Canberra United Coach Ray Junna admitted he was ‘surprised’ to win ‘Coach of the Year’ at the Westfield W-League awards on Monday afternoon and gave the credit to his team.
Canberra United Coach Ray Junna admitted he was ‘surprised- to win ‘Coach of the Year- at the Westfield W-League awards on Monday afternoon and gave the credit to his team.
Junna, who has led Canberra United into the semi-final of the competition, was nominated as joint winner of the ‘Coach of the Year- award at the presentation ceremony held at Dolton-s House in Sydney.
“It was a surprise, but it just shows how far the team has come,” Junna admitted afterwards.
“If they-re not performing, then obviously I don-t get the award, so it-s a credit to the players actually as well.”
Junna received the award alongside central Coast Mariners Head Coach Stephen Roche, who was also honoured after the Mariners came within one win of claiming the league championship.
“I think Central Coast have done pretty well,” Junna continued.
“They have recruited well and they surprised the league, in the fact that they nearly won it, so I think it-s just rewards for Steve. However, it-s a difficult job that everyone has got in the league, so I think everyone deserves Coach of the Year!”
As well as Junna-s success, United were further honoured when Ellyse Perry was announced as joint winner of the ‘Young Player of the Year- award, along with Elise Kellond-Knight of Brisbane Roar. The fact that Perry took out the accolade was of little surprise to Junna though.
“I thought Ellyse would be in the shake-up for the main ‘Player of the Year- as she had such a great season, but the Young Player award is a deserved return, joint with KK [Kellond-Knight] who is also a dynamic player, so hopefully Ellyse can carry that form into the finals,” Junna said.
“Ellyse has great athleticism, she gets forward and gets back, and she-s the sort of player that-s inspirational. Her talking is her actions on the field. She-s heavily involved in the game and an integral part of the team.”
After Saturday-s results combined to send United into the semis, the team is now just ninety minutes, plus possibly extra-time and penalties, away from a second successive Grand Final appearance. Canberra faces Sydney FC at Shark Park, Cronulla, on Saturday afternoon and Junna is excepting a blockbuster encounter.
“Sydney will come at us,” Junna predicted.
“The last couple of encounters we have played against Sydney they have tried to press, so we-ll do the same. I think we have got better at playing the ball out from the back, so we-ll back ourselves. The last game we played against them was pretty close. We had chances in the last twenty minutes and didn-t convert, but hopefully this time we-ll convert our chances. The girls are pretty confident. The training mood had been jovial and we-re looking forward to the challenge.”
United-s 3-0 success over Adelaide on the weekend saw maiden Canberra strikes from Emily Van Egmond and Ellyse Perry, much to the delight of their Coach.
“It-s always a confidence booster to get some goals coming up to finals series,” Junna commented.
“It just shows that we are versatile all over the park and not relying on one or two people to get our goals, so other teams have to be wary of us in all situations and can-t afford to target one or two players. We created a lot of opportunities again, so that was encouraging, and to take three points was great. At the end of the day if you are in a tough battle you-ll take one point, but we dominated the game that much that 3-0 was a fair result.”
Canberra United faces Sydney FC on Saturday afternoon in the Westfield W-League semi-final at Shark Park, Cronulla, with kick off at 3.00pm. The club is running an official supporters bus to the match at the cost of $45 for travel and match ticket. For further information please see www.can-beta.keepup.com.au