‘They are two world-class strikers’: O’Neill backs Sydney FC’s attack to bolster ACL hopes
It’s a monumental task ahead of them but Brandon O’Neill believes the presence of Sydney FC’s ‘world-class’ strikeforce gives them every chance against Kawasaki Frontale in the AFC Champions League on Wednesday night.
The Sky Blues are in Japan searching for their first win of the 2019 competition against the reigning J-League champions.
Despite creating a number of excellent chances against Ulsan Hyundai, Steve Corica’s men were held to a 0-0 draw in their opening Group H clash last week.
But O’Neill is confident the new-look partnership between Adam Le Fondre and Reza Ghoochannejhad in attack will continue to blossom and says the pair are key to Sydney FC’s hopes for more than just their goals.
“They are two world-class strikers,” O’Neill told reporters at the official pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
“We can all see what type of players they are, they love scoring goals and they love to get into attacking positions to make sure they can score those goals.
“There’s nothing better as a midfielder knowing that if you can provide a forward ball good enough for them to run onto, even if it is a 40-60% chance they might score, more often than not they will take that.
“To accompany their goalscoring attributes, they are terribly hard workers.
“They defend from the front they start everything we want to do defensively and another string to their bow they are two top quality people. We’re very lucky to have both of them in our team.”
The pair are sure to be closely marked by the Kawasaki defence but the Sky Blues are well aware of the threats in the home team’s ranks.
Veteran playmaker Kengo Nakamura continues to pull the strings in Frontale’s midfield, while new Brazilian recruit Leandro scored a double in the J-League over the weekend.
“They are all-round a very good team. A lot of quality players with the ball,” Corica said.
“We have to be defensively very strong against them. But also, we are very good with the ball and we expect our team to have a lot of the ball and to play very good football against them.
“If we can’t counter-attack against them we will but we are a possession-based team as well and we want to have control of the match.”
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Sydney FC were unbeaten in all three of their away games in the ACL in 2018 and head into this clash having not conceded a goal in each of their last three games in all competitions.
“All over the pitch we are very strong and very balanced. We defend as a team, we attack as a team and when we get our chances we have attackers we know can not only finish but help other people finish as well,” O’Neill said.
“We’ve seen that throughout the year, we’ve been very good with the ball but defensively we’ve been very strong as well.
“Making sure we do both of that [on Wednesday] night will go a long way to us getting the result."