Preview: Queensland Roar v Perth Glory
There's plenty for Queensland to play for in this final-round match, the Roar in with a chance of taking out the Hyundai A-League premiership while another hat-trick to Sergio van Dijk could see him end the regular season with a golden boot as well.
Date: Saturday January 24 Kick-off: 8:00pm AEDT, 7:00pm AEST Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane TV and Radio: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1 and Sky Sport 1. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is 6PR (Perth). To purchase tickets visit www.premierticketek.com.au
Head-to-head 13 A-League meetings: Queensland - 8 wins, Perth 1, Draws - 2
Previous meeting Queensland Roar 4, Perth Glory 1, Suncorp Stadium, Round 12, November 2008
Past Five Games Queensland Roar: Round 16: Adelaide United 0, Queensland Roar 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 17: Queensland Roar 3, Wellington Phoenix 2, Suncorp Stadium Round 18: Melbourne Victory 2, Queensland Roar 1, Telstra Dome Round 19: Central Coast Mariners 3, Queensland Roar 4, Bluetongue Stadium Round 20: Queensland Roar 3, Sydney FC 1, Suncorp Stadium
Perth: Round 16: Sydney FC 1, Perth Glory 4, Sydney Football Stadium Round 17: Perth Glory 0, Adelaide United 1, Members Equity Stadium Round 18: Central Coast Mariners 1, Perth Glory 0, Bluetongue Stadium Round 19: Perth Glory 3, Melbourne Victory 2, Members Equity Stadium Round 20: Newcastle Jets 2, Perth Glory 1, EnergyAustralia Stadium
Analysis There's plenty for Queensland to play for in this final-round match, the Roar in with a chance of taking out the Hyundai A-League premiership while another hat-trick to Sergio van Dijk could see him end the regular season with a golden boot as well.
However, plenty needs to go right for Queensland to finish the campaign on top, with the Roar needing to beat Perth by more than two goals while relying on losses to Adelaide and Melbourne.
From the stats, the Roar should complete a comfortable win over the Glory, a team they've beaten twice this season in 3-0 and 4-1 defeats. Indeed, the Glory haven't managed to beat the Roar since the Hyundai A-League's first season, making the winless run the longest in the competition's four-year history between all teams.
The Roar have also been boosted by Tahj Minniecon's return, the youngster having enjoyed a sensational match against Central Coast two rounds ago, while Liam Reddy will also come back from injury to take his place between the sticks. As well as the quality players being brought into the side, coach Frank Farina has the luxury of an in-form team, with Mitch Nichols particularly impressive last weekend, Charlie Miller getting warmed up for his second match back after a double hernia operation and van Dijk in sensational touch, his hat-trick against Sydney taking his tally for the season to 10, two behind Wellington's Shane Smeltz and one adrift of Melbourne's Daniel Allsopp in the race for the Golden Boot.
Minniecon, Miller and van Dijk look in a good position to exploit a weakened Glory side that's down to a threadbare squad through injuries and several players heading overseas for trials and loans. Perth's back four has been regularly breached by the Roar this season as well and Queensland's forwards will be confident of doing it again. But a central pairing of veteran Jamie Harnwell and Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who will be looking to impress Socceroos' coach Pim Verbeek, shouldn't be so easily brushed aside, while National Youth League player Scott Neville has been a revelation at right back in the last two matches and won't afford Queensland the luxury of easy shots at goal.
The Glory's midfield, an ever-changing beast this season, has been weakened by the absence of injured skipper Jamie Coyne but former Ajax man Victor Sikora looks likely to move back in there after playing as a striker in last weekend's 2-1 loss to Newcastle, where the Glory looked far from threatening without striker Eugene Dadi and Nikita Rukavytsya.
Dadi may still be away on loan to Liechtenstein-based FC Vaduz, but Rukavytsya looks likely to play up front for the Glory once more having returned to Australia after trialling with Dutch Eredivisie club FC Twente. It may be the 21-year-old's last game for the Glory before heading to Europe, but he'll be looking to go out in style and his pace will cause Queensland's undermanned defence, missing the injured Luke De Vere at centre back more than a few problems, while Glory youth striker Anthony Skorich, could play up front as well after hitting a hat-trick last weekend.
Queensland skipper Craig Moore will also be walking on egg shells as his rash challenge on Simon Colosimo last weekend has given him four yellow cards and another would see him miss the first final. But unfortunately for Perth, the last word could come from veteran Scotsman Miller, who's carved them up on two previous occasions, scoring one of the goals of the year last time these sides met.
Queensland Roar Squad: 1. Liam REDDY (gk), 2.Andrew PACKER, 4.Craig MOORE (c), 5.Josh McCLOUGHAN, 7.Michael ZULLO, 8.Massimo MURDOCCA, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 10. Charlie MILLER, 12. Tahj MINNIECON, 14.Ben GRIFFIN, 15.Matthew McKAY, 17.Mitch NICHOLS, 18.Danny TIATTO, 19. Isaka CERNAK, 20.Griffin McMASTER (gk), 21.Tommy OAR, 22. Robbie KRUSE, 23. Tim SMITS. *three to be omitted
In. 1. Liam REDDY (returns from injury), 12. Tahj MINNIECON (returns from injury), 19. Isaka CERNAK (promoted), 21.Tommy OAR (promoted), 23. Tim SMITS (promoted). Out. 16.Hyuk-Su SEO (calf injury), 40. Matt HAM (end of short-term injury contract)
Unavailable. REINALDO (groin injury), Luke DEVERE (hamstring injury)
Perth Glory Squad: 30.Tando VELAPHI (gk), 1.Jason PETKOVIC (gk), 2.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5.Jamie HARNWELL, 7.Nick RIZZO, 11.Scott BULLOCH, 13.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 15.Hayden DOYLE, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 17.Jimmy DOWNEY, 19.Naum SEKULOVSKI, 22.Wayne SRHOJ, 24.Anthony SKORICH, 28.Andrija JUKIC, 29.Victor SIKORA, 31.Scott NEVILLE, 32.Dean EVANS * two to be omitted
In: 13.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA (return from trial in Holland), 17.Jimmy DOWNEY (return from injury), 24.Anthony SKORICH (promoted from Youth Team), 32.Dean EVANS (promoted from Youth Team) Out: 3.David TARKA (hip - season), 4.Jamie COYNE (glute - 1 week)
Unavailable: Josip MAGDIC (ankle - season), AMARAL (hamstring - season), James ROBINSON (abdomen - season), Frank JURIC (shoulder - test), Eugene DADI (on loan to FC Vaduz), Dino DJULBIC (transfer to Rot Weiss Ahlen - Germany), Hayden FOXE (leg - season), Mark LEE (foot - 1 week), Marc ANTHONY (hamstring - 1 week), Adrian TRINIDAD (ankle - 1 week)