Large Sizes Up “Unpredictable” City

Apr 06, 2018 by

Brisbane Strikers football manager David Large is confident his players have their heads in the right place to continue their charge up the NPL Queensland league table when they meet northside rivals Brisbane City at Perry Park on Saturday.

But he has warned his team to expect the unexpected from their opponents.

Strikers have won four games in succession to climb into the top four after a slow start to their 2018 campaign. And Large says that, based on what he has seen in training this week, they are in no mood to let their momentum slip now.

“The interesting thing for me, in my role, is that at training I get to sit back a lot and watch people and their antics and their characteristics,” said Large, who hands the primary role in conducting the senior team’s sessions to senior coach, Owen Baker.

“There is a bit of hunger really starting to creep in now. It’s as though we’ve got them by the throat and we’re just ready to throttle them. That’s what seems to be coming through at the moment and that can be a good thing, and also a dangerous thing as well.

“But I actually think that with the experience we have we’re in a very good place. We’ve certainly prepared well and we’re ready for the weekend”.

But Large admitted to a trace of uncertainty over what this weekend’s opposition has to offer. While Strikers have hit form and slipped almost unnoticed into the top four, City have likewise turned around a poor start to their season.

Wins over Cairns FC and Redlands United and a draw with Brisbane Roar FC Youth in recent weeks have seen them climb to seventh position, three points behind Strikers. A healthy goals differential could see them jump several positions higher if they were to beat Strikers on Saturday.

Strikers had a hard-fought 1-0 victory over City in a semi-final of the Silver Boot pre-season tournament in January in the most recent meeting between the two clubs. They also have a very strong overall head-to-head record against City, but Large said City are shaping into a dangerous outfit in coach John Kosmina’s third season at the club.

“They are very unpredictable in what they do,” said Large. “They very rarely have the same starting eleven on the park or the same shape. They are very, very difficult to analyze. So there is that element of doubt always there.

“Are we confident? Yes, of course we are – and so we should be, with the run that we’re on. But at the same time we are very, very wary of them. This game, I think, is a little blip in our opportunity to have something big going into the Olympic game (later this month).

“So we’ve looked at our tactics and other things that we can do to try and change things if things are not going so well”.

Large said his players would need to be particularly aware of the dangers posed by City’s ball-playing midfielder Sam Sibatuara and attacker James Meyer, who has occupied positions wide on the left, wide on the right or centrally for City in recent games.

Looking at his own selection issues for the game, Large said he expected attacking midfielder Michael Lee (back injury) to play at least some part in the game. Centre forward Rhys Meredith has recovered well from his hamstring tweak but has been battling ‘flu this week, so is in doubt, while attacker Dennis Yongule is also struggling with illness.

Large acknowledged that this week’s sudden departure of last season’s top scorer, Jeremy Stewart, to FQPL club Sunshine Coast Wanderers had not been welcome news. However, he said he had every faith that in Meredith, Yongule and incumbent centre forward Zac Maltby, Strikers had enough goal scoring ammunition to compensate for Stewart’s absence.

“It is disappointing, but we’ll wish him well at his new club and move on,” said Large.

Fans are advised that if they cannot get to Perry Park for the game they can catch the action via Football Queensland’s live stream.

With many junior footballers and their families still enjoying their Easter holidays there will be no curtain raisers featuring NPL junior teams.

NPL Queensland Round 9: Brisbane Strikers FC v Brisbane City FC; Saturday, 7 April, Perry Park. Kick-off at 6.00 pm.

Photo: Roze Gallo

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