Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold says his side are the best team in the Hyundai A-League and will head to Melbourne extremely confident they will return with the title.
The Sky Blues stormed into next Sunday’s decider against Melbourne Victory thanks to a 4-1 drubbing of Adelaide United on Saturday night.
Goals to skipper Alex Brosque (two), Bernie Ibini and man-of-the-match Chris Naumoff sent the Sky Blues into their first grand final in five years.
And Arnold declared their form since the turn of the year has their primed to topple their hosts and Premiers Plate winners Victory.
“I’ve been saying for the last month that since January 3 to today, we’re the best team in the league,” a beaming Arnold said post-match.
“Since the Asian Cup that’s 41 goals in 14 games…we’re getting better and better.
“That’s the belief I have and the stats will show you since Christmas we’ve got four or five points more than Melbourne Victory.
“We have to go down confident and our away form is outstanding so we’ll be extremely confident.”
The Sky Blues and Victory have met three times this season, with all three matches ending in entertaining draws.
It will be Arnold’s third Hyundai A-League decider in four years as a coach and first with the Sky Blues after joining the club at the start of the season.
The experienced boss gathered his entire squad and coaching staff in a huddle in the middle of Allianz Stadium at full-time, eager to get across an important message.
“I told them I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve done but we’ve won nothing yet,” Arnold revealed.
“Enjoy tonight and enjoy tomorrow but Monday we’re back in at work and we’ve got a hell of a challenge ahead of us to go to AAMI (Park).
“The good thing about that is there’s only going to be 25,000 there and not 55,000 so it shouldn’t be too daunting down there. I want them to enjoy the next few days but overall we’re close but we haven’t achieved anything.”
While Brosque’s first goal – a stunning back-heel flick – just before half-time was the highlight moment and a key part of the match, the undoubted star was 19-year-old Naumoff.
“He’s a great kid. The good thing about Kiki [Naumoff] is he’s getting a lot of belief in himself. He’s a shy kid but it doesn’t look it after putting him on the pitch in front of 30,000 and playing like that,” Arnold said of the young attacker.
“He was outstanding tonight. It’s just a matter of him believing in himself. One-on-one situations he’s so quick and we’ve been working on his decision making.
“He’s definitely got a huge amount of talent and that’s one of the reasons I’ve shown a lot of faith in the kid. He’s getting better and better.”