Popovic pleased with point against Victory
Wanderers coach Tony Popovic refused to dwell on what could have been despite watching his side concede an injury-time goal in their 1-1 draw with Victory.
Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic refused to dwell on what could have been despite watching his side concede an injury-time goal in their 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory on Saturday night.
The reigning premiers appeared to be heading towards all three points at AAMI Park after Brendon Santalab put them ahead midway through the second half.
But a memorable Gui Finkler free-kick in injury time gifted the home side a share of the spoils.
And despite admitting the result could have been drastically different, Popovic insisted he was happy with a point while also reserving some special praise for Victory's Brazilian hero.
"It's always difficult to judge the game objectively after conceding so late but overall I think it was an excellent game of football, he said.
"It's a little disappointing from our view to concede so late but overall you've got to be pleased with that.
"He's a very good player. As a club we admire him and I personally admire him as a player. He's been through a lot and I wish he had done that in a different game but for what he's been through it's a great reward for him."
With the Wanderers in the middle of a hectic New Year schedule, Popovic made several changes with the likes of Shinji Ono, Aaron Mooy and Tomi Juric all left out of the squad entirely, while Youssouf Hersi was relegated to the bench.
While these changes may have been surprising for some, Popovic asserted he has complete faith in his squad and it showed in his team's performance.
"We've got three games in nine days, that's pretty much what it is. We played on Monday, game tonight on Saturday and we’ve got to back up again on Wednesday," he said.
"I've got a lot of faith in the squad and regardless of who plays we came here with a believe that we could win the game and I'm not really concerned whose out there the whole squad is good enough to play and the players that came in tonight were outstanding."
The game was just as memorable for the atmosphere off the pitch as the action on it and despite some ugly scenes between fans before kick-off, Popovic said the occasion proved the Victory and Wanderers rivalry is growing exponentially.
"Certainly you can feel there's a rivalry. There's a rivalry in the stadium with the fans which is great, you know both sets of fans supporting throughout the 90 minutes," Popovic said.
"It’s a great atmosphere, it feels like a big game and I'm sure the rivalry will just keep getting bigger and bigger."