Extending their streak to 23 games without a loss and the chance to secure the 2010/11 Premier's Plate are two overriding factors for league leaders Brisbane Roar tomorrow night.
The Roar host the Melbourne Heart at Gold Coast's Skilled Park, following up their 2-0 midweek win over Wellington Phoenix at the venue, which has become their home away from home due to the Queensland floods.
Whatever seems to get in their way, the Roar have been capable of supplying the goods, as evidenced by second-game player James Meyer's double after coming on as a second-half substitute. This highlights the fact that the Roar have what it takes to triumph in everything that is put in front of them, guided by a strong will to win.
They have now lost the services of promising centre-half Luke DeVere who has left for bigger things with Gyeongnam in Korea but there should be enough depth in Ange Postecoglou's squad to cover him. Milan Susak is back meaning Ange can play around with his back four formation which is likely to consist of Matt Smith, Shane Stefanutto, Ivan Franjic and Susak.
The Heart are in a position where they can be the envy of the rest of the league by knocking over Brisbane but they will be more concerned with getting a favourable result which will aid their finals aspirations.
At present, the A-League new boys sit sixth on the table but are only one and two points clear of the Phoenix and Newcastle Jets respectively, both of whom are knocking loudly on the door of the top six.
A win would have John van 't Schip's men on cloud nine, a draw may still work, but a loss would make things very difficult.
I'm tipping the Heart to go all out in search of maximum points but I don't believe they can roll the Roar who have the attacking weapons to match whatever score the Melbourne visitors can muster.
Verdict: 2-2 draw
Brisbane Roar vs. Melbourne HeartDate: Saturday, 29 Jan 2011 Venue: Skilled Park, Robina Local kick-off: 4:30pm (5:30pm AEDT) Referee: Matthew Breeze Head-to-Head: All matches (played 2): Brisbane Roar wins 2, Melbourne Heart wins 0 (0 draws) Match facts: - Having not lost any of their previous 22 Hyundai A-League matches, Brisbane Roar are now aiming to create a new Australian national league record longest undefeated streak (23), overtaking the previous record of 22 matches initially set by Apia Leichhardt from September 1986 to September 1987.
- The last time a team went for 23 matches in the major league of any football code in Australia (football, Australian Rules, rugby league, rugby union) was back in 1958-1960, when rugby league team St George went for 23 matches in a row undefeated.
Brisbane Roar squad: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Matt SMITH, 4. Shane STEFANUTTO, 5. Ivan FRANJIC, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 9. Jean Carlos SOLORZANO, 10. HENRIQUE, 12. Matt MUNDY, 14. Rocky VISCONTE, 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 18. Luke BRATTAN, 19. Chris BUSH, 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 21. James MEYER, 22. Thomas BROICH, 23. Milan SUSAK *three to be omitted* In: Milan SUSAK (returns from suspension), Rocky VISCONTE (promoted), Chris BUSH (promoted) Out: Luke DEVERE (transferred to Gyeongnam FC)
Unavailable: Matt McKAY (international duty - 1 week), Luke BRATTAN (groin injury - 1 week)
Melbourne Heart squad: 1.Clint BOLTON, 2.Michael MARRONE, 3.Brendan HAMILL, 4.Simon COLOSIMO, 5.Michael BEAUCHAMP, 6.Matt THOMPSON, 7.Rutger WORM, 8.Kristian SARKIES, 9.Gerald SIBON, 10.Wayne SRHOJ, 11.Alex TERRA, 12.Peter ZOIS, 15.John ALOISI, 16.Aziz BEHICH, 17.Jason HOFFMAN, 20.Josip SKOKO, 21.Kliment TASESKI, 22.Nick KALMAR, 23.Dean HEFFERNAN *Four to be omitted* In: Michael MARRONE (promoted), Brendan HAMILL (promoted), Jason HOFFMAN (promoted), Kliment TASESKI (promoted), Dean HEFFERNAN (promoted) Out: Adrian ZAHRA (knee - TBC) Unavailable: Nil