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Corica faces agonising choice over dropping marquee de Jong for ACL

“We will name the squad on Monday but obviously I need to take that into consideration,” Corica said. “We’ve just got to see how long we think he’ll be out and whether it’s worth putting him into the ACL squad.”

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The Sky Blues will have to cut one foreign player from their final squad list to be submitted on Monday. That list can include only four visa-players, including one Asian player. It means Iranian striker Reza Ghoochannejhad and top scorer Adam Le Fondre are locks for the squad. Serbian playmaker Milos Ninkovic will likely be included despite his advancing years, leaving Corica with the tough decision to select one of two Dutchmen – out-of-favour defender Jop Van der Linden or marquee man de Jong.

The absence of de Jong has coincided with rusty finishing of late for Sydney FC, who continued to squander chances in their 1-0 win over Wellington on Saturday afternoon at Campbelltown Stadium. Despite missing three or four sitters, Corica’s players aren’t down on confidence but admit they need to be far more patient in front of goal.

“Patience, that’s the key. We spoke about it last week,” Ghoochannejhad said.

“I would be more concerned if we did not create opportunities, which we did today, especially in the first half.”

Patience needed: Reza Ghoochannejhad competes for possession with Liberato Cacace of the Phoenix, right, at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.

Patience needed: Reza Ghoochannejhad competes for possession with Liberato Cacace of the Phoenix, right, at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.Credit:AAP

The Iranian international came close to opening his account for the Sky Blues with two close-range attempts against the Phoenix on Saturday but was denied by the woodwork and an outstanding save by goalkeeper Filip Kurto. While the match against Wellington was a far more open affair than previous games, Ghoochannejhad believes Sydney’s struggles to convert opportunities have coincided with several teams playing overly defensive against them, sitting deep with stacked backlines.

“With all due respect for the other opponents, but you are always the favourite, the better team in the league,” Ghoochannejhad said. “Everybody – I don’t want to sound arrogant but everybody is looking up to us. It is very challenging to create spaces against teams that are not willing to play football against us.

“The last game against Central Coast, they just came to defend, they just came for a result and a draw was like a win for them. It’s a challenge for us every time to create spaces, find the spaces and this game as well. I think that every game is a challenge for us to try and score as many goals but we have to be patient.”

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