As all grand finals should, the 2018/19 A-League decider loomed as a tight and unpredictable affair. Both Perth Glory and Sydney FC had every reason to believe they would prevail at Optus Stadium.
Sydney FC coach Steve Corica hasn’t given up hope of winning the A-League’s Premiers’ Plate despite falling six points behind runaway leaders Perth Glory.
Glory crushed Sydney 3-1 in Perth on Wednesday night, with the Sky Blues conceding the first three goals in a horror first half.
The result snapped Sydney’s four-game winning run, and saw them fall six points behind Glory.
Melbourne Victory are also on 23 points with Sydney, but ahead on goal difference, after suffering a shock 2-0 loss to Adelaide.
Corica is obviously disappointed with his team’s effort against Glory.
But he says there’s still plenty of time for his charges to chase down the leaders.
“One hundred per cent,” Corica replied when asked whether top spot was still his goal.
“There’s no way we’re giving up. 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.
“It’s a challenge. We’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be a good end to the season.”
Sydney barely fired a shot in a limp first-half display.
In contrast, Glory continued their rich vein of form with a first-half brace to Joel Chianese and a Brendon Santalab goal.
Sydney pulled one back in the 68th minute when Adam le Fondre found himself unmarked outside the box and had time to control the ball before curling it into the top corner. The stunner was his 11th goal of the season.
But it wasn’t enough to dig the Sky Blues out.
Sydney host Adelaide and Newcastle in their next two games, and Corica is demanding maximum points.
Corica named an unchanged XI for the game against Glory.
But the first-year coach has flagged changes in the coming weeks as he attempts to rotate his squad during the busy January period.
One player sure to benefit is Danny De Silva, who has been restricted to eight substitute appearances since recovering from a hamstring injury.
The 21-year-old gave Sydney some spark when he came on in the 66th minute against Glory, and he could be handed a starting role in Sunday’s clash with Adelaide.
“I’m pretty sure he’s going to be starting very soon,” Corica said.
“Six games in January is a tough ask for a lot of players with the quick turnarounds.
“We need to freshen up the squad every now and then for each game. We’ll have a look next week and see who needs to rest.”