Steve Corica’s biggest test as Sydney FC boss

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Sydney FC’s head coach Steve Corica has spoken up about the importance of squad depth after a narrow 1-0 win over Wellington Phoenix as injuries become rife.

Sydney FC has finished first on the ladder for two years running. But one criticism of the club was that they got lucky with injuries, and were able to field almost the same starting 11 week in and week out. This season, Steve Corica and his men have not been so fortunate.

Before a ball was even kicked in the regular season, both Trent Buhagiar and Christopher Zuvela were ruled out for an indefinite period due to knee injuries. Now, Jacob Tratt and Jop van der Linden hope to return within the next few weeks after groin and hamstring issues respectively.

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The Sky Blues were left looking worse for wear after their away clash against the Phoenix, with Anthony Caceres having to be subbed off in the first half with calf related pain, while Siem de Jong spent several minutes receiving on-field treatment before being removed from the match.

A tackle from Phoenix’s Andrew Durante left the striker on the ground clutching at his left knee less than 30 minutes into the game. The injury came just as de Jong scored the lone goal of the match, which won Sydney the 3 points and pushed them into outright second on the table. Sydney FC’s head coach Steve Corica has already ruled the Dutchman out of next Saturday’s clash against Melbourne Victory.

“Siem was obviously hit from behind and he heard a crack, so I’m not too sure of the damage.

“His ankle got caught as well. Definitely he won’t be playing this Saturday.

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The squad flew to Melbourne the day after their game in Wellington, and with the two injuries picked up from the match against the Phoenix, Corica was left needing reinforcements.

“Obviously the two injuries tonight didn’t help our busy schedule that we’ve got in January.

“We’ll have to bring a couple more players to Melbourne, two young boys Charlie Lokolingoy and Joel King.

“We’ll fly those boys down to Melbourne tomorrow to join the squad.

The team thins even further with Rhyan Grant missing matches for international duty. Corica joked that he’d be looking forward to having the defender back, but only if the Socceroos made the final of the AFC Asian Cup.

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The most important thing for Corica in the second half of the season is keeping players fit and injury free, and working out a strategy for when things don’t go to plan. This season, they can’t rely on a stable starting 11. It’s sure to be Corica’s biggest test as Sydney FC’s gaffer so far.

As we head into the pointy end of the season, one of two scenarios may unfold. Injuries might plague the Sky Blues, and their squad will run thin.  Or, the depth and quality of Sydney FC will overcome, and Corica’s men will make it three in a row. Only time will tell.

Feature Image Credit: Ngau_Kai_Yan

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Lani Johnson
Bachelor of journalism student from the University of Sydney covering Sydney FC. Passionate about writing and football.

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