Sydney FC’s Asian Champions League campaign will end in the group stage for the fifth time in six attempts but coach Steve Corica insists his team can compete with the competition’s best.
The Sky Blues were optimistic heading into the Doha hub – with one point from their two games in February – but wasteful losses to Shanghai SIPG and Jeonbuk Hyundai have left them bottom of Group H.
They will complete their campaign with games against Shanghai SIPG (12am Wednesday AEDT) and Yokohama F. Marinos (9pm Friday AEDT) – and Corica was adamant there was no reason for pessimism.
“The only thing lacking is winning games – I wouldn’t say we can’t compete with them, it doesn’t matter how much money they have to spend,” Corica told reporters on Monday.
“I can only comment on my games – we’ve been in both games. For me, we should have won both games.
“It’s as simple as that, I’ve told the boys that and we’re disappointed not to. So I believe that we can compete with the best teams.
“… We probably got the toughest group so that’s been difficult for us. But, again, we’ll just keep plugging away.”
Bar wastefulness in front of goal, Corica said he was generally happy with his team’s performances but was eyeing a breakthrough win.
He flagged three changes to the team that lost 1-0 to Jeonbuk, with Luke Brattan to return from a hamstring injury.
Ryan McGowan is still waiting to travel after testing positive for COVID-19 in Scotland earlier this month.
The defender was due to have a coronavirus test on Monday and if it is negative, he could meet the squad in Qatar – but won’t feature in the ACL – otherwise he will join them in Sydney later on.
The Sky Blues play Yokohama F. Marinos on Friday afternoon local time and fly back to Sydney that night.
They will be in hotel quarantine for 14 days but have received an exemption allowing them to train during that period ahead of the new A-League season.
Sydney’s search for a striker is ongoing, with Corica admitting a tight salary cap made finding the right player for their A-League title defence difficult.