‘We really owned it last year’ – Duke backs Wanderers to keep Sydney Derby bragging rights
Ex-Western Sydney Wanderers captain Mitchell Duke is tipping the Red and Black to continue their Sydney Derby ‘dominance’ on Saturday and he has named the player he believes can fill his boots as the match-winner.
Duke netted a pair of winning goals against a Sydney FC side that went on to become Premiers and Champions, despite the Wanderers claiming 1-0 victories in the opening two derbies of the 2019/20 campaign in front of passionate crowds in the Harbour City.
The third contest ended in a 1-1 draw in a behind-closed-doors clash after Kwame Yeboah netted a late equaliser to ensure the side from Sydney’s west would finish the post-lockdown period unbeaten against their bitter rivals.
Steve Corica’s team may have gone on celebrate a double-winning season but Duke feels the Wanderers ‘owned’ their series and the Liverpool-born local expects his hometown club to keep the momentum rolling into 2020/21 at Stadium Australia.
“I feel like last season was a great time for the Wanderers in those derby matches and I feel like we really owned it last year,” Duke told a-league.com.au.
“I’ll definitely we watching. Hopefully they can continue that dominance that we’ve had for the last three games.”
Cox can be Wanderers’ difference-maker says Duke
Duke, who now plays for Al Taawoun FC in Saudi Arabia, revealed he is now an avid viewer of the A-League from his new Middle Eastern home and he rarely misses the chance to cheer on his beloved Wanderers.
And the 29-year-old Socceroos striker did not hesitate to name the man he expects to step into his boots and make an impact in this season’s Sydney Derbies – his former teammate Simon Cox.
The Republic of Ireland international forward has netted three goals in 12 A-League matches and Duke expects the 33-year-old to step up under the spotlight and become the match-winner.
“I believe Coxy is definitely the man for the job,” Duke said.
“If you pay too much close attention to last season, I didn’t feel like I performed at my best until he arrived.
“He’s such a good professional, such a good striker. He gets into such good positions. He will always get chances in games or he will open up space for another player.
“Sometimes as a striker, a good striker isn’t always selfish in that he makes runs for other players and I feel like when Coxy arrived, he really opened up space for me.
“He also gave me a couple of assets as well. He’s a great finisher. If you ever watch him in training he’s got great ability to finish goals.
“The way they are playing at the moment, they are creating enough chances so I would not be surprised to see him score in the next match and be the man for the job up top.”
‘I’ve felt the hate’ – Brosque found inspiration in front of Wanderers crowd
Retired Sydney FC favourite Alex Brosque is the leading scorer in Sydney Derbies with six goals and often the 21-cap Socceroo played starring roles despite the intensity of the Wanderers crowd.
The three-time A-League Premier and three-time Champion admits that the animosity between the clubs was something that inspired and motivated him to raise his game.
“Out on the field – if i’ve ever been on the bench or come off the field – I’ve felt the hate from those fans, which I loved,” Brosque told a-league.com.au.
“That fed me stepping on to the field or going on to the next game. That genuine dislike when it came to derbies, I loved.”
He added: “That’s probably the one game, whether watching on TV or heading out to the stadium, it gives me those feelings of missing the game.
“That game alone was the stand out for me. All three of those games against the Wanderers was the stand-out for me in every season.”
And Brosque has an eye on Sydney FC’s hot shot striker Trent Buhagiar to announce himself on the biggest stage during a Sydney Derby in the A-League.
“The addition of Bobo to the squad will definitely drive competition for places up front, which I think is the only thing lacking going into this season, which they now have,” Brosque said.
“I don’t think [Bobo] is going to come in and start, I think he’s a player who will be able to add a lot of value and a lot of goals but I think Stevie [Corica] has to stick with Trent Buhagiar first and Kosta [Barbarouses] and give them a chance to grow together and be that partnership.
“I feel that this is a big year for Trent Buhagiar. He’s had a good Asian Champions League campaign heading into this season and everything seems to have aligned nicely for him. I’m expecting a big year from him.”
He added: “If Sydney can match [Wanderers’ intensity] and bring in some aggression, and mongrel of their own, I think the quality that [Sydney] possesses will be too much for the Wanderers.”
Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday, 16 January 2021
Kick-off: 5.05pm AEDT
Venue: Stadium Australia
Broadcast: FOX Sports 505, ABC TV
Stream: MyFootball Live App, Kayo Sports
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