‘We keep dreaming’ – Berisha vows to continue Western United fairytale
Veteran striker Besart Berisha believes Western United’s dreams can become reality after the Hyundai A-League newcomers booked their Semi-Final place.
The Green and Black’s 27th match, and most important one, in their short history was decided by a stunning Alessandro Diamanti free-kick as Mark Rudan’s side advanced past Brisbane Roar, 1-0, to reach the last four of the Finals Series in their debut campaign.
Warren Moon’s Queenslanders dominated possession and territory at Bankwest Stadium but, aside from Brad Inman’s shot which cannoned back off the post, fifth-seeds United contained their opponents, who finished one place and point above them in the final standings.
Berisha has lifted the Championship trophy four times – twice with Melbourne Victory and twice with Roar – and the competition’s all-time leading scorer admits he has eyes on taking his new club on another memorable journey.
“What a story, our first year in the league,” said Berisha.
“We have a dream and we keep dreaming.”
Berisha added: “I’m very, very happy and very proud. I’m very proud as a player to be in this team.
“I can’t be more thankful and proud of the group, and the staff and the club.”
“Let’s see where the story ends, but I hope very far.”
Although every club overcame adversity to relaunch the Hyundai A-League after a four-month shutdown due the cover-19 pandemic – Western United faced the most intense schedule with seven matches in 29 days since the restart.
United were the last club to return from lockdown after an enforced 14-day quarantine period following their relocation from Victoria and coach Rudan praised his team’s character after they have battled through each challenge.
“It’s huge to see where we started 12 months ago and where we are right now,” Rudan said.
“I guess we talk about values, our togetherness, our growth, and the effort – and that was all there today.
“It’s one thing talking about it, and writing it up on a whiteboard – but these players go out there and represent the football club in such a manner that all of fans… should be extremely proud of.
“Our collective spirit is unlike anything I’ve seen and I think you can see that as well through our habits and the way we play the game.
“When I see them fighting for each other and sticking up for each other, they deserve everything they get.”
While Western United have the opportunity to go one step further when they face their state rivals Melbourne City on Wednesday night, Brisbane were left to rue missed opportunities.
Roar's Irish playmaker Jay O’Shea insists the three-time Champions never stopped believing but their luck eventually ran out.
“I didn’t really feel like that until maybe Brad [Inman] hit the post,” said O’Shea.
“Then I think maybe it’s not going to be our night.
“We were in the ascendancy and we were causing them more problems than they were us.
“We were just unlucky not to get the goal and it was just a bit of quality from Diamanti that was the difference on the night.“