City Head Coach Michael Valkanis says his side have not taken the A-League split round as a holiday, using the period to fine-tune and increase the load of his side to get them ready for the last push towards the Finals Series.
City have had a 13-day break since their 3-2 win over the Central Coast Mariners two Sundays ago and the period has seen Valkanis’ side not only work on their game for Newcastle but also the last month of the season.
With a refresh needed for both the body and the mind, the Head Coach is confident his side have managed the period well enough to get the best out of his side, starting this Saturday against Newcastle.
“It’s been a good time for us to do the work that we needed to do moving forward, not only for this game but for the games ahead and finals football,” Valkanis said.
“It’s not exactly a week off, it’s just the weekend off in regards to not having a game. The amount of football and the amount of training they’ve had, the load was spiked and they worked extra hard.
“We’ve been able to spike the load and work the boys extra hard in preparation for finals football. At the same time, we’ve been working on things we need to improve on. There are always the things to work on in.
City’s last encounter against the Jets saw them go down 2-1 through an Andrew Nabbout double as Valkanis’ side was hit on the counter twice on the fast pitch in Coffs Harbour and the Head Coach is confident his side have prepared for what the Jets will bring to AAMI Park, expecting a similar game from Mark Jones’ side.
“Ever since that game, we worked on that straight away so we haven’t just left it until now and I think we fixed that and learned from that game,”
“We’ve prepared for what we think Newcastle are going to come and do and we’ll set ourselves up on how we’re going to be able to beat them. The boys have worked really well, they’re prepared for this game and they are ready to go.
“Moving forward, teams will try to hit us on the counter. We’ve done enough work on this and we are fully aware of what can happen and what teams will try to hit us on the counter attack.
One man who won’t be a part of Saturday’s contest will be livewire Fernando Brandan. The Argentinian suffered an ACL injuring on the track last week, ruling him out for the rest of the season.
Despite stressing his loss, Valkanis expressed the value of his side’s squad depth coming into this stage of the season, saying he has several candidates ready to compete for the winger’s spot.
“Fernando Brandan will be a big loss for us. Not only is he a crowd favourite but he’s a favourite here amongst the boys,” he said.
“He’s got a never-say-die attitude and he’ll never stop working and that’s whether it’s on the ball or off the ball, he gives everything to this team and we’re going to miss him dearly.
“Now it’s about him working to get back and I know it’s a long process but it’s a sort of injury that you need time and patience but he’s at a good club where he’ll get looked after and do his rehab and be back bigger and stronger next season,
“For us, it’s a big loss coming into important games heading towards finals time but it also gives the opportunity to people like Nicolas Colazo, Nick Fitzgerald and Bruce Kamau and even Daniel Arzani to really step up and take this opportunity and take us to the next level because there are important games coming up and all these boys will be very useful to the team.”
City and Valkanis take on Newcastle Jets this Saturday night, kick-off 7.50pm. Secure your place at the match today and make the most of our Kids Go FREE offer today!