Focused Popovic pleased despite loss

Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic has remained bullish despite watching his side’s winless start to the A-League season reach double figures after a 1-0 loss to the Phoenix in Wellington.

A controversial Roy Krishna penalty separated the teams and handed Western Sydney their seventh loss of the campaign, but Popovic was adamant it should never have been awarded.

“My thoughts would be the same as yours. We all had the same view. No-one can tell me that was a penalty," Popovic said.

But the Wanderers boss was quick to praise his side’s response to going behind.

“I think you saw the reaction of the players was excellent. It was a real kick in the guts to concede a penalty in that manner," he said.

"But for the rest of the half they did really well and in the second half kept pushing and creating opportunities. In the end we walk away with nothing, but that was a very good performance from us, away from home with everything we’ve been through.

“We’re not blaming the (penalty) call for the result because we had numerous opportunities today – more than we’ve probably created in one game in the A-League this season – against a team that is in excellent form. They played well tonight, but I feel we played better.”

And Popovic refused to blame his side’s unprecedented recent travel schedule for their ongoing A-League troubles.

“I think that’s behind us now. There’s no point in keeping on talking about that. If you just talk about today’s game, there were no effects of any travel," he said.

“That was not a team that played today that looked like it hasn’t won. We more than matched them today which is really encouraging. Unfortunately we travel home with no points, but now we have to build on that and make sure that in front of our home fans against Central Coast that we get that first win.”

Popovic was lightning quick to shut down any media questions about speculation linking him to the now-vacant manager’s role at his former club, English Premier League side Crystal Palace.

“I’m not here to speak about any speculation. If you’ve got questions on the game, I’m more than happy to answer them," he said.