Viva la youth: Wanderers youngsters are ushering in a new era

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Sitting two games behind seventh, the Wanderers can be forgiven for wanting the season to end. However, after embarking on a transition of the squad in the off-season, the win at Coopers may just be a defining moment of new movement under Markus Babbel.

This was Abraham Majok at his best, free-spirited and free-running on the break, his legs moved him almost at a glide away from a struggling Jordan Elsey. The ball lobbed up in front of him and with the most consummate ease, Majok lifted it over an on-rushing Paul Izzo to seal it. It was an audacious statement from one of their prospects, yet it is these prospects leading the Wanderers revolution.

Markus Babbel has a glint in his eye when he discusses the youthfulness of the Wanderers side which faced Adelaide, knowing full well the upset win means says about their program and were they could be in the future.

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“If you go this way, you have to do it with all consequence… that’s the good thing in the club no one was nervous if we lost a game because they knew we had many, many young players, they’re new, they need these games, they need these games to improve

“We start next season on a different level because to be fair it took seven, eight months to bring the young ones on this level. Now they are ready for games, not for every game but for many games so next season we start in a different situation

“Very proud because if you see how many young guys we’re playing today, it’s a great win because it isn’t easy to win here,” Babbel said.

This Western Sydney Wanderers side had a lower average age then Adelaide United at 24.5 years compared to 25.9, five of their starting 11 was under the age of 23 with two more youngsters on the bench.

They weren’t just there for the ride though; Tate Russell was relentless at fullback and supplied an assist, Keanu Baccus dominated defensively in midfield winning four of his seven duels, while Abraham Majok caused the United defence issues all night before collecting a goal at the death.

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The next-wave of Wanderers talent is being ushered with the likes of Roly Bonevacia and Oriol Riera there to guide them and offer a vital physical presence to avoid opposition teams from bullying them, which is a successful mix at the moment.

“Of course it is important if you have so many young guys on your pitch, you need the older ones who are there and today Roly (Bonevacia) was there, and to be fair I expect it from him because he is a good player

“Today, he had a fantastic performance even against the ball, he and Oriol (Riera) did a fantastic job defensive wise off the ball and that’s what we need, we are not the strongest team in the league so we have to work hard, we have to stay compact and we have to be smart on the pitch because other teams are stronger than us,” Babbel said.

While the Wanderers are still six points behind Newcastle in seventh, the win against United was the first time since February 2018 that the Wanderers had recorded consecutive wins in the league, an indication they are starting to bear the fruits of their labor.

Season 2018/19 may have been a long and arduous one for Wanderers and their faithful at times but Babbel’s youth-led revolution is starting to stand on its own two feet and push back when opposition teams take up the challenge.

Now, they arrived and are ready to make a statement.

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Adam Daunt
Adam Daunt
A student at University of South Australia who hopes his writing disguises his lack of sporting prowess and a fan who masquerades his choice in mediocre teams as being hipster

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