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Oct 12, 2023   |  3:30PM AET

ALW Match Preview: Epakis expecting opening-round thriller

ALW Match Preview: Epakis expecting opening-round thriller

Head Coach Alex Epakis is expecting thrills galore when his Glory side open their Liberty A-League 2023/24 campaign by taking on Western United at Macedonia Park on Saturday (kick-off at 7pm, tickets available HERE).

A number of exciting new forward options have been added to the Glory squad during the off-season, including international trio Grace Jale, Millie Farrow and Quinley Quezada, while the visitors’ attack will be spearheaded by American import Hannah Keane who scored 13 goals last term en route to claiming the ALW Golden Boot.

And Epakis believes the result will be a contest set to keep everyone on the edge of their seats.

“I’m really excited by it,” he said.

“As we know, they had a fantastic year last year, they’re well coached and have some strong players within their squad.

“So that presents the perfect opportunity for us to start the season by testing ourselves against one of the best teams and I’m really looking forward to that challenge and the players are as well.

“We’ve all spoken about how much of an impact the Women’s World Cup has had in Australia and New Zealand and I really believe that we’ve brought on some fans now that are new to the game.

“It’s such a great game for those people to have a first taste of Perth Glory at home because it’s going to be exciting.

“I really believe the supporters will be treated to a great spectacle.”

While Epakis is cognisant of the threat that last season’s beaten grand finalists will provide, he insists that his side will direct their main focus inwards.

“The reality is that we know what we’re capable of,” he said.

“We have a really strong belief within the group that we can achieve something special and I don’t want to dampen that, I want to use that as momentum and just to create a real force around what we’re doing.

“We are setting really high expectations of ourselves, but it’s because we have the group that we have.

“They’re realistic expectations.

“Western are a very experienced team and are strong and powerful.

“You just look at the profile of their players and you know it’s going to be a physical challenge.

“They’re very effective going forward as well, so we have to really mindful of managing that.

“But the priority and the focus is on our own attack and we go into the game… with the belief and the idea that we will win.”

With a new-look Glory side targeting a top-six finish in the newly-expanded ALW competition, the Head Coach feels that the club’s loyal Members and fans will enjoy the journey this season.

“Grace and Millie and Quinley and Jess [Cowart] are players that are coming in with some really great experience from overseas,” he said.

“They’re exciting and that was really the profile of the kind of players we were looking to bring in this year.

“A dynamic, exciting profile and players who have a bit of edge and character about them.

“I think as a group, that was something we needed this season.”

United, meanwhile, will head west looking for a repeat of their last trip to Macedonia Park which yielded a 3-2 win on New Year’s Day.

Glory duly avenged that defeat a month later with a 3-1 triumph in Ballarat, before Mark Torcaso’s side went on to record a second-place finish and progress to the Grand Final where they eventually succumbed to Sydney FC.

Match Details

Liberty A-League 2023/24 Season Round 1

Perth Glory v Western United

Macedonia Park

Saturday 14 October 2023

Kick-off: 7pm WST

Perth Glory Squad: 1.Morgan AQUINO (GK), 3.Jessika COWART, 4.Natasha RIGBY (c), 7.Liz ANTON, 8.Hana LOWRY, 9.Millie FARROW, 10.Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 11.Grace JALE, 12.Sofia SAKALIS, 13.Sarah CAIN, 14.Tia STONEHILL, 17.Abbey GREEN, 18.Sadie LAWRENCE, 19.Izzy FOLETTA, 20.Quinley QUEZADA, 21.Claudia MIHOCIC, 24.Sally JAMES (GK), 25.Grace JOHNSTON, 26.Tanika LALA, 27.Georgia CASSIDY

(four to be omitted)

Unavailable: 16.Isabella WALLHEAD (injured), 23.Isobel DALTON (injured)

Western United squad: 1. Alyssa DALL’OSTE (gk), 2. Stacey PAPADOPOULOS, 4. Jaclyn SAWICKI, 6. Chloe LOGARZO, 7. Kiara DE DOMIZIO, 9. Hannah KEANE, 10. Kahli JOHNSON, 11. Emma ROBERS, 12. Lucy RICHARDS, 14. Natasha DAKIC, 15. Adriana TARANTO, 16. Melissa TARANTO, 18. Grace MAHER, 19. Tyla Jay VLAJNIC, 20. Keiwa HIEDA, 22. Alana CERNE, 24. Julia SARDO, 26. Natalie PICAK

Unavailable: 34. Catherine ZIMMERMAN (injured)

(picture courtesy of Tom McCarthy)