Preview: Brisbane v Gold Coast
The rivalry between these two teams has been intense even before the new Gold Coast team has kicked a ball in anger.
Date: Saturday August 8 Kick-off: 7:30pm AEST Venue: Suncorp Stadium TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports News. To purchase tickets visit www.ticktek.com.au
Head-to-head First Hyundai A-League meeting
Pre-Season: (Matches against A-League opposition or touring teams) Brisbane: June 13: North Queensland Fury 0, Brisbane Roar 4, Harrup Park, Mackay July 12: Brisbane Roar 0, Celtic 3, Suncorp Stadium July 19: Brisbane Roar 1, Newcastle Jets 2, Ballymore Stadium, Brisbane July 25: North Queensland Fury 1, Brisbane Roar 0, Tony Ireland Stadium, Kirwan
Gold Coast United: June 23: Gold Coast United 2, North Queensland Fury 0, Skilled Park, Robina July 8: Gold Coast United 2, Fulham 1, Skilled Park, Robina July 18: Gold Coast United 2, Central Coast Mariners 2, Skilled Park, Robina July 25: Perth Glory 0, Gold Coast United 1, Hands Oval, Bunbury
Analysis The rivalry between these two teams has been intense even before the new Gold Coast team has kicked a ball in anger. It's fitting then that they kick off the season against one another at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
It is the first time that two Queensland teams have played against one another in the national league since 1986, but there is plenty of intrigue at play here even if you don't consider the historic aspects of the battle.
Miron Bleiberg was of course, the coach of the Roar, before leaving in November 2007 to be replaced by current coach Frank Farina. Bleiberg has been a crucial player in the formation of the Gold Coast team, along with billionaire owner Clive Palmer, and both have been happy to promote their side to be not only the best in the Sunshine State, but also the best in entire league.
The pre-season results have certainly been promising, especially the 2-1 win over an underdone EPL side in Fulham. Gold Coast came from a goal down to snatch a memorable win, while it rounded of preparations with a 1-0 win over Perth in the final game of the pre-season.
However, Bleiberg won't have his full strength squad available to him, with several players already battling with injuries. Goalkeeper Jess Vanstrattan's domestic debut has been put on hold with the former Juventus back-up to miss at least two weeks with an ankle injury. Scott Higgins will take his place.
Midfielder Zenon Caravella will miss a week with a groin injury, while James Brown is out for two weeks with a shin problem. Brazilian Jefferson will miss at least the first third of the season with a knee injury.
Bleiberg has kept his options open ahead of Saturday's match by selecting a squad of 17, which will be trimmed on matchday. Tahj Minniecon lines up against his old club, adding somewhat to the spice in this battle.
Frank Farina has relished the challenge put out there by the new boys in the pre-season and this week turned up to a pre-match press conference with a cardboard cut out of Bleiberg, who had opted not to attend.
Farina knows all the pre-season talk means nothing and it is the battle out on the field which will earn Queensland bragging rights. That cause is helped by the fact that this match is being played at Suncorp Stadium, the Roar's home ground, with a massive crowd expected.
Brisbane's pre-season form hasn't been all that impressive, but Farina doesn't seem too concerned, with the bulk of the team which nearly made the Grand Final last year back on board.
Massimo Murdocca, who broke his leg pre-season, is the only player unavailable for this match and Farina has opted for a super-extended squad with seven players to be omitted on match day. It's worth noting that the Roar has never lost a season-opener, having won two and drawn two over the four years it had the Queensland moniker.
Most pundits consider it very likely that these two teams will be at the top end of the table come season's end, which add even more of a stake to this clash. It is the birth of a new rivalry, perhaps the biggest the Hyundai A-League has known, and this is undoubtedly the match of the round.
Brisbane Roar: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 2. Andrew PACKER, 3. Luke DEVERE, 4. Craig MOORE (c), 5. Josh MCCLOUGHAN, 6. David DODD, 7. Michael ZULLO, 9. Sergio VAN DIJK, 10. Charlie MILLER, 11. REINALDO, 12. Matt MUNDY, 13. HENRIQUE, 14. Adam SAROTA, 15. Matt MCKAY, 16. Bob MALCOLM, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 18. Danny TIATTO, 19. Isaka CERNAK, 20. Griffin MCMASTER (rgk), 21. Tommy OAR, 23. Tim SMITS, 24. Robbie KRUSE. (*seven to be omitted)
Unavailable: 8. Massimo Murdocca (fractured leg - 3-4 months)
Gold Coast United: 20.Scott HIGGINS (gk), 2.Steve PANTELIDIS, 3.Michael THWAITE, 4.Daniel PIORKOWSKI, 5.ROBSON, 6.Adam GRIFFITHS, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Jason CULINA (c), 11.MILSON, 13.Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 14.Joel PORTER, 15.Tahj MINNIECON, 16.Kristian REES, 17.Matt OSMAN, 22.Adama TRAORE, 23.Steve FITZSIMMONS, 30.Jerrad TYSON (gk - yth). *two to be omitted*
Unavailable: 8.JEFFERSON (knee injury - 3 months), 18.James BROWN (shin injury - 2 weeks), 1.Jess VANSTRATTAN (ankle injury - 2 weeks), 7.Zenon CARAVELLA (groin injury - 1 week)