Arnie confident Sky Blues can handle their dual Champions League and A-League demands

By Vince Rugari, Vince Rugari is a Roar Guru

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    Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold is confident his side can maintain their high level while also juggling the demands of the AFC Champions League (ACL).

    Few A-League teams have been able to successfully handle the demands of domestic and continental competition in the past.

    But the all-conquering Sky Blues, who scored a commanding 3-0 win over Brisbane Roar on Monday night, appear well equipped to buck the trend.

    “It’s a great challenge. We have no fear,” Arnold said.

    “At the end of the day, the draw from FFA is great for the Champions League with split rounds.

    “We go into the Champions League expecting to do exceptionally well.

    “We definitely won’t be using it as an excuse.”

    Sydney’s first Asian clash will be at home on February 14 against a yet-to-be-determined team — most likely Socceroos defender Matt Jurman’s Suwon Samsung Bluewings.

    The other teams drawn with the Sky Blues in Group H are Shanghai Shenhua and Kashima Antlers.

    Crucially, a rejigged A-League draw means Sydney only have to contend with less than a full three-day break twice, affecting their last two Champions League group fixtures as they clash with their Round 25 and 27 A-League assignments.

    By that stage, Sydney may well already have the A-League premiers’ plate sewn up.

    Their win over the Roar gave them an 11-point lead over the second-placed Newcastle Jets — a handy buffer that should serve as a safety net should things go awry in their first foray into Asia under Arnold.

    Meanwhile, Arnold said the Sky Blues will announce the re-signing of four players this week while confirming he was still searching for a recruit to boost their ACL squad.

    “We’re looking. We’ve got money left in the cap still to bring another Australian or foreign player in,” he said.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • January 9th 2018 @ 2:41pm
      Jordan said | January 9th 2018 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

      They are a genuine chance to win the ACL. It’s a step up in quality to HAL but they are so far ahead of the rest of the league they can handle it imo. Will be interesting to see the odds.

    • January 9th 2018 @ 6:53pm
      Kangajets said | January 9th 2018 @ 6:53pm | ! Report

      It would be good to see Sydney and the other A league teams as genuine contenders this acl.

    • January 10th 2018 @ 12:32am
      TK said | January 10th 2018 @ 12:32am | ! Report

      It will be interesting – they have improved on last year so the team competing in the ACL is actually better than the team that qualified which is probably unusual looking at the history of A league teams in the ACL. I hope they do well.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 8:04am
        Kangajets said | January 10th 2018 @ 8:04am | ! Report

        I agree, Sydney are a better team this year. Adrian has added a new dimension of attack .

        I think Sydney will go close, squad depth and injuries will be a important factor.

    • January 10th 2018 @ 9:27am
      Nemesis said | January 10th 2018 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      Same story, different year.

      Every 12 months, around this time, every ALeague manager who is about to compete in the ACL says exactly what Graham Arnold is saying.

      So far, only Tony Popovic has delivered.

      Graham Arnold has been spectacularly unsuccessful in Asia – at club level in ACL, at club level in the JLeague & when he was coaching the National Team.

      Ange Postecoglou’s great Brisbane Roar teams were spectacular failure in the ACL. Pretty sure Ange never won an ACL match with Brisbane.

      The one thing I’ve observed when watching ACL is that opposition teams are much more clinical in punishing any mistakes. So, if your GK is doing lots of work in the ALeague & you’re still winning, that may change in the ACL.

      • Roar Rookie

        January 10th 2018 @ 10:59am
        At work said | January 10th 2018 @ 10:59am | ! Report

        Well Redmayne hasn’t been doing a lot of work so we could assume from your overly negative comment, being a MVFC supporter 😉 that they should do okay.

      • January 10th 2018 @ 11:13am
        RBBAnonymous said | January 10th 2018 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        No manager not even Popovic could manage both the A-league and the ACL at the same time. The year WSW won it they struggled to make an impression in the A-league. It will be interesting to see how Sydney fare in the second half of the ACL competition provided they can make it out of the group stages. This A-league seasons premiership race already looks sewn up but the real test will be when the new season starts. This season they have a great buffer so they can focus more on the ACL. Next season they won’t have that luxury. In any case I can’t see another A-league team winning the ACL for the next 20 years. It’s just become more and more difficult as time moves on.

    • January 10th 2018 @ 10:23am
      TK said | January 10th 2018 @ 10:23am | ! Report

      Well a coach is hardly going to say he doesn’t think he’ll manage the challenge. Its true brisbane were found out badly as being too slow for asian football. WSW did well playing tough defense as a priority and I can see sydney having in a similar ability but they probably also have more variety in attacking threats. Haven’t looked at how many different individuals have scored goals this season for sydney but my sense is they would have the greatest diversity of goal contributors in the A league which bodes well for ACL also.

    • Roar Rookie

      January 10th 2018 @ 10:56am
      At work said | January 10th 2018 @ 10:56am | ! Report

      The biggest thing for me is that if we can maintain a decent lead on top of the A League, then we can afford to rest players in the match immediately prior to the ACL matches.
      This is a quite a luxury which most teams haven’t had in previous years.

      I think most are expecting Sydney to get out of their group and anything less will be seen as a failure. We need to aim high and dedicate ourselves to this tournament.

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