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Popa tells squad, embrace derby emotions

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Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic has told his players to soak up as much of Saturday night's derby atmosphere as they can.

Emotions are set to run high in the Wanderers' first game of the A-League season - a cracking clash with Sydney FC at ANZ Stadium.

Popovic trusted his squad to channel their passion into a winning performance, urging them to indulge their senses in front of more than 60,000 fans.

"They have to embrace it," Popovic said.

"They'll have butterflies - if they don't they're not human.

"You're walking out to a huge crowd.

"They should embrace what they feel and know that when the game starts they're very well-prepared to put on a good show."

Off-season recruit Steven Lustica is used to playing in front of Western Sydney's active supporter group, the Red and Black Bloc, as an opponent with former club Brisbane.

He was eager to experience their fervent support for the first time.

"Playing against the Wanderers was always the game you look forward to the most because of the atmosphere they create at their home games," Lustica said.

"The passion, you can really sense and feel it.

"That type of atmosphere is something you always strive to play in.

"On Saturday night it's going to be even bigger and louder."

Such a blockbuster clash would have seemed unimaginable five years ago when the Wanderers were first conceived and running on next to nothing.

But Popovic always envisioned it.

"Maybe not so soon," Popovic said.

"But when you do a trial game at the start, and you have only five players signed and 4000 people show up, you know that this is possible.

"I'm proud that this great club can host a game here at ANZ, and to have the numbers expected tomorrow is phenomenal."

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