Popovic: I’ll enjoy this success more

Head coach Tony Popovic says he will savour Perth Glory's A-League premiership success, after they secured top spot with a 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets.

The Glory haven't won any silverware since chalking up their third NSL title in 2004, the year before the A-League began.

They missed out on last season's Finals Series but put their faith in Popovic – who led Western Sydney to the premiership in their first season in the league – to improve their fortunes.

At the first time of asking, Popovic has delivered the Premiers' Plate with two rounds still to go.

The Glory have only lost two of their 25 games so far and chalked up their 16th victory thanks to Ivan Franjic's second-half goal.

They will travel to Sydney FC, who had won the previous two premierships, in the penultimate round on Thursday and finish off the regular season at home to Wellington on 28th April.

Popovic, whose previous Premiers' Plate success came in 2012-13, said: "I probably didn't know how to enjoy that at that time. It happened so quickly and unexpectedly.

"Now I think you get more experience and you want to savour and enjoy the moment. That's probably me evolving and improving as a coach – I've tried to enjoy it with the players along the way, I think that's something I've improved."

Ahead of the trip to the Sky Blues, whose draw with Western Sydney on Saturday gave Perth the chance to clinch top spot, Popovic will have to monitor Juande and Jason Davidson who both picked up leg injuries against the Jets.

Socceroos striker Chris Ikonomidis is still working his way back to full fitness after dislocating his shoulder earlier this month.

The Glory are 2/1 to win their next game against Sydney FC, who are 11/8, with the draw 9/4.

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Ikonomidis hopes to face Jets

Striker Chris Ikonomidis is confident he will be available for Perth Glory's trip to Newcastle Jets on Sunday when the league leaders could clinch the Premier's Plate.

The Australia international missed the second half of the 3-0 win over Central Coast at the weekend after dislocating his right shoulder.

He dislocated the same shoulder two years ago and says his experience of that injury lends him to believe he can win his fitness battle to play against Newcastle at HBF Park.

"It's feeling all right. My gut feeling is it's not too serious, not as bad as last time. I'm pretty optimistic," he said.

"I knew straight away what was going on but it went back pretty quickly, which is positive. I don't want to miss games, especially this close to the end of the season when we could win the title."

If Sydney FC fail to win their derby clash with Western Sydney on Saturday, Perth will go into the Jets clash knowing victory will secure their first A-League minor premiership.

It would mark a big turnaround for the club under Tony Popovic, who took over as coach in the off-season after Kenny Lowe had failed to get them into the Finals Series last season.

Popovic says Socceroos central defender Matthew Spiranovic has been a big factor in their success. The 30-year-old returned against the Mariners for his first game in five weeks and was a commanding figure in the victory against the bottom club.

In the 11 games Spiranovic has played this season the Glory have conceded just six goals and have kept six clean sheets. In their 13 matches without him they have let in 16 goals.

Popovic said of him: "He is a classy player, that's exactly what he is. We've tried to nurse him along in this little period and not force him back and he showed his quality amongst the team."

Perth Glory are 7/5 to win the Grand Final and 4/9 to win their next game against Newcastle Jets, who are 6/1 with the draw 10/3.

Ikonomidis back in business for Glory

Returning striker Chris Ikonomidis was on the scoresheet as A-League leaders Perth Glory downed Wellington Phoenix 3-0.

Ikonomidis, playing his first game since returning from his Asian Cup campaign with Australia, headed home Perth's second goal at HBF Park.

The Socceroo had scored six goals in his nine games this season before departing for the tournament.

The victory maintained the Glory's four-point lead at the top of the table, though they were fortunate not to be behind in just the second minute.

Roy Krishna picked off a weak pass from keeper Liam Reddy and squared the ball to David Williams, whose first shot was blocked by Matthew Spiranovic, before his follow-up hit the post.

After that, Perth posed far more of a threat with visiting keeper Filip Kurto pulling off some excellent saves even before Tony Popovic's side broke the deadlock.

The Polish keeper denied Ivan Franjic, Diego Castro and Andy Keogh, but couldn't keep out a bullet header from Shane Lowry on 19 minutes.

Ikonomidis made it 2-0 ten minutes before the interval, nodding home after Kurto had kept out a Castro thunderbolt.

Only the crossbar denied Ikonomidis his second just after the hour mark, before Keogh completed the win.

The Irishman's low drive evaded the fingertips of Kurto after midfielder Juande had won the ball in a diving tackle.

It was Keogh's 10th goal of the season and his 50th in the A-League for Glory.

Wellington were denied a consolation goal when Sarpreet Singh's cross struck the bar, while Ikonomidis and Jason Davidson both went close to adding a fourth for the Glory in the latter stages.

The Phoenix are 10/3 to win their next game against Newcastle, who are 3/4 with the draw 11/4.

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Meulensteen hails Ikonomidis potential

Australia assistant coach Rene Meulensteen believes in-form Chris Ikonomidis could be a success if he gets a second chance of playing in Europe.

Ikonomidis is rebuilding his career with Perth Glory after a tough three-year spell with Italian side Lazio.

The striker has six goals in his nine appearances with the Glory since he joined on a three-year deal before the start of the season and his form earned him a spot in the Socceroos squad for the Asian Cup, where he's had an impact.

The 23-year-old has started Australia's past two matches at the tournament, against Palestine and Syria, scoring one goal and provided four assists as the team booked their place in the competition's last 16.

Meulensteen rates the forward highly, and feels he could have a future back in Europe despite thing not having worked out for him the first time around.

Ikonomidis moved to Italy at the age of 16 and spent his youth career with Atalanta before Lazio signed him on a three-year contract in 2013.

However, he made just one start for the club and though he signed a new deal in 2015 he was loaned out three times, while he spent last season back in Australia, on loan with Western Sydney where he netted six times in 12 games.

Meulensteen said of him: "He can go as far as he wants because he's got the potential and personality, and the intelligence for it.

"He's an exciting player to watch, he makes something happen; he's got an eye for a pass, he can beat a man. I think he would suit very well in the Spanish league in a good team."

Australia are 8/11 to win their next game against Uzbekistan, who are 4/1, with the draw 11/4.

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Socceroos make light work of Oman

Australia warmed up for the start of their Asian Cup campaign with a comfortable 5-0 win over Oman.

The Socceroos made light work of the opposition in Dubai, going three goals up in the opening 23 minutes.

It was an encouraging performance in what was keeper Mat Ryan's 50th appearance for the Socceroos, with Chris Ikonomidis netting his first international goal.

The Perth Glory striker netted either side of efforts from Andrew Nabbout and Awer Mabil. Milos Degenek also scored his maiden international goal after the break, before Jackson Irvine completed the rout late on.

A mistake in the Oman defence allowed Nabbout to break the deadlock in the 10th minute when he slid home from close range.

Four minutes later it was 2-0 as Ikonomidis fired a half-volley in off the post.

The third arrived when Mabil soon prodded home after a seemingly innocuous Aziz Behich cross found its way into his path.

Oman keeper Faiz Al-Rushaidi did well to tip over a free-kick from Mabil on the hour mark, but he was then out of luck from the resulting corner.

Degenek, who has been in superb form for Serbian club Red Star Belgrade latched onto Ikonomidis' corner, producing a clever flicked finish into the far corner.

He described his first Socceroos goal as "really special", adding: "I just tried to get something on it to flick it back post and see where it ended up and it ended up in the goal.

"It's an unbelievable feeling [to score]. Obviously my 20th game for the country, my first goal. Especially leading up to the Asian Cup, it gives me a lot of confidence – I hit the bar against Lebanon in Sydney and now I have scored, it feels good."

Australia are 6/1 to win the Asian Cup, with Japan 9/2 and South Korea 4/1.

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Ikonomidis relishes Asian Cup chance

Striker Chris Ikonomidis is loving being part of Australia's build-up to the defence of their Asian Cup trophy.

The Perth Glory attacker is one of just three A-League players in Graham Arnold's squad for the tournament, along with Josh Risdon of Western Sydney and Sydney FC's Rhyan Grant.

And while he's currently, due to being in Socceroos camp, missing a crucial part of league leaders Perth's campaign, he's keeping his focus on doing his best to earn game time at next month's Asian Cup.

The 23-year-old, who has played six times at international level, earned his spot in the squad by scoring six goals in nine matches for the Glory.

"I'd love to get on the pitch and show Australia and Asia what I can do and to bring something new to the team, something dynamic," he said. "I can't wait to get on the pitch and start working.

"The biggest joys you get in your career, I believe, are with the national team. It was something that I have been working towards for months now, it's something that I have planned."

Ikonomidis, who earned a three-year contract with Lazio in 2013, added: "It's always been a little goal in the back of my mind every day when I was doing the little things, preparing for training, preparing my diet… to get that good news and that reward from hard work is fantastic."

The Socceroos start their campaign with a clash against Jordan on 6th January where they hope to have Mathew Leckie available.

Leckie has been struggling with a hamstring injury, which added to the problems of Arnold after he'd seen both Aaron Mooy and Daniel Arzani ruled out of the tournament.

The Socceroos are 2/9 to win their first game against Jordan, who are 12/1, with the draw 5/1.

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Ikonomidis gets nod for Asian Cup

Perth Glory's Chris Ikonomidis has edged out Tomi Juric for a spot in Australia's squad for the Asian Cup.

The 23-year-old has scored five goals in the opening eight rounds of the A-League.

Coach Graham Arnold, who took over the side after the World Cup, hasn't used Ikonomidis in any of his camps or matches since September.

"Chris has made a great start to his time at Perth Glory under Tony Popovic and it has been his form in the Hyundai A-League that has sealed his place in the squad," he said.

"Chris will add pace and energy to our attack, which is the consistent feature of the players that we have picked in the Socceroos' attack for this tournament."

Ikonomidis gets a place among a strong-looking Socceroos attacking group that features Matt Leckie, Jamie Maclaren, Andrew Nabbout, Martin Boyle, Awer Mabil, Robbie Kruse and Tom Rogic.

Juric has missed out on selection for the Socceroos' defence of the trophy as he has struggled for game time at Swiss club Luzern this season.

Arnold has named Aaron Mooy in his 23-man squad for the tournament.

That's despite the Huddersfield Town player having been ruled out earlier this month due to a knee injury.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) are sending high performance coordinator Phil Coles to England to assess the star midfielder's injury.

Australia will face Jordan, Palestine and Syria in Group B at the tournament, which begins next month.

The Socceroos failed to qualify from their group at the World Cup in Russia and failed to deliver a goal away from the penalty spot.

Since Arnold took over they've netted eight times in three games, with six different players getting on the scoresheet.

"The last three games has shown you that with three No.9s, the way we suffocated South Korea, we didn't let them out of their own half with great pressing and a lot of high energy and that's what I expect over in the UAE," said the coach.

Australia are 6/1 to win the Asian Cup. The Socceroos are 1/6 to win Group B.

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Popovic keeping Glory grounded

Keeping his players' feet on the floor won't be difficult despite their excellent start to the season, says Perth Glory head coach Tony Popovic.

Glory have won four games in a row to move four points clear at the top of the A-League.

Popovic hasn't lost any of his games since taking charge before the start of the season, and Sunday's meeting with Central Coast showed he has a team who will fight to the end.

The squad isn't yet at full strength, as Popovic has former Socceroos defender Matthew Spiranovic set to return in the coming weeks.

The coach is confident his players will remain grounded, saying it was "quite easy" for him to stop them getting ahead of themselves.

"They're a very good group; they're a pleasure to coach," he added. "A lot of these players are winners and they were winners before I got here."

Chris Ikonomidis netted their winner five minutes into injury time as they saw off the bottom club 3-2 at nib Stadium.

It was the striker's second goal of the match, and one that impressed his coach as he chested down Neil Kilkenny's cross before slotting the ball home.

"I think we underestimate how difficult it is to bring a ball down in injury time when you're fatigued, and to have that composure to finish it so well," said Popovic, who led Western Sydney to the Asian Champions League title.

"It's so easy to lean back and put the ball over the crossbar; but it just shows the signs of maturity that are coming with him."

The Glory are 6/5 to win their next game against Wellington, who are 21/10, with the draw 5/2.

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Mariners sunk in injury time

Perth Glory needed an injury-time goal from Chris Ikonomidis to win their clash with bottom side Central Coast Mariners 3-2.

The A-League leaders had twice been pegged back by Mike Mulvey's side at nib Stadium, before Ikonomidis netted five minutes into added time.

It was the striker's second goal of the game, after he had given the Glory a 12th-minute lead against the side who have only earned two points from their opening five games.

Neil Kilkenny had a hand in all three Perth goals, starting when he lobbed a ball through for the opener to pick out Joel Chianese on the right side of the area, with Ikonomidis on hand to finish off his volley from close range.

The Mariners got a slice of luck for their first equaliser, nine minutes before the interval. Andrew Hoole played a nice ball into the box bound for Ross McCormack but Tomislav Mrcela, trying to intervene, could only tip the ball past his own keeper Liam Reddy.

Kilkenny's ball into the box on the hour mark gave Shane Lowry the chance to climb and head home a goal that put the Glory back in front.

But just seven minutes later the visitors drew level for a second time when on-loan Aiden O'Neill fired a first-time strike into the top corner from 25 yards out.

That looked like it would earn a point for last season's wooden spoon side, but with time almost up Kilkenny produced a superb cross that picked out Ikonomidis at the far post and he fired into the top of the net.

The Mariners had Kalifa Cisse sent off in injury time when he received his second yellow card of the night.

Mulvey said: "At the end of the day, absolutely gutted for the boys because they put in a great shift today. We've not quite got it right, we're still conceding goals where the opposition doesn't need to do too much.

The Mariners are 5/1 to win their next game against Sydney FC, who are 11/20, with the draw 3/1.

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Ikonomidis enjoyed Italy stint

Perth Glory winger Chris Ikonomidis feels his success back in the A-League is in part down to the years he spent in Italy.

The 23-year-old was man of the match in Tony Popovic's side's 2-1 win at home to Brisbane Roar on Saturday, which meant they're only behind leaders Sydney FC on goal difference.

Ikonomidis wants to add to his six Australia caps, and he's going the right way about it.

He tormented the Roar defence at nib Stadium and set up the opening goal for Andy Keogh, as well as topping Perth's tackle stats.

Ikonomidis, who was born in Sydney, spent six years in Italy before returning for a brief loan stint with Western Sydney last season.

He went to Europe as a 15-year-old and earned a contract with Lazio, where he spent three years. His first start came in a Europa League game against St Etienne in 2015, and he had a loan spell with Salernitana as well as a stint in Denmark with AGF.

Ikonomidis, who has signed a three-year deal with Perth, said: "I've been in Europe since I was 16 years old, so you could say I'm a product of the Italian development system. Going through the youth ranks in Italy brings you up with a different technique and philosophy to football."

Though he hasn't played for the Socceroos for the past two years his chances of a recall are improving as he develops his link with Keogh.

"We've got a good relationship; we talk a lot in training and we're always coming up with new ideas and movements that we can use," said Ikonomidis.

"He's an intelligent striker, he has played in big leagues; it's easy to play alongside him. I try and find space between the defence and the midfield lines, that's where I'm at my best where I can turn and run at defenders."

The Glory are 9/4 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 11/10, with the draw 13/5.

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