They’re the only two teams in the Hyundai A-League never to miss a finals series but the chances of extending that enviable record will be dealt a blow for either Sydney FC or Newcastle this Sunday, and the Sky Blues are determined not to be the side that suffers.
They-re the only two teams in the Hyundai A-League never to miss a finals series but the chances of extending that enviable record will be dealt a blow for either Sydney FC or Newcastle this Sunday, and the Sky Blues are determined not to be the side that suffers.
Sydney and the Jets are sitting in sixth and seventh spots on the ladder respectively with only eight games remaining in the regular season.
Newcastle is in the more precarious position with defeat likely to end its hopes of defending its title, and Sydney is expecting a stiff challenge at Energy Australia Stadium.
“They-ll have a go, they had a good go against Adelaide last week,” said Sydney coach, John Kosmina. “They-re in a similar predicament to us, they-ve lost a lot of players, some before the season started and a few during the season as well.”
Kosmina has had to cope with more than his fair share of injury concerns this season and has more decisions to make ahead of Sunday-s game with midfielder, Mitchell Prentice ruled out due to a groin strain.
His place in the side is expected to be taken by National Youth League midfielder, Brendan Gan, who made his first appearance in the Hyundai A-League off the bench last week in Sydney-s 1-all draw with the Queensland Roar.
“Mitch Prentice is definitely out, he did an abductor the other day. Brendan Gan will probably come in for him, it-s just a straight swap, right sided mid-field for right-sided mid-field,” Kosmina explained.
“He (Gan) was the NSW Premier League player of the year so he-s definitely got something to offer, he-s got a good engine, I-m pretty impressed with his game sense, and I think given a bit of time he could do alright in senior company.”
“If I get the chance I-m definitely going to try and take it if the opportunity arises,” Gan added. “If I-m going to come off the bench or if I-m going to start I-m going to do exactly the same job. Whatever happens is going to happen so on the day I-ll just be ready.”
Sunday-s match will see former Jets, Mark Bridge and Stuart Musialik make their second return to Newcastle since joining Sydney this season, and Bridge is expecting another ‘warm- welcome back to his former home.
“I expect them to boo me like always,” he said. “When they-re booing you last year you expect them to boo you when you-re playing for another team. I-m just going to go up there and do my job and hopefully we win.”
The Olyroo striker believes Sydney-s second half fight-back against Queensland marked a turning point for the side, and showed the Sky Blues are still serious contenders to challenge for the Championship.
“We-re creating some good chances and moving the ball around well so if we can get that on a consistent level and play that for the whole 90 minutes I don-t think anyone will come close to us,” Bridge continued.
“Training-s been very sharp and intense (this week) so I hope it means we-ve turned a corner and hopefully we can start with a win on Sunday.”
The crucial round-14 encounter kicks-off at 5:00pm this Sunday at Newcastle-s Energy Australia Stadium.