Brisbane Roar 3 Sydney FC 1
Newcastle Jets 0 Western Sydney Wanderers 3
Central Coast Mariners 2 Melbourne Heart 1
Perth Glory 1 Adelaide United 1
Wanderers Win The Premiere’s Plate In Their Inaugural Season
The eighth season of the Hyundai A-League has concluded in a last gasp final round that saw Western Sydney Wanderers claim the Premiere’s Plate in their debut season and Brisbane Roar march into the finals with a comprehensive victory over Sydney FC. It’s an extraordinary accomplishment for Tony Popovic and his Wanderers side. They are the first expansion team in any Australian sporting code to win the league in their debut season.
On the flip side, it’s disappointing for Sydney and Newcastle who have brought in high profile talent in Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey only to miss out on qualifying for the finals. But there’s no denying that the marquee players this season have made a much bigger impact than Harry Kewell and Brett Emmerton last year. Even better, all three major marquee players have extended their contracts for another season in the league, including Shinji Ono at the championship Wanderers squad. Life in Australia must be treating them well as all three would have turned down bigger money abroad.
At the start of the season I made some predictions for how I thought the season would play out. How did I go?
What I predicted
- Shane Smeltz (Perth Glory) will be the league’s top scorer
- Melbourne Victory will finish in the top six and qualify for finals football
- West Sydney will be absolute rubbish in their first season
- Melbourne Heart will struggle this season and end up wooden spooners
- Wellington Phoenix will continue to perform well under the radar
- ADP will score six goals
- Emile Heskey will outscore Del Piero
- Brisbane Roar won’t make the Grand Final
- Shane Smeltz scored seven goals, finishing as the 14th highest scorer in the league WRONG
- Ange Postecoglou turned Melbourne Victory back into a formidable team and they qualified for finals football CORRECT
- Western Sydney Wanderers went on a run of ten victories in a row (a league record) and won the league WRONG
- I wasn’t far off with Melbourne Heart getting the spoon. They finished on equal points with Wellington Phoenix but had a superior goal difference WRONG
- …but Wellington Phoenix did not perform well and they finished bottom WRONG
- ADP scored 14 goals WRONG
- …and he outscored Emile Heskey quite comfortably WRONG
- Brisbane Roar won’t make the Grand Final TBA
So don’t ever listen to me for advice about football. I don’t know what I’m talking about.
Adelaide United (4) vs Brisbane Roar (5)
Melbourne Victory (3) vs Perth Glory (6)
Western Sydney Wanderers (1) vs Lowest Ranked Winner
Central Coast Mariners (2) vs Highest Ranker Winner
Winner of Preliminary Final 1 vs Winner of Preliminary Final 2
I feel pretty good about Brisbane Roar’s chances. Although we had a little bit of swiss cheese defending in the game against Sydney FC, we were generally a hugely improved side from the start of the season. Most importantly, we’re showing signs of that team spirit that made us such a hard team to beat. I think we’ve finally hit a stage where we have a coach picking on form (starting Nichols over Nijland etc) and newcomers Lustica, Donachie and North have really gelled into the squad nicely. Also, it can’t be overstated how good it is to not be relying on Matt Jurman in the back four. It was like starting with a one goal disadvantage when he played.
For their part, Adelaide United seem to be on a path of self sabotage. They had a fantastic start to the season and then went offtrack when coach John Kosmina quite mid-season due to clashes with the AUFC board members. They’ve not been the same side since, winning only two of their last nine games.
Adelaide’s biggest asset remains their goalkeeper and captain Eugene Galekovic who is an absolute **** to score against. I remember earlier this season when we lost 1-0 at home. Erik Paartalu struck a sweet header that seemed certain to go in but Galekovic somehow kept it out. Galekovic was the difference maker that day. He will need to be on top form to deny the Roar this Sunday.
Here are my fresh predictions for Finals Football.
- Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory will win in the semi finals
- Central Coast Mariners and Western Sydney Wanderers will reach the grand final
- Central Coast Mariners will win the Grand Final
I will do a full season wrap up after the Grand Final where we can laugh at how terrible my new predictions were.