Sydney FC’s staff and players have arrived in Doha in Qatar after an “eventful” trip, according to Head Coach Steve Corica, ahead of the resumption of their AFC Champions League 2020 campaign this Thursday evening (kick off 9pm AEDT – Fox Sports ch 505).
The Sky Blues squad left Sydney at 10.20pm on Saturday night thanks to Qatar Airways and took the 15-hour flight to the Middle East decked in masks and personal protection screens.
On arrival at the Hamed International Airport (5.45am local time) all members of the party were required to take a Covid-19 test before leaving.
Security guards and AFC officials then whisked the team through the airport to a bus, which took them on a 30-minute journey to the Ezdan Palace Hotel.
The squad were taken straight to their rooms where they were forced to quarantined for the next ten hours until the tests returned a negative reading.
Head Coach Steve Corica said it was a different experience than usual.
“It certainly was eventful. Wearing the masks and protective equipment is something you have to get used to, but due to the nature of overseas travel these days the flight wasn’t busy and most of us were able to get a row of seats to sleep.
“That will help the boys get over the jetlag quicker, as will being confined to their rooms today.
“Once the test results are in, we’ll be able to get into the gym and onto the training pitch and it will be a three day lead into the game, which is how we usually do it.”
The Sky Blues crossed paths with the Chinese team on arrival at the airport with Shanghai SIPG dressed in full white disposable boiler suits as a precaution.
Socceroos international Aaron Mooy was among the party and Corica says they are a team Sydney FC should be well equipped to handle.
“We’ve played them twice in the last 18 months and have been very unlucky against them,” he said.
“We know what they are about and while they have added some fresh faces, I think we’ll give them a tough game.
“We’ve had a lot of experience in this competition over the last few years, more than any other club in Australia and it’s time we turned that into success.”
The Sky Blues will meet Shanghai SIPG at the Khalifa International Stadium which is set to host the third / fourth place match at the 2022 World Cup.
Sydney FC’s last two meetings with the Chinese club both ended in a draw, with Steve Corica’s men securing a 2-2 result in China in 2019, while a late equaliser for the Shanghai club ensured a 3-all draw a few months later in the same competition.