If the Brisbane Strikers do not progress to the last 16 of the Westfield FFA Cup by beating Rovers Darwin FC tonight there will be no excuses about their preparation or the facilities at the Darwin Football Stadium.
Coach Kevin A’Herne-Evans, who took his players through a light training session at the stadium last night after they arrived in Darwin in the afternoon, said the venue for game was top-notch and should suit his team’s footballing ethos perfectly.
“It’s second to none, to be honest”, crowed A’Herne-Evans following the session.
“It’s a terrific facility. It’s just built to play attractive football on a surface like that. You can see that it’s a big pitch with plenty of width. We’ll obviously look to utilise all of that and it’s just set up for proactive football, which is exactly what we thrive on.
“I’d go as far as to say it’s probably going to be the best surface we’ll play on all year”.
A’Herne-Evans said he had kept his team’s training session low-intensity, owing to their last game, against Sunshine Coast FC Fire, being only forty-eight hours earlier.
In contrast, Rovers had their fixture list rearranged so they did not play on the weekend – a sure sign they plan to throw everything they have, and then some, at Strikers tonight.
But A’Herne-Evan said his club had done its homework on its opponents and was as well prepared as possible for what Rovers have to offer.
“The club is superb at making sure that due diligence is done on everybody that we play and we’ve had a lot of footage come through on them,” said A’Herne-Evans.
“Credit to Rovers – they’ve only been in existence for a short period of time and are in the final 32 of the Westfield FFA Cup and giving the local league a bit of a shake-up. We know the powerhouses here are predominantly Olympic and Hellenic, but all of a sudden there’s a new club in town and they’ve done really well.
“They’ve got a good mix of expats and Australian players, so we know that their togetherness and their unity will be very strong. They’ve got a good goalscorer and are very strong from set plays.
“We’ve done a lot of work on them and we’re not coming up here taking anyone for granted”.
A’Herne-Evans said that local media interest in the game, even a day out from the action, had been strong and a crowd in excess of 2,000 was expected.
“It’s going to be exciting to play in front of a good crowd. They (Rovers) will be well supported and the local league will get behind them so we are expecting quite a hostile atmosphere and that first twenty-five or thirty minutes, as always, is going to be crucial”.
That said, the Strikers’ coach had no doubt his players will be up to the task.
“I’ve been saying for such a long time that as a group of players they are quite remarkable,” A’Herne-Evans said.
“They can adapt to anything, there are so many technical players in there, a lot of speed and aerial ability. But most importantly it’s not based around an individual. We all know we all have to function properly as a team for us to be successful in any match”.
The Strikers’ squad has no fitness concerns, which means A’Herne-Evans has been able to take to Darwin all of the players who have formed the mainstay of the club’s league campaign over the past couple of months.
The only selection with a hint of surprise about it is that of youth team centre back Fraser Stevens. However, Stevens played a crucial late role off the bench against Lions FC in the Strikers’ final qualifying win for the Westfield FFA Cup and A’Herne-Evans had no hesitation in bringing him in for another Cup assignment.
“When you look at the history and environment that Cup football can bring, Fraser has real presence and real aerial ability in both boxes,” A’Herne-Evans said.
There is a variety of ways to take in the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 32 action tonight. Use this link for the details: