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WOW! I don't think there is anyone who would have thought Glory would make it to the Grand Final, especially not the guy who shares my bed
What an amazing Prelim Final it was against Mariners. Brissy have a game in mid week in the Champs League against a Korean team but it's at home so there isn't any real disadvantage. I assume my Frosty and Sledge will be going over for the game neither have missed a Glory Grand Final yet and I doubt this will be the first
Edited by Terminal Frost to give the Grand Final thread the gravitas a Perth Glory appearance deserves..
Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson is adamant his side will not be daunted by the prospect of taking on Brisbane Roar in an A-League grand final that could mark the WA side’s return to the summit of the game.
Just as they did in last night’s preliminary final against Central Coast Mariners, the bookmakers will give Glory little chance of beating Brisbane at Suncorp on Sunday - and that will suit Ferguson just fine.
“They are one off games and anybody can beat anybody in the finals,” Ferguson said. “We’re going to go there with the attitude and confidence that we can beat them.”
Glory have twice been thumped by Roar this season (3-0 and 4-0) but they will draw inspiration from a 3-3 draw at nib Stadium in January, which had been among the first signs of the team’s revival following a poor run of results.
The draw with Roar was also a result that gave Ferguson breathing space after speculation Tony Sage was ready to axe his coach, despite the owner’s public commitment to retaining the Scotsman at least until the end of the season.
“It’s funny how football works,” said Ferguson, who was recently granted a two-year contract extension.
“At Christmas time you’re hanging on to your job and you’re hoping you get a chance to keep it going. Tony and the board showed great faith in keeping me on and I’m absolutely delighted that we’ve reached the final because it pays back the faith Tony has shown.”
Glory, who twice won the old National football League and are now preparing for their first A-League grand final, have done it the hard way.
After beating Melbourne Heart 3-0 in a finals eliminator, they edged Wellington Phoenix 3-2 after extra time in the major semifinal before last night’s penalty shoot-out win over the Mariners.
Adam Kwasnik had given the home side the lead at Bluetongue Stadium before Shane Smeltz scored his 17th goal of the season to equalise.
But Glory skipper Jacob Burns was the man of the moment when he showed nerves of steel to fire home the final spot-kick to seal a 5-3 win after Mariners midfielder Michael McGlinchey skied his effort.
Mariners coach Graham Arnold was livid after the match because officials had failed to spot an offside in the lead-up to Smeltz’s goal.
Yet the match had remained at 1-1 largely because of the Mariners’ wastefulness, some fine goalkeeping from Glory’s Danny Vukovic and Smeltz’s failure to find the target with a free header he would normally have buried.
Apart from Kwasnik’s failure to add to his tally, the Mariners also lamented Patrick Zwaanswijk’s inability to find the net with a dubiously awarded second half penalty.
Glory defender Steve Pantelidis was furious that referee Strebre Delovski had awarded the spot-kick for his tangle with Kwasnik and he was relieved when Zwaanswijk wasted the opportunity by smashing his spot-kick on to the crossbar.
“I suppose you could say that at times we did ride our luck but then Smeltzy has missed an absolutely fantastic chance at the end,” Ferguson said. “He could’ve clinched it for us there as well.”
Ange Postecoglou has denied that speculation linking him with the Melbourne Victory coaching job next season will be a distraction in Brisbane Roar's quest for a historic A-League title defence.
The Roar mentor again refused to put to bed rumours he's set to return to Melbourne on a reported $1 million per season deal with the under-performing Victory.
Postecoglou also re-confirmed on Sunday he won't talk about his future until his current commitments end.
With Brisbane, to meet Perth Glory in Sunday's A-League grand final at Suncorp Stadium, also involved in the Asian Champions League, the club's off-season is at least another month away.
If they progress through a tight Group F - in which they sit last, three points behind leaders FC Tokyo - then they'll play a round of 16 knockout clash on May 29 or 30.
Success there would put Brisbane into a quarter-final more than three months later.
That has given rise to the feeling the best chance the Roar have of keeping their coach is by ensuring they'll be vying for Asian supremacy when the Champions League resumes in September.
The Roar play Korean club Ulsan Hyundai in the fourth of their six ACL group matches on Tuesday night - making for two huge matches at home in five days.
But Postecoglou clearly disagreed that questions about his future were off-putting for his team and insisted the reports wouldn't be an obstacle to them becoming the first club to win successive A-League titles.
"People can speculate and it's one of those things where people can say pretty much whatever they want and no one is going to refute it," he said.
"That allows people to make assumptions and reasons and come to conclusions.
"I'm comfortable with that and I haven't seen anything in the group to suggest that we won't be anything but 100 per cent on Tuesday.
"When my commitments are over and we're in the off-season, it's then we'll be making the decision."
Postecoglou won't wrap any of his players in cotton wool before Sunday's decider, indicating his full-strength team will line up against Ulsan at Suncorp.
Even A-League golden boot Besart Berisha is set to start despite suffering a chest cold which led to the Albanian striker resting from main-group training again on Sunday morning.
"That's not what we're about," Postecoglou said.
"We see both competitions as equally as important. From our point of view, it's about putting our best team out."
A powerhouse in the twilight of the old National football League, Perth Glory believe they can end a long and painful wait for A-League success when they face Brisbane Roar in the grand final.
The Glory booked their spot in their first season finale since winning the last NSL title in 2004 with a penalty shootout triumph over Central Coast in Gosford on Saturday night.
The Roar will be hot favourites to claim back-to-back championships when the sides meet at Suncorp Stadium next Sunday but the Glory are talking up their chances of an upset on the back of four straight wins.
The Glory featured in four of the last five NSL grand finals, winning the last two, but have struggled to replicate that success in seven seasons of the A-League, reaching the finals only once before this season.
"I think this is long overdue," Glory midfielder Travis Dodd told AAP.
"Not only for the players but the supporters who have endured a tough six years in the A-League.
"We've done it the hard way, but the supporters and the owner Tony Sage have stuck with us and given us everything we need to get here today.
"The task is enormous, going to Brisbane in front of a parochial crowd but, with the confidence from the last few weeks, there's no reason we can't go in there thinking we can get the result.
"Everybody will be expecting them to win and I think, to a point, they should be expecting big things from themselves, but it's a one-off game and anything is possible."
Glory coach Ian Ferguson admitted his side rode its luck against the Mariners, as Central Coast missed a penalty, wasted plenty of chances and Shane Smeltz's equaliser was allowed to stand despite suggestions of offside.
Roar coach Ange Postecoglou admitted the Mariners were the better side but paid tribute to Perth for hanging tough.
"It was a tough game for Perth but they got through it and full credit to them," Postecoglou said.
"I've been saying for a while that form's the most important thing going into finals and, if you look at it, probably the two best-performed teams, particularly since Christmas, are in the grand final."
While the Roar host South Korean side Ulsan in the Asian Champions League on Tuesday night, Postecoglou denied suggestions an experienced Glory side might also be weary on Sunday after their past two finals games went to 120 minutes.
In fact, it is one of the Glory's veterans who Postecoglou fears most, identifying former Manchester United midfielder Liam Miller as the biggest threat ahead of the A-League's top scorer Smeltz, who took his season tally to 17 goals against the Mariners.
"I think if he (Miller) had been playing for one of the teams on the eastern states, we'd be raving about him more," Postecoglou said of the 31-year-old.
"Obviously Smeltzy with his goals (is a danger) but Liam Miller could potentially be a problem for us on grand final day."
West Australian Mathew Cheeseman has been named as an assistant referee for this Sunday's A-League grand final between Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar.
The 27-year-old, a referee in the State league, is only the second WA official to be appointed to a national grand final, following Eddie Lennie, who took charge in four NSL finals.
"When I saw FFA's number come up on my phone this morning, I think my heart skipped a beat," Cheeseman said. "How do you respond when you're asked, 'What are you doing Sunday afternoon?'
"Being only the second WA referee to be appointed to a national league grand final is a huge honour, and to be given the opportunity to represent all WA officials is certainly a great thrill. "I never thought that this would even be a possibility, so to say I'm excited is a huge understatement.
"My aim has always been to officiate at a FIFA World Cup, so this will be a great stepping stone for that goal."
Cheeseman impressed many when he correctly signalled a goal for Glory striker Shane Smeltz in the 3-0 finals over Melbourne Heart earlier this month when it was unclear whether the ball had crossed the line or not.
Shane Smeltz at Glory training today. Pic: John Mokrzycki/WA News
Sharp-shooter Shane Smeltz knows Perth Glory will have to produce their best performance of the season if they are to upset the odds and win Sunday's grand final at Suncorp Stadium.
Defending champions Brisbane Roar are overwhelming favourites to wrap up successive titles and Smeltz indicated that anything less than top form from every Glory player would result in shattering disappointment for the club.
"We've got to play the best game we've played all year to win this game - and I think the players know that," Smeltz said.
This season, Glory were twice thumped by Brisbane, 3-0 and 4-0, but also held the A-League's benchmark club to a 3-3 draw. Smeltz is adamant Glory are a far better side these days.
"I didn't play in that game but I watched it and it was almost a disappointment to draw that game," he said. "I think we played really well in the first half, sort of dominated, got the goals and then obviously they showed how good a team they are and they came back and scored some goals.
"I'm sure we're going to take some confidence out of that... but I think we're actually playing better football now."
Glory have taken the long route to the grand final while Brisbane comfortably accounted for Central Coast Mariners in a two-leg major semifinal.
Smeltz had given the WA side the best possible start to their finals series with a hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Melbourne Heart before Todd Howarth scored an extra-time winner against Wellington Phoenix.
Glory endured another energy-sapping extra-time match against the Mariners on Saturday before captain Jacob Burns bagged the winner in a penalty shoot-out.
Aside from Brazilian midfielder Andrezinho, who is in doubt for the grand final because of a groin injury, Smeltz said the players had felt no ill effects from the arduous schedule.
"Obviously any soreness or tiredness goes away when you know you've got a grand final at the end of the week, so really looking forward to it," he said.
And Smeltz, who experienced the pain of losing a preliminary final to the Mariners last season when he played for Gold Coast United, is determined to get his hands on the trophy on Sunday.
"In my first season at this football club to reach a grand final is great and personally and for the club it's fantastic," he said. "Hopefully we can get the right result and get the win in the final."
Christmas when we got fucked by Heart and Central Coast at home and Tony Sage spat the dummy and threatened a walk out we were more worried about having a team and avoiding the wooden spoon than even considering finals.
Friday is looming as D-day for Liam Miller and Andrezinho as the Perth Glory pair attempt to prove their fitness ahead of Sunday's A-League grand final with Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium.
Andrezinho, who injured his groin in last week's preliminary final win over Central Coast, has failed to train all week and is facing an uphill battle to be a part of the Glory squad.
Miller suffered an injury scare at training on Wednesday when he felt hamstring tightness.
The 31-year-old was immediately pulled from the park but subsequent scans cleared him of any damage.
Glory coach Ian Ferguson is confident the former Manchester United midfielder will be fit to take on the Roar.
But it's not looking as rosy for Andrezinho, who will be heavily scrutinised at training on Friday to deem if he's worth the risk.
"Time will tell. Once he's on the training park, we'll see what happens," Ferguson told Perth radio station 6PR.
"Liam was more precautionary. He felt a bit tight in the hamstring and we just decided to pull him off the training track.
"The scans came back OK. There's no tear or anything. We've done the right thing in pulling him off straight away. We're hoping it's just a bit of tightness."
Glory captain Jacob Burns said the team were "over the moon" to make the grand final, and couldn't wait to take on the Roar.
Burns' successful penalty in the shoot-out against the Mariners sealed the win for Perth, and the 33-year-old said the team would be confident of a similar result if the grand final also went to penalties.
"I think in the finals, it's been a huge test of our character," Burns said.
"We've come from behind twice, we've gone through on penalties and we'd be more than happy to go through any way we can just to get our hands on that trophy."
Players rarely need motivation to get up for a grand final.
But if Brisbane midfielder Mitch Nichols needed any for Sunday's Brisbane showdown with Perth, he received it on Tuesday night with a forgettable performance in the Roar's 2-1 loss to Ulsan Hyundai which virtually killed off the club's Asian Championship League campaign.
A careless piece of play in the 11th minute, which created the opportunity for lightning-quick Colombian striker Juan Velez to rifle home a shot, was the start of a woeful night for Nichols which only ended after coach Ange Postecoglou hooked him in the 75th minute.
"I had a touch and I probably could have gone past him (Velez) but, instead, he tackles me and puts it (ball) in the top corner almost," said the fair-haired Nichols who was guilty of trying too hard to redeem himself.
"It was probably my worst performance of the year, to be honest.
"The effort and everything else was there but nothing was clicking."
The lethal combination of Johnny Warren medal winner Thomas Broich, who's showing signs of regaining his magical touch, and Golden Boot winner Besart Berisha, who's never won a title, will go a long way towards securing Brisbane another A-League championship.
But a lot hinges on skipper Matt Smith's ability to limit the opportunities presented to Perth Glory's goal-scoring wizard Shane Smeltz.
The New Zealand international who has easily passed Archie Thompson as the A-League's all-time leading goal scorer with 66 from 102 matches, has been on fire with eight goals from his past four games.
"From a personal perspective, I'm the person lining up against him," said Smith, aware of the need to deny Smeltz any space or time.
"I know over past experiences the way he plays, the runs he makes, his strengths and his weaknesses.
"Individually, I'll do as much as I can to ensure he doesn't get anything on grand final day."
Smith, who has taken the captain's armband from last season's inspirational skipper Matt McKay, admits he's living the dream leading Brisbane in a grand final.
"This is something I've always dreamt of doing and I'm really pleased it's with a manager and players with the desire to do well," said the English-born defender.
"I don't think I'll ever forget the last two years of my career in Brisbane.
"It's something that's come late in life for me but which I will always cherish."
Smith meanwhile dismissed concerns about the condition of the pitch, which will host a Super Rugby clash 48 hours before the grand final.
"The pitch will be what it will be on Sunday. It will be the same for both teams," he said.