With second place on the A-League ladder on the line, Western Sydney aren’t about to let Harry Kewell’s retirement suppress their hunger to beat the Heart.
The enormity of playing in Harry Kewell’s farewell A-League match isn’t lost on Mark Bridge, but the Western Sydney striker is keen to spoil the party.
Saturday’s final-round fixture against a Kewell-skippered Melbourne Heart will determine where the Wanderers end their sophomore season on the A-League ladder.
A win will ensure them second-place and provide a much-needed weekend off after their Asian Champions League clash with Ulsan Hyundai in Korea on Tuesday.
“It’s a big game. I mean our future is in our own hands, really,” Bridge said on Friday.
“And then you’ve got Harry retiring in the same game. It’s a massive occasion and it’s something a lot of the boys are looking forward to.”
Bridge said there was no doubt Heart would want to send the Socceroos great out on a high – and believes their “dangerous” form of late had made them a serious threat.
“They’ll come out firing and I’m sure Harry will be having one of his better games,” the 28-year-old said.
“He’s had an amazing career – he’s our golden boy, probably our best ever player. It’s special to be a part of his last game, but we hope we end it on a sour note.”
Not knowing where or when they’ll play the finals so late in the season is unfamiliar territory for the Wanderers, who already had one hand on the Premiers’ Plate this time last year.
“It’s a bit weird at the moment – usually we have our schedule a month in advance, but next week’s a bit blank because we’re waiting to see what goes on with everyone else,” Bridge said.
“We’re second in both (the A-League and ACL), so we’re in a very good place. It’s up to us really where we finish in both.”
Tony Popovic said his side had prepared well for a match, which even the normally-understated coach admits “has a lot riding on it”.
“We’ve got to build on the performance we had against Brisbane (last Saturday), especially the second half which was excellent.
“We’re confident that if we can play to that standard we’ll get the three points tomorrow.”