A week after the men in the lighter shade secured bragging rights in the A-League Big Blue, Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory are set to lock horns once again on Friday night - with youth supremacy on the line.
For the first time in Y-League history, the two bitter rivals will square up in the deciding game of the season, with Sydney looking to add to their two championships and Victory looking for their first at Jubilee Stadium.
It could prove to be the final game played under the current two conference, eight-game regular-season plus Grand Final format - with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting that discussions were in place to expand the Y-League as soon as next season.
Victory’s only previous taste of glory in Australia’s premier youth competition arrived back in 2012/13 – when the competition consisted of an 18 round season without a final.
In that year, a team featuring Theo Markelis, Connor Pain, Isaka Cernak, Andrew Nabbout, James Jeggo and Matthew Foschini took out the Y-League Premiership on goal difference, their +37 mark easily surpassing second-placed Central Coast Mariners.
In a cruel twist for the Mariners, however, their hopes of overhauling Victory in a winner-takes-all finale were dashed when adverse weather conditions forced the cancellation of the two club’s round 18 clash – the default 0-0 score ensuring Victory took the crown.
Sydney’s most recent triumph came under the competition’s current format back in 2015/16.
Booking their place in the Grand Final on the final day of the regular thanks to a 3-2 win over the FFA Centre of Excellence, a Harbourside line up featuring the likes of Charles Lokolingoy, Jacob Tratt, Max Burgess, Liam McGing and George Timotheou downed Adelaide United 5-2 in the following week’s Grand Final.
This year, under the guidance of Jimmy Van Weeren, Sydney secured their place in the decider thanks to a 1-1 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers in the penultimate round of the season.
Nonetheless, despite already qualifying, that didn’t stop the Sky Blues from putting Canberra United to the sword on the final day of the season – running out 7-0 winners at Leichhardt Oval and playing themselves into a healthy bit of form.
However, despite being boosted by home-field advantage on Friday, Sydney will head into Friday night’s contest a weakened unit after they lost captain Ryan Teague to Portuguese side FC Famalicao.
Looking to step up in his absence will be the likes of Y-League Golden Boot winner Marco Tilio – who grabbed nine goals and five assists across the eight-game regular-season – Jaiden Kucharski – who added seven goals and four assists – and Jordi Swibel – who had five goals and six assists.
U17 World Cup representative Anton Mlinaric, Young Socceroo wing-back Callum Talbot and midfielder Calem Nieuwenhof will look to lockout Victory at the other end.
“We haven’t seen too many nerves around,” van Weeren told the Sydney FC website.
“Some of these boys have been involved with A-League matches, FFA Cup squads and some of them even in the AFC Champions League.