Elimination Final Preview – “Now is the exciting part” – Popa


Tony Popovic has declared that his Glory side are well prepared and raring to go ahead of Saturday’s Elimination Final against Wellington Phoenix at Bankwest Stadium (kick-off at 3pm WST).


The men in purple have had ten days in which to get themselves ready for the winner-takes-all clash and an opportunity to avenge their defeat at the hands of Phoenix last month.

And the Head Coach is confident that his charges have what it takes to do exactly that.

“Now is the exciting part,” he said.

“It’s a real focus on a Semi-Final, it’s an elimination game and this is what players play for; to be in this position, to have a chance by being here, of progressing and winning the title.

“We’re not thinking that it’s almost over, we’re thinking about tomorrow’s game and the chance we have.

“We’ve trained well and you can sense that it’s a Finals game.”

Popovic went on to confirm that a hamstring injury is set to rule Nick D’Agostino out of the game, but that he remains optimistic that the rest of the squad will all be fit and available for selection.

“We still have a few niggles and I suppose every club would have in a similar situation,” he said.

“Nick D’Agostino won’t be available – he got injured unfortunately in the Melbourne Victory game when he came on.

“A few others we’ve had to assess and manage through this period, but we’re hopeful that they will come through today’s training.

“Today will be our last hit-out and the last chance for players to show that they’re ready.”

Phoenix, meanwhile, have also lost a forward to injury in the form of Gary Hooper, but Popovic believes Ufuk Talay’s side will still pose a serious attacking threat even without the services of the prolific ex-Celtic man.

“Wellington have had a very good season,” he said.

“They’ve been similar to us post-COVID in terms of their results or points return, but they’ve had a very good year, as we have.

“They deserve to be where they are and in the front third, they are a very dangerous outfit.

“We’re aware of that and have prepared well for it, but we want to encourage our players to play with belief and courage with the ball, which we’ve done very well.

“Now we want to convert that good possession that we’ve had into better opportunities in the front third.

“That’s what we’ve been working on and we look forward to putting that into place tomorrow.

“We haven’t concerned ourselves too much about particular individuals, it’s been more about them as a team and as a unit and how well they attack.

“They won’t have a proven goalscorer and we also won’t have players in the front third, like Nick D’Agostino and that’s something we’ll have to deal with.

“Our approach will be the same in terms of respecting their players in the front third who are very dangerous, so nothing will change on that front and we’re ready for whoever may play in his [Hooper’s] place.”

And Popovic also insisted that recent form will have little relevance given the one-off nature of the Elimination Final.

“We’ve been focusing on our games against Wellington, the experiences we’ve had with them, what we can do with the ball and what we can do better without the ball,” he said.

“But I don’t think when the game commences tomorrow evening anyone from Wellington Phoenix or Perth Glory will care what the results were prior to this match.

“This is the game that matters and we have to be ready for a knockout match.”

Match Details

Hyundai A-League 2020 Elimination Final 1

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Wellington Phoenix (3) v Perth Glory (6)

Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta                             

Kick-Off: 3:00pm (WST) (5:00pm (Local))

Referee: Alex King

Assistant Referee 1: Owen Goldrick 

Assistant Referee 2: James Cleal

Fourth Official:  Kurt Ams

VAR:  Kris Griffiths-Jones

TV Broadcast:  Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 507 from 2:30pm (WST), Sky Sport 7 (New Zealand), Kayo Sports (www.kayosports.com.au) and MyFootball Live App, Live Fast and Data Free for Telstra mobile customers.

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #WELvPER

Wellington Phoenix squad: 1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 2.Liam McGING, 3.Luke DEVERE, 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, 5.Matti STEINMANN, 7.Reno PISCOPO, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 12.Brandon WILSON, 13.Liberato CACACE, 14.Alex RUFER, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Callan ELLIOT, 21.Callum McCOWATT, 27.Steven TAYLOR (c), 30.Zac JONES (gk), 31.Ben WAINE, 32.Sam SUTTON

**2-4 to be omitted**

Ins: 2.Liam McGING (promoted), 16.Louis FENTON (promoted), 32.Sam SUTTON (promoted)

Outs: 23.Walter SCOTT (Not Selected)

Unavailable: 6.Tim PAYNE (Injured – hamstring), 88.Gary HOOPER (Injured – hamstring)

Perth Glory squad: 2.Alex GRANT, 3.Jacob TRATT, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 7.Joel CHIANESE, 8.James MEREDITH, 9.Bruno FORNAROLI, 13.Osama MALIK, 16.Tomislav MRCELA, 20.Jake BRIMMER, 21.Tarek ELRICH, 22.Vince LIA, 23.Dane INGHAM, 25.Carlo ARMIENTO, 27.JUANDE, 28.Gabriel POPOVIC, 29.Kristian POPOVIC, 33.Liam REDDY (gk), 50.Daniel MARGUSH (gk), 88.Neil KILKENNY (c), 61.Yianni PERKATIS

** 2-4 to be omitted**

Ins: 2.Alex GRANT (returns from injury), 13.Osama MALIK (returns from injury)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 18.Nick D’AGOSTINO (injured – hamstring)