Popovic rips VAR after it fails to overturn late equaliser

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A late penalty awarded to Western Sydney Wanderers was the climax to an epic final eight minutes which produced two goals and a red card.

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Melbourne Victory coach Tony Popovic was at his fiery best after the match, which ended 1-1, calling out what he considered to be inconsistent use of VAR technology.

In this case, it was the referee’s decision not to review the lead-up to Brendan Hamill’s handball, when replays showed that Tomislav Mrcela came from an offside position to contest the ball.

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“In the lead up to that last play, Tommy Mrcela is offside, and that’s a problem for VAR because we don’t check for that,” he said.

Popovic added that while he had issues with VAR being used at all, the bigger problem was what he believes is inconsistent application of the technology.

“I’d rather not have VAR but if we’re going to use it, let’s use it properly. We use it to send a player off, fine, we use it to check a handball, yet we don’t use it to check an offside,” he said.

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He said that the club has had discussions with the league in the past in relation to the decisions being made by VAR, and he suggested that up to this point in the season his side has not had the rub of the green in this aspect of the game.

“It’s clear a lot of decisions have gone against us, but I believe it will turn,” he said.

“We could obviously prevent this by being ahead by more when the decision occurs, so we’re not shying away from taking responsibility for the results.”

Despite having settled for a 1-1 draw in their previous four encounters, Popovic, as well as the club as a whole, is confident that they will be able to capitalise on their opportunities in future matches.

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“If you look at our play in recent times, it’s been outstanding,” he said.

“We put up some great performances against Melbourne City and Western United, two of the best teams in the competition, to go along with a quality effort in Japan.”

These past couple of efforts have come with Victory dealing with a depleted squad as striker Nick D’Agostino and Ben Folami have departed on international duties, which has opened the door for youngster Nishan Velupillay to enter the starting line-up.

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Popovic said that his performances in the new role have been praiseworthy, suggesting the opportunity would be important for his development.

“It’s not easy for a young player to start, it’s very different to coming off the bench, and he’s made a big impact for us,” he said.

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“He was solid for a starting position last match and he backed that up today, he looked dangerous, and I think these two games will give him a lot of confidence.”

The importance and value of depth is something that Popovic has routinely emphasised over the course of the season, and performances like this from an emerging player should be very encouraging for a club looking to build into the future.

Feature Image Credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Mitchell Turner
Mitchell Turner
Third Year Undergraduate Arts Student at Monash University (Journalism Major). Generic sports tragic living out my failed dreams of going pro vicariously through other people.

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