Arnold warns FFA Cup derby rivals: We have the better players

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Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold lit the touchpaper ahead of the FFA Cup derby clash declaring the Sky Blues have the better players.

The A-League outfit takes on Sydney United 58 FC in the Round of 16 later this month in a mouth-watering encounter.

Arnold cut his professional teeth playing for Sydney United and later coached the team, while United’s coach, Mark Rudan, is a foundation player, former skipper and legend of the Sky Blues.

With that sort of history the clash hardly needed any more spice.

But Arnold says the right mental attitude from his men should get the job done at Sydney United Sports Centre in three weeks’ time.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that we have the better individual footballers with better qualities,” Arnold told Sydney’s website

“It’s a competition that no doubt myself and the club and the players want to win so we’ve got to look at the next cab off the rank and that’s Sydney United.

“They’ll have been out of season for a month and we just have to turn up with the right mental attitude.

“It’s the chance of a life time for them to play against Sydney FC or an A-League club and we have to go there with the same mentality no matter what’s in front of us.

“We have to be strong mentally and go there and put in a performance like we would if we were facing the top A-League team in the country.”

Arnold has been talking a big game since being appointed, and last week declared Sydney FC the biggest and best club in the A-League.

The Sky Blues have certainly been in strong pre-season form, recently beating reigning A-League champions Brisbane Roar to lift the Wingate Townsville Football Cup.

For Arnold the FFA Cup derby is a chance to return to his old stomping ground where he made over 100 appearances for the then Sydney Croatia, scoring 68 goals.

He was recently honoured with life membership of the club.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to return to Sydney United Sports Centre,” Arnold said.

“They awarded me life membership only last year out there at King Tomislav and I’ve got a lot of friends out there from Sydney Croatia days.

“The stadium itself will bring back a lot of great memories for myself but it’s going to be a tough challenge.

“It’s a beautiful football pitch out there now, that the players are excited to go and play on. We’re looking forward to the occasion.”

Kick-off is 7.30pm Tuesday September 23. The match will be broadcast live on Fox Sports.