Socceroo’s insider tips on Seoul dangers

K-League-based Socceroo defender Alex Wilkinson has revealed the blueprint for victory when Western Sydney Wanderers FC face FC Seoul in their Asian Champions League semi-final.

The Wanderers flew out of Sydney this morning (Monday) ahead of Wednesday night’s semi-final first leg against the K-League giants at the Seoul World Cup Stadium.

Wilkinson, a World Cup Socceroo who plays for current league leaders Jeonbuk Motors, knows all about the threats FC Seoul possess and was happy to pass on his advice to Tony Popovic’s troops.

“Asian teams in general tend to struggle against really well-organized teams,” Wilkinson told  

“In Asia it’s a lot less tactical and a lot more gung-ho, get the ball forward and you rely on individual talent.

“They (FC Seoul) tend to struggle against teams like the Wanderers who are very well organized.

“It will be an interesting match-up. They (FC Seoul) tend to play three at the back as well a lot of the time, that’s something the Wanderers can exploit as well if they get numbers forward quickly.

“If they (Wanderers) can come over here and grab a goal going back to Australia they would have to be pretty confident. They are pretty strong at home and will have a huge crowd there.

“The Asian teams probably aren’t as used to travelling for 10 hours as the Aussie teams are so that could be a huge advantage as well.”

Finalists in last season’s ACL, FC Seoul possess a squad full of Korean internationals as well as some gifted imports, including Colombian playmaker Mauricio Molina and Spanish utility Osmar Barba.

“Molina is a dead-ball specialist who can play up front or out wide and any free-kick around the box is very dangerous with him around,” Wilkinson said.

“They’ve got (Japanese international Sergio) Escudero up front whose a small player but quick and very skilful.

“And the big guy in midfield, Barba, he runs the show for them in midfield and is a really important player.

“But the Wanderers are well organized defensively and tough to break down and I think in the Champions League that goes a long way to being successful.

“They (Wanderers) tend to be able to get goals as well wherever they go so if they can pick up a goal they’ll go back home and would have to fancy their chances.”

Wanderers are aiming to become just the second Hyundai A-League club to make the ACL final since Adelaide United did it back in 2008.

But Wilkinson says the success of the Wanderers, and Melbourne Victory’s and Central Coast’s impresses displays in the group stage, means Australian clubs are no longer taken lightly in the region.

“It’s great to see the Aussie teams doing so well in the Asian Champions league. We had Melbourne (Victory) in our group and they only missed out on goal difference and the Mariners nearly got through as well,” Wilkinson said.

“It’s interesting because I think in Asia the A-League teams are getting a lot of respect now.

“I know when we played Melbourne (Victory) our coach was really wary of them and hugely respectful of them which was great.”

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