Ante Juric is looking forward to kick starting the Liberty A-League season this weekend as his side welcome Western Sydney to Allianz Stadium.
Having been the bench mark for the last few seasons, he knows that his side will be the hunted once more during the 2023/24 campaign.
The Sky Blues lifted the Premiers Plate and Championship trophy in April last season and they will finally begin their defence this Saturday.
“It’s always great to get your first game out the way after a long pre-season,” he said.
“Most of all though, it’s great to see the girls again.”
This year, through the six week pre-season, Ante Juric has added new faces and the training has been quite intense.
“We’ve worked hard and fitness and work-rate wise the girls have done well, but we don’t have the fluency right now.
“With six or seven new players it is obviously going to take a little bit of time to gel but we know we are not even close to our end product yet,” the Head Coach said.
“We look to sign good players off the pitch, good people, and I think we have done that again this season and you can see that on the pitch they care for each other.
“The new girls have started to pick up things I’ve asked and it isn’t going to happen overnight but I know it will click eventually with their quality.”
This season though, Juric will show why he is one of the best coaches in the country as he will have to deal with many departures with Sarah Hunter, Charlie Rule, Mackenzie Hawkesby and Madison Haley all departing for moves to Europe during the off-season.
“Losing this many starting players has probably never really happened before but I am excited for these new players to come in and show what they can do.
“I would say they are the same if not better than the ones who have left,” the 49 year old said.
“It may just take some time for their full quality to show as they adjust to our ways of playing.”
This weekend, the Champions will kick off their campaign at Allianz Stadium, the same venue that saw them sweep aside the Newcastle Jets to lift the Premiers Plate last season and Juric is excited to be back there.
“The girls love it at Allianz. We feel at home there.
“The pitch was the best I’ve ever seen it when we were there the other day and we are looking forward to being there on Saturday,” he added.
When you win the league, you become the hunted and everyone is out to get you and show that they can beat the best. Add to that, a Sydney Derby first up and you have a recipe for an exciting contest.
“Their off field troubles don’t bother me but it will probably drive them even more, especially when you want to impress the new coach.
“We’ve worked hard. We’re ready for game one and it doesn’t matter who we play, we know that everyone is out to get us, particularly Wanderers in the Derby.
“We’ve dealt with this in the past and we understand that we have to turn up and perform and if we do, we will get what we deserve,” he concluded.
Expect a pulsating 90 minutes on Saturday evening in the 23rd Sydney Derby. Bring it on!
Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers
Liberty A-League Round One
Saturday 14th October 2023
Allianz Stadium, Sydney, NSW
Kick Off: 7:45pm AEDT
Gates Open: 6:45pm AEDT
Broadcast Live: Paramount+ & 10Bold
Tickets: Click Here