Sydney Derby banter: Popovic hits back


Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic says Sydney FC boss Graham Arnold’s comments about the Wanderers are uninformed.

This week, Arnold jacked up the mind games and war of words saying the Red and Black lacked experience in the Sydney Derby.

Hyundai A-League preview: Wanderers v Sydney FC

“If we do have one little edge on them it will be that we’ve got players that have experience in a Sydney Derby, they’ve got 15 or 16 new players this year,” Arnold said.

“[Our new players] are all experienced players, they’ve all played in big games.

Bobo in action for Sydney FC in the Westfield FFA Cup.

“Josh [Brillante] has played in Italy, Wilkinson has played overseas, national team and a World Cup and Bobô’s the same he’s come from big clubs so that won’t affect them at all.

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Asked to respond, the Wanderers coach dismissed the talk.

“He can speak about his side. I don’t think he knows too much about our side. He’s alluding to something he doesn’t know much about,” Popovic told reporters on Friday.

“We have no interest in them, or their experience, or their lack of experience.

“We’re ready for this game and that’s all that matters for us.

“I hope once they watch us tomorrow, they’ll know us very well. We’re confident and optimistic.”

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Popovic preferred to talk about the significance of a game that’s set to attract the largest ever crowd for any Hyundai A-League game in history.

For Popovic, who’s been there from day one four and a half years ago, the growth in the club fills him with pride.

“It’s special. I’ll certainly be proud when I walk out there and see all the people supporting this great game and 50-60,000 Wanderers fans in the stands you realise how special this club is and the region is for football.

“We always envisaged this happening,” he added of the club’s potential, pointing to the 4000 fans watching Wanderers’ first trial game four years ago when the club had five players as a sign of things to come.

“When that happens, you know this is possible,” he said.

“Just like our new stadium being built, it’s possible, the new training facilities being built, it’s possible, a little earlier than expected.

“And this is the start of building a very strong season.” 

Popovic believes the targeted signings of creative players Nico Martinez and Jumpei Kusukami will give the red and black an edge this season in the box. 

Nicolas Martinez - Wanderers

“We’re very happy with his [Martinez] fitness levels and he’s probably the fittest he”s been in a long time. He’s quality and how versatile who can give us a different type of balance.” 

Wanderers have all players available for the Sydney Derby except for skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley (suspended) and Jaushua Sotirio (injured). 

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