Captain’s Corner: Carl Valeri – 'I'd hate to play against Melbourne Victory'

In the latest of our series of columns from the Hyundai A-League Finals Series club captains, Melbourne Victory skipper Carl Valeri looks forward in his own words to this weekend's Semi Final against Sydney FC.

Read on for Valeri's view on the respect between the Big Blue combatants, what makes Victory a Finals Series force and how "warrior" Keisuke Honda is shaping up for Sunday's blockbuster.

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Maximising the moment

"Personally, I would hate to play against Melbourne Victory in the Finals Series.

"Because of the way Kevin Muscat leads the team, and our fans [who] are truly amazing even when we travel. From that aspect I believe we have the edge.

"But football isn’t just about confidence or what you’ve done in the past. It’s really about all those little moments on the pitch. There are going to be millions of them and we’ve got to be prepared to fight harder and faster for longer periods of time to be a chance of winning.

"I love the Finals, I love playing against Sydney, they’re some of my favourite games to play and the Finals against them never disappoint."

Mutual respect in Big Blue

"Sydney FC are a fantastic side.

"I think over the years we’ve grown to respect each other a lot more. When I first got to Victory, it was borderline disrespectful at times. We were yelling at each other and carrying on.

"Over the years we’ve learned to respect each other. They’ve got a great team who play great football. Milos Ninkovic is always a key player for them, he gets the ball a lot.

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"In saying that, when he’s not on, they’ve got Brandon O’Neill, Josh Brillante and Adam Le Fondre up front who can turn it on.

"They’ve got a lot of key players, but our main focus is going to be on us, our attitude, our mentality, and what we’re doing."

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Fully fit after midweek match

"While some of the boys have been away in South Korea, we’ve been here working very hard. The coaching staff took it the other way and decided to flog us, rather than rest us. That part of it has been catered for in our preparation from pre-season.

"Unfortunately we had no chance of going through in the AFC Champions League due to some poor performance, while Sydney FC, due to some great performances, were able to be in with a chance.

"Obviously the result in Korea wasn’t great, but the way the boys went about it, the way they tried to play their brand of football, was amazing. A lot of those players have a bright future.

"We’ve been working very hard for the weekend and we’re ready. Everyone is up to date, everyone is fit and everyone is prepared for it."

Honda switched on

"Keisuke loves it in Australia, his family is enjoying it. Obviously we would love him to stay. A player of his calibre, his professionalism, and just his sheer hard work is phenomenal.

"I hope he can stay, but that’s up to him.

"What I know he will be concentrating on is Sunday’s game. He’s a true professional, he’s a warrior. Even on his days off he works hard. Training alongside him this week, you can see in his eyes he’s ready for this."

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