Northcote City Head Coach Zeljko Kuzman says the team and staff are raring to go as they look to reap the rewards of pre-season preparation in the season opener at Bendigo City on Saturday night.
“Everyone is really excited as Round 1 draws closer,” Kuzman told northcotecity.com.au.
“It’s a bit of relief that pre-season is finished after putting in the hard yards over 12 weeks. A lot of work has gone into our planning and preparation.”
“I’ve been really happy with our conditioning. With our approach to how we’re going to play football there is still some work to do but I don’t think any team is going to be 100 per cent settled in Round 1, so we’re pleased with our progress.”
City’s pre-season was punctuated with a camp in Bendigo where objectives were laid out with regards to team standards through a series of bonding exercises and group discussions.
“It’s really important that we work on setting standards, making sure that we’re familiar with what we’re trying to do on and off the pitch. That cultural aspect is essential with so many new players coming in.”
“It’s about ensuring that we have similar views in relation to our values, behaviours and beliefs. The weekend was fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for any more. The boys really gave it their all and bought in on what we’re trying to do.”
With several new arrivals in the off-season, Kuzman is satisfied with the progress made so far on the pitch as well.
“We’ve toyed around with different players in different positions. Pre-season is about getting up to speed with the quality of football that we want to play and executing our football actions in the right manner.”
“As soon as we get into the season intensity is going to be a lot higher because we’re competing for three points every time we take the pitch.”
Northcote played a friendly against Bendigo at Epsom Huntly Reserve during the pre-season camp and Round 1 will be a repeat of that fixture as Kuzman looks for a strong performance, warning that it will be a difficult encounter.
“From our point of view the clear message is that we don’t underestimate anyone,” he said.
“Bendigo will no doubt be a tough opponent. They’re playing at home for the first time this season with a new coach, new personnel and their objective will be to get off to a flyer as well.”
“At the end of the day we need to maintain our approach and focus on us by making sure we do everything in our power to play the brand of football that we’re capable of. We’re after an honest performance knowing it’s going to be a battle.”