John Aloisi gave his immediate reaction after Western United booked a place in the Isuzu UTE A-League Men Grand Final, heaping praise on his players after a stunning second leg turnaround.
Western United won 4-1 on Saturday night to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg, and the boss was delighted with the way his side handled the pressure.
“That was our main focus, trying to remain calm within a crazy game, because that always happens within Finals series’. The boys did well, the boys worked, worked, worked, and that’s what they’ve done from day 1 of pre-season,” he said.
“It’s incredible, they just find energy from somewhere because they want to help each other, work for each other, and that’s why we got the win.”
With that one-goal margin to overturn, Aloisi said he wanted his players to bring the intensity early on in the match and he was impressed with their ability to do exactly that.
“We wanted to make sure if there were any nerves there (for Victory), we could put them under pressure and try and get that goal that we needed,” he said.
Aleksandar Prijovic was the star man, scoring the opening two goals and setting up the third for Lachie Wales as United took the lead in the tie for the first time in the 78th minute of the match.
Aloisi was confident that Prijovic would be able to execute for United if he was picked out by his teammates, given the threatening positions he was taking up.
“We expect that from Aleks. We know that he’s a goal scorer, we know if we put the ball into areas that he’ll get into those areas. It was great play for the first goal, but all goals were good play. We broke quickly but also in build-up we were causing problems on our left side,” he said.
United’s head coach also reserved special praise for Jerry Skotadis. The 22-year-old has started just once all season until the final round of the regular season, from where he has started four matches in a row.
Aloisi lauded the midfielder for his ability to come in and perform with a number of injuries in the squad and said it typifies the strength of the entire group.
“Jerry Skotadis has hardly played this season, and we’ve put him in the last three Finals games and he hasn’t missed a beat,” he said.
“It’s satisfying for not only him, but also his teammates because they see how hard he works every day and he’s wanting to learn, wanting to get better.
“We never made an excuse about the injuries. We just said it’s not an excuse for us, we’re good enough to beat anyone even with certain players out. Now we want to recover well and get ready for Saturday.”
As soon as the celebrations came to an end on Saturday night, all focus turned the Grand Final in a weeks’ time, where United will take on either Melbourne City or Adelaide United.
Aloisi said it’s a big achievement for the Club in just its third year, but issued a strong message heading into the showpiece.
“We’re not just happy to reach the Grand Final, we want to win it,” he said.
The Green and Black will have a week to recover and prepare before returning to AAMI Park on Saturday May 28 at 7:45pm, with the Club’s first ever piece of silverware on the line.