A-League Grand Final: Smith backs Berisha to bring it home

Former Brisbane Roar skipper Matt Smith is backing his old teammate Besart Berisha and Melbourne Victory to lift the trophy in the A-League grand final on Sunday.

Smith won two deciders with Berisha in Brisbane, in 2011 and in 2014.

The three-time grand final winner, who also won a championship in 2010 before the striker joined the Roar, now plies his trade in Thailand with Bangkok Glass.

He still watches the A-League closely and believes Sunday’s match will be a close affair.

“I think it's great to see the two top sides over the season reaching the final,” Smith told FourFourTwo.

“It will be a very close and competitive game but I feel Victory will come out winners. I watch all the highlights of all games and catch any live games when I can, and still speak with players from the league too.”

Berisha scored both goals in the Roar’s 2-1 grand final victory over Perth Glory in 2011 and scored in the 86th minute in the 2-1 triumph against Western Sydney Wanderers last year.

This season the Albanian marksman has scored 13 goals in his first campaign with Victory, three less than Golden Boot winner Marc Janko, and bagged one in the 3-0 semi-final defeat of Melbourne City.

“I feel he has performed very well,” Smith said.

“The pressure and expectation level of him is understandably high. He's scored important goals and works very hard for the team which I feel he doesn't always get the accolades he deserves. Off the pitch he will be a massive benefit to the dressing room.

“The players know they can count on him.”

Smith believes Berisha’s experience in grand finals and important matches will be a big advantage for Victory at AAMI Park. The defender admits it is strange watching the A-League showpiece event from overseas after playing in it 12 months ago.

“I can't talk for the rest of the Roar squad but it's strange watching from afar,” Smith said.

“If Bes does do it again I'll be happy for him. I think Victory will probably just edge it.

Smith’s former club were knocked out in the first week of the A-League finals by Adelaide United after a disappointing campaign.

The Roar, who were knocked out of the group stage of the Asian Champions League, have let go caretaker coach Frans Thijssen while director of football Ken Stead has stepped down.

But Smith is confident that the Queensland outfit will be back among the A-League’s front-runner’s next season.

“There’s been some changes already and I’m sure club will make the right choice with the new coach to ensure the club is challenging again next season,” the 32-year-old centre back said.

“In recent years the Roar has developed and bought through some quality youngsters. This year also, we have had come on through and show they have the ability and mentality to hold their own at that level.

“I'm looking forward to seeing them continue next season.”