Popa and Choi pleased after Seoul stalemate

Western Sydney Wanderers FC coach Tony Popovic claimed he is “sure” his team will advance to the ACL final after their scoreless draw away in South Korea, while Seoul FC coach Choi Yong-soo felt his side had an advantage.

Popovic’s men held out against a wasteful FC Seoul in the first leg on Wednesday, meaning a win at home in a fortnight will be enough for Western Sydney to become just the second Hyundai A-League club to reach the ACL decider.

With three players – Tomi Juric, Brendon Santalab and Shannon Cole – suspended and key defender Matthew Spiranovic unavailable for the semi-final first leg through injury, Popovic was thrilled with the draw and declared Western Sydney will attack Seoul on October 1 at Parramatta Stadium.

“We’re always aggressive at home and have great records [there],” the Wanderers boss said at his post-match press conference.

“We will be confident and target a win. I’m sure we will take the next step to the final in two weeks.”

As the second half wore on, the Wanderers were pushed further and further back but their hosts did not trouble Ante Covic too often, with only five of their 17 shots testing the Western Sydney goalkeeper.

While the visitors had up to eight players in their defensive penalty area late in the match, Popovic argued that mainly came down to a lack of fitness as they continue to prepare for the A-League season.

“From our point of view, we’re very happy with the result,” he said.

“It was very difficult match but 0-0 away match is happy result. We’re in pre-season so it was very challenging physically but the players showed fantastic effort.

We could not fill the substitutes bench and played 17, 18-year-olds in the ACL semi-final stage. This is fantastic result and we will be better in two weeks.”

Popovic’s counterpart Choi Yong-soo insisted his team held the upper hand in the two-legged semi-final despite failing to take their chances at the Seoul World Cup Stadium.

“We really wanted to win at home. We created many chances but our finishing was disappointing,” Seoul’s coach said.

“We’re capable of scoring in the away match. You might think Western Sydney got an advantage but I think we got the advantage mentally.”

The match was Seoul’s third ACL fixture in a row that ended scoreless but Choi played down concerns about his team’s scoring ability.

“It’s disappointing but I have to face it. Not conceding is important too,” he said.

“We just should be more confident.”