Match Preview: “I don’t want to put a ceiling on what this group is capable of” – Epakis

Glory Head Coach Alex Epakis is exuding an air of quiet confidence ahead his side’s Liberty A-League season-opener against Brisbane Roar at Macedonia Park on Saturday (kick-off at 7.05pm, tickets HERE).

There will be a new look to the home squad following a busy off-season on the recruitment front, with the likes of Alana Jancevski, Sofia Sakalis, Mie Lath Jens, Sarah Cain, Aideen Keane, Courtney Newbon and Susan Phonsongkham in the frame to make their club debuts and Lisa De Vanna set to begin her third spell in the famous purple.

And Epakis believes that his charges have what it takes to enjoy a successful campaign.

“I don’t want to put a ceiling on what this team is capable of,” he said.

“The expectation is more on ourselves; that we have a really strong performance in every match and that we prepare as best we can.

“If we do that, there’s no need to put a ceiling on what that can look like in terms of results.

“[With] the players, in particular those that were involved last year, there’s a particular steel about what they’re doing and they’re extremely focused and hungry to ensure that we get off to a better start.

“Success is something that this group certainly deserves after the pre-season and also last year’s difficulties.

“It’ll be a fantastic start to the season if we can secure the three points.”

In sharp contrast to last year’s COVID-19-ravaged preparations, the squad has enjoyed a full pre-season this time around and Epakis believes that the benefits of that are already evident.

“This season we’ve had the opportunity to ensure that every session is planned and prepared well in advance and the squad has been together for longer,” he said.

“We’ve got a very clear understanding of how we’re going to play and have built a strong team environment, so it’s completely different to last year and I’m really hoping that come Round One, the performance shows that.”

On the subject of De Vanna, meanwhile, the Head Coach is backing the Matildas legend to make a major impact in every regard.

“She’s a fantastic addition and we’re very privileged to have her joining us this season,” he said.

“She brings a lot of experience on and off the field and she’s a larrikin as well, which lightens up the mood at times.

“She’s almost a perfect addition.”

In terms of squad news, Epakis confirmed that Demi Koulizakis will unfortunately be sidelined for anything up to eight weeks after sustaining a knee injury and neither Claudia Mihocic nor US import Cyera Hintzen will feature on Saturday for quarantine reasons.

Versatile 16-year-old Poppie Hooks has been added to the squad as an injury replacement for Koulizakis.

Brisbane will arrive in the west off the back of an impressive 2020-21 campaign in which they secured a second-place finish, losing just once during the entire regular season.

Saturday will mark Glory’s ninth home meeting with Roar and the hosts will be seeking to claim a fourth win.

Glory’s Full 2021/22 Squad
1.Morgan AQUINO (GK), 2.Sarah CARROLL, 3.Kim CARROLL, 4.Natasha RIGBY (C), 5.Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE, 6.Tijan MCKENNA, 7.Liz ANTON, 8.Hana LOWRY, 9.Demi KOULIZAKIS, 10.Susan PHONSONGKHAM, 11.Lisa DE VANNA, 12.Sofia SAKALIS, 13.Sarah CAIN, 15.Cyera HINTZEN, 16.Isabella WALLHEAD, 17.Abbey GREEN, 18.Sadie LAWRENCE, 19.Poppie HOOKS, 20.Courtney NEWBON (GK) 21.Aideen KEANE, 22.Claudia MIHOCIC, 23.Alana JANCEVSKI, 24.Gemma CRAINE, 26.Mie LETH JANS