If any side in this seasons’ NPL NSW Men’s competition were ruing the current COVID enforced break, you would confidently say it’s Blacktown City FC.
First on the ladder, top of the scoring charts and on par with a chasing Sydney United 58 FC for goals conceded, not to mention qualifying for the last thirty-two of the FFA Cup, again, they’re the team to beat.
And for their very own star attraction Mario Shabow, he believes the best is yet to come.
“We’re really happy with where we’re sitting on the table but we have more to give. We’re a squad that is constantly trying to improve regardless of our position, which is great.
“Personally, I feel I’ve had a decent season so far, however a few injuries have held me back. Having the break now is allowing me to work on my body to ensure I’ll be ready for the end of the season.”
For Blacktown, they’ll be gunning for their first Premiership since 2015 and as a club that has only missed finals football on four occasions since the turn of the century, it almost feels odd that they’ve had to wait six years between drinks.
However, Shabow says the teams’ togetherness has been vital to their success this year.
“We’re a really close bunch of boys and I think it shows. We’ve had some really hard fought performances this year and being so close as teammates is a key factor.
“Since we’ve been in lockdown that hasn’t changed. The club and squad have been in constant conversation almost daily. We’re checking in on each other a lot and the club has been in touch to offer their help anyway they can.
“It has been really tough not going into training but we’re all putting in the effort individually. I’m confident we’ll be ready to go in what will be a busy end to the season.”
Blacktown City are no strangers to chaotic schedules of late.
Gaining entry into the FFA Cup round of 32 for the fifth time since the competitions’ inception it’s clear that squad depth is integral.
The juicy clash against A-League outfit the Central Coast Mariners will surely be on Shabow and his teammates minds.
Thus far, head coach Mark Crittenden cycled through 26 players in the league this season.
A clear sign of the depth at his disposal but also one of the confidence he has in his players at this level.
“The depth is definitely there. Injuries have hurt us but we’re using this lockdown period to get those sorted. We’re confident against anyone we come up against.
“Now it’s just time to prepare as best we can for the end of the year but I know we’ll be ready for whatever comes our way.”
-By Joseph Esposito