“No Bigger Incentive”: Lane

Aug 18, 2017 by

Brisbane Strikers coach Sean Lane says he and his players are taking a cut-to-the-chase approach and staking everything on beating Brisbane Olympic FC at Goodwin Park on Sunday as they aim to create a slice of league and club history.

After a season-long battle with Gold Coast City for the PlayStation ® 4 National Premier Leagues Queensland premiership, Strikers have the upper hand for the first time going into the last round of fixtures, having gone top of the table last weekend courtesy of a nine-goal advantage in goal difference with both teams on 48 points.

Barring the most calamitous of collapses by finals-chasing Moreton Bay United against Gold Coast City on Saturday, Strikers will go into Sunday’s battle with Olympic knowing that if they equal or better Gold Coast’s result they will become the first club to win back-to-back PlayStation ® 4 NPL Queensland premierships. For those Strikers players, in particular, who were part of last year’s squad (and that is most of them), that would be a fine achievement worthy of mention alongside the exploits of the club’s 1997 NSL Grand Final winning squad.

But while Strikers won’t know the true size of their task until after Gold Coast City’s result on Saturday night, Lane said all permutations had been put aside in the minds of his players this week and as far as they are concerned only one objective is worth striving for on Sunday.

“The result that we have to get is to win,” Lane said when asked what approach Strikers had taken during the week.
“And that’s it! That’s all we’ve spoken about and all we’ve focused on. We’re going out to win – and I don’t care, and the players aren’t interested – we’re going to win, like we prepare for every single game.

“They’ve got the bit between their teeth and all the conversation has been about how do we beat Olympic at the weekend?”

Lane said the changed dynamics in the war of attrition with Gold Coast City, who had led the competition for 12 rounds until last week, did not come into the equation for his players.

“The guys have always had their eyes on the prize and they already knew that it (the opportunity) would come at some stage during the year. It’s just taken a lot longer than we thought,” he said.

“The mood’s been buoyant. At the start of the year the team set themselves goals, and obviously one of them was to go back-to-back and win the league again.

“Now we’ve got ourselves in a position where that’s a potential reality and that’s what the focus has been on for the week – it’s to make sure that all the hard work the players have put in, and the coaching staff and support staff have put in, doesn’t go to waste”.

After having to make do without regular starters in midfielder Jake McLean and fullback Sam Knight for last weekend’s 4-1 win over Brisbane Roar FC Youth, Lane said having them available for selection again was a bonus for Sunday’s season-defining clash with Olympic.

“It’s a nice problem to have but there’s no guarantee that they’ll be back in,” Lane said.

“I was really pleased with the way that the team played last week. We scored four goals after going behind, so they showed a lot of patience and determination and no shortage of skill to produce that result against a decent side.

“I’m really having a hard look at the starting line-up and how we set up, but I’ve got everybody available and it will be hard to leave anybody out after last week’s performance”.

Depending on results on Saturday involving the two teams currently just two points behind Olympic – Western Pride and Moreton Bay United – Olympic might themselves be desperate for a win to stay in the top four and qualify for finals football. And that, suggested Lane, combined with what he had seen in their 3-1 loss to Gold Coast City two weeks ago would make them dangerous opponents.

“They had opportunities to beat Gold Coast,” Lane said. “They had opportunities to score goals, and the goal they scored was an absolute cracker. But I guess they were guilty of missing opportunities and then Gold Coast got their noses in front and went on with it.

“But they are well coached, and well organised and they’ve got some match winners in there. They are not sitting third in the league by surprise or by mistake. We are anticipating a really tough game, and they are going to have to win to cement their spot in the top four.

“So it’s going to be a great game and great entertainment for the people who come to watch”.

Strikers could scarcely have been dealt a tougher hand by the season draw in having to go to Goodwin Park to secure a premiership. Olympic have lost only once there this season – and that was to Gold Coast City.

But while Lane acknowledged the difficulty of the task, Lane said it was up to his players to grasp the nettle.
“If someone said to me at the start of the season that you need to go into the last game to win it, to win the league, then I wouldn’t have cared who we were playing and where we were playing,” he said.

“You don’t need any bigger incentive”.

PlayStation ® 4 National Premier Leagues Queensland Round 22 – Brisbane Olympic FC v Brisbane Strikers FC, Sunday 20 August, Goodwin Park, Yeronga. Kick-off at 6.00 pm.

Photo: Michele Pitman

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