Sydney FC out for Victory in clash of A-League heavyweights

Following months of training, trials and the Pre-Season Cup, Sydney FC's focus has shifted entirely towards the opening round of the Hyundai A-League, this Saturday against Melbourne.

Following months of training, trials and the Pre-Season Cup, Sydney FC's focus has shifted entirely towards the opening round of the Hyundai A-League, and its encounter with old foes, the Melbourne Victory this Saturday, August 16.

With marquee signing John Aloisi headlining a list of Sydney FC stars sidelined through injury, Olyroos Mark Bridge and Stuart Musialik fighting for gold in Beijing and three players serving suspensions earned in the Pre-Season Cup, the diminished FC squad will have a difficult task on its hands matching up against one of its fiercest rivals.

“We are a bit light on for players for the opening match,” Sydney FC coach John Kosmina admitted. “The game is going to be tough, but in saying that I believe we have the talent to rise to the challenge.”

To further complicate Kosmina's selection puzzle, niggling injuries to Sydney FC captain Tony Popovic, first choice goalkeeper Clint Bolton and defender Jacob Timpano have also placed them in doubt for Saturday-s season opener.

“It's going to be touch and go as to whether they will be fit to play,” said Kosmina. “The season is about having depth in your squad, ours will be severely tested, but its part and parcel of how seasons turn out sometimes.”

Despite being faced with a long list of unavailable stars, Kosmina is reluctant to throw recently crowned 'Football Superstar' winner Adam Hett straight into the starting line-up.

“I wouldn't do that to him,” he said. “However there is a strong possibility that he could be on the bench for the first game.”

Fellow teenage sensation, 17 year old Chris Payne is also likely to make his official debut for the perennial A-League favourites against Melbourne, with the former Manly United striker the only out-and-out forward at Kosmina-s disposal.

Whilst lacking personnel for the opening game, Kosmina remains confident Sydney will be among the leading title contenders.

“It's a long season, we've got 20 games after the match on Saturday and we should have at least 3 or 4 players back for the following week.”

After guiding FC to its third-straight finals appearance in his first season at the club, Kosmina's expectations lie well beyond simply making the final four.

“It's very even this season but you don't enter a competition to come second, we want to win it and we-ll give it our best,” he said.

With the team down on troops Sydney will be hoping for a large home crowd to help give it an edge against the might of Melbourne.

Saturday night-s Hyundai A-League season opener against the Victory kicks-off at the Sydney Football Stadium 7pm, with tickets currently on sale through Ticketek.