Corica not fazed by gap

Coach Steve Corica has no doubts Sydney FC can still challenge for the Premiers' Plate this season despite blowing their big chance to reel in leaders Perth Glory.

The Sky Blues were beaten 3-1 in Perth on Wednesday, conceding all three goals in the first half. It snapped their four-game winning run, while the Glory extended their lead at the top to six points.

Perth have only suffered one defeat all season, while the Sky Blues have lost three. They are in third spot, level with defending champions Melbourne Victory but trailing on goal difference.

Corica was unhappy with his team's first-half display against Tony Popovic's side but feels "100 per cent" there is more than enough time for them to bridge the six-point gap.

"There's no way we're giving up," he said. "It's only six points, it doesn't mean they've got it shot to bits.

"It's a long way to go; I've seen teams (that have) been turned around from six points in front. We're looking forward to it, it's going to be a good end to the season."

Adam le Fondre netted his 11th goal of the season for Sydney FC against the Glory but it wasn't enough to get the visitors back into the match.

The Sky Blues, who face Adelaide and Newcastle at home in their next two games, are ready to make changes in the coming weeks and that could mean more game-time for Danny De Silva.

The former Perth player has been restricted to eight substitute appearances since recovering from a hamstring injury.

Speaking of the 21-year-old, who gave the team some spark when he came on in the 66th minute against Glory, Corica said: "I'm pretty sure he's going to be starting very soon. Six games in January is a tough ask for a lot of players with the quick turnarounds."

Sydney FC are 19/20 to win their next game against Adelaide United, who are 14/5 with the draw 13/5.

Le Fondre chasing record

Coach Steve Corica is backing Sydney FC striker Adam le Fondre to challenge the A-League's goalscoring record this season.

Le Fondre scored both goals as the Sky Blues moved into second place in the table with a 2-1 home win over Brisbane Roar.

It took his tally to nine goals in the first ten rounds of what is his first season in the league.

Sydney FC were propelled to their second consecutive Premier's Plate last season by Bobo's 27 goals in 27 games.

Having been signed as a replacement for the Brazilian, le Fondre is more than justifying his contract.

He opened the scoring against Brisbane with a header before neatly tucking a left-foot finish into the bottom corner in the second half.

Speaking of the striker, Corica said: "Knowing him, he wants to beat Bobo's record, I would say. I'm sure he's looking for Bobo's total towards the end of the season.

"He obviously loves scoring goals and that's his job; for me, most importantly he does the work for the team which he does do. He's enjoying scoring and the team [are] supplying him with goals as well so it's great."

The coach added: "He's a poacher as well, he's in the box, he's making great runs down the sidelines, holds the ball up."

Le Fondre quickly found form in the A-League, netting four goals in the opening three rounds including a double in the 3-0 win over Melbourne City.

He now has three goals from his last two games, having scored the crucial opener when the Sky Blues inflicted a first defeat of the season on Perth Glory last week.

Sydney FC are 3/10 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 8/1 with the draw 9/2.

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De Silva may have to wait

Danny De Silva may have to settle for a place on the bench again for Sydney FC's meeting with Brisbane Roar.

The Sky Blues aren't likely to make too many changes for the game in Kogarah and aren't sure whether Brisbane will be any different a prospect now that coach John Aloisi has left.

De Silva came on and scored in the 2-1 win over Perth Glory last time out, but coach Steve Corica has hinted he will get a similar role against the ninth-placed Roar.

Meanwhile, Sydney FC have a forced change at right-back as Rhyan Grant's with the Socceroos squad preparing for the Asian Cup. Paulo Retre is likely to be given the nod to start in Grant's place.

Speaking of De Silva, Corica said: "He's been doing a great job coming off and he's fully fit now. He's looking a lot stronger than when we came here, he did a fantastic job last week as well.

"I said to him that we have a lot of games in January and he'll be one who'll definitely be starting in January."

Meanwhile, the Sky Blues coach says he's likely to sign a foreign striker with an Asian passport during the transfer window, to help the club cope with the dual campaigns of A-League and Asian Champions League.

The club, who have striker Trent Buhagiar on their injury list, are hoping to add some pace to their forward line when the transfer window opens on 3rd January.

"It takes time, we want to make sure we get the right one," said Corica. "There are a few around at the moment but we have to make sure they're coming here for the right reasons."

Sydney FC are 1/2 to win their next game against Brisbane, who are 5/1, with the draw 10/3.

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‘Winning culture’ thrives in Sydney

Midfielder Brandon O'Neill feels the way Sydney FC have been performing has shown the transition to new coach Steve Corica has been smooth.

The Sky Blues won two Premier's Plates in a row under Graham Arnold, but lost their coach to the Socceroos job at the end of last season.

O'Neill, who has played every game of the league season for the third-placed side, is delighted with the way the team have gone so far.

The 24-year-old said: "We've started the season extremely well – getting to an FFA Cup final, winning some tough games on the road and been in and around the top of the league for a while.

"It's a pleasing start but there's a lot to improve on and get better at. We're looking forward to getting better and achieving success's a good start but we believe we can get a lot better."

The midfielder said Corica had kept a lot the things in place that had been working so well under Arnold, including how the players went into a game and how they trained.

"[That] is really good because it's bred success in the past; we have a really good culture here, winning is what we're focused on and that's what we want to do," he added.

"We also want an environment where you can succeed both individually and as a team…[Corica's] very knowledgeable, he's such a good person as well to work under, the people that we've brought in this season have only added to the quality of Sydney FC."

Corica's team were only three points off leaders Perth Glory going into Christmas, having closed the gap by beating the Glory 2-1 at nib Stadium.

That made it three victories in four games – all of which have been away from home.

The Sky Blues are 1/2 to win their next game against Brisbane, who are 11/2 with the draw 16/5.

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Corica seeking attacking option

Sydney FC aim to bolster their forward line ahead of their Asian Champions League campaign.

Steve Corica's side have come through the opening five games of the A-League season without Trent Buhagiar, who tore his ACL on the eve of the campaign.

The former Central Coast Mariners forward, who had joined on a two-year deal in May, had looked like being a key player after scoring freely in pre-season games and during the Sky Blues' FFA Cup run.

Buhagiar scored four goals in the space of three cup ties to help them progress to the final, where they lost to Adelaide United.

He also netted four times in five friendly matches and Corica admits his absence has been an issue.

The Sky Blues saw their unbeaten run over the opening month of the league season end when they went down 2-1 to rivals and defending champions Melbourne Victory on Sunday.

They will face a tough period from the start of March when they begin their Asian Champions League campaign while continuing their A-League season, and Corica says the club are aiming to add to their strike force.

"We've got a little bit of time before January, but we've already started looking and there's a few options at the moment," added the coach.

"With Buhagiar out, he was a big threat with his pace; if we can find someone like that, that'd be great. Otherwise we'd have to look for something else."

In the continental competition, the Sky Blues will start out against a play-off winner at home on 6th March while their other group rivals are Japanese side Kawasaki Frontale and Shanghai SIPG from China.

The Sky Blues are 4/7 to win their next A-League game against Central Coast, who are 5/1, with the draw 3/1.

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Sky Blues still feeling pain

Sydney FC are still hurting over the way their championship defence ended last season, ahead of their clash with Melbourne Victory.

So says coach Steve Corica as he leads the Sky Blues into the Big Blue clash with Victory at Jubilee Oval on Sunday.

Sydney FC won the Premier's Plate by a massive 14 points last season and looked a good bet to go on and clinch a second consecutive Grand Final victory, only to be stunned by Kevin Muscat's side in the semi-final.

Corica, who has taken over this season from Graham Arnold as coach, concedes the pain of that defeat would resonate during the build-up.

But it's something the players – seven of whom were involved in that extra-time loss – will have had to tackle on their own as the coach didn't want to focus on the past.

"We haven't spoken about it to the players, but I'm sure that's in the back of their minds at the end of the day," said Corica.

"It really hurt us not going into the Grand Final last year. We were the best team; we finished first by a lot of points and obviously it's disappointing."

The clash is the first between Corica and former on-field foe Muscat, who were prominent figures in the early days of the rivalry.

Corica has respect for Muscat, who has won two championships, saying he was very focused as a coach just as he was as a player.

Meanwhile, Sydney FC will face two league champions in their Asian Champions League group next year.

The Sky Blues have been drawn in the same group as Kawasaki Frontale of Japan and China's Shanghai SIPG, with the final team to be a play-off winner.

Melbourne Victory have been pitted against Guangzhou Evergrande of China and two yet-to-be-determined opponents. One will be the South Korean FA Cup winners, either Ulsan Hyundai or Daegu FC.

The other will be either a Japanese side, Thailand's Chiangrai United, Philippines champions Ceres-Negros or Yangon United of Myanmar.

The Sky Blues are 19/20 to win their next game against Melbourne Victory, who are 14/5, with the draw 13/5.

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De Jong on track for December return

Sydney FC are confident their medical staff can help get the best out of marquee signing Siem de Jong, who is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury.

The Dutchman was hurt two weeks ago in the derby win over Western Sydney, with the club initially expecting him to miss six weeks.

He's on track to recover a week earlier than that, but coach Steve Corica won't rush him back, particularly due to his history of injuries.

De Jong tore the same hamstring four years ago while with Ajax and was out for half the Eredivisie season.

"He's devastated, because he feels like he's letting the boys down," Corica said of the 29-year-old who also includes Newcastle United among his former clubs. "But he's well on track to come back, maybe even a little bit earlier than expected the way he's going."

"He's running, he's kicking at the moment, that's a good sign – we'll see how he goes. He's very positive at the moment, he wants to get back as soon as possible to help out the team."

Corica is backing the Sky Blues medical team to get De Jong back on the field ready to go – probably in the second derby clash with Wanderers on 15th December.

Speaking of the medical staff, he said: "As you can see with Rhyan Grant, getting him back, they're very good; even Adrian (Mierzejewski) when he came here last year, he had problems, they fixed him up. It's something we've looked into and to keep him strong and fit is something we will try our best to do."

The Sky Blues are 21/20 to win their next game against Melbourne Victory, who are 23/10, with the draw 13/5.

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Corica: Two points lost

Steve Corica wasn't pleased at the way his Sydney FC side finished the game when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Newcastle Jets.

The Sky Blues were denied a third consecutive win when Nick Cowburn headed home a late equaliser at McDonald Jones Stadium.

Though unbeaten after four rounds, Corica's team felt it was two points dropped against the bottom-placed Jets.

Newcastle were the Sky Blues closest challenge for the Premier's Plate last season, and went on to reach the Grand Final where they lost to Melbourne Victory.

They'd only managed two goals in their opening three games, but managed an 87th-minute equaliser from substitute Cowburn who had not score in his first four seasons for the club.

Corica said it had been a frustrating finish to a game the Sky Blues had dominated.

"We played some great football for probably 75 minutes, then they went very long and direct.

"We dealt with most of the long balls and the runs in behind, but it was a set piece that was not great defending," he added.

"For most parts of our game we were very good, defended very good, we stuck to the structure excellent, and to concede towards the end of the game like that it's like two points we definitely lost."

Sydney almost snatched a dramatic late winner when young striker Charles Lokolingoy went through one-on-one with Glen Moss but couldn't beat the keeper.

Their goal from Alex Brosque was set up by Rhyan Grant, who during the week had received a call-up to the Socceroos train-on squad.

The Sky Blues could get injured marquee Siem De Jong back in action for their next game with Central Coast Mariners after a hamstring problem.

Sydney FC are 10/3 to win the Grand Final.

The Sky Blues are 19/20 to win their next game against Melbourne Victory, who are 5/2 with the draw 11/4.

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Sky Blues sign Tratt as injury cover

Sydney FC have signed defender Jacob Tratt on a short-term contract to cover for the injured Ben Warland.

Tratt, who is a former youth team captain at the club, has rejoined the Sky Blues two years after he was released.

Central defender Warland picked up a foot injury last month and coach Steve Corica has brought in 24-year-old Tratt following a successful trial.

The coach made him skipper of the Foxtel Youth League squad and he led them to the 2014 championship.

"Jacob is an excellent player and will fit into our winning culture and strengthen our defensive options," said Corica. "I've known him for a number of years now and he is a fantastic person who is fully deserving of this opportunity to be a part of our squad."

Tratt had a stint with Sydney United 58 after leaving the Sky Blues, then played 20 games for Wellington Phoenix in the 2016-17 A-League season.

He left Wellington citing personal reasons, moving to Sutherland Sharks earlier this year.

The defender said: "To be able to play for the biggest club in the country and to be surrounded by family and friends, I couldn't be happier. You can see everyone at the club has purpose to what they are doing every day and you feed off that mentally."

The signing of Tratt comes ahead of the trip to Newcastle Jets, who are bottom of the league with just one point from their opening three games.

Corica, who's unlikely to make any changes after last weekend's 3-0 win at Melbourne City, said he expected the home side to be fired up.

"They have had a slow start and I think we need to be ready for that," he added. "We need to be ready for that especially the first 10 to 15 minutes."

Sydney FC are 21/20 to beat Newcastle, who are 11/4, with the draw 5/2.

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Missed target haunts Sky Blues

Head coach Steve Corica admitted his regret in failing to sign Craig Goodwin, after Sydney FC's FFA Cup final defeat to Adelaide United.

The Sky Blues tried to sign the three-cap Socceroo in the off-season, but Goodwin chose to move to the Reds for a second spell.

He scored both goals as United beat Corica's side 2-1 at Coopers Stadium to become the first team to win the FFA Cup twice.

It was Corica's first defeat since he took over the Sky Blues job from Graham Arnold, who is now the Australia national team coach.

He felt his team were better than the Reds and says he won't be changing any of his tactics as it was a positive performance.

Speaking of Goodwin, who netted with a stunning free-kick and a half-volley, Corica said: "We tried to sign him and that's why. To come up tonight and score two goals, congratulations to him.

"He wanted to come home, back to Adelaide. For him he probably thinks he made the right choice."

Goodwin's goals came either side of an Adam Le Fondre penalty for the visitors.

Corica's team go on to face Melbourne City in the A-League on Friday at AAMI Park in what will be their third game in six days.

He doesn't feel they will need to be picked up after the defeat, though, as both the defensive performance and the team's willingness to go forward left him pleased.

"It is a bit tough to take because I believe we were the best team on the night," said the coach. "We looked more like scoring than what they did; yes, it was tight, but we dominated most things."

Corica has revealed he will be without Siem de Jong for up to six weeks after the marquee recruit hurt his hamstring in last weekend's Sydney derby.

The Sky Blues are 17/10 to win their game against Melbourne City, who are 8/5, with the draw 12/5.

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