FOUR Griffith juniors played vital roles as the Riverina secured yet another Country Championship at the Football NSW under 15 state titles held on the Central Coast.
Riverina defeated the two other regional outfits at the tournament, which wrapped up late last month, and despite losing the remainder of its matches, more than held its own against the stronger metropolitan sides.
The squad included local youngsters Ben Favero, Daniel Febo, Cameron McWhirter and Michael Cimador, as well as Leeton’s Danyon Arnold.
Team manager Anthony Febo said the key difference between Riverina and the likes of winners Metro West, who went through the tournament without
conceding a single goal, was the ability to concentrate for a whole game.
“We started off very flat but by our last game, we played the top side – and while we lost 6-0, they beat the other country sides by double figures,” he said.
“By the end of the comp we had confidence and cohesion and belief in ourselves that we were as good as the metro sides.
“We just didn’t have the 70-minute consistency they have.
“When we were hot, we were hot.
“When we were cold they scored all their goals.”
The Riverina also showcased its commitment to a high-tempo, possession-heavy style of play, with many of the team’s best attacking opportunities coming about after stringing together multiple passes.
But it was the combination of this with the trademark physicality of country sides that really threw some of the city outfits off their game, Febo said.
“The thing that got under the metro sides’ skins was when we added that bit of physical, in-your-face stuff,” he said.
“They’re not used to that, but it took us probably too long in the tournament for us to have the confidence to use it.”
But as always, the travel factor remains Riverina’s biggest obstacle when it comes to state-wide tournaments – not only in terms of the tournament itself, but the lead-up and preparation.
Febo said Riverina had only six training sessions and one trial match before heading up to the Central Coast.
“Some of the other teams were whinging they drove 40 minutes up there to go and play a game,” he said.
“We just laughed at them.
“When I told them I’d done 14,000km already this year for football, they said ‘you’re joking. Maybe we shouldn’t complain’.
“I said, that’s probably about right.”
Metro North 2 d Country Riverina 1
Metro East 4 d Country Riverina 0
Country Riverina 2 d Country Western 1
Metro Far North 4 d Country Riverina 0
Country Riverina 2 d Country Southern 0
Metro South 4 d Country Riverina 1
Metro Far South 3 d Country Riverina 0
Metro West 6 d Country Riverina 0