Rockdale City Suns coach Steve Zoric hopes it will be seventh time lucky when his side meet Sydney FC in the Grand Final this Sunday.
The Suns arrive into the clash at Leichhardt Oval as underdogs having been beaten in their last six fixtures with the NPL NSW Men’s 18’s Premiers.
But the pieces are slowly coming together for Zoric to plot what would be a massive upset.
“We’re going to throw the dice at them. I think that’s the only way you can approach it on Grand Final day – anything can happen,” said Zoric.
“Sydney FC have been the competition benchmark and my bogey side.
“I’ve not beaten them yet in two years so we’re trying to pull this one off with a sweet one in the Grand Final!”
If Rockdale and Zoric can pull it off, it would be a result two years in the making. The Suns were unable to find the back of the net in their three matches against Sydney in 2017, with their campaign eventually culled by the Sky Blues in the semi-finals.
This year has brought improvement beyond sight. And while Sydney FC’s entry into the NPL NSW has been the ultimate gauntlet throw-down for some, Zoric says it’s forced Rockdale to improve their standards.
“It’s a great challenge because you have to improve as a coach. You have to find ways to beat them and you start looking at extra things.
“When they’re the most dangerous is on the transition and the counter attack – one little error and they pounce on it. I’ve never seen a better team at it at this level.
“I’ll have to balance the transitional moments and have a few players ready to fill in the spaces while they have the ball and urge them to be very proactive in their defensive position.
While Zoric has spent the first week of September scheming Sydney’s downfall, Sydney coach Jim van Weeren is eyeing off Sydney’s fourth trophy in two years.
The Sky Blues are one step away from back to back doubles, but van Weeren is urging his side not to be complacent.
“A lot of teams that finished in the top five have a lot of quality,” he said.
“We were fortunate in some of those games to convert more of our chances than some of them and it’s rewarding for the boys that they took chances and put some away.”
Van Weeren will also hope this Grand Final goes smoother than the last. Sydney FC did it the hard way in 2017, ultimately prevailing 3-2 over Sydney United 58.
It was a result and performance that underlines Sydney’s commitment to attractive attacking football – a philosophy that ensures their matches are always entertaining to watch.
“As a club we believe in scoring more goals than the opponent and that’s probably reflected in a lot of our games where sometimes we leave ourselves somewhat vulnerable to opposition counter.
“But we believe in producing goal-scoring players as a club for the first team hopefully one day and beyond and that’s definitely translated into the playing style.”
U18s NPL NSW Men’s Grand Final
Sunday 9th September 2018
Sydney FC v Rockdale City Suns
-By Jacob Windon