A-League Men’s 2021/22 mid-season report card: Sydney FC

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With nearly half of the severely interrupted 2021/22 season gone, it is time to assess exactly how Sydney FC have fared throughout their campaign amidst a mixture of results.

Semester summary:

Determined to put last season’s agonising second-placed finish behind them, the Sky Blues have on many occasions this season proven the star quality which took them to last year’s grand final. Following impressive wins against Macarthur FC, Wellington Phoenix, Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United.

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The Sydneysiders, however, inconsistent start to the campaign also left coach Steve Corica under enormous pressure following his team’s failure to notch a single win from their first four ALM matches, as well as emerging from an unanticipated COVID break with disappointing results against a struggling Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory.

After a subsequent recovery which began with a gutsy 2-2 away draw to Melbourne Victory, the many highs and lows of Sydney’s start to a tumultuous 2021/22 campaign currently leaves them in third position on the table.

Albeit, not comfortably, having played more games than every other team in the competition besides Adelaide.

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Areas of excellence:

Led by a career-best season from 29-year-old stalwart Anthony Caceres, the Sky Blues’ outstanding midfield roster this season has well and truly shone through, overcoming injuries, COVID and personnel changes to tear through their opposition on multiple occasions throughout the campaign.

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Despite the unfortunate long-term injury of Luke Brattan back in November, new signing and former Borussia Dortmund player Mustafa Amini has well and truly stepped up to the plate in Brattan’s absence. Adding to a revolving door of midfielders which currently includes trusty veteran Milos Ninkovic, Max Burgess, Paulo Retre and rising star Patrick Yazbek.

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The outstanding work in midfield, however, from the likes of Caceres, with four goals and two assists to his name, has often been undone in the final third for Sydney this season, leading to their area in most need of improvement.

Areas in need of improvement:

Sydney’s lack of execution in front of goal this season has been a constant grievance for their head coach, particularly after dropping points in rounds 10 and 11 in which they converted just one of their countless opportunities in their respective clashes against the Roar and Glory.

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Although Sydney’s recent recovery has coincided with a slight improvement in this area, having netted eight goals across their last four games, the Sky Blues still only managed to convert two of their 20 shots against the Victory in round 11. As well as three of a staggering 27 shots taken the following match against the Mariners.

Top student:

After finding the back of the net just six times in his 61 appearances for the Victory, Burundian attacker Elvis Kamsoba has blown his previous doubters away this season, with his jaw-dropping pace and incredible eye for goal being at the forefront of his breakout ALM campaign.

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The 25-year-old currently boasts an impressive total of three goals and two assists to his name, and appears more than likely to keep adding to his tally if his outstanding run of form continues into the second half of the season.

Needs improvement

Following Trent Buhagiar’s lone goal of the 2021/22 season in round six, his subsequent struggle to find the net this season came to the fore in a first half against the Mariners two weeks ago, which saw him butcher two golden opportunities right on the cusp of half time.

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Whilst the former Mariners player has shown glimpses of greatness, most recently against Western United and in his goal-scoring performance at Macarthur, consistency will be the name of the game. As the 23-year-old looks to regain his form from last season at the Sky Blues which saw him claim three goals.

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Grade: B-

Outlook: Despite their recent recovery leading to a respectable 4-5-3 season record, the Sky Blues are now left to nervously await forthcoming results as the rest of the competition catches up to them.

Due to the competition-wide backlog of unplayed fixtures, Sydney will now be under added pressure to win their upcoming matches, which include daunting matches against each of the league’s top four teams within the next month.

Feature Image Credit: Jaime Castaneda

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Jimmy Alexander
Jimmy Alexander
Covering Sydney FC for the 2021/22 A-League season. Studying a Bachelor of Sports Media (Journalism) at Charles Sturt University.

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