Popa and co ready for step into the unknown


Tony Popovic believes that every Hyundai A-League club will face something of a step into the unknown when the 2019/20 season recommences later this week.


Glory face Central Coast Mariners on Saturday in what is the first of their remaining six regular-season games, with all of the fixtures set to take place within the New South Wales hub.

And given the widespread changes that have taken place in terms of playing and coaching personnel across the league since the season was halted, the club’s Head Coach feels it’s all but impossible to predict what will unfold. 

“It’s hard to know what to expect from any team, I think, until you see the sides play and their personnel,” he said.

“It’s almost like a mini-tournament, a cup competition.

“We have six games to play with quite a bit of time off in between and the last time we played was the middle of March.

“That’s a long time not to have a game, so match fitness will be down, but all the teams will be in the same position and we have to respect our opponents, as we always do.

“I’m sure Central Coast will be working hard to make their fans and their club proud of the performance they put in.

“But we really go in there just worrying about ourselves and making sure that the work we’ve put in is shown on Saturday.

“We’ve been very pleased with the attitude of the players since they came back.”

Glory will, of course, head to the NSW hub without the services of Diego Castro who has withdrawn from the squad due to personal health concerns, but Popovic is adamant that the Spaniard’s absence will create opportunities for other members of the squad.

“In the last month, I’ve known that Diego wouldn’t be playing,” he said.

“So we’ve trained for a month without him and we’re ready to go.

“It’s a personal decision that he has made and a choice that all our players and staff have had to make during these unprecedented times.

“We respect Diego’s decision and we move forward.

“Diego has been and is, probably one of the best players in the A-League, so in terms of his quality, it’s hard to just replace that single player.

“But what it does, is create opportunity for other players.

“We certainly have some young players who give something different.

“They don’t have the experience that Diego has, but they certainly have the energy and they’re excited to play, so they give you something a little bit different and we’re all excited to see how they go.

“We’re not thinking about how we find a player within our squad who does what Diego does.

“We want to bring out the strengths of all the players and our game style will suit the players that we have.”

The Mariners clash will mark Popovic’s 50th A-League game in charge of Glory and he reflected upon it as a period of growth for both himself and the club.

“It’s been enjoyable and exciting,” he said.

“If I said challenging, that’s probably the wrong word.

“It’s a profession that I love and enjoy and I feel that through time and adversity, you learn, improve and evolve and I think we’ve done that during this period as a football club.

“I think we’ll come out of it a lot stronger.”

In terms of early team news, meanwhile, Popovic confirmed that there are no fresh injury concerns within the travelling party which will be confirmed shortly and that he is yet to decide who will take the armband in Castro’s absence.

Glory will be out to continue a dominant run of five victories from their last six meetings with the Mariners, with each of those wins seeing the men in purple score three times or more. 

Match Details

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Perth Glory v Central Coast Mariners

Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

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

Referee: Alex King

Assistant Referee 1: Owen Goldrick

Assistant Referee 2: Ryan Gallagher

Fourth Official: Stephen Lucas

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 503 from 3:00pm (WST), ABC TV from 3:00pm (WST) and 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: myfootballnation.com (SENTrack 801am) and Coast FM.

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

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, 18.Nick D’AGOSTINO, 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) (C), 50.Daniel MARGUSH (gk), 88.Neil KILKENNY

**2-4 to be omitted**

Unavailable: 17.Diego CASTRO (personal reasons – season), 19.Chris IKONOMIDIS (knee – season)

Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 2.Ian Zygmunt GORDON, 3.Jack CLISBY, 7.Milan ÐURIĆ, 8.Michael MCGLINCHEY, 9.Jordan MURRAY, 10.Tommy OAR, 11.Daniel DESILVA, 12.Adam PEARCE (gk), 15.Kye ROWLES, 16.Dylan FOX, 17.Sam SILVERA, 18.Gianni STENSNESS, 19.Matt SIMON, 21.Ruon TONGYIK, 22.Jacob MELLING, 26.Joshua NISBET, 29.Jair BRITTO, 30.Dylan RUIZ-DIAZ, 44.Alou KUOL

**2-4 to be omitted**

Unavailable: 4.Eunsun KIM (Not returned), 24.Chris HAROLD (Not returned), 27.Lewis MILLER (Injured)