Extra Time: Local hero Baccus targets new dawn with Victory scalp

Keanu Baccus was in the stands at Parramatta Stadium when the Western Sydney Wanderers announced themselves as a Hyundai A-League force in their inaugural season.

Six seasons on from that Premiers Plate-winning campaign, the 20-year-old might just be the man to drive a new dawn for the club under Markus Babbel.

A trip to reigning Champions Melbourne Victory has so often been the acid test for the Wanderers, who they have had their fair share of memorable battles with over the years.

A win in Saturday night’s prime time fixture, which you can watch live and free on 10 Boss (kick-off 7.50pm AEDT), could just prove to be a landmark moment in the club’s post Tony Popovic era.

“Melbourne Victory are one of those teams that everyone wants to beat,” Baccus told www.aleague.com.au.

“This win would be so important for us to stamp our authority in the league.

“[It’s] two of the most supportive fans in the A-League, so it’s always been fierce and I think we respect Melbourne a lot.

“We realise that they’re a great side and great club but on the pitch, we have to show them that hopefully we’re the team that’s going to do something this year.”

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It’s been a long road to first team football for the Kings Park local, who rose from the Wanderers National Youth League team to make his Hyundai A-League debut in 2017.

“When I first started in the first team it was a step too high,” he continued.

“It seemed so much faster and the boys were stronger physically.

“Everyone can play the game, but that aspect of the A-League was something that I needed to catch up on and I think slowly, slowly I’m getting stronger and fitter and just being able to keep up more game by game.”

This season, Baccus has done more than just keep pace with his more experienced compatriots.

The midfielder has played every minute of the Wanderers’ campaign so far and is thriving under the tutelage of former Bayern Munich and Liverpool man Babbel.

“I’m really grateful for the trust he has in me and the faith,” he said.

“It’s always a bonus when a new coach comes in and has that belief in you to play such a pivotal role in the middle.”