Jon McKain may herald from Queensland but come Friday night, he will be a proud and devout South Australian.
Jon McKain may herald from Queensland but come Friday night when Adelaide United reignites hostilities with Melbourne Victory at Hindmarsh Stadium, he will be a proud and devout South Australian.
Regardless of what stage of the season it is, McKain needs no reminder of the hype and State pride around Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory contests, especially for supporters on both sides of the South Australia/Victoria border.
The form guide coming into Friday night-s clash could not be more contrasting, with the Reds without a point from their past three games while the Victory have won their past three. However, McKain assured that the Reds will be more than ready come kick-off.
“It-s the game most players here look forward to on the calendar, the one against Victory, particularly here at Hindmarsh where we get a good crowd and the rivalry between Victoria and South Australia is quite strong, so I-m sure we-ll be up for it this weekend,” McKain said.
“We haven-t played well, they (Melbourne Victory) have played well so they-re going to come here very confident, but I-m sure if we can match it physically we-ll get on top of them.”
“It-s a game we-ll get up for, there-s no question about motivation, there-s no excuses come Friday - we-re fit, we-re ready to go, so we need to put in a better performance than we have in the last few weeks.”
McKain was used to great effect as a holding, patrolling midfielder against Western Sydney Wanderers. After making his long awaited first start in Season 8 last Sunday, the one time Socceroo is now steeling himself for the momentous challenge of containing and matching it with the Victory-s array of lethal, quality midfield talent.
“It-s been a long time for me to get my chance and finally I got to play and it was an interesting game (against the Wanderers), probably one we didn-t deserve to get much out of,” McKain said.
McKain is likely to be faced with the task of quelling the influence of Victory playmaker and former Reds midfielder Marcos Flores on Friday night. When the teams met back in December, it was a task the Reds arguably achieved, but McKain dismisses any suggestions that there will be a directive to get under Flores- skin, his concentration more on the players in red going about their business of getting a favourable result.
“He (Flores) is a very good player as we know, I just like to play out on the field really…we-ll see what he says leading into the game but we-re confident we can do it out on the field,” McKain said on the prospect of lining up against Flores.
“He-s been around long enough to know what football is and he-s played in big games like we have as well, so at the end of the day if we can do our job, that-s what we-ll focus on.”
“If he wants to get riled up and that-s going to upset him then so be it, but that-s not our focus.”
While the 30 year old has played the majority of football as a centre back, he is just relishing being back on the park and providing that hard nosed edge in midfield to allow his team mates further up the pitch to do what they do best.
“Most teams in this league, if you-ve got a dominant number six you go a long way, especially with the quality of attacking players we-ve got, with Dario, Marcelo, Jake Barker-Daish, these types of players are very creative so if I can do the leg work for them then hopefully they can do their work in the front third of the pitch,” McKain said.
Days out from the teams- 30th Hyundai A-League meeting, McKain also had a message for Reds fans, urging them to turn out in their droves and make the atmosphere at Hindmarsh as hostile as possible but to do it in a respectful manner and be the ones to set the example that passionate, vocal support can be done without being disorderly.
“Come, enjoy yourselves, make as much noise as you can, make it intimidating but obviously be respectful,” McKain said.
“We don-t need any incidents that will give the media a bit of ammunition, but by all means come and sing and chant because when you do come here and there are 14 or 15 thousand people it is intimidating and the players really lift and appreciate it, so hopefully they can come and enjoy a good spectacle and go home happy like we hopefully will.”
Finally, McKain said there is no secret or magic formula to get back in top of the table contention, and that the remedy is a simple one.
“Training hard and winning matches. At the end of the day, you win matches and a lot of things get swept under the carpet and you can build confidence, so I think we were riding a wave there for awhile but the bubble burst and we-ve got to dig ourselves out,” McKain said.
“It hasn-t been a great few weeks but we-re realistic to know that you don-t win the league from one or two games, it-s consistency over the journey and we-ve had a bad period in January but we-re confident we can finish the season well.”