Rafinha of Ulsan Hyundai competes with Nikolai Topor-Stanley of the Wanderers during the AFC Asian Champions League match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Ulsan Hyundai at Parramatta Stadium. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Rafinha of Ulsan Hyundai competes with Nikolai Topor-Stanley of the Wanderers during the AFC Asian Champions League match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and Ulsan Hyundai at Parramatta Stadium. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images) Brendon Thorne

Wanderers in need of Seoul-destroying win

WESTERN Sydney coach Tony Popovic is expecting a huge challenge from FC Seoul tonight despite the Korean outfit not scoring a goal in its past 382 minutes of Asian Champions League action.

The teams go head to head in the second leg of the ACL semi-finals at Parramatta Stadium and the Wanderers must win if they are to advance to a historic final in just their second season as a professional entity.

Popovic is expecting the unexpected, despite Seoul's poor form in its domestic competition, and its lack of goals recently in Asia.

"We're one game away from a final, so you expect it to be everything it should be," he said.

"It should be a tough game with a great atmosphere.

"Everything we expect will be there, and we'll do everything we can to deny them of making that next step."

Wanderers attackers Tomi Juric and Brendon Santalab and winger Shannon Cole are back for this game from suspension.

"It's important. In the first leg we were one short on the bench," Popovic said.

"Having these three players back fit and fresh gives us some more options and that will definitely help us."

For Seoul, there are fitness concerns over Spanish left-sided defender Osmar Barba.

But the former Thai-based star should play and keep a solid backline in tact.

Yun Il-lok is a big miss as the attacker is on Asian Games duty, during which he picked up an injury.

But Seoul coach Choi Yong-soo stressed his team had done its homework on its hosts.

"The game is not about goals, it's about winning," he said.

"We don't expect the Wanderers to be too defensive at home, but we have lots of different strategies.

"Last year getting so close to the cup (before losing to Guangzhou Evergrande in the final) is motivating the team."

Popovic's team is renowned for its hard-working ethic and high levels of fitness.

But he said its collective temperament would also serve it well tonight.

"We had Sanfrecce Hiroshima here (in the round of 16) and we needed to win by two goals, and it was 0-0 at half-time," he said.

"We didn't change anything. The structure stayed the same and we won that game.

"So we know if we're at our best we can win, whether that's in the first minute or the last minute.

"The players have played many big games on the big stage. They can handle pressure.

"They have belief, and we've showed we don't panic when we've needed to score."


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