Tony Popovic believes Perth Glory’s intense preseason has played a major part in his side’s stoppage time winners against Melbourne Victory and Central Coast Mariners.
Chris Ikonomidis has been the saviour on both occasions, and both games have resulted in 3-2 victories to Perth, who are appearing to make a habit out of leaving things late.
But Popovic believes these results are in fact the fruit of his side’s hard work and fitness.
“You can talk about [determination] and they’re just words,” said Popovic. “You have to work on that.
“The players have worked really hard in preseason to lay a foundation that you can win games late, [that] you can create the possibility to win games late, and I think they’re showing that with their football.
“I thought they were very composed in the last 14 minutes against Central Coast. In the end they had a player sent off and we made the most of it.”
When asked if he preferred winning games earlier, Popovic affirmed the importance of any win.
“You want to sort every game out before stoppage time if you can, but football doesn’t quite go that way.
“If you’re on the wrong end of one of those, it’s hard to take, but I’d be happy to win one of those every week,” said Popovic.
“It’s no problem for me if you have to win in the last minute, so be it.
“If you’re winning late it’s obviously showing that you’re doing something well.”
Glory fans will be pleased to potentially see a new yet familiar name on their team sheet against Wellington Phoenix.
Matt Spiranovic, who’s won the AFC Champions League with Western Sydney Wanderers and the AFC Asian Cup with the Caltex Socceroos, was a late inclusion to the travelling squad.
Popovic could only speak positively of Spiranovic’s recovery and potential inclusion for his first game in Perth colours.
“It’s a real positive for us, positive for him. It’s been a year since he’s played football, so we’re very pleased that he got through it unscathed,” said Popovic.
“His thoughts are only on football which probably indicates he’s put the injury behind him mentally and now it’s just about him moving forward and getting stronger, and pushing to get into the team.”
Wellington Phoenix host Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium on Sunday, December 2 at 5pm AEDT.