As he prepares for a third season finale in four years, Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic isn’t concerned by statistics for interstate teams in Hyundai A-League Grand Finals.
On Sunday afternoon, Wanderers face the Reds in the Hyundai A-League Grand Final at Adelaide Oval.
And despite the South Australian capital being flooded with red and black fans this weekend giving it a distinctly red and black feel, history suggests the home side will prevail on the big day.
In ten season finales thus far, only Sydney FC in 2010 managed to win outside of their home state when they defeated Melbourne Victory at Etihad stadium.
But for Popovic, he’s not concerned by history or stats.
“I didn’t really know that to be honest,” he said when quizzed on that stat at the official pre-match press conference in Adelaide on Saturday.
“History is there to be broken and history will be broken tomorrow because us or Adelaide will win their first championship.
“So that’s not a concern for us.
“We control what we can control and we’ve had a good record away from home.
“We believe in our football whether it’s home or away,” he said.
“But that does not mean you can’t win the final.
“We’re full of confidence. We’re used to big games. And this time we do it in front of 50,000 people in Adelaide.”
Wanderers trained at Coopers Stadium on Friday and Saturday morning rather than at Adelaide Oval.
It was designed to maximise preparations. Popovic batted away questions about why.
“I just didn’t want to,” he said. “It wasn’t part of our program. It didn’t fit in. So be it.”
As for the iconic venue – which is only occasionally used by the Reds – the Wanderers coach conceded there may be some advantage to United but pointed to previous big games where he has also chosen not to train on the venue beforehand.
“They [Adelaide] would be more accustomed to the pitch than what we would.
“But we’ve played many big games in our fourth season now where we haven’t trained or prepared on the actual pitch we played on.
“It hasn’t affected us so far and we believe we’ll be able to handle the pitch tomorrow.”
Most believe the game will be a cagey affair, mirroring the teams’ three draws this season and the history of most grand finals, though Popovic wasn’t buying into it.
“That’s the unpredictable part of football. You don’t know how the game will go and regardless of past history of results between the two teams, it won’t determine what will happen tomorrow.
“I believe the best two teams are in the final and it’ll be a great final and I’m sure both will give it their all and all that counts for us is coming out on top,” he said.
“Everyone’s fit. We just finished our final training session and everyone is available.
“There are 18 players that want to be in that first 11 and we’ll pick the team accordingly for tomorrow’s game,” added Popovic.