Kucharski and Smyth eyeing first team minutes

by Jeremy Walker

Sky Blues future stars Jaiden Kucharski and Luka Smyth have set their sights on making A-League debuts for Sydney FC after claiming Player of the Year awards at last Friday’s 2022 NPL Gold Medal Dinner. Both boys had an impressive goals to games ratio with Kucharski netting 18 goals in 19 games and Smyth scoring 13 times in 14 matches.

Kucharski, who recently signed a professional scholarship contract with Sydney FC, won the NPL NSW Men’s 1st Grade Gold Medal (Player of the Year) – becoming one of the youngest players to earn the accolade.

“After a long season amongst so many great players in the NPL like Seiya Kambayashi and Bruno Mendes, it’s great to be highlighted as one of the better players,” Kucharski said.


“Obviously the award is great. You start a season always trying with your team to win a Championship, win a Premiership, and then obviously after that you want your single accolades.”

Jaiden Kucharski after scoring a hat-trick in the NPL

Luka Smyth, who made his first team debut with Kucharski against the Central Coast Mariners in the Round of 32 Australia Cup earlier this year, is also honoured to win a Player of the Year prize.

“Even though it’s a personal award a lot of effort from my teammates has been put in, but to personally win the award is a great feeling,” Smyth said.

“A lot of hard work has been put in, not just by me though, but by all the coaches in the academy, the physios and the strength and conditioning coaches.”

With both the youngsters modestly accepting their awards, the players now turn their focus to earning more first team minutes in Steve Corica’s senior A-League squad.

U20’s lift the trophy

20-year-old Kucharski is aiming to score his first A-League goal after netting 18 times in 2022 for the Sky Blues NPL NSW 1st Grade side – equating to over a third of the team’s goals for the entire NPL season.


“I had many chances and getting the ball to me from my teammates is the main thing for me as a striker,” Kucharski added. “You don’t get the ball if it doesn’t come up from the back or if we don’t win the ball up high.”

Smyth, 18, was also quick to praise his teammates, bagging 15 goals for the U20’s in their Championship winning season and scoring twice in the Grand Final to beat Mt Druitt Town Rangers 3-1 at CommBank Stadium.

Luka Smyth’s penalty in the U20’s Grand Final

“As soon as we lose the ball we win it back straight away so we’re always looking to go forward quickly, we’re always looking to capitalise on our opportunities … throughout the year we really focused on attacking quickly,” said Smyth.

Smyth’s U20’s scored an astonishing 64 goals in 22 games across the 2022 NPL regular season, whilst Kucharski’s NPL 1st Grade team finished with 53 goals in 22 matches.


Both strikers, who formerly represented the Australian Joeys, will look to harness their prolific goalscoring abilities as they train with the Sydney FC senior squad.

“It’s been really great becoming more part of the first team culture and really living as a professional athlete,” said Kucharski.

“I want to get as many appearances as I can, keep training hard and trying to prove a point and then hopefully get on the pitch and show Bimbi [Steve Corica] and the boys that I can stand up.”

Kucharski performing his goal celebration

And Luka Smyth has similar ambitions.

“Hopefully I can make a few appearances in the A-League and train more in the A-League squad when I can and capitalise on my opportunities when I get them,” Smyth said.

“The overall first team environment is different to the academy, you get in early, you do your gym work, you do video, then when you go up to training you have to be really on your game.”

Smyth celebrating the U20’s Grand Final

The Player of the Year winners are sure to be on Steve Corica’s radar for the upcoming A-League Men’s season as they aim to translate their deadly goalscoring form into the first team setup.