WSW hope to stun FC Seoul early with ACL hopes on the line - Tony Popovic
Western Sydney will look to put FC Seoul on the back foot early in a bid to turn their Asian Champions League lifeline into a late dash for the knockout stages.
The Wanderers salvaged their nearly dead ACL campaign last month via a 3-2 win over the K-League giants, their first points that also served to breathe new life into a niggly A-League season.
On Tuesday night their continental ambitions will go back on the line against the same opposition in Campbelltown.
The Wanderers are in third place in Group F, on three points and possessing an unenviable -7 goal difference.
A loss to last-placed Seoul plus an Urawa Red Diamonds win over Shanghai SIPG the same evening will mathematically spell the end for Tony Popovic and his men.
In the Wanderers' favour is their good track record against their Korean counterparts, with two wins and three draws from five games to date.
So good, in fact, that Popovic only marginally stopped short of saying his side held the psychological advantage.
"We have to start with the right intensity and right intent to put them on the back foot," Popovic said.
"Hopefully, if that is the case, we can get them into the mindset of trying to hold on and get something on the break.
"That would put us a little step ahead."
Either way, Popovic expected Seoul to play for a first win of the tournament, if for nothing else than to regain pride.
"Knowing them -- and we have a lot of experience against them -- we feel they will come here to get the result," he said.
"I don't see them as a football club that will just leave this game and say it's not important.
"We know they have a strong enough squad to put out a very good side."
The Wanderers are fit and healthy apart from Jaushua Sotirio (muscle tightness), but changes are expected given the short turnaround from Saturday night's goalless draw with Melbourne Victory and a final-round A-League trip to Adelaide looming this Saturday.
Against the Victory, the sixth-placed Wanderers were a notch below their recent impressive form, which directly prior had produced three straight wins featuring nine goals.