Home advantage key as Sydney United plot Sky Blues downfall

Sydney United 58 is hoping for a crowd of more than 8000 for its FFA Cup clash against Sydney FC and club coach Mark Rudan believes home advantage will be crucial.

Rudan and his team are planning a big upset over the A-League glamour club when they visit Sydney United Sports Centre on Tuesday night.

Sydney United 58 FC are unbeaten in their last five games heading into the Cup clash, with four wins in friendlies and a 1-1 draw with the Wellington Phoenix.

Rudan told FourFourTwo the preparations for the Cup encounter have gone well.

“The players’ attitude and application has been first class in the last four weeks,” he said.

“We've worked hard on our defensive shape and I was pleased with our discipline and application.

“We will approach the match like any other - with a positive mindset, fully focused on the job at hand and with a complete understanding of each player’s role.

“Home advantage will be crucial. Our home fans are very passionate about our club. They will be there in large numbers and will get right behind the team. Our synthetic pitch is also crucial because we are fully conditioned to it. It will be a major factor for us.

“We are hoping to attract over 8000, if not a full house. Pre-sales have been very good so far, with approximately 6000 (tickets) sold.”

Rudan’s side will set out to contain Sydney FC’s attackers, which include the likes of Alex Brosque, Bernie Ibini, Shane Smeltz, Marc Janko and Corey Gameiro. 

“Sydney FC have the best forward line in the country – quality and depth,” he said.

“The best way to stop them will be to try and cut off the supply to those players.”

Rudan enjoyed a successful stint with Sydney FC as a player and inaugural captain, while Sky Blues boss Graham Arnold had an eight-year stint with Sydney United 58.

“It's a very unique situation,” he admits.

“Arnie is a Sydney United club legend. I spent three fantastic seasons with Sydney FC and had a great relationship with the club and fans. It's going to be interesting for both Arnie and I as we both have soft spots for our old clubs. 

“In a one-off game anything can happen as we've already seen in the Cup. Adelaide City's win over the Wanderers wasn't expected. Manchester United's 4-0 loss to MK Dons is another recent reminder of Cup football and what it could throw up.

“The FFA Cup concept has been superb. It's brought together the lower tiers of Australian football with the top. Semi pro and amateur players have a sense of belonging to the game now more than ever before. It will only get bigger and better.”

Sydney United 58 was crowned NSW Premier League champions in 2013 and won the first-ever National Premier League crown.

However, this year the club finished ninth on the table in the NSW NPL. Regardless, Rudan believes Sydney United 58 are ready to shock the Sky Blues.

“When we won both the premiership and inaugural NPL title naturally the best players were able to go on and progress their careers, which was fabulous for them and the club,” Rudan said.

“We lost seven starting members and decided as a club to develop and give opportunities to our young players this season. As a consequence it took time to get results.

“But since Mirjan Pavlovic came back from India, Chris Triantis recovered from his knee injury and Rob Mileski's return to full fitness we've been on a great run.

“We’re undefeated in our last five games at home and lost only once in our last nine competitive matches.”