Sydney FC coach Steve Corica believes four points from their last two games may be enough to squeeze his club into the knockout stages of the Asian Champions League.
The Sky Blues are bottom of their four-team group having drawn three of their four games and lost the other one.
Their latest draw came on Tuesday when they played out an exciting 2-2 encounter with Chinese champions Shanghai SIPG.
Sydney led 1-0 at halftime through a super counter-attack goal from Brandon O’Neill, but trailed 2-1 early in the second half, before striker Adam Le Fondre equalised.
They are only two points behind second-placed SIPG, but need to win at group leader Ulsan Hyundai in South Korea in two weeks to remain in contention.
A loss there would end their hopes of advancing, but a win, or perhaps even a draw, could keep them alive, going into their final match at home to Japan’s Kawasaki Frontale. a few days after the A-League grand final.
Second-placed Sydney play a final-round fixture on Saturday away to Newcastle, with Corica expected to rest some of his players.
Playmaker Milos Ninkovic was a late withdrawal from Tuesday’s game with illness and marquee Siem de Jong came off with cramp, but both are expected to be available for Saturday.
But Corica suggested his side’s focus would be on the 7 May game against Ulsan, who they drew 0-0 with in Sydney, with his side enjoying a ten-day break before that crucial encounter.
“We’re going to go there with a strong squad to win the game because I believe that we can still qualify with one win and maybe a draw, or two wins,” Corica said.
“Both (competitions) are very important but we will be concentrating on the Champions League next game.”
Corica was very pleased with his side’s efforts on Tuesday as they scored a second draw in two weeks against a club boasting Brazilian stars Hulk and Oscar.
“First half especially we were the better team and second half we still hung in there and played some very good football,” he said.
“I’m very proud of our boys for the effort and for keeping going.
“They’ve showed great character in both games against them to have fantastic performances.”