We’re in store for the best A-League finals ever

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert


89 Have your say

    How about that for a final round? The A-League finals will kick off with some serious momentum and with any luck, in front of some big crowds.

    Where do we even start with a round of football like that? Some weeks there’s barely a single noteworthy topic to talk about, but this was certainly not one of them!

    It all started on Good Friday, when Besart Berisha finally notched his 100th A-League goal in Melbourne Victory’s 1-0 win over the Central Coast Mariners.

    It was hardly a vintage display from a stuttering Victory outfit, and the relief on Berisha’s face after he scored – not to mention Kevin Muscat’s – was palpable.

    Do Victory have what it takes to win the championship? They’ve got plenty of finals experience, but they could hardly be described as in-form.

    Sydney FC celebrated winning the Premiers’ Plate on Saturday night as they steamrolled the hapless Newcastle Jets 2-0 in front of a jubilant Allianz Stadium crowd.

    It was another stellar performance from the Sky Blues, but it all could have turned out so differently had Jets midfielder Andrew Nabbout not blasted his penalty kick wide.

    Did Nabbout’s miss cost coach Mark Jones his job? Not likely.

    But it won’t have helped a club now in desperate need of regeneration, not least because the Jets can ill-afford to waste another season as they’ve arguably done with this one.

    The grand final replay between Adelaide United and Western Sydney Wanderers finished in an enthralling 2-2 draw, but it also signalled the final Reds game for the one of the A-League’s finest creative talents, Marcelo Carrusca.

    What is it with A-League clubs jettisoning Latin American players? First Carlos Hernandez, then Marcos Flores, now Carrusca. And it’s not as if the league is flush with individual brilliance.

    Most clubs are quick to blame salary cap constraints for the chopping and changing of personnel.

    But as Mark Bosnich said on Shootout last night, the lack of transfer fees means clubs are reluctant to sign players to long-term deals, with the players often leaving the A-League altogether once their contract runs out.

    Let’s hope that’s not the case with Carrusca, who has proved – on his day, at least – one of the most entertaining talents in the competition.

    If you thought there was drama in the preceding three fixtures, it was nothing compared to what we saw on Sunday.

    What was it again about football being boring? Tell that to the fans who watched 16 goals scored across two rollicking Sunday night encounters.

    Brisbane Roar booked a home semi-final with a stunning come-from-behind 4-3 win against a shell-shocked Wellington Phoenix.

    It would have been even more had Jamie Maclaren not fired his spot-kick straight at Lewis Italiano – missing the chance to claim the Golden Boot outright in the process.

    If that wasn’t enough, Perth Glory then downed Melbourne City 5-4 in a frankly ridiculous encounter at nib Stadium.

    The hosts blew the chance to confirm a home semi-final of their own, but surely the bigger story is Melbourne City finishing fourth and missing out on an AFC Champions League spot in the process.

    That won’t sit well with the City Football Group, although there’s still time to inflict some serious damage in the finals.

    That may include a Melbourne derby in the semi-finals – and if the stars align a Sydney derby as well – with both Etihad Stadium and Allianz Stadium set to be packed to the rafters for what would be a surefire money-spinner for Football Federation Australia.

    They certainly have no qualms about asking A-League fans to reach deep into their pockets for finals tickets, with the cheapest seats behind the goals at Suncorp Stadium costing a hefty $45 for an adult ticket.

    It will cost them plenty of fans at the gate – but that rarely seems to concern an FFA determined to wring every last drop out of fans.

    That’s a story for another day, though. Right now it’s full steam ahead for the A-League finals.

    And if the Easter weekend is anything to go by, it could be the best A-League finals series yet.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist from December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (89)

    • April 17th 2017 @ 10:31am
      Waz said | April 17th 2017 @ 10:31am | ! Report

      Sydney have the form and the table position that makes them long favourites and the only certainty to make the GF.

      Victory have the position but not the form, their title shot very much a lottery.

      Roar have the form and the fitness of key players returning to the squad. But get past wanderers and that trip to Thailand may be their undoing.

      City just have the wrong squad built by the wrong coach.

      Glory couldn’t stop my five year old from scoring so they’re not going very far.

      Wanderers are difficult to beat (only Sydney have lost fewer games) but is that enough to take them all the way. It isn’t normally?

      And ticket prices???

      For crying out loud, $45 is the CHEAPEST Suncorp ticket and $10 more expensive than the equivalent game at AAMI. C’mon FFA, what gives, you greedy set of suits you???

    • April 17th 2017 @ 10:38am
      Chris said | April 17th 2017 @ 10:38am | ! Report

      I’m really looking forward to the finals. And I don’t think 45 dollars is expensive. How about 100 dollars to sit behind the goals to watch a friendly against Liverpool!

      • April 17th 2017 @ 11:16am
        Waz said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:16am | ! Report

        $100 is cheap compared to a Super Bowl ticket though (That’s another irrelevant comparison).

        • April 17th 2017 @ 8:32pm
          Chris said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:32pm | ! Report

          So I compare a football finals game to a football friendly and you bring the Super Bowl into it?
          Sorry, Im not on the same thought process as you are.

          • April 17th 2017 @ 9:41pm
            Waz said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:41pm | ! Report

            It’s this simple. $45 for the cheapest ticket plus $6.50 Ticketek surcharge is too expensive. It’s 30% higher than the same game last season. What people pay to watch a one-off exhibition game or the Super Bowl is quite frankly irrelevant.

            • April 19th 2017 @ 5:11am
              SmithHatesMaxwell said | April 19th 2017 @ 5:11am | ! Report

              $45 is absurd to watch the equivalent of third division soccer in England, especially if you have Foxtel and can watch in HD for no additional cost.

              A-League prices in general are too high for the regular season too.

              I would actually attend a few soccer games in summer if there were cheaper tickets or promotions such as $15 tickets for one off games. Go to see what the fuss is about, maybe have a couple of beers once I’m there.

              If these teams were regularly getting crowds of 20-30k the ticket prices could be justified, but many teams barely crack 10k people and play in stadiums with swathes of empty seats.

              There’s obviously an appetite for live sport in Australia. Football regularly gets 70k plus attendances for matches between suburban clubs at the MCG. Doesn’t seem to translate to soccer.

              General admission is only $25 for football despite massive crowds at the MCG.

              • April 19th 2017 @ 7:17am
                punter said | April 19th 2017 @ 7:17am | ! Report

                If AFL had a crossbar, a goal keeper, no pts for missing & didn’t use their hands & were $5 a game, I might attend the odd mono-culture Victorian game.

              • April 19th 2017 @ 7:20am
                Nemesis said | April 19th 2017 @ 7:20am | ! Report

                “I would actually attend a few soccer games in summer if there were cheaper tickets or promotions such as $15 tickets for one off games

                I’m an Aleague fan.

                I don’t want to share the stadium with people like you.

                Hope Aleague does everything possible to keep people like you away from our competition.

                Go back to where you came from.

                AFL is a crap sport. When I was in Sydney, I was offered AFL tickets with when I bought a burger from MacDonald’s. I took the tickets & took great delight tearing them up & throwing them in the bin.

      • Roar Rookie

        April 19th 2017 @ 4:00am
        Martyn50 said | April 19th 2017 @ 4:00am | ! Report

        $100 to watch a professional team vs $35 for glorified amateurs

        • April 19th 2017 @ 7:09am
          punter said | April 19th 2017 @ 7:09am | ! Report

          And they will still get 80K.

          But biggest game ever in Sydney in AFL, major semi finals between 2 local teams 60K, who combine has a combined membership of ‘cough, cough’ 70K.

        • April 19th 2017 @ 4:43pm
          Marc said | April 19th 2017 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

          How is the SANFL going? Second biggest afl competition in the world and the skill level is absolutely woeful and the crowds continue to fall off a cliff.

          2011 – 3,236 (average)

          2016 – 2,313 (average) – that’s down 29%

          • Roar Rookie

            April 19th 2017 @ 7:24pm
            Martyn50 said | April 19th 2017 @ 7:24pm | ! Report

            Stay with the item. This is not an AFL agenda.

          • Roar Rookie

            April 19th 2017 @ 7:31pm
            Martyn50 said | April 19th 2017 @ 7:31pm | ! Report

            How do you know that the skill level is woeful? You must watch and take an interest in the sport.

    • April 17th 2017 @ 10:48am
      Red Menace said | April 17th 2017 @ 10:48am | ! Report

      Liam Reddy….lol

      I suspect Victory would be better off without the weeks rest. Any news on Milos Ninkovic’s injury?

      • April 17th 2017 @ 3:23pm
        FootOverHand said | April 17th 2017 @ 3:23pm | ! Report

        Trying to channel Rene Higuita, La Loco, here’s another fine clip to TNT by ACDC mix lol, enjoy.

    • April 17th 2017 @ 11:08am
      Nemesis said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

      I agree Victory’s performance on Friday was not crisp and clinical.

      But, is it considered better form to

      a) concede 4 goals at home & win (Perth)
      b) concede 5 goals away (City) & lose a match where you needed to just win to have better chance of ACL
      c) concede 3 goals at home against a team playing for nothing (Brisbane)
      d) draw with a team playing for nothing (WSW)?

      I’d say only Sydney is in form at the moment.
      The rest of the teams are inconsistent during matches and between matches.

      • April 17th 2017 @ 11:15am
        Waz said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:15am | ! Report

        Form though is considered over multiple matches. If your definition of “form” is just this weekend then yes, Victory have good form.

        The reality is though that the bottom three in the draw aren’t good enough, Roar aren’t consistent enough and will again be troubled by an ACL commitment, and Victory may not have form by some measures but they do know how to play finals football and they only have to win one home game to make the GF. I wouldn’t be panicking as a Victory fan.

      • April 17th 2017 @ 11:41am
        Red Menace said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:41am | ! Report

        Totally agree about the other finals teams Nemesis, IMO Victory are the only team that has a chance against Sydney but they need to improve and having a week off isn’t the way to do it.

      • April 17th 2017 @ 12:13pm
        jupiter 53 said | April 17th 2017 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

        As a SFC fan I am hopeful for the Championship. I agree that SFC are the team that bring consistency into the finals.
        [Mind you, there is a case for saying that Melbourne City are remarkably consistent in their inconsistency].
        But I am not at all complacent about finals matches. One of the glories of football is that during any 90 minutes a team can have an off day in front of goals, and the other team can score a lucky goal from a single attack.

        In order of concern:
        WSW – the only team to beat SFC during the A League season, and played well enough to deserve it on that day [aided by some refereeing blindness].
        Victory – any team with Berisha and Barbarouses has to be in with a good chance, although I would back SFC’s midfield to starve their supply.
        Roar – on their day can score against anyone, and it looks as though Aloisi has a lot of players in form.
        Glory – goal threats, but flaky defence.
        City – has serious threats in attack, but defence is all over the place.

        I do expect that SFC’s defending from the front, fitness, and variety of scoring threats will make it unlikely for any other team to beat them. However, a spare pair of underpants is always important for finals games.

        • April 17th 2017 @ 12:28pm
          Nemesis said | April 17th 2017 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

          “Victory – any team with Berisha and Barbarouses ”

          Barbarouses has played for Wellington Phoenix for the whole 2016/17 season.

          PS: If you’re questioning “referee blindness” allegedly robbing you in the match against WSW you’ve got to examine all the matches when Sydney got a win, or didn’t lose, due to referee blindness. Otherwise, you are are blind fan, too.

          • April 17th 2017 @ 1:32pm
            jupiter 53 said | April 17th 2017 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

            Oops, not enough coffee.

            Rojas, rather. Alternative Kiwi magician.

            No, not blaming referee blindness for losing to WSW. You are right, Sydney has certainly had its share of benefit from referees being human. More alluding to the fact that in a tight game, refereeing frailty can play a big part.

            But no complaints about that. Get ahead by enough goals and it doesn’t matter what mistakes the refereeing team may make.

            • April 17th 2017 @ 4:07pm
              FootOverHand said | April 17th 2017 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

              City beat Sydney in the FFA cup

              • April 17th 2017 @ 4:18pm
                jupiter 53 said | April 17th 2017 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

                I carefully specified A League season, but of course, City did beat SFC in the FFA Cup Final.
                I would still be much more concerned about playing Wanderers than City.

        • April 17th 2017 @ 12:45pm
          Cool and Cold said | April 17th 2017 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

          “Aloisi has a lot of players in form.”

          Crestani was the right back and Oar was the left back yesterday. These two positions are critical.

          • April 17th 2017 @ 3:33pm
            Waz said | April 17th 2017 @ 3:33pm | ! Report

            Brown was rested as he was on 7 yellows but has been in form all season, Hingert is less clear having fractured his cheek bone.

            But players in form and playing well for Roar include Maclaren, Oar, Broich, Holman, Devere, Avraam, Caletti, Borrello, Brown … that’s pretty good.

            • April 17th 2017 @ 6:17pm
              Cool and Cold said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:17pm | ! Report

              Who to replace Hingert?

              Crestani leaked 3 goals yesterday.

              • April 17th 2017 @ 7:47pm
                Waz said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:47pm | ! Report

                I’d be sticking with Crestani, the two goals he was at fault for are all coachable and otherwise he had a good game.

            • April 17th 2017 @ 7:26pm
              Lionheart said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:26pm | ! Report

              Bowles, North, Hingert, Arana, McKay = too many injuries to get anywhere in this finals series. But hey, last week was one great week as a Roar supporter, thoroughly enjoyed both games on the Wednesday v Kashima then Sunday v Wellington. Love this game.

              • April 17th 2017 @ 7:36pm
                Waz said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:36pm | ! Report

                North had flu and is back training, hingert will need a face mask, Mackay is supposedly in contention for the weekend.

              • April 17th 2017 @ 9:46pm
                Lionheart said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:46pm | ! Report

                fit? not convinced.

      • April 17th 2017 @ 12:36pm
        Cool and Cold said | April 17th 2017 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

        Just discuss here:

        Glory was playing for 5th or 6th in the table while City is playing for 3rd to have a position in ACL. Glory was always lethal on counter attacks. At the end, Glory became over confident. How could Liam played like that? What the coach can do to discipline him?

        Glory had 3 very good goals. When City’s players became tired and attacking all out, they conceded more.

        “concede 3 goals at home against a team playing for nothing (Brisbane)”

        Phoenix has always been good despite of inconsistency. Maybe, there are too many injuries in the squad, making Cameron Crestani substituting Hingert. Crestani is so new. He could not do well and was related to all 3 goals lost. Firstly, he could not speed faster than Krishna. Secondly, he failed to make McGlinchey and thirdly he failed to clear a ball to give Finkler an easy goal.

        Why Phoenix did not play all rookies or substitutes? There can be many explanations. But, maybe, the coach wanted to show the management his ability. He wanted a win. The same can be applied to Adelaide United. The coach does not want to be sacked.

        Rather, it is better to appreciate how in such bad circumstance, Roars showed their spirit. Holman’s two goals were fantastic and Borrello’s was good too.

        Sorry that Maclaren lost the chance to get on top of Berisha in number of goals. Will two trophies be presented to both of them?

        As for Victory, it is easily understandable. They will have a week off before the Grand Finals. As such, it is reasonable to keep the full team practicing to keep the form. The same was for Sydney FC. Victory had nothing to play for but just that Berisha needed more goals to get the golden boot.

        • April 17th 2017 @ 4:29pm
          Nemesis said | April 17th 2017 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

          “At the end, Glory became over confident. How could Liam played like that? What the coach can do to discipline him?”

          Agree Reddy had a brain fade, but I don’t think Glory became over confident. They needed to win by 4 goals to end up with a home final. When Reddy made the howler 90′ was up & they still needed 2 goals. Had to take every risk. For Perth, winning by less than 4 goals was same as losing.

          • April 17th 2017 @ 6:09pm
            Cool and Cold said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:09pm | ! Report

            ” For Perth, winning by less than 4 goals was same as losing.” ????? Same as losing??????????

            Should Perth lost, its rank is 6th. You may argue that there is no difference being 5th or 6th though.

            After 27 matches for both, Glory has 39 points with GD = 0 and WSW has 36 points with GD = 0.

            If Glory lost by one goal yesterday, its point is 36 with GD = -2. So, WSW becomes ranking 5th.

            • April 17th 2017 @ 7:12pm
              Nemesis said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:12pm | ! Report

              So what?

              What’s the difference if Perth finished 5th or 6th?

              They’d still have to play City away in the Elimination Final.

              There is no prizemoney allocated to clubs based on the ALeague table ranking; nor is there any FFA Cup seeding based on finishing 5th or 6th.

              The result for Perth was totally meaningless unless they could win by 4 goals or more.

              • April 17th 2017 @ 7:38pm
                glen evans said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:38pm | ! Report

                Finish 6th and they would have to travel to brisbane

              • April 17th 2017 @ 7:49pm
                Nemesis said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

                “Finish 6th and they would have to travel to brisbane”

                Not true.

                The only way Perth would finish 6th is if City won the match yesterday.

                After Brisbane beat Wellington, BRI were on 42pts with GD: +6

                City were on 39 pts with GD: +6 and 1 match to play.

                Any win for City & City would’ve finished 3rd.

                #4 BRI
                #5 WSW
                #6 PER

              • April 17th 2017 @ 7:59pm
                offsider said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:59pm | ! Report

                I stand corrected

              • April 17th 2017 @ 8:03pm
                Cool and Cold said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:03pm | ! Report

                Aggggg… so disappointed that you don’t have the insight into the A-league system.

                Despite very small chance, 5th is better than 6th.

                Imagine Glory beats City next week and WSW beats Roars. Then, Sydney plays WSW and MV plays Glory. If by luck, both Glory and WSW win, then the 5th ranked Glory has a home Grand Final at Perth. Understand???

              • April 17th 2017 @ 8:14pm
                Nemesis said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:14pm | ! Report


                So, which is your other pseudonym?

                Glen Evans, or Cold & Cold?

              • April 17th 2017 @ 8:37pm
                glen evans said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:37pm | ! Report

                Uncle junior,horto majiko or fussball take your pick.

              • April 17th 2017 @ 8:35pm
                Nemesis said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:35pm | ! Report

                “If by luck, both Glory and WSW win, then the 5th ranked Glory has a home Grand Final at Perth. Understand???”

                So, you’re speculating about 5th & 6th playing off in the Grand Final?

                Yeah. That’s some high quality Aleague analysis. You must’ve done deep research over 12 years of data to decide this scenario is a possibility.

                I’ve more chance of winning Tattslotto next Saturday than a Perth/WSW Grand Final happening this season … and I don’t even buy Tattslotto tickets.

              • April 17th 2017 @ 8:55pm
                Cool and Cold said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:55pm | ! Report

                Why you keep arguing?

                “The result for Perth was totally meaningless unless they could win by 4 goals or more.”

                Your are wrong that there is no difference between 5th and 6th.

                Then you bring up chances.

                Wrong is wrong, admit it.

              • April 17th 2017 @ 8:56pm
                Cool and Cold said | April 17th 2017 @ 8:56pm | ! Report

                Nemesis, get a dictionary and find the meaning of “difference”.

          • April 18th 2017 @ 9:33am
            Cool and Cold said | April 18th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

            Also, Lowe wanted to impress the boss by winning to get 5th rank. How many coaches of Glory have been sacked these years? They had something to play for.

    • April 17th 2017 @ 11:15am
      Realfootball said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:15am | ! Report

      Now you’ve got me wondering what a centreline ticket will cost…

      • April 17th 2017 @ 12:54pm
        AZ_RBB said | April 17th 2017 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

        That’s the strange thing. There isn’t a big gap between the best seats and the worst seats. It would make a lot more sense if the seats behind the goals were $30 and the half way seats were $80.

        Both should be pretty exciting games. Defence does not seem to be the flavour of the month for any of the teams.

        • April 17th 2017 @ 7:31pm
          Lionheart said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:31pm | ! Report

          funny you say that. Personally, I don’t rate centre seats, too far from both ends. Corner seating I like, but am sitting about quarter way along this season.

          • April 17th 2017 @ 9:50pm
            AZ_RBB said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:50pm | ! Report

            Yeah my season tickets are in line with the edge of the penalty box and I love it. Get the atmosphere of the active end and a good view of the game.

    • April 17th 2017 @ 11:29am
      TK said | April 17th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

      Scheduling of the Roar v WSW game leaves a lot to be desired. 7.50pm kickoff on a friday night when the ground is free from other codes for the whole weekend?What about a nice 4 or 5pm kickoff on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon?Anyway, looking forward to Roar beating WSW, then Melbourne, with Sydney also going out in round 2 of the finals to set up another orange sunday in Brisbane for the grand final.

      • April 17th 2017 @ 3:34pm
        Waz said | April 17th 2017 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

        err, both wanderers and Roar have midweek ACL commitments the following week. Friday is perfect.

        • April 17th 2017 @ 7:52pm
          TK said | April 17th 2017 @ 7:52pm | ! Report

          Ah yes ACL – that old chestnut. Well perfect for the team maybe not the punters or gate receipts so much..

          • April 17th 2017 @ 9:45pm
            Waz said | April 17th 2017 @ 9:45pm | ! Report

            No, agreed. But football is first and foremost about the people that play it not those that watch it.

            But 20k would turn up on Saturday but I’d be surprised if much over 15k shows up Friday. Especially with a late kick off.

      • April 17th 2017 @ 3:44pm
        Cool and Cold said | April 17th 2017 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

        • April 17th 2017 @ 6:16pm
          Waz said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

          I think that boxing match is in June or July now

        • Columnist

          April 17th 2017 @ 6:30pm
          Mike Tuckerman said | April 17th 2017 @ 6:30pm | ! Report

          That bout was canned Cool and Cold, then somewhat ironically resurrected, and will now take place in July.