Frustrated Sydney still lacking final product
STAR recruit Reza Ghoochannejhad professes patience is the key to fixing Sydney FC's profligate finishing, arguing it's no easy feat to unpick opponents "not willing to play football".
His optimism comes as coach Steve Corica weighs up whether to drop Siem de Jong from his Asian Champions League squad on Monday or include him in the knowledge the injured marquee may miss a portion of group games.
The Sky Blues took all three points from Wellington on Saturday, for a first win in four games to supplant Melbourne Victory in second ahead of Friday night's home tie with Adelaide.
Yet while Corica could be pleased with the more creative manner by which they fashioned chances, the finishing product continues to evade his charges.
That the 1-0 win came via a penalty - absolutely laced by golden-boot leader Adam Le Fondre - means Sydney have now scored just once from open play from a combined 55 shots across their last three games.
Two of those were against the bottom sides in Brisbane and Central Coast and the latest against a sixth-placed Phoenix with one win from their last seven outings.
But that in itself is part of the problem, according to the club's high-profile mid-season signing.
"The key is patience, we've spoken about it the last week," Ghoochannejhad said.
"When Sydney FC enter the pitch, with all due respect to the opponents, but we are always the favourite. We are the better team in the league.
"I don't want to sound arrogant, but everybody is looking up to us, so it's difficult to open and very challenging to create spaces against teams that are not willing to play football against us.
"It's not as easy as it looks because 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 and find the spaces. This game as well ... we have to be patient as well because we know we've got a lot of quality in the team ... a goal will come."
Ghoochannejhad came within a whisker of Wellington's net, forcing a clever save from Filip Kurto and curled in another into the post.
That made for a frustrating night for the recently retired Iran international, who has now played three goalless games on loan with Sydney.
But the 31-year-old felt it was only a matter of time, having produced promising interplay with strike partner Le Fondre.
"As a striker you always want to score so that was really disappointing," Ghoochannejhad said.
"But I'm getting closer every day ... when you come new to a new team you need some time to adjust."
Sydney will be without Alex Brosque against the Reds after the skipper, who drew Saturday's winning penalty, picked his fifth yellow card of the season.
Before then, though, Corica faces a big decision around which of his five foreigners to omit from his ACL squad to be announced on Monday.
Ghoochannejhad falls under the Asian player category and is therefore a lock, while primary attacking outlets Milos Ninkovic and Adam Le Fondre are also certainties.
The last spot will go to one of two Dutchmen in de Jong and exiled defender Jop van der Linden.
All signs pointed to van der Linden being dropped given his continued absence from the matchday squad despite being back to fitness.
However de Jong's "slow-going" knee injury is likely to keep him sidelined against Adelaide and he'll be racing the clock to be fit for Sydney's home tournament-opener with South Korean side Ulsan Hyundai on March 6.
"We've just got to see how long we think he'll be out and if it's worth it putting him into the ACL squad," Corica said.
"Even if he missed these couple of (group) games coming up there's still another four after that ... he's an important player for us."