Sydney’s backs against the wall as they seek to deny Mariners treble

Nyk Carnsew
2 Min Read
Sydney FC go to Central Coast a goal, and numerous players, down for their semi-final second leg. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS)
Sydney FC go to Central Coast a goal, and numerous players, down for their semi-final second leg. (Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

Sydney FC boss Ufuk Talay only has eyes for an A-League Men grand final bout with former club Wellington, but must first haul his depleted side past Central Coast Mariners.

The Sky Blues head into Saturday’s semi-final second leg at Industree Group Stadium, Gosford 2-1 down in the tie.

Already without star forward Joe Lolley, Sydney’s hopes of advancing to the grand final hang by a thread following their first-leg loss.

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Centre back Jack Rodwell and midfielder Corey Hollman are both suspended, while versatile Jake Girdwood-Reich (quad) and Brazilian forward Fabio Gomes (virus) are racing the clock to be fit.

“It’s a little bit back against the wall but these are great opportunities for players to step up and enjoy the occasion,” Talay said.

The team is hopeful that Girdwood-Reich and Gomes will join them for training on Thursday, Talay said.

“At the end of the day there are certain things ... that we can’t control - injuries, suspensions - these things happen.

“That’s why you have a squad, and you rely on the depth of the squad, and we’ve got some quality players to come in and step up.”

The prospect of overcoming the odds and reaching the decider is a tantalising prospect for Talay.

If Sydney beat the Mariners and Wellington Phoenix defeat Melbourne Victory in Saturday’s other semi-final, Talay would face his former club in New Zealand.

“I don’t want to say I’m afraid of it, but I’d like to go to Wellington,” he said.

“I think it would be great to come up against Chiefy (Phoenix coach Giancarlo Italiano), he’s done very well this season, I think he deserves the opportunity to be there.

“Hopefully we can get through this weekend and we’ll come across each other in the grand final.”

Talay is confident in the team’s abilities, despite going into the Central Coast game with low expectations.

“We can definitely match them with our mentality and attitude, we showed during the season that when we did do that we got a positive result,” he said.

“It’s going to be a great spectacle, I think it’s going to be a full house, so I think the boys will be up for the challenge.

“And the players know that they’re one game away from playing the grand final.”

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