Michael Zullo looks to cross the ball against the Bluewings.
Michael Zullo looks to cross the ball against the Bluewings. BRENDAN ESPOSITO

Sydney FC boss insists ACL campaign still kicking

SYDNEY FC boss Graham Arnold insists he remains confident in his side's ability to win the Asian Champions League despite the opening round loss to Suwon Bluewings that he described as a "wake-up call”.

As his side prepared to face Chinese giants Shanghai Shenhua on Wednesday night, Arnold rejected "negative thoughts”, and said his side had already absorbed lessons from the 2-0 loss at home to Suwon.

Defeat in China would leave Sydney scrambling to secure a place in the top two of the group and advance to the knockout stages, and Arnold will take no chances by deploying his strongest side despite the prospect of an A-League derby four days later back in Sydney.

Graham Arnold watches on during the Group H match against Suwon Bluewings.
Graham Arnold watches on during the Group H match against Suwon Bluewings. BRENDAN ESPOSITO

Shanghai face their own pressures after a 1-1 draw away to Kashima Antlers last week, and Arnold said his side was brimful of confidence that it could kickstart the Sky Blues' continental campaign.

"Of course, (last week) was one game and there's five to go,” he said.

"We don't think negatively. The whole plan is to get into the top two in the group and then move forward, and we expect that will happen.

"When you lose, you learn, and I've analysed the game from last week which showed me there was nothing between the teams for 68 minutes. In the big moments we probably let ourselves down but I've picked up a lot from that game.”

Sydney's Brandon O'Neill is brought down in the game against the Bluewings.
Sydney's Brandon O'Neill is brought down in the game against the Bluewings. BRENDAN ESPOSITO

Rested by a weekend off between ACL games, Arnold said Sunday's third derby of the A-League season wouldn't enter his thoughts until the final whistle against Shanghai.

Sydney don't return to Australia until Friday morning, but will have 48 hours to recover from the flight before taking on Western Sydney at Allianz Stadium in the last derby there before it is rebuilt.

"We don't have one eye on Sunday night, only on the ACL,” he said.

"We'll worry about the derby come midnight Wednesday night Shanghai time, when this game is over.

Carlos Tevez in action for Shanghai Shenhua.
Carlos Tevez in action for Shanghai Shenhua. Zhang wei

"It's one step at a time and our priority is winning every game and preparing to do that. For me this is any other game, we prepare as normal with the routines we're used to.

"The starting XI probably won't change, they've done a wonderful job for the past two years. I've got a side I believe will win.

"We've analysed Shanghai's game with Kashima. Previously we didn't have too much footage of them, now we can see what they have as team.

"Our record shows that if anything we're even better away than we are at home in the A-League. Our game plan will be too be proactive and dominant in possession.”



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