Western Sydney Wanderers boss Tony Popovic was left to rue his side’s sloppy defending after succumbing to a 3-1 loss at home to an impressive Brisbane Roar in the Hyundai A-League Season 11 opener on Thursday night.
The new-look Wanderers gifted the Roar the opener inside 10 minutes after a mistake from Brendan Hamill before conceding two soft goals from set pieces midway through the opening stanza.
“We got punished in the first half. We made an error, we conceded goals from set pieces and in the first half they were basically the only attempts they had on goal, Popovic told Fox Sports.
“We find ourselves conceding three which is disappointing. We didn’t take our chances at the right time and in the end you’re always chasing the game.”
Debutant Mitch Nicholls made a bright debut for the Wanderers, scoring a well-taken equaliser in the 11th minute before having a goal in the second half rubbed out for handball.
Popovic was frustrated with his side’s wasteful finishing in front of goal but admitted there were plenty of positives to take from the first up loss.
“We entered the box on numerous occasions. It was either the final ball or final shot which let us down. Goals change games. We were controlling the game and we go into half-time conceding three,” he said.
“There were many positives. Apart from the result, we tried to control the game, we got into their box quite easily, we created numerous opportunities but we didn’t take our chances.
“Once we start taking our chances, we get some of our bodies back, get the new boys fit and some game time under their belt, there’s a lot of positives.
Popovic was diplomatic in his appraisal of Brendan Hamill after the defender’s error led to the Roar’s opener, hinting that the 23-year-old was not fully fit heading into the clash.
“Alberto didn’t play which hurt us at the back. It was a bit tough on Brendan (Hamill), he hasn’t really played in the last five weeks and it was a difficult game for him to come into,” Popovic said.
“In the end unfortunately he got injured again.”