Abbas set for long lay-off

Sydney FC midfielder Ali Abbas looks set for a long stint on the sidelines after suffering a serious knee injury in Saturday night’s derby against Western Sydney Wanderers FC.

Sky Blues coach Graham Arnold fears the Iraqi international has ruptured both the anterior cruciate ligament and the medial ligament in his right knee.

Abbas lasted just five minutes of the 1-1 draw at Pirtek Stadium, forced off after a heavy challenge from Wanderers hard-man Iacopo La Rocca.

“It’s terrible,” a disappointed Arnold said afterwards.

“I don’t want you to ask me to comment on (the tackle) because I haven’t seen it on TV.

“I was close to it and it looked terrible but I’d rather not comment on it until I see it on the TV.”

Abbas has been one of the Sky Blues most consistent players this season and was a near-certainty to be selected in the Iraq squad for January’s Asian Cup.

“He’d devastated,” the Sky Blues boss said of Abbas.

“We lost Corey (Gameiro) with an ACL away on national team duty as well so we’re down on numbers a bit.

“He (Abbas) got smashed twice in two minutes, and no yellow card.

In a combustible start to the derby, La Rocca also barged into Abbas in the second minute of play earning the Sky Blues a free-kick.

Asked if he believed Abbas was targeted by the Wanderers, Arnold said: “No don’t think so.

“I can’t imagine Popa (Wanderers boss Tony Popovic) would do that.”

The Abbas injury aside, the Sky Blues will have been pleased to have escaped ‘Wanderland’ with a draw after being out-played by the home side for much of the night.

The Wanderers squandered a host of chances either side of Tomi Juric’s opener on 30 minutes and were made to pay as Bernie Ibini scored a stunning individual goal to save the Sky Blues.

“Definitely first half they (Wanderers) were the better team. They had chances, have hit the past, we’ve cleared one off the line,” Arnold admitted.

“Once we were able to get the players off and change the system at halftime we were better.

“I was able to get the message to Bernie and (Alex) Brosque to stay inside and let the ball  go to the fullback, they had much more trouble in the second half and they didn’t create too much we had a couple of decent chances to maybe take the game.”

Arnold said with season-ending injuries to Abbas and Gamiero he would look to bring in at least one player on an injury-replacement deal.

The Sky Blues return home to Allianz Stadium to face league-leaders Perth Glory on Thursday night.