Tony Popovic insists he’ll have no troubles keeping his players feet firmly on the ground after they beat the champions Melbourne Victory on Saturday night for a seventh straight A-League win.
The Wanderers confirmed their status as the competition’s new title favourites with a brilliant performance to prevail 2-0 in front of more than 17,000 fans at Pirtek Stadium.
“For us nothing changes. [The players] will come in on Monday and we’ll prepare for a tough game in Perth,” an ecstatic Popovic said.
“Seven on the bounce does not give you the luxury of the three points next time you play, regardless of who it’s against.
“If we’re not at our best in Perth we won’t win. Simple as that.
“They’ve [the players] earned their position; to stay there we’re going to have to be good. Anything less than that we won’t stay at the top.”
Both sides contributed to an entertaining spectacle at Wanderland, which swung from end-to-end for the majority of the night.
The home side took their chances at the vital moments, with Mark Bridge netting early in the second half before man-of-the-match Romeo Castelen sealed the result 11 minutes from time.
Castelen tormented Victory defender Daniel Georgievski on the Wanderers right flank, setting up Bridge’s opener before getting the goal his eye-catching performance merited
“He’s probably even played better in other games and not got the reward he deserved,” Popovic said of Castelen.
“We forget earlier in the year what he did in Adelaide, it was phenomenal, he just didn’t get the goal. We forget what he did at Central Coast…he’s been playing well.
“He had a setback with an injury which is a shame for him but he’s getting stronger each game. Today probably wasn’t the prettiest of goals for him but it would be hard to deny Romeo and say that he didn’t deserve it.”
Before the clash with Victory, Popovic admitted this clash would give a true indication of where his side was at in their progression.
He says the picture is a lot clearer now after the well-deserved 2-0 win.
“It shows we can compete with anyone,” Popovic said.
“Maybe earlier in the year if we had Melbourne Victory, maybe we wouldn’t have been ready for them but when it gets to round 10, the players are a lot fitter now, the fluency is better, the understanding is better.
“It was the right game for us to play them. We’ve shown that if we play well, it’s a team we can beat.”
Popovic was hopeful the ailment which forced Dario Vidosic off in the second half was nothing more than a knock, while marquee man Federico Piovaccari should be fit for next weekend’s trip to Perth.