Sydney FC to draw on Aussie mentality against Guangzhou

Graham Arnold says the Australian mentality will ensure Sydney FC won’t be intimidated by the huge gulf in budget and quality to Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday night.

In a huge challenge for the wounded Sky Blues, they will try kick-start their AFC Champions League campaign by bringing down Asia’s richest club.

Guangzhou have spent more than $100m on their three imports – including $65m on Colombian striker Jackson Martinez – and they are coached by Brazil World Cup-winning mentor Luis Felipe Scolari.

ACL preview: Sydney FC v Guangzhou Evergrande

Asked if that meant the pressure was off Sydney FC, Arnold declared: “100 percent. It's a challenge for us, but it's definitely achievable.

“They flew in on two private jets - we flew into Tokyo [last week] in economy class. That's the difference in the size of the clubs.

“But we're not intimidated. We've got to show the Australian mentality and that is to be aggressive, to fight for 90 minutes and to try and put them off their game.

“They've got three quality foreigners, but we need to control them [Guangzhou]. 

"If we can do that at home with a good Sydney FC crowd behind us then everything's possible.”

Key points:

  • Arnold said coaching against World Cup winner Scolari was a “great opportunity”.
  • Evergrande only managed a 0-0 draw in their opening ACL clash and have yet to begin their Chinese Super League season.
  • Sydney FC's Rhyan Grant said the players weren’t feeling too fatigued despite heading into a fourth match in 11 days.
  • The Sky Blues are desperate for a win after slumping to a 2-0 loss to Urawa Red Diamonds in their opening clash in Japan last week.

Both Arnold and defender Rhyan Grant admitted the players have spoken about the massive spending difference between the two sides and will use some of it as motivation on Wednesday night.

“As a player these are the games you want to play in. We worked so hard last year to get into the Champions League and this position and the reward can be performing well and picking up a contract in China.

“It’s a showpiece for the players; it’s an opportunity to show what you can do and there’s no bigger stage than the Champions League and the current champion.

“It’s a game that all players should want to play in. The adrenaline will kick in and they won’t feel any fatigue.”

Grant added: “You want to test yourself against the best and this is the arena to do it.

“We won’t take that on board once we’re on the field, everyone’s on a level playing field there. It will be good to see how we go and test ourselves.”

Arnold confirmed striker Matt Simon [internal bleeding] would miss the Guangzhou clash but should be available for the Hyundai A-League battle with Melbourne City on Saturday. Skipper Alex Brosque is also out with a hamstring injury. 

With the pair both out, Shane Smeltz is expected to lead the attack against Evergrande, with youngster George Blackwood the only other striking option for Arnold.