Perth Glory head coach Tony Popovic set his sights on reaching the Grand Final after seeing his side secure the A-League Premiers Plate.
Ivan Franjic scored after 65 minutes at HBF Park to earn Glory a 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets that saw the club win its first piece of silverware in 15 years, and Popovic reflected on an emotional moment while calling for his players to go one better.
The marquee man forced a strong save from Ben Kennedy in the 12th minute with a long-range shot, with James Troisi putting the rebound over the bar. He then put a superb cross from Barbarouses into the side netting five minutes later, but Toivonen gave the home side the lead in the 21st minute. The Swede left Kennedy floundering when he got the ball back from Elvis Kamsoba inside the box to finish a well-crafted move started by Barbarouses. But Victory were left to rue missed opportunities when Thomas Deng was adjudged to have brought down Simon inside the penalty area.
Popovic took Western Sydney Wanderers to a Grand Final on three occasions but failed to win any of them, and his determination to put that record right with Glory was evident after they were crowned Premiers.
“Theres been a lot of willingness to be the best we can be,” Popovic told FOX Sports. “Thats shown off the park and its a credit to everyone.
“Ive had three goes at a Grand Final and havent got there. Were guaranteed a big semi-final here at home, but theres a lot of work to do.
What a season it has been. Very proud to win the @ALeague Premiers Plate. Amazing effort by everyone here at @PerthGloryFC. We will enjoy it for a day and then we focus on winning the Grand Final. #OneGlory pic.twitter.com/vcrvXoR7dU
Popovic said Glory owner Tony Sage was emotional following his teams triumph, which came after a run of just one defeat in their last 16 A-League games.
They will end the season with games against Sydney and Wellington Phoenix, but Popovic took a moment to reflect on his pride at topping the table.
“I saw Tony Sage shed a tear tonight — hes put a lot of money into the club and its for a lot of people who have supported the club over a number of years.
“The most pleasing part is theyve performed week after week, you cant fault their performances. Weve played very well and thoroughly deserved this.”
Perth Glory have collected their first-ever Hyundai A-League Premiership title following a 1-0 victory over the Newcastle Jets at the HBF Park in Perth on Sunday.
The Tony Popovic-coached side emerged as the premiers of the Australian domestic league in front of over 11,000 fans after a 65th-minute goal from defender Ivan Franjic gave them a narrow win over the Jets.
For the members. For the fans. For those who celebrated and hurt with us every step of the way. This is for YOU. #OneGlory
The win meant that Perth Glory now have 57 points from 25 A-League matches and have taken an unassailable lead over the second-placed Sydney FC who were held to a 1-1 draw by Western Sydney Wanderers FC in the Sydney Derby the other day.
Its a different feeling. Wanderers was starting a club from scratch, this one weve got a lot of history, but theres been a lot of willingness to be the best we can be. Thats shown off the park and its a credit to everyone, Popovic said on FOX Sports Sunday Shootout.
The win meant that the Glory, founded in 1995, have their first A-League Premiership while also booking a place in the group stages of the AFC Champions League for the 2020 season.
They will now take part in the A-League Finals series to be held in May where they await their opponents in the semifinals. Top two teams from the A-League regular season qualify for the semifinals of the Finals while teams occupying third to sixth positions will begin face off in a play-off for the remaining two spots in the semis.
The Glory have won two Premierships in the National Soccer League era, but it is their first A-League Premiership after the Australian top flight underwent a rebranding back in 2005.