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Wanderers feeling the heat

Monday 10 Mar 2014 7:18 a.m.

Brendon Santalab (AAP)

Brendon Santalab (AAP)

By Jim Morton

The A-League's most multi-cultural club, Western Sydney, is fighting racial abuse allegations after a dreadful weekend for the Wanderers and Football Federation Australia.

The Wanderers face major battles on two fronts after one of their players was alleged to have villified Sydney FC's Ali Abbas in Saturday night's 3-1 loss to the Sky Blues.

The defeat was compounded by confirmation on Sunday the FFA would launch an investigation, hours before Brisbane Roar took a stranglehold of the Premier's Plate with a 2-1 win over Adelaide United at Suncorp Stadium.

Brisbane now lead the Wanderers by 10 points with five rounds to play and have all but wrapped up the premiership.

A fortnight ago, the Wanderers trailed by just four points but they're now in a dogfight for a top-two berth, which grants a home semi-final, with four rival clubs.

However, Western Sydney's premiership concerns paled in significance with the racial allegations as the Wanderers flew to China on Sunday night for their mid-week Asian Champions League encounter.

The Players Football Association is also poised to investigate the incident from the heated derby clash once Sydney FC formerly lodge their official complaint on Monday.

The alleged slurs leave a taint on the code just one week after the FFA and PFA combined in a joint initiative for the A-League's "Erase Racism Round".

Iraq-born Abbas, who became an Australian citizen in 2012, was among four leading A-League players to star in promotions for the competition's campaign.

Abbas snapped and had to be restrained by teammates at Allianz Stadium after lashing out at Wanderers striker Brendaon Santalab.

The midfielder said in a post-match interview that his religion and culture had been "attacked".

"We are not here to attack religion or culture, we are here to play football," he told Fox Sports. "I come from a different country, I respect everyone here. I should get it back. If I don't get it back, I'm going to attack.

"That's what happened."

Sydney FC's comeback victory, sparked by a penalty save from goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic, has thrust Frank Farina's team into fourth place on 31 points, just one win behind their arch-rivals.

Melbourne Victory (33) are back in the hunt for second place after shrugging off last week's 4-0 thumping by arch-rivals Melbourne Heart with a crucial 3-1 win over Central Coast (30).

Golden boot contender Adam Taggart fired Newcastle (29) to within one point of the top six with a 1-0 upset of the resurgent Heart.

Wellington Phoenix (27) continued last-placed Perth Glory's frustrations with a late equaliser at Westpac Stadium for a 1-1 draw.

NZN

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