GDFA champions Yoogali Soccer Club are serious about making it back-to-back titles at the Real Juice Cup this weekend, coach Sante Donadel has vowed.
YSC laid the platform for their terrific 2013 season by streaking through the inaugural tournament undefeated, beating arch rivals Hanwood FC 1-0 in the final.
Donadel said last year's Real Juice Cup was an excellent way to get more pre-season miles in the legs of his players, with the only downside the two serious knee injuries suffered by Steve Crombie and Matthew Gilston in the first game.
Crombie's injury ended his season before it even started while Gilston aggravated an ongoing knee problem that plagued him throughout most of YSC's championship-winning campaign.
With $4000 on the line for the winner, Donadel said his men would be going for gold this weekend.
"We definitely play tournaments to win them," he said.
"It was a bit disastrous last time with the injuries but the boys did well - we stuck together and we only had two subs at the end of it, but it worked out.
"They were bad injuries but we did win it, so that made it a little bit better.
"It does take a lot out of the players - it was five games all up we played in two days last time, and with nine-a-side as well there's a lot more running.
"Mostly it's good preparation for the season and it'll be good to see how fit we actually are."
Yoogali SC will take an under-strength squad into the tournaent with Matt Cappello (injured) and Ryan Spencer (away) certain to miss out, while defender Grant Davidson is unlikely to be risked.
Donadel said the team had been working on their speed in transition since their 8-0 friendly hammering away to Canberra FC - and transition moments will be key in the 40-minute, nine-a-side clashes that await.
YSC will be favourites to finish top of Pool B, but it won't be easy in a group that also features last season's surprise packets Leeton United, an improving West Griffith and wildcards Griffith City.
Leeton will have coach Mitchell Clay back on deck after he returned from overseas over the weekend, but United could be underdone if assistant coach Frank Millemaggi's claims their senior players are not taking pre-season seriously enough are anything to go by.
Meanwhile, local fans will get their first look at Griffith City under new coach Pat Ciampa at the Real Juice Cup.
City has flown under the radar since Ciampa's appointment but after an aggressive pre-season recruiting campaign, they will be more than capable of springing an upset or two this weekend.