Prickly Pear influence key to City chances

Leading up to Friday night’s sold out A-League Semi Final at Coopers Stadium Melbourne City’s Osama Malik says that Adelaide United will find it difficult to put a stop to the A-League’s current star player, Bruno Fornaroli. 

The Uruguayan has scored as much goals as he has nicknames.

The “Prickly Pear” is the first player to score 20 goals in a regular home and away season in the A-League.

El Tuna’s two sublime finishes in the elimination final against Glory see City take momentum ahead of the Semi Final against United.

City’s defensive strongman Malik says that after their showing in the 2-0 win against Perth, City are contenders to make the Grand Final and he doesn’t believe that their star striker can be halted.

“I don’t think anyone can stop him to be serious,” he said.

“Especially when he’s on his game and we got guys around him and supporting him and giving him good service. 

“It was such a good team performance. We are all very confident and we know that if we can work together as a team and do the job we’ll go a long way to winning the game.”

Malik, 25 is born and bred in Adelaide.

He played all his youth football in the City of Churches and amassed over 100 games for his hometown club before making a mid-season move from the Reds to Melbourne City. 

Leading up to the game that will decide who plays in the 2016 Grand Final, Malik says he will be using all his insight from his time with United to help the team get the win on Friday night.

“Adelaide have brought in a philosophy that they’ve played for the last three or so years,” he said. “It’s something that I was part of for a few years. So over the last week I’ve been pretty happy to help the coaching staff in any way I can.

“I’m very happy to be a Melbourne City player and I’m going to be doing everything I can to get Melbourne City into the Grand Final.

 “I’m expecting to get a few boos and that is pretty normal when you are playing against your old team. I’ve got a few mates there and during the game all those feeling will be put on hold.”

The last time the two teams met Adelaide United won the game and secured the Premiers Plate. But a half-time brawl meant that City lost the services of star player Harry Novillo for their next two finals games. 

But Malik says that City has shown they can succeed without their star import and that United will go into the game carrying the weight of expectation.

“Harry is a quality player,” he said.

“Going forward he’s one of the best players in the A-League, there is no doubt about that. He’s an important part of our team and obviously on the weekend we did well to overcome his absence.

"Adelaide have a home final and they finished top so as you can see all the pressure is on them to win the game. We have the confidence to beat any team. But when you finish top you deserve the favourite tag and it will be up to us to upset them at home.” 

  • Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Click here to see more of his work and check out the latest episode of his A-League Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.