ACL superhero Covic says bring on world’s best!

Having lifted the AFC Champions League title, Western Sydney’s coach and goalkeeper responded to claims they are a ‘a small club’ by announcing their intention to match it with the very best at the FIFA Club World Cup.

The Wanderers defeated Al-Hilal 1-0 on aggregate following a 0-0 draw in Riyadh on Sunday to book a place at the showcase event, set to be held in Morocco in December.

A victory in the quarter-final against Mexico’s Cruz Azul will earn Tony Popovic’s side a showdown with arguably the biggest club in the world, reigning European champions Real Madrid.

And veteran goalkeeper Ante Covic, outstanding in both legs of the final, believes the Hyundai A-League side won’t be there just to make up the numbers.

“We’ve gone through a tough journey to get to where we are,” he said.

“We’ve played some very good opposition here in the Asian Champions League. So going to the Club World Cup, it’s an honour for the players. It’s an achievement. It’s something that we’ve dreamed about and it’s reality now. 

“We’re coming (up) against more quality opposition. We’ve faced them now, we’ll face them again. I couldn’t be prouder. We’re more than capable (of) going there to put in a more than capable performance and effort and do ourselves proud. “

Al-Hilal’s Romanian coach Laurentiu Reghecampf dismissed the Wanderers as ‘small’ and ‘lucky’ before the match and, when asked if he felt the referees favoured Western Sydney in both legs, Popovic bounced on an opportunity to retort.

“I don’t think so, but you obviously do,” he told a Saudi journalist.

“I can see you’re disappointed your team didn’t win, that’s good. But we were called a small club yesterday. Today we are the biggest in Asia. That’s the reality.”

Covic meanwhile played down the treatment he received the partisan home crowd, some of whom used laser pointing devices in a vain attempt to distract the goalkeeper.

“They could have done that 10-fold, as long as that result was the same as it ended and we lift that trophy,” he said.

“Whatever happened during the game, don’t really care anymore, we’ve the champions of Asia.”