MELBOURNE City’s finals campaign starts with tonight’s tough fixture at Perth Glory, coach Michael Valkanis declared.
City sits in third but by the time the game kicks off at 7pm AEST, it will drop to fourth if Brisbane Roar gets a result at home to Wellington Phoenix.
While third or fourth secures a crucial home final, Valkanis is desperate to clinch a maiden Asian Champions League berth which comes with finishing third.
Goal difference could also come into play with Brisbane on equal points (39) and just one goal behind.
It would also be a factor if City is thumped by Glory, who are three points behind and would overtake Valkanis’ side if they win by four goals-plus.
Valkanis said City would not hold back at Perth’s nib Stadium.
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“It’s a mini grand final, a finals before finals starts. We’ve been focusing on our game, we’ll go out there to attack and win,’’ Valkanis said.
“We’re not looking at the history, past results or our away form. It’s a finals game, we’re treating it like a one-off game that needs to be won.
“They boys are up for it and training has been great this week, a really good energy and the players are really well prepared.’’
Valkanis said there was no point trying to hide the Brisbane result from his players, with that game finishing just minutes before they kick off.
“It’s a strange one. It would be nice if everyone played at the same time so you can just concentrate on your game,’’ he said.
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“It’s difficult here in Australia because of the TV rights, plus it’s not been in our football culture.
“It’s hard to shield them, especially in the days of social media and phones. I’m sure they’ll all know the other result.
“Depending on the result, it could put pressure on you or make the players relax. But we can’t focus on other (results), we need to focus on our game and performance.’’
City has twice hosted Glory this season, conceding six goals in losing and drawing with Andy Keogh and Diego Castro being the chief destroyers.
Valkanis said they conceded too man cheap goals.
“It’s two teams with distinct styles and different characters. They’re a threat going forward and they’re direct and they rely a lot on Castro who’s a fantastic player that can make a difference,’’ he said.
“They’ve scored against us many times, whether it’s from set pieces or on the counter-attack.
“We’ve had two draws against them and both games we could’ve come out winners. We created enough chances to win more than two games.’’
Originally published as City focuses on fulfilling third wish
SOURCE: newsnow sport