Romance must be the single most used term to describe what has become The Wanderers’ Story.
No particular fault in that characterisation of fresh-faced upstarts to giant-slaying machine should really be sought. It was spontaneous, electrifying, overwhelming.
What romance fails to fully capture is the preceding perspiration. Only meticulous planning could have enabled the incredible events of the past two seasons. Tony Popovic and his team might instead argue for exertion as a more accurate if unglamorous account.
Overcoming Al-Hilal to be crowned Asian Champions was of course the ultimate reward for that input – especially in consideration of the attritional second leg in Saudi Arabia. A fitting finale.
Now as another continental campaign hangs in delicate balance it might well be time to reflect on the recent past for inspiration. Just over six months have passed since Western Sydney famously ousted FC Seoul in the penultimate bout of the 2014 AFC Champions League knock-out stages.
Tuesday night will mark the second time the two teams have met since Mateo Poljak and Shannon Cole created a shot at history. The score is even after the first 90 minutes just as it was then.
Wanderers again held the K-League club to a 0-0 draw in South Korea and the return fixture should prove decisive again as both teams enter the fixture equal on points. Wanderers came closest to a handy winner in Seoul as Labinot Haliti, Kerem Bulut and Romeo Castelen all had efforts scrambled clear. Even a single strike here in Parramatta come Tuesday night could all but book a return to the Round of 16 with Guangzhou Evergrande and Kashima Antlers expected to bookend Group H.
More magic has already been created this term. Two late goals from Mark Bridge and Japanese import Yojiro Takahagi snatched a vital three points in Kashima to set the title defence in motion. Domestic ills have no place here; Western Sydney Wanderers are Kings of Asia and will perform as such.
Romance in football is hard to ignore, and that’s why we love it.
We take on FC Seoul in a match that could decide who qualifies for the Round of 16. For tickets please click here.