Preview: Perth Glory v North Queensland Fury
Friday August 6, (10:00pm AEST, 12:00 NZT)
Date: Friday August 6 Kick-off: 8:00pm AWST (10:00pm AEST, 12:00 NZT) Venue: nib Stadium
Head-to-head Played 3: Perth Glory 0, North Queensland 2, Draws 1
Previous Meeting North Queensland 1, Perth Glory 0, Dairy Farmers Stadium, Round 18, 2009-10
History The former ME Bank, now nib Stadium, will hold bittersweet memories for North Queensland fans as it was at this venue that former skipper Robbie Fowler debuted for the new club in a friendly against Premier League side Wolverhampton in July 2009, where the Fury were far from disgraced in a 2-1 result. In October of that year, the Fury looked dead and buried as the Glory led 1-0 late in the second half, with North Queensland down a man after Ufuk Talay's dismissal and with gun defender Shane Stefanutto having been stretchered from the field with a ruptured ACL. But a controversial own-goal to Perth custodian Tando Velaphi, where he'd grabbed hold of a close-range header only to be barrelled over the goal-line by Chris Grossman, saw the visitors level against the odds. That result really set the tone for meetings between these sides, with North Queensland coming from behind to defeat the Glory 2-1 the second time they played and the Fury dominating a 1-0 win in the third game, where the result flattered Perth.
Pre-season matches: Perth Glory: WA State Team 1, Perth Glory 3 - Litis Stadium Adelaide United 1, Perth Glory 3 - Hindmarsh Stadium Armadale SC 1, Perth Glory 2 - Alfred Skeet Reserve Rockingham City 0, Perth Glory 8 - Lark Hill Sportsplex Perth Glory 3, Gold Coast United 1 - Boomerang Oval, Newman
North Queensland: North Queensland 1, Adelaide United 0 - Brolga Park Gold Coast United 1, North Queensland 0 - Carrara Stadium North Queensland 4, Hekari United 1 - Brolga Park Whitsunday Miners 0, North Queensland 8 - Wanderers Football Grounds, Mackay North Queensland 7, NQ Razorbacks 2 - Townsville Sports Reserve North Queensland 0, NQ Razorbacks 0 - Townsville Sports Reserve
Match Committee Glory have a few concerns despite their decent depth. Central defenders Andy Todd (knee) and Chris Coyne (loan to Chinese club Liaoning) are unavailable, while Josh Mitchell is no certainty to play. Mitchell and striker Michael Baird have both been named in the squad but look likely to drop out as they probably won't receive clearances from their previous Romanian club Universitatea Craiova in time to play this week. Frankly, Mitchell, Baird and Mariner Joshua Rose are caught up in a red tape nightmare over this and they may not play next week either. The end result is that Glory's defence will have to rely on old stagers Jamie Harnwell and Jamie Coyne for this encounter. For the Fury, skipper Talay's bad luck when it comes to Perth continues to haunt him as he's been ruled out with an unspecified injury, leaving Gareth Edds to deputise in his place. Newly signed Ugandan striker Eugene Sseppuya will not play either as his visa has not yet cleared.
Danger men He may not be quite as dangerous as he once was but the man everyone will be coming to watch is Liverpool legend and former Fury skipper Robbie Fowler who looks set to start up front for his new club this week. With striker Baird more than likely unavailable, Fowler could line up alongside the predatory Branko Jelic or the rejuvenated Mile Sterjovski in the Glory attack. One of the real danger men for North Queensland is striker Dyron Daal, who took his chances with aplomb late in the last season when he got a chance to regularly start once Daniel McBreen headed to the Glory. There are a lot of unknown qualities about North Queensland but midfielder Panni Nikas was the National Youth League player of the year for 2009-10 at Central Coast, while striker Chris Payne will be forever remembered for his handball goal for Sydney FC in last season's finals.
Where the game will be won? This has the makings of an absolute shoot-out, although once anyone writes that in a preview, the game often ends 0-0. Glory has some serious class through the midfield and it will be interesting to see how Steven McGarry can use his passing to advantage Fowler up front, with skipper Jacob Burns offering more defensive support. It will also be interesting to see how Jelic, injured for much of last season, comes back, while big things are always expected of Mile Sterjovski. Sterjo looked as relaxed as anyone's seen him a few days back, and with questions about national selection off the radar after his international retirement, it looked as if a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. However, despite the Glory's class and everyone predicting a wooden spoon for the Fury, no one really knows how the North Queenslanders will gel. Will adversity and poor predictions fire them up? Already we've seen in pre-season that they can score, having belted 30 goals in during their warm-up games. But what sort of quality were the teams they played against? Former Everton youth player Mark Hughes, former Victory defender Simon Storey and Eric Akoto have the makings of a formidable defence and if they can contain the attacking threat of their former skipper, then the Glory may just be vulnerable, as they were last season when the exceptional Todd missed a fortnight through suspension. A Glory win here would also see them break two hoodoos as they've never beaten the Fury and never won a Round 1 match in the Hyundai A-League. I think they'll just do it, but expect a very fired-up Fury in this encounter.
Teams: Perth Glory squad: 1. Tando VELAPHI, 2. Josh MITCHELL, 3. Jamie COYNE, 5. Jamie HARNWELL, 7. Jacob BURNS (c), 9.Robbie FOWLER, 10. Michael BAIRD, 11. Branko JELIC, 12. Scott NEVILLE, 14. Steven McGARRY, 16. Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17. Todd HOWARTH, 19. Naum SEKULOVSKI, 20. Aleks VRTESKI, 21. Mile STERJOVSKI, 22. Anthony SKORICH, 23. ANDRIJA JUKIC.
*two to be omitted*
Unavailable: Andy TOOD (knee- 2 weeks), Victor SIKORA (hip - 2 weeks), Tommy AMPHLETT (groin - 2 weeks), Chris COYNE (on loan - 8 weeks)
North Queensland Fury FC squad: 1. Justin PASFIELD (gk), 4. Eric AKOTO, 5. Mark HUGHES, 7. Gareth EDDS (c), 8. Adam CASEY, 10. Dyron DAAL, 11. David WILLIAMS, 12. Panagiotis NIKAS, 14. Chris GROSSMAN, 15. Chris PAYNE, 16. Simon STOREY, 17. Osama MALIK, 18. Brett STUDMAN, 19. Isaka CERNAK, 20. Matthew HAM (gk), 21. Jason SPAGNUOLO
*one to be omitted*
Unavailable: 2.Jack HINGERT, 7.Ufuk TALAY, 13.Andre KILIAN, Eugene SSEPPUYA