Brisbane Roar will be out to equal an Australian national football league record tomorrow, but will face stiff opposition from a fired-up Wellington Phoenix outfit keen for revenge.
Should the Roar avoid defeat in tomorrow-s Week 24 clash at Skilled Park, the club will equal the longest undefeated streak in Australian football history, 22 matches, set by APIA Leichardt back in the 1986/87 season of the National Soccer League.
However, Ricki Herbert-s men will be out to spoil the party after the last meeting between the two sides was dominated by the Queenslanders, who ran out 4-1 winners on the day and ended Wellington-s two year unbeaten streak at Westpac Stadium.
That in mind, Brisbane Roar coach Ange Postecoglou said his side were ready for the challenge, buoyed by the return of attacking right-back Ivan Franjic to the starting eleven and the possible inclusion of Brazilian livewire Henrique in the final 15-man squad.
“The boys are looking forward to the game,” Postecoglou said.
“We-ve got a couple of boys who have missed out through injury that are just about ready and the rest seem pretty good, fresh and ready for a game.
“We-re at the tail of the season when everything gets decided so I don-t think we-ll be flat.”
The Phoenix are coming off a comprehensive 4-0 display against Perth Glory, a result that maintained their seventh spot on the league ladder and will give the New Zealand side confidence to push for a top six spot.
“They-re in a big fight for the finals,” Postecoglou said.
“They played well on the weekend against Perth and they-ve got a bit of confidence, scored a few goals.
“We-re expecting a tough game, it-s always a tough game when we play Wellington but particularly at this stage in the year.
“They made a good run at the title last year and I think they-ll be looking to replicate that.
“It-ll be a tough one for us but it-s up to us and the way we perform that will be the key area.”
History makes for pretty reading for Brisbane, Wellington have only picked up one point from a possible 15 in their last five matches on the road and have only found the back of the net on six occasions away from Westpac Stadium this season.
However, with finals getting closer and closer, coach Postecoglou made it clear nothing but a strong finish to Brisbane-s stellar season would be acceptable.
“There are a lot of things that are at stake at the moment,” he said.
“That-s the end of the season we-re at and three more points will get us closer to finishing in top spot which is obviously a goal of ours as well.
“It-s all good stuff but it all comes down to one thing – we-ve got to play well.
“That-s all we-ve done all year and that-s what we-ve done consistently for the last 26-odd games and that-s what we-re looking for tomorrow night – a good, consistent performance.”
Tomorrow night-s clash is also defender Luke DeVere-s final appearance for Brisbane Roar, after the 21-year-old announced his departure for Korean K-League side Gyeongnam FC last week.
After three seasons with the Roar, Postecoglou hoped Brisbane-s supporters would give DeVere a farewell fitting of his contribution to the club.
“He-s been fantastic all year, he-s been outstanding and he gets one final game to say goodbye to the fans,” Postecoglou said.
“It-s a good way to finish, it-s always better to finish on the pitch doing what you-ve always done rather than just leaving anonymously during the week.
“Hopefully the fans will give him a good send off and with a win, hopefully he goes off with a real positive experience from his time here in Brisbane.”