Melbourne Heart are looking to mount a serious challenge on the A-League championship, while Gold Coast United just want to be taken seriously – for once. Join us from the kick-off at 7.45pm for minute-by-minute live updates from AAMI Park.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Heart were gatecrashing the top two but with a string of injury problems they have gone eight games without a win, plummeting to the nether regions of the top six.
Olyroo duties have also taken away some of their in-form players but balanced against that their talismanic skipper, Fred, is likely to return and fellow midfield collaborator Matt Thompson is a 50-50 chance to play.
That will be a fillip for both the Heart and the game, with promoters lining up to bill this fixture the ‘Kindergarten Cup’ such is the abundance of youth to be found across these two teams.
The Heart have had a reasonably successful season, at least until they hit a recent snag, founded on getting good value out of a clutch of youngsters, including Mate Dugandzic, Aziz Behich and Curtis Good, some of whom are now on Olyroos duty.
Gold Coast United is about to take the whole youth policy thing to sublimely ridiculous levels.
With skipper Michael Thwaite suspended, and the on-loan Jonas Salley having finished his tenure on the Coast, United has been forced to bring in two 17 year olds, Mitch Cooper and Jake Barker-Daish.
Both are part of a reasonably successful Gold Coast youth set-up, but they are likely to notice the step up in intensity tonight.
On top of that, Gold Coast United decided to hand the captaincy of the team to one of the debutants, Mitch Cooper.
Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg publicly stated the obvious that it was ceremonial only and that practically speaking, Kristian Rees would take on the captaincy duties after the tossing of the coin.
This has landed the coach in hot water with Clive Palmer, who has indefinitely suspended Bleiberg.
With United in such disarray, you would have to think the game is a lay down misère for the Heart, but coach van ‘t Schip makes the point young players are capable of playing with a sense of freedom, completely oblivious to the shenanigans that are likely to affect the older players.
But I’m not so sure. If Heart can’t win this game at home, they may as well forget about their season. I think it will be a 2-0 win to the Heart.
Can the Heart get their first win of the year? Is there anything left in the tank for the Gold Coast? Kick-off a bumper weekend of A-League action tonight with our up-to-the-minute live commentary from 8.00pm AEDT and if you’re watching, don’t hesitate to join in the discussion below.