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May 16, 2012

Popovic undaunted by western Sydney task

Tony Popovic is confident he can build a competitive squad from scratch after signing on as the new western Sydney A-League franchise's inaugural coach.

The A-League's worst-kept secret was confirmed on Thursday as Popovic was officially unveiled as the new team's head coach after agreeing to a four-year deal.

The new club also installed Lyall Gorman as the inaugural executive chairman, meaning he will step down from his role as A-League chief.

Popovic's appointment comes after he quit his post as assistant coach of Crystal Palace in England and, despite facing a momentous task in his first head coaching role, he's more excited than nervous.

"Certainly it's a great challenge, but one that I can handle," Popovic said.

"We are short of time but we're confident we'll get a good team, a competitive team from the outset and one that's well prepared.

"That's the challenge we face."

Popovic was reported to have fielded an offer from his former club Sydney FC but denied any formal talks.

He was lured away from the final year of his contract with Palace by the chance to start something fresh and return to his roots in the region.

"Building something from scratch ... coming out to the west where I started my football was an opportunity that was very hard to turn down," he said.

"I have a lot of respect for my former club Crystal Palace. They really backed me on this decision. Once they gave the all clear, it was a pretty easy decision."

Popovic and Gorman have set a goal of having a squad of players to begin training on June 25 and recruitment will start immediately with the new season looming in October.

Gorman said the new franchise would soon announce a team name with a series of public forums settling on Athletic, Wanderers, Strikers, Wolves and Rangers as the leading contenders.

While both acknowledged the tough task ahead, Popovic was adamant the franchise would be a success and something the people of western Sydney could be proud of.

"Knowing the area, growing up in the area, I know what the people of the region expect," he said.

"They're hard-working people - they work hard for their dollar. They want to see a reflection of that in their team.

"(Hopefully) we can bring that along with a good brand of football that the A-League will be proud of, and that the people of western Sydney will be proud of."

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