The top two teams get set to fight it out in a two-legged semi-final beginning on Saturday night.
Premiers' Plate winners Brisbane Roar tuned up for their finals campaign with a devastating 4-0 win over Gold Coast United last weekend and should be primed for this but they have take on a Central Coast Mariners outfit who have not lost in their last nine outings.
Obviously it does not compare to the Roar's unbeaten streak of 25 but it does show that they too are tough to defeat and will be well up for their home tie of this mini-series.
Graham Arnold may get back striker Matt Simon if he is fit enough after a knee injury whilst midfielder Rostyn Griffiths returns to add some depth to the line-up.
In the Roar camp, you wouldn't have thought they could get any stronger but midfielder Massimo Murdocca and second top scorer Jean Carlos Solorzano are back in the squad which gives Ange Postecoglou plenty to work with and potentially plenty of headaches.
But all is boding well for the league leaders who should be good enough to get a positive result here before moving into the Grand Final following the return leg next week.
Verdict: Roar 2-0
Central Coast Mariners v Brisbane RoarDate: Saturday, 19 February 2011 Venue: Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Local kick-off: 7.00pm Referee: Matthew Breeze Head-to-Head: All matches (played 20): Central Coast Mariners wins 3, Brisbane Roar wins 10 (7 draws) Match fact: - The scene is set for a battle between goalkeepers Mathew Ryan (Central Coast - 12 clean sheets) and Michael Theoklitos (Brisbane Roar - 11 clean sheets) for the title of most clean sheets for season 2010/11, and with it a new Hyundai A-League season record. Last weekend against Newcastle, Ryan set a new Hyundai A-League for most clean sheets in a season when he kept his 12th clean sheet for 2010/11, while last month Theokiltos equaled the season record of 11 clean sheets. The previous record of 11 clean sheets in a season was initially set by Clint Bolton (2009/10 Sydney), and equaled recently by Glen Moss (2010/11 Gold Coast). A clean sheet is attained when a goalkeeper plays a whole match without conceding a goal.
- Having not lost any of their last 25 matches and clearly surpassing the previous record longest undefeated streak in Australian national league football (22 matches undefeated, Apia Leichhardt 1986-1987), Brisbane Roar could equal the longest undefeated streak ever recorded in AFL/VFL history, the longest undefeated streak record in that competition being 26 matches, set by Geelong in 1952-1953.
Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 3, FS3 HD and Sky Sports 3 (NZ). Hyundai A-League partner is 96.3 Coast FM (Gosford). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Central Coast Mariners squad: 2. Daniel McBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 10. Patricio PEREZ, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 18. Alex WILKINSON, 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 24. Bernie IBINI ISEI, 25. Mitchell DUKE, 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk) *two to be omitted* In: Matt SIMON (return from injury), Rostyn GRIFFITHS (promoted), Mitchell DUKE (promoted) Out: Nil Unavailable: Brad PORTER (knee - four weeks), Nik MRDJA (knee - six weeks), Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee - season)
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, 15. Matt McKAY (c), 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 20. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 22. Thomas BROICH, 23. Milan SUSAK In: Massimo MURDOCCA (returns from injury), Jean Carlos SOLORZANO (returns from injury) Out: Chris BUSH (omitted) Unavailable: James MEYER (toe injury 4-6 weeks)