Kisnorbo thrilled with premiership of perseverance

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Melbourne City coach Patrick Kisnorbo has lavished praise on his players for their resilience in clinching a second straight A-League Men premiership.

City’s 2-1 victory over Wellington Phoenix on Monday night confirmed their status as back-to-back premiers following a season filled with unique challenges.

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The unusual nature of season 2021/22 did not go unnoticed by Kisnorbo, who felt his players’ ability to adapt to a variety of circumstances was key to their premiership success.

“It has been a big year so far,” Kisnorbo said.

“We have been put in situations that nobody has ever been put in before in this league, as have all the other clubs.

“Tonight was the result of nine months of hard work.”

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Kisnorbo’s big-picture approach is unsurprising considering his side’s recent endeavours in the AFC Champions League.

City only recently returned from their two-week stay in Thailand.

Whilst overseas, City went unbeaten in six games played in extreme heat and humidity.

Kisnorbo’s side have been undeniably impressive in terms of the intensity and energy they have brought to their two games since returning to Australia.

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A bright, energetic start ultimately proved decisive in their win against Wellington after a dominant first half.

“(I am pleased with) the character the players had to show tonight under duress and after what they have been through,” Kisnorbo said.

“All credit to the players. They have had to overcome adversity, criticism, Covid…

“Considering the circumstances we have put them in, full credit to the players. Physically and mentally, they have been so strong.”

Ever the perfectionist, Kisnorbo identified the constant desire to improve within his squad as similarly pivotal to their success.

“I think (the most pleasing thing) has been the persistence of constantly trying to improve,” Kisnorbo said.

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Nonetheless, the City coach is not yet satisfied with what his side has achieved.

“Tonight we did something that we set out to do, but now we need to get ourselves ready to go again,” he said.

Looking beyond his own club, Kisnorbo was equally willing to acknowledge the work and sacrifice of other clubs in the league to facilitate the competition’s progress throughout the season.

Whilst City have had to manage unmatched levels of fixture congestion, other sides, such as their opponents on Monday, have had their own obstacles to overcome.

“Of course it has affected our club but credit to all of the clubs and coaches that have had to deal with difficult scenarios this year because it has been very challenging,” Kisnorbo said.

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Wellington coach Ufuk Talay offered similar praise to his players for their ability to overcome the unique challenges of season 2021/22.

“The boys are a good group. They are a resilient bunch of players,” Talay said.

“There have been challenges along the way but that has been the same for every team; the challenges with injuries, Covid and the number of games everyone has had to play so close to each other.

“We are a bit fortunate that we have quite a young group of boys who just want to play football.”

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Both coaches’ praise for their respective playing groups seems appropriate considering the success each side has achieved despite the circumstances.

For Wellington, that success has taken the form of qualifying for finals.

For Kisnorbo and City though, considering the resources available to the club, the more ambitious target of silverware is hardly unwarranted.

Regardless of the scope of ambition, the key ingredient in such an unpredictable and unforgiving season must be a playing group ready and willing to adapt.

Kisnorbo’s acknowledgement of this fact underlies the reality that City’s 2021/22 premiership success was built on the back of a level of resilience rarely required of professional sporting clubs.

Feature Image Credit: Melbourne City FC

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Oscar Rutherford
Sports tragic studying Law/Arts at Monash University. Second-best paid Oscar working in football who has been to China.

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