For Sydney FC Head Coach Graham Arnold, tonight’s opponents are familiar ones as Arnold returns to Saitama Stadium for the first time since his coaching stint in Japan came to an end.
In charge of Vegalta Sendai, Arnold faced Urawa in his final match in charge in Japan and there will be familiar faces in the squad as Yuki Muto, who played under Arnold at Sendai, lines up against the Sky Blues at Saitama Stadium tonight.
“It was my last game in Japan. Last time I was here was my last game at Sendai, it was a learning experience for me,” Arnold said.
“It was a good experience for me, I know what Urawa Reds bring, because they’re a very good team.
“Young Muto, I was the coach that gave him the opportunity at Sendai. I saw a lot of potential in Muto, I thought he was a fantastic talent and it’s great to see he came to a big club like Urawa Reds.
“We always try to play a proactive, possession based game at Sydney, that’s the style that I like. I know Urawa Reds have many good players, they’ve recruited very well, they have Muto that I know well, I’m very familiar with all the players.
“We will be coming for three points,” he continued.
“We’re here in Japan to take three points back to Australia. It’s the first game of a six game tournament and we’re confident we can take three points.”
With Urawa in pre-season and the Sky Blues 20 matches into their Hyundai A-League 2015/16 campaign, Arnold believes the deciding factor in tonight’s group stage opener will be the fitness levels of the two sides.
“We’ve done our analysis and a lot of homework on Urawa Reds so we’re hoping that they’re not at their best tomorrow night,” he said.
“They haven’t had many games, we are fit, we’ve had 20 games in the A-League and we want to play a high tempo game against them.
“I think the deciding factor will be our fitness. I don’t think Urawa Reds will be in top form at this moment.
“This is the first time that Sydney FC has been in the Champions League since 2011,” he continued.
“Sydney is one of the two biggest clubs in Australia, it belongs to be in the Champions League regularly so we’re looking forward to a big performance tonight.”
Sydney FC take on Urawa Red Diamonds in their opening group stage clash of the AFC Champions League 2016 tonight at Saitama Stadium (kick off 9:30pm AEDT). Catch the match live on Fox Sports 4 or follow @SydneyFC on Twitter for updates.
Sydney FC’s 2016 AFC Champions League campaign proudly supported by StarTrack and UNSW
Sydney FC welcome Guangzhou Evergrande to Sydney Football Stadium for their first home AFC Champions League match of the group stage on Wednesday 2 March (kick off 8pm AEDT). Get your AFC Champions League Membership today and see the Sky Blues take on the best in Asia at home!