Sydney FC Head Coach Graham Arnold says the squad are full of confidence ahead of tonight’s first ever AFC Champions League round of 16 tie against Shandong Luneng at Jinan Olympic Sports Centre (kick off 9:30pm AEST).
Having topped the ‘Group of Death’, defeating powerhouse club Guangzhou Evergrande in the process, Arnold said he’s looking forward to tonight’s clash though he said he’s expecting tough resistance from the Chinese side.
As if travelling early to Jinan wasn’t enough for Arnold, the Sky Blues’ boss has also consulted his son-in-law, Socceroos defender Trent Sainsbury, for additional information as he seeks to ensure his squad are as well prepared as possible for their historic clash.
“My son-in-law who plays for Jiangsu I spoke to yesterday and he told me it will be a very tough game here tomorrow night,” Arnold said.
“We have very tough opposition in Shandong, we know that we’re up against a very strong team but we are full of confidence and we’re looking forward to the game.
“We know that Shandong is a very big club in China,” he continued.
“I’ve been involved in football for a very long time and played against China with the national teams and also in the Champions League to know that the Chinese teams are very strong and we know that Chinese football is getting better and better every year.”
Arnold extended his thanks to Shandong for their hospitality, though he said the niceties would stop once the two teams enter the pitch, as he hoped that the Sky Blues’ less congested schedule would prove advantageous over the two legged tie.
“We could not be more grateful and thankful for Shandong [for their hospitality],” he said.
“We will do the same in Sydney, we will give them the best training field, they will be looked after perfectly in the hotel like we are and we will make them feel very happy and friendly, but when you walk on the football field it’s a different game.
“It’s a great achievement by both clubs to get to the last 16 in Asia,” he continued.
“When you look at it both clubs are in the last eight of East Asia so it’s a great accomplishment for both clubs.
“The one advantage that I hope we do have is that we came here early, we’ve had no football for the last week or so and we’re fresh and when we fly back to Sydney on Thursday we have five or six days to prepare for the game against Shandong.”
Sydney FC take on Shandong Luneng in their first ever AFC Champions League round of 16 tie tonight at Jinan Olympic Sports Centre (kick off 9:30pm AEST). Catch the match live on Fox Sports 2 or follow @SydneyFC on Twitter for updates.
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