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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 1 November 2014
SATURDAY 1 NOVEMBER 2014 31 SPORT The Western Sydney Wan- derers are one match away from creating Australian foot- ball history, as they prepare for their Asian Champions League (ACL) last leg final on Sunday. The Wanderers come into the match with the advan- tage, having beating Al-Hi- lal on Saturday in a tough 1-0 win. Wanderers coach Tony Popo- vic couldn't contain his dis- appointment with the team's performance. "They played very well and we didn't, and we won," he said. "The key for us is we can do a lot better in terms of possession. If we do that, we give ourselves an excel- lent chance of lifting the cup." Playing on Sunday (AEST) in Saudi Arabia, the Wander- ers will have an uphill battle to climb. At home, the Wanderers have had a disastrous start to the A-League season, but have shown they're more than competent in the ACL. They've played 13 match- es all across Asia to get to this point, and are equally matched when it comes to the Saudi giants. All the Wanderers need is a win or a draw to take the ti- tle, while Al Hilal will need to be two goals clear to steal the win. Al Hilal's coach Laurentiu Reghecampf is stubbornly confident and says his team can do it, especially surround- ed by its fans. The Wanderers haven't been so lucky in bringing their own fans, as a strict and complex process for obtain- ing Saudi Arabia visas, along with the travel cost, has re- duced the touring party leav- ing from Sydney to 13 men and one woman. Coach Popovic will most likely use the same line-up as he did in the first leg, making use of Tomi Juric's heroics. The striker gave Al Hilal all sorts of problems after he came off the bench in the match's last 30 minutes and scored the winning goal. Popovic will have to work on his back four, after Al Hilal showed it could supersede the defence and get through on a number of occasions. The away pressure will also be an unavoidable problem for the Wanderers, as they will play in front of a 65,000 strong crowd that includes the Saudi royal family. But at least they'll have some local support from rival Saudi football fans hoping to see Al Hilal fall. They put a call out to the Wanderers manage- ment, asking them to bring along some extra T-shirts for them to don at the match. Wanderers on the verge of making history The Western Sydney Wanderers will need a win or a draw to take the title on Sunday. PHOTO: AAP/PAUL MILLER. Secret weapon Tomi Juric might be the Wanderers' best chance of grabbing a win. PHOTO: AAP/DEAN LEWINS. With a 1-0 win already, the Wanderers have one hand on the ACL Cup With three clubs on equal points at the top of the A- League ladder and two teams one game short, no team can really brag about their posi- tions. Changing that situation might take time, but round four is a good place to get the upper hand. While all eyes would have been on the Friday night fare- well blockbuster match for Melbourne City star recruit, David Villa, there is still a lot to stay tuned for. Current ladder leader Mel- bourne Victory takes on a re- juvenated Wellington Phoe- nix on Monday, after coming off a demoralising loss in the FFA Cup. In a very entertaining match that saw six goals put through, Victory wasn't able to save its bacon and has tem- porarily lost its marquee re- cruit, Besart Berisha. The former Brisbane Roar striker hobbled off the pitch with a groin injury in the 43rd minute, while former Socceroo Archie Thompson was forced to withdraw be- fore the match due to sick- ness. Once the game fell into extra time, the woes continued for Victory, as two players were given their marching orders. Defenders Daniel Georgievs- ki and Adrian Leijer were booked, reducing the squad to nine men. Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat admits the game has left the squad short. "It hasn't been a good night," Muscat said. "I can't recall a night like that with injuries, red cards. Not too much went our way tonight, but we've got to pick up the pieces from that." Victory at least gave their fans a lot of be happy about, after the team took hold of the Melbourne Derby last week, forcing Melbourne City into submission, finish- ing on 5-2. More than 40,000 fans packed Etihad stadium, showing the Melbourne ri- valry is still very much alive. Phoenix might be coming into this match buoyed by their 4-1 win over Newcastle Jets at home last week. They're on a two match win- ning streak and are hoping to keep the momentum going. With the FFA Cup semi-fi- nal to train for, Central Coast Mariners will be desperate to secure a win against Sydney FC. The club had a rest last week thanks to Western Sydney Wanderers' ACL finals match, but will have used the down time to hone their attack. It will also be the first time the Mariners will meet a Syd- ney FC crafted by their for- mer coach, Graham Arnold, making for a slightly hostile environment. In the two matches they've played since the season start, Central Coast have one loss and one win under their belt. The 2012/13 champions will be hoping to give their fans more consistency. While Perth got their mid- week win against Melbourne Victory, they failed to gain the upper hand against Ade- laide United on Sunday, leav- ing the away match 2-0. They come up against slight- ly easier opponents this week, taking on Newcastle Jets on Saturday at NIB Stadium. Last week the Jets were in New Zealand, and now they're flying to Perth, a tough fix- ture to be put under. They'll be chasing their first win of the season, and might get the upper hand if Perth are a little worse for wear af- ter their FFA Cup match. Victory feeling the pressure up top Archie Thompson (L) scored two out of Victory's five goals at the Derby, but was taken ill during the club's FFA Cup match. PHOTO: PETER KAKALIAS. Round four might be overshadowed by Villa's departure, but there's a lot of top ladder politics to look at Flemington Racecourse will come alive today, as 14 horses compete in the Lexus and Mackinnon Stakes for a place in the Melbourne Cup. Despite a number of Australians competing on Derby Day, the prediction remains that Fawkner will be the only Australian-bred horse to compete next week. Following today's races, the Cup's 38 con- tenders will be reduced to 24. Aussies race to get into the Cup Jockey Nicholas Hall riding the Australian- bred Fawkner to the barrier for the Caulfield Stakes. PHOTO: AAP/JULIAN SMITH.
25 October 2014
8 November 2014