MetroStars coach Robbie Saraceno says his side has the belief to bounce back from its error-strewn FFA Cup exit and challenge for the SA Premier League title.
The Klemzig-based club was dumped out of the national knockout competition following a 2-1 defeat to NSW second-tier side Bankstown Berries in Sydney on Wednesday night.
Saraceno said his players had failed to deliver in the round of 32 clash as a combination of defensive mistakes and poor finishing cost them dearly.
“It was tough for the boys to deal with knowing we did a lot of work to get to it and we let ourselves down as a whole group with our performance,” Saraceno said.
“We had two or three really good opportunities early on in the game that in the last few weeks we probably would have converted.
“Once they scored that first goal then it became a different sort of game.
“We had to attack them and they could sit back and get us on the counter.
“The boys were disappointed last night (Wednesday), but this morning they are up and about and ready for Saturday’s league match.
“I’ve still got full trust in them and they believe in themselves.”
Matthew Dawber takes on his opponent during MetroStars’ FFA Cup clash with Bankstown Berries. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images
Saraceno said the loss of captain Michael D’Aloisio, who was ruled out after failing to overcome from a concussion sustained on the weekend, hurt his team’s chances.
He said goalkeeper Isaac Carmody would recover from his first-half slip which led to the Berries’ opening goal from a corner.
“Our goalkeeper Isaac is the one in the spotlight, but he’s been fantastic for us this year,” the mentor said.
“He’s a pretty experienced goalkeeper and he’ll bounce back.
“At the back for their second goal we opened ourselves up too much with a few mistakes.
“Defensively we’ve been OK (this season), but last night a couple of lapses of concentration cost us.”
Forward Christian Esposito pulled a goal back in injury-time for MetroStars and typified the workrate of his side despite the under-par display.
Saraceno was critical of the bumpy and dusty pitch at Jensen Park which made it difficult for both sides to play to their potential.
“It was terrible,” the former Adelaide City striker said of the playing surface.
“That was one of the disappointing things because a lot times we could go forward but our players would have to take that extra touch to be able to bring the ball down.
“For a big game like that they should be providing better quality pitches.”
MetroStars sit four points behind league-leader Adelaide City with three regular season games remaining.
Saraceno said his side’s focus had shifted to its meeting with second-bottom Adelaide Blue Eagles at Marden Sports Complex this Saturday.
“We’ll get our end of the bargain done and then it’s up to Adelaide City to drop the points.
“What we’ve got to do, we’ll do it and do it well.”