Sydney FC 'did Australia proud' against Shanghai Shenhua - Alex Wilkinson
He's aware Australia's recent AFC Champions League results leave much to be desired but Alex Wilkinson believes Sydney FC did the country proud against Shanghai Shenhua.
The Sky Blues breathed life back into their continental campaign on Wednesday night with an inspired 2-2 display in China.
The emphatic rebound from last week's opening home loss to Suwon Bluewings might easily have been a win in a contest that underlined the sheer class of Adrian Mierzejewski and Milos Ninkovic just as much as Shenhua's high-profile foreigners.
It also doubled as a much-needed shot of patriotism following Australia's grim continental forays of late.
Results in Asia's flagship tournament have lacked consistency since Western Sydney lifted the trophy in 2014.
Last year's calamitous scorelines by Brisbane and the Wanderers did nothing for A-League brand, which wasn't helped by the Roar's humiliating qualification failure last month.
But a night after Melbourne Victory's 4-1 thrashing by Shanghai SIPG, defender Wilkinson felt Sydney had proved they can compete on the ACL stage.
"We showed that last night and that's what we'll be looking to prove for the next four games," he said.
"When you compete in the ACL for an A-League club you're not only representing your club but ... Australia as well.
"It's important you perform well because the reputation of a nation is involved every time you get out there.
"I thought we did Australia proud last night and we'll continue to do so for the rest of the campaign."
With a sole point from their first two games, Sydney remain last in Group H and must start accruing points quickly to make the round of 16 as they did in 2016.
That starts at home in a fortnight to Japanese outfit Kashima Antlers.
"If we perform like we did last night for the rest of the campaign then I see us picking up points and getting through the group," Wilkinson said.
"Bit disappointed to concede two goals and we've got to be a bit more careful on transition -- they were very fast getting the ball forward on the break.
"But apart from that the performance was first class."
Focus now shifts to recovering in time for Sunday's A-League Sydney derby.
The runaway domestic leaders fly overnight Thursday to arrive just in time for training on Friday morning.
Coach Graham Arnold, having fielded an unchanged XI in Shanghai, is set to make changes.
They'll almost certainly include reinstalling omitted foreigner Jordy Buijs in central defence, while left-back Michael Zullo is in heavy doubt with the hamstring injury sustained during the game.