Popa: Second spot will go down to the wire

Wanderers coach Tony Popovic says the race for the coveted second spot will be intense as his side head to Gosford for a grand final rematch with the Mariners.

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic says the race for the coveted second spot will be intense as his side head to Gosford for a grand final rematch with their nemesis the Mariners.

With the Premiership trophy now residing in the Brisbane Roar trophy cabinet, the Wanderers have lost the chance to go back to back.

But with three rounds remaining, they currently sit two points and ample goal difference clear of Melbourne Victory and the Central Coast Mariners.

Which makes Saturday-s visit to the Mariners home all the more significant for the red and black.

“Congratulations to them (Brisbane Roar) but we-ve still got a lot to play for,” Popovic said on Friday.

“We-re in second spot, we-re fighting hard to remain in that position and we-re in an ACL campaign.

“So the season is going well but we want to keep improving, keep getting better and the motivation for us is to keep getting better and keep challenging.”

The former Socceroo great reiterated that the position behind Premiers Brisbane Roar was the Wanderers- to lose.

“We had a good result last week and it-ll probably go down to the wire for this second place.

“We-ve got our noses in front at the moment and it will be difficult but we-ve given ourselves a chance of staying there.

“We-ve got to play well…we-ve got three tough matches coming up starting tomorrow and we-ll do everything we can to finish off in second position,” he said.

Coming into the final three rounds, the precious second spot - and subsequent week off in the finals - is likely to be one of either Wanderers, Mariners or Victory.

Adelaide United, four points behind Western Sydney, is an outside chance.

What is adding further intrigue to the second spot chase is the fact that the three teams currently in second, third and fourth are all involved in the AFC Champions League.

Although he did not openly state it, Popovic would love for his squad to have the luxury of not playing in the first weekend of finals considering their hectic schedule.

Putting a five point gap between them and the Mariners is the focus ahead of this blockbuster.

“We-re all trying to get that spot…it-s an old cliché but it-s one game at a time for us, we did well last week and our focus has just been on Central Coast (this week),” he said.

“We-re looking forward to the game, we-ve had some great encounters against them, I-m sure there will be a big crowd and that it will be another big match.

“They (the Mariners) have picked up a lot of good results of late, they look very confident at the moment and they-re playing well so it should be a great game.”

On the injury front, Adam D-Apuzzo and Matthew Spiranovic were no certainties to line up against the Mariners.

Click here to buy tickets to the match. Kick-Off is at 5:30pm AEDT.

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