Ahead of the new A-League Men season, Macarthur FC are in high spirits, with smiles all around at training this week ahead of their match with Brisbane Roar to kick-off the new season.
“It’s been a good pre-season for us,” coach Mile Sterjovski said in his pre-match press conference.
“It’s good to get some competitive matches before the A-League starts.
“I’ve been very happy with the progress.”
Brisbane Roar’s pre-season saw the Queensland side make the Australia Cup final.
The Roar had an excellent first half, before Sydney came back to win 3-1.
Sterjovski was full of praise for Ross Aloisi and his side.
“Since Ross has taken over, they’ve become a very strong team. I think they play a good brand of football and they’re going to be a difficult team to beat.
“But we’re playing at home, and we want to make sure we win every match at home and we’re really looking forward to the match.”
There have been some key departures from Macarthur in the off-season, with players like Craig Noone and Daniel Arzani departing, but the squad has been strengthened overall with players like Raphael Borges Rodrigues and Clayton Lewis coming in.
“Clayton’s got a lot of quality. He’s an international player, so he’s already brought a lot of quality and you can see his personality within the group.
“We needed someone like him in our squad.”
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Sterjovski was not prepared to commit to a starting goalkeeper for the season when asked.
New recruit Danijel Nizic played in both of Macarthur’s AFC Cup games, but Filip Kurto has also been impressive in training.
“They’ve both been doing really well in pre-season, and the position is still up for grabs in my opinion.
“We’ll see how training goes today, but they’ve both been doing great.
“It’s a great headache to have.”
The game against Brisbane kicks off a tough stretch of fixtures for Macarthur.
After playing the Roar, the Bulls travel to Cambodia for an 11 pm kick-off (AEDT) on Thursday night, then return to Australia to play the Mariners in Gosford with a 3pm (AEDT) kick-off on Sunday, before interspersing league action with another Cup fixture heading into the international break.
Macarthur have asked for the match against the Mariners to be pushed back.
“Apparently it hasn’t been changed. It’s not great for us.
“It’s something we have to deal with, and for us, we’ve just got to prepare as best as we can and put in a good performance.”
With Thursday’s match against Phnom Penh Crown being a must-win for Macarthur to advance in top spot, there’s no chance to rest players.
“It’s the beauty of having a big squad. Everyone is ready to step up if needed.
“I think we’re going to have to use the whole squad this season with AFC and the A-League.
“It’s just about balancing it out for each game and seeing which players will be playing.”
When Sterjovski was asked to give a prediction ahead of the new A-League Men season, he was not shy about hiding where he sees his squad at the end of the season.
“I think we’ll be definitely playing finals football.”