On the eve of the opening game of the new A-League season, Western Sydney Wanderers skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley has opened up about being rubbed out of this weekend’s most anticipated Sydney Derby of all-time.
The 31-year-old centre-back will miss Saturday night’s epic encounter at ANZ Stadium after he was dealt a red card during Western Sydney’s 4-1 FFA Cup loss to Melbourne City last month.
Topor-Stanley’s mindless challenge on City striker Bruno Fornaroli before half-time not only earned him his marching orders on the night, but also a one game suspension in what would’ve been one of the biggest regular season games of his career.
Speaking exclusively with the Weekender in Penrith last week, Topor-Stanley admitted he was still stinging that he’ll miss out on the chance of playing Sydney FC in front of more than 60,000 fans.
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow at the moment but that’s the game – you have to ride the highs and the lows,” he said.
“I’ve played in front of 55,000 in Melbourne before and that was pretty special.
“I’ll be suspended for the first game – I’ll be a spectator – but I’ll expect nothing but fireworks from both sets of fans, it’ll be electric.”
After incredibly losing their third Grand Final in four seasons last May, the Wanderers will be desperate to begin their 2016/17 A-League campaign with a victory over their cross-town rivals.
While Western Sydney enjoyed a decent pre-season with a number of convincing performances in the FFA Cup, Topor-Stanley said their three goal thrashing at the hands of City on September 21 wasn’t indicative of who the Wanderers are and aim to be.
“It wasn’t a great performance by us, we know that, but we know where we went wrong and it can be rectified,” he said.
“We’re a club that always learns, whether we’re winning or losing, it doesn’t matter. We’re not arrogant enough to think that if we win a game, that there’s no improvement to be had.”
Topor-Stanley was one of five Wanderers players in Penrith last Wednesday afternoon running football clinics and signing autographs for local kids. The former Socceroo said it was important to give back to the grassroots level.
Nathan Taylor is the Western Weekender’s award-winning sports journalist. Nathan is also the Weekender’s Deputy Editor.