Hardened Wanderers seek A-League atonement

Tony Popovic directs his players during a training session at Rooty Hill, Sydney, on Tuesday. Picture: ANTHONY JOHNSON
Tony Popovic directs his players during a training session at Rooty Hill, Sydney, on Tuesday. Picture: ANTHONY JOHNSON


With the sour taste of grand final defeat still lingering, Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic says his charges are resolved to ensure they don't suffer the same heartbreak in Sunday's title decider.

The Wanderers had the most remarkable inaugural season last year; they won the Premiers' Plate and made the grand final.

They were one game away from a fairytale finish but lost 2-0 to the Central Coast in the decider.

Popovic says the defeat is still vivid and his players will do anything to avoid the same fate when they face Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.

"We've got one to go and we want to win," he said.

"A large number of players were involved in the grand final last year and they know how that felt.

"We've got a chance to put that right.

"We don't want to taste that sick feeling again after a grand final but it won't be easy," Popovic said.

"We've got a very good opponent waiting at the other side and we know it will be very tough but we feel that we're a lot better prepared this time round."

One player who was part of last season's loss was Mark Bridge.

An injury interrupted his preparations then and the striker is again in doubt with Popovic rating him a "50-50 chance" for the final after he rolled his ankle in last week's semi-final win over the Mariners.

"If he can be training with the group for a couple of days at the end of this week, he's a chance. We haven't ruled him out," Popovic said.

Having surrendered the Premiers' Plate to the Roar, the Wanderers will be out to make sure they don't also claim the championship trophy.

The Wanderers have yet to beat Brisbane this season.

Star Brisbane striker Besart Berisha scored the opening goal both times he's lined up against the Wanderers this season.

German playmaker Thomas Broich has proven the side's most dangerous player, orchestrating almost every attacking play.

But Popovic insists he won't be targeting either in his game plan.

"We've always got a plan but it won't entail singling out two players," he says.

"It will be about respecting the whole team of Brisbane and more than anything focusing on ourselves."



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