Sydney FC manager Steve Corica says the quest for the Hyundai A-League Championship is now a “mental game” after his side’s 1-0 win over Perth Glory on Thursday night.
The win at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, courtesy of a 37th minute Adam Le Fondre strike, was the Sky Blues' second over the newly crowned Premiers this season.
Speaking post-match, Corica said the tussle could very well be a preview for the Grand Final.
“It could be the match-up in the final but there’s plenty of football left to be played and it’s a mental game now because we have beaten them twice now,” Corica said.
Both sides fielded slightly weakened line-ups with the likes of Alex Brosque, Jason Davidson, Juande and Andy Keogh all absent.
Corica praised the efforts of his troops while also firing off a subtle warning to their opponents.
“I thought it was very good,” he said.
“They didn’t have a shot on target so defensively we were outstanding and after we scored they were always going to put us under pressure but the defence was fantastic.
“Every game is important here and we needed three points to put pressure on Melbourne tomorrow.
“They’ve had a very good season, Perth, and congratulations to them for winning the Premiers Plate but our boys were fantastic tonight.
“They had players out tonight but so did we, having Zullo out and also Brosque so we’ll have to wait and see what happens if we meet them again.”
‘Proud’ Popovic unfazed by loss
It was their first away defeat of the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 season but Tony Popovic believes the game time given to members of his extended squad was more important than the result.
Fresh from sealing the Premiership against Newcastle Jets in Perth on Sunday, the short turnaround allowed Popovic to tinker with his line-up.
“We came here, we gave a very good account of ourselves,” Popovic said post-match.
“A lot of players got an opportunity that haven’t had many minutes, some haven’t had minutes for three months so I thought they did a very good job and grew into the game.”
It was a particularly special night for the Glory manager as he saw his son, Kristian Popovic, make his Hyundai A-League debut.
“As a coach we’re always working with our young players and working hard with all the age groups...we’re really trying to improve the whole structure with the youth system,” Popovic explained.
“When they train with you you’re delighted as a coach, when they play, like Jake Italiano, Jake Brimmer, you’re very proud.
“Tonight I’m a proud coach to give another young player a chance, it’s a bit different obviously because this time I’m a proud father so that doesn’t change.”