Perth look for return to Glory days
By Liam Fitzgibbon and Jim Morton
SYDNEY, April 15 AAP – A powerhouse in the twilight of the old National Soccer 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.”
16 Apr 9:37 AM