Corica insists ‘big game players’ give Sydney FC the Grand Final edge
Sydney FC boss Steve Corica believes the experience of his ‘big game players’ gives the defending Champions an advantage over first-time Grand Finalists Melbourne City before a ball has even been kicked.
Seven of the Sky Blues’ starting line-up in the 2-0 Semi-Final triumph against Perth Glory were involved in the match-day squad in last year’s showpiece game and newcomers Luke Brattan and Kosta Barbarouses have five victories in the big dance between them for other clubs.
Ryan McGowan and Alex Baumjohann have brought a wealth of European experience to the Harbour City in their first campaign, while teenage left-back Joel King could be replaced by another of last year’s Grand Final starters, Michael Zullo, although the former Socceroo may not be passed fit.
In contrast, Josh Brilliante is the only Melbourne City player to have turned out in a Grand Final and that was for Corica’s 2019 Champions in that dramatic penalty shootout win in Western Australia.
“It definitely helps. Big game players, they’ve got the experience,” Corica said following Wednesday's nights Semi-Final victory.
“They’ve been there before. A lot of them played in the game last year.
“New players as well coming in, they are looking forward to their first Grand Final for us,” he added.
“It definitely plays a part but you just have to back up on Sunday and make sure we obviously get the tactics right and put on another performance like that.
“Because you’re going to need another one like that to beat a very good Melbourne City team.”
Another factor motivating the reigning title holders is the opportunity to write themselves into the competition record books as the first ever five-time Champions.
And with only one team having ever successfully defended a Championship title, Brisbane Roar back in 2011 and 2012, Corica is full aware of chance to create history in Sunday’s Grand Final.
“Obviously we need to win on Sunday first but, I think like you said, we’re going to be the most successful club once we do that,” said Corica.
“That’s the aim, that’s what we want to do. In the 15 years we could have five Championships.”
“This club wants to win trophies, that’s our job. We work hard all year to get into a position to do it and, on Sunday, we have an opportunity to go ahead and go back-to-back.
“There’s only one team in the history of the A-League to go back-to-back so that would be a very good achievement from the club.”
First-half goals from Milos Ninkovic and Adam Le Fondre on Wednesday night set the newly-crowned Premiers on their way to securing a place in a record-equalling sixth Grand Final .
But missing from the starting XI was marquee star Baumjohann. The German playmaker came off the bench to help close out the result and Corica admits he has a huge decision to make ahead of Sunday’s finale at Bankwest Stadium.
“I think it would have been very tough to leave Anthony [Caceras] out. I think he’s been one of our best performers since coming back from the break,” Corica said.
“A little bit had to do with tactics as well and I thought [Caceras] played really, really well, as well as everyone did I think, especially first half.
“That was my thinking behind it. We know the qualities Alex [Baumjohann] has and we knew we were going to need him at some stage.
“We’ll have to rethink now about the Grand Final and see what players are ready and fresh to back up.”
Hyundai A-League Grand Final 2020
Sydney FC v Melbourne City
When: Sunday, August 30
Kick-off: 6.30pm AEST
Venue: Bankwest Stadium
Broadcast: ABC ME delayed at 8.25pm, FOX Sports 507
Stream: MyFootball Live App, Kayo Sports, ABC iView