• Brisbane test ... Perth coach Ian Ferguson (Getty Images)
Nine months ago, Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory were the cream of the crop but now they are merely battling for survival as the race for finals spots intensifies.
25 Jan 2013 - 3:56 PM  UPDATED 14 May 2014 - 6:03 PM

But come this Saturday night at nib Stadium, last season's grand finalists will be merely battling for survival as the race for finals spots intensifies.

Brisbane - winner of the past two championships - has endured a horror season to date.

Coach Rado Vidosic fell on his sword after guiding the team to just three wins from its first 11 games, while his replacement Mike Mulvey has also failed to spark the ninth-placed Roar, which is four points adrift of the top-six.

Perth is faring only marginally better, with Ian Ferguson's charges sitting just two points ahead of the Roar in eighth spot following a five-game winless run.

The heat is on both Mulvey and Ferguson to start producing results, but both coaches will be without a host of key players for this week's crunch clash.

Socceroos defender Jade North, who linked up with the Roar earlier this month, isn't yet ready for action, while Brisbane skipper Matt Smith (hip) will visit a specialist next Friday to determine whether he requires season-ending surgery.

To compound the Roar's woes, key duo Besart Berisha and Shane Stefanutto are serving suspensions.

Perth has also been hit by suspension, with midfielder Liam Miller and defender Josh Risdon forced to watch on from the sidelines this week.

Dutchman Bas van den Brink (calf) is also set to miss the match, but Socceroos defender Michael Thwaite is a strong chance to return after missing the past four matches with a torn calf.

Perth hasn't tasted victory since beating Brisbane 1-0 on 21 December, and Ferguson said his team would be satisfied with merely making the top-six now after falling 10 points behind fourth spot.

"The top four at the moment seems to be getting away from us," Ferguson said.
"We've got to try to make that top six."

Interim Roar coach Mulvey, whose future has been guaranteed until the end of the season despite the club's recent three-game losing run, said it was too early to write off his team's finals chances, even if they ended up losing to Perth.

"I don't believe in do-or-die games," Mulvey said. "This is important, but not a must-win situation.

"I promise you we are progressing. I think (Saturday) night you will see a glimpse of our future."

Meanwhile, 28-year-old Argentinian playmaker Matias Cordoba will arrive in Perth on Saturday and is expected to sign a short-term deal with Glory, which lost the services of Irish striker Billy Mehmet earlier this month.