Western Sydney Wanderers FC coach Tony Popovic says his side will draw on the experience of their epic round of 16 win over Sanfrecce Hiroshima as they aim to secure the win to get them into an historic AFC Asian Champions League final.
After a tense 0-0 against FC Seoul in the semi-final first leg a fortnight ago, the Wanderers must beat the Koreans on Wednesday night to complete their remarkable journey and progress to the decider.
The Wanderers have already overcome some huge obstacles to get this far in the tournament, including over-turning a two-goal deficit against Sanfrecce with a 2-0 win in front of their home fans.
Popovic says his side gained a lot of confidence from that result and believes it could help them get over the line at a sold-out Parramatta Stadium.
“We’ve been faced with this situation before. We had Sanfrecce here and we had to win by two goals, it was 0-0 at half-time and we didn’t change anything,” the Wanderers boss said.
“The structure stayed the same and we won that game. We know we can win the game, whether that’s doing it in the first minute and getting goals or whether that’s in the last minute getting the winner.
“We’ll take a win whenever it comes. You can’t predict how the game will go and how comfortable a win can be.
“But we’re well prepared for our opponent. We’re well prepared physically and mentally going into this game…we’re raring to go.”
The return of in-form striker Tomi Juric, Brendon Santalab and Shannon Cole is a huge boost for the Wanderers although Popovic wouldn’t reveal the make-up of his starting XI.
The Wanderers will become just the second Hyundai A-League side to reach the ACL final if they are successful on Wednesday night.
“These are the games you want to be a part of,” Popovic said.
“As a club we’ve been fortunate to have a lot of big games in our short history and we’re now in a semi-final of Champions League.
“We’re only one game away from a final so you expect it to be everything it should be. It should be a tough game, a good atmosphere with a near capacity crowd. Everything we expect will be there tomorrow night and we’ll do everything we can to get the result tomorrow night.
“There is no higher competition for any club side in the A-League playing in Asia. It’s the pinnacle.
“It’s a pinnacle in Europe to win a champions league, we’re one win away from having that possibility but we can’t look too far ahead.”
With nothing short of a victory needed for the Wanderers to advance, there is a danger they could be left exposed at the back if they go chasing a goal.
It puts a great responsibility on the defence to keep their concentration for the full 90 minutes and not allow the visitors any dangerous counter-attacks.
“It’s a hallmark of our game that we try to give the opposition as least amount of opportunities as possible,” said skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who will go into camp with the Socceroos soon after Wednesday night’s match.
“We definitely need to be on our game tomorrow night. They’ve got plenty of skill and players that can hurt you if you give them that opportunity to so we need to be on our toes.”
FC Seoul are expected to bring back imports Mauricio Molina and Everton Santos into the starting side after the pair came off the bench in the first leg.