Popa – ‘We’re looking forward to the fantastic challenge of playing against an excellent team from Japan’


Head Coach Tony Popovic is relishing the prospect of taking on J-League heavy-hitters FC Tokyo in Tuesday’s AFC Champions League clash at Tokyo Stadium (kick-of at 6pm WST).

Glory will make their maiden appearance in Asia’s premier football competition in the Japanese capital after last week’s scheduled opener against Shanghai Shenhua was postponed.

And as the travelling party began their journey on Saturday, Popovic spoke of a very positive feeling within the group.

“We’re excited,” he said.

“It’s the first time for Perth Glory being in the ACL and we need to embrace it and we need our fans to embrace it and enjoy it.

“We also need to go there, play without fear and put on a good performance.

“It’s quite clear in the way that they’ve been training that the players are excited.

“Beating Wellington in our last Hyundai A-League game was important before we had a break from the league.

“You can see that the confidence is there among the players and they’re looking forward to the fantastic challenge of playing against an excellent team from Japan.”

When asked for his thoughts on the side that finished second in the J-League last season, Popovic was quick to point out what a stern challenge they will pose.

“We’ve watched them very closely,” he said.

“They have the same coach [from last season] and a few new foreign players, but all in all, their local players are pretty much the same.

“They’re strong and obviously they were top of the league for a long time [last season]. They have an established team that’s been together for three years now.

“Their style is very dynamic.

“They are a very mobile team and the Japanese league in general is played at a very high pace.

“That’s something we’ll have to adapt to, but that’s the challenge of the Champions League.

“You’re up against sides in major competitions that have the resources, the budgets and calibre of foreigners that I don’t believe any A-League team could probably afford.

“So that’s normal and that’s what you expect in the Champions League.

“It’s a great chance for us to showcase ourselves and for these players to show what they can do.”

In terms of recent form, FC Tokyo drew their opening Group F fixture against Ulsan Hyundai in Korea last week ,while Glory do, of course, head into the game of the back of nine Hyundai A-League games without defeat.