Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic says there was no malice behind two Jerome Polenz challenges that A-League officials admit were worthy of red cards.

Popovic backs Polenz after ref blunders

November 4, 2013
By Roje Adaimy

Tony Popovic says it's hard to say whether Western Sydney charge Jerome Polenz deserved to be sent off for two challenges he believes were not malicious - just poorly timed.

A-League referees boss Ben Wilson on Monday admitted Polenz should have been red-carded rather than cautioned for a second-half tackle on Awer Mabel in Friday's 2-1 win over Adelaide.

Wilson also conceded the Wanderers' fullback should have been sent off for a challenge on Sydney's Richard Garcia the week before.

"Yeah ok, you know they're decisions that could've gone against us," coach Popovic said on Tuesday.

"There's certainly no malice in those challenges. If anything, they were maybe poorly timed and that's something we've got to be careful of."

Asked whether he believed the tackles were worthy of a dismissal, Popovic said: "That's always hard to say.

"The challenges were probably poorly timed and, if the ref had deemed them differently, well then it could've been a red card.

"We don't go out telling our players to hurt the opposition. And if we're talking about that certain player, Jerome, there's no malice in his body.

"He's a very good player; I think his record speaks for itself in terms of his discipline. He's mistimed some tackles and that's something he and all of us have to be careful of.

"But we go out there to play hard every week to try and win a game of football."

Popovic said he had not spoken to Polenz specifically about the challenges or warned him to keep his on-field behaviour in check, adding that it was up to his entire squad to ensure they kept their game clean.

"I think, as a group, we've just addressed that we've just got to make sure that our timing is right and we're not clumsy in our challenges, because you can obviously get punished for it," he said.

"That's something in general that we just have to be careful of."

The Wanderers were at the centre of another refereeing blunder at the weekend, with Wilson acknowledging Aaron Mooy should have been penalised for handball in the chain of play which ended with Adelaide conceding a Tomi Juric goal.

Popovic said refereeing was a tough job but was comforted by the fact Football Federation Australia was working hard to improve it.

"Yeah, you could say maybe some teams have been unlucky with some decisions, but that'll happen throughout the year," he said.

"As long as they're trying to get better, I think as a whole, clubs will be happy."

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