They have exceeded expectations in their debut season, but Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic does not want his side to stop now
|By JOHN GRECO
Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic says there is no chance his side will be content with what they have already achieved as they aim to continue their fairytale debut season.
Written off by most as wooden-spoon contenders for this campaign, the Wanderers have thrived on proving the critics wrong as they have surged to fourth on the A-League ladder.
Even with 10 matches remaining, they look assured of making the finals and are displaying the type of form which could see them as genuine title contenders.
And it is not just on the field where things are flying, with their crowds steadily growing and the passionate support of the Red and Black Bloc the envy of the competition.
When asked about his side's finals prospects ahead of Saturday's clash with Melbourne Heart at Parramatta Stadium, Popovic said: "We're obviously on a good run and the table doesn't lie.
"I think at the end of the season you finish where you deserve to be and at the moment we're in a strong position in fourth place and that's on the back of a very good run in this second third of the season.
"But there are still 10 games to go and there's a lot of football to be played and to maintain that we have to be at our best every week, and we certainly aim to do that.
"We're certainly not taking any opponent, or any training session or any preparation lightly."
And there is no chance they will underestimate the Heart, who sit just one place behind the Wanderers in fifth spot.
John Aloisi's side are without influential skipper Fred through injury and have struggled on the road but still possess a huge challenge to the Wanderers.
Striker Eli Babalj could be available after he rejoined the Heart from a stint with Red Star Belgrade in Serbia, with the club only waiting on an international clearance.
"The Heart have shown over the last month or so their results have been very good," Popovic said.
"They've always had very good individuals, players who can win a game on their own, some really good experience in their team and it's starting to come together for them now on a more consistent basis.
"They've always had that quality but now they're putting the results together so we certainly won't take them lightly ... it will be a tough challenge."
With the exception of winger Tahj Minniecon, the Wanderers have a clean bill of health, meaning Popovic is finding it hard to come up with his first-choice XI.
Asked if new signing Rocky Visconte was a chance to make his club debut, the Wanderers boss said: "He's still building.
"He had a game in the youth team last week and we're seeing he's getting stronger and fitter now.
"He's fitted in very well and I don't want to put a date on when he'll come in but we're certainly pleased with his progress."