Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold has praised his side’s resolve after revealing an illness swept through most of his squad ahead of Friday night’s stalemate against Brisbane Roar.
The top-of-the-table clash at Allianz Stadium failed to deliver on the hype as a stodgy affair ended 0-0 at Allianz Stadium.
The Sky Blues lacked fluency and energy in attack, with Arnold revealing a virus in the camp had a huge effect on their performance.
“I was worried today because there’s a bug that’s gone through our team, our players have been ill with gastro and it’s gone through about eight or nine of them,” the Sydney boss said.
“I was worried they wouldn’t be able to get through the game. The effort they put in and for what they did on a heavy pitch, defensively we were outstanding, Brisbane didn’t have a shot on goal.
“It wasn’t the best game to watch on the eye but I was very happy with our defence.
“We’ve had two players get glandular fever, about eight or nine with the gastro, just a 24-48 hour bug. It’s knocked them about so for what they did tonight I’m very happy.”
Arnold said he will give the squad the whole weekend off to try and recover before switching their focus towards next weekend’s grand final rematch against Melbourne Victory.
Against Roar, neither side were able to find their groove in the greasy conditions, with only two shots on target over the entire 90 minutes.
Arnold believes the stop-start nature of the contest is down to teams consistently fouling to prevent opponents hitting them on transition.
“There was no fluency to the game. The trend across the A-League at the moment is a lot of fouling in transition. It’s the same from every [team in the competition],” he said.
“You win the ball, you try to break forward and there’s a foul.
“It’s something the referees need to look at because it’s across the board and it’s just cheap fouls.
“For the spectacle it’s making it difficult for the players to show their strengths. There was about 35 free-kicks tonight. The balls only in play for 60, 65 minutes, so that’s one every two minutes. It’s why the game are broken up so much.”
Arnold said the injury to Milos Ninkovic – which forced him off early in the second half – was not a repeat of his calf problem but the result of Corona’s heavy challenge late in the first period.
“Ninkovic came in at half-time and he could hardly walk…[his ankle] swelled up.
“He tried to go further but couldn’t. It was a lunging tackle [by Corona], maybe a yellow.”