AAP Soccer

Glory coach calls for less A-L day games

By AAP Newswire

Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic has an easy solution for the A-League's heat woes: move games to later in the day.

The Australian football players union has urged A-League powerbrokers to consider switching the competition to winter.

Dwindling crowds and TV viewer numbers have become a big concern, but player safety has also become an issue in what has been a hotter summer than usual.

Glory owner Tony Sage blasted Football Federation Australia for playing last Saturday's A-League clash with Adelaide United at HBF Park in scorching temperatures.

The mercury was still hovering around 34 degrees at the 4.30pm (AWST) kick-off, with Sage blaming FFA for possible player distress.

Afternoon games played in extreme heat have fuelled the debate about whether the A-League season needs to switch to winter, even though it would mean going head-to-head with the AFL and NFL competitions.

Popovic says switching afternoon games to the evening would help solve the problem.

"The afternoon kick-offs are the issue for me," Popovic said.

"As a coach and as a club, playing at 4.30 in the afternoon or 3pm in the afternoon is the issue.

"We've played four consecutive games where there's been drinks breaks due to the heat.

"If we played at seven o'clock at night ... you'd find the speed of the game is better, the product is better.

"I think that's the key - to make sure our product can improve, the standard of our game can improve.

"Whether that's in summer or winter - I think there's a lot of things that need to be discussed to warrant a change."

Glory will be aiming to notch a club-record sixth straight win when they take on the Wanderers at Bankwest Stadium on Sunday.

Chris Ikonomidis trained away from the group on Thursday after injuring his knee against Adelaide, but Popovic is optimistic the star attacker will be cleared to play.

"He's certainly getting better, we are very happy with his progress," Popovic said.

"We were a bit surprised after that challenge that he's recovered so quickly.

"If the game was tomorrow and he's not training with the group, you'd be concerned. But with four days to go, we're optimistic that he'll be fine."

Midfielder Juande (groin) is no guarantee to return.

Glory have rocketed from last spot to third on the back on their inspired winning run, which has seen them outscore their opponents 17-2.

The Wanderers have lost seven of their past nine games to crash to eighth spot, heaping massive pressure on coach Markus Babbel.