Western Pride goalscorer Mustafa Jafari celebrates in his flamboyant style during his team's latest 2-1 NPL win over Gold Coast United.
Western Pride goalscorer Mustafa Jafari celebrates in his flamboyant style during his team's latest 2-1 NPL win over Gold Coast United. Chris Simpson

Crucial time for loyalty and fighting spirit

FOOTBALL: Having a young core of players willing to listen and learn, Terry Kirkham knows Western Pride have a positive future in the National Premier Leagues.

The Pride senior men's team just has to continue its recent quest battling hard to move out of the dreaded relegation zone.

Footballers like Kelton Scriggins, Connor Maynard, Aidan Norris, Alex Parsons and Michael Morrow have stepped up this season working closely with Pride's experienced head coach.

While other players have chosen to chance their fortunes elsewhere in recent months, it's those prepared to gain experience, accept time on the bench and grow with the team that Kirkham is most impressed with.

Preparing to tackle Moreton Bay United away on Saturday night, Kirkham said Norris and Maynard typified the type of footballers Pride needed moving forward.

"He's one of these kids who, unlike a lot of these other ones, has taken advice actually where he's at in the world of football,'' Kirkham said of Norris. "That will do him for the future a lot. He's understanding that he's developing and he's got a long way to go.''

That willing to learn attitude is why Norris could earn a start in the backline on Saturday with defensive stalwart Scriggins serving a one-match suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards. That will be the first game Scriggins will miss this season.

Kirkham was pleased to see his loyal players tapping into the knowledge available at Pride, from coaches and senior leaders like Cam Crestani.

"You have all these boys who want to listen to someone who has got vast amounts of experience and know how to win championships,'' Kirkham said.

"Then you've got all these ones who want to play their own game and they are not prepared to take a knock on the shoulder.''

Kirkham said player of the future Maynard was outstanding in his first senior game.

Morrow impressed with a sensational effort being switched from the forward line to defender.

With a more settled attacking formation featuring Zelfy Nazary, Mustafa Jafari and Parsons, Pride are looking stronger all round after their series of setbacks.

 

Western Pride midfield/striker Zelfy Nazary averages 11-12km a game on the field.
Western Pride midfield/striker Zelfy Nazary averages 11-12km a game on the field. Chris Simpson

Afghanistan international player Nazary highlighted his skills and fitness, averaging 11-12km a game "at a faster pace'' in last weekend's 2-1 win over Gold Coast United.

"He's a professional,'' Kirkham said. "When you see what he eats and how he trains, you see the difference in the change room.

"The boys will have a beer after the game and he will be on a protein shake.''

 

Western Pride footballers celebrate a goal in their NPL win over Gold Coast United.
BACK ON TOP: Western Pride footballers celebrate a goal during their 2-1 NPL win over Gold Coast United at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex last weekend. Chris Simpson

And that's why Pride is starting to rally at the right stage of the season.

"With this squad now, we can continue to improve,'' Kirkham said. "What other teams are going to improve (as dramatically as Pride have from the first half)?

"We've been thereabouts now for a number of weeks. It's coming together.''

With 13th placed Pride just three points away from a safer 12th spot, they can build on their recent progress by beating 10th placed Moreton Bay United on Saturday night.

"We go there full of confidence,'' the coach said, buoyed by last weekend's gritty victory over sixth-placed opponents.

The Pride women are chasing their third win of the season against Logan in Saturday afternoon's away game.

Game day

NPL: Saturday (6pm) - Western Pride v Moreton Bay United at Wolter Park.

NPL women: Saturday (5pm) - Western Pride v Logan at Cornubia Park.