Popovic reveals impact premiership win has had on Perth

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Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic says winning the Premiers Plate has only sharpened the focus of his playing group as he prepares the squad to face Sydney FC at Jubilee Stadium on Thursday night.

The overwhelming euphoria displayed by Perth Glory players, staff and fans after securing the Premiers Plate with a 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets on Sunday night suggested there was a long night of celebrations ahead, but Popovic had the players back at work the very next morning to prepare to face Sydney and what’s yet to come.

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“They didn’t rock up late,” Popovic said.

“They rocked up very happy as you’d expect, all smiling as they should have been.

“It was nice to see those happy faces come in the next day.

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“We’ve been crowned the best team in the league with a couple of games to go which is a fantastic achievement, yes we’ve enjoyed that, and we don’t want to forget that memory.

“We want to do the best we can now to create another special memory with another trophy, we’ve given ourselves a chance to do that and all that hard work starts now.”

But before Popovic can prepare his side for the finals campaign he must first prepare them for the remaining two games of the regular season, something he says his premiership-winning squad is hungry to get stuck into.

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“Every player wants to go to Sydney, it’s a real indicator to me they want more,” Popovic said.

“If you saw the group now, yes they’ve enjoyed the celebrations but every one of them wants to play.

“That’s fantastic for me as a coach, to see with such a short turnaround everyone has made themselves available.”

That’s not to say there won’t be changes to the side which secured the Premiers Plate on Sunday night.

Injuries to Juande, Jason Davidson and Chris Ikonomidis put the trio of key players out of selection contention, while minutes could be given to players generally on the periphery of the squad.

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But Popovic says a rotated starting line-up won’t signify a lack of intent from his side to win the game.

“Some players that haven’t had a lot of minutes will possibly get a chance to travel with the team,” he said.

“We are on top because of the strength of the squad, and that makes us proud as a club to have a strong squad of players that can step in.

“Momentum in terms of performance is key for us, we’ve consistently performed well all year, and we want to see that continue on Thursday and against Wellington leading into the major semi-final.

“(On Sunday) Jake Brimmer came on – a young talent – for Juande early in a big game, a very important game for our football club and the boy was outstanding.

“If he wasn’t training as well as he can, and he wasn’t at the level required he couldn’t do that.

“There are many like Jake at the club that are waiting for their opportunity, we just want to have them prepared and ready so when the time comes they can showcase their talent.”

Featured image credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Matthew Comito
Football nut, student journalist and firm believer that Berisha dived in the 2012 A-League Grand Final. Covering Perth Glory for the 2018/19 season.