The prospect of an even longer Distance Derby trip is something which Head Coach Alex Epakis believes could actually benefit his Liberty A-League squad this weekend.
View his full pre-match media conference HERE.
Glory’s Round 6 clash with Wellington Phoenix will take place at GoMedia Stadium in Auckland rather than in Wellington, meaning an increased journey time for the women in purple.
But Epakis feels that his charges will reap the rewards of spending more time together as a group.
“I know that over the time that I’ve been here, we’ve had our fair share of away stints, both long distances and long times away, especially during that COVID period,” he said.
“As a group, we become a lot stronger and more unified when we spend that type of time together.
“We also have the opportunity to travel every second week, whereas some teams come to us only once a season, so for us, it’s a lot more normal.
“So we just try and utilise that time together and it gives us more time to prepare and be really focused for the game.”
Glory will visit the chilly side of the Tasman off the back of a 2-2 home draw with Melbourne Victory and although that game marked the end of his side’s 100% start to the season, the Head Coach was heartened by many aspects of the performance.
“We took a lot away from that,” he said.
“Whilst we didn’t walk away with three points, we did walk away with a lot of other real positives which I think will hold us in good stead for the rest of the season.
“The ability to get something late and really push was something really important for us and that’s where we want to be as a team this year.
“For me, we dominated large periods of the game and had opportunities to go two up and we didn’t nail them.
“That was unfortunate, but the intent there to get more goals after already going up is something that, as a group, I’ve really challenged them to do.
“Then to have the sucker-punch of conceding two really quickly, I thought that this is going to be a different test for us.
“Do we have it in us in the last ten minutes to find a goal and get something out of it?
“And the team certainly did.
“It was a really good learning moment for all of us.”
Glory will be facing a Phoenix side who have also enjoyed a strong start to the campaign, winning three of their opening five games to sit in third spot in the table and Epakis is certainly not underestimating the challenge they will provide in Auckland.
“I think it’ll be a really structured game,” he said.
“Phoenix have a really clear style of play.
“They like to build up, they have a certain focus on keeping the ball and trying to play through the lines and for us, we’re quite similar in that regard.
“We’ve just got to make sure that we minimise the transition moments.
“I think both teams are able to do damage in those areas.
“We’re in a position where we’re really focused on our playing style and what it is we’re trying to do on the pitch.
“We need to be aware of what the opposition can do and where their threats are, but we are really focused on us.
“They’ve made a good start and there are two in-form teams that are going to have a real crack on the weekend.”
In terms of early team news, meanwhile, Epakis confirmed that Sally James will face a late fitness test having received a head knock in the warm-up ahead of last weekend’s Victory game, but that otherwise, he has no fresh injury concerns to contend with.
Phoenix are also expected to be at close to full-strength, with two-goal Venezuelan import Mariana Speckmaier set to start, along with homegrown midfielder Macey Fraser who has also found the net twice this term and received her first Football Ferns call-up earlier in the week.
Kick-off on Saturday is at 2.15pm WST and you can catch all the action live and free on 10Play.
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