In the Brisbane football community, the excitement for Saturday night is palpable, a win and the Roar clinch their second Premiers Plate. Making the scenario even sweeter is the idea that they will clinch the trophy against Melbourne Victory, the constant thorn in their side from the last five seasons. Last time the Roar won the Premiership in 2011, they clinched it on the back of a draw by the Mariners which made them impossible to catch. This year, they can win it with a result of their own, they currently sit 9 points clear of the Victory with 4 games to play so a successful outing would result in Matt Smith lifting the Plate with The Den in full voice at full time.
Of course it will not be easy for the Roar as manager Mike Mulvey is being forced to manage a shortage of players in his squad due to injury and stupidity suspension. Conflicting reports have emerged over the exact nature of the shortages, it appears that defensively at least, the Roar may find themselves vulnerable. In a scary story, backup left back Corey Brown stopped breathing during an appendectomy which looks set to rub him out for perhaps the rest of the regular season. Normally his spot on the bench would be easily filled with a youth team player but Brown was in contention for another starting berth. Regular left back Shane Steffanuto was pressed into a central role last week due to injury and Brown deputised in his place. If that was not enough, regular central defender Jade North’s status is still up in the air after missing out last week and his backup James Donachie is also out.
With that in mind, the most likely option would be to stick with the current central pairing of Matt Smith and Steffanuto and keep regular option Jack Hingert at right back. The big dilemma comes out on the left where a hole has been left by Steffanuto’s emergency duty in the middle and Brown’s emergency. Mulvey has two options to fill that position, go with the wildly inconsistent Diogo Ferreira or to press the rusty Matt McKay into this role. Ferreira has played left back at times this season but he can be a liability at times as evidenced by his red card earlier on this year. McKay on the other hand was an adequate fill in for the national team at times, but is much better suited to a midfield role where he can roam free.
Up front comes Mulvey’s final selection dilemma, replacing hit man Besart Berisha after his sending off against Sydney. Thankfully the Roar have plenty of experience this year filling Berisha’s spot with the Albanian missing games earlier in the year. Reports suggest that Henrique will come into the starting lineup and push Thomas Broich into the ‘false 9’ role which has worked well in the past. Add in right winger Ivan Franjic who is battling an ankle problem and the Roar are certainly going into this contest needing their backups to step in and contribute.
While things are looking good for the Roar in terms of clinching the Premiership this weekend. They certainly will do things the hard way with up to four of their regular first choice players potentially out for the weekend. What the Roar have proven this year is that their team first approach has worked well for them as the philosophy of ‘next man up’ means that everyone is ready to step in and do what is asked of them.