Wanderers wary of Mariners as silverware looms

Tony Popovic has warned his Wanderers players not to look past Friday night’s clash with bottom-placed Central Coast or risk seeing their Hyundai A-League Premiership hopes fall away.

Wanderers are currently in fourth spot but only two points off the top with two matches to go.

PREVIEW: Wanderers v Mariners

While they need results to go their way, the Red and Black have a favourable draw, with their game against the last-placed Mariners followed by a trip to second-last placed Wellington.

Title rivals Melbourne City, Brisbane Roar and Adelaide all have much harder fixtures meaning the Wanderers are still well in the hunt to nab the Premiers’ Plate.

But only if they avoid what would be an embarrassing slip-up against a Mariners side with absolutely nothing to lose.

“It’s very close [at the top]. I predicted three or four weeks ago this would be a tight finish and its exciting being a part of that finish,” Popovic told reporters on Thursday.

“We’re certainly in the mix, we just have to concentrate on doing our job tomorrow. We can’t control what happens in the other games but if we don’t do our job tomorrow the other results are irrelevant.

“We’re as confident as we’ve always been, that’s for sure,” the Wanderers boss added.

“We know we can still control our destiny and that’s what we want to do tomorrow. 

"If we can do that we move on to Wellington and see how far that takes us.”

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If they are to sneak in and win the Premiership over the next fortnight, they’ll need to improve their finishing.

While some of their football and build-up play has been great to watch, the Wanderers haven’t converted their chances into goals in recent weeks, going more than 250 minutes without a goal.

“We have to keep playing the good football we’ve played for the majority of the season which has opened teams up and created the opportunities,” said Popovic, when asked if taking their chances is his main priority this week.

“We stopped doing that for 30 minutes against Melbourne Victory and we didn’t really create a chance. It really comes down to our game.

Wanderers players celebrate Jaushua Sotirio's first-half strike against the Jets.

“We know what we’re capable of and we want to do that for 95 minutes and if we do I’m very confident we’ll come out on top.

“It’s a big game in terms of the context of the season, there’s two games to go, it’s the business end.

“You could say there’s pressure and expectation but we’ve shown in our short history that something this football club has dealt with very well.”

Friday’s clash will be extra special for the club, with it to be their last game at Wanderland for at least three years before Pirtek Stadium gets demolished at redeveloped later this year.

Wanderers where are they now special

 “We’re excited with what’s ahead for this football club in terms of a new stadium here at Parramatta,” Popovic said.

“We play central Coast again. We played them in our first game here, round one, year one. Now it will be our last league game here.

“We’re looking forward to this part of the journey, going out on a high and sending our fans home happy. 

"We love playing here, we love playing in front of our fans. We have a special bond with them.”

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