WANDERERS coach Tony Popovic says the pain of losing Sunday's A-League grand final hurts more than last year's defeat in the big one.
The Western Sydney Wanderers lost 2-1 to Brisbane Roar in extra-time at Suncorp Stadium, and were just four agonising minutes away from claiming their first A-League title before Besart Berisha equalised in the 86th minute.
"I feel worse than last year because last year we weren't good enough on the day," Popovic said. "I thought this year we were.
"We totally dominated the game in the first half and right up until the goal.
"To put on such a great effort and performance and to come up short, it certainly hurts more than last year."
The injury to Wanderers' defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley was the turning point in the match.
After leading 1-0 following Matt Spiranovic's goal the Wanderers looked in control, but when their defensive rock went off with a knee injury the Roar started to dominate play.
"It just changed the dynamics," Popovic said.
Soon after, Roar striker Berisha grabbed an equaliser from a set piece before Brazilian substitute Henrique scored the winner 12 minutes before the match was due to go to a penalty shootout.
"It was always going to be one moment and I think we had the best moment which would have changed everything but they scored and closed it out quite well in the end," Popovic said.
Popovic had nothing but praise for not only his men but the Wanderers' supporters, who have been a revelation since the club was formed two years ago.
"I'm very proud of the group and what they've done this year. We got very close but unfortunately didn't win.
"They [supporters] love the club and we'll bounce back straight away.
"Their support is just phenomenal.
"When you see the street full of Wanderers fans, they're a credit to the A-League not just our club.
"I'm sure they're disappointed but I'm sure they're proud of their club."