Milicich sure focus is on NZFC final
Waitakere United coach Chris Milicich is desperate to win the New Zealand Football Championship final against Team Wellington on Sunday and insists his side won't get caught with an eye toward next weekend's O-League final.
The NZFC minor premiers head into the season finale at Douglas Field in Henderson as deserved favourites, having scored a league record 51 points this season, including two wins from three against Team Wellington.
They have never won a grand final, though, with Auckland City claiming all three NZFC titles.
That's something Milicich is keen to rectify on Sunday, despite the fact Waitakere have a bigger date to look forward to next Saturday with the first leg of the O-League final against Kossa FC in Honiara, Solomon Islands - the winner earning a trip to Fifa's lucrative Club World Cup in Japan later this year.
"There is an opportunity to get your name on the NZFC championship this Sunday so we're desperate to win it," Milicich said.
"In the politics of football, life changes very, very quickly and I wouldn't want to put anything in the hands of anybody else."
Milicich was having nothing of talk their focus could creep prematurely forward to the O-League final and all that comes with winning that.
"If we were to try and get too far ahead of ourselves, we'd end up stumbling," he said.
"Right from our very first game, our workload and travel has been far in excess of any other NZFC squad [including O-League games and last year's Club World Cup], so all we could do is just focus on the game in front of us."
Waitakere had last weekend off while watching Wellington and Auckland scrap out the preliminary final, a break Milicich says was vital.
"We've managed to get everyone who was injured or unavailable for the last game against Otago [two weeks ago] fit and ready for the final.
"We now have 21 players ready to play, so five of them are going to be very unhappy."
Waitakere boast plenty of experience across the park with the likes of Danny Hay, Neil Emblen and Darren Bazeley and talented frontrunners in internationals Benjamin Totori, Commins Menapi (Solomon Islands) and Roy Krishna (Fiji).
But Milicich knows Wellington are just as dangerous on their day and he talked up the midfield battle as a mouth-watering prospect.
"Tactically, Auckland got it wrong [last weekend] but Wellington played very well. They're obviously mentally tougher than they've been in the past and they should have won by more," Milicich said.
"Their talent is in the midfield, which obviously provides them with a tremendous platform, but our midfield is no slouch either."