Western Sydney Wanderers - FC Seoul Preview

Visiting coach Hwang Sun-hong has left key players in South Korea for Tuesday night's ACL clash at Campbelltown Stadium

Coach Tony Popovic has warned Western Sydney Wanderers against taking FC Seoul lightly but his side do have a big opportunity in the AFC Champions League (ACL) versus the K League champions.

The Wanderers host Seoul at Campbelltown Stadium on Tuesday night knowing a win will put them right back into contention for the Round of 16, and the Red-and-Black have received a boost with the visitors set to name a weakened line-up.

While Popovic insisted on Monday that Seoul will "come here to try and get a win", news out of South Korea indicates last year's ACL semi-finalists have turned their focus towards defending their K League title.

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Western Sydney effectively ended Seoul's chances of progression from Group F last month with a 3-2 win in South Korea's capital as goals to Lachlan Scott, Terry Antonis and Jaushua Sotirio consigned the Korean team to a third straight defeat in the ACL.

Visiting coach Hwang Sun-hong has flagged making between three and seven changes in Sydney to the starting XI that drew 0-0 with Jeju United in the K League on Saturday.

Sources have told Goal's Korean staff that former Arsenal striker Park Chu-young, fellow forward Yun Il-lok and central midfielder Ju Se-yong have all been left out of the squad that has travelled to Australia.

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Seoul won the 2016 K League title and reached the semi-finals of the ACL but have struggled in 2017 with just two wins in eight games in all competitions.

Even three wins from their remaining three ACL games may not be enough for Seoul to reach the Round of 16, so Hwang has switched his focus to getting back into title contention on the domestic front.

Seoul sit in fifth in the K League on eight points after their draw at home against leaders Jeju (11).

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ACL title-holders Jeonbuk Motors - unable to compete on the continental stage due to a match-fixing penalty - are second, trailing Jeju only on goal difference.

It took Popovic and the Wanderers approximately five months to get going this season but the Red-and-Black are now unbeaten in six games in all competitions, including the weekend's scoreless draw with Melbourne Victory.

That improvement had Popovic smiling on Monday.

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"The players are very confident," Popovic told reporters.

"They're physically in great shape and they know they're playing well.

"Now they're getting rewarded for their good performances.

"We'll be looking to try and continue on in this competition and we know [this] is an important game."

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With a berth in the A-League finals secured, Popovic indicated he will continue to rotate his squad as he has done since the ACL began but the 43-year-old argued Western Sydney won't be casual against Seoul.

"We have to start with the right intensity and the right intent to put them on the back foot," he said.

"Anything less than what we did in Seoul won't be enough."

A win for Western Sydney will take them to six points in Group F and potentially level with Urawa Red Diamonds, who host Shanghai SIPG (9) on Tuesday.


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