Ahead of today’s Asian Champions League Final first leg match Western Sydney Wanderers defender Antony Golec shares with the PFA his excitement and anticipation and why he feels they are ready to once again overcome the odds.
We are a little over 24 hours away from Kick-off of the first leg with Al-Hilal how are the nerves?

AG:I’m a little nervous it. It is not every day you get to play in a final let alone the Champions League. This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity and it is one we are desperate to take.

Q. How have the preparations been in the build-up to the match?

AG:They have been good. We know we are going to face a very tough side in Al-Hilal. It is going to be a very hard game. They have obviously gone through a lot like us to get to the final but we are very confident especially considering the teams we have beaten to get to the final.

Q. You joined the Wanderers just ahead of the ACL campaign, have you been surprised by just how far you have managed to progress?

AG: We set goals, as we always do, and for the Champions League it was to win the competition.  Despite a lot of people doubting us we had the belief amongst the players and the coaching staff that we could win the competition.

Q. You have faced teams such as Guangzhou Evergrande with enormous budgets and overcome them, how would you describe your Champions League experience?

AG: It has been a real highlight for me.  If you had asked me nine months ago when I was Adelaide United whether I would be playing in the Champions League Final and playing week-in-week-out I would have thought you were joking. So I have tried to make sure I enjoy all of it and with the fans we have every game has been unreal.

Q. You have also had to deal with some very hostile environments along the way what impact did this have on the team?

AG: The Guangzhou Evergrande game in China was very tough. The great thing was that regardless of what they did to us, the fans trying to wake us up, the bus accident, two car accidents it didn’t stop us and it motivated us to go further and further.

Q. For you personally it has been some journey since your early days at Sydney FC?

AG: There was period there when I left Sydney FC, and I had to go back to the State League, when it would have been so easy to quit, but I loved the game too much to quit and I knew I had unfinished business and I was lucky enough to get a trial at Adelaide and then finally made my way here.

Q. Players at the club often speak of how much they enjoy working with the coaching staff and playing in front of passionate fans, how have you found your time at the Wanderers to date?

AG: Every game is special here because of the fans. You can’t compare them to any other team in the league or in Asia. They are the best fans and that is what makes every game so special.

The players and the coaching staff have been unreal and improved me so much as a player. The level of detail they go into in all aspects of the game is enormous and is something I have never had before.

Q. The final represents a big moment not just for yourselves but for Australian football in general, how big of an impact can it have on the game here?

AG: For Australian football this would be unreal. It is perfect timing with the Asian Cup coming up. For us we hope we can win it and give the whole league a boost and the Socceroos ahead of the Asian Cup.

Q. Finally, for you personally what will it be like at the full-time whistle of the second leg if the Wanderers are crowned as the Champions of Asia?

AG: You try not to think about it too much and just focus on the game itself but it would be an unbelievable achievement and one that we are desperate to make sure we seize.