Ahead of the final round of the regular season, Ben Gilby reports on today’s media conferences featuring the head coaches of Melbourne City, Perth Glory, and Western United (31/3/23).
Melbourne City head coach Dario Vidosic believes that as long as his team maintains a belief in their ability, everything else will fall into place in their huge game with Canberra United on Sunday.
Vidosic outlined to the media today that when things don’t go City’s way, his team need to find a way to react positively. Looking back at their 4-3 defeat at Perth Glory last weekend after his side dominated the first half, the Sky Blues boss said: “It was the story of the season so far for us. It is belief. When we believed, we played, and limited them, in the first half, before they had any chances. It all (the Perth comeback) came from us.
“We gave away the first corner, we played back into the pressure. Second goal, we had shorter pressure and a great finish from (Hannah) Blake. Similar to the derby against Western United, we had all the chances, but were on the wrong end of the result. We need to put in 90-minute performances. There will always be swings in a game, it’s about how we respond to it.”
Vidosic is confident that his team can both contain and dominate Canberra United on Sunday and just has to remind his players of the events when the sides met earlier in the season at McKellar Park.
“We know their quality, we’ve seen their quality. But we can take belief. We went to Canberra and won 4-0. Michelle (Heyman) played that day, they (Canberra’s star players) all played. All their best players were on the pitch, but we controlled it well. They will create something, but we will try our best to limit their danger.
“If we play in their half and we force them back, we try to control the transitions. Everyone plays transitionary football against us. Canberra happen to be one of the most dangerous in transitions. It’s just about ‘can you score, and can you protect your box?’ “
One of the main messages that the City boss has been sharing with his squad ahead of the vital match is to embrace the occasion and flourish in front of their home fans to qualify for the Finals.
“We’ll try not to let the occasion get to us, we are at home, we have that advantage, so there’s nothing to be afraid of or to feel any sort of pressure. We’re going into the stadium to do what we love. It’s a great day, a doubleheader (with the men), so we’ll have all the City family there. The girls will be ready.”
Reflecting on his first season in charge of the team, Vidosic said: “We play a really, really good style. They (the players) have trained phenomenal and for my first season as a head coach, it’s been great. I have nothing but positive things to say. We’ve all learned a lot this season. I’ve learned different things to say and do, and how to nullify danger.”
Ahead of their last match of the home and away season, Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis wants his side to put in a performance to be proud of regardless of whether they qualify for the Finals.
“We want to make sure the performance reflects the group and what we’ve put on this year. We want to put on a Grand Final performance the best as we can, as it could be our last one.”
Perth Glory go into the game having played three matches in locations far and wide – New Zealand, Perth, and Sydney, in the space of 11 days and now add Brisbane to their itinerary. It’s been a nightmare schedule for the team from Western Australia.
“There are a few sore bodies and a bit of fatigue in the group as we expected. Every player was never going to play every minute of these (three) games (in six days). We just have to see what the squad will look like. We have the depth to manage it.”
Saturday’s opponents Brisbane Roar go into the encounter on a run of six games without a win – but Garrath McPherson’s side have put in some good performances against the competition’s top sides this season.
Reflecting on the Queenslanders, Epakis said: “There will be a different stimulus for them. They will want to finish the season on a high if they can. We still have everything to play for. We’re not too focused on them, we’re focused on putting on a performance that wins the game.”
Perth’s Finals hopes now rest on teams above them failing to win this weekend after Epakis’ side went down to a 4-2 loss at Sydney FC on Wednesday after the league leaders scored two goals in the final 15 minutes.
“I was really proud of a spirited performance from the group. I could see the players digging extremely deep to compete. You come up against a class team like we did, you really have to go above and beyond and that was there for everyone to see. From player one to 16, they did their job and gave us a chance. I was a proud coach who admired what the team did and we just fell a bit short, unfortunately.
Western United head coach Mark Torcaso identified today the influence that Matildas star Chloe Logarzo’s return has had on his squad ahead of their maiden Finals campaign.
“The last couple of days, she has literally walked straight back into the changing room and you can feel the difference already in having a person of her quality and presence. She will be vital to us in the Finals series. Hopefully, we can get her back on the pitch. We believe she has the x-factor that can help us win games.”
Whilst Western United’s spot in the Finals is already assured, Torcaso wants to see his team go into the post-regular season action on a high, after a disappointing run of results over the last month or so.
“It’s about getting momentum. Making sure that we have the right mentality and the right attitude going into a Finals series. We’re focusing on getting three points and then adjusting the focus for Finals on Monday.
“The mentality has changed over the past few weeks. We have players that are now fighting for a spot in the Finals team. It’s been really competitive at training. Sometimes it gets a bit firey which is good! Training has gone really good. It has been for the last few weeks, it’s just been on the pitch that it hasn’t quite gone our way.”
Reflecting on his team’s sensational first season in the competition, the Western United boss believes the success has come down to the careful and long-term planning that was put in place ahead of this season.
“I believe in our playing group and our club in making sure we were competitive. It all came together. We’re also still playing for the Premier’s Plate as well, so you never know what will happen in Sydney against Newcastle – we focus on Western Sydney.”