After an uncertain hiatus and a gruelling schedule that has delivered throughly entertaining football, A-League players are eager to make a mark during knockout football

The A-League’s restart has not only produced a quality spectacle, but has remained unpredictable. Western United have emerged as the form team of the competition, while Sydney FC – despite lifting the Premiers Plate – have won just one match since the restart.

With Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United absent from the 2020 finals, Brisbane Roar, who finished ninth last season, and Western, which is competing in its first season in the A-League, have qualified, making for an intriguing sudden-death series.

PFA Delegate and Western defender Jonathan Aspropotamitis said his club’s appearance in the finals in its first season was significant, and the team remains ambitious heading into the finals, with one regular season match against Melbourne City FC to play.

“It means a lot for our football club to be in the finals this season,” Aspropotamitis said.

“In the club’s first season in the league it’s an incredible achievement and a great steppingstone and benchmark that we have set ourselves to achieve moving forward.

“We hope to finish the season off with Champions League qualification and some silverware for our supporters and families back in Melbourne, who are doing it tough at the moment.

“From the players’ perspective, after everything the whole football community has been through, we are proud to be able to take the field and provide a spectacle for people watching at home.

“The players, along with the whole football community, have made an incredible sacrifice in order to keep the game moving forward in this country and for that, it means a lot to be able to take to the field and represent our clubs.”

For Jack Hingert, qualifying for the finals represents both a personal milestone and team triumph for Roar. The Roar defender missed a significant portion of the season after undergoing rehab for a torn ACL and only returned to the field last December, but has since had the opportunity to help Roar qualify for finals football – and celebrate his 200th A-League appearance in the process.

“It’s a massive achievement for us and its been a positive season so far,” Hingert said.

“It’s great to be back in the finals after a tough year last year. We have high expectations at Brisbane Roar and we continue to believe we can go all the way. We’ve put together a great squad, great bunch of lads and we have a very strong winning mentality. 

“For me personally, after the season we had last year and my ACL recovery, I’m loving being back to playing at full capacity. With all the sacrifices we’ve made to be here and finish the season, we will be doing everything we can to make it a successful one for ourselves, the club and the fans.”

Sydney’s form since the restart hasn’t put too much of a dampener on the campaign for their captain and PFA President Alex Wilkinson, who is confident the team has the talent to secure another Championship.

“We are extremely proud to have won the Premiers Plate,” Wilkinson said.

“It shows that we have been the best and most consistent team throughout this season.  With the club now winning three out of the last four Premierships it shows how successful this club has been recently and the strong winning culture that has been built. 

“With the uncertainty around finishing the A-League season due to COVID, the playing group was happy that we were able to secure the premiership and get the reward for what has been an outstanding season.”