Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold is confident his side can create history when they host Urawa Red Diamonds, the so-called ‘Manchester United of Japan’, in a crucial ACL clash on Wednesday night.
The Sky Blues will be chasing a maiden appearance in the knock-out stage of the Asian Champions League when they take on the J-League powerhouse on matchday 5.
With their domestic season having finished ten days ago following a thumping win over Perth Glory, Sydney FC have had over a week to prepare for the clash at Allianz Stadium - not something they've been use to in recent times.
Although disappointed not to be playing in the Hyundai A-League Finals Series Arnold said the enforced break had given his side some much needed respite.
“Mentally it’s freshened us up,” Arnold told reporters at Tuesday’s official pre-match press conference.
“Being involved in two competitions at once and having the schedule that we’ve had has made it a very taxing time because of the travel and the number of games we’ve had to play.
“Therefore it’s been good we’ve been able to have a rest but at the same time there’s nothing like match rhythm.”
With Urawa set to be boosted by a throng of travelling supporters there’s sure to be an electric atmosphere at Moore Park, as was the case when the sides last met back in 2007.
Arnold was sure the Red Diamonds would be much stronger opposition than what his squad faced in Saitama and gave an indication as to how he believes they'll set up.
“When you play against Urawa Reds you’ll see they’re a very mobile team. They play a system that probably most people in Australia haven’t seen before,” said Arnold.
“Defensively it’s a 5-4-1 but with the ball it’s a 3 or 4-1-5. They’re very attacking, very mobile.
“I’ve been in Japan and they’re probably the biggest club in Japan.
“People say they’re the Manchester United of Japanese football with the support that they’ve got and the colour. It’s a really good opportunity for us to test ourselves against the elite football team in Japan.”
The Sky Blues currently lead Group H on nine points, two ahead of the Reds Diamonds.
Sydney’s place in the round of 16 will be secure if the Pohang Steelers don’t take maximum points from tonight’s clash against reigning ACL champions Guangzhou Evergrande.
But Arnold implored his side to secure the all-important top spot on Wednesday night.
“We have a chance of making history at Sydney,” said Arnold.
“Last season we created history by becoming the first Sydney FC team to get 50 points and score more than 50 goals in the season.
“This year, if we win tomorrow night, we can have not only the opportunity to create history but to top the group.
“For me it’s about challenging the players and the expectations of getting a win at home tomorrow night.”