Warland season over after ACL tear

Defender Ben Warland will miss the rest of Sydney FC's season after tearing his ACL.

The 22-year-old was hurt in Sunday's 2-0 home defeat to Melbourne City, scans revealing he tore the ACL in his left knee.

He is the third Sky Blues player to go down with a long-term knee injury this season, putting pressure on their resources as they challenged for a third-straight minor premiership.

Chris Zuvela and Trent Buhagiar both suffered freak knee injuries in accidental clashes during the early part of the campaign.

Warland missed had a delayed start to the start of the season after breaking a bone in his foot in pre-season but returned to become a regular starter in Steve Corica's side.

Speaking of the Adelaide-born centre-back, Corica said: "He's been doing extremely well at centre-half but he is a quality professional, he has great strength and character and I know he will come back even stronger.

"We have a fantastic medical department at Sydney FC, who will guide Ben through the process as they have with others before."

Corica's team are having to contend with dual campaigns, which is seriously testing their depth.

Five of their six games in the Asian Champions League come before the end of the A-League campaign.

Traditionally that has seen Australian clubs struggle to qualify from their ACL groups while chasing domestic silverware.

In the case of Sydney FC it is their league form that held up – they had taken seven points out of nine before losing to City – while they have only picked up one point from their two ACL games so far.

Marquee man Siem de Jong and young playmaker Danny De Silva are both hoping to be back after injuries for their next game against second-bottom Brisbane on 29th March.

The Sky Blues are 1/2 to win their next game against Brisbane Roar, who are 5/1 with the draw 3/1.

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ACL setback for Sky Blues in Japan

Sydney FC are bottom of their Asian Champions League group after going down to a 1-0 defeat away to Kawasaki Frontale.

The J.League hosts didn't score until seven minutes from time but dominated the Sky Blues, having 20 shots to their opponents' two.

Sydney FC's hopes of qualifying from Group H took a big hit against the team that had lost their opening match.

They went into the game at the Todoroki Athletics Stadium without midfielder Josh Brillante, who looks set to leave the club and move to South Korean outfit Pohang Steelers.

Coach Steve Corica left the 25-year-old out of the side as he said he "wasn't in the right frame of mind" to play due to the transfer interest in him.

The Sky Blues had an early chance when skipper Alex Brosque saw his header saved by keeper Jung Sung-ryong.

Leandro Damiao fired wide soon after for Kawasaki, before bringing a fingertip save from Andrew Redmayne midway through the half.

Kawasaki kept the keeper busy after the break and he had to make two superb stops to keep the scores blank.

First a looped volley from Hidemasa Morita from outside the area brought a full-stretch save from Redmayne, then 15 minutes from time he kept out a point-blank effort from Ao Tanaka.

Finally Kawasaki broke the deadlock when Manabu Saito swept home a deflected cross.

It leaves Corica's side bottom with just one point from their opening two fixtures in the tournament.

The coach said: "I thought we defended quite well. Kawasaki had quite a few chances but shots from distance, which our goalkeeper made quite good saves at times.

"We had a very good chance early on in the game, which maybe if we scored this goal the game would have been different … then we are in front and we can defend a lead.

"I'm pleased, our boys worked very hard. Disappointed not to get at least one point, but I thought Kawasaki were good. They're a good team, we knew this, they played good football."

Sydney FC are 5/2 to win the Grand Final.

The Sky Blues are 19/20 to win their next game against Melbourne City, who are 3/1 with the draw 5/2.

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Striker revels in Sky Blues freedom

Striker Reza Ghoochannejhad is relishing the freedom he has under Sydney FC coach Steve Corica, as he anticipates his first Asian Champions League game for the club.

The Sky Blues, who have won the A-League's minor premiership for the past two seasons, take on Ulsan Hyundai in their opening group game at Jubilee Oval on Wednesday.

For the former Iran international forward it will be a meeting with his former teammate from last season, Dave Bulthuis – the pair played together for Dutch club Heerenveen.

He will go into the match full of confidence, after notching his first goal for Corica's side last weekend when they beat Adelaide United 2-0.

And he says he's loving the licence to express himself that the coach has given him since he arrived on loan from Cypriot side APOEL during the transfer window.

"The coach has given me plenty of freedom on the pitch, especially ball position; I can drop, so that's good to create something to be unorthodox," added Ghoochannejhad. "It's nice to be able to be free, move into spaces where you think there is opportunity – the coach has given me this freedom and I am happy with that."

Speaking of his first goal against United, he said: "I knew the goal was going to come. I wasn't worried about that because we were creating opportunities and we were playing well and I knew the moment was going to come soon.

"Every game is different but I didn't feel pressured at all. From the moment I came here, the coach gave me confidence, my teammates gave me confidence."

Sydney FC are 19/10 to win their next game against Ulsan Hyundai, who are 29/20 with the draw 11/5.

The Sky Blues are 5/2 to win the A-League Grand Final.

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Sky Blues held by Mariners

Bottom side Central Coast held minor premiership contenders Sydney FC to a 1-1 draw in front of their own fans at Leichhardt Oval.

The Mariners took the lead against the run of play nine minutes before half-time when Adam le Fondre returned to the top of the A-League Golden Boot standings by netting the equaliser.

The Sky Blues will regard the game as two points dropped, despite having trailed. They are now 10 points behind leaders Perth Glory with eight games left.

Central Coast ended their four-match losing streak while Steve Corica's team have won just one of their past four fixtures.

Le Fondre now leads the goalscoring chart on his own again – with 13 for the season – one more than Perth's Andy Keogh and Roy Krishna of Wellington Pheonix.

He converted from the spot 14 minutes from time after Jem Karacan had been bundled over by substitute Alex Brosque in the box.

The home side couldn't go on and secure victory, with Brosque and Milos Ninkovic unable to take chances in the final three minutes.

They had started the game well and were unlucky not to take a 20th-minute lead through Ninkovic.

The midfielder fired a powerful shot against the post with Mariners keeper Ben Kennedy beaten and then, when he latched onto the rebound, his second effort was just wide.

Josh Brillante's volley was saved by Kennedy on the half-hour mark and the Sky Blues looked the more likely side to score only to fall behind when Aiden O'Neill fired in a shot that found the bottom corner past unsighted keeper Andrew Redmayne.

Corica said after he match: "We had about 14 or 15 shots, some one-on-ones, and hit the post so had plenty of good chances. It was not for the lack of trying and I can't take anything away from the boys' effort."

Sydney FC are 3/1 to win the Grand Final and 1/1 to win their next game against Wellington, who are 5/2 with the draw 13/5.

Austin excited by Sky Blues move

Winger Mitch Austin has joined Sydney FC on the final day of the transfer window and could make his debut straight away.

The 27-year-old moves from Newcastle Jets, who he joined at the start of the season, with the Sky Blues being his fifth A-League club since he returned to Australia in 2015 after playing in England.

He's spent time with Central Coast and Melbourne Victory, but his latest move has more personal significance as he supported Sydney FC as a youngster.

Austin is the third signing of the transfer window by Steve Corica's side, following Anthony Caceres and Reza Ghoochannejhad.

At the same time as securing Austin on a deal through to the end of the season, the Sky Blues released forward Charles Lokolingoy.

Austin, who is eligible for the game against Melbourne City on Sunday, said the move felt like him coming home.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for me to be joining the current Premiers and my intention is to win trophies with the club," he added.

"To get the chance to compete for a place in the AFC Champions League squad is hugely exciting for me; as is playing for the club I supported as a boy."

Corica said of him: "Mitch has got a lot of pace and can play anywhere across our frontline so will give us an extra option up front. He will worry defenders and add to the quality we already have in our forward line, I think it will strengthen our squad."

The Sky Blues are 1/1 to win their next game against Melbourne City, who are 14/5, with the draw 5/2.

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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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