'Besart is a unique human': Rudan explains stare down after Berisha substitute
The Hyundai A-League’s all-time top goalscorer, Besart Berisha, has gained a reputation as a hitman. It also appears that his looks can kill.
The Western United striker was clearly not impressed with head coach Mark Rudan’s call to hook the 34-year-old with 62 minutes on the clock as the Green and Black chased the game in Gosford.
Central Coast Mariners held a 1-0 lead through Giancarlo Gallifuoco’s deflected strike and Rudan decided he was better off without Berisha on the field as Scott McDonald was introduced to partner Kwabena Appiah-Kubi in the visitors’ attack.
It had been a frustrating 10 minutes for Berisha. After lifting an awkward volley over the crossbar with the goal gaping, he saw his close-range header clawed away by inspirational keeper Mark Birighitti.
“If looks could kill… he is not happy,” FOX Sports commentator Simon Hill said, as Berisha walked to the touchline.
“It’s a stare of between Berisha and Rudan,” analyst Andy Harper said.
“To say he’s displeased is an understatement and you know when Besart Berisha is cooking because the eyes tell the story,” Hill added.
A visibly fuming Berisha walked straight to the Western United bench after his substitution and did not offer Rudan any embrace.
But despite the tension of the moment, the 44-year-old insisted there was absolutely no issue between the pair and said Berisha "had probably not been at his best".
"I know Besart, I know all my players inside out. I don't expect them to be smiling when they come off," Rudan said.
"Besart is a unique beast and human being.
"You've got to take each individual separately and I think he was obviously disappointed.
"He's had 12 months out of football [as well], he's working extremely hard to get those match minutes that we need."
Berisha had four close-range attempts on goal but could not find the net
United poured forward in the closing stages but the equaliser never arrived, with Alen Stajcic’s Mariners holding out to secure their first clean sheet in 39 attempts.
It was hardly a tactical masterclass from Stajcic that prevented Rudan’s side from finding the net, but perhaps Central Coast were due their fair share of luck.
A combination of poor finishing and a display of heroics from Birighitti ensured Western United went back to Victoria empty handed.
It was the first time the Hyundai A-League newcomers had lost on their travels, but talismanic captain Alessandro Diamanti showed no signs of concern after his team went a goal down for the fifth straight match.
“It was a good game,” he told FOX Sports.
“We had many shots and maybe were unlucky and maybe had some mistakes but that is okay.
“We will keep on, never give up. We have to fix the mistakes.
“We work on the pitch. It is okay.”
Western United were denied a second-half penalty after a cross struck the arm of Mariners defender Ziggy Gordon, but the Italian playmaker is not going to dwell on the decision.
“We make mistakes on the pitch and the referees sometimes makes mistakes,” he said.
”The match is very quick and it is very hard.
“It’s okay. I don’t care.
“Maybe it is a penalty, maybe it is not. We have to look forward.”
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In Round 8, Western United go up against Hyundai A-League Champions Sydney FC for the first time. The match, at GMHBA Stadium, kicks off at 4pm AEDT on Sunday, 1 December.
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