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Sep 13, 2021   |  5:04PM AET

NPL Match Preview: Zadkovich backs Academy ”underdogs” to put best foot forward in Elimination Final

NPL Match Preview: Zadkovich backs Academy ”underdogs” to put best foot forward in Elimination Final

PGFC Academy First Team Head Coach Ruben Zadkovich believes his young side are the underdogs heading into Tuesday evening’s Elimination Final against Floreat Athena at E&D Litis Stadium (kick-off at 3pm), but is still backing them to produce another impressive performance.

Glory came through a tough examination at the hands of Sorrento FC in Saturday’s Major Semi-Final, eventually running out 3-1 winners in extra-time.

And although they enjoyed an eye-catching 2-0 victory over Floreat when the sides met back in June, Zadkovich feels that the hosts still deserve to be installed as favourites to secure a meeting with Perth SC in Saturday’s Top Four Final at Dorrien Gardens.

“I think it’ll be a difficult game,” he said.

“We have some injury concerns.

“The boys are a bit bruised and battered and we’re going to have to piece some of them back together.

“It was a tough, physical contest [against Sorrento] and we’ve gone 120 minutes with some very young players in the team.

“Floreat are at home, they spent more time at the top of the league this year than anyone else and have a stacked squad.

“The advantage is with them and we go in as underdogs, but we’ll put our best foot forward.”

Zadkovich was understandably pleased with the way his charges set up the do-or-die midweek showdown by sticking to the task against a Sorrento side which had been beaten at home only once all season.

“Saturday was what we expected,” he said.

“It was windy, the surface isn’t especially conducive to playing football and they [Sorrento FC] are very direct, playing off the first and second phase.

“They play to their strengths and do that really well, but our players acquitted themselves really well and the longer the game went and the more we relaxed, settled and looked to play, the more rewards we got in terms of what we created.

“Over the 120 minutes I thought we were better in pretty much every area and I was very proud of the way the lads battled through to come out on top.”

Floreat come into the game having lost 4-0 to Perth SC in their Semi-Final, but prior to that, they won two of their final three games of the season to lock in a second-place finish.

On Wednesday evening, meanwhile, the PGFC Academy Under-20s will also take on Athena, with this game taking place at Crazy Domains Stadium, Hartfield Park at 6pm.

Chris Coyne’s side were beaten by Bayswater City in their Semi-Final on Saturday, but as Champions, have another opportunity to claim a Top Four Final spot.

Admission to the Under-20s’ Preliminary Final is FREE.

(pic courtesy of Tom McCarthy)