The Big Blue conundrum Barbarouses has to navigate
Embarrassment, despair and disconsolate. Those are the emotions that come flooding back to Kosta Barbarouses when he thinks back to the last time he played at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
It came in last season’s Semi Final when Barbarouses – then playing for Melbourne Victory – was on the end of a 6-1 hammering by eventual champions Sydney FC.
It was a result that sent shockwaves through the Hyundai A-League and has gone down as one of the darkest days in Victory’s history.
“It was tough to take in,” Barbarouses reflected to a-league.com.au.
“The moments that we conceded didn’t help. I don’t think we were poor, especially in that first half but when you concede after two minutes and then a couple a couple of minutes before half-time…in between that it was quite a well contested game.
“At half-time we had to decide whether we just pack it in and lose 3-0 or go for it and try and make something of the game and we did. Big clubs try and do that, we had to try and get to a grand final.
“Sydney have a lot of quality in the side and punished us more and it was really tough to finish the season on that note.”
It was not only a painful way to end the season for Victory but was the last time Barbarouses played for the club in the Hyundai A-League.
After a hugely successful stint at the club, the 29-year-old wanted a new challenge and made the controversial switch to Big Blue rivals Sydney FC in the off-season.
Ahead of his return to the Kogarah venue on Sunday, Barbarouses says he’s ready to move on, even if his new teammates won’t let him.
“They [Sydney FC teammates] haven’t stopped bringing it up to me, the boys here and Bimbi [coach Steve Corica] have been at me about it,” he said with a smile.
“I’ve just tried to forget about it now and hopefully get to the same stage and further with my new team this year.”
Unsurprisingly, Barbarouses’ move to one of Victory’s biggest rivals hasn’t gone down well with the supporters of the Navy Blues.
The Wellington-born attacker has been dubbed ‘Barbarjudas’ among Victory fans, while any post on social media often comes with replies featuring the snake emoji.
Asked about his emotions going into Sunday’s clash, Barbarouses said: “It’s going to be a bit interesting.
“Obviously moving on after a really long time at the club, I had a lot of success there as a player. It’s going to be a bit strange but in saying that they have had a lot of turnover of players as well.
“There is going to be a few familiar faces which is going to be interesting but it’s business as usual for me.
“I just control the things that I can and the external stuff I just let it be and whatever happens, it’s going to happen regardless.”
Barbarouses’ move between the clubs will add further spice to a rivalry that has always delivered drama and spicy contests.
While he’s played in Melbourne and Sydney derbies in the Hyundai A-League, Barbarouses admits there’s something special about the Big Blue.
“It’s always a big game. There’s a buzz around the week and aside from the regular season games, there always seems to be a Big Blue in a semi final and a final which means a lot,” he said.
“The clubs are neck-and-neck success wise and have both won a lot of Championships in the competition’s short history.
“There’s nothing like it and you are playing for bragging rights at the end of the day. They are great games to be a part of and it’s going to be a really big game this year I think.”