Western United will enter their blockbuster A-League Men season opener against Melbourne Victory high on confidence after sealing their spot in the FFA Cup round of 32.
United prevailed 2-1 over Newcastle Jets in an entertaining play-off match on Saturday night at GMHBA Stadium, the same venue where they’ll host their cross-town rivals on November 20.
“It’s a big game for us. Melbourne Victory first-up. I can’t wait. I guarantee you the players can’t wait,” new coach John Aloisi said.
“I’m sure there’ll be a big crowd here. I’m sure that it’ll be a capacity (crowd), whatever capacity that is because it’s a local rival.
“Both teams have got new coaches new players, and probably a new style of football from Victory as well. So I think it’s going to be an exciting game.”
United were buoyed by Serbian international striker Aleksandar Prijovic opening his account by scoring the winner off the bench in his official club debut.
“Being a former striker myself I know how much of a relief it is when you score your first goal for your new club,” Aloisi said.
“He probably won’t get an easier one but he was getting into good positions, he was making good runs.
“He’s dangerous … he’s hard to stop when the ball comes in the box.
“Just that presence sometimes will put the opposition under pressure and they will make mistakes from it.”
Aloisi also relished a standout performance from vice-captain Josh Risdon, who he likened to “a new player” after a rough injury run.
United will take a patient approach to building the fitness of Slovenian midfielder Rene Krhin, who recently completed hotel quarantine.
Meanwhile Newcastle will take on arch-rivals Central Coast next Sunday
New coach Arthur Papas was excited by what Brazilian Daniel Penha, who scored a scintillating free kick, and fellow recruits Beka Mikeltadze and Savvas Siatravanis would bring to the table.
“It’s always a challenge when you bring foreigners into the league and especially if you don’t have a lot of matches,” he said.
“Normally, you adjust to the league, you adjust to the referees, you adjust to all these things by playing games, and they haven’t had that opportunity.
“But we’ve got some really good characters in that group, and they’re all got their own qualities.
“But one of the things that they all are: they’re all very quick, they all like to take on players, they all like to try and excite, the way we want to play.”