BY CON STAMOCOSTAS: After a 2-1 win against Melbourne City, Sydney FC sat only three points from the top the A-League ladder. Their international marquee Marc Janko scored two goals, helping the Sky Blues to their best-ever beginning to a season.
Since then it’s been pretty dismal for Sydney FC. The three-point gap at the top of the table has become 13 points. The Sky Blues haven’t won a game in the A-League in seven rounds and not scored a goal in their previous four games.
Austria international striker Janko says that the lengthy lay-off to key players has contributed to the team’s slide down the ladder but was optimistic about the Sky Blues’ future.
“The first quarter of the season was pretty good, it was the best start to the season Sydney FC has ever had,” the three-time Austrian Bundesliga champion told FourFourTwo.
“But then of course we had four of five major injuries. It was concerning that it was the starting XI players.
“The (visa player restriction) rules of the FFA for every club, it is quite difficult when you have five season-ending injuries.”
He added: “This had quite an impact with our performance. I still have a strong belief in our squad.
“We are still one of the best teams in the league, we couldn’t show it in the last couple of games, and I’m pretty positive that we can make it to the Grand Final and win the league.”
Sydney FC are away at the Mariners this weekend and the 6ft 5in Austrian says that the team’s focal point is to get out of their recent slump.
“I think that we will go there full of confidence,” the 31-year-old said.
“Everyone is strong minded to show that we are going to get out of this bumpy road that we are on since the last few games.”
Janko says the Asian Cup break has allowed him to get into better condition after he arrived in Australia out of shape.
“The break helped a lot of course I’ve used it to work on my deficits,” he said.
“I worked a lot in the gym to get more stabilisation in my hip area and smaller and minor issues so I should be available for the team for every game which is a goal for me.
“If I reflect on the first half of the season my goals when I came (to Sydney FC) was getting in shape again. When I arrived I wasn’t in shape at all.
“I didn’t really play much in Turkey for two years. So this was quite an affect for my body to come here (and to try and) find a rhythm again.
“I think I’m in a good way and if people can see my potential. I hope to be able to show it more often, and to help the team and show it in every game and also help the team by scoring more goals.
“I’ve worked a lot in the last couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to the second half of the season to attack again with my full capacity and I’m really positive about it”
During the January transfer window, Sydney added Senegalese cousins Mickael Tavares and Jacques Faty along with the return of Aussie Robert Stambolziev and Janko says the trio are welcome additions to the squad.
“They are settling in pretty good,” he said. “It seems that they can help us a lot and I strongly believe that they will do help us a lot. I'm glad that we could sign them.”
Janko, who was the Austrian Bundesliga top scorer in the 2008–09 season, has scored four goals in 11 games for the Sky Blues but the striker says that he hasn’t been pleased with his output so far.
“I wasn’t that happy with my first part of the season,” he said.
“I was quite unlucky in certain parts of games. I hit five or six or even seven times the post or the cross bar
“Sometimes you need luck as a striker, when you are having a run like this. As a striker sometimes you shoot for the goal and you don’t even know why you just scored, but you just do it.
“It takes a bit of time to find your game you’re A-game and also your fitness level. I know that I am capable of a lot of things and I am very positive for the second half of the season.”
In the previous round of the A-League against the Newcastle Jets the Austrian almost scored a contender for goal of the season, but it was incorrectly ruled offside.
“I already was joking with my team-mates they shouldn’t be worried it will still be on my highlight DVD I just have to cut out the part where I the linesman was waving the flag on the side,” he laughed.
Janko added: “I was very happy with my goal against Newcastle, again this only proves I’m capable of doing these kind of things.
“When you haven’t played for such a long time like I have in Turkey sometimes it’s hard to find your rhythm again.
“I’m getting there, I’m very positive. I’m thankful also for the coach who has given me a lot of patience over the last six months to find my rhythm again,
“That (goal being called offside) actually proves our bad run we just had, this was fitting perfectly into the picture that we didn’t have much luck during the season.
“We are the team that had the most hits on the bar or on the post.
“I’m not blaming any referees because they denied my goal. They are only human beings and everyone can make mistakes so there is no worries about that of course.
“It was very unlucky for me that it wasn’t an official goal, it would have been a special one.”
Con Stamocostas is an Australian football writer. Check out Episode Four of his latest A- League Football Snobcast with co-host Rob Toddler.