Zadkovich: Malaysian Cup “an eye-opener” for Glory boys


Perth Glory Youth assistant coach Ruben Zadkovich has praised Perth Glory’s young squad for their performance against Johor-based side Frenz United FC in the Frenz International Cup.

The hosts prevailed 5-0 on a rain soaked pitch at the Pasir Gudang Stadium in Johor, with young striker Reza Karimi bagging a hat-trick for ‘The Black Dragons’.

Despite the heavy loss, Zadkovich believes Glory’s young guns will take the invaluable experience in their stride.

“It was a steep learning curve for the team last night,” Zadkovich said.

“We had to face an older, more physical side on a flooded pitch in high humidity.

“For our players, that was their first International match, and that is great for some of them to gain that experience at such a young age.

“Our team fought until the final whistle and their output effort wise, was first class.”

The three-time Socceroo also praised the ‘older’ group in the team, including captain Ross Millard, Scott Robertson and Sam McKearnan.

“Our 3 senior players in the team showed immense leadership,” Zadkovich said.

“They were catalysts for our teams attitude to play hard right until the final whistle.

“They set an example with their preparation and performance which gave our younger lads a level to strive to match.

“It was very pleasing to watch the team bind together in trying circumstances.”

While relatively unknown in Australia, the Frenz International Cup has gained a lot of attention in South-East Asia. The tournament began in 2012, and has since expanded from the Asian Football Confederation to host teams from around the world, including the academies of English Premier League side Watford FC, Turkish juggernauts Besiktas JK and many other world renown sides. It’s a reality that didn’t escape the attention of Zadkovich.

“The game was televised live throughout Asia,” he remarked.

“For our players, that was their first international match, which is great for some of them to gain that experience at such a young age.

“There are a high number of quality players here at this tournament, it’s a real eye opener for the boys in terms of the intensity, match speed, and how to adapt your game to varying types of football, especially in trying conditions.”

Glory face Argentine giants Estudiantes de La Plata in their second match on Wednesday afternoon – a club that has produced the likes of ex-Manchester United midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron (also the tournament’s patron), current Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo and has previously come under the management by current Athletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone.

Zadkovich insists that Glory’s young squad won’t fear the presitigious Argentine academy side.

“We know the qualities of the Estudiantes side, we respect them as a club and a team,” the 30-year-old said.

“However we’ve made it very clear that we don’t fear anyone – we respect the game, and the opposition, but fear no one.

It is always about us; about our own process, our own high standards, and about how we can better ourselves.

“It will no doubt be another difficult match, but we expect an extremely tough effort from our team.

“If we can do that, we will grow as a side and the players will continue to develop.”

Glory take on Estudiantes de La Plata at 4pm on Wednesday afternoon at the Pasir Gudang Stadium in Johor, before facing Korean outfit Suwon Samsung Bluewings in their final game on Friday afternoon at the same time and venue.