Popovic: stability is the key

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Perth Glory head coach Tony Popovic says stability is the key for the remainder of the side’s season, ahead of their grand final rematch with Sydney FC on Saturday.

The Glory must deal with injury, inconsistent form and a suspension to defender Alex Grant in addition to the threat posed by the reigning champions at HBF Park this weekend.

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Popovic said the team was building towards stabilising its attack and defence and each player understood that.

“Our team is becoming more stable, we’re seeing that in terms of our training, the combinations are becoming more natural, the understanding is getting better, and I’m sure that will continue to grow,” Popovic said.

“We feel that that stability is coming, the players are getting stronger and we’re up against a team where stability is something they’ve had for four years.

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“That’s something that we’re building towards.”

Cohesion in the new defensive group has been a problem for the Glory who, despite scoring in every game so far, have only won once.

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Popovic said he was certain he would see a real improvement in the side in the next few games.

“We obviously lost a bit of stability with the senior players that left (last year), we’ve got good players that have come in and now they look a lot more comfortable here in Perth, in Australia, in our league,” Popovic said.

Glory will be without central defenders Osama Malik, who is back in training but remains unavailable for selection because of a hamstring injury, and Alex Grant, who was suspended in the clash with Newcastle Jets a fortnight ago.

It is still unknown whether the Glory will continue to employ the flat back four as they did against Newcastle or if their defensive stocks are now strong enough to revert back to the wing-back system that took them to the premiership last year.

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Club captain Diego Castro spoke of the club’s struggle to find consistency through the first period of the season but said he was sure the side had made progress.

“We have been lacking some consistency because we play, for moments, good football, but maybe not all the periods we’re looking for,” he said.

“I think we’re on the right path.

“The potential is there, and when you have the potential it’s an exciting time and we want to face the good teams because that’s an exciting challenge. Especially this particular game.”

The stability Perth crave will be important during the next four weeks of football which Popovic said will be particularly challenging.

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“Our next four games we’re playing arguably the four biggest clubs,” he said.

“We’ve got Sydney and then the two Melbourne clubs and then the Wanderers.

“It’s what the players work so hard for at training is to have big games, and this is a big game because it’s Sydney FC, but it’s also a big game because it’s Perth Glory…we need to remember that.”

Perth currently sit in sixth position while Sydney sit in second, having won all but one of their first five matches.

Glory are looking for their first win in Perth since last year’s semi-final victory over Adelaide United.

Feature Image Credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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