Sydney FC coach draws on boxer's mantra for ACL showdown with J.League power

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold drew on heavyweight boxer Deontay Wilder's inspirational words ahead of his side's must-win AFC Champions League showdown on Wednesday night.

The Sky Blues are winless from two Group H games following a loss and a draw.

They face J.League group leaders Kashima Antlers at their home ground Allianz Stadium on Wednesday night knowing a win will reignite their campaign, while a loss will be a hammer blow.

In addressing the team in recent days, Arnold drew on Wilder's mantra after he knocked out Luis Ortiz in a heavyweight title fight in recent days. 

"After the heavyweight title fight the other day, he [Wilder] said 'You believe it, you speak it, you receive it'," quoted Arnold at the official pre-match press conference.

Brash boxer Wilder said the mind is a "powerful thing" after his victory. 

Arnold is a strong believer in the mental side of football, too. 

"It's about belief and belief is huge in this group," Arnold stressed. 

They'll need belief.  Sydney FC have never beaten Japanese opposition in the ACL.

The Hyundai A-League leaders are coming into this game against last season's J-League runners-up fresh from a shock loss to a 10-man Newcastle Jets on Saturday in the Hyundai A-League.

Arnold felt mental and physical fatigue was to blame for the loss which cut their lead to eight points at the top of the league.

"Unintentionally, the players [against Newcastle] had one eye on Wednesday night because that's the challenge of the two competitions at the same time which is new to a lot of players.

"We removed that straight after the game. It was a one-off performance that I've not seen in a long, long time.

Sydney Jets
Sydney FC are looking to bounce back from an off-colour loss in Newcastle.

"When you have one or two players flat then there's no need to question anything. But when you have 12-13 players flat you then need to look at what you've done during the week.

"I believe the Shanghai game and Wanderers game took a lot of emotion out of the players and hell of a lot of effort.

"You suffer from it five to nine days later with fatigue or mental fatigue but we're recovered now. Straight after the game [against Jets], I addressed it."

Kashima started their J.League campaign with a 0-0 draw with Shimizu S-Pulse before defeating Gamba Osaka on the weekend. 

That game was watched by Sydney FC assistant coach Phil Moss. 

"You can't dwell on things... and I know we'll see the real Sydney FC tomorrow night," added Arnold.