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Western to be at full strength for knockout final, City lie in wait

Rudan rested key men such as Alessandro Diamanti, Andrew Durante, Besart Berisha and Max Burgess and gave youngsters such as Valentino Yuel and Jerry Skotadis game time. City were without captain Scott Jamieson, suspended forward Craig Noone and injured midfielder Florin Berenguer.

Connor Metcalfe, goalscorer Moudi Najjar and Stefan Colokovski got rare time for Mombaerts’ team as a result, and all did well, Najjar scoring the opening goal.

“We gave a lot of players a lot of minutes and an opportunity today. That was planned,” said Rudan.

“Players understand what the game was about today, and the full focus is on Sunday.

“We are in a very good place, we kept the messages positive after. The most important thing for me was no injuries and that we gave players minutes.

“The first four games we didn’t change the first 11 too much but I had made it quite clear how important the whole squad is and how important it is to play well.

“Their attitude has been fantastic and they worked extremely hard. We will be at full strength at the weekend, our first finals game and we have got some big-game players who have been there and done that.”

Erick Mombaerts celebrates victory in the final regular season game against Western United.

Erick Mombaerts celebrates victory in the final regular season game against Western United.Credit:Getty Images

City will now play the highest-placed winner from the two elimination finals next Wednesday and Mombaerts was delighted with the way his side finished the season, with two wins and a draw in their three games since the resumption.

“This game, it was very important to finish the championship well and [get] the record of points for City and secure second position and to win the game.

“It was the best way to prepare for the semi-final. I am very pleased.

“It was another goal to give our young players an opportunity. It’s very important that our academy players are involved at the end of this season. They have to be ready to play.”

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