Ex-Australia defender Popovic to coach Melbourne Victory

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Former Australia defender Tony Popovic will take over as head coach of the A-League's Melbourne Victory on a three-year deal beginning in July.

The 47-year-old Popovic is returning to Australia's domestic competition after previous success with the Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory.

He guided the Wanderers to the domestic title in 2012-13 and then to the Asian Champions League title in 2014 in the club's first season in the continental competition. He also won an A-League premiership with Perth in 2018-19.

Former Blackburn Rovers coach Steve Kean will remain as interim coach at the Victory for the remainder of the season as the team attempts to avoid finishing in last place. Kean replaced Grant Brebner, who was fired after the Victory's 7-0 loss to Melbourne City on Sunday.

Once an A-League powerhouse, the Victory has struggled following the end of Kevin Muscat’s successful six-year spell in May 2019, with Marco Kurz, Carlos Salvachua and Brebner all coming and going as head coaches.

In a statement, Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro said Popovic would be given free rein to overhaul all aspects of the club.

“As is always the way at Melbourne Victory, Tony as head coach will be responsible for the entire A-League program overseeing support staff, recruitment, list management and our A-League playing style and performance,” Di Pietro said Thursday.

Popovic was available after being fired by Xanthi in February following nine games in charge of the Greek second division club.

Di Pietro said Popovic’s success with Australian clubs made him the leading candidate for the Victory job.

Popovic played 58 matches for Australia and also Crystal Palace in England, for Sanfrecce Hiroshima in Japan and Sydney FC in the A-League.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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