Melbourne Victory Head Coach Jeff Hopkins says his side is rested and ready to take on Perth Glory despite the anomaly of a mid-week game.
Victory had the Westfield W-League Premiership wrapped up ahead of their 0-0 draw away to Canberra on Tuesday. The game had previously been rescheduled due to poor weather and was postponed a further 30 minutes on game day.
Hopkins says precautions had been taken to ensure the team are at their best come finals.
“It’s been a pretty hectic week, it’s good to have got the Canberra game done and dusted and out of the way and we can focus now 100% on the game at hand at the weekend,” he said.
“It’s quite a short season so over the last few weeks we’ve eased off on a few of the girls. Training has been a bit lighter with obviously a big trip to Perth before Canberra, so we’ve managed to manage the players and focus game by game,
“The girls are in really good physical condition which is really important because I think the game coming up on the weekend is going to be quite physical.”
Among the players rested from the mid-week game were Laura Alleway and Sam Johnson, who Hopkins admits will play a big role in shutting down Glory stars Sam Kerr and Rachel Hill.
“Looking back at the two games we’ve played, we’ve beaten Perth twice, but with players like Sam Kerr and Rachel Hill as well, they combine really well together and they’re always a threat, you can never really relax,” he said.
“Both games we’ve had big periods where we’ve dominated but we never really seemed comfortable because of that threat that Sam and Rachel pose, and also there’s a few good girls in the midfield that support them really well,
“It’s a big job for Laura Alleway and Sam Johnson.”
Despite the threat of Kerr and Hill, Hopkins insists that his side will focus on its own game and are more than capable of putting the pressure on Perth.
“We’ll work on putting something in place to make sure we limit the amount of times the ball can get to Sam (Kerr) and we’ll make sure the players are tight all the time but we’ll be concentrating mainly on ourselves,
“We know that we have players in our team that can hurt Perth in certain areas of the field and that will be our main focus.”
Victory captain Natasha Dowie credits Hopkins for the turnaround the club has made over the past four years.
“I came to Victory four years ago and I didn’t really know what to expect, I was just asked to come over here as a guest player and I didn’t know they were struggling so much,
“Jeff has obviously come here and built something special over the last three years and it’s been a slow process but we’ve finally got there.”
Dowie will play her first final for the club this Sunday and says helping bring the Premiership to AAMI Park is a career highlight.
“As captain of the club it’s such an honour. This group of girls, it’s the best group of girls I’ve ever had the pleasure of being involved with and the coaching staff and the club as a whole,
“To have won the league with this group of players and this club is probably one of the biggest special moments of my career.”
With a Championship in sight, Dowie is eager to ensure Victory remain at the top end of the table for years to come.
“I openly tell everyone how much I’ve fallen in love with the club and it’s definitely where I see my future,
“Victory is my club now as well and it feels like home to me.”
Melbourne Victory takes on Perth Glory in the Westfield W-League Semi-Final at AAMI Park this Sunday at 2pm. Get your tickets here.