Bruce Djite knows things are going to get a lot tougher for Adelaide United, telling his teammates to embrace being the hunted in Hyundai A-League season 2016/17.
The Reds were the latest side to return for the star of pre-season on Monday as they embark on the challenge of winning back-to-back titles.
Only Ange Postecoglou’s Brisbane Roar have managed to defend their crown in the A-League era, with Djite knowing his side will have to go to another level to match their double-winning campaign.
“If we stay the same, everyone else will improve,” the 29-year-old said.
“It’s different being the hunter rather than the hunted. Every game we are going to play next season, teams are going to motivate themselves in the fact they are playing the defending champions which always make the game tougher for us.
“It’s hard to get to the top but once you’re there it’s much harder to stay there. It’s a fantastic challenge to have and we look forward to it.”
Djite admits there’s a different feeling around the squad coming into pre-season, admitting expectations in Adelaide are now very high on the side to replicate their recent exploits.
Looking to help the squad in that cause is the club’s new recruits Ben Garuccio, Marc Marino and Ryan Kitto.
“They are good players and I have the experience of playing against them,” Djite said of the trio.
“They are Adelaide boys as well which is a bonus. It won’t take them long to settle in, they know the place and have a good network of family and friends as well…that’s always a positive.
“They are good quality players which is certainly going to help us try and defend the title.”