As Perth Glory prepares for the first game of its South Africa tour on Thursday, Head Coach Alistair Edwards is delighted with the way the trip has gone thus far.
As Perth Glory prepares for the first game of its South Africa tour on Thursday, Head Coach Alistair Edwards is delighted with the way the trip has gone thus far. The travelling party have settled in well since arriving at Ingwenyama Resort, Nelspruit on Sunday and Edwards has been more than impressed by both the facilities and his charges' approach on the training ground.
"I couldn't be happier," he said. "It's a really tranquil setting and we've got the whole resort to ourselves. "I'm sitting here and the training fields are literally 50 metres from my room. "There's every training facility here that you could possibly want, so that's great. "The boys have been fantastic in terms of their attitude and their performances on the training ground and I'm really pleased with the way the new players have settled in. "Everyone's getting on well off the field as well, which is important. "We've got a few of the more experienced players still recovering from off-season surgery and little niggly injuries, so the younger lads have a really good opportunity here to get some first team experience under their belts. "Jacob Burns, Steve Pantelidis and Danny Vukovic won't play on Thursday, so we'll have a very youthful team out there and that's great because the more experience they can get before the start of the A-League season, the better it's going to be for everyone."
MP Black Aces will provide the opposition at Mbombela Stadium as they continue their final preparations for the ABSA Premiership season which is due to get underway in a little over a week's time. Former South Africa national team coach Clive Barker has made no fewer than 17 new signings since taking charge of the Aces during the off-season and with first-team spots for their opening-day fixture against Kaizer Chiefs still very much up for grabs, Glory's opponents certainly won't be lacking for motivation.
"I haven't seen the Black Aces yet," said Edwards, "but there's plenty of football on television here and what we've seen of the other teams has been really good quality. "I have no doubt it's going to be a really tough game, but results are the furthest things from our minds at the moment. "We're only in the third week of our pre-season and it's about the team gelling, getting some more sessions under their belts and using this trip as a platform ahead of the A-League season. "We won't be experimenting in terms of formation, but we'll be starting Jamie Maclaren up front and several of the other younger guys will get a chance to start with the likes of Burns, (Shane)Smeltz and Pantelidis out. "All those young players have looked pretty sharp in training and I'm confident that they'll take that into the game."
A watertight defence provided the foundation for the Black Aces' promotion from Division One last season, they conceded a miserly 22 goals in 30 games and they have further bolstered that strong rearguard by snapping up left-back Paulo Angelo Loureiro who helped FC Pacos de Ferreira secure third-place in the Portuguese Primeira Liga earlier this year.
At the other end of the pitch, meanwhile, Aleni Lebyane and Eugene Mazwi Mcnube have both arrived from local side Blackburn Rovers and are likely to shoulder the bulk of the goalscoring responsibilities, with South African international Stanley Kgatla and Botswanan import Ofentse Nato providing the thrust from central midfield.
"Everyone in our group is looking forward to the game," said Edwards. "The stadium and its facilities are world class, the pitch is immaculate, it's like a carpet and the boys can't wait to play on it."
Perth Glory's 2013 South Africa tour proudly sponsored by Kaboko Mining, Live2Learn and Europcar