Sydney FC striker Bernie Ibini says he won’t celebrate if he finds the net when the Sky Blues take on Central Coast Mariners on Sunday.
Sydney have hit top form since their stuttering opening game against Melbourne City and go into the match favourites against a Central Coast Mariners side which has yet to find its feet this season.
But the game brings mixed feelings for Ibini, who turned his back on the Mariners - where he signed his first professional contract - to join Sydney this season.
He’s still grateful for the Mariners giving him a break - and the backing he got from fans while he was there.
“If I was to score, I think I’d keep it subdued out of respect,” Ibini said.
“The fans are always great to me up there as well.”
A reunion with Graham Arnold - also facing his old club for the first time - was Ibini’s main reason for the move back down the NSW coast.
“Sydney is a very big club and to be involved with the club, being a Sydney boy, it was something I’d love to do,” said Ibini.
“Playing for my home town club is something anyone would like to do.”
“He (Arnold) was the coach that signed me professionally and gave me my first chance and getting the chance to work with him again was something I was looking forward to.”
The inside knowledge the pair bring on the Mariners will give the Sky Blues the upper hand against the Gosford outfit who lag four points behind on the A League ladder, but with a game in hand.
“We’ll know what they want to do,” Ibini.
“The coaching staff will let the players know how they like to play; Arnie will have a lot of insight into that.
“I think if we play to our structures and play to our ability that we are showing at the moment we can get the win.”
Sydney FC are joint top of the league after an impressive 2-0 win over defending champions Brisbane Roar in their previous game. Ibini points to the way his team executed Arnold’s instruction to play a high pressing game as a major reason for the victory.
“We all know Brisbane’s a great team, they are the champions,” Ibini said.
“It was always going to be a tough game up there I think we started off really well when we pressed them up high, so it put them on the back foot.
“Marc Janko absolutely scored a bomb of a goal when we had them under so much pressure. It was great to get that goal.
“Sometimes you don’t get that goal even when you are putting teams under so much pressure so I think that really helped us kick on for the rest of the match.”
Janko’s long-range strike – controlled on his chest before blasting a looping volley past a floundering Jamie Young – was an early contender for goal of the season.
But Ibini is impressed with the qualities the tall Austrian has brought to the team off the field as well.
“Firstly he’s a really good guy to have in the team,” Ibini said.
“He’s got a lot of experience, he helps all us younger boys a lot and also what’s brought to the field has given us another element with his strength and size up front that you can clearly see.
“That goal just showed his quality.”
Ibini says that so far his new teammates have been combining well with each other, but finding the right formation and the best system is still a work in progress.
Arnold will now change systems mid-game to counter the opposition, says Ibini, like when Sydney came back from 2-0 down against the Wanderers in the Sydney Derby.
“I think we are all trying to find what suits best for the team at the moment,” he said.
“We started off a bit different against the Wanderers and we changed halfway through the game. It’s finding out what system best suits the team and best suits the situation of the game.
“At the moment I wouldn’t say there is any specific thing yet. Every day we are working so we can try to build and be better for the season
“Arnie is always someone who likes to have a few different options when we play so if one formation isn’t working we can change and have that adaptability. Against the Wanderers we started with a 4-2-2-2 and we changed to a 4-2-3-1 and I think this really helped us as well.
“So far it’s been going fairly well. It’s very early in the season, we won’t be at our best until the end of the season, hopefully we keep building like this.
“It’s been building pretty nicely and hopefully we get another good result on the weekend.”comments