Corica admits using Sydney FC super sub Ninkovic was not the plan
Sydney FC coach Steve Corica revealed he never planned to turn to Milos Ninkovic against Wellington Phoenix unless he had to, and added ‘we had to.’
The Sky Blues saw their six-match winning streak come to a halt as they came from behind at Westpac Stadium to secure a 2-2 draw against Ufuk Talay’s Nix.
Serbian playmaker Ninkovic limped off after an hour of last Saturday’s 1-0 win against Central Coast Mariners with a calf injury and had not rejoined training since.
With Sydney 2-1 down and struggling to gain a foothold in the game, Corica called on Ninkovic in the 55th minute and the visitors squared the scores up a minute later through Steven Taylor’s own goal.
The introduction of the 34-year-old changed the flow of the match and Corica hailed Ninkovic, who signed a new two-year deal last week, for his impact.
“[Ninkovic] didn’t train all of last week so we didn’t want to put him in and risk [it],” Corica said.
“He had to come off with a calf injury last game so we were only going to use him if we had to. We had to.
“He changed the game for us, he makes us play a lot better.
“The second half was a lot better for us.”
Adam Le Fondre opened the scoring for Sydney with his 11th strike of the season but the Hyundai A-League Champions fell behind at half-time to goals from Rene Piscopo and Ulises Davila.
Taylor's own goal saved the day for Sydney and Corica admitted Phoenix had the best chance to seal all three points when Davila skewed a close-range shot off target late on.
“Both teams play very similar and there was a lot at stake for both teams,” Corica added.
“I think we started probably the better of the two, the first 10 minutes until we scored, and then they came back into the game.
“I thought they played really well in the first half and then the second half changed again a little bit.
“We got back into it, got the second goal, and they probably had the best chance of the game in the second half.”
Sydney FC v Melbourne City
Date: Sunday, 29 December
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Kick-off: 6.30pm AEDT