Adelaide United will present an unknown quantity for Perth Glory in Sunday’s season-opening clash at Coopers Stadium, according to goalkeeper Danny Vukovic.
After a tumultuous 2012-13 campaign, which saw coach John Kosmina quit and replaced by interim boss Michael Valkanis, Adelaide have employed former Barcelona youth coach Josep Gombau to lead the club back into contention for honours.
Gombau has plenty of work to do after the Reds’ first-round finals exit last season and has brought in a host of new recruits to bolster a squad that lost some of its key players.
Dario Vidosic, Iain Fyfe, Iain Ramsay and Fabian Barbiero all left, while Steven Lustica (Hadjuk Split), Micahel Zullo (FC Utretcht, loan) and Tarek Elrich (Western Sydney) have joined the club alongside Spanish recruits Sergio Cirio (Hospitalet) and Isaias Sanchez (Ponferradina).
Adelaide have lost just once in 10 pre-season games – to reigning champions Central Coast – and have scored 40 goals while conceding just eight.
Vukovic said the Reds’ new-look line-up made them a tricky prospect this week.
“They’ve signed a few recruits, a few Spanish boys, and they’ve got a new coach who apparently is going to have them playing some decent football,” Vukovic said.
“We haven’t really seen any of their games in the pre-season, so it’s a tough one because you don’t really know how they play.
“All we can do is worry about ourselves and make sure we’re fully prepared.”
Glory have been dealt a tough start to the season, with pitch redevelopment work at nib Stadium forcing the club to switch its opening home fixture with Adelaide.
The switch means Glory face away games against the Reds and Newcastle Jets before returning to the east Perth ground in round three.
“It depends how you want to look at it, but I’m taking it a positive view,” Vukovic said.
“We’ve got two away games, but if we get positive results in those games it can really set up our season.
“Then obviously we come back for two home games (against Melbourne Heart and Sydney FC).
“We’re hoping to get two good results on the road and then come back in round three against Melbourne Heart.”
Glory, in conjunction with Football West, are giving away 5000 tickets to the WA soccer community for the opening home fixture against Heart on October 27.
The initiative proved an outstanding success last season, when Glory attracted their record A-League attendance of nearly 17,000 for the final-round clash with Adelaide.
- Perth Glory have signed young goalkeeper Devon Spence on a six-week injury replacement contract as cover for Australian youth international Jack Duncan.
Spence has been a part of the Glory set-up for much of the past four years – a period which has also included loan spells overseas.
The 22-year-old has had a whirlwind 48 hours after playing a key role between the posts for Bayswater City in their WA State League grand final win over Stirling Lions at the weekend.
“It’s been massive. It’s been a good weekend to say the least,” Spence said.
“We wrapped up the championship with Bayswater and now I’ve signed an injury replacement contract ... so I can’t really complain.”
Spence said training in a professional set-up with Glory had improved his game.
He will start in a support role behind first-choice keeper Danny Vukovic but is eager to take the next step and prove he is capable of playing regularly at A-League level.
“I think the next step for me is a full-time contract,” Spence said.
“I’ll take six weeks over nothing but now it’s up to me now to show them I’m ready.
“I have to keep improving and asking the coaches for feedback so as to prove to them I'm ready to go.”
Vukovic, who joined Glory in 2011 and signed a new three-year deal last month, knows Spence well and said the youngster deserved his spot in the squad.
“He’s been with us for the last couple of years in the youth team and he’s a very good goalkeeper,” Vukovic said.“He had a great season in the State League and won the championship with Bayswater, so he’s been rewarded for his good work.”