New Glory Head Coach Alex Epakis has saluted the commitment of his players ahead of Saturday’s Westfield W-League season-opener against Adelaide United at the Marden Sports Complex (kick-off at 4.05pm WST).
Having completed an intensive five-week pre-season campaign, the new-look squad will head to the South Australian capital with eight players in contention to make their Glory debuts.
And Epakis has been delighted by both their mental and physical approach so far.
“I couldn’t have asked for any more,” he said.
“The players have been immense in their attitude of buying-in to what we’re trying to do from a culture and environment point of view and most importantly, from a playing style point of view.
“My goal as a coach is to make sure that every player has a very, very clear picture of what their job is in all the moments of the match.
“If we do that, I think we remove any grey areas.
“There’s been a lot of information that they’ve needed to upload very quickly and after five weeks of solid training with the core group, they’ve been magnificent in really embracing it and growing with it.”
While keener to discuss the group than himself, the Head Coach did acknowledge how much taking charge of the team for the first time in a competitive game will mean to him.
“Since the moment I arrived, my whole focus and energy has been upon preparing the team and making sure we’re as ready as we can be and I’ve kind of forgotten my actual role within that on match day,” he said.
“It’s going to be surreal and I’m really excited and very proud.
“On a personal level, it means a lot to be a part of the club and put in a position where I’ve been given the responsibility of improving the players and putting out performances that we’re all proud of.
“It’s not something that I’m taking lightly at all.”
So what is Epakis expecting from an Adelaide side which, like Glory, did not manage to secure a finals berth last season?
“I think it’s going to be two teams with a lot of young players with plenty to prove,” he said.
“I think it’ll be a very even match this week.
“Adelaide have some x-factor players and we’ve got to be well prepared to manage that.
“We’re aware of their strengths, but we’re also fully aware of what we can do and how we can go about hopefully putting on a performance that gets us three points.
“I work off a process where we spend 80% of the time focusing on us and improving our performances and tweaking our game plan and 20% on the opposition.
“We respect what they do well, but also identify where we can potentially hurt them.
“The players have had the details explained to them and I think they’re going into this game with a good game plan.”
In terms of the history of this fixture, Glory won 10 of the first 11 meetings, but the Reds have enjoyed more success in recent years and are unbeaten in the last four games.
Last season’s corresponding fixture saw Glory fight back from two goals down to secure a 2-2 draw, with Morgan Andrews’ stoppage-time penalty levelling things up.
United will be looking for their first points of the season having been edged out 4-3 by Canberra United in their opening game of the campaign.
Goals from Maria Jose Rojas and Isabel Hodgson fired them into a 2-0 half-time lead at Viking Park, but Michelle Heyman duly grabbed a hat-trick after the break to steer the hosts to a thrilling victory.
Saturday, 9 January 2021
Adelaide United v Perth Glory
Marden Sports Complex, Marden
Kick-Off: 4.05pm (WST)(6:35pm (Local))
Referee: Georgia Ghirardello
Assistant Referee 1: Laura Moya
Assistant Referee 2: Paula Orlandi
Fourth Official: Isabella Blaess
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 from 4:00pm (WST), Sky Sport 7 (New Zealand), Kayo Sports (www.kayosports.com.au) and MyFootball Live App, Live Fast and Data Free for Telstra mobile customers
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #ADLvPER
To purchase tickets visit www.w-league.com.au/tickets
Adelaide United squad: 1.Sian FRYER-MCLAREN (gk), 2.Emily HODGSON, 3.Matilda McNAMARA, 4.Mallory WEBER, 5.Charlotte GRANT, 6.Georgia CAMPAGNALE, 7.María José ROJAS, 8.Emily CONDON, 10.Chelsie DAWBER, 12.Isabel HODGSON, 13.Ella TONKIN, 14.Abbey BURNS, 15.Meleri MULLAN, 16.Dylan HOLMES (c), 18.Annalee GROVE (gk), 19.Maruschka WALDUS, 21.Lara KIRKBY, 23.Fiona WORTS
**2 to be omitted**
Ins: 5.Charlotte GRANT (promoted), 14.Abbey BURNS (promoted), 19.Maruschka WALDUS (promoted)
Outs: 11.Laura JOHNS (quad)
Perth Glory squad: 1.Lily ALFELD (gk), 2.Sarah CARROLL, 3.Gemma CRAINE, 4.Natasha RIGBY, 5.Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE, 6.Tijan MCKENNA, 7.Elizabeth ANTON, 8.Hana LOWRY, 9.Malia STEINMETZ, 11.Patricia CHARALAMBOUS, 12.Sarah MORGAN, 13.Jamie-Lee GALE, 14.Caitlin DOEGLAS, 15.Abbey GREEN, 16.Isabella WALLHEAD, 17.Marianna TABAIN, 20.Rebecca BENNETT (gk), 23.Katarina JUKIC
**2 to be omitted**