In the space of just 12 months it has developed into one of the biggest occasions of the A-League season. Ahead of Saturday night’s clash Western Sydney Wanderers’ goalkeeper Ante Covic and Sydney FC midfielder Terry McFlynn share their insights into the Sydney derby with the PFA…

The approach in the build-up is the same. The focus is three points and things are kept as normal as possible. Their respective coaches would demand nothing less with no game more important than any other.

However, on arriving at the stadium for the Sydney derby it is difficult for any player to fight the feeling that this is something special. “We try not to get too wrapped up in the hype but once you get to the stadium and start feeling the atmosphere you do feel a bit different,” said Western Sydney Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic. “I remember the last derby walking into the stadium and seeing well before kick-off that there was a huge crowd there already and you do feel the uniqueness of what a derby is all about.”

For Sydney FC’s Terry McFlynn it is little different. “The fans generate such a great atmosphere and it’s a special feeling inside the stadium,” said the Northern Irishman. “With the passion that both sets of fans have you feel how important this match is.”

Once inside the stadium both McFlynn and Covic say every effort is made to focus on the match and block out the occasion. “If you go into the match with too much emotion it can be your downfall,” said the Wanderers shot stopper. “For me I have been around long enough to not get too wrapped up in the occasion. My focus is just to make sure I am focused on my job. With derbies you know they are going to be tight, there might only be one mistake or one moment of brilliance that determines the result, so as a keeper I have to make sure I am at the top of my game.”

For Covic being at the top his game means ensuring “those in the other dressing room,” don’t get the better of him. “You don’t want to give your opponent an inch. We have been on the losing and winning side and we know how bad it can feel if you lose and how good it is when you win.”

Coming out onto the pitch illustrates the importance of the match to the supporters. For the always highly committed and motivated McFlynn it serves only to further grow his desperation to win. “The willingness of the supporters drives you and you know how much it means to every one of your supporters not just the ones at the ground but every supporter of the club,” the Sydney FC midfielder said. “We know how big of an occasion this is for the fans and we know how much it means to them. If we get a good result we know how happy it is going to make them”

Once underway the previous matches have been tight and keenly contested affairs. “Form goes out the window,” Covic says with the biggest winning margin being two goals. For McFlynn the reason is responsibility. We know what victory means to the fans. No one wants to face their local rivals supporters after a loss,” he said.

The cliché goes that no one wants to make a mistake and this tension can get the better of the players. Neither McFlynn orCovic show any hint of fear, rather all that is evident is a willingness to do everything within their power to win the match.

“As we do with every match we want to stick to the plan and impose ourselves on the match,” said Covic. “If you start worrying about making a mistake it is not a good frame of mind to be in.” Our focus is getting the tree points so we focus on how we can ensure we get them not on avoiding mistakes,” McFlynn said.

Whilst there was a great deal of anticipation ahead of the first ever Sydney derby last season it has quickly grown to another level. Over 40,000 fans packed into Allianz Stadium and a capacity crowd is expected at Pirtek Stadium this weekend for the second derby of the season.

For a derby that is only just over 12 months old the rate in which the rivalry has progressed is staggering. “The lead-up to the first derby you knew it could grow into something really good, “ saidCovic. “You could tell there was feeling in the first one, we are now in probably our fifth derby and I think each one has built-up.”

Having waited for seven seasons for a Sydney derby McFlynn said it was something that had quickly become one of the biggest games of the season. “From early on in the A-League history there has been a lot of lobbying for a Western Sydney team or second Sydney team so I think the support has always been there and once it got started and with the success they have had it has just elevated it to another level.”

“It is a very special thing to have. To see kids, teenagers and older generations of fans walking around the city with Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC jerseys on lets you see how far the game has come in this country and long may it continue.”

On Saturday evening another chapter in the rivalry will be written. For those on the pitch they will feel the responsibility to their fans and three points will mean everything.