Besart Berisha v Shane Smeltz: all-time goals race is back on!

Melbourne Victory striker Besart Berisha and Phoenix's new signing Shane Smeltz.

It’s one of the great subplots to this fabulous season. Would Besart Berisha overtake Archie Thompson on the all-time goal-scoring charts? Now, there’s a new twist with the return of a goal legend to the Hyundai A-League.

New Wellington Phoenix signing Shane Smeltz is poised to put the pressure back on Berisha just days after the Victory striker equalled Archie Thompson’s all-time record in the Melbourne Derby.

The announcement Smeltz was back in the competition for the rest of this season has not only boosted Phoenix’s Finals Series hopes but re-ignited the battle at the top of the all-time scoring charts.

Melbourne Victory striker Besart Berisha scored his 90th Hyundai A-League goal in his side’s Derby win on Saturday night, joining ex-team-mate Archie Thompson at the top of the list.

Smeltz is just one goal further back with 89 goals from 178 appearances in the league.

With Thompson retiring at the end of last season and Smeltz spending the last half season with Kedah FC in the Malaysian Super League, Berisha had a clear opportunity to pull clear as the league’s most prolific frontman.

But the Albanian won’t have it all to himself anymore.

Smeltz began training with his Phoenix team-mates on Tuesday and will play out the second half of the season with the club.

And you wouldn’t bet against the 35-year-old immediately returning to his Hyundai A-League scoring best.

Not only did he find the net 11 times in 18 appearances for Kedah FC during his Malaysian stint but he has been a consistent scorer at all of his previous A-League clubs.

Smeltz scored 21 goals in 39 games during his first stint at Phoenix, found the net 28 times in 38 appearances for Gold Coast United, had 28 in 58 for Perth Glory while in 43 matches for Sydney FC he scored 12 times.

In a Phoenix side with the likes of Kosta Barbarouses, Gui Finkler, Roy Krishna and Roly Bonevacia providing service, Smeltz should get plenty of chances to add to his tally.

Of course, Berisha’s goal-scoring record is phenomenal.

The Albanian hitman has scored his 90 goals in just 140 games, with 48 in 76 matches for Brisbane Roar, followed by 42 in 64 appearances for Melbourne Victory.

The busy Summer of Football schedule looms as a big opportunity for both players to boost their claim as the Hyundai A-League’s greatest-ever scorer by season’s end.

Phoenix are away to the fifth-placed Jets on Boxing Day, before a New Year’s Day game at home against lowly Adelaide United before a Distance Derby trip to Perth Glory.

For Berisha’s Victory, they have back-to-back home games against the Mariners and Jets either side of the New Year before a trip to Adelaide to play the Reds.

The fixtures present a huge opportunity for both to do what they do best – score goals!

Who will win the race to 100 Hyundai A-League goals?

 

Football Federation Australia

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