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Roma's chance to bounce back

AS Roma

Covic, Haliti sign with A-League newcomers

Just nine player signings and 95 days.

That's all the Western Sydney Wanderers have in their kit bag ahead of their inaugural A-League fixture.

But the team itself is convinced time is on their side.

AFL's Western Sydney Giants were four years in the planning.

By the time Australia's latest sporting franchise takes the field for their first game on October 6 against Central Coast, it will be afforded only a small portion of that time to prepare.

But the Wanderers are confident they can achieve what GWS have largely failed to do - be competitive.

And two signings unveiled by coach Tony Popovic on Monday, Ante Covic and Labinot Haliti, will be key to that aim.

"We are hoping to build something special here," Popovic said at the club's first training session at Blacktown International Sportspark.

"And those players and other additions that will come in will be a part of that. We will definitely be competitive come that first game."

Former Socceroo goalkeeper and Melbourne Victory's Player of the Year from last season Covic said the side will be able to mix it with the top teams.

"We want to be competitive," Covic said.

"We are not going to start joking around and say we are going to win it, but we want to be competitive, we want to go out there and give it a shake.

"We want to come to games and not be afraid of anyone. We just want to be there or thereabouts and prove to ourselves we are capable of mixing it with the best."

Unlike the Giants, the Wanderers have a genuine heartland of fans who have been screaming out for a team since the A-League's inaugural season in 2005/06.

And the groundswell of support they are likely to receive may be a crucial ingredient in turning them into a side capable of competing in the A-League.

And in Covic, who was born in Sydney, and Kosovo-born Haliti, who settled in Sydney at age 14 and played for both Sydney Olympic and Sydney United, the club has two players who will represent the Western Sydney area and its footballing aspirations.

"We just want to get together and wear the jersey with pride," Haliti said.

"It doesn't matter (the limited time to prepare), it will be the same language on the park."


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