Western United’s Josh Risdon said his teammates are feeling the motivation to win more silverware ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.
The competitive season will kick off on Wednesday night with a huge Australia Cup Round of 32 tie against Melbourne Victory, and Risdon said the squad is raring to go.
“It’s exciting for it to come so early in pre-season – it’s good for us to play a competitive game,” he said.
“We’ve had a good few weeks of training, we’ve built a good base and we’ve got back to where we finished off last season. It’s been a short time to get fit for this game, but we’ve worked hard and all the boys are ready for this.”
The clash will be a rematch of the thrilling Isuzu UTE A-League Men Semi-Final tie from last season, which Western United won 4-2 on aggregate before going on to lift the Championship.
Risdon said the short turnaround from that semi-final, and the fact that it is a crosstown rival, will add an extra element to the match.
“Given the semi-final, obviously we beat them over two legs last year, they’ll be wanting to get revenge on us and knock us out of the cup, so it’s going to be a big occasion,” he said.
“Playing against Victory at AAMI Park, they get a very big crowd, so it’s going to be a tough game. It’s definitely going to have that finals feeling about it, and that semi-final win will give us a lot of confidence coming into this game.”
The feeling of winning that semi-final tie and then winning the Grand Final after it is one Risdon believes will continue to spur the players on to new heights.
“Having that taste gives you a lot more drive and makes you want to win something else. We obviously won the A-League Men finals last year and we’re looking to do the same in this cup competition. We’re going to take it very seriously and hopefully do well,” he said.
United has only been able to compete in the Australia Cup once before, with COVID-19 interrupting the competition over the past couple of years.
After beating Newcastle Jets in a play-off fixture in November, United went down to Wellington Phoenix in the Round of 32 and Risdon is eager to go deeper this time around.
“We’re really excited to have a good crack at it this time around. It’s great to do well in this cup, it gives you a chance to play competitive games throughout the pre-season,” he said.
“It’s another chance to win some silverware so we’re really motivated and really looking forward to it. There’ll be a spot in Asia as well as silverware, so there’s a lot to play for which is really good.”
The Round of 32 clash will take place at AAMI Park, with kick-off at 7:30pm AEST, and will also be broadcast live on 10Bold.