May 03, 2015 11:09:17 UK
Nikolai Topor-Stanley doubts whether any other team will have to contend with the kind of schedule that Western Sydney Wanderers have faced over the past year.
Wanderers have a final chance to salvage something from the wreckage of their A-League season when they go to China to take on Guangzhou Evergrande in their final Asian Champions League group game on Tuesday.
Western Sydney are 4.20 to beat Guangzhou Evergrande, who are 1.66 with the draw 3.60.
It’s definitely been the most difficult and testing season of my whole career.
Even if they get the better of a Guangzhou side who have already sewn up top spot in Group H, it may not be enough for Tony Popovic’s side to qualify for the knock-out stages.
They would need Kashima Antlers and FC Seoul to draw their match on the same night in Japan to snatch the second qualifying spot from the pair, who both have a point more than them.
Kashima and FC Seoul are 3.40 to draw their game.
The last two calendar years have been huge for Wanderers – they won the premiership in 2013 and reached their second Grand Final in 2014 before becoming the first Australian side to win the Asian Champions League.
Taking on the twin challenge of the continental competition and the A-League proved too much for them, though.
They won just four of their 27 A-League games and finished only a point ahead of bottom side Newcastle Jets.
Defender Topor-Stanley, voted the club’s player of the year, has played more than 3,000 minutes during Wanderers’ season.
He said: “It’s definitely been the most difficult and testing season of my whole career, not just physically but mentally.
“It’s difficult to, at the best of times, get yourself up for game after game after game. But when you’re not getting the right results, that’s when you’re really tested.”
The 30-year-old added: “I don’t think any team will go through what we had to go through, in terms of scheduling, ever again. We’ve got through to the other end, not unscathed but still standing.”
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