Terry Antonis left a strong impression on Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, with the ‘Special One’ praising the Sydney playmaker’s aggressive performance against the EPL champions.
Antonis, a boyhood Chelsea fan, was the Sydney’s most impressive performer as they went down 1-0 to the Blues in front of almost 84,000 fans at ANZ Stadium.
The Socceroo midfielder was involved in everything, even putting in a couple of crunching tackles on Eden Hazard early on which Mourinho loved.
“The guy who kicked Hazard three times in 10 minutes really impressed me,” the Chelsea boss said, referring to Antonis.
“I like it because there are no friendlies. I don’t like the word friendly match. Of course some matches are more important than others but a match is a match.
“So that young boy [Antonis] in midfield that was really aggressive and playing for a result, impresses me.”
The Chelsea boss was immense in his praise of the Sky Blues, who could have snatched a draw late on if not for the referee ruling out Sebastian Ryall’s effort for a handball.
Prior to that the EPL champions looked comfortable with Loic Remy’s 30th minute scorcher proving enough in the end.
Chelsea’s superstars didn’t disappoint the sellout crowd, with Eden Hazard sublime, while Diego Costa, Remy and John Terry were also exceptional.
But they couldn’t put the stubborn Sky Blues away.
“Obviously there is a difference in terms of the technical and tactical level of the players. You cannot find in Sydney FC or even Australian football, you cannot find players like Eden Hazard or Diego Costa,” Mourinho said.
“But they had lots of young players, a good coach, good organization, stability in the team.
“If I compare Sydney FC in my first trip to Australia with the teams I find in the MLS 15 years ago when I went to the States for the first time, I have to say I was impressed.
“If they go in the right direction, if the domestic competition goes in the right direction…I like what I saw.”
Overall Mourinho rated his side’s first trip to Australia in 41 years as a success and was overwhelmed by the support they received while here.
“People were so nice and enthusiastic. Every time you put one foot outside the hotel the people were so nice that it was difficult to do something,” he said.
“I was happy to feel that people like us and like football and like Chelsea.“I know it’s far for us but I think we have responsibility in relation to the passion for football around the world. It cannot be 40 years for the next time Chelsea comes to [Australia].”