Leading into Tuesdays ultimate David v Goliath clash in the FFA Cup where NPL2 side Bankstown Berries take on A-League champions Sydney FC, we spoke to the two managers about their preparations going into the game.
Bankstown Berries are one of the oldest Clubs in Sydney and a former club of Graham Arnold who started his career at the club when it was known as Marrickville-Canterbury. Johnny Warren, after whom Australian football's greatest prize, the Johnny Warren Medal is named is the best known personality of the history of the club. On Tuesday night they will face reigning A-League Champions Sydney FC.
KIKOFF got in touch with the two coaches before the game to ask them a few questions about their preparations for the game.
Despite being the underdog you are going into the game with match experience at the end of the season, how are the players holding up?
It's definitely been a long year for us. Being a semi professional team and having played so many games, it can take its toll on you but when you are given an opportunity to be part of something special, it gives you that extra push and energy you need. We will be more than ready come Tuesday night.
What’s the key to maintaining fitness at this stage of the season?
As the season gets on we don't necessarily drop the intensity of our sessions but the duration of our sessions do. Playing 30 plus games is all about just doing enough now. We've added in a few Football Conditioning and Recovery sessions to keep out fitness up too which has helped.
How did the team react to the draw?
The reaction was great. All the players are over the moon to be playing arguably the best Australian football team ever.
The berries have chosen to hold the game at Sydney United’s ground, will the artificial grass improve your chances?
For us it doesn't matter what surface we play on. What's important we stick to our game plan and hopefully it's enough to do the job. On thing for sure the ball has a different bounce so hopefully that will benefit us more then them.
You’re going up against a team that is one of the most successful teams in the history of the A-League - How are you and the team going to approach the game mentally?
This is a game that may never come again for some us. There will be some nerves before the game but we have a great team spirit and that will help everyone come Tuesday night.
Are we going to see you on the side-line or on the field for the majority of this game?
I think you'll be seeing me on the field but we shall see.
Who controls the side-line when you’re on the field?
I have my coaching staff on the bench who have been great all year. Final decision are made by my number 2 Charles Samushonga
Finally, what is your prediction for the game, will we see an upset?
I see it being a close game. Sydney will have most of the ball which doesn't bother us but we will try to make it as hard as possible for them. Will we see an upset? We've seen strangers things happen before.
How is the pre-season training going and how do you improve on last year after such a strong season?Pre season is going great for us. We have all players fit and the new players have settled in very well. I expect us to be greater this year as we have better individual players and have had stability in the players I wanted to retain. They have played together now for 60 games plus so they know each other's game better.
What’s your key to the off-season training program?
It's about getting coordination in our style of play and getting the players fit and strong.
As one of the most qualified coaches in Australia, what piece of advice would you give to young coaches in the grassroots game?
Believe in yourself and your philosophy of how the game is played. There is no wrong or right, it's about getting a group of people to perform as one and to believe in themselves and each other.
How important are competitions like the ffa cup that give lower league players the opportunity to face teams such as Sydney FC?
It's a fantastic competition as it gives every team or individual an equal opportunity to show their best skills. Gives the lesser known teams a goal to aspire to.
Who should we look out for next season/which players are coming through the ranks?
I believe we will be a greater team than last year. All our recruitments have improved the squad and the competition for places to play will be tough.
Looking to Tuesday’s game, you started your career at the berries when it was Marrickville-Canterbury, what memories do you have of those days?
Only great memories as it was a club that believed in giving youth an opportunity. When you are a youngster that's all you want. I had a fantastic coach in Ron Corry and we had a strong team then.
How are you approaching for the game, does playing on synthetic affect your preparations?
We are approaching this games as any other. High standards and a performance to win. Synthetic pitches at this time of year are an advantage to us as its a good smooth surface.
Finally, what is your prediction for the final result?
I don't like to predict scores but I expect us to win and win well.
Thankyou to Arnie an Perry for taking time out of their preparations to talk to us. The game kicks off at 7.30pm on Tuesday August 29 at Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park. Ticket details below:
Bankstown Berries FC (NSW) v Sydney FC
Adults: $20 | Concession: $15 | Child: $10 | Family: $50 | Children under 5yrs FREE
To purchase tickets click here