Having played in multiple continental competitions, Sydney FC midfielder Milos Ninkovic knows the importance of an away goal in a two-legged tie.
Featuring 45 times in Europe’s continental arenas, Ninkovic stressed the importance of scoring against Shandong Luneng at Jinan Olympic Sport Centre, as the Serbian midfielder said featuring against Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande in the group stage will aide in the Sky Blues in adjusting to the conditions on Wednesday night.
“We have a long way to the final, but now what’s very important is tomorrow’s game,” he said.
“We need to believe in ourselves. We have quality, and if we play tomorrow like we did against Guangzhou we have a very good chance to win.
“We have two games against Shandong, we need to score tomorrow if we want to go to the next round.
“I will be happy if tomorrow finishes 1-1. It doesn’t matter how many goals you score it’s very important to go to the next round
“It’s much easier, because we played against Guangzhou,” he continued.
“I’ve watched a lot of games in the Chinese Super League. Shandong have very good strikers, Tardelli is a very good player. He scores a lot of goals and it will be very hard to stop him.”
After coming through the ‘Group of Death’ Ninkovic believes the Sky Blues are more than capable of progressing further in the competition, and the Sky Blues’ number 10 believes that having only the Champions League to focus on will serve Sydney FC well.
“Nobody expected us to finish first in the group,” Ninkovic said.
“We had a very, very hard group with Urawa Diamonds, Guangzhou. Two weeks ago we played against Guangzhou, I think Guangzhou is the best club in China and we played very well.
“Shandong is not like Guangzhou, but still they have good players and it’s going to be tough.
“It’s very difficult to play both competitions [A-League and ACL], it’s very hard. Melbourne Victory is the same, they played A-League not so good but they played Champions League better.
“The A-League is finished, I don’t want to speak about the A-League. We have next year. But now we concentrate only on Champions League. The (aim) until now was to finish top of the group, but I think we will have a good chance to go through to the next round.”
Sydney FC take on Shandong Luneng in their first ever AFC Champions League round of 16 tie at Jinan Olympic Sports Centre tomorrow night (kick off 9:30pm AEST). Catch the game live on Fox Sports 2 or follow @SydneyFC on Twitter for updates.
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