'We'll challenge them': Kone and Diamanti's Western United rallying cry
Panagiotis Kone has a plan in mind to rally the troops of Western United FC.
The 32-year-old former Greek international is set to light the inaugural path of the Hyundai A-League newcomers when the 2019/20 campaign commences in October.
And the message from Kone is clear: the new kids on the block must roll up their sleeves in order to make a splash in Melbourne’s western suburbs and beyond.
“It's a very big community,” the former Serie A veteran told the club’s official website, “And we'll challenge them to come and see us.
“I'm excited because I’ve found a team with very talented young players. I can't wait to challenge myself and to challenge the team.”
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Italian maestro Alessandro Diamanti – who played alongside Kone at Brescia and Bologna – is under no illusions that hard work is required for Mark Rudan’s side to have an impact in their first season.
“We've been working hard,” said the 36-year-old.
“We’re working to show that this is a beautiful team. Every team in the world needs support.”
Western United completed their third pre-season friendly on Tuesday night, a 2-0 win over North Geelong Warriors.
The club get their first crack at Hyundai A-League opposition in friendlies against Adelaide United (September 21) and Sydney FC (September 27) in Ballarat.
Risdon keeps his head down
A strong season with Western United could be just what Josh Risdon needs to put himself back in the Caltex Socceroos fold.
Risdon starred at the 2018 FIFA World Cup for Australia but an injured groin sustained during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup saw the 27-year-old lose his place to Sydney FC dynamo Rhyan Grant.
Grant is in contention to start at right fullback when the Caltex Socceroos face Kuwait next Wednesday morning (AEST), the first step of their journey toward Qatar 2022.
But as excitement builds towards the first game of qualification, Risdon is simply focused on putting his best foot forward with United.
“I'm just looking to get back playing and doing well here and then if it comes about that I can get back into the national team squad, that'd be great," Risdon told AAP.
"It's something I'm going to work towards and just doing all the right things here will help me do that."
"I haven't played a competitive game since early February but getting fit, back playing, get some games under my belt and then hopefully doing well and then you never know what could happen."
Western United's first Hyundai A-League match is away to Wellington Phoenix on October 13.