Nick Kalafatis rates his Goulburn Valley Suns side as one of the best he has been a part of, but there is work to be done.
With a host of local, young aspiring stars wearing the orange jersey, a will to work, fight and play for each other is evident.
‘‘The boys are working for each other, we have a team full of local players who can commit, come to training and want to play for each other,’’ Kalafatis said.
‘‘It is exciting and I am confident we are building the right foundations for this club going forward.’’
Today, the Suns travel to play Moreland Zebras in a cross-conference clash after a ‘‘disappointing’’ two-all draw with the National Premier League division two west league leader Northcote City.
‘‘The boys were upset that we didn’t come away with all three points, we had our chances, we were the better side last week,’’ Kalafatis said.
‘‘Now we look forward to Moreland, it will be another test for us but I feel we are ready.
‘‘If we are to take the next step we need to perform in games like this.’’
Kalafatis will be without Ramah Taya, who is in Brazil for the Neymar JR’s five tournament, Stefan Papageorgiou, captain Jamie England, who reached the yellow card threshold, and Welsh winger Rob Hughes.
Hughes, who was sent off for two bookable offences last week, has let his temper get the better of him at times, but Kalafatis backed his visa signing.
‘‘I tell all my players to play with passion, emotion and go out there and play to win,’’ Kalafatis said.
‘‘If you don’t play with emotion there is no point playing. Unfortunately for Rob he let his emotions get the better of him, he is upset now and I am sure he will learn from it.’’
The Suns sit fourth on 28 points in the east division, while in the east conference the Zebras are second on 41 points.
Kalafatis knows the importance of defence and, while his side is starting to improve its poor record, it will be tested today against the league’s best offensive side.
The Zebras have scored 53 goals, while the Suns have conceded 38, an average of nearly two goals a game.
Zebras’ Baggio Yousif (12) and James Papadimitriou (9) will pose the biggest threat for the Suns, with the duo netting 21 goals between them this season.
The Suns have tightened up defensively, having let six goals through in the past six games.
‘‘It is something that we have been working on for a long time and I feel we are starting to see the reward for effort,’’ Kalafatis said.
‘‘We have consistency in our side now and I think it can go a long way to us achieving what we are aiming to.
‘‘In saying that, there is still some defensive work that needs to be done, we want to tighten up even more.’’