Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold has urged the FFA to change it's brutal scheduling for clubs playing in the Asian Champions League, saying they nearly "destroyed" the Wanderers last year and the Sky Blues were on a similar path.
Heartbreak for Sydney as Roar strike late
Tommy Oar comes off the bench to set up Brisbaneâs 88th-minute winner in a 3-2 home victory over Sydney FC.
Sydney were effectively bundled out of the A-League finals race in a 3-2 defeat away to the Roar, who managed to find a winner late in the game just 30 seconds after the visitors had levelled matters.
It was the most costly of lapses, with Arnold left to regret another defeat in a close contest, which he said has largely been the running theme of their torrid season.
"I thought were the better team tonight. We had enough chances to win two games," he said. "That's probably the story of our season. We've had 10 draws this year. That's killed us. In probably seven of those 10 draws, we should have won. Those tight games haven't gone our way."
Arnold wasn't searching for excuses, saying he couldn't believe some of the unbelievable endings that tend to unfold at Suncorp Stadium, where the Roar have an impressive record of stinging teams right at the death.
But he didn't hold back when addressing the challenges facing Australian-based ACL outlets. He said skipper Seb Ryall was virtually out on his feet when he left the game after 15 minutes with a hip concern, while the travel drain makes it virtually impossible to be competitive in both competitions.
Sydney beat Korean side Pohang Steelers 1-0 on Wednesday night and would have rather played a Sunday game to give them an added day of rest. Arnold said the relentless travel was now treading a fine-line to becoming a serious player welfare issue.
"Doing the Asian Champions League is a busy schedule, obviously. The schedule FFA give you is bordering on player welfare. Seb Ryall has happened from that. You suffer in the A-League because you don't get a chance to back up. We've had two games where you play in Japan or Korea on a Wednesday night and have to come back and play on a Saturday," Arnold said.
"God knows why we don't play Sunday. The players, it hurts their confidence. It's a snowball effect. The fatigue and then the concentration and the mistakes and then the confidence. That's what we're struggling with at the moment.
"Five years, six years, we've been saying this. I invited David Gallop and Damian de Bohun to travel with us, four years ago. They keep doing it. They did it to the Wanderers last year - they nearly destroyed the club. People will stop turning up to watch and when people stop turning up, it's hard to get them back."
He said Australian sides should be given the same latitude as their Asian counterparts so they can remain competitive in the competition that put them there in the first place.
"Look at the Koreans or Japanese, they play Wednesday night and play on Sunday or Monday when they get back. We land on Friday morning and fly straight to Melbourne. We don't even go home. We fly straight to Melbourne, no training sessions, and play.
"It's difficult. It's not an excuse. We have to be stronger mentally."
Despite the end of their finals hopes, Arnold said there was no chance his side would be resting or rotating players in the final two rounds, in which they host Adelaide and Perth.
"We never give up. We'll always respect the A-League and put our best team out. A lot can happen. That's the disappointing thing about tonight. We threw away another game."