The Western Sydney Wanderers have little time to recover from their crushing defeat to Brisbane Roar in the A-League finals before they face Urawa Red Diamonds in the AFC Champions League on Wednesday.
The Wanderers suffered a heartwrenching penalty shoot-out loss despite producing a commanding performance throughout the match.
“To be honest, there wasn’t too much said, everyone was really disappointed,” midfielder Terry Antonis said. “We played well and to lose on penalties, it was hard to take. Everyone was a bit upset and emotional and we still have to move on to our next match.”
It is a loss that will take some time to recover from, but it’s time Western Sydney don’t have.
They must try and put it behind them and focus on Wednesday’s all-important continental clash away in Japan. On the line is nothing less than their survival in the Champions League.
— Jerrad Tyson (@jerradtyson) April 23, 2017
“Anything is possible in football, we just have to go over there and keep going with our winning mentality and show what we can do in the Asian Champions League. It’s going to be difficult but football is never easy,” Antonis said.
The Wanderers must win the match, and ideally they need to inflict a heavy defeat upon the J-League side.
With just three points from four games, they face the difficult task of trying to overhaul Group G leaders Urawa and Shanghai SIPG, who have both accumulated nine points, with just two games remaining.
Urawa, meanwhile, only need a home draw to advance to the play-offs.
Wanderers coach Tony Popovic knows his side are up against it, but he hasn’t given up hope.
“It’s the challenge we have … we have to pick up,” Popovic said. “We have had a couple of days here (in Brisbane) to recover.
“We will fly out tonight (Sunday) and see how the players have recovered once we get there.
“But, no matter the circumstances, I am confident we will do the club and the A-League proud.”
Key Wanderers striker Brendon Santalab looks unlikely to make the trip after being replaced in the 115th minute of the extra-time clash against Brisbane.
Midfielder Kearyn Baccus, who played to the point of exhaustion in the same match, is also doubtful.
Sydney need a big result, but they face a formidable opponent in Urawa, who are riding high in the J-League.
The Reds are coming off a 3-2 victory over Consadole Sapporo which kept them in first place on the table, just one week after moving to the top.