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Western Sydney Wanderers - Shanghai SIPG Preview

Goal.com logo Goal.com 10-05-2017

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic has paid tribute to Shannon Cole and left the door open for a return to the club when the versatile full-back ends his playing career.

The foundation Wanderers player will make his final appearance for the club against Shanghai SIPG in the AFC Champions League (ACL) on Wednesday.

Western Sydney cannot advance to the ACL Round of 16 but Popovic is keen to give Cole a "fitting send-off" by making him captain for the night.

Shannon Cole to leave Wanderers

"Shannon was one of the first players signed and we've been through a lot together," Popovic said on Tuesday.

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"It's fitting that his final game for the club will be tomorrow here in Sydney. I'm honoured to have been his coach.

"It's been a fantastic five years together with so many highs.

"Hopefully in the next five years we can replicate the success we've had in the first five."

No excuses for WSW's poor defence - Aspro

Popovic added: "It's not the end of our association with Shannon - I think he knows that and understands that.

Shannon Cole, Western Sydney Wanderers

"Shannon will either be looking from a distance if he's playing elsewhere and hopefully when he doesn't play any longer he'll be a big part of our club in a different role."

Western Sydney have lost four of their five ACL matches so far in Group F including a 5-1 defeat away to SIPG in February.

Hulk, Shanghai SIPG

But the Wanderers may have a shot of at least picking up a point against the Chinese Super League club at Campbelltown Stadium, with SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas leaving star imports Hulk and Oscar at home.

Oscar, Hulk star as ACL goes goal-crazy

SIPG's XI will hardly be second-string, however, with former ACL champion Elkeson set to lead the line with Uzbekistan international Odil Akhmedov and Wu Lei supporting from midfield and out wide.

Hulk scored once and set up two other goals in SIPG's demolition of Western Sydney earlier this year, with Oscar getting on the end of one his fellow Brazilian's assists.

Wednesday night will be the Wanderers' final game of the 2016-17 season.

Popovic's men finished sixth in the A-League and exited in the first week of the finals after a penalty shootout loss to Brisbane Roar.

SIPG are unbeaten in six games in all competitions.

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