Sky Blues depart for Shanghai shootout

Sydney FC’s season will come to a close on Saturday when the side plays what is sure to be a competitive friendly in China against sister-club Shanghai Shenhua.

A challenging season will come to an end for Sydney FC this weekend when the team takes on Chinese powerhouse, Shanghai Shenhua in the first of what will become regular friendly clashes between the sister-clubs.

Today (Wednesday) the Sky Blues departed Sydney for the trip to China, determined to finish their season on a high and put a tough campaign behind them.

“They (Shanghai) are raring to go and ready for their season and Champions League,” said interim Sydney FC coach, Tony Popovic. “For us it-s been a lot of changes and end of season, it-s never easy to get the players up for it, but to their credit they-ve trained really well and they-re looking forward to it.”

The friendly against Shanghai will be played in front of what-s expected to be a capacity crowd at the club-s home, Hongkou Stadium, and for the Sydney FC players there is extra incentive to impress two spectators in particular, with incoming Czech manager, Vitezslav Lavicka and his co-assistant coach, Michal Zach making the trip to China to watch the match.

“I guess the best way to talk and try and earn a spot with the new team next year is to play well any chance you-re given, so that-s what all the boys are going to be doing,” said Socceroo squad member, Shannon Cole.

“We want to make a good impression on the new coach. Hopefully we-ll play well and win the game,” said marquee striker, John Aloisi.

Aloisi had been considering taking up a loan offer with Sydney-s sister club over the Hyundai A-League off season, but will now keep his focus closer to home.

“If I went on loan I would come back, probably have to have a week off then play catch-up in the pre-season, I don-t want to do that,” he said. “I want to make sure I-m right for Sydney FC, and the right thing for me to do is have a good pre-season, play a lot of friendly games, get to know the coach, he will get to know us and me personally, and take it from there.”

It isn-t just the players who are anxious to meet the club-s new manager. Having overseen the Sky Blues- preparations for the coming clash, Tony Popovic is looking forward to meeting Lavicka and Zach and beginning to plan how trio will guide Sydney-s fortunes next season.

“I-ve learned a lot these three weeks being with the players and hopefully I-ll learn a lot from the new manager so it-s just exciting,” said Popovic. “I-ll enjoy the match and meeting up with the new boss and seeing what he expects and how I can help him throughout the year.”

Sydney FC-s clash with Shanghai Shenhua will kick-off at Shanghai Hongkou Stadium at 5:00pm (AEDT) on Saturday evening.