Brisbane Roar coach Mike Mulvey has brazenly put Western Sydney Wanderers’ roughhouse tactics in the spotlight ahead of Sunday’s A-League decider at Suncorp Stadium.
Expecting a torrid State of Origin-like battle at a sold-out `Cauldron’, Mulvey called for referee Peter Green to take control of the grand final with a “strong” performance.
The Roar mentor drew attention to the Wanderers’ physicality by saying the visitors had been fortunate to have escaped action from the officials throughout the season.
Both Adam D’Apuzzo and Iacopo La Roca went unpunished for elbows while uncompromising German defender Jerome Polenz has epitomised the Wanderers’ play with borderline challenges.
“Let’s say they’ve had their fair share of luck this year,” Mulvey said. “A couple of things have gone unnoticed that could have probably been punished.
While Western Sydney are renowned for their ultra-aggressive approach, the Roar’s success is built on their attractive passing game.
They also won the A-League’s fair play award this season, committing the least amount of fouls (352) – 100 less than the Wanderers who conceded the most in the competition.
Green was named referee of the year at the A-League awards dinner on Monday night, but Mulvey was keen to remind him of his responsibilities to ensure a proper spectacle.
“All I ask for is a strong referee,” the coach said. “It’s important we have a strong referee because it will be a physical game.
“We need a free-flowing game and it’s important we’re able to have that.
“We have a duty, I believe, to put on a good show for the fans as we in the entertainment business.”
Brisbane expect to be at full strength for the clash with winger Dimitri Petratos rated a “99 per cent” chance of overcoming his ankle injury.
Petratos missed training at Ballymore on Wednesday morning to nurse his swollen ankle but Mulvey said he was certain to return to action in their next session on Friday.
Versatile Socceroos defender Ivan Franjic looms as Petratos’s back-up on the right wing, ahead of Brazilian striker Henrique, but Mulvey doesn’t expect to choose between the two.
“It looks good,” Mulvey said. “The swelling has gone down. He’s confident, (the physio) is confident, so I’m confident.”
The Wanderers have a bigger injury concern with striker Mark Bridge rated a 50-50 chance by coach Tony Popovic after rolling his ankle in their 2-0 semi-final win over Central Coast.