Sydney FC 2021/22 Season Preview

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With a new season on the horizon, will the Sky Blues reclaim the two A-League Men titles they were denied last campaign? 

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Last season…

A-League: 2nd
Finals: Runner-Up

They’ll win the league because…

Despite losing the previous season to Melbourne City, Sydney FC are considered as the most successful team in A-League history. The Sky Blues were consecutive premiership champions in 2018/19 and 2019/20, won seven major trophies in the last four years and are starting the new season with a positive outlook.

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The team has a unique balance of old and new players, with promising recruits like James Donachie and Max Burgess accompanying legendary veterans Alex Wilkinson and Milos Ninkovic, who have brought consistent wins for Sydney FC. With head coach Steve Corica committed to bringing glory to his beloved club, Sky Blue fans should be confident that their team will make it straight to the top.

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They’ll be cellar dwellers because…

The departure of defender Ryan McGowan to Kuwait SC is a heavy burden for the Sky Blues. Although they have great replacements with newcomer James Donachie and veteran Ben Warland, the club will be left with a gaping hole in their defence strategy if neither player can step up and replace McGowan’s output.

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Although Sydney FC has been applauded for their consistently unchanging football formula, star players Milos Ninkovic and Alex Wilkinson are close to retirement. If Sydney cannot adapt their strategy to incorporate their new players into the mix, their winning strategy will become their fatal flaw.

Talk around the water cooler… look smart in front of our colleagues with this valuable piece of information!

New research from Roy Morgan reveals that Sydney FC have the largest supporter base in the 2021 A-Leagues! With 640,000 fans cheering them on from the sidelines, these dedicated followers prove that not even a global pandemic can stop their passionate support for their favourite team.

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The off-season brought…

Young blood.

Unlike his predecessors, Steve Corica has moved towards an expedient recruitment approach by signing hardworking Australian players with an expansive wealth of A-League experience. The new recruits are part of Corica’s clear vision to build a strong team of young players that can stay with the club and win consecutive seasons for the next decade.

Some of the new recruits include Burundi bullet Elvis Kasomba as a swift winger from Melbourne Victory, who received the 2018 Mike Cockerill Medal for best NPL player in the FFA Cup, and attacking midfielder Max Burgess, who is returning to his boyhood club after stints with Wellington Phoenix and Western United. They join a remarkable line-up of academy talent to create the perfect formula for Sydney FC’s new dream squad.

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Key Player

Calem Nieuwenhof.

Following an impressive debut last season, Nieuwenhof is predicted to be the Sky Blues’ secret weapon to reclaim their former title. Despite a fractured vertebrae that curtailed his season last year, the 20-year-old made amazing progress through Sydney’s FC academy as an exceptional player and is continuing to reach new heights in his career after winning the A-League’s Goal of the Season Award.

The midfield maestro is focused on increasing his presence on the midfield this season by scoring more goals alongside his defensive partner Luke Brattan. Corica described the young player as “something special” and will continue to support him within the club’s environment as Nieuwenhof improves on his abilities and becomes a crucial contender for the next generation of players at Sydney FC.

One to Watch

James Donachie.

The 28-year-old joins the club as a two-time A-League championship winner who has played in three grand finals with over 130 A-League matches secured under his belt. Across his decade-long impressive career, Donachie is a highly regarded defender who has played for South Korean side Jeonnam Dragons and for FC Goa in the Indian Super League.

Corica said Donachie’s prior experience and admirable capabilities combined make him a perfect candidate to be an outstanding defender against their competitors. The stats indicate that the experienced centre-back is focused on success and will complement the team’s defensive structure. Donachie is excited for the upcoming challenge of joining the historical Sky Blues and playing with seasoned veterans to secure the club with a winning season.

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Ins: Max Burgess (Western United), James Donachie (Newcastle Jets), Connor O’Toole (Newcastle Jets), Elvis Kamsoba (Melbourne Victory), Patrick Yazbek

Outs: Ryan McGowan, Jordi Swibel, Alexander Baumajohann, Patrick Flotmann, Luke Ivanovic

Full Squad List

Goalkeepers: Thomas Heward-Belle, Adam Pavlesic, Andrew Redmayne

Defenders: James Donachie, Rhyan Grant, Joel King, Anton Mlinaric, Connor O’Toole, Callum Tabot, Harry Van der Saag, Ben Warland, Alex Wilkinson, Michael Zullo 

Midfielders: Luke Brattan, Anthony Caceres, Calem Nieuwenhof, Milos Ninkovic, Paulo Retre, Patrick Yazbek, Cheis Zuvela 

Forwards: Kosta Barbarouses, Trent Buhagiar, Bobô, Elvis Kamsoba, Adam Le Fondre, Patrick Wood

Feature image credit: Jaime Castaneda

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Olivia Nunes-Malek
Olivia Nunes-Malek
Covering Sydney FC for the 2021/2022 season. Currently studying a Bachelor of Communication (Journalism and Digital and Social Media) at the University of Technology Sydney.

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