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May 16, 2012

Popovic signs with western Syd A-League

The A-League's new western Sydney franchise will unveil Tony Popovic as their inaugural coach on Thursday after finalising a deal.

It's understood Popovic signed after final talks with Football Federation Australia officials on Wednesday, putting the first major block in place as the team prepares to enter the competition in 2012/13.

The appointment, believed to be on a four-year deal, will be announced at a media conference at 1200 (AEST) on Thursday.

It comes after Popovic quit his post and was formally released as assistant coach of Crystal Palace in England, and knocked back an offer from Sydney FC earlier this week.

Sydney FC installed Ian Crook as their coach on Monday.

After assistant coaching roles with Sydney FC and Crystal Palace, Popovic is set for his first head coaching job.

Popovic will be charged with the considerable task of building the club's squad from scratch and will turn his immediate focus to player recruitment.

Adelaide's former A-League player of the year Marcos Flores, Carlos Hernandez, Issey Nakajima-Farran, Tarek Elrich, Kasey Wehrman, Ali Abbas, Michael Thwaite, Adam Griffiths and Ante Covic are among players to have been linked with the club.

Popovic will also be able to draw on his coaching and playing experiences playing in England, Asia and the Middle East in recruiting a squad.

Sydney-born Popovic started his playing career with Sydney United before spells with Japan's Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Crystal Palace, Qatar's Al Arabi and Sydney FC.

He was capped 59 times for Australia in 12 years and was part of the Socceroos squad at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

The new franchise will likely wait to announce a team name with a series of public forums settling on Athletic, Wanderers, Strikers, Wolves and Rangers as the leading contenders with the team colours tipped to be red, black and white.

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