Popovic: Second leg home semi gives Wanderers the edge

Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic believes playing the second leg of the Asian Champions League semi-final at home gives Wanderers a slight advantage over their Korean rivals.

And Popovic is not expecting any of the off-field shenanigans that dogged the team's away trip to China in the quarter-final.

The Wanderers meet FC Seoul on Wednesday night after getting past Guangzhou Evergrande on the away goals rule.

The A-league club faced a number of incidents while in China for the second leg against Evergrande, with traffic accidents affecting them on the way to the ground and disruptions late at night at their hotel.

Popovic doesn’t believe that will be the case in Seoul.

“We’re not expecting anything like that, but then again we didn’t expect it in China either,” Popovic said.

“We’re just focused on the game. We don’t expect there to be any issues and just expect a good game of football on the pitch.”

The Wanderers play FC Seoul away before the second match at Pirtek Stadium on October 1.

Popovic is glad to have the home advantage in the second leg.

“It turns out to be a slight advantage,” he said.

“But we showed in the quarter-final against the reigning champions that you can play at home first and still get through.

“We know we are up against a really strong opponent in FC Seoul who made the final last year and only lost on the away goals rule, and then the semi-finals again this year.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for that club. It will be a really tough tie but we’re certainly in with a chance.”

Brendan Hamill is expected to partner Nikolai Topor-Stanley in the heart of Western Sydney’s defence with the continued absence of Matthew Spiranovic.

“You always miss top players but we’ve shown at the Wanderers that our whole squad is capable of playing,” Popovic said.

“Everyone has played their part in this great run that we’ve had. Past players that have left the club in the round of 16 and new players that have come in have done a great job to help get us to a semi-final.

“We’re excited at the prospect of playing an away leg first and then a home leg at such a late stage of a major competition. We really want to do the club proud in these two games and we’ll give it our very best.”

Socceroo Tomi Juric led the line alongside Mark Bridge against Guangzhou Evergrande, but the striker is banned along with fellow forward Brendon Santalab.

“Tomi’s a young player with a lot of potential and we hope we can get that consistent performance in him this year,” Popovic said.

“We do have a few players out but the players in this squad have always stepped up and played their part. We’re going to Korea with confidence that we’re choosing a line-up that will do a good job.”