Youth coach readies his troops for battle

Having an uncanny knack of helping young hopefuls become international superstars, it was going to take something impressive to lure former AIS Football Head Coach Steve O'Connor to Sydney FC and its inaugural National Youth League team.

Having an uncanny knack of helping young hopefuls become international superstars, it was going to take something impressive to lure former AIS Football Head Coach Steve O'Connor to Sydney FC and its inaugural National Youth League team.

As the Sky Blues youth side gets set to kick off its campaign against Queensland Roar this Saturday, the man who-s mentored the likes of Viduka, Aloisi and Bresciano, is looking forward to one of the few challenges he-s yet to conquer as a coach.

"I hadn't been involved in club football," said O'Connor. "When the opportunity came up to work alongside John (Kosmina), a former team-mate, and be involved with the Sydney FC youth league it seemed like a good idea."

The youth competition will provide the Nation's best youngsters with a chance to push for places in the Hyundai A-League, and the former international is thrilled at the prospect of developing Sydney's best young talent.

"There are some exciting players in the squad and I'm sure some will be knocking on the door for the first team," said the former Soccero. "The start of the Youth League will give us the opportunity to begin a production line of young players that can eventually make the step up to the Sydney FC senior squad and beyond."

O'Connor knows this production line is not going to happen overnight though, with the hall of fame coach taking a cautious approach to introducing his players into a professional football environment.

"The team has only come together to train regularly in the past couple of weeks," said the youth coach. "We have had to play it careful so the players aren't overcooked and begin to drop like flies."

"If we play well I am sure we will do alright. The mix of players in the side haven't really trained together so I'm not sure how it will turn out, but if they show glimpses of what they are capable of they should get a result."

O'Connor's troops will be looking for a successful start to their Youth League campaign when they take on Queensland Roar at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The clash will be a curtain-raiser to the first team contest, and will kick off at 4:15pm.