Ex-Socceroos to square off as coaches
TONY Popovic says his former Socceroos teammate Paul Okon was always destined to be a coach at some level.
The pair will go head to head as opposing managers for the first time tomorrow night when Popovic's Wanderers host Okon's Mariners.
Popovic played 58 games for the national side, Okon 28, before both headed down the coaching path.
"He was a real thinker ... the understanding he had of the game and the way he played, and the experience he had in the countries that he's played in, there was always a strong possibility he'd get involved in coaching,” Popovic said of Okon, who was assistant coach of the national under-23 side before taking the job with the Mariners.
Despite Central Coast struggling with just one point to show for its first three games under Okon, Popovic is wary of the visitors.
"They've had their moments, and their moments are getting longer,” he said. "Against Brisbane they had two very good periods of 20-25 minutes ... they were dangerous.
"You can see what Paul is trying to do with the team - a team that will press, that is mobile, that wants to play good football.”
Sitting sixth, the Wanderers are hardly setting the world on fire, with most of the heat on goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.
The side has conceded seven goals, a number as a result of blunders by the 27-year-old.
But Popovic said he would be sticking by the embattled goalie, who allowed Newcastle to salvage a 2-2 draw last week.
"We didn't talk specifically to him,” Popovic said. "I think I mentioned after the game, we were more interested in how we got to that stage that we put ourselves under pressure, and how it got to the stage that we gave two free-kicks away on the edge of the box.
"If you have a look at both instances, we had the ball prior to that.
"So we have to do better with the ball when we're not under pressure because on both goals we were under no pressure and we gave the ball away, and then the mistake happens after that.
"But we need to correct the first part (then) the second part won't happen.”