Pride and class were two words used by Perth Glory coach Kenny Lowe in the post-match press conference which followed his side’s Round 25 defeat to Sydney FC.A shell-shocked Perth had just been overrun 3-0 hours after Football Federation Australia handed down its sanctions for breaches of the Hyundai A-League salary cap. The hosts were hardly in the contest. Those punishments – including their removal from this season’s Finals Series – were confirmed last week, bringing Lowe’s words into sharper focus.
“Everybody has got their own personal and professional pride,” the Englishman said at the time.
“Let’s not let ourselves down. We are where we are and we have got to deal with it with class.”
It’s a message both clubs might well adopt for their final outings of the regular season this evening.
While Western Sydney Wanderers’ present situation is far more favourable to that which has engulfed Saturday’s opponents, the reigning Asian Champions’ present state of affairs represents similarly uncharted territory.
The concluding fixture of the past two seasons has on both occasions been bathed in anticipation for Wanderers fans. Mark Bridge’s brace secured a 3-0 win away to Newcastle Jets and the Premier’s Plate on debut back in 2013. Then last year two late goals from Brendon Santalab and Youssouf Hersi saw off the then Melbourne Heart to capture second place.
There is of course every confidence those times will return in swift fashion but bowing out at any stage before a Grand Final is still treading a new and unwanted path for such a successful club.
The onus is on all 22 players to make Saturday count. Those wearing Red & Black know there is at least one AFC Champions League assignment to come and bottom spot to be avoided. Glory’s fate however is sealed in seventh.
As Lowe explained, players are professionals with a job not yet complete. There are still supporters to be rewarded, respect to be reserved and, plainly, three points to be won.
High drama and quality was served up last time these two teams met as Josh Risdon’s late strike undid Wanderers’ early two-goal effort.
“We really came here with a purpose to win, I thought we showed that in the way we played and in the manner of our performance,” Tony Popovic said after the Wanderers’ previous meeting with Perth.
Nothing has changed. Intent and pride count for everything on Saturday.
Kids go free for our final match of the Hyundai A-League season. We kick-off against Perth Glory 5pm this Saturday. Click through for tickets.