Perth Glory FC will be aiming to maintain its lead at the top of the Hyundai A-League for the 16th consecutive week when it clashes against rivals Brisbane Roar at nib Stadium this Saturday night.
The league leaders will go into Round 19 with a two point buffer over Melbourne Victory, but could slip to second spot, if Adelaide United get over Melbourne City at AAMI Park tomorrow night.
Glory will be confident after a strong defensive performance against Melbourne City, which saw goalkeeper Danny Vukovic and his defence grind out a 0-0 draw against the Victorians.
Vukovic was particularly pleased with the solid performance of his backline.
“I think we haven’t kept enough clean sheets this season and that was something we wanted to do against Melbourne City,” said Vukovic.
We really went out there to keep a clean sheet and prove to ourselves that we could do it and we managed to do it.
Vukovic, who turns 30 at the end of next month and only trails Newcastle’s Liam Reddy in the number of saves this season (60), praised his teammates through a tough period in the season.
“I think we’ve shown that all season, we’ve gone behind at times and looked to be down and out and somehow, we’ve clawed our way back to win games and draw games,” Vukovic said.
“That shows that there’s good character in the team and the boys fight hard for each other.”
“We got two draws in two tough places and we’re all looking forward to the game against Brisbane on Saturday night in front of a big home crowd”.
Glory will face a busy Roar outfit, which will fly to Perth straight after their AFC Asian Champions League clash against Beijing Guoan on the Gold Coast
However the boys from the West won’t rest on their laurels with Roar naming in-form striker Jean Carlos Solorzano in the squad, who has scored five times in his last six appearances in Orange. Solorzano was omitted from Roar’s ACL tournament squad and will almost definitely feature at nib Stadium.
The Queenslanders also boast new Serbian signing Andrija Kaluderovic, who scored on debut against the Central Coast Mariners, as well as ex-Western Sydney Wanderers left-back Jerome Polenz, who was also omitted from the Champions League squad.
Roar have won all of their last three games since long-time Roar servants Thomas Broich and Michael Theo returned from injury and have propelled themselves past Melbourne City into the top six. Manager Frans Thijssen has also lost just two of his first nine games in charge of Brisbane Roar, since the Dutchman took charge in Round 8.
Glory will go into the game with confidence, having previously overcoming Roar in Round 2, in a 3-2 thriller featuring an Andy Keogh hat-trick. The two teams also played out a tense 1-1 draw at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane in Round 8.
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Saturday February 28
Perth Glory squad: 1.Danny VUKOVIC (gk) 3.Brandon O'NEILL, 5.Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 9.Andy KEOGH, 10.Nebojsa MARINKOVIC, 11.Richard GARCIA, 14.Chris Harold, 15.Jamie MACLAREN, 16.Sidnei SCIOLA, 17.Mitch NICHOLS, 18.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 19.Josh RISDON, 20.Daniel DE SILVA, 21.Scott JAMIESON, 23.Michael THWAITE (c), 27.Dragan PALJIC, 28.Denis KRAMAR
***two to be omitted***
Ins: 3. Brandon O'NEILL
Outs: 8..Ruben ZADKOVICH (1 week), 30.Jordan Thurtell (GK) (not selected)
Unavailable: 7.Youssouf HERSI (hamstring – season), 13.Diogo FERREIRA (hip – 3 weeks)