ALM Match Preview: United trip critical to Finals push says Staj

Glory Head Coach Alen Stajcic believes that Saturday’s Round 19 clash with Western United in Ballarat (kick-off at 2pm WST) could prove pivotal in determining his side’s chances of making a concerted bid for a Finals berth in the last third of the season.

Watch his full pre-match media conference HERE.

Now unbeaten in six games, the men in purple will head to the Victorian Goldfields looking to strike it rich by claiming what would be a first ever away victory over United.

And Stajcic feels that three points would propel his charges right into the thick of the race for a top-six finish.

“We’re in the hunt and we want to achieve that [a Finals place],” he said.

“That’s been the goal right since the beginning of the season and we’re on the verge of competing for those positions.

“We’ve worked extremely hard to put ourselves in this position over the last six or seven matches, to be able to be within striking distance, which is really important.

“It’s a tough run-in for every team, every game is close.

“This is a critical match against a team that, for me, their position doesn’t really justify how well they’ve played during the year.

“In game-play I think they’ve been as good as any team in the competition… so we have to ensure we focus.”

Glory’s Head Coach has insisted all season that United’s position at the foot of the table does not reflect the quality of their personnel or many of their performances and he reinforced that viewpoint once again.

“When you look at players like [Daniel] Penha and some of the others that they have, they have a complete squad,” he said.

“They’ve played very well against all the top teams and been competitive.

“Youngsters like Matthew Grimaldi have come in and added a lot of depth and excitement to the team and of course Lachie Wales is always a threat.

“They have a good team all around the park… they just haven’t earned the points they sometimes should have for whatever reason.

“It’s a tough game and we’ll have to be fully focused for it.”

Stajcic will not be in the technical area at MARS Stadium on Saturday as he serves a one-match suspension having accrued five yellow cards, but he has no doubt that Assistant Head Coach, Nahuel Arrarte, will deputise most effectively.

“Our preparations just go on as normal and there’ll just be one crazy man shouting at them from the sidelines instead of another!” he said.

“Nothing will really change during the game or before it and all our processes are usually in place during the week anyway.

“Matchday is really just the icing on top of the cake.

“It’s a bit disappointing not being there, but I’ll still be in the grandstand watching.

“Everyone knows what their job is.

“We’ve been together for a long time now [Stajcic and Arrarte] and there’s a lot of tension in that relationship in terms of us always pushing each other and trying to find ways to be better.

“It’s always evolved and he’s extremely experienced in that role, he’s certainly been on the sideline with me a long time and has been a Head Coach a few times as well, so I’m 100{e0eacfde3737b7a6d6d38e6c2fa2b27ad4b47af816b194a8894ca596baf1880e} confident that he can do as good as job, if not probably better.

“It’ll be a walk in the park for him.”

In terms of injury news, meanwhile, Stajcic confirmed that Mustafa Amini (rib) and Johnny Koutroumbis (hip} are a chance to return to the squad this week and that Mark Beevers (knee) is also closing in on a return to full fitness.

As for the hosts, they have won just one of their last ten A-League outings and are the competition’s lowest scorers this term with 18 goals.

Among their brighter performers have been Brazilian playmaker Penha, who has scored five times, Noah Botic, who has found the net on four occasions and also added an assist and ex-Newcastle man Angus Thurgate, who has been an ever-present in midfield.

Saturday will mark the first meeting between Glory and United this season, with the visitors looking to improve upon an overall record of two wins, seven defeats and a draw in this fixture.

Match Details

Isuzu UTE A-League 2023/24 Season Round 19

Western United v Perth Glory

Saturday 2 March 2024

MARS Stadium, Ballarat

Kick-off: 2pm WST (5pm Local)

Referee: Shaun Evans

Western United squad: 6. Tomoki IMAI, 8. Lachie WALES, 9. Michael RUHS, 10. Steven LUSTICA, 11. Daniel PENHA, 13. Nikita RUKAVYTSYA, 17. Ben GARUCCIO, 19. Josh RISDON, 21. Sebastian PASQUALI, 22. Kane VIDMAR, 29. Charbel SHAMOON, 32. Angus THURGATE, 33. Matt SUTTON (gk), 37. Luke VICKERY, 38. Noah BOTIC, 39. Matthew GRIMALDI, 42. Rhys BOZINOVSKI, 43. Khoder KADDOUR, 70. Michael VONJA (gk), 77. Riku DANZAKI

Ins: 11. Daniel PENHA (returns from injury), 17. Ben GARUCCIO

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 1. Tom HEWARD-BELLE (injured), 4. James DONACHIE (suspended), 7. Ramy NAJJARINE (injured), 24. Connor O’TOOLE (injured), 27. Jacob TRATT (injured), 41. Oliver LAVALE (injured)

Perth Glory squad: 1.Oli SAIL (gk), 3.Jacob MUIR, 7.Stefan COLAKOVSKI, 8.Mustafa AMINI, 9.David WILLIAMS, 11.Adam ZIMARINO, 13.Cameron COOK (gk), 14.Riley WARLAND, 15.Aleksandar SUSNJAR, 16.Josh RAWLINS, 17.Jarrod CARLUCCIO, 19.Trent OSTLER, 20.Giordano COLLI, 22.Adam TAGGART (co-c), 23.Daniel BENNIE, 27.Jayden GORMAN, 29.Darryl LACHMAN, 31.Joel ANASMO, 34.Andriano LEBIB, 77.Bruce KAMAU

Two to be omitted

Ins: 8.Mustafa AMINI, 17.Jarrod CARLUCCIO

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 2.Johnny KOUTROUMBIS (injured), 5.Mark BEEVERS (co-c) (injured), 21.Antonis MARTIS (injured)