Focus stays on field for Sky Blues

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold.
Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold. DAN HIMBRECHTS

SYDNEY FC coach Graham Arnold believes his team can overcome off-field fan issues and focus solely on beating Newcastle at Allianz Stadium tonight.

A planned boycott of the game by the Sky Blues' active supporter group, The Cove, in protest at treatment by Football Federation Australia towards its fans, has dominated all discussions in the lead-up to the game.

It won't be the only fan boycott of an A-League fixture this weekend, with Wanderers supporters set to turn their backs on the game against Brisbane at Pirtek Stadium tomorrow night.

Arnold said being distracted by off-field events was only an issue for "a mentally weak group".

"We've got a strong group mentally and all we're concerned about is three points against Newcastle," Arnold said.

Even last round's 0-all draw against Wellington gave Arnold plenty of confidence his fourth-placed team could beat the much-improved and fifth-placed Jets tonight - on one condition.

"It's time to be ruthless in front of goal and kill the games off, or take control of games," Arnold said of his team which has not scored in its past 250 minutes of play.

"We're dominating games in terms of possession and playing in the opposition's half, and it's a matter of now capitalising on our good play."

Sydney has kept a clean sheet in six of its past seven A-League clashes against Newcastle, and is undefeated in its past eight league matches against the same opponents (won six, drawn two).

If Ben Kantarovski starts for Newcastle it will be the 100th start of his A-League career.


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