Sat, Mar 12, 5:07pm by Kevin Pitstock
Brisbane – 11
Central Coast – 3
Drawn – 8
A year ago, the Brisbane Roar soccer club was in a miserable state. Absolutely nothing went right for them in the 2009/10 season, which included an abundance of injuries, plus the sacking of respected coach Frank Farina for drink-driving. At the end of the season, the Roar occupied in ninth spot. Now, 12 months on, Brisbane is playing in its first A-League grand final – and is deservedly hot favourites. The Roar have dominated almost every team they have faced, slamming on a league-high 58 goals for the season. Their 27-match unbeaten run is the best by an Australian soccer for the past 60 odd years.
Central Coast had a very similar 2009/10 season to its upcoming opponents. The Mariners finished eighth at the completion of the home-and-away season – the worst result in their short history. But under the auspices of ex-Socceroos coach Graham Arnold, the boys from New South Wales have turned their luck around in 2010/11. Arnold has transformed this team from one defensive to attacking mindset in the space of one season. They now find themselves just one win away from an elusive first title.
Brisbane’s Recent Form:
Central Coast’s Recent Form:
Vibrant wingman Kosta Barbarouses has been a revelation for the Roar this year. The 21-year-old has scored 12 goals for his team, including one in the semi-finals against the Mariners a few weeks back. Barbrouses will be extremely keen to score a grand final goal against Central Coast on Sunday and if he does, there is no doubt he, and the rest of Suncorp Stadium, will celebrate wildly.
There will be plenty of pressure on young Mustafa Amini this Sunday. The 17-year-old looks set to start in attack for the Mariners with star import Patricio Perez likely to be sidelined by a hamstring injury. Despite the pressure, there is no reason why Amini can’t make an impact on the game. He has shown throughout the season that he is blessed with skill and if he can replicate his achievements on the biggest stage, his profile will rise dramatically.
Brisbane should head into the grand final with the same line-up it started with against the Mariners a few weeks ago.
As mentioned previously, Central Coast is likely to be missing Perez and could also be without star strike Matt Simon. However the Mariners do regain Pedj Bojic, after he received a stoppage time red card against the Roar a fortnight ago.
Expect a very fiery A-League grand final. These teams have been the best two throughout the entire season and will not hold anything back come game time.
Brisbane has every right to be confident. Led by Matt McKay in the middle and Michael Theoklitos in the defensive goal square, the Roar have an extremely balanced side with little to no weaknesses. They have taken all before them so far this season and there is no reason why that can’t continue their outstanding form this Sunday.
However the one aspect that the Mariners can say they have a distinct advantage in is grand final experience. This match will be their third season decider in six seasons. Yes the boys from Gosford lost the previous two, but there is no doubt they will value the big-game experience when they run out in front of 50,000 or so fans at Suncorp Stadium.
With that little bit of extra confidence, don’t be surprised to see Central Coast hit the scoreboard first and early. But the Roar’s depth and overall class should see them prevail. They have produced some of the best soccer ever seen at a domestic level in Australia this season and thoroughly deserve this year’s premiership.
Brisbane Roar to win 2-1 ($8.50 – Sportingbet)
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