Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic believes his side can still make the Asian Champions League quarter-finals despite a 3-1 first leg loss.
Determination to give the likes of Shinji Ono and Aaron Mooy a fitting farewell will boost Western Sydney Wanderers’ bid to overturn a two-goal deficit and reach the Asian Champions League quarter-finals.
A stoppage time goal conceded in a 3-1 loss in the round of 16 first leg to Sanfrecce Hiroshima in Japan on Wednesday has made the Wanderers’ job tough.
But coach Tony Popovic is adamant it’ll be a different story in the return clash in front of their pasionate home fans at Parramatta Stadium next Wednesday.
With some contracts expiring after the round of 16, emotions are sure to be running high as at least three significant players are expected to play their last match for the club.
Marquee star Ono is leaving the league, midfielder Mooy is heading to Melbourne Heart while winger Youssouf Hersi is rumoured to be joining another A-League club.
The Wanderers will also be rested, unlike Wednesday’s first leg, when they were backing up just three days after the shattering A-League grand final loss to Brisbane.
Goalkeeper Ante Covic and Matthew Spiranovic were the only players from the grand final side to retain a starting spot in Hiroshima, with Popovic saying he had to make so many changes because of tiredness.
The Wanderers fell behind 2-0 before a Tomi Juric penalty gave them a precious away goal, only to have their hosts snatch another goal at the death.
“It makes it a little bit more difficult now, but we have a very good record, at home in front of our fans and we still believe we can go through,” Popovic said.
“The players fought hard, we scored the away goal which was very important.
“We were a little bit disappointed to concede a very soft goal, right at the end of the game, but we will go home with some confidence and we will have a big crowd at home.
“If Sanfrecce does beat us they will have to earn it. We still have a lot of belief.
“We will be a lot better physically and mentally in one week’s time.
“For a lot of our players, it will be their last game at Parramatta.
“Now we can focus for one game and put all our energy into one game.”