanutto, 4. Matt Jurman, 5. Ivan Franjic, 6. Erik Paaratlu, 7. Besart Berisha, 8. Massimo Murdocca, 9. Kofi Danning, 10. Henrique, 11. Issey Nakajima- Farran, 12. Matt Mundy, 14. Rocky Visconte, 16. Mohamed Adnan, 17. Mitch Nichols, 18. Luke Brattan, 19. Jack Hingert, 20. Andrew Redmayne (GK), 21. James Meyer, 22. Thomas Broich, 24. Nick Fitzgerald, 25. George Lambadaridis, 26. Corey Brown, 29 James Donachie, 30. Matt Acton, (GK), ?). Anthony Proia.
Coach: Ange Postecoglou

Perth Glory squad: 1. Danny Vukovic (GK), 2. Josh Mitchell, 3. Bas Van den Brink, 4. Billy Mehmet, 5. Steve Pantelidis, 6. Chris Coyne, 7. Jacob Burns ©, 9. Shane Smeltz, 10. Liam Miller, 11. Viktor Sikora, 12. Scott Neville, 13. Travis Dodd, 14. Steven McGarry, 15. Tommy Amphlett, 16. Evan Berger, 17. Todd Howarth, 18. Jesse Makarounas, 19. Joshua Risdon, 20. Neil Young (GK), 22. Adam Taggart, 27. Andrezinho, 30 Lewis Italiano (GK) 35. Dean Heffernan, ?) Brandon O’Neill, ?) Ndumba Makeche
Coach: Ian Ferguson


Season form:




Season record vs. Perth Glory:

Round 8: Brisbane Roar (Berisha 23’, 45’, Nakajima- Farran 34’, 42’) 4-0 Perth Glory

Round 15: Perth Glory (Dodd 16’, Sterjovski 24’, 79’) 3-3 Brisbane Roar (Nichols 40’, 69’, Paartalu 45’)

Round 23: Perth Glory 0-3 Brisbane Roar (Henrique 21’, Berisha 59, 63’)



Top scorers:

Brisbane: Besart Berisha (19)

Perth: Shane Smeltz (16)



Brisbane: Thomas Broich (7)

Perth: Andrezinho (5)


All-time record against Perth Glory:

Total: Played 21: Won 13, Drawn 5, Lost 3. Goals for 48, Goals against 26.


At Suncorp Stadium:

Played 10: Won 6, Drawn 3, Lost 1. Goals for 25, Goals Against. 13.


Team News:

Projected Starting Line-ups:


Redmayne, Jurman, Brattan, Meyer, Fitzgerald

Omitted: Mundy, Visconte, Danning


Perth: Young, Mitchell, Neville, Howarth, McGarry

Omitted: O’Neill, Amphlett, Taggart


Brisbane are going into this with a clean bill of health –minus Jack Hingert who is out with an ankle injury- following the AFC Champions League game on Tuesday and the starting XI should be the same as it was against Ulsan unless somebody pulls up sore between now and Sunday.


On the bench three positions are basically set in stone with backup keeper Andrew Redmayne, midfielder Luke Brattan and versatile attack Nick Fitzgerald set to potentially play a role off the bench. It’s safe to assume imo that the 4th bench spot will go to a player to provide defensive cover meaning that one of Jurman or Mundy will on the bench- imo it will be Jurman given he’s been higher up the pecking order. The 5th and final could go in any direction- be it Kofi Danning, James Meyer, Rocky Visconte or even another defensive role but imo Danning and Meyer would be the frontrunners in the race. Purely based on him playing and doing alright in the ACL I’ve selected Meyer- but could go either way.


For Perth they have a completely different situation on their hands- not only are 1st teamers Chris Coyne and Viktor Sikora out injured but they’ve also got doubts over key midfield duo Liam Miller and Andrezinho. Id expect them to play given its their final game of the season- but just how effective they will be is still up in the air. Miller looked like he got through the 120mins last week fine so for me he’s probably approaching 100% but who knows with Andrezinho.


Assuming they’re both ready to go it’s very easy to predict for Perth- no changes. They could revert to a 4-5-1 like they did last time but that didn’t work for them and they’ve clearly found goal scoring form with the current 4-4-2 so I expect it to be the same. If they duo cannot play Howarth would come in for Andrezinho and McGarry would come in for Miller with some combination of O’Neill/Amphlett/Taggart sitting on the bench.


Recapping the season vs. Perth Glory:

1st Game: Going into the match all the talk was about making history with Brisbane 90 minutes away from breaking the record for longest unbeaten run for a professional football club in Australia with Glory being nothing more than some sort of a pushover, and that’s how it turned out with Brisbane romping to a 4-0 victory with braces from Issey and Berisha to break the record in style.

2nd Game:
This game was drastically different to the 1st with Brisbane playing a different formation without key playmaker Thomas Broich and producing a performance which Postecoglou famously called ‘cowardly’. The difference however wasn’t just down to Brisbane because Perth were far better in this match playing closer to their best than they were in round 8. The final score might have been 3-3 but in a moral sense it was probably a slight victory for Ferguson proving that he can match it.


3rd game: This one was different again with Brisbane coming right back into form following their mid-season form dip and ran out comfortable winners by 3-0 while playing the last 20 odd minutes a man down. While Brisbane did control this game almost in its entirit ands will give them tremendous confidence going into the final. Glory haven’t lost in 7 games since then – 1 loss in 10- so it could possibly be seen as a bit of an outlier.


Key players:



Mitch Nichols: While he was ordinary in midweek, he’s been an ever-present in the starting side this season and his goals from midfield at crucial times have been important this season. Can rifle the ball in from 20yards or get on the end of a slick attacking move.

Thomas Broich:
The Johnny Warren medallist is the best player in the A-League right now and on his day is more than good enough to take a game over and win it on his own. Young Risdon on the right side of defence for Glory will have a tough time dealing with him.


Besart Berisha: In a league where we’ve seen some pretty good strikers –including one who will line up for Perth on Sunday- Besart Berisha is probably the best we’ve seen in this league. The golden boot winner with 19 goals this season says he’s fired up and ready to deliver in what is his 1st ever Cup Final.



Bas van den Brink:The big Dutch defender has been a key cog in the Glory’s solid defence this season and also a big reason for their resurgence and unlucky not to be in the discussion for the team of the season. He’s marshalled the back four expertly this season imo, but will have a tough task with Berisha, Henrique and Broich as opponents this weekend.


Liam Miller:He may be a little injury prone but there can be no doubting the ability of the former Celtic and Manchester United man. Everyone likes to talk about Smeltz but the reality is that while he can create for himself, he is essentially a finisher- and it’s Miller who is the man most likely to put him into the goal scoring positions.


Shane Smeltz:The man who in most the media’s opinion Glory’s chances rest with, Smeltz has been outstanding for the Glory giving them their 1st regular goal scorer since the Despetovski and Mori days and is the player most responsible for bringing the ‘Glory Days’ back to Perth. Smith and Adnan will have to keep their eyes on him at all times.


Keys to the game:


The 1st key is going to be the opening exchanges and how well both sides settle into the game. I don’t think that one side has an advantage over the other here in that both teams have some experienced players to call upon. Brisbane has the Grand Final experience while Perth have some players with international and big game experience of their own.


From there the key for Brisbane will be to control the play like always and begin to wear down the Glory and begin to create some chances. You would expect that Brisbane is going to control both possession and territory like they do just about every match in the A-League, but they’ve got to make it count. Overlapping runs from the fullbacks (especially Franjic) and central midfielders making runs in behind the defenders will be key factors in Brisbane’s game play. Andrezinho likes to cheat in defence and not track back so the Franjic vs. Andrezinho matchup could be key for both sides


Defensively it’s important not to put too much emphasis on Smeltz- because if they focus too much on him the likes of Miller, Mehmet and the wide guys could cause the damage. The key from a defensive sense imo is to try and shut Miller out of the contest- he’s the creative link for the Glory and most of their good play comes through him. Between Paartalu, Murdocca and Nichols- one of them must stick on him.

For Glory- the 1st key for them is the a-ok on the fitness for Miller and Andrezinho because without them they’re not half the team given that they are the primary creators for Smeltz. From their it depends on how Ferguson wants to approach the game- is he going to sit back and try play on the counter attack, or does he want to go for it? I get the sense they’ll have a go and it’s in the wide areas –especially on their left where Franjic likes to bomb on for Brisbane- where they can have some joy. The biggest key however will ofcourse be how much ball they can get into the box for Smeltz and Mehmet. I can see them not creating atleast one good chance for Smeltz- its upto him to take it.


In a defensive sense they will need to shut down Erik Paartalu who for two seasons now has been the fulcrum through which all Brisbane attacks begin. It will be tough given that if they go with the expected 4-4-2 they’ll be outnumbered in CM and one of the wide guys or Mehmet will have to track him. Broich vs. Risdon is also a dangerous one for them given the German is hitting top form at the right time.


The beauty of football is that there is more than one way to play the game, and that will be on show Sunday afternoon as both sides have play in completely different formations and philosophies. We all know how Brisbane will play- they’ll play 4-3-3 with an emphasis on ball possession and playing out from the back. Perth on the other hand have settled on a 4-4 2 formation with perhaps a slightly more direct approach, but they can also bring the ball down and play in the front third. Everyone is suggesting this Grand Final comes down to Berisha vs. Smeltz- but in reality it’s more down to the two midfields and which can both create the chances, but also limit the chances for the opposition. Enjoy the Grand-Final everyone and with a bit of lucky- tomorrow at around 6.00pm we’ll be celebrating back to back championships.

Perth Glory: Road to the Final

Round 1: Perth Glory (Mehmet 76’) 1-0 Adelaide United
Round 2: Melbourne Heart (Williams 45’) 1-2 Perth Glory (Smeltz 33’, 66’)
Round 3: Perth Glory (Smeltz 32’) 1-0 Wellington Phoenix
Round 4: Central Coast (Simon 27’, Ibini-Isei 45’) 2-1 Perth Glory (Dodd 6’)
Round 5: Newcastle Jets ( Brockie 10’, 11’) 2-0 Perth Glory
Round 6: Perth Glory 0-1 Sydney FC (Bridge 45’)
Round 7: Melbourne Victory (Hernandez 52’-pen, Allsopp 58’) 2-2 Perth Glory (Andrezinho 71’, Smeltz 88’)
Round 8: Brisbane Roar (Berisha 23’, 45’, Nakajima-Farran 34’, 42’) 4-0 Perth Glory
Round 9: Perth Glory (Sterjovski 23’-pen, Smeltz 54’-pen) 2-0 Gold Coast United
Round 10: Wellington Phoenix (Sigmund 85’) 1-0 Perth Glory
Round 12: Perth Glory (Mehmet 35’) 1-2 Melbourne Heart (Thompson 33’, Behich 86’)
Round 13: Perth Glory (McGarry 83’) 1-3 Central Coast Mariners (Ibini-Isei 49’, Bojic 60’, Simon 64’)

Round 14: Newcastle Jets (Jeffers 61’) 1-1 Perth Glory (Mehmet 9’)
Round 15: Perth Glory (Dodd 16’, Sterjovski 24’, 79’-pen) 3-3 Brisbane Roar (Nichols 40’, 69. Paartalu 45’)
Round 16: Wellington Phoenix 0-1 Perth Glory (Mitchell 92’)
Round 17: Melbourne Heart (Sarkies 66’) 1-2 Perth Glory (Smelt 16’, McGarry 69’)
Round 11: (Re-Scheduled) Sydney FC (Bridge 45) 1-1 Perth Glory (Hughes 89’)
Round 18: Perth Glory (Smeltz 14’, 35’-pen, Sterjovski 42’-pen, Andrezinho 90’) 4-1 Melbourne Victory (Kewell 69’-pen)
Round 19: Adelaide United 0-3 Perth Glory (Smeltz 14’, McGarry 20’, Miller 82’)
Round 20: Perth Glory (McGarry 18’, Miller 53’, Dodd 67’, Traore 84’- og) 4-0 Gold Coast United
Round 21: Sydney FC (Emerton 53’. Cazarine 72’) 2-1 Perth Glory (Mehmet 86’)
Round 22: Perth Glory (Hughes 15’, Mehmet 80’) 2-0 Newcastle Jets
Round 23: Perth Glory 0-3 Brisbane Roar (Henrique 21’, Berisha 59’, 63’)
Round 24: Adelaide United 0-2 Perth Glory (Mehmet 6’, Burns 24’)
Round 25: Perth Glory (Dodd 25’) 1-0 Central Coast Mariners
Round 26: Gold Coast United (Anderson 4’, Brown 83, 93) 3-0 Perth Glory
Round 27: Perth Glory (Smeltz 24’, 48, 63’-pen, 66’) 4-2 Melbourne Victory (Hernandez 22’, Milligan 45’)

Semi-final: Perth Glory (Smeltz 65’, 72’, 91’) 3-0 Melbourne Heart
Elimination final: Perth Glory (Van den Brink 14’, Mehmet 72’, Howarth 113’) 3-2 (a.e.t) Wellington Phoenix (Greenacre 47’, Muscat 55’)
Grand final qualifier: Central Coast Mariners (Kwasnik 33’) 1-1 (5-2) Perth Glory (Smeltz 34’)

Brisbane Roar: Road to the final

Round 1: Brisbane Roar (Nichols 71) 1-0 Central Coast Mariners

Round 2: Sydney FC 0-2 Brisbane Roar (Berisha 42’, Broich 70’)

Round 3: Brisbane Roar (Paartalu 13’, Berisha 60’, Nichols 78’) 3-0 Gold Coast United

Round 4: Brisbane Roar (Henrique 21’-pen, 36’-pen, Berisha 23’, 27’, 29’, 69’, Nakajima-Farran 81’) 7-1 Adelaide United (Vidosic 5’)

Round 5: Melbourne Victory (Thompson 9’, 20’) 2-2 Brisbane Roar (Henrique 5’-pen, Broich 27’)

Round 6: Brisbane Roar (Berisha 11’) 1-1 Wellington Phoenix (Brown 36’)
Round 7: Newcastle Jets (Griffiths 44’) 1-2 Brisbane Roar (Henrique 59’, Meyer 82’)

Round 8: Brisbane Roar (Berisha 23’, 45’, Nakajima Farran 33’, 41’) 4-0 Perth Glory

Round 9: Sydney FC (Petratos 1’, Emerton 19’) 2-0 Brisbane Roar

Round 10: Brisbane Roar (Nichols 78’) 1-2 Melbourne Heart (Germano 12’, Babalj 27’)

Round 11: Wellington Phoenix (Ifill 27’, Ward 81’) 2-0 Brisbane Roar

Round 12: Brisbane Roar (Danning 83’) 1-2 Central Coast Mariners (Amini 6’, Bojic 45’)

Round 13: Gold Coast United (Severino 88’) 1-0 Brisbane Roar

Round 14:  Brisbane Roar (Nichols 43’, Visconte 49’, Franjic 83’) 3- 1 Melbourne Victory (Kewell 2’)
Round 15: Perth Glory (Dodd 17’, Sterjovski 24’ 79’-pen) 3-3 Nichols 41’, 69’, Paartalu 45’)
Round 16: Adelaide United (Van Djik 79’-pen) 1-1 Brisbane Roar (Nakajima-Farran 60’)
Round 17: Brisbane Roar (Adnan 94, Berisha 95’) 2-1 Sydney FC (Bridge 39’)
Round 18: Melbourne Heart (Germano 31’) 1-1 Brisbane Roar (Berisha 69’)
Round 19: Brisbane Roar 0-1 Newcastle Jets (Wheelhouse 23’)

Round 20: Central Coast Mariners 0-2 Brisbane Roar ( Paartalu 5’, Berisha 38’)
Round 21: Wellington Phoenix 0-2 Brisbane Roar (Berisha 42, Nichols 80’)
Round 22: Brisbane Roar (Berisha 1’, 32’, Henrique 38’-pen) 3-2 Melbourne Victory (Kewell 9’, 50’)

Round 23: Perth Glory 0-3 Brisbane Roar (Henrique 21’, Berisha 59’, 63’)

Round 24: Brisbane Roar (Nichols 33’) 1-1 Melbourne Heart (Good 49’)

Round 25: Brisbane Roar (Berisha 70’) 1-1 Adelaide United (Ramsay 14’)
Round 26: Newcastle Jets (Abbas 14’) 1-2 Brisbane Roar (Berisha 12’, Nichols 81’)

Round 27: Gold Coast United (Bowles 28’) 1-2 Brisbane Roar (Fitzgerald 57’, Lambadaridis 89’)

Major Semi-final 1st leg: Brisbane Roar (Henrique 8’, Paartalu 86’) 2-0 Central Coast Mariners
Major Semi-final 2nd leg: Central Coast Mariners (Zwaanswijk 29’, Kwasnik 32’) 2-3 Brisbane Roar (Broich 2’, Nichols 26’, Henrique 68’)




Brisbane beaten, almost down and out in ACL

Two home games and two defeats- however this defeat could be the knockout blow on Brisbane’s claims to getting out of their group at the 1st attempt. Goals from Juan Estiven and a penalty from Kwak Tae-Hwi were enough to see off the Roar who found the net via a deflection from a Stefanutto shot. The only positive from what was a disappointing night is that it seems like everyone got through the 90 minutes healthy and they should all be ready for Orange Sunday.
Brisbane Roar 1: (Stefanutto 25’)
Ulsan Hyundai 2: (Velez 11’, Tae-Hwi 73(p)’)
Tuesday, 17 April 2012
Venue: Brisbane Stadium, Milton, Brisbane
Referee: Torki Mohsen (Iran)
Crowd: 7,015
Starting Line-ups:

Fitzgerald for Berisha (58’), Brattan for Murdocca (63’), Meyer for Nichols (76’)
Substitutes not used: Redmayne, Mundy, Donachie, Visconte

Yellow Cards: Berisha (46’)
Red Cards: Nil


Ienaga for Maranhão (51’), Jae-Soo for Seung- Yong (83’), Hyo-Gi for Seulki (90’)

Substitutes not used: Young-Kwang, Dong-Suk, Chang-Woo, Jin-Ouk

Yellow Cards: Ienaga
Red Cards: Nil

Ulsan got off to what was for them a dream start in the game when they took the lead inside the opening 10 minutes when Juan Estiven Velez robbed Mitch Nichols of the ball 30 odd yards from goal. Estiven then powered a fantastic strike from 20-25 yards out which I think Theo got one hand to, but couldn’t keep it out of the net. He also seemed to be wrong footed by the flight of the ball. Either way not a great start to what was a must win game.
Brisbane however maintained their composure and began to assert themselves on the contest by controlling possession and launching some attacking raids down the flanks- particularly down the right where Franjic and Henrique enjoyed a reasonable amount of success. Unfortunately the final cross just didn’t find Berisha. Paartalu also had two good chances just after the equaliser- one from outside the box which was blocked and one where he really should have hit the target, but his shot looped over the crossbar.
Brisbane did however get their equaliser at the midpoint of the 1st half when Murdocca played a little ball over the defenders into the path of the onrushing Shane Stefanutto who hit a 1st time volley which went across the keeper and into the bottom corner at the far post. There is some suggestion it deflected off of Ulsan skipper Kwak Tae-Hwi but im not so sure- either way im giving the credit for the goal to Stefanutto.
Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be for Brisbane as with 20 minutes to go the Iranian referee gave what appeared to be a soft penalty kick to Ulsan for a foul by Adnan on Min-Soo. Im not sure if it was a stray leg or some sort of weak upper body contact but either way for mine it defiantly belongs in the soft category- and the majority in attendance would suggest it was a case of simulation. But the only opinion which matters is that of the referee and Tae-Hwi stepped up cheekily to convert the penalty for Ulsan.
Brisbane desperately pushed for the equaliser which would have given them some hope in the group but a shot from around the edge of the area from James Meyer was about as close as they came to grabbing what imo would have been a deserved equaliser- but thems the breaks
Looking ahead to the Grand-Final Brisbane played well for most of the game but seemed to be just a little bit flat in the opening quarter hour or so, but they worked their way into the game well. They produced their usual combination play and created some good chances in the game which will hopefully give them confidence for Sunday. Its also a blessing that they got through the game unscathed injury wise and Postecoglou will have a full squad to pick from for the Grand-Final- minus Hingert who’s out with an ankle injury.

Player Ratings:
Theoklitos 7, Franjic 7, Smith 7, Adnan 6, Stefanutto 7, Paartalu 7, Murdocca 6, Nichols 6, Henrique 7, Berisha 7, Broich 7, Fitzgerald 6, Brattan 7, Meyer 7.

Ulsan: Seung-Gyu 7, Young- Sam 7, Tae-Hwi 8, Min-Soo 7, Jae-Seong 7, Seung-Yong 7, Lee Ho 7, Estiven Velez 8, Seulki 7, Maranhão 6, Keun-Ho 7., Ienaga 7, Jae-Soo 7, Hyo-Gi 7.


ACL table:
Following Matchday 4:

Brisbane Roar Suspension Watch:
1 yellow card from a suspension: Stefanutto, Franjic, Murdocca, Berisha
* Jurman is available for selection in the next AFC Champions League game

Up next for Brisbane: Hyundai A-League Grand-Final aka ‘Orange Sunday II- The sequel’ against Perth Glory on Sunday afternoon at 4.00pm. There’s still some tickets remaining if you haven’t got them yet but I wouldn’t leave it too much longer to book.
Up next in the ACL: FC Tokyo away on Wednesday May 2 in Japan. The 6th and final game in the competition will be played on May 16 at ‘Brisbane Stadium’ against Beijing Guoan.

ACL Matchday 4 preview: Brisbane Roar vs. Ulsan Hyundai


It’s a huge week ahead for football fans in Brisbane with Orange Sunday MKII coming up- but 1st there’s the small matter of the Asian Champions League 1st with a matchday 4 fixture at home to Ulsan Hyundai. The return fixture in Korea two weeks ago ended 1-1 but Brisbane must pick up the maximum 3 points on offer if progression to the round of 16 is to be a possibility.


Asian Champions League table:

Brisbane suspension watch:

Players 1 yellow card from a suspension: Franjic, Stefanutto, Murdocca


ACL form:
Brisbane: LDD
Ulsan: WDD


Brisbane Roar Squad:


Ulsan Hyundai Squad:

Brisbane team news:

The main news here is at the back with Matthew Jurman being suspended for this fixture and Jack Hingert being unavailable due to a hit on the ankle he copped in Gosford last weekend. The good news is that Bahraini defender Sayed Mohamed Adnan will be available for selection- having served his 1 match ban for acquiring two yellow cards in the campaign.
The other talking point is upfront with ever-present Besart Berisha possibly being rested for the fixture due to a combination of fatigue and illness. It’s been reported that the Albanian sharp shooter has barely slept since the game down in Gosford where he says he nearly collapsed due to fatigue. Thomas Broich is the man most likely to fill in upfront- but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Broich, Henrique and Fitzgerald interchanging positions more than usual throughout this match. Marco is speculating that a final decision will be made on Berisha after training today. There’s also the option of including Berisha as a substitute if things aren’t looking good. I don’t think we’ll see young Proia making his debut now- but stranger things have happened.


Predicted Roar starting XI: Theoklitos, Franjic, Smith, Adnan, Stefanutto, Paartalu, Murdocca, Nichols, Henrique, Broich, Fitzgerald.

Subs: Redmayne, Mundy, Donachie, Brattan, Visconte, Danning, Berisha


Ulsan Hyundai’s K-League form:

K-League table:


Lessons learnt:

Given that we’ve played each team one now there really is no point in going through the players of note from each side- so instead here’s a quick look back on what we learned last time we played Ulsan. FC Tokyo and Beijing will be done closer to the time of those return fixtures.

Defensively Ulsan are a reasonably solid defensive outfit marshalled by captain Kwak Tae-Hwi who is also the Korean captain but they are not impregnable as Brisbane discovered on Matchday 3. They had quite a bit of joy down both flanks in this fixture with most if not all of Brisbane’s chances coming from getting in behind their fullbacks. Brisbane’s pace in behind on the night (i.e.- Fitzgerald) was a major weapon on the counter attack and with Henrique back in the side most likely that avenue of attack should be effective again.


In midfield they have some skillful players as you would expect but I don’t think they were better or of a higher skill level than their Brisbane counterparts. Even when we went down to 10 men I thought we still managed to control the game enough to create a winning goal. Holding midfielder Julian Estiven Velez was pretty poor last time out and im expecting him to have an improved performance this time out.

In attack they were lead last time by Brazilian import Maranhão who looked to be below his best on the night and got dragged in the 2nd half.  They also had Lee Kyun-Ho up top next to him but their biggest threat came down the flanks through Seong- Yong. On the whole though I didn’t find them overly impressive in an attacking sense the 1st time around- which if it happens again should result in Brisbane dominating the game.

Keys to the game:

For Brisbane the priorities are two fold- but the biggest priority here is to get the 3 points. Getting the three points here will put them in a strong position to qualify out of the group with two games remaining and a home fixture against the beatable (imo) Beijing on Matchday 6. A draw wouldn’t be disastrous but it would put Brisbane in a very tight spot with a trip to Tokyo next on the horizon. A loss (and draw tbh) and its basically curtains for the 2012 ACL.


In this game im expecting Brisbane to dominate possession in this fixture similarly to how the did in Korea with the pace of Fitzgerald and Henrique in wide areas important. If Broich plays as a sort of false #9 it will be interesting to see how it works given it hasn’t really been tried- they did it in pre-season to some success but doing it against Rochedale and Wolves is a bit different to against Ulsan. Brisbane should have their chances in the game though- just a matter of if they can take them. Ulsan will be in attack aswell but they struggled to break a tiring 10 man Brisbane down on their own patch.

The other big priority for Brisbane will be to get through this one fit and healthy given they have another big game on Sunday. With Hingert out and Berisha less than 100% right now it would be optimal if Brisbane get out of this one injury free. Kickoff at Suncorp is at 7.00pm Tuesday so get on down and enjoy some international competition and put the speculation of the past 48 hours

Brisbane secure home Grand Final


Hyundai A-League Major Semi-final – Leg 2
Central Coast Mariners 2 :( Patrick ZWAANSWIJK 29’, Adam KWASNIK 32’
Brisbane Roar 3: (Thomas BROICH 1’ Mitch NICHOLS 26’, HENRIQUE 68’
Brisbane Roar win 5-2 on aggregate

Sunday, 8 April 2012
Bluetongue Stadium

Referee: Jarred Gillett
Crowd: 9,846


Get ready for Orange Sunday MkII- Brisbane Roar will host the 2012 A-League decider following a 5-2 victory over the Central Coast on aggregate with Henrique, Nichols and Broich doing the damage. Kwasnik and Zwaanswijk got the Mariners on the scoreboard. Brisbane ofcourse held a 2-0 lead over the Mariners and their two early goals were more than enough to see off the Premiers Plate winners. Central Coast will now host Perth on Saturday to determine who Brisbane will play.


Starting Line-ups


Brattan for Murdocca (58’), Hingert for Stefanutto (70’), Jurman for Franjic (84’)

Yellow Cards: Brattan
Red Cards: Nil


Central Coast: Sainsbury for Zwaanswijk (73’), Amini for Rogic (73’), Ibini for Sutton (77’)

Yellow Cards: Kwasnik, Zwaanswijk, Bojic, Sainsbury, Wilkinson

Red Cards: Nil


Brisbane got off to the best start imaginable with Thomas Broich’s free kick going untouched and into the Mariners net. There was however some controversy surrounding it with most believing Nichols interfered with the play while being in an offside position. Here’s the explanation offered by referee’s coach Mark Shield:


In regards to Brisbane’s opening goal, the considerations you need to take to decide if it should be penalised for offside is whether Mitch Nichols was interfering with play – clearly he was in an offside position when the ball was played – and the secondary consideration to see if he would be penalised if he was interfering with play or with the line of sight of the keeper.


Our view is that he clearly was doing both and it should have been penalised offside. The goal shouldn’t have stood. In regards to Henrique’s handball, I’m not convinced that’s a definite penalty. Handball’s such a difficult one because it’s the only rule in Law 12 which speaks of intent – it’s got to be an intentional handball. I’m not convinced that was a deliberate handball.


If the 1st goal didn’t kill the tie off- then Mitch Nichols rounding off a brilliant move on the right side to make it 2-0 on the night and 4-0 on aggregate surely did. The move was a typical Brisbane Roar move exploiting the space with lateral movements across the edge of the 18 yard box.  Henrique did well to find him with a deaf touch with Franjic making a good decoy overlapping run. Surely game and tie over right?


Well the Mariners were never going to just lie down and they proceeded on their mission impossible task and Zwaanswijk got them on their way. His 30 yard strike had a fair amount of power behind it but in truth Theo will be disappointed he didn’t keep it out. Soon after Kwasnik produced a tidy finish on the edge of the box to make it 2-2 and give them an outside shot at what would have been an incredible comeback.  


While Central Coast did continue to attack to try and make the 2nd half interesting they just couldn’t create any clear cut chances. Brisbane however did create one on the counter attack with Berisha laying on an excellent chance for Henrique and the Brazilian made no mistake to end the contest if it wasn’t already.  


So what of the much vaunted fatigue factor? Well I think its fair to say that Brisbane did tire in the 2nd half just as both Arnold and the media expected- the problem was that the game was already over by that stage and the Mariners weren’t exactly fresh themselves- physically or mentally. The shoe now is on the other foot in the Grand Final- If the Mariners get there.


Preliminary final preview: Central Coast Mariners vs. Perth Glory

I was going to post this on its own later in the week, but because it’s not our primary interest here’s a brief preview of the Preliminary final.


2011/12 season record between the two:

Round 4: Central Coast Mariners (Simon 27’, Ibini 45’) 2-1 Perth Glory (Dodd 6’)

Round 13: Perth Glory (McGarry 83’) 1-3 Central Coast Mariners (Bojic 60’, Simon 64’)

Round 25: Perth Glory (Dodd 25’) 1-0 Central Coast Mariners


Key Players:
Central Coast:
Tom Rogic
Shane Smeltz


This game should be an intriguing watch actually between two sides who play a similar brand of football and are near the top of their games right now. The travel and extra time factors for Perth will be an issue but perhaps not as much as expected given the heavy schedule Central Coast has also faced.


Central Coast will go in clear favourites for the game at home but I would not write Perth off- they’re on a good run at the moment and are more than capable of producing what would be the upset. There should also be numerous goals in this one with Ibini, Rogic, Amini and Sutton on one side while Miller, Andrezinho, Dodd and Smeltz are on the other.