Sydney FC’s fitness key to winning in Japan: Arnie

Graham Arnold hopes a full-throttle Sydney FC can exploit a somewhat underdone Urawa Red Diamonds in their AFC Champions League group opener in Saitama tonight.

The Sky Blues will start outsiders against the J-League outfit but head into the clash battle-hardened from a tough Hyundai A-League campaign.

In contrast, Urawa has yet to play a competitive match as the J-League season is yet to begin and Arnold believes it could give his side an edge.

“We’re hoping they are not at their best. We’re also clear they have been in the off-season for quite a while, they haven’t had many games,” the Sydney FC coach told reporters in Japan.

“We are fit, we’ve had 20 games in the A-League, we want to play a high tempo game against them.

“We will be coming for three points. We came here with a plan to take three points back to Australia.”

Urawa Red Diamonds’ ‘respect’ for Sydney FC

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Urawa will be cheered on by a huge home support in the Saitama Stadium, one of the best atmospheres in Asia.

While it will provide a hostile environment for the Sky Blues, Shane Smeltz insists they won’t be intimidated.

“Naturally Australian teams have no fear,” the Kiwi international said.

“As much as we will respect Urawa Reds, we will go into the game with no fear and that’s another factor that’s going to do us well on Wednesday night.”

Coach Graham Arnold chats with defender Matt Jurman.

Sydney defender Matt Jurman says the key to a positive result will be coping with the early onslaught from the home side.

“The first 15 or 20 minutes we’ll have to be on our toes just in case, but after that it’s anyone’s game,” Jurman said.

“It is difficult. We’re in it for the win obviously but it could be a good game for the boys to see what kind of tempo it’s going to be.

“The travel is normal, nothing out of the ordinary. I’m sure most of the boys have played ACL before and If not, they’ll get used to it pretty quick.

“We can’t really complain about it, it’s exciting and all the boys should be happy they’re in it.”