Shanghai lesson gives Sydney FC blueprint for derby triumph

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The Sydney Morning Herald – SYDNEY, There was no hiding the despair in the eyes of Sydney FC players on Wednesday night having led three times against Chinese giants Shanghai SIPG only to fall short. But if there was a silver lining to their 3-3 draw, it was in finding the template they believe will deliver them a derby day triumph.

For parts of the match, Sydney FC outplayed a cashed-up team consisting of Brazilian stars Elkeson, Hulk and Oscar, the latter earning an income worth more than the entire salary cap of the A-League put together.

They were punished for individual errors but were structurally disciplined. They were fluid and mobile in attack, found fortune when going towards goal more directly than usual and maintained a tempo well beyond their usual A-League rhythm.

According to their players and coach, that is now the benchmark. They may only have two days between their Asian Champions League match and Saturday night’s derby but Sydney FC suggest if they can replicate Wednesday’s performance, they will continue their good run of form against the Wanderers.

“I think we had a real good game today, we played really well, very organised but also the quality on the pitch was very high,” striker Reza Ghoochannejhad said. “It is true that if you can maintain this quality, this tempo and this rhythm then you can win every game in the A-League. The important thing is the consistency to stay focused, do the things that you can do like we did today to bring in every game.”

Sydney FC coach Steve Corica echoed the Iranian international’s sentiments. He wants his players to be sharper with individual errors after having a turnover punished by a late Elkeson goal on Wednesday but says his players must overcome fatigue to perform to that level against the Wanderers.

“I think if we play like that against any A-League team we will destroy them,” Corica said. “That’s what we want, we have improved, we’re getting better, we’ve got players back now and we have good options off the bench.”

Ghoochannejhad should have had a goal to his name on Wednesday only to be denied three times by Shanghai goalkeeper Yan Junling. After an otherwise solid display, Ghoochannejhad hinted he remains a strong chance to retain his starting position for Saturday night’s derby, his first in the A-League.

“We played with a lot of courage and we played our hearts out and that was very positive. Saturday is a new A-League game and I can’t wait to start again,” he said.

“It’s a big derby of course, it’s very exciting especially for the fans of both teams. We focus on our team, I think we have a very good team, we play with lots of confidence today so we really have a lot of good things today that we can take with us to the next game.”


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