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 some of them it’s ok and for some of the younger ones it’s their first taste and they may be a little nervous, but they’re resilient and they’ll be ok come Friday.
“I’m excited. It’s been a pretty successful season so far with a very good group of players that we’ve worked with for a number of years. To see them get to this point is exciting for us and exciting for them.
“The boys are relaxed; they have been all week. They’re just treating this as any other normal week.”
“[Grand Finals] are nice, they’re not the only measure of success in youth development, but of course everyone is competitive and wants to win
“It would be nice for the players and the staff who’ve put a lot of hours and effort into this project, some over many years since 2015, so it’d be a nice reward.
“I hope for everyone involved that it’s open and we see a lot of nice football.
“We hope the players enjoy the experience and everyone puts their foot forward and represents the club as best as possible.”
As can so often be the case with the transient nature of youth football – in which squads will turn over year-on-year as youngsters age out and a new crop take their place – Melbourne Victory have undergone a significant turnaround in 2019/20 – going from worst to first in Conference A to earn their first-ever appearance in a Y-League Grand Final.
Under the guidance of Director Drew Sherman, it’s been a positive year all-around for the Victory academy the club becoming just the third A-League side to abolish fees in their academy back in October.
"The message for us is to have good energy in what we're strong at, trust what we do and stay in the fight,” Victory Y-League Head Coach Gareth Naven – who has been at the club since arriving from Perth SC in 2016 – said to Victory's website.
“It's a one-off game, a good challenge for our players against Sydney.
“We don't know what they're like, they don't know what we're like, only obviously what they've seen on video, so I expect it to be a really competitive affair.
“[It’s] Melbourne versus Sydney, the Big Blue.
“[I’m] just looking forward to the day and looking forward to the players performing."
Though Victory’s barnstorming run in 2019/20 can owe a debt of gratitude to a number of standouts, the play of Australian U17 World Cup representative Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio has been a particular highlight of their campaign.
Signing from Adelaide United, the 17-year-old attacker has been immense in his first season at AAMI Park, netting seven goals. That tally included a hat-trick against his former club in the final round of the season to secure his new navy blue side a Grand Final berth.
Other potential key contributors include senior-capped defender Aaron Anderson, midfielders Zayden Bello and Will Wilson and former Melbourne City attacker Josh Varga - who has adjusted with aplomb since moving across from Bundoora.
U17 World Cup representative Birkan Kirdar has battled injury throughout the Y-League campaign but, if fit, could also prove a difference-maker on Friday night.