FOOTBALL: Wanderers defender Brendan Hamill admits his side faces a major test of character, with the potential for the side's season to get worse after three painful defeats.
Tony Popovic's side arrived back in Sydney on Thursday still smarting from the 5-1 thrashing handed out by Shanghai SIPG in the Asian Champions League - a loss that followed a 2-0 defeat to Urawa Reds and a 4-1 hiding to Perth.
The sixth-placed Western Sydney face bottom-placed Adelaide in the A-League on Saturday night, aware that Wellington (seventh) and Newcastle (eighth) will seek to take advantage of any further slip up in the fight to secure the last place in the finals.
Hamill admitted that morale had been hurt by the emphatic nature of the defeat in Shanghai, with the home side's Brazilian strike force establishing a 4-1 lead within half an hour. But the defender insisted that recriminations would only worsen the situation, with no margin for error left in either the domestic or continental campaigns.
"One hundred per cent there is," Hamill said when asked if there was a danger the losses could affect the side's belief.
"No matter what you say, three defeats in a row always plays on your mind. But that's all the more reason to make sure we stay together, and stay resolute in our belief.
"We know and believe that things will change for us, but you can't go your own way in this sort of situation. We have to believe more than ever, no matter what happened the other night. It was a tough pill to swallow, for sure, it's left the boys pretty down.
"Really Shanghai's first four shots were four goals which is nearly impossible to come back from. But the fact is we did show some character in the second half to make sure the damage wasn't even worse, so we can take something positive from that."
Western Sydney have a 10-day break after hosting Adelaide, given a weekend off to recover from the ACL travels, and Hamill said the cumulative effect of travel and games was telling.
"It's going to be tough backing up on Saturday but Adelaide will be in a worse position if anything, having 24 hours less to recover," Hamill said. "But after that we have a weekend off before we fly to Seoul, and it will be a chance to step back and reflect on what's happened.
"It will be helpful to have a break from the action for a weekend as we've had an action-packed couple of months.
"We also have to learn the lessons of the other night quickly - we still believe we can go onto cause some damage in this tournament but we need to fix the small details and the errors that have cost us dearly."
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