Macarthur FC are just one step away from lifting their first piece of silverware and earning rookie coach Dwight Yorke his maiden title after reaching the final of the Australia Cup.
Yorke’s Bulls ended the magical run of giant-killing Victorian outfit, Oakleigh Cannons on Wednesday evening, beating the semi-professional outfit 5-2 at Jack Edwards Reserve.
In what will now be a Western Sydney derby final, the Bulls and former NSL powers Sydney United will meet in the decider in Sydney on October 1.
Taking the field just days after Sydney United upset Brisbane Roar to become the first team from outside Australia’s top-flight to reach the final, an early Joe Guest wonder strike had the Bulls staring down a similar fate. But braces from Ulises Davila and Daniel Arzani as well as a Jake Hollman strike lifted the A-League Men outfit to a comfortable 5-2 win.
“It was a little bit shaky at the start with the goal going in early,” said Arzani. “But really proud of the way that the boys bounced back.”
The victory continued the undefeated run of former Manchester United and Trinidad and Tobago standout Yorke since his arrival in Sydney’s southwest, and it crushed the Cup dreams of the Cannons and romantics hoping for a first-ever all-NPL final.
Returning to Australia after an ill-fated spell abroad, Arzani now has three goals in the Cup and is beginning to realise the potential that once saw him labelled as one of Australia’s best prospects in decades.
“It’s been unbelievable for me working with [Yorke], he’s really got a way with us boys and he’s keeping everyone happy and he’s keeping everyone playing at their best."
Now just one win away from his first trophy as a head coach, Yorke doesn’t want Macarthur’s journey to title success to be about him.
Appointed manager in May, Yorke won plenty of titles as a player, including the treble at Manchester United in 1999. The Australia Cup crown might pale in comparison to that triumph, but it would represent the perfect start to Yorke’s coaching career. However, the 50-year-old, who brought a bang to the A-League when he played for Sydney FC in 2005/06, doesn’t want the focus to be on him.
“This is not just about me,” Yorke said. I’ve been very lucky to be given a chance to be the manager of this football club. I want to embrace it as the manager, but I’m very lucky I’ve got a great group of players and backroom staff. It’s really made my transition easy.
“There’s still a lot of hard work here to be done. We are focused on trying to establish this club, and the only way you’re going to do that is by winning things and raising the standard and the mentality in and around the place.”.
Sydney United’s 3-2 semi-final win over Brisbane Roar on Sunday and Oakleigh’s 2-1 quarter-final victory over Sydney FC earlier in the tournament, proved how often upsets can occur in this competition Yorke noted.
“You see the beauty of the Cup, where you see the underdogs in the game really surprise the team who on paper is supposed to win the game,” Yorke told reporters.
So Yorke will be taking nothing for granted in the final.
“The players have all watched it and observed what is going on and realise if we don’t go there with the right mentality and the right approach ... you’re never going to win. Those games we saw with Oakleigh and Sydney and Brisbane Roar and Sydney United, it’s a stark reminder of the difficulties (we could have) if we don’t prepare correctly for it.”