Over the past few weeks, Brisbane Roar have risen from the foot of the table to a relatively comfortable position as one of the top six competitors.
Brisbane striker Besart Berisha has received a one-match suspension by Football Federation Australia but the Roar marksman may yet play against the Melbourne Heart this Saturday.
The A-League’s leading scorer had sparked an ugly post-match melee against Sydney FC on the weekend after a running battle with the Sky Blues’ Pascal Bosschaart.
Berisha ended the match with his shirt off and encouraging his opponent to join him to settle their disagreement outside the playing field.
Players from both sides then began a shoving match on the sidelines as officials attempted to separate the squads.
The FFA deemed Berisha’s actions a breach of the national code of conduct and suspended him for one game with a one-match suspended sentence on top.
He was found to be in breach of three provisions of the code, the key ones relating to offensive behaviour/provocative gestures and provocation or incitement of hatred or violence.
But given the club has seven days in which to appeal the Roar could conceivably delay a response until after Saturday’s key match against the Heart.
Even if the club accepted the sanction it may prefer to see Berisha sit out the following week’s match against ninth-placed Newcastle.
the club said in a statement it would “consider the decision of the FFA and a statement on the next course of action will be made in due course.
“Until such time as the appeals process is concluded, Berisha will remain free to play in Hyundai A-League fixtures for the club,” the statement added.
Before the FFA denouement, Roar skipper Matt Smith said Berisha was feeling low and remorseful about his actions.
“He feels really down about what happened last week and that’s certainly not his character,” the captain said.
“He’s the big friendly giant and the family man, that’s probably the best way I can describe Bess.”
Berisha, who scored nine goals in the first eight rounds before an eight-match drought, and team-mates Ivan Franjic and Erik Paartalu refused to shake hands with Bosschaart before the match.
Smith said he expected to see better sportsmanship in future.
Judging by the Roar’s training formation on Thursday, classy German Thomas Broich looks set to start against the Heart who shot themselves in the foot with a 1-0 loss to Central Coast on Wednesday night.
Smith expected an extremely tough contest with the third-placed Heart wasting a perfect chance to draw level with the Roar on 28 points.
“They were certainly unlucky, they had their chances last night,” he said.
Smith still believed there was enough time for the defending champions, with 10 matches left, to catch the red-hot Mariners (37 points).