Perth Glory goalkeeper Danny Vukovic has warned controversial Brisbane Roar striker Besart Berisha to be prepared for a barrage of verbal abuse when the teams clash in the opening round of the A-League season at Patersons Stadium on Sunday week.
Berisha's two-goal blast, including a controversially-awarded penalty when he tumbled theatrically in the box, sunk Glory in last season's grand final and sparked a storm of protest from Perth fans.
Glory officials hope a record regular season crowd of around 20,000 will be on hand for the season opener, many likely to give the Albanian a white-hot reception.
"I think he's going to get a standing ovation, obviously," Vukovic joked before outlining a more realistic scenario.
"It's going to be pretty brutal for him out there but it's to be expected. There was a lot of controversy surrounding him and the grand final and I'm sure he's a big enough player to handle all that."
Berisha recently told a Queensland newspaper he would no longer use Twitter because of the level of invective directed at him. But Vukovic does not expect last season's top scorer to be adversely affected by the crowd's taunts.
"I don't know him personally but I've played against him quite a few times and from seeing what he's like out there he seems to relish the bad-guy role," Vukovic said. "I'm sure he'll be relishing it on Sunday week. But hopefully we can just keep playing the way we have been in pre-season and I'm sure we'll get the job done."
Glory coach Ian Ferguson maintains referee Jarred Gillett was wrong to award the stoppage-time penalty but would have no concerns if the official was appointed for Roar match.
Berisha had been branded Glory enemy no.1 after the game and Gillett was not far behind, especially when it was later revealed he was in a relationship with a member of Brisbane's staff.
But Ferguson, whose team had been leading with six minutes of normal time to play, insisted today that Gillett had made an honest mistake.
"He refereed our (friendly) game on Saturday against Melbourne Heart, so I have no problem at all," Ferguson said. "I thought, again, he handled that reasonably well. The crowd's obviously not going to agree with everything, coaches are not going to agree with everything referees do.
"I think (awarding the penalty) was a big mistake but I don't think he did it intentionally. It was something he's seen and he's obviously given the penalty. But for him to referee any of our games, I wouldn't have any problem."Gillett is unlikely to be flown to Perth for the Glory-Roar clash, although match appointments will be confirmed next week.
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