ALW Match Preview: Epakis bullish ahead of latest crunch clash

The prospect of taking on reigning Premiers Sydney FC away from home in a must-win game is certainly not fazing Glory Liberty A-League Head Coach Alex Epakis.

The women in purple will run out at Netsrata Jubilee Stadium on Wednesday (kick-off at 4pm WST) knowing that a win would see them displace Melbourne Victory from fourth spot ahead of this weekend’s final round of the regular season.

Sydney FC, meanwhile, would replace Western United at the top of the table if they were to claim maximum points, but Epakis is quietly confident that his side, bolstered by Sunday’s remarkable comeback win over Melbourne City, have what it takes to maintain their charge for the Finals.

Listen to his full pre-match thoughts HERE.

“Ultimately, we have to make sure that we are really aware of what we did well against City and that was having a really committed team effort, putting the team first and making sure that even during the difficult periods, we’re still capable of managing that pressure and then coming back with a sucker-punch,” he said.

“I’ll reiterate for the players that we can match it with everyone and they just have to have to have that belief and determination and the rest will take care of itself.”

Travelling across the country only 36 hours after an epic battle with Melbourne City at Macedonia Park is far from ideal preparation for a game of this magnitude, but Epakis is hopeful that his charges will still be hyped up enough to overcome the significant physical challenges.

“The group has pulled up really well,” he said.

“The emotion and the adrenaline of the game we just had will just give people an extra bit of energy and anyone’s who’s carrying a bit of a knock or is down on energy, that result will get them going and give us the push we need.

“The circumstances are what they are and the players know it.

“They believe it shouldn’t really be like this [being forced to play the final three games of the season in three different states in the space of only six days] and they’re probably motivated as a result of that.

“But I won’t provide any more context to them on it.

“It’s there for everyone to see and they feel it.

“There’s everything to play for for both teams… so given that, I imagine it’ll be a very important fixture which means a lot to both teams for different reasons.”

The Head Coach went on to confirm that leading-scorer Cyera Hintzen could well be named among the substitutes rather than in the starting side as she continues to battle a knee problem, while fellow-forward Demi Koulizakis may rejoin the squad after missing the Melbourne City game for personal reasons.

Despite the fact that a win on Wednesday night would see them move into pole position to retain the Premiers’ Plate, Sydney FC do not head into the game in particularly sparkling form.

Ante Juric’s side have lost two, won three and drawn one of their last six games, with their home defeat to Wellington Phoenix two rounds ago one of the shock results of the season.

They are, however, the second-highest scorers in the competition, with Madison Haley (7) and Princess Ibini-Isei (6) leading the way, ably supported by Sarah Hunter, Cortnee Vine, Mackenzie Hawkesby and Rachel Lowe, all of whom have found the net on four occasions.

Sydney FC have won 15 of the 25 overall meetings between the two clubs, including the last three, but Glory did snare maximum points when they visited Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in February 2020.

Match Details

Liberty A-League Season 2022/23 Round 11

Sydney FC v Perth Glory

Netstrata Jubilee Stadium

Wednesday 28 March 2023

Kick-off: 4pm WST (7pm Local)

Sydney FC squad: 1. Jada WHYMAN (GK), 2. Mary STANIC-FLOODY, 4. Anna GREEN, 5. Kirsty FENTON, 6. Sarah HUNTER, 7. Teigan COLLISTER, 8. Rachel LOWE, 9. Madison HALEY, 11. Cortnee VINE, 12. Natalie TOBIN (c), 14. Abbey LEMON, 15. Mackenzie HAWKESBY, 16. Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE, 17. Jynaya DOS SANTOS, 19. Charlize RULE, 20. Princess IBINI, 21. Shay HOLLMAN, 22. Indiana DOS SANTOS, 25. Rola BADAWIYA, 30. Katie OFFER (GK).

Ins: 7. Teigan COLLISTER (promoted), 17. Jynaya DOS SANTOS (promoted), 21. Shay HOLLMAN (return from injury), 25. Rola BADAWIYA (promoted).

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 3. Charlotte MCLEAN (expected 2 weeks – fractured cheekbone), 18. Taylor RAY (injured)

Perth Glory squad: 1.Morgan AQUINO (gk), 3.Kim CARROLL, 4.Natasha RIGBY (c), 6.Tijan MCKENNA, 7.Liz ANTON, 8.Hana LOWRY, 9.Demi KOULIZAKIS, 12.Sofia SAKALIS, 13.Sarah CAIN, 14.Hannah BLAKE, 15.Cyera HINTZEN, 16.Isabella WALLHEAD, 17.Abbey GREEN, 18.Sadie LAWRENCE, 19.Izzy FOLETTA, 20.Sarah LANGMAN (gk), 21.Ella MASTRANTONIO, 22.Claudia MIHOCIC, 23.Alana JANCEVSKI, 42.Gabriella COLEMAN

Ins: 9.Demi KOULIZAKIS, 16.Isabella WALLHEAD, 17.Abbey GREEN, 22.Claudia MIHOCIC

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 10.Susan PHONSONGKHAM (injured), 11.Rylee BAISDEN (injured), 24.Milan HAMMOND (injured)