Melbourne Victory Head Coach Tony Popovic drew many positives from his team’s performance in last night’s 2-1 Australia Cup loss to Western United.
Victory’s Cup campaign was cut short despite leading the shot count 19-5 and owning 64 per cent possession.
Popovic says the group is disappointed not to defend their title but showed plenty of promise.
“We created numerous opportunities, played well and dominated the game, but in the end they defended resolutely and scored a couple of goals in transition,” he said.
“We’re on the right track but we’re disappointed tonight. When you play that well, you should win, so we have to be more clinical in the box.
“We’re disappointed with the result, but we showed some very good signs.”
Victory will now prepare for their season opener on Saturday 8 October at Allianz Stadium against rivals Sydney FC.
Popovic on the squad’s natural growth after the clash…
“We’ve still got Tomi (Juric), who’s building his fitness after a couple of years of no football, really…and Nick will be back.
“It’s a new defence when you think four out of the five (including keeper Paul Izzo) weren’t there last year.”
on Nani’s performance…
“You could see he’s a winner and a very talented footballer. He gave us a real spark when he came on.
“We’ve still got to get to know him and he’s got to get to know us, the players and the movements.
“He’s a fantastic professional. There’s no surprise why he’s played such a high level for so long when you see how he conducts himself every day on and off the pitch.
“He’s a pleasure to work with and he’s a winner. He wants to win so he’s at the right football club for that. He wants to lead by example and a few of our players can certainly learn from him in terms of what it takes to be at the top.
“We’re very happy with how he’s progressing. He had a taste on our pitch tonight, which is good in a competitive game, and now we’ve got to build him up for that first round.”
on Jake Brimmer’s continued form…
“He’s such a talented player and that goal showed his talent.
“He’s returned in really good shape after the off-season. He wants to assist more, he wants to score more, and the next step is to score more from inside the box because that’s the next part of his game, getting those simple goals and assists.
“He’s a player who wants to learn, wants to improve, wants to get better.”
on Jay Barnett’s injury concern…
“I’m told it’s his shoulder. He fell awkwardly so we’ll have to assess him and see how serious it is.”
on their pre-season schedule…
“Firstly, we’ll freshen the squad up a bit and give the players a bit of time off given we came in early for the Manchester United game. The players deserve a bit of time off and we’ll see where we fit that in.
“Then we prepare for Sydney FC (on Saturday 8 October) which will include friendly games and NPL opposition. That’s something we’ll look at closely in the next few days.”