A-League 2020: Melbourne City to swap Sydney for Hunter
Melbourne City will make a welcome escape to NSW’s Hunter Region once their quarantine period is over to privately prepare for their A-League championship assault.
City have been sharing a western Sydney hotel and training venues with fellow Victorian clubs Melbourne Victory and Western United since the three teams arrived in NSW on July 11.
But when the quarantine period ends on Saturday, City will head to the Hunter Valley, basing themselves about an hour outside Newcastle for the remainder of the 2020-21 A-League campaign.
City will have a full week at their new base before they finally return to competitive action on Saturday, August 1 against Sydney FC at ANZ Stadium.
They will travel to Sydney the day before the game, and stay in a Sydney hotel, just as they would for a regular away trip.
It’s understood that Western United will base themselves at Sydney beachside suburb Coogee once the quarantine period is over.
City coach Erick Mombaerts said the time in quarantine had felt like a “pre-season camp”.
“It’s more different for the players maybe because they are all concentrating on their job,” Mombaerts said.
“Sometimes it’s difficult because you have your family always on the phone … it’s a big difference.”
Mombaerts said it had been “difficult” having to share two training grounds – Marconi Stadium and Valentine Park – with United and Victory.
“We have to accept this and adapt. The weather is good, the pitches are not so bad,” he said.
“We try to do our best and prepare well. We can’t control these things, we can’t control the fixture.”
City will be without Rostyn Griffiths for their clash against Sydney FC, with the former Perth Glory midfielder having only arrived in Sydney on Wednesday to start his two-week quarantine period.
Griffiths, whose arrival in Sydney was delayed for family reasons, will stay by himself in a Sydney hotel before joining the rest of his teammates in the Hunter in a fortnight’s time.
He will be available for selection for City’s August 11 match against Adelaide United at ANZ Stadium.
“We will organise a physical program for him (while he’s in quarantine) but he can’t touch a “ ball,” Mombaerts said.
The City coach also expressed his disappointment with the departure of Markel Susaeta, who returned to Spain for family reasons before the team’s arrival in Sydney.
“He was a very good player and was also a very good person,” Mombaerts said.
“But now we have to adapt. We need to find a solution.”