Buhagiar a positive in disappointing AFC result

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Heads turned when Trent Buhagiar was named in the starting side for Sydney FC’s disappointing draw against Jeonbuk Motors in the AFC Champions League.

Despite the Sky Blues conceding a late equaliser to make it 2-2, the 22-year-old scored a goal and proved a scary prospect for the Jeonbuk defenders using his best trait: raw pace.

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Buhagiar got the better of two defenders and tucked away a neat finish for the first goal and was involved in the counter-attack which won Sydney a penalty for the second.

His performance shows significant progress. It’s his first start in a full competition game since his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury in mid-2018.

The Australian under-23 international said the result was not what Sydney were after but personally he is thrilled.

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“[I’m] happy with it,” he said.

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“It’s great to get a goal and have a say in the second one.

“Always can improve on these little things and get better for the next game.”

When the lineup was announced there were suggestions coach Steve Corica may have tweaked his formation to suit Buhagiar’s rapid speed.

This claim was debunked by Corica.

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“We didn’t need to change the formation to use his pace,” he said.

“I think we used it quite well as you could see with the goals.

“We wanted to utilise his pace with his forward runs and balls in behind.”

Corica said Buhagiar’s performance justified his decision to give him his starting debut for the club.

“This was a good opportunity to give him his chance,” he said.

“He hasn’t played a lot of minutes so to last the way he did I thought he did a really good job.”

The result for the defending A-League champions leaves them with great difficulty to realistically qualify past the group stage after conceding late-on with a one-man advantage.

Corica said it was simply an issue of game management and closing games out.

“They had 10 men, simple as that,” he said.

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“In these situations, we just need to be better with the ball.

“We don’t have to score another goal because we were winning.”

Feature image credit: Supplied.

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Jordan Warren
Football mad, Bachelor of Journalism student at UOW. Liverpool to win the league. Covering Sydney FC in the A-League and W-League for 2019-20.