Sydney FC hasn't beaten Central Coast in three years. Image courtesy of news.com.au/Getty Images
Sydney FC coach Frank Farina said he’s looking to move forward with players who are willing to put up a fight, following the Sky Blues’ disappointing 2-1 loss in the F3 derby with Newcastle. He’ll find out plenty about his team on Thursday night when it lines up against the competition’s yardstick, Central Coast .
Farina will line up against Graham Arnold, a man he played alongside up front for the Socceroos for a number of years. While Farina has a massive challenge even getting Sydney FC to avoid the wooden spoon, as he has done the past few seasons, Arnold has the Mariners purring along at the top of the table. The weekend’s 1-all draw in New Zealand with Wellington snapped a four-game winning run, but the fact of the matter is Central Coast has lost just one game on the road all season, and that was way back in round 3 when it went down 2-1 to a Jets outfit flying high early in the campaign.
Brett Emerton left the field after a half-hour against Newcastle as he was feeling unwell, but he should be ok to take on Sydney’s closest rival. Jason Culina was rested from Sunday afternoon’s match due to a knee injury, although it is not believed to be related to the knee problem which prevented him from ever playing a match for the Jets, despite signing a three-year contract. Culina had appeared in the cellar dwellar’s previous five matches.
Despite being on the comeback trail from a hamstring injury, Alessandro Del Piero played out the full 90 minutes, and again was at heart of Sydney’s best forward moves. How much longer he can carry his team for is unknown, although Panamanian international Yairo Yau at least played his part, picking up an opportunistic goal for his fourth of the season.
Central Coast has dominated recent meetings between the teams, headlined by the 7-2 drubbing handed out earlier this season. The Mariners have won four of the last seven encounters, and the other three have finished in draws , which means Sydney FC is looking for its first win against the Gosford-based side since December 2009.
There were seven goals from the penalty spot in the first 17 matches between these New South Wales teams, but Daniel McBreen’s spot kick in the match earlier this season was the first in six derbies.
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