Besart Berisha was involved in a fracas last time these teams met. Image courtesy of couriermail.com.au
Earlier this season, Central Coast slightly amended an appaling home record against Brisbane with a 2-1 win at Bluetongue Stadium. Bernie Ibini and Tom Rogic were the scorers that day; Rogic has now headed to Scotland to try his luck with SPL giant Celtic, while Ibini could sign with Belgian side Club Brugge prior to the transfer window closing. Custodian Mat Ryan was close to moving to another Glasgow side, Rangers, earlier this year, and coach Graham Arnold has now lost Adam Kwasnik for the season with a knee injury. He’ll also be without midfielder Nick Montgomery for Friday night’s clash due to suspension.
Brisbane’s season has been on life support for the past few weeks, but the Roar brought to an end a three-game losing run with a critical 1-0 victory away to Perth Glory last weekend. Clearly demonstrating how the A-League’s six-team finals series rewards mediocrity, Brisbane sits in seventh spot, just one point behind sixth-place Melbourne Heart, but a distant 12 points shy of Adelaide United in fourth.
With just 21 goals to their credit from 22 games, Roar coach Mike Mulvey will be hoping new signing Stef Nijland can cure his team’s anaemic scoring record. It is believed Brisbane will bring the 24-year-old PSV Eindhoven forward to the club on a four-month loan deal. He is a former Netherlands under-21 representative, but has been on a couple of loan spells at other Eredivisie clubs and is yet to reach his full potential.
Brisbane’s main strike weapon last season, Besart Berisha, has been relatively quiet this season, and could be competing for game time with Nijland. Last time he faced the Mariners he was accused of attempting to head-butt Central Coast skipper John Hutchinson, before giving Daniel McBreen a mouthful. Given Brisbane’s precarious position, he might be better advised letting his football do the talking.
Roar has won four and lost four at home, while the Mariners have tasted defeat just twice on the road this season. In the last month they beat top-four sides Adelaide United 3-1 and Western Sydney 2-0 , while also drawing 1-1 with Victory in Melbourne. Their last loss came at the end of December when they were shocked 1-0 by lowly Sydney FC at the Sydney Football Stadium.
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