Besart Berisha is the greatest foreign player in the history of the A-League and with 99 goals to his name, he deserves to be recognised as such.
The irrepressible Melbourne Victory frontman turned on the style in their 4-1 demolition of Perth Glory on Saturday night, scoring one and setting up Fahid Ben Khalfallah with an outrageous piece of skill that had to be seen to be believed.
You wouldn’t have seen it if you tuned in to the ABC’s sports round-up Offsiders on Sunday morning – although it must be said Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou is a regular guest on the show – and there was a pervasive feeling around this weekend’s split round that much of the football would be swiftly overlooked.
That often seems to be the case when it comes to Berisha, whose prickly disposition and insatiable will to win makes him a difficult player for neutrals to enjoy.
But love him or loathe him, there’s no denying his incredible assist just before half-time on Saturday was one of the most impressive pieces of skill seen this season.
And with Berisha closing in on becoming the first player in A-League history reach 100 goals, the fiery frontman deserves to be recognised as one of the greatest footballers to have ever graced our shores.
He’s at least being rewarded via international recognition, although it’s safe to say Berisha’s call-up to the Kosovo national team came as an unexpected bolt from blue.
It really shouldn’t have the effect of depriving a blockbuster clash between Victory and Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on March 25 of the game’s key protagonist, but having failed – yet again – to factor in international breaks to the A-League season, that’s the situation we currently find ourselves in.
Perhaps if Football Federation Australia didn’t want an army of critics with internet connections to chastise their every move, they could try not making so many ridiculous decisions?
As it is, we now look ahead to a Round 24 that will effectively be ruined by international call-ups.
And in the meantime, we just sat through a split round that left most of us scratching our heads and wondering where the rest of the action was.
It’s all well and good to try and give A-League teams a fighting chance in the AFC Champions League, but any good will evaporates when such concessions aren’t applied consistently or effectively communicated to fans.
So it is that we’re left with three fixtures remaining in Round 23 to be played next weekend – with no Sunday game yesterday and no Friday night clash next week.
And with Berisha on the cusp of scoring a historic 100th goal – which should have been the major selling point of a gargantuan showdown against his former club – we’re instead lamenting, for the umpteenth time, the fact the A-League doesn’t break for internationals.
Berisha could now bring up his century at home to Wellington Phoenix on April 2, by which time Sydney FC might have already wrapped up the Premiers’ Plate.
The Sky Blues were workman-like in their 1-0 win over Central Coast on Friday night, on a cow paddock of a pitch that Mariners coach Paul Okon labelled “embarrassing”.
There must be serious doubts over the quality of the surface for any potential title decider at Allianz Stadium – not that the SCG Trust will do anything, having made it abundantly clear they couldn’t care less about anything to do with football.
So it is that the competition is left to struggle on against an onslaught of apathy and neglect, with the A-League badly in need of some positive headlines.
We should celebrate one in the form of Berisha, who, despite his occasionally over-the-top antics, is the best foreign player the A-League has ever seen.
He deserves high praise for his 99 goals with two different clubs – and more importantly, a huge celebration when he racks up the century.