Coach Steve Corica is confident he still has the fire in his stomach to lift Sydney FC out of their A-League final heartbreak and fight again next season.
The Sky Blues’ season was brought to an abrupt end by a 4-0 demolition of Melbourne City on Friday night, meaning they lost their semi-final 5-1 on aggregate.
Corica, who has won two championships and a premiership but hasn’t claimed silverware since 2020, is under contract until the end of next season and doesn’t appear to have any plans to move on. .
“It’s obviously still a bit raw,” he told reporters.
“I still have the passion and the drive. I think I’ve shown that already this season.
“We were sometimes under pressure, we got out of it.
“We were on a good run. It’s just not how we wanted to end.
Sydney FC manager Steve Corica still believes he’s the man for the job despite Sky Blues’ A-League final exclusion
Sydney’s Max Burgess received a red card from referee Shaun Evans in the loss which added to their pain
A season that held so much promise for Sydney FC ended in the semi-finals with Melbourne City progressing to the grand final
The experienced manager struggled through an early season slump which put him under pressure to lead Sydney to a fifth-place finish and a final victory by elimination.
“Since the halfway point, we’ve probably been the second-best team. We took two points less than City at the halfway point,” said Corica.
“We had injuries at the start of the season, to key players (Adam) Le Fondre, (Jack) Rodwell, (Alex) Wilkinson.
“Once we got those players back, Adam scoring goals at the end of the season, we looked more solid defensively. We were doing really well.
“It’s our first defeat in eight games, so it shows how good we were towards the end of the season.”
Corica was convinced he had the foundations of a solid team.
“There are a few areas where we need to bring in players,” he said.
“But there are a lot of young boys there. They have only just arrived this season.
“It’s more about developing them, making them better players and the ones we have, we still have a lot of experienced players there who can lead the way.”
Meanwhile, Melbourne City manager Rado Vidosic is confident he can handle the disruption of a bye week leading up to the men’s A-League grand final and win his second championship in three years.
Vidosic admitted his proteges struggled with rust when they had a week off before the 1-1 draw in Sydney but was confident they had learned from the experience ahead of the decider.
“We weren’t happy with the way we played in Sydney after the bye week,” he said.
“Yeah, some of the stubborn wounds can get a little better, heal a little more.
“But I think you lose that rhythm of playing weekends and preparing throughout the week, traveling and all that.
“But hopefully we can learn what we did and didn’t do against Sydney, the first trip, so now hopefully we can pull off this one.”
Melbourne City head coach Rado Vidosic has plenty to consider ahead of the decider with a host of players nursing issues and injuries
Aiden O’Neill returned Friday night for the semi-final, he is still suffering from back spasms and will race against time for the grand final
Melbourne City players celebrate booking their place in the A-League Grand Final where they will face Central Coast or Adelaide
The city will transpire over some key staff concerns.
Aiden O’Neill missed the first leg with back spasms and while he played a key role on Friday night, the midfielder, along with Mathew Leckie and Curtis Good, were substituted in the second half.
“He still had a bit of pain in his back and it was pulling his hamstrings,” Vidosic said.
“That’s why we took it out a little earlier, same with Leckie, same with Goody.” But I think everyone is fine, no problems.
“We’ll have a few days off and then we’ll start preparing for the grand final. »
City will play an internal training match at the end of next week and then begin their preparation.
Vidosic said the club scrapped the decision to host the grand final in Sydney “months ago” and would take up the challenge of getting to the game.
“It’s a good challenge, getting out of your comfort zone and you have to earn it,” he said.
“It’ll probably be a bigger chance if you win it.”
The Mariners lead Adelaide 2-1 in their draw ahead of Saturday’s second leg.
Vidosic admitted he would like to face Adelaide in revenge for a 4-2 loss to the Reds in March, but he was confident no matter what opponent City faced.
“With these players, you have that feeling every week,” he said.
“You feel like you can beat anybody on any given day.”