We Must Start Winning, Says Corica As Asian Champions League Exit Looms

·2-min read

HONG KONG: Sydney FC coach Steve Corica says his team needs to defeat two-time champions Jeonbuk Motors if they are to retain any hope of reaching the knockout rounds of the Asian Champions League after going a third straight game in the competition without a win on Thursday evening.

Corica’s Australian champions let a one-goal lead slip to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of China’s Shanghai SIPG and, with only one point from three games so far, Sydney are in desperate need of maximum points for next Wednesday’s meeting with the South Korean side.

“It’s very difficult, of course,” said Corica of his side’s hopes of progressing to the last 16. “It was always a tough group and I thought we had to get three points tonight to move forward.

“Obviously we have still another three more games and it’s still possible, difficult games but we’ll hopefully learn our lesson from today and move forward.

“Jeonbuk, we’ve had a draw with at home last time we played them so that’s our next opponent and we have to start winning games. It’s as simple as that.

“Draws aren’t enough for us at the moment. We need to start winning games and that’s the game.”

Sydney have only advanced to the knockout rounds of the continental championship once since first appearing in the competition in 2007, when they were eliminated in the Round of 16 in 2016.

They made a strong start against the Chinese Super League side in the group H clash, with Trent Buhagiar opening the scoring after eight minutes before defender Alex Wilkinson also hit the post.

But a pair of headers from Li Shenglong in the second half saw Shanghai take control and claim all three points in their first game of the COVID-19 affected tournament, which is being played as a centralised tournament in the Qatari capital Doha.

Sydney lost their opening game of the 2020 Asian Champions League 4-0 to J-League champions Yokohama F Marinos, coached by former Australia boss Ange Postecoglou, before claiming a point in a 2-2 draw with Jeonbuk in March.

Play in the tournament was suspended soon after that game as a result of the pandemic, with government restrictions in many countries meaning clubs were unable to cross international borders to face one other.

Sydney are now bottom of the four teams in group H with a solitary point, five behind leaders Yokohama having played three games. The top two progress to the next phase of the competition.