Following last night’s Champions League qualifier the Wanderers have now learned who they will face for their 3rd stint into Asia, those being; Urawa Red Diamonds, FC Seoul and Shanghai SIPG. Here we will provide a quick preview and prediction for the Wanderers ACL campaign in 2017.
The group stage now looks like this:
Looking firstly at highly successful Japanese club Urawa Red Diamonds. They were originally founded as Mitishbishi Urawa in 1965 until changing to their current name in 1992. In their recent history they’ve amounted numerous trophies including; 2 J league cups, 2 emperors cups, a J league title and an ACL title, its fair to say they are one of Asia’s most successful clubs, currently ranking 7th in the ACL club list. Urawa has also been home to 2 former Wanderers, Mathew Spiranovic and Shinji Ono. Their current manager is Mihailo Petrovic.
The Wanderers have a history with their second ACL opponent, South Korean outfit FC Seoul. They were originally formed in 1983 as Lucky Goldstar FC but were then renamed in 2004. Boasting a massive 11 trophies including; 6 K league titles, 2 FA cups, 2 League cups, 1 super cup and finishing runners up in the ACL twice. Not to mention that since 2013 FC Seoul have qualified for the knockout stages every year, including a semi final against the red and black in 2014. Ranked only 1 behind Urawa sitting in 8th, current manager Hwang Sun- Hong has managed Seoul for less then a year but has seen high success at the club thus far.
The final club for group F was decided overnight with Chinese powerhouse Shanghai SIPG qualifying. A relatively young club, founded in 2005, Shanghai has recently seen an increase in firepower, having signed Elkeson from Guangzhou Evergrande, Hulk from Zenit and Oscar from Chelsea for 60 million pounds. Putting money and firepower aside, Shanghai also has former Tottenham and Chelsea manager Andrew Villas-Boas at the helm. Despite their recent signings and rise within the Chinese super league, they still have no trophies to their club name, finishing runners up in 2015 and 3rd in 2016. Finishing in the quarter finals of the ACL last year, they’ll be looking to improve and go all the way this time around. Despite having a massive squad of stars, Shanghai only rank 27th in the ACL club rankings.
So overall the Wanderers have a massive mountain to climb with three huge clubs coming up against them, however this should not be a worry for the red and black, as we’ve seen time and time again that the underdog can make miracles happen.