Watch out for those Wanderers in finals
FOOTBALL: You have to admire Tony Popovic and the Western Sydney Wanderers.
Both the coach and the club's hierarchy could have been excused for resting on their laurels after a sensational debut season which ended with a Premier's Plate and a grand final defeat 12 months ago.
So far this season has almost matched what the club did in the last campaign, and now it has secured a home semi-final following the come-from-behind win over Melbourne Heart. And who knows, the Wanderers could go one better than last year and win the A-League grand final.
Popovic is certainly talking a good game, and if his players can continue their good form, the Wanderers are a definite chance to take out the premiership.
"First last year, second this year," he said.
"We didn't defend the Premier's Plate, which we wanted to do. Brisbane deserved to win that. But we have a chance to be champions by winning the grand final, that's our target. This year we've had different challenges.
"This year the challenge was - can we maintain the high standards of last year?
"Apart from two weeks in the season, we've always been in second spot.
"So we've had a real level of consistency."
That consistency could be key as we reach the climax of the season and Brisbane coach Mike Mulvey will not be happy his side went down to the Central Coast Mariners 2-0 on Saturday night.
The buzz word in sport these days is momentum and now it has lost to the Mariners, who will be desperate to defend their A-League crown, the Roar has lost a little going into its semi-final in two weeks.
Some might say that the Roar will lose more momentum because of that week off and that could be the case. I believe that having a rest at this stage of the season is not a good thing because sides can lose rhythm.
Brisbane still has to be the favourite going into the finals but don't discount the likes of the Wanderers and the Mariners or even Melbourne Victory which, after thumping Wellington Phoenix in its last regular season game, will be confident going into its home elimination final next week.
All in all I think we are in for a pretty decent finals series after what has been an average season for the A-League in terms of quality.
Let's hope it can finish with a bang.