Wanderers’ 100 milestone in Sydney derby

Wanderers coach Tony Popovic says the club’s 100th Hyundai A-League game milestone is more motivation for Saturday’s Sydney derby, and conceded the team is still hurting after their derby loss to Sydney FC in Round 3.

The 100 milestone for club and coach adds another layer to what is looming as a derby to remember on Saturday night at Wanderland.

“I didn’t know that,” a relaxed Popovic said when quizzed about the stat on Friday.

“But it’s a nice milestone for our football club and also personally. It’s nice to remain at a club for 100 games,” he added with a smile.

“It’s another reason to make it a memorable night tomorrow.”

Wanderers players celebrate scoring their second goal against the Jets in Round 12.

As for the game itself, last week’s loss to Melbourne City – Wanderers’ first since the derby loss in round 3 – may have been a blessing in disguise.

“Of course we’re disappointed we lost in Melbourne … a derby is always good to have, I believe, after a defeat.

“It’s always a special day on the calendar. It’s one you can’t wait for.”

How Wanderers star found his goal-scoring groove

In team news, a recent impact injury to striker Brendon Santalab means he’s touch and go for the derby, while defender Scott Neville returns from suspension. 

And as if motivation wasn’t high enough, Popovic said the first derby this season – a 1-0 win to Sydney FC at a packed and heaving Allianz thanks to a late strike to Milos Ninkovic – remains a sore point.

“It hurt,” Popovic admitted. “It’s tough to take, to lose the game so late when you’ve performed so well.

Milos Ninkovic netted the winner late on for Sydney FC.

“Since that day, they’ve been looking forward to this one.

“But the players really showed their character after that. And you could see that by the next 10 games we didn’t lose.

“It showed their character.”