|By JOHN GRECO
The Western Sydney Wanderers will this week step up their plans to re-sign star midfielder Shinji Ono following his superb match-winning performance against Melbourne Victory on Tuesday.
Ono scored two breathtaking goals in either half as the Wanderers moved up to third on the A-League table after the 2-1 win at Parramatta Stadium.
After taking time to settle in Australia, the 33-year-old is now one of the form players of the competition and is finally adding goals to his exciting build-up play.
And the Wanderers will now look to secure Ono for another season before rival clubs come circling.
The former Japan international has a clause in his deal to keep him at the club for a second season and Sportal understands the Wanderers are close to taking up that option.
"He's a special player and he's been a special player for this football club since he first arrived," Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said after Ono's heroics against the Victory.
"We've seen from the first moment he got here the talent he has, it just took time for him to get his match fitness to a level where he can do that for longer periods.
"We're delighted for him. He's a great player, a great man and a perfect fit for this football club."
While Ono will get most of the plaudits, it was another exceptional team effort from the competition newcomers.
While the club's five-game unbeaten run has many talking the Wanderers up as title contenders, Popovic played down their chances of winning the championship.
"Not now, not after 14 games," he said, with the Wanderers to face league leaders Central Coast on Saturday.
"I'd struggle to hear any (manager) say they can win it and it's still showing that everyone's beating everyone.
"We're in a good position at the half-way mark but we've got a lot of work to do."
Opposing coach Ange Postecoglou blamed his side's inability to carry out its game plan and a lack of discipline for their disappointing loss.
While Victory had good spells of possession, there was none of the free-flowing, quick-paced football that has seen them surge up the table in recent months.
"We've got certain basic principles in our game that we've been good at following and our discipline at doing that but tonight was just poor," the Victory coach lamented.
"We just didn't follow some of the basic fundamentals of our game and we got punished for it.
"We never really got into good rhythm at any stage and from an overall perspective we need to be a lot better than we were tonight."