Wanderers Will Want To Finish Club World Cup In Style
December 15, 2014
While the Wanderers won’t be facing the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Karim Benzema and the rest of Real Madrid’s superstars they will believe they can beat Algeria’s ES Setif and at least finish fifth in their first foray into the Club World Cup. Western Sydney can match the efforts of Adelaide United who also finished fifth at the tournament in 2008 thanks to a 1 nil victory over Egyptian club Al Ahly SC. The Asian champions put their poor domestic form and club infighting over player payment behind them to once again show they’re not overwhelmed by the international stage despite a heart breaking loss to Mexican outfit Cruz Azul in a dramatic quarter final. Tony Popovic’s side must now show resolve in their final game and finish on a high.
Wanderers Worry Over Club World Cup Cash
Little has gone right for Western Sydney since they were crowned the Champions of Asia. The Wanderers remain winless in the A-League with a third of the season complete. A return of just 3 points from 9 games has them at the foot of the table and almost out of the finals race already. Their preparation for the Club World Cup took another hit after a pay dispute broke out between the players and the club’s management. The stand-off between officials and the men who do the business on the park was still un-resolved when the Wanderers arrived in Morocco, leaving the players to suggest they’d strike if they weren’t giving a higher percentage of the cut for competing in the international tournament. A resolution though was agreed and the team took to the field for their inaugural match in the competition, and despite the distractions displayed true determination.
No Cruise For Cruz Azul As Western Sydney Slip In The Rain
As they’d been for most of the Asian Champions League the Wanderers were outsiders to beat their opposition in their Quarter final, and though the favourites would finally advance it wouldn’t be without an almighty scare. A dodgy pitch in Rabat was almost unplayable after heavy rain waterlogged the ground and although it made attacking fluency though, in fairness it was a genuine leveller. And it was the underdogs who opened the scoring in the second half after Lacopo La Rocca’s long range skidding effort squirmed its way into the back of the net.
The Wanderers steely defensive determination that’s been missing on the domestic front, returned for the international stage, while goalkeeper Ante Covic was proving impenetrable when his defenders were beaten. As the clock ticked down fans were daring to dream of a showdown with one of the giants of football until Cruz Azul received a lifeline in the 87th minute. The Wanderers who’d escaped several penalty claims in the Asian Cup final wouldn’t be so lucky in Morocco. Shannon Cole’s foul in the box gave the North American champions a golden chance to level and Covic couldn’t produce another miracle.
Momentum was with the Mexicans as the game headed to extra time, and they received a further boost when Wanderers captain Nikolai Topor-Stanley received his second yellow, although the Australian side argued a case of mistaken identity. Cruz continued to dominate and their persistence paid off in the second half of the extra thirty minutes. They hit the front after a scramble in the box before sealing their passage to the semi final with a second successful penalty.
Wanders Will Fancy Their Chances Against African Champions
The Wanderers will now face African opponents ES Setif in the fifth place play off and the Algerians will be desperate to atone for their shock defeat at the hands of Auckland City. The minnows from New Zealand stunned the Champions of Africa with a 1 nil victory against the odds. It puts pressure on Western Sydney to also triumph over Es Setif but the A-League club will need another strong showing if they want to leave the tournament with a victory. There’s more than pride to play for, with the winner receiving 1 and a half million US dollars in prize money while the sixth place finisher accumulates $1.2 million. And having battled hard for an extra piece of the pie, the Wanderers players will want to take the biggest slice possible.