Heart confidence on rise

Melbourne Heart manager John van ‘t Schip believes a run of five matches unbeaten is building confidence within his squad.

Melbourne Heart manager John van ‘t Schip believes a run of five matches unbeaten is building confidence within his squad.

The Heart kept their third clean sheet in succession as they drew 0-0 with the Perth Glory on Wednesday night, moving to sixth on the Hyundai A-League table, just a point off the third-placed Central Coast Mariners.

The result showed maturity and composure from van ‘t Schip’s squad as they continue to impress after a slow start to their inaugural Hyundai A-League season.

“If you have a series of five games (unbeaten) the confidence of the team and the players grows every time,” van ‘t Schip said.

“You can see that we are getting more solid on the pitch and we are hard to beat. We also have the quality to play forward.”

“The group is getting fitter. You can see that (with) Josip now playing two games in a row 90 and Nick Kalmar playing 90 minutes. These were players that were having some problems but they are getting stronger and stronger.”

Eli Babalj has been the most recent Heart starlet to grab the headlines and the gangly striker could have also grabbed the match-winner on Wednesday but his late header hit the crossbar in a superb cameo off the bench.

“Eli (Babalj) came in and did very well,” he said.

“I’m very pleased about the development of the young players like Eli (Babalj), Aziz (Behich), Adrian (Zahra) and of course Nick (Kalmar). It is all positive.”

The Dutch boss is delighted with the progress of some of his younger players and will refreshingly continue to back them, with the manager giving 19-year-old Aziz Behich a vote of confidence, saying he will continue to play him despite the fact regular left-back Dean Heffernan has returned from injury.

“It is clear that Aziz has done very well. I don’t see any need to change that. He deserves to play and he has proved he can play in that position.”

Next up for the Heart is another Wednesday game as they travel to the Dairy Farmers Stadium to take on North Queensland Fury before home games against Brisbane Roar and Adelaide United – the top-two sides who have opened up a break of eight points on the Mariners.

Van ‘t Schip believes the next three matches are crucial and will define Heart’s season, as they hope to bounce back from a disappointing start.

“It’s a very important period of the season.”

“It has everything to do with the start that we had which was not what we expected. Of course the games that come after are getting more important, every time.”

“That’s why we are happy with what we are achieving now in this difficult schedule. It is going to be very interesting to know where as a team we stand at the end of those games.”