Printer Friendly and PDF

Sydney: Coach Tony Popovic insists Western Sydney Wanderers are physically and mentally prepared for the challenge offered by FC Seoul in Wednesday's AFC Champions League semi-final second leg despite the A-League side still yet to start their new domestic campaign.

Western Sydney have already managed to beat J.League champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima and defending champions Guangzhou Evergrande in the knockout stage of the AFC Champions League during the A-League off-season before sharing a goalless draw with FC Seoul in their semi-final first leg two weeks ago.

And, although the new domestic campaign is still a fortnight away, Popovic is out to secure only Australia's second-ever AFC Champions League final appearance with victory at Parramatta Stadium.

"We are well prepared mentally and physically," said Popovic.

"The boys have really recovered well from a tough three week period in terms of travel, and we are ready to go.

"We are still in pre-season, but we expect to be mentally better and sharper, and we also expect a lot more from ourselves in front of our home fans."

And Western Sydney, who have not conceded a goal while winning their last four games at home in the AFC Champions League, are boosted by the return of Tomi Juric, Shannon Cole and Brendon Santalab after the trio missed the first leg at Seoul World Cup Stadium due to suspension.

"Having these three players back fit and fresh gives us more options, so that will help us," added Popovic.

"On the positive side, missing the first leg gave new players exposure at this level which is important."

Adelaide United are the only A-League side to have progressed further than Western Sydney in the AFC Champions League having lost the 2008 final to Japan's Gamba Osaka.

"I'm not looking past this game," said Popovic. "The focus is clearly on this game only. If we do that, we can talk about the next step."

While chasing their own piece of history, Western Sydney are also looking to stop 2013 runners-up FC Seoul becoming the sixth side from Korea Republic to reach the final of the AFC Champions League.

"All Korean teams know how to play in this competition," said Popovic. "They are very organised and structured, all Korean teams. They also have those foreign players that can make a difference.

"You can see they have experience in the competition. They have put their foreign players on the bench (in the first leg) which shows the faith they have in their squad.

"They have those individuals that can make a difference, and so do we."