Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic is refusing to use the absence of several first-choice players as an excuse for his team’s loss to Perth Glory on Saturday night.
The Wanderers were already missing captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley on international duties, but also opted not to take the likes of Ante Covic, Matthew Spiranovic, Tomi Juric and Iacopo La Rocca over to Perth given the team’s heavy travel schedule.
Only a week after winning the Asian Champions League in Saudi Arabia, the Wanderers then travelled to New Zealand to play Wellington Phoenix before flying west this weekend to take on the league-leading Glory.
The travel has taken its toll and the Wanderers have not won a match since the first leg of the Asian Champions League final.
Popovic’s side hosts Central Coast on Wednesday before a clash with the Newcastle Jets at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday. Both are must-win games if the Wanderers are too keep their faltering season alive.
Western Sydney blooded a youthful and inexperienced line-up against Glory, but the coach said that was not to blame for the 2-1 loss at Perth’s nib Stadium.
“There were many reasons (but) they’re not excuses,” Popovic said.
“Last week we had many players and it was their first game since May or June and we had a lot of fatigued players from the trip (to) Wellington as well.
“We’ve got three games in seven days so we’ve had to juggle it around a bit and a lot of young boys got a chance tonight and they did very well, but moments made the difference.
“The chances we had could have changed the game, even at 0-0, when we had a couple of fantastic opportunities and we didn’t take them.
“The boys didn’t give up so I can’t be disappointed about the effort, but in the end we fell short.”
Popovic praised stand-in goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis in his first outing for the Wanderers despite the former Liverpool squad member conceding two goals, including one to Glory’s Dino Djulbic in the ninth minute.
“It’s not easy when you’re only training,” Popovic said.
“You’re constantly training, but you’re never playing and just like players that were left at home for us that haven’t played much … he’s the same, but even longer.
“So for a first game he did very well.”