Melbourne City will have no better time to test their Finals credentials on Saturday night against Premiers Sydney FC and Head Coach Michael Valkanis feels his side is hungry to make amends for last week’s performance.
City head into the clash coming off a 3-1 loss at the hands of Western Sydney Wanderers and with the prospect of playing the league-leaders at Allianz Stadium, Valkanis says his side is raring to bounce back to winning ways.
“Last week was disappointing in regards to the second half not being good enough and we’ve spoken about it and worked on it a lot at training and we move forwards from that,” Valkanis said.
“We’re confident going into this game knowing that we can beat Sydney. We believe that as a group and we’ve shown that a few times. Even the last time we played them, we were in control for 40 minutes and receiving the red card changed our how strategy but it will be nice to go into this game being to execute our strategy and fulfil it and get the three points.
“In terms of the players, they’re quite comfortable playing against a very good team like Sydney and being able to challenge themselves because it is a good challenge this week, especially after last week’s result.
“We’ll make some changes and make sure that we reach the performances we need to reach in an important game against Sydney FC.”
Tim Cahill returns to the squad after his stint with the Socceroos, re-commencing training on Wednesday, however Osama Malik’s omission due to the accumulation of yellow cards will see the defender miss out on the contest, seeing the return of Manny Muscat to the line up.
“Timmy’s back and he’s mentally and physically ready,” Valkanis said.
“He did all the training [with the Socceroos], getting 20 minutes in both games and brining that intensity into that game was brilliant for our game as well. We’re happy to have him back and I’m sure he’ll play his part. He’s very important in and around the group as well. He’s a leader and its always important having him around.
“We’re also short of defenders this week. Michael Jakobsen is a big loss in the last nine games. Missing Osama now is important as well because he has performed quite well. Manny Muscat comes back in and he’s going to bring all his experience and know-how to help us defensively.
“We wait for Jakobsen to come back, his stats show how important he is to us in terms of how well we do when he does play.”
City take on Sydney FC on Saturday night at Allianz Stadium, kick off 7.50pm. See the match live on Fox Sports 505.
Melbourne City return home for its final home match of the season on Friday 7 April as they take on Adelaide United at AAMI Park, kick-off 7.50pm. Secure your place at the match today.