Sydney United 58 coach Mark Rudan has played down his comments calling on Western Sydney Wanderers’ fans to support his side against Sydney FC in the Westfield FFA Cup later this month.
Rudan, a club legend of the Sky Blues, riled his former club when he urged red and black supporters to back his side against their fierce neighbours when United face the Sky Blues on September 23 at United's home ground in Edensor Park.
“We’re very much part of the region, we represent it, and I can’t think of anything better for them than to support a club from their area facing their arch rivals,” Rudan told the Daily Telegraph.
Rudan’s comments didn’t go down to well down at Moore Park, especially with Sky Blues coach Graham Arnold who accused his counter-part of disrespecting his former club.
But the United boss insists he meant no harm towards Sydney FC, the club he captained during their Hyundai A-League championship-winning season of 2006.
“He (Arnold) may have taken those comments out of context,” Rudan told www.theffacup.com.au.
"To be honest I was more hoping to get those Wanderers fans who used to support Sydney United [in the NSL] to come to the game.
“They all come from the same area and I think it will be great if as many people as possible come out to support the game.
“I have nothing but respect for Sydney FC fans. They know how great they were towards me and how much they meant to me.
“We look forward to welcoming them and the more the better, especially the Cove and all the members.
“There’s a lot of Sydney United fans who are Sydney FC fans and for it to come together like this is fantastic.
“There’s been a lot of media interest and people are keen to watch the football match who have never been to a Sydney United match before.
“They may be Wanderers fans, they may be Sydney FC fans, it’s just about calling on everyone to make sure they come out and support the area.
“It’s great to bring the club back to where it once used to be where they were packing out the stadium.”
All the banter aside, Rudan is looking forward to locking horns with Arnold and the Sky Blues in what is undoubtedly the big-ticket match-up of the round of 16.
Sydney FC will bring their expensively-assembled squad to what promises to be a sold-out Edensor Park on September 23, and Rudan insists his side is relishing the challenge.
“It’s a multi-million dollar squad. They’ve got an Australian marquee, an international marquee.
“It’s interesting that their central defender earns more than our entire budget. It’s as simple as that. When you talk about David and Goliath it certainly is the case,” Rudan said.
“But we’ll prepare as best as possible. We’ve already started working on certain things to combat the way they play and nullify them and also look at weaknesses.
“We had a look at the game against [EPL club] Newcastle where they lost 4-0. There are certainly a few chinks in the armour and we look forward to trying to expose that on the night.”
United are currently out of season after their NSW NPL campaign ended a few weeks ago but the club have organised a host of games to stay match-fit.
They will take on Hyundai A-League club Wellington Phoenix on September 16, a week before their date with destiny against Sydney.
“It’s at our place and certainly the atmosphere is going to be electrifying, it’s going to be rocking and we’ll make it as difficult as possible for Sydney FC,” Rudan said.
“It’s what the Cup’s all about. We saw a huge upset with Adelaide [City] beating the Wanderers and we’ll be looking to do exactly the same.”