Inaugural Western Sydney Wanderers FC coach Tony Popovic insisted the A-League's newest club will be very competitive when it runs out for its competitive debut on Saturday 6 October against Central Coast Mariners.
Popovic officially unveiled his first three signings – Kwabena Appiah-Kubi, Aaron Mooy and Tarek Elrich - at Monday's announcement of the club's name, logo and colours, but later declared another five signings will be announced over the next few days.
With the season to kick-off in less than four months, Popovic has the 'challenging' task of putting together a new squad of players, but is confident they will be ready and competitive.
"Come October 6 we will have a squad finalised, there is no doubt about that and we'll be very competitive in that first game," Popovic said confidently.
"Obviously it feels a long way away from that at the moment but I've got no doubt we'll have a competitive team on the park.
"There are eight players... obviously the three you've seen today and in the next couple of days we'll announce the other five."
With training due to officially start next week, Popovic will continue to pour through the many emails and resumes the club has received and he will leave no stone unturned in putting the squad together, the aim at this stage to have at least three-quarters of his 23-man list finalised by August.
The former Socceroos defender again emphasised local western Sydney players will be given every opportunity to be part of the club, evidenced by the signing of young Kwabena from Parramatta FC.
"There is still a lot to do but that's not really a problem," Popovic said.
"There is a process we are trying to follow, instead of just getting numbers we want to get the right players and obviously give young guys like Kwabena a chance.
"I have watched him several times now in the State League and the boy has been playing really well and he could turn out to be a really good story.
"It's a chance for him to go from part-time football to full-time football, we promised we give the boys in the west a chance and I hope he takes it."
Goalkeeper Ante Covic, defenders Michael Beauchamp and Nikolai Topor-Stanley and striker Mark Bridge have been heavily linked with the Wanderers in recent weeks, with Popovic still casting his eye over the talent available.
"Obviously there are players we want to look at domestically and internationally, while there will be players that will come out and trial at different points," the ex-Crystal Palace assistant coach said.
"Domestically there are State League players that we want to have a look at and we are looking to work with the State League clubs and get them into training and see how they go.
"It's (the recruitment process) challenging, very challenging, every agent has the best players in the world. It's an exciting part of the job and it is part of the learning curve for me.
"It hits you quite quickly, you know since it (the club) got announced a lot has happened and today we are very proud of this day and what will happen along the way before that first game.
"It's a process that I'm enjoying."
As a former player and assistant coach at Sydney FC, Popovic wouldn't be drawn into predicting the Wanderers would finish above his former employer, but said the first derby game is one he is looking forward to.
However, he is not dismissing the first challenge his side faces first up against a Central Coast outfit he rates very highly.
Asked what potential fans can expect from his team, Popovic was adamant each player would have genuine pride in wearing the club's strip and what it stands for.
"Obviously I am proud to come from the area, like most people are who come from out here," Popovic said.
"I am sure they will get behind the team, support the team and it will be a team that plays good football and will show a lot of pride and passion for the area.
"If you speak with the three boys we have signed here today, they are all excited, proud to be part of it and they want to do well, know the expectation and like all of us take that expectation on board and we are confident we can deliver."
New signing Tarek Elrich can't wait to get underway and as a local boy is very excited to be part of the new club.
"To be honest, it was pretty easy (decision) to come to the club," an excited Elrich said.
"As soon as I heard about the club being launched, it pretty much sunk straight into my heart and I felt very straight at home.
"The young kids of this area need idols and people to look up to and that's what why we are here and hopefully we can work together and make this club the biggest."
Aaron Mooy grew up around the Parramatta area and played his junior football with Blacktown City and is equally thrilled to be part of the new club.
"I grew up around here and it's very special to have a club here and I'm very proud to be a part of it," the Australia U-23 international said.
"It's a great opportunity for me to get regular game time, try to work on my game and try to improve a lot. I can't wait to get started."
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