I would like to state up front that this week’s view is not an Arsenal blog, but a football blog. So please forgive me for my indulgence.
I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate the Western Sydney Wanderers. I’m not a Wanderers fan (Central Coast Mariners have my allegiance) but WSW recent achievement is truly remarkable & deserves due credit.
Formed in April 2012 as part of the latest A League expansion, The Wanderers have had a pretty successful, albeit short, history.
In their first season (12/13) they won the A League title & were runners up in the Grand Final. They followed this up with a runners up spot in both comps in 13/14.
However the past 24 months of competition pale into insignificance following their latest success.
Following a 1 nil victory at ‘Wanderland’ (aka Parramatta Stadium) in the first leg of their Asian Champions League Final, they travelled to Saudi Arabia to take on Al-Hilal the second leg.
Backed by a massive travelling support of 14!!!!
(Draconian visa restrictions in Saudi, only allowed entry to the countryside you were invited & only allowed the 1 female fan to attend as long as she was escorted by her father at all times.)
Western Sydney arrived in the desert & against the backdrop of a hostile 70,000 all male home fan base, who targeted the travelling players with laser pointers at every opportunity, they conquered the 6 times Asian champions. Well they came away with a nil-nil draw, but never the less, they came away with the Asian Champions League Trophy & that’s all that matters.
It wasn’t a pretty performance, more of a park the ute display of the not so well known 5-5-0 formation.
Al-Hilal had 4 decent penalty shouts waved away by a lenient Japanese referee & missed numerous sitters including a point blank header by Brazil International Tiago Neves.
All the stats stacked up against the Wanderers:
Possession: 65% – 35%
Shots on target: 8 – 1
Corners: 13 – 2
Fouls conceded: 8 – 21
But it’s the score in the top left that matters at the final whistle & that showed the Wanderers had come away from the King Fahd Stadium in the ascendency as the first Australian Asian Champions.
And now its onto the Club World Cup in January to line up against Real Madrid & the like.
So I tip my hat to the Western Sydney Wanderers, from embryo to continental champions in 30 months, not a bad achievement.