After defeating the Newcastle Jets on Saturday afternoon, Sydney FC Head Coach Steve Corica’s attention immediately turned to the Finals Series.
And waiting on Saturday evening will be their bitter rivals, the Western Sydney Wanderers. For the first time in their history, the two biggest sides in New South Wales will meet in the post-season.
The two teams have only met once outside of the league which came in the FFA Cup [Australia Cup] in 2018 when the old foes locked horns at Penrith with Trent Buhagiar, Adam Le Fondre and Siem de Jong getting on the scoresheet that evening in a 3-0 win for Sydney FC.
This time, at CommBank Stadium – the venue of the Sky Blues previous victory in the Derby – it is winner takes all.
And Corica admits the memory of Wanderers recent win over his team at Allianz Stadium will also be a factor.
“It’s going to be a massive game for us. We know what we’re up against.
“There’s a reminder of the last game as well as what they did to us, so we have to respond to that and make sure we’re ready and we have to, as it’s Finals,” Corica said.
“You have to play your best if you want to go through.
“I’ve always had belief in these boys and they’re doing well and now there’s an opportunity to move forward.”
Despite coming under criticism throughout the season, the Sky Blues finished on the same number of wins as 3rd place Adelaide United and 4th place Western Sydney Wanderers and Steve Corica was quick to praise his side’s finish to the competition.
“We’re coming good at the right time of the season.
“I think this is the most important part of the season and we need to continue when we play a good side next week,” the Head Coach said.
“Overall, I’m pretty happy with how we are right now.”
Also pleasing to the Sydney FC fans will be the fact that the defensive side of things appears to be tighter.
“Three wins in a row, two clean sheets and unbeaten in five so I think it is coming along nicely.
“It’s going to be a tough game, especially away from home but we’ve been really good away from home which is positive as well,” Corica commented.
“However, they’re a good team, defensively very strong and they’re playing good football, in attack as well they have some dangerous players that we need to deal with.”
Being a Finals match, both teams may approach the game differently and Steve Corica has hinted about how his side will play out the 90 minutes.
“You have to be smart. You don’t want to get too open against the Wanderers as they’re a good team.
“We have played them three times but we will do another review on them and set up how we want to play.
“They’ve conceded the least amount of goals so there’s a bit of a challenge for us to go in there and beat them, especially at their ground,” he said.
And with Joe Lolley limping off in the final moments of the Jets game, Corica provided an update on the status of his squad heading into Finals.
“Joe has felt his hamstring so he’ll be sent for scans, so we will see how he goes.
“Robbie Mak will be fine for next week. We rested him this week as he was complaining of a tight hamstring last week but there was nothing in, that so we took precaution to make sure he is right for next week.
“We’ll also have Jack [Rodwell] back as well after his concussion so it’ll be nice to get two back next week,” he concluded.
It promises to be a tantalising evening of football when the Sydney sides meet in Finals for the first time and the fans aren’t alone in sharing the excitement.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Corica.
Western Sydney Wanderers v Sydney FC
Isuzu UTE A-League Elimination Final
Saturday 6th May 2023
CommBank Stadium, Parramatta, NSW
Kick Off: 7:45pm AEST
Broadcast Live: Paramount+ & 10Bold
Tickets: Click Here