May 08, 2015 11:55:13 UK
Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold says rather than worrying about Adelaide United ahead of Saturday’s semi-final, his biggest concern is who to leave out of his team.
The Sky Blues, who are 3.40 to win the Grand Final, might have lost three times to Adelaide at Allianz Stadium this season, but that record doesn’t Arnold.
As he prepares his side for their biggest game of the campaign, the coach says he’s proud of the way they have come through after a tough period in which they lost a host of players to injuries.
Arnold admits the job of turning Sydney into Australia’s equivalent of Manchester United, which is what he set out to do, is less than half finished.
The Sky Blues finished second in the final table and had an outstanding away record – they went through the entire campaign undefeated away from home.
However, at home they only won four games and suffered five defeats. They went down 3-0 to the Reds on Boxing Day and lost again 1-0 a month ago, as well as being knocked out of the FFA Cup at the quarter-final stage by Josep Gombau’s side.
Arnold, though, says those defeats to United don’t concern him, adding: “We’ve got [marquee striker Marc] Janko back and Terry Antonis. I’m most scared about the fact I’ve got to select 11 players out of 20 and disappoint some; we have a full squad healthy, fresh and ready to go.
“Shane Smeltz came in and did exceptionally well in Wellington. I’ve got some selection dilemmas, but the most important thing is the communication so they understand why I have to make those decisions.”
Antonis will play a part on Saturday, most likely off the bench, after having spent months battling a knee injury.
Arnold added: “When I first came that I wanted to help to make it into the Manchester United of Australian football; that’s my goal. I’ve been very proud of the effort from the players and their willingness to change, that’s made the job easier.”
United are 3.00 to beat Sydney FC, who are 2.25 with the draw 3.50.
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