This is my blog on the unpredictable world of football. Hope you enjoy it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Brisbane Roar to Premiership

It took 120 minutes of end to end football and eight penalties in a penalty shoot out to decide the 2010-2011 A-League premiers. The 50168 strong crowd didn't leave disappointed as Australia's two best clubs went blow for blow right to the end. It was a drama filled match with referee Matthew Breeze very inconsistent with his calls, he also seemed to have left his cards at home failing to give cards out to players for indiscretions throughout the match - Amini's shirt tug before half time springs to mind. However the season finished on the right note I believe - and I'm sure many others agree.

The Match:
The opening minutes of the first half saw both teams looking very 'cagey' as most finals matches do. But the Central Coast Mariners were the stronger team, with a very industrious midfield - being both hard for the Roar to break down and superb on the attack. The Mariners passing game was sticking well with chances falling to both strikers throughout and one golden one to Matt Simon whom failed to connect strongly enough with the ball. Mustafa Amini had some bright touches and some excellent distribution early on but it was clear the Mariners lacked the usual number 10 Particio Perez. Thomas Broich was contained well by the Marniers defence, in particular Pedj Bojic in the first half, as the German failed to get the ball much and stamp himself on the game.

However the Roar came out firing in the second half with chances coming constantly throughout the half, but they were mainly half chances. Brisbane Roar really seemed to lack a cutting edge in the final third through out the match. Their build up play was excellent as always, but at times - Broich in particular - just took too many touches. In the 60th minute Graham Arnold - Mariners Manager - made a change that had many fans scratching their heads when he brought off attacking midfielder Mustafa Amini for John Hutchinson. Ange Postecoglou - Roar Manager - was not to be out done by bringing off top goalscorer Kosta Barbarouses for Brazilian Henrique. It was not the fact that he brought Henrique on that was puzzling it was why he took Barbarouses off rather than Jean Carlos Solorzano. Matt Simon's game was done in the 72nd minute when he was replaced by Daniel McBreen, who was surprisingly not in the starting eleven. Then it was local hero Mitch Nichols turn to exit in the 82nd minute for Massimo Murdocca. The final change for Mariners was more of an indicator of intentions for Arnold's men as he replaced defensive midfielder Rostyn Griffiths for 18 year old Bernie Ibini-Isei - a striker.

Extra Time ensued with Bernie having a massive impact with two chances both producing fine saves from Michael Theoklitos - the Roar 'keeper. He won a corner in the 95th minute, won the header and Adam Kwasnik was on hand to deliver the match's opening goal. Kwasnik was again involved in the second goal seven minutes later when he collected the ball from another Theoklitos save and calmly passed to an open Oliver Bozanic who slotted home what looked like the winner. The Roar's trail blazing season seemed to be coming to a desperately unlucky ending, but in a true show of that almighty Queensland spirit they had two final tricks up their sleeve. Susak - a central defender - was sacrificed once the mariners took the lead for winger Rocky Visconte. It was to prove a masterstroke by coach of the year Postecoglou. In the 117th minute, with three minutes of extra time remaining crowd favourite Henrique finished another Roar passing exhibition to swing the momentum in their favour. In the final minute a valiant, spirited run from substitute Visconte down the left flank won the Roar a corner in the final minute of play. German import Broich stepped up to the mark to provide a superb corner for holding midfielder and the Roar's tallest player on the park Erik Paartalu to head home the equaliser in what has to be one of Australian sports greatest comebacks of all time.

The match had come down to a dreaded penalty shoot out. A test of nerves and skill, a finale that had 50000 plus people on their feet in anticipation. The first penalty was taken by Mariners, with Theoklitos guessing the right way and unlucky not to save. Right back Ivan Franjic was a surprise first penalty taker for the Roar but slotted calmly into the net to level the scores. Mariners slotted their second penalty of the night wrong footing Theoklitos this time. Roar made it 2 all. It was then substitute McBreen's turn and he could not out fox Theoklitos as he saved keeping the score at 2 all before Roar captain Matt McKay gave them the lead slotting his left footed shot home. The Mariners right back Pedj Bojic had it all to do with the Mariners forth shot, but again Theoklitos could not be beaten with a world class save to deny the equaliser. Up stepped the 'slippery fish' Henrique, the man who was under a fitness cloud at the start of the week. As he approached the ball the crowd grew with anticipation on the awaiting result. He stuttered slightly in the run up putting off young 'keeper Matt Ryan - the John Marsden medallist - and slotting the winner home. A moment of pure joy for Roar supporters, the stadium exploded with the Roar of victory. Brisbane had capped an absolutely unbelievable season in which they have been undefeated in 28 matches on their way to taking the minor and major premierships and write their names in Australian football folklore. No one gave them a chance at the start of the 2010-2011 season, yet their they stood, overcoming the other 10 teams in the A-League to win the title and enjoy the right to compete in the 2012 Asian Champions League. Congratulations to Brisbane Roar for a season where they have no doubt shown Australian Football the way forward, thank you.

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