After another solid pre-season result against Perth Glory, defensive enforcer Bart Schenkeveld says his side is quietly confident for a strong tilt towards the A-League Championship this season as his side prepares for their Round 1 Melbourne Derby.
City’s latest 1-0 win over the West Australians notched the Club’s fifth clean sheet over nine matches this pre-season – only conceding multiple goals against La Liga’s Girona and the disappointing FFA Cup exit against Western Sydney – and the dominating Dutchman believes his side is prepared for a strong early season showing.
“It’s always good that you are racking up clean sheets as a team. We know the structure is right and we can only continue to build from there,” Schenkeveld said.
“Everybody is looking forward to getting started for the season. It's been a long pre-season and we've worked incredibly hard. We want to start playing for something and the season gives us this opportunity and we all can't wait for the Derby.”
Schenkeveld’s break-out 2017/18 established the defender as one of the best in the league, being named in the A-League's and PFA's Team of the Season for his commanding performances.
With the bar set even higher for the Dutchman in 2018/19, the cool character says the only pressure to perform is coming from his own lofty expectations as he prepares for his second A-League season.
“Everybody knows who I am but at the end of the day, I put the pressure on myself and I don't care what other feel or say about me or my team,” he said.
“You focus on yourself and your team to perform for them and the gaffer, you put high standards on everything you do to get the best result for everyone.
“I think my body has improved over the pre-season and I think we as a team have become fitter. We can talk a lot about everything but at the end of the day, actions speak louder than words and that comes down to Round 1.”
City’s final hit-out before the Round 1 Melbourne Derby will take place on Friday night in Shepparton against Western Sydney and Schenkeveld feels the match will test his side’s character against an opponent who they performed poorly against last time out.
“If we scored our chances (against Western Sydney in the FFA Cup), I thought it would be 4 or 5-nil and the game would have been over,” he said.
“We have to learn to deal with situations like that and not let missed opportunities throw us in our search for the win. We lost that game from our own doing and you see that the competition will punish you for bad games so you have to deliver and have to keep your standards high.
“Friday will give us the opportunity to work on things that we did not do well in the match and I feel it will help us understand what we need to do when we face teams like that in the season.”
City face Western Sydney in Shepparton on Friday 12 October at Shepparton Sports City, kick-off 7.30pm. Don’t forget, members receive free entry to the match. You can get your tickets online or at the gate.