Western Sydney Wanderers striker Labinot Haliti has shown again he is the man for the big occasion.
He comes across as a humble hero and a perfect team player, but Western Sydney striker Labinot Haliti is proving a man for a big occasion.
Haliti came off the bench to score a late equaliser for the Wanderers in their 1-1 draw with A-League ladder leader Brisbane in Friday’s top of the table clash at Parramatta Stadium.
It was Haliti’s first goal of the season in over 600 minutes of play, though 10 of his 16 appearances this season have come as a substitute.
With the likes of Mark Bridge, Brendon Santalab and Tomi Juric blocking his path to a regular starting spot, Haliti could be forgiven for getting itchy feet and seeking more opportunities elsewhere.
However, the Kosovo-born striker is the ultimate team-man, grateful for any chance to shine at such a strong club.
“I love working with these coaches and I turn up every day and I enjoy every minute of it,” Haliti said.
“I’m lucky to be a part of it, grateful. I don’t see it as (me being) third choice or second choice, or first choice.
“I just try to do all the right things and then everything else will take care of itself.
“As long as I’m there for the team. The team comes first.”
Even with limited opportunities, Haliti clearly believes in his ability to influence a game coming off the bench.
His well taken point-saving strike against Brisbane wasn’t his first goal in a big game and he clearly savours the atmosphere of special occasions.
It was Haliti who scored the winner in the Wanderers’ memorable away win over eventual champions Central Coast last season, which was crucial in them winning the Premier’s Plate.
“I like the big games,” Haliti said.
“I like when the game is a lot tighter and you know you can come on and change a game, or do something for the team.”
Wanderers coach Tony Popovic described his team’s effort against Brisbane as outstanding and said they had played very well in their past three games.
They remained composed and patient and bossed the game against Brisbane despite falling behind early.
“The players are evolving, we’re trying to improve our game constantly,” Popovic said.
“I think that’s a sign of improvement, the patience. They are not panicking, not forcing the issue.”