Buckingham steps up for City in coach’s absence

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Melbourne City assistant Des Buckingham was tasked with leading the side to victory over Western Sydney Wanderers in the absence of head coach Patrick Kisnorbo on Tuesday.

In the hours leading up to City’s encounter with the fourth-placed Wanderers, Kisnorbo was struck down by food poisoning, leaving Buckingham with a short time to prepare for coaching duties.

It proved to be a night to remember for the Englishman, as City scored a surprise 2-1 win.

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Buckingham spoke post-game about his experience coaching on the night, his first time doing so since his days as an interim with Wellington Phoenix back in 2017.

“It’s been four years between drinks since I was coach at the Phoenix, so it’s definitely been a while,” he said.

“PK (Kisnorbo) was sick last night and then not too well this morning. We made a decision after lunch that it was in the best interest of him and the group to do what we did, especially with another game coming up on Saturday.

“PK still had his input over the phone. So the message didn’t change, it just came from a different person. I’m sure he’ll be waiting on the phone once I leave this room now.”

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Despite the comfortable score line, it was far from smooth sailing for Buckingham and City.

Their preparation was dealt another major setback just moments before kick-off when midfielder Florin Berenguer was withdrawn due to an injury.

This saw the last-minute addition of Naoki Tsubaki to the side, but it was another hurdle City managed to overcome.

“When it rains it pours,” Buckingham said.

“We were literally in the tunnel when we made the change, with Tsubaki coming in.

“Right towards the end of our warm-up Flo (Berenguer) felt a slight tweak to his ankle, so we went back in and strapped it up. He probably could have played, but with the games that we’ve got coming up and ensuring player welfare, the decision was made to replace him with Tsubaki.

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“With the way we play, the way we do things, the players are across it. I won’t say it was a simple change, it can be a disruptive time. But full credit to Tsubaki and full credit to the team.”

The win, City’s second in a row after a poor start to the season, puts them on the cusp on a spot in the top six heading into their upcoming derby against Melbourne Victory.

Buckingham is confident City can use their recent performances against Sydney FC and the Wanderers to spur them on ahead of Saturday’s meeting with their local rivals.

“Our next game is the Melbourne derby which we are very much looking forward to,” he said.

“We want to go into the Melbourne game now off the back of this and perform the same way we have in our last two.

“We’ve shown another side to our game where defensively we can see out and manage a game, and that’s going to be important to us.”

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Jye Campbell
Journalism student at Western Sydney. Love my football (#lazoumance) and rugby league (#pantherpride). Advocate for FIFA Career Modes. Covering Western Sydney Wanderers in both A-League and W-League for the 2020/21 season.
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