April 4, 2014
Hugely popular: Western Sydney Wanderers’ Shinji Ono. Photo: Getty Images
Shinji Ono will play his final home game for Western Sydney Wanderers in the regular A-League season on Saturday night against Brisbane Roar and will be honoured with a stadium-wide tribute in the 21st minute of the match.
A giant visual display combined with more than 5000 Shinji Ono masks have been distributed to attendees at the game to bid the Wanderers inaugural marquee a fond farewell before he returns to his native Japan to join J-League 2 side Consadole Sapporo next season.
The attacking midfielder started in the Wanderers 2-1 midweek loss to Kawasaki Frontale in the Asian Champions League but has a chance to retain his position in the starting line-up to combat the congested schedule.
“He’s a special player and has been for us since he’s been here. He’s looking forward to this game as we all are, it’s a big game, they’ve wrapped up the Premiers Plate and deservingly so,” coach Tony Popovic said. “I’m sure he will be received very well, he’s looking forward to a big crowd here at home. He’s regularly acknowledged at our crowd and I’m sure they’ll acknowledge him tomorrow night and hopefully we get the three points as well.”
The Roar will be without their main striker Besart Berisha who is suspended after receiving his third dismissal of the season last week and will likely be replaced by Brazilian forward Henrique at the pointy end of their attack. Despite the absence of the Albanian forward, Popovic doesn’t expect Brisbane‘s attack to suffer as a result.
“They’ve obviously shown that when he hasn’t played, they can still win games because they have a very good squad. I’m sure that whoever they will put in there will do a good job,” Popovic said.
The Wanderers are yet to beat Brisbane Roar this season, but midfielder Mateo Poljak says their main motivation is securing second spot rather than making a statement at the expense of the newly-crowned premiers. Given the midweek games as part of the Asian ChampionsLeague, the week’s rest awarded to second spot will be a welcome respite for the travel weary Wanderers.
“We want to show that last year’s success was not coincidence and we want to stay in the top in the A-League and play regularly in the ACL,” Poljak said.
Source : Football Federation Australia