'What a great story': Berisha, Rudan reflect as finals-bound United target top-three finish
Besart Berisha credits a hunger for success and winning mentality in Western United's squad for their remarkable journey into the Finals Series in the club's first Hyundai A-League campaign.
Two goals to Berisha sealed a vital three points against Perth Glory on Wednesday night which saw the Green and Black take Adelaide United's spot in the top six.
United now have to avoid losing their remaining two games by a margin of 15 goals to ensure they stay above the Reds and charge into the post-season.
Speaking to FOX Sports after his side's composed 2-0 win over top-six rivals Perth, Berisha marvelled at the hunger shown by United to all-but secure an unlikely finals berth in the club's inaugural Hyundai A-League season.
MATCH REPORT: Perth Glory v Western United
"Who thought that first year Western United would play in the finals?" Berisha said.
"I’m so, so happy for the club, for the boys.
"We have a great team, I have to say that.
"They deserve it - from day one we worked so hard and I’m so happy for them and for the club, what a great story… first year, and to be in the finals.
"We are really really focused in every session, we really work hard.
"We have boys here - I mentioned this earlier in the season… they really want to achieve something.
"Personally I’m so happy to be at this club because I want to keep going, I want to try to have success and this teams wants to, they really want it, they’re hungry.
"It’s very, very important to have this mentality - they deserve it tonight with how they played."
United have the perfect front-man to guide them into what will be an excited and uncharted venture into a Finals Series campaign in Berisha - the all-time leading goalscorer in the Hyundai A-League has four Championships to his name, won throughout his time at both Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory.
And despite revelling in United's achievements to date Berisha has warned he will not let his teammates rest on their laurels, as he knows all too well what's required to create a fairytale finish from a finals berth.
"To be honest I’m going to make sure we keep going," Berisha said.
"I know exactly what it takes if you’re in finals, you have to keep going [with] the momentum.
"Don’t take the foot off the pedal, you have to keep going.
Mirroring Berisha's post-match delight was United boss Mark Rudan, who will now prepare for his second Finals Series venture as a Hyundai A-League manager in just his second attempt, having taken Wellington Phoenix on a similarly impressive journey last season.
The United Head Coach says he's proud of everyone involved at the club who have contributed to writing a brilliant first chapter in what he hopes will be a long story of success for the Green and Black in the years to come.
"We knew what we had to do after watching last night’s result (a 2-2 draw between Melbourne City and Adelaide)," Rudan told FOX Sports.
"I said it from the start, it really was in our hands - destiny was in our hands.
"We probably had to work harder than we thought, and credit to Adelaide for picking up as many points as they had, they gave us real competition for that berth.
"Anything is possible, we could still finish third if results go our way too.
"Phenomenal performance tonight, extremely disciplined, we did exactly what we worked on in the training paddock."
Rudan continued: "There’s so many good people involved in this football club.
"It’s only the start, and we continue to talk about it’s a journey for our football club, we want to continue to grow.
"But to play finals football in your first year is phenomenal, I couldn’t have asked for any better.
"I’m really proud of everybody, the players, the staff, everyone who has worked so hard this year, it’s just reward and as we know anything can happen going forward.
- Sydney FC v Western United
When: Saturday, August 15
Where: Leichhardt Oval
Kick-off: 5.00pm AEST
TUESDAY REPORT: Melbourne City v Adelaide United
TUESDAY REACTION: Veart hopeful of staying on as Adelaide coach on permanent basis