Perth Glory's cubs will win the PS4 National Premier League WA U-18s league title if they can muster a win over top of the table Stirling Lions at Ashfield Arena on Saturday morning.
The final round of fixtures has set up a tantalising winner takes all fixture with league leaders Stirling needing a point, while a win for Callum Salmon’s youngsters will see them win the title on goal difference.
“Dave (Butterfield- Assistant coach) and I are just so proud of the group of players" Salmon said.
W'ere proud of the way they’ve approached their work this season, proud of the adventurous football we’ve played which has led to a huge number of goals and so proud of how they’ve responded to the tough love each individual has experienced this season".
“We can’t speak highly enough of the group, and how much fun they are to work with. Many of the players have been rewarded short term with international tours, AIS camps and first team involvement – however, we have many players who will be rewarded as they move forward due to the high quality performances they have produced regularly this season.
Salmon said the pathway the club has introduced for the players has been working well and he said these youngsters can go on and make the next step.
“Hopefully the 2000 group, moving forward will continue to work hard, sacrifice to improve their football and consistently display their qualities,” he said.
“Daniel Stynes is a great example, in our opinion the player is on fire and he was one of our best performers in the 1998 age group a couple of years ago – the real rewards for the coaching group is when the players do justice to their talent at the highest level they possibly can.
“And having coaches like Kenny (Lowe), Andy Ord, Johnn Gibson, Danny Milosovic and Bobby Despotovski that give young talent the chance to go out and express themselves, and excite the spectators is a real bonus to our young players.
Glory skipper Luca Bodnar has led from the front for the team, his form has seen him selected in the senior NPL team during the season, and selected for the Hyundai A-League tour of the Philippines.
"This has been my best season so far, and I’ve played well consistently which is pleasing,” he said.
“It’s also led to opportunities with the older teams, which has led to a large improvement in all parts of my game.”
Salmon said Bodnar has been in outstanding form and has led his side by example.
“Luca has been an absolute joy to work with over the last three years or more. We’ve had ups and downs over the years, we’ve always had a 100% honest relationship and from Davey and I’s perspective that has led to huge improvement given there are no grey areas,” he explained.
Bodnar, played junior football for Pacer United in California, before joining WA side’s Sorrento, Perth SC and then joining Glory in 2012.
He also played for the Joeys at the AFC tournament in Cambodia and Vietnam, and was also part of the Glory side in the Philippines earlier this season.
The 16-year-old said Saturday’s game against Stirling is one the whole player group is focused on.
"I think the game will be a really good challenge for us, but one we’re all looking forward to,” he said.
“We have worked hard all season and as a team we have improved our game, and with an excellent performance by us this week, I’m sure we will come away with three points.”
Salmon said his troops were prepared to dig deep for the big match.
“We’ll throw everything we can at Stirling with and without the ball. Hopefully we can defend well in our box, be efficient in their box and receive a positive result,” he said.
“We’re ready for the challenge and we’ll work as hard as we can to be better than our opponent.”
Kick-off for the match is at 11am followed by the U-20s at 1 and the senior outfit kicks-off at 3pm.
Entry to Ashfield Arena is free for all Perth Glory members.