Courtesy NPL NSW
In the famous words of current Hip Hop DJ artist Dj Khaled, “Another one”, is the phrase Sydney United 58 FC vice-captain Nick Stavroulakis is going by as his squad prepare for battle in this Sunday’s epic PS4 NPL Finals Series Grand Final clash against Northern NSW’s Premiers and Champions Edgeworth FC Eagles.
Sydney United 58, a club renowned for being steeped in rich history with a number of silverware to match its many players that have gone onto represent Australia on the world stage have big expectations as the club expects nothing but a victory as they host, for the third successive week, after defeating the likes of Adelaide City (5-4) and Brisbane Strikers (2-1) on route to the Final.
Mark Rudan’s men have stacked the trophy cabinet this year taking out the Waratah Cup as well as being crowned Premiers but the Reds are still reeling on their Grand Final loss to Blacktown City – however taking out their second ever PS4 NPL Finals Series title would certainly make amends.
Stavroulakis in particular pointed out that being crowned the best NPL team in Australia was one of the club’s objectives from the get go but understands to get there, they need to defeat a hungry Eagles outfit ready to pounce on an upset.
“It’s a huge game for us as players as well as for the club – reason being we all know what’s up for grabs and that’s a coveted spot in the round of 32 of the Westfield FFA Cup.
“It’s a huge incentive to have going into the new season as you do miss at least four or five games by passing the preliminary qualifying stages giving the team more time to focus on the league.
“We cannot hide the fact that we too want to be crowned the best NPL side in Australia and this is a great platform for us to achieve this.
“Edgeworth won’t be easy, mark my words, they will fight till the very end and our boys need to be at their best to get the result needed.”
Damian Zane’s team have done it the hard way by playing their two NPL Finals Series matches away from home defeating Victorian giants Bentleigh Greens 3-1 and more recently securing a 1-0 win away to Perth SC.
Stavroulakis paid tribute to the Eagles’ tough run but also stated that United 58 faced just as tough opposition.
“What the Eagles have done to get into the Final was great – to win both their matches away from home against two decent clubs isn’t easy.
“But we haven’t had it easy either. We took on two former NSL giants in the shape of Adelaide City coached by Damian Mori and you saw the result that day, 5-4.
“The Strikers, also led by a good coach, pushed and tested us all the way with their shape and structure as well as promoting playing from the back – we were down 1-0 but fought hard to get back into the match and got through in the end.
“I haven’t seen much of Edgeworth but I did catch their Westfield FFA Cup match on Fox Sports when they took on the Western Sydney Wanderers – they’re a team that can make it hard for the opposition to break down and have some quality in their roster with a few good young players as well as their striker Daniel McBreen who has knocked in a few goals this year and will pose as a major threat.
“It’s not going to be easy I know they’ll be up for the challenge and will give it their all so we need to be at our best but we believe we are the best team in the NPL and need to show this on Sunday.
“We are playing on our home ground and we’ve made it a fortress and want to continue that trend in finishing off the season on a high in winning our third piece of silverware.”
McBreen’s inclusion into the squad for Sunday has come as a major boost for the Novacastrians and Stavroulakis stated that his presence will only better the match at Edensor Park.
“In every game you play as a footballer you want to play the best opponents because you don’t want any excuses but for us we aren’t too focused on the opposition, but if we play to our strengths then I am confident we can beat anyone on the other side.
“Daniel McBreen has shown he can still mix it and I know we will have our hands full with him but we need to focus on ourselves and our game first.”
Stavroulakis paid tribute to his teammates, in particular Panny Nikas who has been on fire in the PS4 NPL Finals Series having scored an incredible five goals in two matches after having a standout season with the Reds.
“Panny has been unbelievable this year – I’ve been watching him playing in-front of me for nine years but his performances have not surprised me as that’s what he can bring to the team with his form which I have seen time and time again. He can change the game on its head whenever he likes and he puts bums on seats as he does things you don’t normally see in the NPL.
“I know the focus will be on him but he is used to that and has been doing this for a long time.”
The tenacious midfielder paid respect to a few other of United 58’s players as he stated will be focused for the big clash.
“Glen Trifiro is another X factor for us as well as Chris Payne who is ‘Johnny on the Spot’ and does provide us with the goals as he has shown this year taking out the Golden Boot award.
“You can’t go past a few other boys like Yianni Fragogiannis, Tomislav Uskok, Peter Triantis, our keeper Tom Manos, who has played 38 games this year and has not missed a match.”
After tasting PS4 NPL Finals Series success in 2013 when Rudan’s team defeated South Hobart FC in Tasmania, Stavroulakis believes that winning it a second time round would be even sweeter.
“The club is very ambitious, we set out our goals this year and we now have the opportunity to win three out of the four trophies on hand this season.
“To knock off another trophy is something the club is really wanting, yes, United 58 have won this before and now because of the way it is with the rewards of winning the trophy as well as a spot in the Westfield FFA Cup round of 32, there’s a lot more at stake so getting a victory will mean much more.
“We want to not only do this for our club, ourselves and our fans but for NSW as we want to get that extra spot in the Cup again for next year.”
Sunday October 2nd
Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United 58 v Edgeworth FC Eagles
2:30pm kick off
-By Marcus Angello