Match Preview: Popa and co relishing Sky Blues challenge


Tony Popovic has confirmed that his Glory squad are relishing the prospect of taking on Premiers Sydney FC in Wednesday evening’s Semi-Final clash at Bankwest Stadium (kick-off at 6.10pm WST).


During a well-attended pre-game media conference conducted via Zoom, Glory’s Head Coach was quick to praise the Sky Blues’ achievements this season, but he remains quietly confident that the men in purple have what it takes to secure back-to-back Hyundai A-League Grand Final appearances for the first time in the club’s history.

“There’s a lot of belief in this squad,” he said, “and I’ve just seen a continuation of that since the [Wellington] game.

“We’re playing the best team this year in Sydney FC and we have to repeat our performance and be even better because as you go up to the next stage, you have to improve your performance and we look forward to that challenge.

“We’re one game away from the Final and we know we have a genuine chance to get there.

“We’re excited to be at this point of the season; we’re excited to be one game away as we were last year.

“There’s no home ground advantage; Sydney are playing at Bankwest which is not their home.

“We’ve been in this hub a long time now, so it’s a neutral venue for a big game and it should be a great one.”

Last year’s Grand Final did, of course, end with Sydney FC prevailing on penalties, but Popovic played down suggestions that a desire to avenge that defeat is driving his charges.

“Last year is last year,” he said.

“Obviously it’s a rematch so to speak, just a game earlier this time.

“So obviously it’s a good talking point for everyone, but we can’t change what happened then.

“We have a chance now to get into another Grand Final and that’s really our focus.”

Like Glory, Sydney FC secured just one victory during the resumption of the regular season, but Popovic is refusing to read too much into that run of recent form.

“They have very good players, outstanding individuals and maybe they haven’t won games [during the resumption of the league] but they are still the same players that won them the Premiers’ Plate,” he said.

“We expect them to be firing for this game and you want to play the best.

“I disregard these results really and what’s happened with them since we joined the hub.

“This game will reflect nothing on the past results they’ve had recently and nor will ours.

“It’s a one-off game with two good teams going up against each other.”

In terms of early team news, meanwhile, Popovic confirmed that Nick D’Agostino will again miss out due to a hamstring problem, but that Alex Grant will be given as long as possible to prove that he has overcome his ankle injury.

The two previous meetings between the clubs this season produced a 3-1 win for Steve Corica’s side in Round 7, followed by a 0-0 draw in Round 23, while Glory’s last victory over the Sky Blues came in January 2019 when former Sydney FC duo Joel Chianese (2) and Brendon Santalab shared the goals in a memorable 3-1 triumph.

Match Details

Hyundai A-League 2020 Semi Final 1

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Sydney FC (1) v Perth Glory (6)

Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta

Kick-Off: 6:10pm (WST) (8:10pm (Local))

Referee: Alex King

Assistant Referee 1: Andrej Giev 

Assistant Referee 2:  Kearney Robinson

Fourth Official:  Kurt Ams

VAR:  Kris Griffiths-Jones

TV Broadcast:  Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 507 from 5:00pm (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

Radio Broadcast:  ABC Grandstand Digital and the ABC Listen App

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

To purchase tickets visit www.a-league.com.au/tickets 

Sydney FC squad: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 2.Patrick FLOTTMANN, 3.Ben WARLAND, 4.Alex WILKINSON (c), 5.Alex BAUMJOHANN, 6.Ryan McGOWAN, 8.Paulo RETRE, 9.Adam LE FONDRE, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 16.Joel KING, 17.Anthony CACERES, 18.Luke IVANOVIC, 19.Chris ZUVELA, 20.Thomas HEWARD-BELLE (gk), 21.Harry VAN DER SAAG, 23.Rhyan GRANT, 26.Luke BRATTAN, 28. Calem NIEUWENHOF

**2-4 to be omitted**

Ins: 3.Ben WARLAND (promoted), 8. Paulo RETRE (return from rest week), 28. Calem NIEUWENHOF (promoted).

Outs: 7.Michael ZULLO (injury – 1 week).

Unavailable: Nil

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), 3.Jacob TRATT (promoted)

Outs: Nil

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