April- Surviving The Storm
In the Asian Champions League, we continued our fine form and qualified easily into the 2nd round. However the A-League was anything but smooth sailing, and after a very bad couple of games we just managed to hold on and win the league- just.
We travelled to Japan to play Okayama FC
, and they couldn't turn their fortunes around even in front of their home fans. Matthew Jurman scored a very early header to gift us the lead, and then Terry Antonis doubled it. Young poacher Nazario Petrocco came on and scored a beautiful finish in the 79th minute to give us a 3-0 win.
I had to rest a few players in our next game, against Newcastle Jets
, which was a crucial game in our title winning aspirations. Quite simply, if we won this game we won the title but our tired team couldn't break the Jets defence and vice versa, the game ending 0-0.
So after the draw against Newcastle, Adelaide United
was the most important game of the season. Melbourne Victory defeated Perth 3-2 prior to kick off, which meant we were equal but I had a better goal difference by 3. It was simple. Not lose by 4. Mohamed Fares managed to breach our defence in the 14th minute, and from there we parked the tank. Absolutely nothing happened for 75 minutes, and by the end of the night, despite the fact we lost we were euphoric. Rhyan Grant stood on the podium and lofted the A-League Premiers Plate high in the air, as our players and fans chanted, "BACK TO BACK."
After winning the league and making it out of the ACL group stage, I told the players to simply relax in our next game against Seoul FC
. They perhaps went over the top however, as only a Josh MacDonald goal saved us from a three goal loss. Eventually the Koreans ran out 3-1 winners, but to be honest, we didn't really care.
The final group game of the Asian Champions League, against Jiangsu
, had absolutely nothing riding on it so I rested 8 players ahead of the A-League semi final. It was a quiet first half at Allianz Stadium, before Nazario Petrocco (starting his first game) scored a true poacher's effort in the 47th minute. Dani De Silva came on and pulled off another great long shot just 12 minutes later and we ended up winning 2-0 in front of our fans.
BACK TO BACK!!!!! After a late scare with a great run of form for Melbourne Victory, we held on to secure our second title in as many years. Fixture congestion was not a problem, as many of our players stood up and filled in. It's time to celebrate!
Absolutely stunning display in continental competition this season, as we blew everyone out of the water. Even Seoul, who were a far better team on paper. We were the best performing team in the entire competition in the group stages, and I reckon we could go far in the ACL.
There was no standout this month, and instead the award goes to the entire team. Back to back titles, ACL domination, it's been an incredible season from the team and we're ready to go in our bid for the double!