Match Preview: Epakis relishing champions’ challenge

Glory Head Coach Alex Epakis is backing his side to embrace the challenge of taking on reigning Liberty A-League champions Melbourne Victory in Sunday’s Round 4 showdown at Macedonia Park (kick-off at 4pm, tickets HERE).

The women in purple will be aiming to secure a first win of the season having picked up two points from their opening three games courtesy of away draws at Canberra and Newcastle.

Victory, meanwhile, bounced back from consecutive defeats in their first two games with a narrow win over Wellington Phoenix last weekend and Epakis is expecting a keen contest.

“Looking across the field at the squad that they have,” he said, “they have some really experienced players and a really experienced coach.

“They are a team that has done very well in recent years and we have to respect that.

“The form that they’re in at the moment is a little indifferent, but we haven’t been winning either and we need to make sure that we are the best version of ourselves going into this game.

“I’m confident and I say this to the players as often as I can, that if we are good enough for long enough, we can compete with and beat anyone, regardless of what players the opposition have or what form they’re in.

“Both teams are really going to want to go and win this game for different reasons.

“We’re really clear that this is an important opportunity for us to put a performance together and that’s the feeling and the internal motivation.

“We want to win this for us.”

Epakis went on to confirm that there were lessons to be learned from aspects of last weekend’s thrilling 2-2 draw with the Jets at No.2 Sportsground.

“We went through the previous performance and highlighted where we need to improve and that has set us up nicely in a good frame of mind for this coming match,” he said.

“From a structural and shape point of view, with and without the ball, we are where we need to be.

“It’s just little moments where we can be a little bit more clinical.

“A big focus this week has been looking to be more aggressive and hungrier to win the ball higher up, knowing that if we press aggressively and we don’t win it, we’re also ready and comfortable to recover back.

“We want to tidy up that part of our game as defending aggressively and defending high should be our bread and butter.”

The Head Coach also believes that the Glory faithful will have a role to play on Sunday.

“We really appreciated all their support last time and we hope that they’re eager to come and have that experience again, despite the result,” he said.

“We’re hoping to put on something entertaining again this week and we’d really appreciate their support.”

In terms of early squad news, Glory will be without experienced central defender Kim Carroll (personal reasons), but Claudia Mihocic and Sadie Lawrence could come into selection contention as they close in on a return to full fitness.

The last ten meetings between the two sides have yielded an even split of five wins apiece and an aggregate total of 35 goals.

The most recent of those clashes went Glory’s way, with Mie Leth Jans and Leena Khamis both finding the net to ease the visitors to a 2-0 win at AAMI Park in February.

Match Details

Liberty A-League 2022/23 Season Round 4

Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory

Sunday 11 December 2022

Macedonia Park

Kick-off: 4.00pm

Perth Glory Squad: 1.Morgan AQUINO (gk), 4.Natasha RIGBY (c), 6.Tijan MCKENNA, 7.Liz ANTON, 8.Hana LOWRY, 9.Demi KOULIZAKIS, 10.Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 11.Rylee BAISDEN, 12.Sofia SAKALIS, 13.Sarah CAIN, 15.Cyera HINTZEN, 16.Isabella WALLHEAD, 17.Abbey GREEN, 18.Sadie LAWRENCE, 20.Sarah LANGMAN (gk), 21.Ella MASTRANTONIO, 22.Claudia MIHOCIC, 23.Alana JANCEVSKI, 42.Gabriella COLEMAN

Ins: 6.Tijan MCKENNA, 17.Abbey GREEN, 18.Sadie LAWRENCE, 22.Claudia MIHOCIC

Outs: 3.Kim CARROLL (personal reasons)

Unavailable: 3.Kim CARROLL (personal reasons), 24.Milan HAMMOND (injured)

Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Casey DUMONT, 2. Tiffany ELIADIS, 3.Claudia BUNGE, 5.Jessika NASH, 6.Beattie GOAD, 7.Gema SIMON, 8.Alana MURPHY, 10.Alex CHIDIAC, 14.Melina AYRES, 15.Amy JACKSON, 16.Paige ZOIS, 17.Maja MARKOVSKI 18.Kayla MORRISON, 19.Lia PRIVITELLI, 20.Miranda TEMPLEMAN, 21.Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 22.Ava BRIEDIS, 23.Emily KOS, 24.Anna LIACOPOULOS, 27.Rosie CURTIS 

In: 15.Amy JACKSON (returns from injury), 23.Emily KOS (returns from injury), 24.Anna LIACOPOULOS (promoted), 27.Rosie CURTIS (promoted)

Out: nil

Unavailable: 9.Catherine ZIMMERMAN (injured), 11.Natalie TATHEM (injured)