Glory out to make history: Elrich
Perth Glory defender Tarek Elrich believes his side has what it takes to become the first team in A-League history to win the premiership from sixth place, ahead of their semi-final with Sydney FC on Wednesday night.
Elrich, a veteran of four A-League clubs across 15 seasons said confidence was high amongst the group after their 1-0 win over Wellington Phoenix on Saturday.
“Not many people have given us a chance to do well in this finals series, so the pressure is more on the other teams we play against,” Elrich told Sports Drive on Tuesday.
“Wellington were no easybeats, we take a lot of confidence out of that. It has been a bit up and down for us since coming in to the hub. In other games we probably would have coughed up a goal in that game.
“We worked on defending as a whole team and closing the space for their key players. It took a lot of guts and determination to get over the line in that game.”
Elrich, who only joined the club in January after being moved on mid-season by Western Sydney Wanderers, was pleased by his side’s resilience to see off the third placed Phoenix after consecutive losses heading in to the match.
“I think in our team we have a lot of experienced players, players who have played at a high level or guys who have played a lot of finals football,” he said.
“That experience counts when it comes to games like these. The boss Popa (coach Tony Popovic) really touched on putting everything behind us, these are one off games.
“It worked for us. The guys gave it their all, now we have recovered and done everything we can to be ready for tomorrow night.”
The Glory are coming off a four-day break compared to Sydney FC’s ten, Elrich believing that they can jump the sky blues early.
“I’ve seen it happen before, you are a team that had a longer recovery or time between the games and the other team tends to come out firing that little bit quicker,” he said.
“We’ll be praying for a quick start and a good result. You can’t take anything away from Sydney FC, they are a quality team with quality players. On the day if you’re not on your game they’re definitely going to be hard to beat.
“I’m backing our boys with the experience we’ve got on the team, that we can come out and give them a run for their money.”
Since the A-League introduced the top six finals format in 2009-10, not once has the sixth placed side won or even qualified for the Grand Final, but the 33-year-old journeyman believes that is about to change, as the Glory seek retribution for last year’s Grand Final result.
“It’s something we spoke about, it’s something different we’ve never been through in our lives in a hub, so I feel like a lot of the clubs are in the same boat and there’s not much of an advantage for one team,” Elrich said.
“Whether you finish third or sixth, you give yourself every opportunity because it’s an even playing field. The teams that came third and fourth are out, it’s now the teams that finished first, second, fifth and sixth so anything can happen.”
“A big win tomorrow will be something that’s talked about for a long time.”
Fellow defender Alex Grant faces a fitness test ahead of the match to determine whether he’s fit to return from injury, with kick-off at 6:10 PM WST at Bank West Stadium.
IMAGE: The West Australian.