Bernardo: You’ve got to make the most of your opportunities

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Adelaide United starlet Bernardo has credited the club’s coaching staff for backing in young players, following the impressive win over Melbourne City on Sunday night.

Bernardo came off the bench in the second half to score a late brace to cap a remarkable six-nil win that had the Coopers Stadium crowd rocking.

It capped a hard-earned return for the 19-year-old, who missed most of last season with injury.

Speaking to media on Monday, Bernardo said having the trust of coach Carl Veart gave him and fellow teenagers Musa Toure, Nestory Irankunda and Jonny Yull the freedom to play with their own style, and they hoped to repay that faith throughout the season.

He also spoke about Irankunda’s long-range first-half free kick goal and the side remaining focussed despite its strong start to the 2023/24 Isuzu UTE A-League campaign.

Bernardo on scoring his first A-League brace on Sunday night against Melbourne City:

“It’s an incredible feeling. It’s something that I’ve been working hard towards, especially after last year with the unfortunate injury that I had that kept me out for a long time. And it was unbelievable in front of that crowd. With an unbelievable win to start the season, just unreal.

Bernardo on the energy in the group being driven by young players including himself:

“That’s the beauty of playing the young players. I feel like we’ve got to thank Carl that he gives us this opportunity for the young players to play and we just do what we can do really like when we play with Musa (Toure) Nesta (Irankunda), you can see what we can do on the pitch, and it’s working.

“It’s one of those things where when they show the trust in us, it gives us that that motivation to be like, okay, we can do this, like we showed last night. When we went on, we just did the job. There’s nothing more than we want to do than help the team and show the fans what we can do.

“But I can’t do the back flip (like Toure and Irankunda). I’m going to have to practice it.

Bernardo on his side’s strong opening to the season:

“We’ve worked very hard in pre-season and changing the style that we want to play. We want to play through the middle more and be able to work on that. And we have during preseason, we’ve been working on it and it’s working. I feel like we got Melbourne City at a lucky time after they had the Champions League. But we we’ve just been in form, we’ve been good.

“We’ve just got to keep working hard. You know, this is nothing for us. It’s just the start. We work hard and that’s it, it’s just the start and we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, staying focused.”

Bernardo on whether he considered looking to play elsewhere after injury and the form of other players meant he did not get any A-League minutes last season:

“I was here in Adelaide. I have my family here, my friends. Last year was unfortunately a year where I couldn’t play because the team was doing well. You know, we had players like Craig Goodwin, Nestor coming on, and it made it harder for me to play, which is football. It’s normal, opportunities come and go and when you get it, you’ve got to take it.”

Bernardo on fellow youngster Nestory Irankunda’s thunderous first-half free kick strike:

“What else can you say? That’s Nestor. He can strike a bomb. He’s got some unbelievable talent. It’s only a matter of time (before he ends up overseas). It’s been an unbelievable last year. A young player wants to do good and that’s the dream to go overseas to Europe and achieve goals.”

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