Sydney F.C Preview:
Written by Ty Stedman
Sydney F.C were Grand Finalists in Season 10 of the Hyundai A-League but were disposed of on the big day by a dominant Melbourne Victory side; long story short; it simply wasn't Sydney's day. 2015/16 will see the Sky Blues hoping to go one better and bring home the club's first piece of silverware since winning the double in 2009/10.
Falling one game short of a Grand Final win is something Sydney coach Graham Arnold knows all too well after his spell with the Central Coast Mariners. It's something that'll spur the coach on in Season 2015/16. Pre-season showings against Tottenham and Chelsea saw Sydney FC shine and surely this season is going to be another one of quality for the Sky Blues.
Sydney F.C return to the Asian Champions League for the first time since 2011 this season and that will no doubt force them into some headaches concerning squad selection and match fitness but I'm confident in Graham Arnold's ability to handle the continental campaign alongside the domestic campaign.
Ins & Outs:
Sydney FC's main signings of the season are without doubt the addition of duo Filip Hološko and Miloš Ninković. Sydney fans are especially excited about the addition of Hološko to their squad and the quality he brings. Ninković last played for French side Evian and had a lengthy spell at Ukrainian powerhouse Dynamo Kyiv. He also featured in Serbia's starting squad in the 2010 World Cup group stage games against Germany and the Socceroos.
Hološko is seen as a potential replacement for Bernie Ibini and is generally an option for either side of the park on the wings or even potentially up front as well. The Slovakian has had a solid career so far and is still only 31 (fairly young for an A-League marquee). He played 144 games for Turkish giants Besiktas and has featured in the UEFA Champions League. He could very well be the breakout star in the A-League this year.
Another exciting addition is that of former Newcastle Jet Andrew Hoole. Hooley as he's known around these parts played against Tottenham and Chelsea and showed some real potential. I feel he could grow greatly under the tutorship of Arnold and the Sydney coaching staff.
Sydney made some depth-building signings too, adding the likes of Perth defensive duo Riley Woodcock and Brandon O'Neill, goalkeeper Ivan Necevski has re-joined as a back-up option between the sticks, Alex Mullen has joined on as a mature-age rookie and Mariners duo, upcoming central defender Zac Anderson and the ever-threatening Matt Simon up front (I know us Jets fans love Matt Simon...)
No loss is greater than the one of marquee man Marc Janko. Most Sydney fans would agree that Janko was quality but I'm sure their new signings will make up for the loss of the Austrian captain. Exciting rising stars Corey Gameiro (Melbourne City) and Terry Antonis (PAOK-Greece) have left and will mean the likes of Chris Naumoff and Andrew Hoole have a chance to shine. Finally, Serbian defender Nikola Petković has moved to Belgium.
Loss: 0-1 v Tottenham Hotspur
Loss: 0-1 v Chelsea FC
Win: 7-0 v Earlwood Wanderers FC
Win: 5-1 v Macarthur Rams
Win: 2-0 v Sorrento FC (FFA Cup)
Win: 3-0 v Belconnen United
Loss: 1-2 v Adelaide United (FFA Cup)
Loss: 1-3 v Central Coast Mariners
Win: 4-0 v South Coast Wolves
Loss: 1-3 v Wellington Phoenix
Loss: 0-2 v Adelaide United
This section is always subject to personal opinion and of course your's may vary from mine but I'm going to mention two players who I feel will be critical to Sydney's success this year and one that I believe we be one of the breakout stars of the league.
Goalkeeper Vedran Janjetović is crucial for Sydney FC's hopes and dreams of a successful season this year. Sure, the goalkeeper is definitely a crucial piece of any team but I personally think Janjetović has a lot hindering on this season. He kept nine clean sheets last year and pulled off some of the goals of the season. If Sydney are to win the title this year, Janjetović will be a key player in their success.
Jacques Faty is the other player I feel will be key to Sydney's chances (this isn't including the two main additions to the squad in Ninković and Hološko). Faty will be front and centre in Sydney's defensive line and will need to show some leadership to some of the younger players. He will need to continue building a confident communication partnership with Janjetović in goal and I feel like he'll be one of Sydney's best this year.
There's not many players aged 18 or below that would be as exciting and as potentially great as Sydney left back Alex Gersbach. He's a personal favourite of mine and the confidence he showed in his breakout debut season last year was absolutely amazing.
I still can vividly remember Gersbach skillfully beating highly-rated Chelsea fullback Cėsar Azpilicueta and bringing the home crowd to life. He played out of his skin that night and if he brings the same defensive quality and wide-attacking prowess to the new A-League season, he could be in for a strong season.