We’re off and running in the new A-League Women’s season! Round one had debuts, returns, plenty of goals and a heap of talking points.
Sydney FC coach Steve Corica isn’t about to hit the panic button after a first A-League Men season in five without a trophy for the club in 2020-21.
The Sky Blues, back-to-back grand final winners in 2018-19 and 2019-20, were pipped to both the premiers’ plate and the championship by Melbourne City last season.
City have emerged as the biggest challengers to Sydney’s superiority in the competition, the backing of the City Football Group propelling them into the league’s elite.
While second-place on the ladder and a grand final appearance would suit most clubs just fine, Sydney FC’s expectations are just that bit higher.
Corica however doesn’t believe it will take much to topple City and regain their status as the league’s top team.
“We just fell a little bit short last year – we were only two points behind City – and if you look at that, we had a draw with them at Leichhardt Oval, if we’d won that it could’ve been a different story,” Corica told AAP.
“But they were the best team, I think, overall.
“We made it to another grand final – three in a row – but we come up short in that case as well.
“A lot of positives. We had the best defence in the league. So that’s a very good starting point for us again this season.
“We just need to score more goals than what we did last year because goals obviously bring points and if you’ve got a good defence as well, you win a lot more games.
“Towards the back end of the season, having Bobo and (Adam) Le Fondre come back into the side, we started to score a lot more regularly.”
In the spirit of evolution, not revolution, Sydney’s squad has only undergone minor alterations in the off-season.
German midfielder Alexander Baumjohann and experienced Socceroos defender Ryan McGowan are the key departures.
In their place, Corica has added Max Burgess following his troubled stint at Western United and three-time A-League grand finalist James Donachie.
Olyroo Connor O’Toole has also added depth at left-back while pacy Burundian international Elvis Kimsoba crosses the Big Blue divide following his exit from rivals Melbourne Victory.
“We didn’t need an overhaul. We finished second and we made another grand final. So we were there or thereabouts,” Corica said.
“We’ve got very good depth in the squad this season and something a little bit different which we tried to bring in with Elvis.”
The club could also potentially have been on the hunt for a new head coach with Corica linked in the off-season with a job at his former J-League club Sanfrecce in July but the 48-year-old insists he’s as committed to Sydney as ever heading into the new campaign.
“I have a year left on my contract. I don’t want to go anywhere else if I’m in Australia,” he said.
“I’m at the best club. I’ve been here since the start. I know all about it and I’m very passionate about the club and feel ambitious to win more trophies.”