ALW Match Preview: Epakis focusing inwards ahead of top-of-the-table clash

Head Coach Alex Epakis has insisted that Glory’s main focus will be upon themselves as they prepare for Saturday’s top-of-the-table Liberty A-League tussle with Melbourne City at Genis Steel Stadium (kick-off at 1pm WST, watch live and free on 10 Play).

View his full pre-match media conference HERE.

The women in purple would replace City in top spot if they manage to inflict what would be the hosts’ first defeat of the season.

But while keenly aware of the threats posed by Dario Vidosic’s free-scoring side, Epakis has not been dwelling upon these during his preparations for the Round 7 showdown.

“City have a really good squad, they are well structured and have a really clear playing style with and without the ball,” he said, “and on a personal note, I’m really excited at what that challenge will look like for the team.

“We’ve got a lot of strong points to our game and we’ve got to make sure we are able to nullify what their strengths are, but also take advantage of some of the areas we can.

“Credit to City, they are where they are because they’re consistent and it’s a great opportunity to test ourselves against the team that’s sitting top.

“We’re in a position now where we’re competing with the best teams and doing it week in, week out.

“Internally, we have so much focus on and intent on what it is we want to do.

“We are really focused and motivated from the last match… and to have the opportunity right some of those wrongs is something I know the players are really keen for.

“I’m really focused on helping the players make sure that we have an improved performance and if we do that, we give ourselves a chance to go up against anyone.

“I think if we focus on that and not so much who we’re coming up against, that’s what’s important for us right now.”

Glory will be looking to bounce back from what was their first defeat of the season against Wellington Phoenix a fortnight ago and the Head Coach feels that lessons have been learnt from that result in Auckland.

“We definitely had a lot of time to look at that performance and it certainly wasn’t one that was our best outing,” he said.

“We acknowledge that we did a few things well, but as a whole, there were a number of things that we would have liked to have done better and it’s been pretty clear and evident and we’ve spoken a lot about it.

“To be fair to the group, they’ve acknowledged it and we’ve really put a lot of those learnings into practice and to me that’s the really important thing; that we do progress when we have a result or a performance like that.

“The response from the team since we returned from Auckland has been really good.”

In terms of early team news, meanwhile, Epakis went on to confirm that he expects the three players who have been away on international duty, New Zealand’s Grace Jale and Young Matildas duo Georgia Cassidy and Grace Johnston, to be fully fit and available for the trip to Melbourne.

Goalkeeper Sally James is also set to return to the squad having recovered from the head injury she sustained in the warm-up ahead of last month’s home game against Melbourne Victory.

As for City, they have won five of their six fixtures this term, scoring 15 goals in the process and proved too good for reigning Champions Sydney FC last time out.

Holly McNamara has already helped herself to six goals, while Rhianna Pollicina has chipped in with three and Daniela Galic and Hannah Wilkinson have each bagged two.

Glory’s thrilling 4-3 triumph at Macedonia Park last season ended a run of five straight defeats at the hands of the Victorians.

Match Details

Liberty A-League 2023/24 Season Round 7

Melbourne City v Perth Glory

Genis Steel Stadium

Saturday 9 December 2023

Kick-off: 1pm WST (4pm Local)

Melbourne City squad: 2. Leia VARLEY, 3. Naomi CHINNAMA, 5. Taylor OTTO, 6. Leticia McKENNA, 7. Julia GROSSO, 8. Kaitlyn TORPEY, 10. Rhianna POLLICINA, 11. Emina EKIC, 13. Rebekah STOTT (C), 14. Laura HUGHES, 15. Kiera MEYERS, 16. Karly ROESTBAKKEN, 17. Hannah WILKINSON, 18. Leah DAVIDSON, 19. Tijan McKENNA, 20. Caitlin KARIC, 21. Isabella ACCARDO, 23. Melissa BARBIERI (GK), 24. Daniela GALIC, 44. Lysianne PROULX (GK)

Ins: 15. Kiera MEYERS (promoted), 16. Karly ROESTBAKKEN (returns from injury), 20. Caitlin KARIC (returns from injury), 21. Isabella ACCARDO (promoted)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 9. Holly McNAMARA (ACL), 22. Bryleeh HENRY (knee)

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, 22.Claudia MIHOCIC, 23.Isobel DALTON, 24.Sally JAMES (GK), 25.Grace JOHNSTON, 27.Georgia CASSIDY

Four to be omitted

Ins: 13.Sarah CAIN, 17.Abbey GREEN, 18.Sadie LAWRENCE, 19.Izzy FOLETTA, 24.Sally JAMES (GK)

Outs: 29.Lilly BAILEY (GK)

Unavailable: 16.Isabella WALLHEAD (injured), 28.Anika STAJCIC (injured)