Tony Popovic inspires Wanderers players with his belief
WANDERERS coach Tony Popovic had such a strong vision his team would be champions in 2016, he told them so during the pre-season.
It was an amazing show of belief from the former Socceroo, after his team finished second-last in 2015.
But after a surprisingly poor 2014/15 campaign, Western Sydney bounced back and is about to compete in its second grand final, against Adelaide United at Adelaide Oval tomorrow, in just its fourth domestic season.
A grand-final berth seemed a long way off when Popovic opted for a clean-out after a disappointing four wins last season, releasing nine players from his squad.
But Wanderers bench midfielder Kearyn Baccus, who came on during extra-time in his team's epic 5-4 semi-final win over Brisbane last Sunday, said Popovic's vision was resolute.
"Before our first game in the pre-season, Poppa told us 'we're going to go all the way', and at first everyone thought 'that's going to be hard'," Baccus told Australian Regional Media.
"But he backed us and we believed him."
The Wanderers fans are also firm believers.
Despite return tickets being jacked up over $550, red-and-black fans - arguably the most noisy and parochial in the competition - will arrive in Adelaide in large numbers.
"They're the best fans in the A-League, and even if there were 100 of them, they would still try and be as noisy as 50,000 Reds fans," Baccus said.
Despite playing a high-octane 120-minute game against the Roar, Baccus said his teammates would be ready for another energy-sapping clash.
"The boys will have a week to recover by kick-off, the mood is really good and we're ready to go - everyone wants to be a part of a grand final," he said.
Reds playmaker Marcelo Carrusca said the game would be decided in the midfield.
"We know they play really well in the middle and have good individual players," he said.
"The surface is different for both teams and the way it is (slightly harder), and so the ball will move a bit faster."
The Reds have also bounced back from adversity to make the grand final - they won the premiership after not recording a win in their first eight games.