The University of Wollongong's preparations for the upcoming University World Cup will ramp up this weekend when they face a Sydney FC side in a friendly.
The match will be the first of three quality trials for UOW, with the squad also set to play Central Coast and Western Sydney before they fly out to China next month.
Wollongong Wolves premiership-winning coach Luke Wilkshire is leading the University team in their quest for international glory and he said the next three trials will form a crucial part of their preparations.
"We've been working hard, the boys are fit and they have an understanding of how we want to play," Wilkshire said.
"It's a fantastic opportunity to have friendly games against three quality opposition going into what's going to be a big test for us in China.
"These matches are crucial for us. To be playing against the likes of Sydney FC, Central Coast and Western Sydney against players pushing to be going into the A-League, it's a great measuring stick for us as a team and also for the players as individuals."
The UOW side qualified for the inaugural edition of the University World Cup by taking out the 2018 UniSport National Championships.
That was before Wilkshire stepped in, with the coach helping the team defend their national title at this year's competition.
Having watched this side grow throughout the past six weeks, Wilkshire said the team will take plenty of confidence out of the victory in the National Championships.
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"The goal for anything we go into is to win. There's no point going in if you're not playing to win and don't have that desire.
"We had that desire at the Australian titles and the boys have improved every week. We aim to improve with every session, we're working hard.
"We've been training for the past six weeks and have another three weeks before we head over. We'll be well-prepared, we've done everything we possibly can."
Wilkshire will take a high-quality side to China, with Wolves stars Taylor McDonald, Nikola Djordjevic, James Stojcevski and Luke Kairies in the squad. Also in the team is Bulli Illawarra Premier League winning hero Marcus Beattie and his brother Joel.
With the squad bringing together UOW's top footballers, Wilkshire is confident they can produce a good showing in China.
"We have four players from the Wolves in the squad and a few others there. We have a couple in the Wolves Under 20 side, a couple that play in the local league and some from NPL2.
"There's a lot of young, local talent, which is exciting to see. I'm sure some of these players will progress into NPL1 in the future.
"I've got a lot of confidence in this group. We'll go over there and concentrate on performing to the best of our ability.
"I've almost been shocked by the group, from where they were in the trials, they've come a long way since then. I have a lot of faith in these players."
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