A recent 5-0 victory over their opponents will instil plenty of confidence, but Sydney FC’s U20's will look to remain fully focused as they take on Sutherland Sharks this Sunday in the Grand Final at Leichhardt Oval.
The side secured their spot in the final with a win over Premiers Blacktown two weeks ago, and have used the extra week to freshen up and prepare themselves for the biggest game of the season.
While the comprehensive victory over Sutherland in the first week of the finals will give the Sky Blues a mental edge, Head Coach Giancarlo Italiano knows that they can’t get too far ahead of themselves and need to remain focussed heading into the biggest game of the season.
“Anyone who thinks this game is going to be anything like the other week against Sutherland is mad,” he said.
“They’ll be up for the game I’m sure the same way we wanted to hit back after they beat us earlier in the season, and this time around I can see it definitely being decided by a couple of big moments in the game and they’ll certainly give us a challenge.”
A week off is not always the blessing that it may seem, enabling some sides to lose focus heading into a game this big, but the Sky Blues have been waiting for this moment all season long and the week off allowed for the batteries to be recharged and the focus to be reset.
Coach Italiano knows better than any that this isn’t ‘just another game’ and has made sure that his team are ready for the occasion that is a Grand Final.
“The first thing we addressed this week was maintaining a level head, and making sure we know that it’s not going to be like last time we played them,” he said.
“The boys are absolutely pumped and have been waiting for this all year and they’ve really worked to achieve our short-term and long-term goals, and one of these was to make the Grand Final.
“All the boys are aware of how important this weekend is and are up for the match, and know we need to win to validate what has been a fantastic season.”
It is the awareness from within the group of how big a clash this is that makes it easy to be confident, and the faith that the coach is displaying in his players is a welcome sign.
One of the key stars in the side for this weekend’s clash is Marco Tilio, and he knows that his teammates are ready to go that extra mile and clinch the title.
“The preparation has been very good, the week off allowed us to get a little bit fresher and the boys are very keen to get out there and win this game,” Tilio said.
“In our finals series, we haven’t conceded a goal so if we can keep things like that the worst-case scenario will be that it goes to penalties, so if we can keep our defence as strong as it has been recently we should come away with the win.”
The belief in the structures put in place all season and the recent form of the side, particularly the emphasis on defence, are great indicators of a side who aren’t too far ahead of themselves, but one that knows they can claim what they desire.
The U20s will follow the U18s, who are also in the Grand Final this weekend, and Tilio knows there will be a heavy contingent of Sky Blues supporters there at Leichhardt Oval.
“The boys are all very excited, we’ve been together all week, everyone is talking and buzzing about it,” he said.
“We know we’re going to have plenty of fans and the crowd there behind us, but the boys know exactly what is expected of us from ourselves and from the coaches and we should get the win if everyone plays their role and stays focused.”
Follow us on Twitter for live updates on our U18's and U20's games. Kick off is 10am for the U18's and 12:30pm for the U20's.