Preview: Gold Coast United v Brisbane Roar

Sunday August 8, 3:00pm AEST (5:00pm NZT)

Date: Sunday August 8
Kick-off: 3:00pm AEST (5:00pm NZT)
Venue: Skilled Park

Played 3: Gold Coast United 3, Brisbane Roar 0

Previous Meeting
Gold Coast United 5, Brisbane Roar 1, Skilled Park, Round 21, 2009-10

Gold Coast United really set the tone for the South Queensland derby in Round 1 last season when they overcame a stiff challenge from the Roar to win an entertaining clash 3-1. It was GCU’s first Hyundai A-League hit-out and the result certainly had everything we have come to expect from Miron Bleiberg’s men; Shane Smeltz scoring, Jason Culina scoring and lots of funny quotes after the game. In Round 10, Joel Porter’s solitary goal was enough to get the job done in a 1-0 result that came just after former Roar coach Frank Farina was indefinitely suspended, while the final clash between these two sides saw Brisbane dominate the opening half on Boxing Day, taking the lead through Matt McKay before GCU returned fire in a big way, scoring five goals through a Smeltz hat-trick and Kristian Rees’ brace.

Gold Coast United:
Gold Coast United 1, North Queensland Fury 0, Carrara Stadium
Gold Coast Select XI 1, Gold Coast United 5, Carrara Stadium
Rochedale Rovers 1, Gold Coast United 2, Underwood Park
Palm Beach Sharks 0, Gold Coast United 5, Mallawa Drive
Perth Glory 3, Gold Coast United 1, Boomerang Oval, Newman
New Caledonia 0, Gold Coast United 1, Numa Daly Stadium, Noumea
New Caledonia 3, Gold Coast United 2, Numa Daly Stadium, Noumea

Brisbane Roar:
Newcastle Jets 0, Brisbane Roar 1, Port Macquarie Regional Stadium, Port Macquarie
Brisbane Roar 1, Everton 2, Suncorp Stadium
Wellington Phoenix 2, Brisbane Roar 1, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Brisbane Invitational XI 2, Brisbane Roar 3, Underwood Park
Sunshine Coast XI 1, Brisbane Roar 3, One Mile Ovals, Gympie
Brisbane Roar 2, Melbourne Heart 0, Clive Berghofer Stadium, Toowoomba
Ipswich Invitational XI 0, Brisbane Roar 5, QLD Group Stadium
African Invitational XI 0, Brisbane Roar 2, Goodwin Park
Peninsula Power 0, Brisbane Roar 3, AJ Kelly Park
Brisbane Olympic 0, Brisbane Roar 4, Goodwin Park
Brisbane City 2, Brisbane Roar 3, Spencer Park

Match Committee
Miron Bleiberg’s GCU squad pretty much resembles the same team from last year. The coach has declared he has every faith in the players he’s got and with Smeltz back on the glitter strip, this team sheet could have been transplanted straight from the last campaign. Bleiberg still has some work to do before Sunday as there are five players to be omitted. For his opposite number, Roar coach Ange Postecoglou, his side has suffered an early blow losing Reinaldo for the first two matches with a hamstring injury. While the GCU side is familiar, the Roar are a somewhat unknown quantity, including players like Thomas Broich and Milan Susak. Broich, Erik Paartalu and former Phoenix forward Costa Barabrouses have all been impressive in the pre-season, so it will be interesting to see how they really gel when the pressure is on.

Danger men
One of United’s really promising talents is Eritrean-born youngster GolGol Mebrahtu. Mebrahtu has been in good scoring touch during the pre-season but the presence of a bloke named Smeltz may just force him to the sidelines for this encounter. Smeltz was absent for much of the off-season as he bummed around with his Kiwi mates at something called the World Cup. He then almost transferred to Chinese Super League club Shandong Luneng but his move fell through for undisclosed personal reasons. Maybe Smeltzy got sick of Chinese people telling him he was offside when he scored against Italy for the All Whites! At any rate, the Hyundai A-League’s master predator is back in business and looks all set to resume normal service with skipper Jason Culina. For the Roar, as we’ve already mentioned, there’s a real unknown element to Ange Postecoglou’s side. That being said, I think we can expect big things from Costa Barbarouses. The youngster was a more-than handy fringe player at Wellington who just couldn’t break into the side as a regular with players like Paul Ifill and Chris Greenacre up front for Ricki Herbert’s team. But he showed his class with a stunning strike to score against Everton recently, the only goal the Toffees conceded in Australia during the pre-season tour, and could be fired up to make the most of his second chance.

Where the game will be won
Despite the additions to Brisbane’s squad, a quick glance at their pre-season results suggests defence is still an issue at the Queensland capital club. Postecoglou has enjoyed his first pre-season in charge of the club after all the drama there last season that saw an extraordinary clean-out of big name players, including former skipper Craig Moore and midfielders Danny Tiatto and Charlie Miller among others. But Moore’s absence from the heart of defence still seems to be hurting the Roar as shown by the fact they’ve conceded numerous pre-season goals to lower league opposition. With that in mind, just what Smeltz, Porter, Culina and co will do to their derby rivals is anyone’s guess. GCU also appears to have the wood on Brisbane at this stage of their relationship and it wouldn’t surprise to see them continue that winning run. It may not have been the easiest of summers for United as they will have been haunted by a dramatic fade-out at the business end of last season that culminated in them losing their first final to Newcastle. There’s also been backroom shenanigans going on that could have disrupted the players, but now that the real things back, expect Miron Bleiberg’s men to get the job done on Sunday afternoon, in what may be a big result.

Gold Coast United squad: 1.Glen MOSS (gk), 2.Steve PANTELIDIS, 3.Michael THWAITE, 5.ROBSON, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 8. ANDERSON, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Jason CULINA, 13.Bas van den BRINK, 14.Joel PORTER, 15.Tahj MINNIECON, 16.Kristian REES, 18.James BROWN, 19.Andrew BARISIC, 20.Scott HIGGINS, 21.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 22.Adama TRAORE, 23.Steve FITZSIMMONS, 24.John CURTIS

*five to be omitted*

Unavailable: 17.Matt OSMAN (knee – indefinite), 30.Jerrad TYSON (not selected)

Brisbane Roar Squad: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Matt SMITH, 3. Luke DEVERE, 4. Shane STEFANUTTO, 5. Ivan Franjic, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 7. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 10. HENRIQUE, 12. Matt MUNDY, 15. Matt McKAY (c), 17. Mitch NICHOLS, 18. Luke BRATTAN, 20, Andrew REDMAYNE, 21. James MEYER, 22. Thomas BROICH, 23. Milan SUSAK

*two to be omitted*

Unavailable: 9. Jean Carlo SOLORZANO (awaiting international clearance), 11. REINALDO (hamstring – 2 weeks), 14. Rocky VISCONTE (hamstring – 2 weeks)