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Betting Tips Expert - Sports Betting Tips & News

A-League slump won't fuel Wanderers in ACL

Shannon Cole

They're having a horror A-League season but Western Sydney insist they won't have a point to prove when they kick off their Asian Champions League defence on Wednesday night.

The reigning ACL champions face J-League giants Kashima Antlers on Wednesday having arrived in Japan fresh off their last-gasp 2-1 loss to Adelaide United at the weekend - their 10th defeat in 16 A-League games.

From the dizzying heights of becoming the first Australian club to win the prestigious Asian competition just three months ago, Tony Popovic's side enter their title defence having sunk to the humbling lows of sitting dead last on the A-League ladder with only one win to their name.

But midfielder Shannon Cole insists their domestic malaise won't provide added fuel to do well on Wednesday.

"That's not the case, we won't be out to prove a point. This is a separate competition so it's a fresh start," he said.

"You don't need extra motivation to come into the champions league and want to do well. It's the champions league and it's above all else.

"If you don't have motivation for this tournament then you'll never be motivated.

"The A-League is not really in the forefront of our minds at the moment, the biggest tournament in Asia is what we're focussed on."

Kashima have never lifted the ACL trophy, but the J-League outfit are the most successful Japanese club, having won a record seven J-League titles, the League Cup five times and the nation's main knockout competition, the Emperor's Cup, four times.

The Wanderers' new Japanese imports Yusuke Tanaka and Yojiro Takahagi along with Socceroos defender Matthew Spiranovic will know exactly what to expect from Kashima, having all spent time in the J-League.

Cole says their knowledge has helped the Wanderers prepare.

"Kashima are very technical, they're sharp, they're quick and they like to keep hold of the ball," Cole said.

"But we're very well prepared.

"It's the first game of the champions league and their fans are going to be pumped. So it won't be easy but we thrived on that last year."

Striker Brendon Santalab was ruled out of Wednesday's clash after injuring his shoulder in Saturday's loss to Adelaide.

The 32-year-old is due to undergo scans this week with fears his season could be over.

But the injury could open the door for controversial striker Kerem Bulut.

Bulut joined Western Sydney to play in the ACL, but could be brought into the A-League squad as an injury replacement for Santalab.

The 23-year-old, who was charged with gang-related crimes in 2010, is likely to feature on Wednesday and Cole says he's a great addition to the side.

"He's got a lot of passion and he's hungry to play and hungry to do well," Cole said.

"I'm sure people will be excited to see him play."