Glory Head Coach Alen Stajcic has praised his side’s defensive resilience ahead of Saturday’s Isuzu UTE A-League Round 4 trip to Western Sydney Wanderers (kick-off at 2.30pm WST).
View his full pre-match media conference HERE.
The men in purple kept their first clean sheet of the campaign in last weekend’s 2-0 home win over Central Coast Mariners, a result which lifted them into the top six of the embryonic A-League table.
And the Head Coach felt that the shutout at HBF Park was reflective of a more general solidity at the back.
“I actually thought our defence was really good in the first two games as well,” he said, “we just lost one or two moments in a game, which can happen in football, rather than giving away too many shots on target or easy chances.
“I don’t think there have been any games so far where we’ve given away more than three or four chances which means we’re tracking ok.
“The Mariners had a couple of long-range shots and we had a long-range shot against us against Newcastle as well, so we’re ensuring that teams have to shoot from distance and create something from a lot further out from goal.
“Over the last two weeks, we’ve seen that Newcastle are a massive attacking threat.
“They could have scored seven or eight goals last week and seven or eight against Victory and yet against us, they didn’t really create that many clear-cut chances.
“They probably only had two or three and even their goals against us were gifted to them a little bit.
“It shows that we’re heading down the right path without the ball, but we certainly need to improve a little bit with the ball to ensure that we’re creating even more chances.
“I think we’ve got a good platform, but there are certainly a lot of things we have to tighten up on as well, particularly our set-piece defending last week.
“Even though we had a lot of set-pieces to defend, it wasn’t where it should be.”
Stajcic is keenly aware that his side’s defensive capabilities will be tested by a Wanderers side which he rates as a potent force going forward.
“I think they’ve probably been the best attacking team in the competition,” he said.
“Obviously Adelaide and Victory have been very good as well in terms of getting forward and creating chances, but I’d definitely put Wanderers up there with them.
“Their front four players have been exceptional in beating people, creating chances and combining with each other, so they definitely will be massive threat going forward and one that we will have to try and stop.”
In terms of early team news, meanwhile, Stajcic hinted that several previously injured players may be in line to fill the gaps left by on-loan midfielders Oliver Bozanic and Jarrod Carluccio who are ineligible to play against their parent club.
“They’re unavailable for this game, but as always, when one door closes, it opens up an opportunity for someone else to come in,” he said.
“We’ve got a couple more players available who haven’t been available over the last couple of weeks and some big decisions to make over the next couple of days.
“We’ve been working on a couple of different options in that part of the field [midfield], but we’re not going to give too much away at this point.
“Regardless of who comes in, I know that they’re going to be able to do the job to the extent that is required for the team.”
And although Glory have lost on each of their last three visits to CommBank Stadium, the Head Coach believes that the squad will make the trip east with an air of quiet confidence off the back of the victory over the Mariners.
“Winning is always good,” he said.
“It creates good habits and good behaviours and most importantly, gives you that belief and confidence that you’re heading down the right path.
“I personally had more of that growing after Round One and Two, just knowing that we could gel as quickly as what we did against A-League opposition and again, probably teams like us and Wellington are behind the pack at the beginning of the year just because of distance and not being able to play as many friendlies as what the other teams can.
“We’ve always got to make those adjustments quicker and get into the flow of the league and the team rhythm and team chemistry quicker and it’s harder for us, it just is.
“That’s a fact of life.
“So the fact that we were able to do what we did against Newcastle so quickly was a really good confidence booster for me.”
Wanderers head into Saturday’s game having collected five points from their opening three fixtures, with their most eye-catching result being a 5-0 demolition of Western United in Round 2.
New recruit Lachlan Brook has helped himself to two goals, as has Nicolas Milanovic and although last season’s top scorer, Brandon Borrello, is yet to open his account this year, he has contributed two assists.
Former Glory man Jack Clisby is expected to start for the red-and-blacks and he may be joined by key midfielder Milos Ninkovic who is yet to feature this season.
Glory won both of last term’s fixtures 1-0 and in doing so, edged ahead 12-11 in the overall victory count.
Isuzu UTE A-League 2023/24 Season Round 4
Western Sydney Wanderers v Perth Glory
Saturday 11 November 2023
Referee: Daniel Elder
Western Sydney Wanderers squad: 4.Doni GRDIC, 6.Marcelo (C), 7.Dylan PIERIAS, 9.Marcus ANTONSSON, 10.Milos NINKVOIC, 13.Tate RUSSELL, 14.Nicolas MILANOVIC, 16.Tom BEADLING, 17.Lachlan BROOK, 19.Jack CLISBY, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (GK), 21.Jorrit HENDRIX, 25.Josh BRILLANTE, 26.Brandon BORRELLO, 29.Dylan SCICLUNA, 31.Aidan SIMMONS, 33.Alex BONETIG, 36.Oscar PRIESTMAN, 40.Jack GIBSON (GK)
Ins: 10.Milos NINKVOIC, 16.Tom BEADLING 31.Aidan SIMMONS, 33.Alex BONETIG
Outs: 35. Zac SAPSFORD, 37. Alex BADOLATO, 38. Anthony PANTAZOPOULOS
Perth Glory squad: 1.Oli SAIL (gk), 2.Johnny KOUTROUMBIS, 3.Jacob MUIR, 4.Luke BODNAR, 5.Mark BEEVERS (co-c), 7.Stefan COLAKOVSKI, 9.David WILLIAMS, 10.Salim KHELIFI, 11.Adam ZIMARINO, 13.Cameron COOK (gk), 14.Riley WARLAND, 15.Aleksandar SUSNJAR, 19.Trent OSTLER, 20.Giordano COLLI, 22.Adam TAGGART (co-c), 23.Daniel BENNIE, 27.Jayden GORMAN, 29.Darryl LACHMAN, 32.James OVERY, 77.Bruce KAMAU
Two to be omitted
Ins: 4.Luke BODNAR, 11.Adam ZIMARINO, 27.Jayden GORMAN, 32.James OVERY
Outs: 17.Jarrod CARLUCCIO, 24.Oliver BOZANIC
Unavailable: 6.Aaron MCENEFF (injured), 8.Mustafa AMINI (injured), 12.Luke IVANOVIC (injured), 17.Jarrod CARLUCCIO (unavailable due to terms of loan agreement), 21.Antonis MARTIS (injured), 24.Oliver BOZANIC (unavailable due to terms of loan agreement)
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