In their first hit-out of the new season, Western Sydney Wanderers have beaten Macarthur Rams 1-0 thanks to a Brendon Santalab rocket as the red and black prepare for a busy August.New signing Brazilian Vito Saba had the assist for the only goal of the match in front of a typically large and boisterous crowd at Campbelltown Stadium.
Fed by Saba, Santalab found himself with time on the ball to skip past his opponent before unleashing into the top-left hand corner of the goal.
The long-range effort ensured the Red and Black started off the new season in a convincing fashion against their local league opponent .
Against the Rams, Wanderers had a number of trialists on show as the club prepare for a huge August.
It starts with a Westfield FFA Cup tie in Adelaide against former NSL giant City, and finishes later in the month with a two-legged ACL quarter final against star-studded Guangzhou Evergrande.
It promises to be a huge task for the A-League club, with Guangzhou managed by World Cup-winning coach Marcelo Lippi and players such as Italian internationals Alberto Gilardino and Alessandro Diamanti.
‘‘It’s something that is special for the club and the players and they’re all keen to be involved in it,’’ Popovic told Fairfax media.
‘‘It’s going to be tough for myriad reasons. First and foremost the opponent is an excellent team, they have a fantastic manager and won everything last year in the ACL so we know what we’re up against.
‘‘At this club, we’ve never gone into a game expecting to lose or been content to lose. We went into the group stages, we lost our first game and everyone expected us to not go through to the round of 16, but we did that.
“We had a tough tie against Sanfrecce [Hiroshima] and the odds were against us in that as well and we got through. The odds are against us again but we’ll go in with a lot of belief.”
Wanderers first half XI: 20. Dean Bouzanis (GK), 3. Daniel Mullen, 5. Brendan Hamill, 8. Mateo Poljak, 9. Tomi Juric, 12. Alusine Fofanah, 15. Yianni Perkatis, 18. Iacopo La Rocca, 19. Mark Bridge (C), 22. Steve Kuzmanovski (Trialist), 24. Sandro Pasalic (Trialist).
Second Half XI: 1. Ante Covic (GK), 2. Shannon Cole, 4. Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 6. Marty Lo (Trialist) (17. Liam Youlley 79’), 7. Labinot Haliti, 11. Brandon Santalab, 14. Kwabena Appiah, 16. Jonathan Aspropotamitis (Trialist), 23. Jason Trifiro, 26. Jaushua Sotirio (10. Vito Saba, 67’) 34. Daniel Alessi.
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