In-form Perth Glory eyeing dream Asian Champions League debut

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The Western Australian club will be playing in the competition for the first time and look poised to push for a place in the knockout stages

Perth Glory are set to make their Asian Champions League debut against FC Tokyo on Tuesday night with the club determined to make a positive first impression. 

On a nine-game undefeated run in the A-League, Tony Popovic will be confident his side can keep that form going against Japanese opponents still trying to find their feet in 2020. 

With the new J-League season only starting in late January, FC Tokyo have won just one of their four matches this year. That single victory came in their ACL play-off against Ceres which booked their place in the competition. 

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Unlike Glory, who had their first group match against Shanghai Shenhua postponed, FC Tokyo have played their ACL 2020 opener as the club conceded a late own-goal to draw 1-1 with Ulsan. 

All in all, Perth should fancy their chances of claiming a positive result away from home on Tuesday with key Spaniard Diego Castro expected to play despite a minor injury issue. 

Popovic has assembled a well-rounded squad this season and he hasn’t been forced to cut any foreigners from the club’s ACL side with Korean defender Kim Soo-beom ensuring all four non-Australian players were able to be included. 

January signings Vince Lia, Tarek Elrich, Daniel Margush and Carlo Armiento have also been added to the squad, allowing Glory the chance to rotate players relatively freely. 

One notable absentee for Perth will be Socceroo Chris Ikonomidis, who injured his ACL earlier this month and faces up to a year on the sidelines. 

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Ahead of their first foray into Asia, Glory are also close to being sold with owner Tony Sage recently revealing he is in talks for a majority sale of the club. 

While details on the likely buyers have been concerning for some fans, Popovic declared those off-field matters won’t be a factor for his players come Tuesday. 

“It’s not affecting it, so I’m not concerned,” Popovic said. “It’s in the media, it’s news. Whenever you talk about ownership changing it’s a headline. The players are fine.

“My association with Tony Sage is 18 months now, and what I have learned about him is how much he loves this club. I don’t think Tony Sage would put this football club at jeopardy, that I’m clear of.

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“We’ve got an owner that’s put his heart and soul and his own money into the club, and he’s rejected many offers.

“I have full faith in Tony Sage that he’ll make the right decision for the club. That’s why we’re calm about the whole situation.”

As Perth Glory looks set to enter an interesting new chapter off the pitch, they’ll be determined to start their Asian Champions League adventure on the right foot as they aim to topple FC Tokyo. 

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