Giorgio Speranza is often an unsung hero where Blacktown City is concerned but the defender has been a constant in a team that has enjoyed plenty of success in recent times.
And while this season’s PlayStation 4® National Premier Leagues New South Wales Men’s competition was dominated by Sydney United 58 FC, Speranza does not think his team will have to say goodbye to the good times any time soon, even if they are underdogs this time around.
"We are the underdogs in this series, not like last season," Speranza said.
"United have had so much success this season winning the Waratah Cup and the premiership, but they now have the pressure to win all three and we’ve played them three times and we’ve won twice, so of all the teams in the final series, they will be the wariest of us."
Speranza has backed his team to go all the way in this season’s PS4 NPL NSW Men’s Finals Series, but first they must focus on the task at hand in the Preliminary Final against Manly United, suggesting he and his team-mates are happier to face the busier schedule than the break that comes with winning the premiership.
"Last year we had a break after we came first and we lost to Bonnyrigg in the first Major Final," Speranza recalled.
"I don’t know if that rest helped or hindered us, so this year I think it might actually be better coming second.
"I think playing every week helps us."
Sunday’s Preliminary Final will be the second time in as many weeks that Blacktown City have taken on Manly United – with last week’s encounter finishing off the regular season with a 0-0 draw.
"I think in terms of that result, the fact there wasn’t much to play for had a lot to do with the result," Speranza said.
"One point was enough for us to finish in second and while we enjoyed plenty of the football we didn’t play with as much pressure as we usually do.
"But in terms of Manly, we know what to expect. They are a very fit team with heaps of good runners and they’ve added real quality going forward this year with some quality wingers and of course Richie Cardozo up front.
"But our coach [Mark Crittenden] rested Sasa Macura, Zach Cairncross and Patrick Antelmi last week so we certainly feel as though we have plenty more to give."
Of course, the PS4 NPL NSW Men’s 1 Finals are not the only thing on Blacktown City’s busy agenda with the club still fighting in the FFA Cup and a Round of 16 fixture against divisional rivals Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC.
And while Speranza admitted it was hard to completely shut out the upcoming tie, he insisted the team is focussed on Sunday first and foremost
"Our coach wants us to focus on just one game at a time so that means right now our biggest focus is a Preliminary Final," Speranza said.
"But with the Westfield FFA Cup, it’s such a big cup and you get so much exposure from it, it’s hard to completely put it to the side when everyone is talking about it.
"But we’ll worry about that after Sunday."
Preliminary Semi Final
Sunday 21 August 2016
Lily’s Football Centre
Blacktown City FC v Manly United FC 3:00pm
-By Matt Galea