Nearly 40 days in to the new A-League season Western Sydney Wanderers will finally play their first home game on Wednesday night. Central Coast Mariners are the first opponents to travel to Pirtek Stadium, with both teams looking to get their campaigns back on track after poor starts.
Wednesday night also represents the Wanderers’ first home game since being crowned champions of Asia. Their glorious run in the Champions League has arguably come at the cost of their domestic form – they currently sit at the foot of the ladder with four defeats from four games.
Coach Tony Popovic is not likely to be too troubled by their poor start, and his team selections in the previous rounds suggest that to a certain degree he was prepared to accept the consequences of going all the way in the Champions League.
The Wanderers are set to recall a host of key players who were rested for the weekend game in Perth, with Tomi Juric, Matthew Spiranovic and Iacopo La Rocca among those expected to start. Their recent travel schedule has been a nightmare, but Popovic is a coach who has always adopted a rotation policy and the upcoming run of home games may be the time when this plan bears fruit.
The Mariners must use the dramatic late point salvaged against Melbourne City on Sunday as inspiration for a resurgence of their own. Prior to that game they had also lost their previous four games.
The nature of the A-League finals format – with six teams from ten qualifying for the playoffs – means that a poor start is by no means fatal to a team’s aspirations, and a few good results can soon bring the Mariners back into contention. If they are to get a result at Pirtek Stadium they will have to do so without the injured Matt Simon, as well as Storm Roux who is on international duty.
Wednesday 19th November, Pirtek Stadium Parramatta 19:30
Click here for ticket details