Two Hyundai A-League championship winners are on the cusp of big milestones ahead of a massive Easter weekend of Round 24 action in the Hyundai A-League.
Melbourne City FC midfielder Erik Paartalu and Sydney FC winger Bernie Ibini are both set to make their 100th Hyundai A-League appearance this weekend in matches against Western Sydney Wanderers FC and Adelaide United respectively.
Paartalu won two championships with Brisbane Roar FC in 2011 and 2012, while Ibini was a member of Central Coast’s title-winning team in 2013.
Other players to have milestone matches this weekend include Sydney FC’s Nikola Petkovic and Adelaide United’s Isaias, who will make their 50th appearances in the clash at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
Melbourne Victory’s top-of-the-table clash with Phoenix in Wellington will take on extra significance for coach Kevin Muscat and stalwart Leigh Broxham.
The match will be the 50th as a coach for Muscat in the Hyundai A-League, while Broxham will move ahead of Adrian Leijer into second spot on the list of all-time appearances for Victory.
If Broxham takes the field at Westpac Stadium it will be his 177th appearance for the club, second only behind the competition’s all-time leading scorer Archie Thompson (203).
All these personal milestones come as the Hyundai A-League is enjoying its closest season on record with the top five clubs separated by just two points with four rounds remaining.
It’s the closest end to a top flight season in Australia since the end of the 1989-1990 NSL when a similar margin separated the top five sides.
It promises to be a roller-coaster finale to the regular season, kicking off with two huge matches this weekend with the top two Phoenix and Victory doing battle while third-placed Sydney FC host Adelaide United (fifth).
Victory appear in the box seat, having a game in hand and playing teams outside the top six - Newcastle Jets, Brisbane twice, and Central Coast Mariners on the run home.
Phoenix’s run home includes games against both Melbourne teams and a final round showdown with Sydney FC, while the Sky Blues are on the road for the last three matches, including trips to Perth and Wellington.Glory only face one of the top five over the last month while Adelaide are in the same boat, with games against Roar, Wanderers and City after this weekend’s trip to Sydney.