Perth Glory Goalkeeper Ante Covic says that Diego Castro's return to the side for Sunday’s elimination final is a big boost while for the opposing team Paulo Retre believes that Melbourne City are favourites due to hometown advantage.
Both teams go into this finals contest on the back of disappointing results in the final round of the A-League.
Perth gave up the chance to have a home final and finish in the top four with a surprise 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Sydney FC while Melbourne City handed Adelaide United the Premiers plate after losing 2-0 at home.
Castro and Chris Harold were both missing for Perth in that game and Covic says that having both players back in the squad to face City gives the team a lift.
“Obviously it’s a big boost,” he said.
“Coming into the final for me, Castro is one of if not the best player in the league. He can change games, he creates stuff, he is so calm and sure on the ball. And Harold gives us a lot of pace going forward and he’s had a fantastic season this year. He has stepped up big time and put goals away and made opposition teams wary of his pace.
"We need a full strength squad but obviously it’s great to have both of them back."
Melbourne City are winless in their last two starts in the A-League. One of those losses included a 3-2 defeat away to Perth and Covic believes that Perth can repeat the feat on Sunday.
“Yeah of course without question,” he said.
“I never go into games thinking that we can’t win. And we’ve proved that especially over the last 12 weeks. We’ve played them three weeks ago and we gave them a football lesson but I don’t think it will be like that this weekend.
“We’ve played some fantastic football so there is no reason why we can’t believe in winning this game, even if it’s away and it’s against a good side.”
Covic added: “(Melbourne City) having two losses on the trot and in with a chance of being Premiers - it’s going to knock around you a little bit in terms of your confidence. But they would have had a boost also knowing they got away with a home final. So they’ve obviously going to be confident and they know they’ve got good players and players that can be dangerous especially going forward.
“They are going to approach the game wary and they will have respect for us like we will of them.”
Meanwhile Melbourne City right back Paulo Retre says that having home town advantage means that they should be considered as frontrunner for the contest.
“I think that we are going in as favourites,” he said.
“But to be honest we aren’t looking too much into that; we just want to look at our own performance.
With the players that we have in our team we should be very confident going into any game, but it’s more about ourselves and rocking up on the day and bringing the right intensity into the game and if we do that we can beat any side.”
- Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Click here to see more of his work and check out the latest episode of his A-League Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.