ACL 2016: Sydney FC and Pohang Steelers frustrated by state of Allianz Stadium pitch

The playing surface at Allianz Stadium has taken a hammering. Photo: Mark Kolbe SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES – APRIL 03: A general view is seen of a mound of turf kicked up during the round six Super Rugby match between the New South Wales Waratahs and the Melbourne Rebels at Allianz Stadium on April 3, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images) Photo: Mark Kolbe
Nanjing Night Net

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The pitch at Allianz Stadium will come under further scrutiny after both Sydney FC and Pohang Steelers were forced to train away from the venue due to the state of the playing surface.

Heavy rain in Sydney on Monday following a rugby union match on Sunday has left the playing surface in such a fragile state that it could adversely affect the quality of football in the Sky Blues’ crucial Asian Champions League match.

Despite Asian Football Confederation regulations stating each team is to be given a one-hour familiarisation session at the venue the day before a match, the Steelers were forced to train at Leichhardt Oval on Monday, while Sydney FC trained at their regular training base at Macquarie University.

The hosts will start with their strongest side possible after resting a host of players for the weekend’s loss to Adelaide but deny they will have to change their tactics due to the state of the field that Arnold believes will sap the energy of the players.

“I don’t watch rugby but I watched it yesterday. I was cringing watching those rucks and mauls and seeing the damage was getting done to that field knowing that we’ve got a game there tomorrow night, but that’s the way it is. At the end of the day hopefully it will be an advantage to us. It’s a heavy field it will take a lot out of the players legs,” Arnold said.

Pohang Steelers coach Choi Jin-cheul was unhappy after his team was denied access to Allianz Stadium before match day due to concerns over the playing surface.

Despite being scheduled to have an hour session at the venue to familiarise themselves with the field and venue, Pohang were relocated to Leichhardt due to the wet weather. Choi says it is a significant disadvantage for his side who won’t know the state of the pitch or the venue until match day.

“It would be a disadvantage for us … but our players are [good] enough to play very, very well and its’ a decision by AFC so we have to understand,” he said.

The K-League club lost to Sydney FC in their return leg a fortnight ago and are looking to play a conservative style of football away from home. Pohang could fall adrift of the top two and the three-time Asian champions could face an early exit.

Choi says the club learned a valuable lesson from their first game against Sydney FC and will be prioritising a defensive game plan.

‘We would like to manage our game really safely,” Choi said. “We will do our best to manage a safe match, not so much offensive [play]. Just safe.”

Despite their conservative approach, the Koreans travelled to Australia with just 16 players, two short of the required match squad. The fatigue of travel and short turnaround prompted them to bring just five substitutes, though Arnold does not believe their slim squad will have a significant bearing on the outcome.

“You only need 11 and three [substitutes], so they’ve got plenty,” Arnold said. “I wish they came with seven.”

What Arnold believes will be a major advantage for his side is the lengthy travel Pohang face in playing in Sydney 72 hours after their last league game in Korea.

“If you travel during the day like we do, it’s much easier than travelling at night time so it will be interesting to see how the Korean players slept on the flight on the way over, it is quite difficult,” he said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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