WESTERN Sydney Wanderers marquee star Shinji Ono says Tony Popovic is by far the best coach he's ever worked under.
Ono has played a central role in the Wanderers' fairytale debut season, which has already seen them win the Premiers Plate.
The experienced 33-year-old has plied his trade across Japan, Holland and Germany and has worked under various coaches, including Socceroos coach Holger Osieck at J-League club Urawa Red Diamonds, but says Popovic is the greatest.
"He's the one who's the best," Ono said today. "He's very honest ... if my performance is good, he says good. If it was disappointing, then he says so.
"We trust him all the time and the players want to play for the head coach."
The Wanderers play reigning champions Brisbane Roar in Friday night's semi-final clash, but Ono believes Western Sydney are already the best team in the A-League.
He admits Australia's play-off system is foreign to him and reckons the team that finishes the season on top should be crowned champions.
"After 27 games this is the best team," Ono said, referring to the Wanderers. "But Australian people like more big games.
"I'm very excited, but it's the same as a usual game."
A groin injury has threatened Ono's participation in Friday's semi-final, but he says he has responded well to treatment and should be fit to play.
Coach Popovic insisted he won't risk any play who wasn't fully fit.
"That's something we haven't done all year," Popovic said. "If the players are 100 percent we'll make them available.
"I'll certainly play a fit player over someone who's not quite right."
While Popovic is proud of his team, especially their 12-match unbeaten run, he wants more from them.
"We've just got to concentrate on what we've been doing all year," Popovic said.
"They (Brisbane) come in with momentum, but we would argue that we've got 12 games of momentum and we'll take that into the game on Friday.
"If we perform the way we can, we're confident that we'll get through."