Around the grounds: Sky Blues beat Olyroos as an A-League icon re-signs

A first-half flurry from Sydney FC handed Steve Corica's side a 3-0 win over Graham Arnold's Australia U-23's in a friendly at Nestrata Jubilee Stadium on Thursday night.

Trent Buhagiar impressed with a goal and assist for the Sky Blues as the A-League Champions piled on all three goals in the first 18 minutes of play.

Paulo Retre and Alexander Baumjohann were the other scorers for Sydney on the night. 

Arnold's Australia U-23's grew into the game in the second half but couldn't capitalise on their chances as the scoreline remained at 3-0 in Sydney's favour.

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Speaking after the game, Sky Blues boss Corica said the fixture served as a good test for his side, who will now prepare to depart for Qatar to continue their 2020 AFC Champions League campaign.

“I think we were very clinical in that first 15-20 minutes, we played some very good stuff," Corica said.

“I’m happy, I think we can be better of course, it was a good test for us and the last hit out before we leave for Champions League.

“We’ve got clearance to go to Qatar now.

"It’s about mentally preparing, it’s a good competition and good preparation for our A-League season."

It was a tough night in between the sticks for Melbourne City and Australian U-23 goalkeeper Tom Glover but the 22-year-old was upbeat in his post-match assessment, focussing on the positive reaction his side made to going three goals down. 

"I think there are a lot of positives to take out of it," Glover said.

"We can also look at the first 15 minutes, if you start slow you get punished and against the Champions of Australia you can't give them those opportunities, and we got punished for that.

"After that ten or 15 minutes we bounced back, we started playing our style and the second half was a lot better.

"There's lots of positives to take from it, it's been ten months since we last played with each other. 

"We clean off the cobwebs and move onto the next game on Tuesday [against Macarthur FC]."

WATCH: Highlights: Sydney FC 3 - 0 Australia U-23

McGowan in isolation after COVID-19 diagnosis

Sydney FC will travel to Qatar for the resumption of the 2020 AFC Champions League group stage without central defender Ryan McGowan, after the 31-year-old tested positive for Covid-19.

McGowan has been in the UK since the conclusion of the 2019/20 A-League campaign; currently in Scotland McGowan will miss the start of his side's five-game stint in Qatar, which begins on Thursday, November 19 against Shanghai SIPG.

Corica remains upbeat on McGowan's chances of linking up with his squad in Qatar at some stage, with their final group stage game coming on Friday, December 4 against Yokohama F. Marinos.

“Ryan has tested positive for Covid-19, so will remain in Scotland where he is currently self-isolating," Corica said.

“He’ll be tested again shortly and will hopefully make a recovery in time to meet up with the boys later in Qatar.”

Ryan McGowan

Transfer news: Simon extends Mariners stay as Victory acquire defensive reinforcement

Central Coast Mariners legend Matt Simon has re-signed with the club in a deal that keeps the talismanic striker in Gosford through to the end of the 2020/21 A-League season.

Simon extends his stay at the Mariners in a dual-role for the upcoming campaign: his first objective will be to add to his club-record tally of 51 goals across 194 appearances, but Simon will also act as a mentor for the club's younger players as part of his responsibilities this season.

The 34-year-old told the club website he's relishing the prospect of helping the up-and-coming Mariners thrive as professionals in his new role.

“I’m definitely excited to be going around again and looking forward to contributing on and off the field,” Simon said.

“We have a young core this season and some exciting talent coming through, and it’s great that I am in a position where I can help them adapt to the professional football environment.”

“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us to get to where we want to be, and I can help drive that both as a player but also by working with the young boys and making sure they are in the best environment to succeed.”

Matt Simon
Simon is locked in for another season at the Mariners

As the Mariners re-signed a veteran striker Melbourne Victory added an up-and-coming defender to their ranks, as Australia U-23 centre half Dylan Ryan joined Grant Brebner's side. 

Ryan's arrival brings his three-year stint at Eredivisie side Willem II to an end.

Formerly a part of Liverpool's youth system, Ryan says he's excited to join a club with aspirations to climb the A-League table in the 2020/21 campaign.

“I’m really pleased to be joining Melbourne Victory this season,” Ryan told the club website.

“Victory has a huge member and fan base and are really driven to improve and get back up the table this season.

“I’m looking forward to joining an exciting new squad that Grant Brebner has assembled this season. Grant has outlined the role he wants me to play and the vision he has for the team moving forward, and I can’t wait to play my role and help the team anyway I can this season.”

Colakovski eager to build on the taste of playing for boyhood club 

Melbourne City's homegrown rising star Stefan Colakovski says playing a part in the success of the club he loves would be massive for him both on a professional and personal level.

Colakovski - originally a Melbourne Heart fan - rose through the ranks of City's youth system to make his A-League debut against Wellington Phoenix in Round 4 in the 2019/20 A-League campaign.

He made seven appearances throughout the season, including one start against Western United before a 15-minute cameo against Sydney FC in the Grand Final. 

The 20-year-old says his first taste of senior football at the club helped him understand what it will take for him to succeed at A-League level.

"Playing for City was a dream come true and something I have wanted to achieve since I was 10 years old," Colakovski said.

“I love this club and I just want it to be successful and if I can play a part in that it would be massive for me.

“It was great to come off the bench and play a role but when I got my first start I noticed it was obviously a pretty big step up from playing youth or just practice matches.

“Then getting the experience to play in the Final was massive for me and is definitely something I took a lot of confidence out of."

With the disappointment of falling short on the biggest stage against the Sky Blues last season still front and centre in his mind, Colakovski says the City squad is itching to get back out onto the turf and go a step further in what is shaping as an exciting 2020/21 A-League campaign.

“We all just can’t wait to start playing,” he said.

 “After the disappointment of the final last season everyone is just really hungry to go one step further and obviously with the Asian Champions League coming up as well we really want to perform in that.”

“It's a really good vibe around the place at the moment."

Stefan Colakovski