Football 3 years ago

Arnold praises Sydney FC and O'Neill

  • Arnold praises Sydney FC and O'Neill

A satisfied Graham Arnold has praised Sydney FC's promising A-League start, setting aside a special thanks to Perth for giving him "outstanding" youngster Brandon O'Neill.

O'Neill showed poise beyond his 21 years throughout the Sky Blues' 1-1 draw with Melbourne City at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, no more so than when his sublime pass set up the hosts' first-half equaliser.

The defensive midfielder found Alex Brosque on the right wing with piercing accuracy, releasing the captain to drill a cross for new marquee Filip Holosko to fire home.

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His moment of vision came in his first A-League test with Sydney, having being released by the Glory late last season after struggling for game time in the first team.

"He was outstanding," said Arnold, who started O'Neill ahead of the experienced Mickael Tavares.

"I brought him to this club because I saw him two years ago when I was at the Mariners and he played in the youth team. I thought `wow, this kid's a prospect'.

"He's defensive-minded, which I like because we've got (Milos) Dimitrijevic who's attacking-minded, so they complement each other.

"But Brandon is aggressive and one thing that probably is underestimated with him is how good his passing ability is with both feet - right and left.

"He just sits there and breaks things up, and that's exactly the player that I need. I thank Perth for letting him come."

Despite the niggly affair and missed chances, Arnold felt his team were "75 per cent better" than last year's opening fixture - another 1-1 draw with City.

If scrappiness dictated the first half the hosts dominated the second, with a host of chances including a 90th-minute George Blackwood volley that the 18-year-old striker misdirected at keeper Thomas Sorensen's near post despite being clear at the back.

Arnold put it down to a learning experience, and pointed out that his new players needed time to gel.

One of those was Holosko, whose debut showed glimpses of greatness to come but was subbed off on the hour.

Arnold was quick to point out the 65-capped Slovakian international was still in unfamiliar surroundings, and predicted he would shine in his "exciting" new front line.

"You've got a guy who's come from a totally different competition, that's got to get used to people around him," he said.

"As an attacker especially it's about fluency, and if you're playing around people you're not familiar with (it's hard).

"It's going to take time for Seb Ryall to get used to Holosko and for him to get used to the runs we want him to make.

"But once he got the goal ... he was really good."

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