Sky Blues thinking ‘why not?’ ahead of Mariners clash

Joanna Guelas |

Sydney FC’s impressive recent run has them eyeing off more ALM silverware.
Sydney FC’s impressive recent run has them eyeing off more ALM silverware.

Sydney FC are asking “why not?” as they eye a fifth A-League Men premiership title.

Far from the side that started their season winless across three games, the Sky Blues are daring to dream big when they host second-placed Central Coast at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.

A win is vital to keep those hopes alive and Ufuk Talay’s charges have had enough time to lick their wounds after losing 2-1 to league leaders Wellington before the international break.

Sydney were unbeaten in their previous eight matches before a former star in Kosta Barbarouses broke the 1-1 deadlock at Auckland’s Eden Park with a stroke of genius in the 69th minute.

The result kept the Sky Blues in fifth spot on the ladder.

Still, Lolley isn’t ruling out a regular-season finish in the top two with just nine points separating them from the Mariners.

“I don’t see why not,” Lolley said on Thursday.

“We know if we want to do that (get into the top two), we’re going to have to win pretty much every game until the end of the season.

“We feel we’re capable of that. We know we have the quality here. We feel that we’re as much of a top team as anyone else in this division.

“We just have to concentrate on ourselves … We don’t have control of what other teams do and their results so we focus on ourselves and see where that takes us.”

Central Coast are fresh from a 3-0 smacking of third-placed Macarthur FC, but history is against them when they make the trip down south.

The Mariners have not won their last four away matches against Sydney and lost to them at home earlier in February, kissing their 12-game undefeated streak goodbye with a 3-1 defeat.

Celebrating Sydney FC players.
Sydney FC players celebrate an Anthony Caceres goal against the Mariners. (Steven Markham/AAP PHOTOS)

Sydney midfielder Anthony Caceres stood the tallest in their wet-weather skirmish, notching an assist before finding the back of the net himself in Gosford.

“It’s a pretty open league to be honest. There’s quality all around us,” Lolley, the former Nottingham Forest star said.

“It reminds me a little bit of England, to be honest, especially being in the Championship – you can be somewhere and then suddenly within a week, your whole season transforms.

“If we have a great week, the table will start to look very interesting and a lot more positive for where we want to be.

“Hopefully, in about 10 days time we’ll be all having a smile on our faces.”

Gun striker Robert Mak returns from international duty after being called up to the Slovakian squad friendlies against Austria and Norway.

Olyroos representatives Jordan Courtney Perkins, Corey Hollman and Jake Girdwood-Reich will also be in contention for selection, with Girdwood-Reich returning from a one-match suspension obtained from a red card during the round 20 clash against Brisbane.

Patrick Wood (ankle), Joe Lacey (ankle) and Aaron Gurd (leg) are still out with injury, while the Mariners will be missing Sasha Kuzevski (knee), Harrison Steele (foot) and Noah Smith (unknown).

AAP