Perth Glory are now seven points clear of their nearest challenger, Melbourne Victory, and the A-League premiers' plate looks theirs to lose.
With Victory and third-placed Sydney facing a fixture pile-up in the Asian Champions League from next month on, Perth's task appears even more straightforward.
Perth Glory’s Jason Davidson takes off against Victory on Sunday.Credit:AAP
Popovic bridled when asked if the ACL commitments handed the premiers' plate to his team: ''We will see. I do recall Victory in their previous campaign did very well in the ACL with a lot of matches.
''It actually helped them finish the season strong. It can work both ways, I have experienced positive and negative from it, it depends a lot on the health of your squad.''
In fact, Popovic hopes to be in the same boat next season.
''I definitely would be happy to be in the Champions League regardless. If you are in the Champions League you have had a fantastic season and that's your reward," he said.
''I am sure Sydney and Melbourne will embrace it and I hope we can embrace it next year, that's our plan and that's what we hope to do.''
For Muscat, it's just another challenge to be managed as part of the process of success.
''I don't know what Perth are going to keep doing until the end of the season, we will … stick together, recover well and concentrate on the performance next Friday.
''We are very pleased with the way and the direction we are heading.
''Does the Asian Champions League make it difficult? Who knows. We have prepared for that period from a physical perspective.
''In reality I would rather be in the Champions League than not. It's not a hinderance. If you pointed to the fact that other teams haven't got it, I reckon they would like it.''
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