STILL heartbroken by its GDFA grand final defeat to Yoogali SC two weeks ago, Hanwood Football Club will get the opportunity to right some wrongs this weekend in Football NSW’s Champion of Champions tournament.
As the minor premiers, HFC will represent the Griffith association and will take on Central Coast side Killarney Districts on Sunday at Hanwood Oval.
The pain of the 1-0 loss to YSC is still raw, and understandably so given the manner of their defeat – Hanwood had the chance to force the match into extra-time from the penalty spot, but twice failed through coach Anthony Agresta and star striker Brandon Barski.
But Agresta wants to use Sunday’s match – and any beyond it, if the club is able to qualify for the quarter-finals, which will be held next weekend – as a way of taking an alternative memory into the off-season and the 2014 campaign.
“This is a whole different thing,” he said.
“Obviously we were shattered and it took a couple of days to get over it.
“But we’ve picked up now and we’ve got this to look forward to.”
Hanwood will be missing several key players, including Barski and goalkeeper Tom Elford, who both left Griffith last week.
Midfielder Michael Bresolin is also unlikely to figure due to other commitments, prompting Agresta to use the opportunity to have a closer look at some of the club’s younger players.
Defender Jayden Torino and striker Daniel Agresta will be absorbed into HFC’s senior squad next year after graduating from the under 18s and both come with huge raps – the former won the competition’s best and fairest award, and the latter took out the golden boot for top goalscorer.
“They’re two very good young players and they’ll be very handy additions next year,” coach Agresta said. “They played bits and pieces of first grade but now we’ll see what they’re really about.
“It’s going to be good to have them involved in training and through this tournament, if we happen to stay alive.”
Other youngsters likely to get a chance on Sunday are Patrick Zirilli and reserve goalkeeper Jayden Woodbridge, who will finally step out of Elford’s shadow this year.
“He’s always done a good job for us when asked so this is a good opportunity for him,” Agresta said of Woodbridge.
Agresta said it was unlikely that Hanwood – who made the semi-finals of the Champion of Champions in 2011 – would be at their absolute best throughout the tournament, giving the timing and loss of players at the conclusion of the season.
“But we’ll give it a go with whoever we’ve got and see what we can do,” he said.
“I don’t think we’ve lost that much fitness – it’s just a matter of blowing a few cobwebs out during the week and going from there.
“It’s hard, obviously, to keep people motivated and you get people who leave, but that’s just the way it is. I’m sure we’ll give it a shake.”
Elsewhere in the Champion of Champions tournament, GDFA all-age women’s grand final winners YSC will face Killarney Districts, while Wests will fly the flag in the under 18s against Ourimbah.