Wanderers draw in Japan v Ono's ex-club
A-League's Western Sydney Wanderers have managed a 2-2 draw in their opening pre-season tour match against Shinji Ono's former club Shimizu S-Pulse in Japan.
First-half goals to new recruit Tomi Juric and Kwabena Appiah gave the Wanderers a 2-1 lead going into the halftime break - aided by a little Ono magic.
The home-town hero helped set-up Appiah's goal after a failed attempt inside the box, earning the biggest cheer of the night from the 2000-strong crowd in torrential rain at Naihondaira Stadium.
Despite Juric, Appiah and Labinot Haliti creating plenty of chances at goal, the Wanderers could not extend their lead in the second half.
The J-League side found the net late in the match with a long-range equaliser from Kohei Hattanda.
Coach Tony Popovic said he was pleased with the performance of the 22 squad players who each earned valuable game time.
"It was good to play J-League opposition, a good experience for the boys and a good performance," said Popovic.
"This provides much needed preparation not just for our season but also for our first ACL (Asian Champions League) campaign.
"It gave a good taste for the group of how Asian opposition will play and get a feel for games under different conditions."
The Wanderers on Friday travel to Guangzhou in China for a six-day training camp, including a clash with Guangzhou R&F.
They cap off their tour of Asia with a match against Tokyo Verdy in the Japanese capital on September 12.
Meanwhile, the club have re-signed midfield import Mateo Poljak until the end of the 2015-16 A-League season.
Poljack scored one goal in 25 appearances for the Wanderers during their inaugural season and said he is very happy at the fledgling outfit.
"I was a bit sceptical when I came to the club as everything was new, but the huge success we had last season made me love this club and the fans and I'm really excited for the seasons ahead," the 23-year-old said.
Popovic said Poljak still had a way to go to reaching his full potential but was showing signs of improvement.
"What we know about Mateo is that he has the hunger to continue learning and developing and a desire to achieve," the manager said.
"Last season was his first in a foreign country, he needed time to settle and time to grow. I think we all saw that the more he settled, the more his performances improved."