Sydney FC confident of minor premiership
Sydney FC believe they have the winning feeling brewing in their side again and are confident they can claim the A-League minor premiership.
Battling to avoid the wooden spoon when coach John Kosmina took over in late October, Sydney are now within striking distance of league leaders Queensland Roar and Central Coast to be just three points behind with three rounds remaining.
In third place on 27 points, Sydney could jump to top spot on the table with a victory in Friday night's game against seventh-placed Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand.
Speaking after training attended by co-owner Anthony LaPaglia, who showed off his goal-keeping skills, veteran Steve Corica said a run of good results had boosted his side and that they were back to their heyday form when they won the 2005 title.
"It's just a different feeling but I think of late the last two or three games we've got that winning feeling again," Corica said.
"It's brewing in the dressing room and it's a good feeling.
"There's obviously a few differences - Yorky (Dwight Yorke) is not here, but we've got a couple of the younger players which are coming through now doing well like Brendan Santalab and also Adam (Biddle)."
Kosmina labelled Friday's game a "must win", ahead of remaining matches against Queensland and Melbourne, and warned the Phoenix still had a lot to play for with three rounds remaining.
But he said Sydney could "definitely" win the title and that his side were in top form.
Sydney have risen from sixth to third under Kosmina, winning five games, three draws and one loss to bottom-placed Perth.
"The results have been good for us except the Perth aberration we had a few weeks ago," Kosmina said of the round 17 match, in which Sydney were defeated 4-2.
"We need to make sure we don't have one of them again before the season finishes.
"Wellington's going to be a tough game, it's one that we need to come back with three points in the bag.
"We can't afford to lose another match."
He added that any of the top six could still make the finals - and possibly even Wellington.
Kosmina said his side had backed up well from the Adelaide match, despite the hard pitch and searing temperatures.
Marquee player Juninho will again start from the bench but Kosmina said he was confident with the Brazilian's progress.
"Juni's had a good hard week and hopefully he can come off the bench against Wellington on Friday night and set up a win for us or be part of a win for us," Kosmina said.
Meanwhile, Mark Robertson (hamstring) will still be out, as will Mark Milligan whose toe injury has worsened and Michael Bridges (virus).
New Socceroo squad member Ufuk Talay has been recalled after his one-game suspension to replace Milligan.
"Millsy has some bruising on his big toe out of the last game and there is a risk he could cause further damage so we don't want to risk that with him," he said.
"If he does more damage that could be the end of his season and we need him for the big games over the next few weeks."
The side is also boosted with four players - Ufuk Talay, Clint Bolton, Alex Brosque and Steve Corica - today selected for the Socceroos squad ahead of the 2010 World Cup qualification campaign that kicks off against Qatar in February.