Strikers key for Gold Coast

Bruce Djite believes Gold Coast United's strikeforce has turned lethal at the right time of the season and may hold the key to victory in Saturday night's preliminary final against the Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium.

Bruce Djite believes Gold Coast United's strikeforce has turned lethal at the right time of the season and may hold the key to victory in Saturday night's preliminary final against the Central Coast Mariners at Bluetongue Stadium.

After the glitzy goalfest of their inaugural season in the A-League two years ago, United chose to build from the back this term and started by ensuring a watertight rearguard, which has proven a rock-solid foundation.

With that focus came a shortage of scoring chances at the other end during the home and away season - especially compared with the heady days of their debut campaign - but ever since finals action kicked off, things have changed.

Djite himself leads Gold Coast's scoring charts with 10 goals since joining the club in September last year, but he is surrounded by potency at every turn.

The prolific Shane Smeltz reminded onlookers of his class with a brace in last weekend's triumph over Adelaide United - the first, a world-class peach from distance, and the second a penalty kick that required nerves of steel after being forced to retake it.

Wily striker Joel Porter has returned from injury and transformed into a super-sub over the past fortnight, his guile completely changing both of United's finals matches so far when introduced by coach Miron Bleiberg in what has proven to be a tactical masterstroke.

Even much-maligned livewire Tahj Minniecon has tossed a disappointing season aside and rediscovered the spark that had him celebrated alongside former Brisbane teammate Robbie Kruse as one of Australia's brightest talents.

They've all combined to form an incredible wealth of talent up front, which could prove the distance against the Mariners, according to Djite.

"Tahj is hitting form at the most crucial time and that's important for us. He's really starting to come good and I'm really happy for him and it's a great thing for the team," Djite said. "And Joel Porter has been good - fantastic off the bench in the last two weeks.

"If we were in the season proper I'm sure he'd be starting this game but seeing how successful it's been and how delicate finals campaigns can be, maybe we'll use that again to our effect. But I'll leave that for Miron to decide."

Djite said he expected his own nervous energy to set in closer to kickoff with the Mariners - but having played finals football before with Adelaide United, he said he knows how to handle the pressure of such big games.

"I'm not too nervous at the moment, personally. As the game gets closer it'll probably kick in a bit more," he said.

"I played in a Grand Final before and was part of a pretty good Adelaide United team in the past so I know these things don't come around all too often and if it's your first time around in the finals, maybe the nerves don't kick in because you don't appreciate just how big an occasion it could be."

"Especially with the club going into Asia - the Asian Champions League is a fantastic tournament as well so there's a lot to look forward to."

After the glitzy goalfest of their inaugural season in the A-League two years ago, United chose to build from the back this term and started by ensuring a watertight rearguard, which has proven a rock-solid foundation.

With that focus came a shortage of scoring chances at the other end during the home and away season - especially compared with the heady days of their debut campaign - but ever since finals action kicked off, things have changed.

Djite himself leads Gold Coast's scoring charts with 10 goals since joining the club in September last year, but he is surrounded by potency at every turn.

The prolific Shane Smeltz reminded onlookers of his class with a brace in last weekend's triumph over Adelaide United - the first, a world-class peach from distance, and the second a penalty kick that required nerves of steel after being forced to retake it.

Wily striker Joel Porter has returned from injury and transformed into a super-sub over the past fortnight, his guile completely changing both of United's finals matches so far when introduced by coach Miron Bleiberg in what has proven to be a tactical masterstroke.

Even much-maligned livewire Tahj Minniecon has tossed a disappointing season aside and rediscovered the spark that had him celebrated alongside former Brisbane teammate Robbie Kruse as one of Australia's brightest talents.

They've all combined to form an incredible wealth of talent up front, which could prove the distance against the Mariners, according to Djite.

"Tahj is hitting form at the most crucial time and that's important for us. He's really starting to come good and I'm really happy for him and it's a great thing for the team," Djite said. "And Joel Porter has been good - fantastic off the bench in the last two weeks.

"If we were in the season proper I'm sure he'd be starting this game but seeing how successful it's been and how delicate finals campaigns can be, maybe we'll use that again to our effect. But I'll leave that for Miron to decide."

Djite said he expected his own nervous energy to set in closer to kickoff with the Mariners - but having played finals football before with Adelaide United, he said he knows how to handle the pressure of such big games.

"I'm not too nervous at the moment, personally. As the game gets closer it'll probably kick in a bit more," he said.

"I played in a Grand Final before and was part of a pretty good Adelaide United team in the past so I know these things don't come around all too often and if it's your first time around in the finals, maybe the nerves don't kick in because you don't appreciate just how big an occasion it could be."

"Especially with the club going into Asia - the Asian Champions League is a fantastic tournament as well so there's a lot to look forward to."