Written off all season, Steve Corica says his Sydney FC side can defy the critics once more and attain the Isuzu UTE A-League Men’s holy grail by beating Melbourne City at AAMI Park.
Sydney travel to the Victorian capital on Friday with the scores locked at 1-1 from the first leg of their semi-final.
The winner of the second leg will progress to the Grand Final on June 3 but the task awaiting Corica’s side is sizeable.
In 13 games at home this season, City haven’t lost once.
Two months ago many doubted whether Corica’s side would even make the finals but, after putting an undefeated run of seven games together, the Sydney boss is backing his side to spoil City’s quest for a championship.
“We’ve used that a lot, a lot of people have written us off as a team and we’ve proven them wrong,” Corica said.
“We really want to get into the final and it’s about how we go about it.
“We are playing good football, we haven’t lost in seven games. We know the challenge we’re up against with this team and the quality that they do have.
“They have got a good track record, but someone’s got to beat them down there and this is a great opportunity for us to do that.”
City’s only goal in the first leg came from a set-piece and Sydney’s defence – led by 38-year-old Alex Wilkinson – did an admirable job to muzzle a City frontline boasting three Socceroos in Marco Tilio, Mathew Leckie and Jamie Maclaren.
Friday could be Wilkinson’s last game for the club, with Corica unsure if the veteran centreback would play on, with the 38 year old pondering retirement at the conclusion of the season.
“We don’t know what he wants to do,” Corica said.
“We don’t put too much pressure on him, that’s his decision but he has done an amazing job at this club.”
At the other end, Adam Le Fondre has been in hot form and the English striker could match Marc Janko’s record if he scores for the Sky Blues in a seventh straight game.
Corica was hopeful Slovakian winger Robert Mak would be fit to face City, with Joe Lolley (both hamstring) also nearing a return to the starting XI.
Sydney have been practising penalties in the event the game has to be decided from the spot and the Sky Blues have an advantage with Andrew Redmayne – the hero of Australia’s qualification for the last World Cup – between the sticks.
“We’ve got full confidence in Redders to make saves in penalty shoot-out situations,” Corica said.
“He’s done it before on the big stage, for us and the Socceroos.”
Regardless of the way the match will finish, the game will be filled with tension ahead of a thrilling semi-final 2nd leg.
Melbourne City v Sydney FC
Isuzu UTE A-League Semi-Final 2nd Leg
Friday 19th May 2023
AAMI Park, Melbourne, VIC
Kick Off: 7:45pm AEST
Broadcast Live: Paramount+ & 10Bold
Tickets: Click Here