Key lessons learnt from Sydney’s ACL exit

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Sydney FC bowed out of the AFC Champions League (ACL) in unspectacular fashion last night thanks to a 0-0 stalemate with Shanghai Shenhua, finishing third in their group with just the solitary win to their name.

The Sky Blues’ history in the ACL does not make for great reading with Graham Arnold’s side progressing past the group stage on just the one occasion in their four attempts.

Their contrasting positions in the A-League and ACL demonstrate that they are a club which are yet to impose themselves on the continental stage.

Quick to highlight the gap in quality between his side and the Asian clubs, Arnold could identify some key areas over the course of their campaign, where they could have improved.

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“You’ve got to capitalise on the big moments,” he said.

“If I reflect, what let us down was defensively, set pieces. Those type of things happen, we conceded three or four goals from set pieces which hurt us a little bit.

“It’s a great opportunity for the players and everyone to play in the Champions League. It is called the Champions League for a reason. The reason is, it’s the champions of Asia.”

Throughout the group stage, the A-League Champions managed just seven goals and were far less clinical in the final third compared to their record in the domestic league.

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Their latest fixture demonstrated their ineffectiveness in front of goal as they failed to convert any of their 22 chances in last night’s 0-0 stalemate against Shanghai Shenhua.

Captain Alex Brosque knows that his side need to be far more clinical in front of goal when it comes to playing Asian clubs.

“You’ve got to pick your moments, a little bit more than in the A-League, I think we handled that well away from home but not so well at home,” Brosque said.

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Unable to register a victory in their three group matches at home, the Sky Blues relied far too much on their performances across Asia.

“If you reflect on the campaign, our home form let us down. Only to get one point from nine in the Champions League and six points overall makes it hard. It probably let us down,” Arnold said.

“But as I said, it’s been a great learning experience for all the players and everyone at the club.”

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Samuel Greco Schwartz
Studying Journalism at UTS. Obsessed with football and a die hard supporter of Sydney FC and Liverpool FC in the EPL
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