Santa eyes Roar revenge after Grand Final heartbreak

Western Sydney Wanderers striker Brendon Santalab is still haunted by the loss to Brisbane Roar in the 2014 Hyundai A-League Grand Final, and is eyeing some revenge when the two sides meet in the semi final at Pirtek Stadium on Sunday.

Wanderers host John Aloisi’s Roar at Pirtek Stadium this Sunday afternoon with prize for the winner a berth in this year’s decider.

Sunday will be the first finals clash between the two clubs since that 2014 grand final at Suncorp Stadium, where the Wanderers led late on only to be beaten 2-1 in extra-time by the comeback Kings from Brisbane. 

It was a shattering loss after Matt Spiranovic's header late on gave them hope of Championship glory.

Matt Spiranovic

“Santa” admits memories of that grand final heartache are motivating him heading into the weekend.

“Yeah definitely. I’m still thinking about the loss in the grand final to Brisbane which didn’t sit well. It’s time for a little bit of revenge,” Santalab told reporters on Tuesday.

“That’s the way I go into the game anyway. It was very disappointing,” he added of his memories of that decider.

“We were winning the game with five minutes to go and the usual Roar came back again. 

"They continue to do it over and over again and we don’t want a repeat of that on Sunday night.”

After finishing in second spot, the Wanderers had the advantage of enjoying last weekend off and Santalab says it was the perfect opportunity to refresh and prepare for the battle with the Roar.

While Tony Popovic’s side had their feet up, Roar had to overcome a huge scare against Melbourne Victory, with two very late goals ensuring they escaped with a 2-1 win.

Matt McKay

Key points

  • In the three clashes between the clubs this season, Brisbane has won two, with the Wanderers winning the other.
  • Santalab has started just three games this season and has scored five goals in those matches, including braces in both of the last two games.
  • The Wanderers have lost just two of their last 12 matches on home soil.

But it was a poor performance from Brisbane - largely due to Victory's excellent pressing game till fatigue took its toll on the Big V - and one in which Santalab believes his side can exploit at Wanderland.

“It was very strange of Brisbane because they’ve dominated a lot of their games this season,” the in-form Wanderers attacker said.

“Their possession football has been great but that wasn’t evident against Melbourne. I think it’s a good time to play against Brisbane after a performance like that.”

Santalab and midfielder Mitch Nichols were part of the Semi Final launch at Pirtek Stadium on Tuesday with Hyundai A-League boss Damien De Bohun and the Championship trophy. 

The forwards purposely kept his hands off the trophy, though. 

“I just want to lift it in a couple of weeks,” Santalab said with a cheeky smile.