Coach defends derby substitution

Markus Babbel defended his decision to take off Alexander Baumjohann at a crucial time in Western Sydney's 3-1 defeat to Sydney FC.

The coach decided to take off the player who had had a big influence up to that point, when he needed to send on a substitute keeper in the derby at ANZ Stadium.

Vedran Janjetovic had been dismissed for handling the ball outside his area, leaving Babbel needing to take off an outfield player in order for debutant Danijel Nizic to take over between the uprights.

Western Sydney had been ahead at that point, but though it was widely seen by fans as too-defensive move to substitute the attack-minded Baumjohann the home side went on to ship three goals.

Speaking of his decision after the game, Babbel said: "Alex is a fantastic footballer and I feel really really sad for him because he's one of our best players.

"But in this moment, for me it was clear we need legs now and we have to defend more than to attack. And Alex is a fantastic player offensive-wise, but defensive is not his biggest strength, so I have to make that decision."

As far as the Wanderers coach is concerned, what cost his team as they slumped to a fifth-straight loss to their derby rivals was the team's frail mentality.

Babbel said it would have been easier for him to accept if the goals they conceded to the Sky Blues had been well struck from outfield play.

The fact they conceded twice after the break from set-pieces didn't sit well with him as a former defender, he admitted.

"We are not hungry in this moment; we don't see the danger in this moment," he added.

"[So] we don't have to be surprised if you lose this game, because this is a good side."

Western Sydney are 11/4 to win their next game against Adelaide, who are 10/11 with the draw 11/4.

View all Soccer betting

Babbel reinforces need to fight

Fight and quality were on display for Western Sydney as they got back to winning ways against Central Coast, according to coach Markus Babbel.

Wanderers went into the clash with the bottom side having lost their last two games without scoring, but a superb strike just before the break from Keanu Baccus gave them a massive boost.

Jaushua Sotirio's strike in the second half wrapped up the points at Spotless Stadium, leaving Babbel well pleased with the performance and the result.

Midfielder Baccus notched his first goal for the club with a low drive past keeper Ben Kennedy from outside the penalty area.

Babbel said he'd made his players aware before the game that he was looking for a reaction after the previous week's 4-0 defeat to Melbourne Victory.

"I said this to the players during the week, 'you can fall down, this can happen but stand up – stand up and fight for your dreams, for the success,' said the coach.

"This for me today was outstanding…everyone gave everything and that's it, the good luck came on your side because you deserve it and to be fair it was a good performance."

Speaking of Baccus, who has been with the club for four years and was previously captain of the youth team, Babbel said he was improving a lot.

"(He's) one of the best players on the pitch," he added. "If he's doing the right things and listens to us he shows a top performance but it's not just today, he's shown good performances before."

Wanderers will go into next week's derby against Sydney FC boosted not just by their win over the Mariners but also following the Sky Blues' shock 3-1 home defeat to Wellington.

Western Sydney are 12/1 to win the Grand Final.

Wanderers are 11/4 to win their next game against Sydney FC, who are 19/20 with the draw 13/5.

View all Soccer betting

Baccus blast helps Wanderers claim win

A clinical finish from Keanu Baccus put Western Sydney on their way to a 2-0 win at home to bottom side Central Coast Mariners.

Baccus struck with a fizzing low shot from outside the area three minutes into added time at the end of the first half, giving Wanderers a big psychological boost.

The Mariners, who had had decent chances in the first half, weren't able to respond and slumped to their fifth consecutive defeat.

Jaushua Sotirio fired in a second goal midway through the second half for Western Sydney as they claimed the three points at Spotless Stadium, moving them into the top six.

The visitors would have felt unlucky not to be ahead when Baccus struck, having seen both Michael McGlinchey and Connor Pain denied by keeper Vedran Janjetovic.

Baccus took a good first touch to set himself up for his powerful drive beyond the dive of Ben Kennedy to put the hosts in front with virtually the last kick of the half.

Markus Babbel's side went onto secure just their second clean sheet of the campaign, helped by the presence of veteran defender Patrick Ziegler on his league debut.

Western Sydney were dominant in the second half and doubled their lead on 68 minutes. Bruce Kamau's shot from 18 yards was blocked by Kennedy but the rebound went just far enough to give Jaushua Sotirio the chance to bury a follow-up effort underneath the keeper.

Babbel acknowledged it had been a risk to put Ziegler straight into the starting line-up against the Mariners, after he'd been sidelined for more than two months.

"But the game was too important today," he said. "Patrick is a top-class player; if he's on the pitch, players around him feel more confident, feel better and for me, it was clear that he can play a top performance.

Wanderers are 13/5 to win their next game against Sydney FC, who are 19/20 with the draw 13/5.

View all Soccer betting

Ziegler to return against bottom side

German defender Patrick Ziegler will make his first league game for Western Sydney as they bid to end a two-game losing skid against Central Coast on Friday.

Ziegler played two FFA Cup games for Markus Babbel's side after arriving from Kaiserslautern, but has been on the sidelines for almost two months with a knee injury.

Babbel will bring him back against the Mariners after opting not to give the 28-year-old a run out in the club's National Youth League game last week due to the match being on a synthetic pitch.

Ziegler is short of match minutes but Western Sydney need him back after conceding six goals over their last two matches, in defeats to Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory.

With Babbel having described the game against defending champions Victory as "men against boys", the experience of Ziegler who played 59 games for Kaiserslautern should bring more solidity to the centre of their defence.

It's not certain he will play the full 90 minutes against the A-League's bottom side but he is expected to start.

Babbel said: "He's a top class defender, he will help us a lot because he brings out [the best] for the players around him, he is like an anchor.

"I hope he can show his performance; I know how difficult it is but we need him now and he's a top defender. I believe he will show his performance and he will help the team win three points."

Though the coach was critical of his team's showing against Victory, he felt they had done well in their previous outing against the Jets and had been unlucky to lose.

"We played a fantastic style of football and we did many, many things right, more things than wrong and we lost this game," said Babbel. "This can happen; the mentality and how we played was there."

Western Sydney are 12/1 to win the Grand Final.

Wanderers are 3/5 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 17/4 with the draw 10/3.

View all Soccer betting

Babbel sees red in Wanderers’ loss

Coach Markus Babbel was sent off in a heated derby at the SCG as his Western Sydney side went down 2-0 to Sydney FC.

The former Liverpool defender was marched midway through the second half after a Wanderers goal was ruled out by the VAR.

Winger Roly Bonevacia appeared to have set up a grandstand finish by bringing Babbel's side back to within a goal when he fired a low shot past keeper Andrew Redmayne at his near post.

But the effort was disallowed when, on review, referee Chris Beath ruled a retreating Jaushua Sotirio impeded Michael Zullo from defending the Joshua Risdon cross in the lead-up.

Babbel flung off his jacket in disgust as he remonstrated with the fourth official over the decision, and kicked the advertising hoarding after being shown a red card by Beath.

None of the match officials spotted the incident at the time, but Beath was firm after the game that he'd made the right call on review.

"Let's make it very clear that the offence that we've given for is actually offside," he said. "The attacker is clearly in an offside position and his action impacts on the defender, on Zullo's ability to play the ball."

The Sky Blues secured the points courtesy of goals either side of the break from Adam le Fondre and Alex Brosque.

It means Steve Corica's side, who are bidding for a third consecutive Premier's Plate, have lost only one of their past 15 matches against their fierce rivals.

Le Fondre made sure fans at the first football match at the SCG in more than 30 years didn't have long to wait for a goal.

He was initially denied from close range by keeper Vedran Janjetovic, after Paulo Retre's free-kick ricocheted to him. But he made no mistake with his second chance to put the Sky Blues ahead.

Brosque struck early in the second half as he took advantage of a Risdon turnover in his own box.

Western Sydney are 8/1 to win the Grand Final.

Wanderers are 1/2 to finish in the top six.

View all Soccer betting

Babbel: Baumjohann can make difference

New Western Sydney coach Markus Babbel is hoping fellow German Alexander Baumjohann can be an impact player in the new A-League season.

Baumjohann has been brought in during the off-season along with fellow countryman Patrick Ziegler as Babbel looks to get Wanderers back challenging for the championship.

The 31-year-old has had little game time over the past two years, making two appearances for Coritiba and then playing three times for their Brazilian Serie A rivals Vitoria.

Baumjohann won trophies across his two spells with Schalke 04 in Germany, including the 2011 Super Cup.

Babbel is crossing his fingers the midfielder can remain healthy in the upcoming campaign.

"If he is fully fit, then he can play a fantastic role, but it is up to him," said the coach. "I have told him it doesn't matter how old he is, or what happened before – this is his big chance now.

"I believe in him, I trust him, I will work with him – but it is up to him to take the opportunity. He wants to be 100 per cent fit – and if he is 100 per cent fit, he can make the difference for us."

While former Germany U21 international Baumjohann has inked a 12-month deal, Ziegler has signed on for three years.
The central defender has been brought in after three other defenders – Jack Clisby, Michael Thwaite and Jonathan Aspropotamitis – moved on during the off-season.

Clisby and Aspropotamitis both went to Central Coast on free transfers, while former Australia international Thwaite has signed for Gold Coast United.

Wanderers' other signings have included three former Melbourne City players – Nick Fitzgerald, Bruce Kamau and Ruon Tongyik.

Western Sydney are 8/1 to win the Grand Final.

Wanderers are 2/1 to win their first game of the league season against Perth Glory, who are 13/10 with the draw 13/5.

View all Soccer betting

O’Doherty makes Wanderers switch

New Western Sydney coach Markus Babbel has made midfielder Jordan O'Doherty his first signing for the club.

Wanderers have recruited the 20-year-old from Adelaide United, where he played in 28 games over two seasons.

Babbel, who took over last month, has also signed two teenage defenders who had been in the club's youth team last season – Wanderers Academy products Tass Mourdoukoutas and Tate Russell.

O'Doherty, who made his senior debut at the age of 15 in Adelaide's National Premier League, says he can't wait to link up with his new teammates when training starts in a fortnight.

After inking a three-year deal, he said: "I want to play in as many games as possible for the club and ultimately, I want to win trophies with the team.

"To be honest, I've always enjoyed watching the Wanderers members and fans more than any other in the league. They've brought a lot of excitement to the league and they're the best in the league, so I'm looking forward to playing in front of them."

Mourdoukoutas, 19, has been promoted to a two-year senior contract having so far played just one game.
The former Sydney Olympic player can play in the centre of defence or at left-back.

He said: "A new coach means a fresh start and especially with the pre-season coming up, it's a good time for us to try to impress him. He (Babbel) was a defender as well so there's no better person for me to learn off."

Russell, 18, has been part of the Wanderers Academy system since late 2015 and has signed a two-year scholarship with the Red & Black.

Wanderers are 8/1 to win the 2019 Grand Final.

Western Sydney are 10/1 to win the minor premiership.

View all Soccer betting